North Korea makes a big public show of activating nuclear facilities and threatening to raze Washington DC to the ground, while the US flies B2s around the planet via Pyongyang and grandly orders its flashy-if-it-works anti-missile system into Guam. And do the world’s stock markets collapse (Hong Kong’s is more worried about bird flu)? Does the gold price zoom?
It’s similar with that other epic struggle of evil totalitarian power against lovers of freedom and humanity – the Hong Kong dock workers’ strike. Although the odds are usually stacked against organized labour in the city, a nervous government seems to be pressuring the employers behind the scenes not to provoke wider public opinion. Consequently, active support for the workers remains limited to predictable political, student and other quarters. The chances of the Big Lychee’s valiant citizens bringing tycoon Li Ka-shing’s retail cartel to its knees remain sadly small…
On a brighter note, the strike could help hasten the decline of our space-wasting, past-its-peak port. According to experts, the only growth area left these days is low-value transshipment cargo (containers switching ships en route from one distant place to another, as opposed to stuff going in and out of the Pearl River Delta region). Such activity can take place in other regional ports with few problems, and delays caused by a strike are just the thing to send business away for good. We should be so lucky. Now, how can we pull it off with tourists?
Meanwhile, investigative journalists around the world are sifting through a ton of leaked materials from the British Virgin Islands and elsewhere relating to offshore holdings of the (supposedly) mega-rich international elite. There are two differences with Wikileaks: the information is already proving far more fascinating; and there’s no Julian Assange sex-symbol/martyr/bore to hog the limelight.
Much depends on how squeamish the ICIJ are about releasing data; as CBC suggests, they need to be careful about naming names. Even so, we should be assured of some local angles, given that half of Hong Kong and a lot of well-connected folk over the border seem to have something registered or otherwise stashed away in BVI. Material on our local tycoons’ holding companies may not be especially interesting. Dirt on Beijing princelings’ ill-gotten gains would be, however. And wouldn’t it be utter delight if any past or serving Hong Kong government officials’ names crop up?
What a pleasant thought with which to declare the second segment of our second four-day weekend in a row open.