Well, at least it’s not ‘heavy’ pollution

Just when you thought they couldn’t find anything else wrong with this city… We all knew that our air is dirty; apparently, it’s also horribly bright. Highly qualified and expensively funded scientists at the University of Hong Kong have discovered that the Big Lychee has a lot more lighting on at night than you would get in places where no-one lives. How much better it would be, they imply, if we ate more carrots and learned to enjoy feeling our way around in the dark like the valiant North Koreans, or suicidal villagers in the far north of wintry Sweden.

Maybe the Happy Foot Massage place in an alleyway down the hill from me could dim its garish sign, which emits such stupendous candlepower that it is detected by NASA’s ‘Curiosity’ Rover on Mars. But we still wouldn’t be able to see the stars, what with all the useful illumination in our urban areas, like the street lamps and the friendly glow of the beer section in 7-Eleven refrigerators. Even if you switched it all off, you still wouldn’t see the Milky Way, for the same reason you can’t see the sky during daytime. Sorry Hong Kong U, but no Nobel Prize this time.

If anything, in this city of black boxes, we need to shed more light rather than less. We might even be able to detect and untangle the logic in pro-Beijing mouth-frother Lau Nai-keung’s latest rant in China Daily.

Something he says here seems to make a certain amount of sense, especially in the context of yesterday’s theoretical clash between Mainland conglomerates and Hong Kong tycoons. The problem is that it comes straight after some really loopy stuff. The reader has three choices: take all of Lau’s article seriously; take none of it seriously; or ignore the first half and accept the second. (This pre-supposes that we understand what he is saying, which is a bit of a stretch – but for the sake of argument, let’s press on.)

He starts by apparently linking US efforts to rearrange the balance of power in Asia with our local pro-democracy ‘Occupy Central’ movement, likening said movement to Al-Qaeda, and concluding that the US and China do in fact see eye to eye after all. He then does his usual pro-forma criticism of moderate pro-dems.

With all that off his chest, he moves on to an altogether more interesting subject: the split in the pro-Beijing camp.

The Love China, Love Hong Kong government in power is prevented by the Love China, Love Hong Kong government-in-waiting from delivering real changes to Hong Kong. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying promised to deliver on land and housing policies, but since his election he has not been able to implement major changes to a system that is suffocating our businesses and making lives miserable. 

The Love China, Love Hong Kong government-in-waiting, on the other hand, is getting impatient with all the waiting. A dinner gathering in Qianhai to be hosted at the end of this month by Wang Guangya, director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, is supposed to end the feud, but the outcome will ultimately depend on what is being served that night. From past experiences, these people have very good appetites. 

In short, what will Mainland officials offer the tycoon supporters of CE-hopeful Henry Tang in return for their cooperation with CY, assuming CY’s head is not on the menu? We might wonder why Beijing doesn’t just stomp the plutocrats into submission; the tiniest threat to their Mainland business interests would do the job. But that brings us back to ‘Occupy Central’. To people like Wang Guangya, Hong Kong’s opposition forces are running dogs of evil Western powers determined to destroy China; the Communist Party needs the tycoons on-side.

Lau goes on to criticize the whole of the “Love China, Love Hong Kong” milieu, in and out of power…

It is by no means clear whether anybody in the camp loves anything but their own self-interest. However, if you want to use the brand you have a duty to maintain its goodwill, as a brand is only as effective as it is consistent. At the end of the day, it’s a thin line between not loving your country and hating it. 

Is there anyone he doesn’t loathe? That he detests the pro-dems and the tycoons isn’t news, but he doesn’t even rule out the local administration – or even the Beijing officials who recently resurrected the zingy love-country-love-harbour catchphrase. Whether you accept 0%, 50% or 100% of his outpourings, you can’t deny the anguish. Everyone else on the more-or-less patriotic side is gearing up for soul-selling, principles-shredding compromise, leaving him the only true believer shining in the darkness.

Click to hear ‘I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight’ by Richard and Linda Thompson!


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26 Responses to Well, at least it’s not ‘heavy’ pollution

  1. It is a sad day for journalism when you have to fill half your front page with a satellite picture.

    Perhaps old Wang Xiangwei (the SCMP editor) is getting the message that people don’t want to read Xinhua headlines all the time. But it is still pisspoor journalism, Even the Guardian wouldn’t do it.

    As for dipping inside the thing and reading the crazy columnists. Well, I have to sometimes to see how awful it is. But there’s no real need to read it, surely?

  2. Sojourner says:

    Possibly Lau Nai-keung’s angst and anguish will compel him to take a Nietzschean leap in the dark and top himself.

    Speaking of which I protest the hackneyed calumny that Scandanavian peasants have a particularly predilection for self-destruction (Munch has a lot to answer for). According to that trusty source, Wikipedia, Sweden has the 35th highest suicide rate in the world (just after the USA). China has the 7th highest, and Hong Kong the 25th.

  3. RSG says:

    Light Pollution Hub!

    But surely Shanghai is fast approaching light pollution parity with Hong Kong… What ever shall we do?

  4. maugrim says:

    This ‘earth hour’ bullshit gets my goat. As Hemlock alludes, there’s always the North Korean reality, if that’s what people prefer. Sadly, to the sackcloth and sandal brigade, this is what they want. Its all part of the usual hand wringing that goes on. On the one hand we should switch to electric vehicles and buses. but then again, electricity in HK is created by diesel and other non-renewables and owned by monopolists. Hence the angst and bed wetting guilt that follows. All I can say is one thing, each summer I fall to my knees and thank the gods of aircon. I don’t care if its powered by electricity, beats living in a hot, dark cave.

  5. Joe Blow says:

    …leaving him the only true believer shining in the darkness.

    Shining in the darkness, indeed. Since nobody reads the China Daily, nobody would ever know about these nuggets of wisdom, if it weren’t for Hemlock.

    Keep up the good work, Hem.

  6. Stephen says:

    As I don’t read either The PCMP or China Daily (how are they now different?) am I to assume Lau Nai-Keung writes only for the latter and that being the case he is seriously ignored.

    Wang Guangya and his team have a much very busy agenda with the next CE election and following Legislative elections. Let’s not be under any illusions that this has anything to do with the HKSARG anymore). He needs everyone to stop quarreling and get with the program. Which is to ensure the right sort firstly gets elected and the right sort form the legislature.

    Then the tycoons can sit back and continue to rip all and sundry off (or a mainland firm will later come in and do it). But more importantly the paranoid CCP can continue utterly unopposed.

    And now we have a naughty academic proposing a very creditable program of civil disobedience, should they try and sell HK short again. It’s likely the Pro-dems will balls it up but it’s got Wang Guangya busy.

  7. aghast says:

    Just curious – where do English speakers who don’t read SCMP get HK news from?

  8. Property Developer says:

    Lau Nai-keung’s regular stooge is at present unavailable; this article was therefore written in Chinese and translated by someone who got the main gist but missed the finer points, and whose command of English idioms is shaky.

    I do supect even Hemlock has more influence on local politics than poor L N-k.

    Nevertheless, we should delight in any split amongst those that hate HK: let’s hope it descends to running street battles.

  9. Cerebos says:

    Can anyone tell me what bird makes the incessant “oo-ee oo-ee” noise all day and night long thanks to our splendid street lighting? It’s not a bulbul is all I’ve managed to work out as I prefer to keep my twitching under the sheets.

  10. farm chairs says:

    Re aghast’s “Just curious – where do English speakers who don’t read SCMP get HK news from?”

    You’re looking at it. With a dash of webb-site.com on the side. Plus the subStandard for free chuckles. It’s a joke of a newspaper, but their boot-licking isn’t any worse than the PCMP’s these days, and it’s not like either do much in the way of hardcore journalism any more.

    In the pre-locust days the PCMP was easily the best paper in Asia, and supposedly the most profitable in the world by some measure or other. Back then it was unimaginable that you wouldn’t read it daily. Times have changed. I stopped my subscription more than a decade ago.

  11. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ Aghast : Not much choice except the sub- Ssandard and the occasional Time Out mag when Hemlock features

    … unless you have a highly educated / totally bilingual Chinese wife as I do, who will immediately give you the REAL STUFF from the HK Economic Times et al . Far, far different from the english press.

    PS: Having perforce been out of town and out of communication for a couple of weeks it’s good to find out that nothing has changed in the Big Lycheee. Sure they have demolished and re-built a couple of office blocks in the meantime, but the tycoons still rule- OK, mouth- frother still mouth froths, the pro-dems still can’t differentiate their mouth from their arseholes and only open their mouths to change feet, henery’s underground wine hoard is partly fake ( unlike enenery who is totally fake ) …..

    ….and Bela still writes as if this is HIS blog ( Go and start you own blog, Bela, if you don’t like the sat pics on Hemlock’s blog. One of the most revealing sat pics of all time came to me first c/o Hemlock – that was North Dakota fracking wells burning waste shale gas at night – a matter with which I happen to have a professional interest ! So THERE ! )

    RTP is back ! ( please don’t all groan at once )

  12. Henry says:

    @Maugrim, I hate that earth hour stuff too. Still, don’t worry, with attitudes like those none of us (or more likely our children) will have to suffer that bullshit much longer.

  13. Sojourner says:

    And RTP continually whinges why people here don’t like him …

  14. Maugrim says:

    if you take a moment from wailing about your impending doom to look at the ‘science’, the world hasn’t warmed measurably for the past 15 years, despite the fact that carbon dioxide emissions have, from memory, doubled. I think your kids are going to be alright.

  15. Phil McCracken says:

    RTP: Bela has the right of free speech, just like you do. Learn to live with it.

    @Cerebos: I am a “bird-expert” and therefore happy to answer your question: “oo-ee” you said ?
    Well, that’s an easy one: it is the Moah of course, a migratory bird, that can be found -seasonally- in the depths of the New Territories. It also goes by the names of Becky, Windy, Mei-ling and Jeanette.

    If you were to travel to places like Yuen Long and asked the locals for this bird while making the “oo-ee” sound they will all tell you -excitedly- and with gestures: “Moah, Moah !!”, while pointing you in the opposite direction of the nearest West Line-station.

    Should you encounter an actual “Moah” then refrain from putting salt on its tail. They only respond to red fish.

  16. ANON says:

    welcome back RTP

  17. The bird is probably the koel, an Asian member of the cuckoo family. Like Mainland mothers in Hong Kong, it lays its eggs in other birds’ nests. I wrote about it in my blog recently.

  18. Henry says:

    If you take a moment from reading your “science” in the Daily Mail, you’ll see that reputable science informs that temperatures have been rising measurably in the whole of the 20th century, most of that rise since 1980. 21st century rises are predicted to be up to 2.9C which certainly spells disaster for mankind. But you go ahead and whine about the whiners, that’s a lot easier.

  19. EDB says:

    Yawn, anyone remember the great man made ice age disaster/catastrophic hole in the ozone layer/irrevocable greenhouse gas accumulation mass panic holocaust of the 1980s?

    Henry, you are a little behind the times. It’s not called ‘global warming’ anymore. They prefer the more nebulous term ‘climate change’ these days. Now there’s a shocker, you mean to say the climate changes! Here I was thinking that the earth’s climate should always be at a stable what do we say 23 degrees (?) and any fluctuation therein is, not only totally catastrophic (in 5 … 10 … 15…. 20 years …., oh wait, like really soon, dude!!!) but also a direct result of Americans wanting to have a hot shower or buy a new pair of runners every now and then. Personally, as a Canadian, I say bring on the warming. Have you ever experienced a full scale snow blizzard and ice storm in the month of May (and non-stop for the previous 7 months)? And who isn’t looking forward to a nice vintage of Yorkshire red?

    Pss, Henry, the constant alarmism from the warmist camp is all about procuring more and more funding for university research grants so a bunch of fuddled old Marxists and yuppie Gaia worshiping eco-fascists posing as scientists can pursue their old dreams of wealth redistribution (taking a nice cut for themselves, naturally), obsessive micro management of everyone’s lives (this time on a global scale), and the deindustrialization of the world economy. If you find HK bureaucrats to be intolerable then just wait until someone at the UN is telling you how often you can flush your toilet, or grow in your garden, when you are allowed to use hot water or eat a steak.

  20. maugrim says:

    Henry, even the Grauniad acknowledges the Met Office’s recent interpretation that warming may have indeed plateauxed. Back to your bunker and tin foil hat lad.

  21. aghast says:


    Ah yes, the UN… they’re clearly behind all this of Global Warming nonsense. No fooling you.


  22. Henry says:

    EDB, Maugrim

    You won’t be the last to be suckered by swivel eyed republicans, big oil companies, the American “enterprise” institute (who offer scientists US$20,000 to write articles denying climate change), tobacco companies.

    Next up from the deniers: Creationism, how tooth fairies came into existence.


  23. Henry says:

    Muagrim, not really, but I guess that website and it’s founders are right up yours.

  24. Yes, EDB, I do remember the hole-in-the-ozone-layer panic. I also remember that most countries stopped pouring CFCs into the atmosphere, which is why you don’t hear about it any more. But with views like yours around, I wonder if we’ll be equally smart about greenhouse gases?

  25. Sojourner says:

    How depressing … even here, in a relative island of sanity, crackpots of the maugrim variety can be found.

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