Anyway, aid just seems to cause more earthquakes

Hong Kong lawmakers oppose quake aid; Hongkongers reject sending aid; Sichuan relief efforts provoke Hong Kong skeptics. The Big Lychee’s response to the Lushan earthquake does not leave the city looking like a shining beacon of generosity.

The government’s initial decision to send Sichuan Province HK$100 million for disaster relief was, on the face of it, unexceptional. The city sent HK$9 billion after the much bigger 2008 earthquake and has donated funds following other calamities in China and in Southeast Asia. But there was something a little bit pat, a little bit presumptuous, and a little bit insincere about senior officials’ blather about love and care for compatriots. It was almost as if this wasn’t about helping villagers who had lost everything, and not even about exploiting a tragedy to show Beijing how loyal and generous we are; it seemed uncomfortably like the cynical grabbing of an opportunity to send a message to the locust-suffering Hong Kong people: we are all happy smiling Mainlanders now, or at least let’s pretend we are, and then we will learn how to be for real, and it’ll feel great. (Something like that.)

The pro-Beijing members of the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee yesterday supported the proposal for the usual reasons: blind obedience for the hardcore pro-Communist loyalists, and shoe-shining self-preservation for the fake patriots of the business community.

The pan-democrats who opposed the measure proclaimed themselves to care deeply about the victims in the rubble in Ya’an. But, they insisted, the money shouldn’t go to Mainland officials, who will probably steal it; instead, it should go to non-government organizations. It all sounds perfectly sensible. But it’s hard not to get the feeling that, here too, there is more opportunism than principle. They could have come up with more detailed alternatives to a straight cash transfer to the Provincial government. But no – as a chance to highlight the rottenness and inhumanity of the one-party state, it’s too good to pass up.

Then we get to the real story: the public mood. Last time around, there were heart-wrenching photos of kids’ bodies covered in dust and we sent money to rebuild a collapsed school for ethnic minorities and then the new building was knocked down to make way for some luxury development. Now they want more? (Actually, no-one up there has asked; the Standard’s ‘Mary Ma’ editorial cheekily suggests that Sichuan’s Party Secretary phone up CY and ask him not to bother sending anything as it’s too much hassle.)

Hongkongers are not in the mood to give. And it seems it’s not just hostility to Mainland officials who skim off funds to spend on Chow Tai Fook gold necklaces. We could donate via trustworthy local charities, but no we’re not going to. We’re really sorry about that baby found under her mother’s corpse in a collapsed house now being breast-fed by a neighbour until help arrives, but, um…

What about our unaffordable apartment prices and all the tourists?

The cost of housing and the influx of tourists have made us so pissed off – pissed off with Mainland-this, Mainland-that – that we just don’t care. A hundred thousand bereaved and hungry survivors huddled shivering under trees? To hell with them. Serves them right for buying up all that baby milk powder.

Such callousness is hard to believe. The Global Times reports the South China Morning Post’s poll (92% against the government’s planned donation) without quoting some academic demanding that all Hongkongers be sent off to reeducation camps. Instead, they lament the graft in the Mainland. The Global Times agrees with us.

This is simply Hong Kong’s legendary pragmatism at work (plus a chance to irritate compatriot-hugging local leaders). After all, no-one seriously withholds aid for earthquake victims to protest against overcrowding on the MTR. Corrupt Mainland officials killed thousands in 2008 by building shoddy schools. They will kill more this time by diverting our funds from the injured and hungry. Let’s just cut out the middle man.

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13 Responses to Anyway, aid just seems to cause more earthquakes

  1. It’s also interesting to see the shift in tack of the SCMP to the disorganisation of disaster relief after its gung ho flag waving, PLA glorifying, Government toadying early headlines.

    Nothing more forked tongue and weather cock than the insecure SCMP at the moment.

    Their poppycock “poll’ was called “viral” at first but they quickly removed the article and the claim when some people pointed out that viral isn’t five thousand hits.

  2. Property Developer says:

    It does seem as if you have come to a certain extent full circle: first snide comments about the pan-dems idea, which is both strategically and morally to be recommended; then a conclusion that the money shouldn’t go via officials, but should go directly to … somewhere.

    I read somewhere that Anson is getting cosy with Allen, although they are definitely not going to accept any non-Chinese money whatsoever. Perhaps there should be an age limit for being put in charge of a political party? If there was also a lower limit, Stephen’s heartthrob Starrry Starry could be nobbled before she began to run.

  3. Stephen says:

    You have to wonder how in little under 16 years this relationship has gone so spectacularly wrong ! Shouldn’t we all be DAB lovin, Mandarin speaking patriots by now? Gawd knows how much money the CCP has pumped into the DAB, The Press have been bought off, The HK Government has been nothing short of pathetic and the local liaison and has worked overtime interfering in things which are outside their remit.

    So will CY learn from the mistakes of Silly Old Tung and St Donald (The false pious catholic)? Blind slavish obedience has rubbed the populous up the wrong way, time for a little more of a business like relationship; an ‘us and them’ approach perhaps. If it carries on like this the Pro-Dems may pick up a few more seats in our rigged legislature.

  4. Sojourner says:

    Despite a tad too much gratuitous poking-of-sticks at the Pan-Dems, who quite clearly did the RIGHT THING, this is Hemmers at his eloquent best, cutting right to the heart of the issue.

  5. Dream Bear says:

    Having been involved in some school building projects on the mainland, I can
    assure you it is possible to cut out the middlemen and directly support a project. To be fair some of the DAB acknowledged that funds are ending up in the wrong hands. That appears to have been ignored because it does not fit with the analysis of the situation.

  6. maugrim says:

    Well, I’m not sure I can blame HK’ers. Either money is given to the provincial Government, which is then ‘re-allocated’ or it is sent via an NGO where the director ends up parading her expensive toys on weibo. Either way, not too many people are getting the help they need. While there is a sense of “Mainlanders, fuck them’, at present, you can’t blame people for being cynical at all.

  7. Property Developer says:

    Dream Bear, “Funds are ending up in the wrong hands”: one spokesman said the “majority” of the 10 bn last time didn’t get lost, which may mean that about 4 bn went towards Audis and bimbos.

  8. Real Tax Payer says:

    Read Harry’s cartoon today in the SCMP

    One Sichuan party official to another Sichuan Party official:

    Q: “What do we need to speed up the earthquake rescue effort?”

    A: ” Auditors !”

    @ Dream Bear : you are correct and I have personally donated ( al lot ) to such charities which build schools in poor parts of China . But damned if my hard-earned tax money should go to buy Rolex watches for Sichuan party cadres

  9. under water says:

    After Current Interchangeable Dyed Black Hair Locust Dictator Guy told the Japs that China didn’t need their donation, we can feel quite comfortable that they don’t need HK’s, either. Love the way the clueless bootlickers in LegCo set themselves up to fail on this one.

    Once an economy is at the aircraft-carrier-and-nuclear-missile stage of development, they should be able to wipe their own arse without outside help, thank-you very much. Or at least make it look like they can on state TV. The pathetic staged brave-heros-in-new-orange-jumpsuits bullshit propaganda they’re cranking out (and which the international media is re-broadcasting) is quite something to behold. It’s like 1955 all over again.

  10. Real Scot Player says:

    Really good post today.

    All this reminds me of The Economist’s take when the first Chinese in space. “congrats China. (so no more foreign aid then).” frankly, when China, sorry when Beijing, has all those zeros in reserves why the fuck should anyone give them anything

  11. Joe Blow says:

    I am reserving my relief-effort-money allocation for the next natural disaster in the Philippines. That way, at least, I know that all my money will be spent on the poor and needy victims.

    Hum.

  12. mumphLT says:

    The CCP doesn’t need money it has plenty – so just what purpose was the donation to be for…?

    If they want HK to ‘Lurve the Mainland’ stop toadying up to it, stop rimming the CP, cut down on the locust problem & act effectively to put in some policy changes that will improve the lives of people in HK.

    I hardly see the people of Wuxi for instance giving a shit about what happens in HK apart from if maybe they can come here to profit in some way from the visit.

  13. “Once an economy is at the aircraft-carrier-and-nuclear-missile stage of development, they should be able to wipe their own arse without outside help, thank-you very much.” Not if, like North Korea, they spend all their money on the nukes and leave nothing for the people.

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