Civil Service coughs up biggest-yet PR hairball

The observant and alert may have noticed a recent outbreak of particularly enigmatic Hong Kong government posters in locations usually reserved for exhortations to Look After Your Grandparents’ Teeth and Stamp Out Dangerous Bicycle Riding Now. The minimalist design simply says ‘Home Hong Kong’ and ‘Hong Kong, Our Home’ in Chinese and English respectively.

At first I thought it was some sort of all-purpose propaganda they use to fill empty billboards after the Kids Say Yes to Healthy Websites announcements get taken down, before the re-launch of the Stop Blowing Chickens’ Backsides campaign. Then I noticed a logo tucked away in the corner, and one of those funny barcode things you can’t use unless you have the right app, which no-one does. Still, I shrugged and walked on. Probably some subliminal message about dangerous trees.

Then a week or so ago, I heard some public service radio ad breathlessly extolling the wonder and excitement of something called the Hong Kong Games. And a day or so later some senior government officials had their photos taken cleaning a wet market. Still I thought nothing of it all – just random occurrences. And then yesterday I happened to overhear a conversation in which someone mentioned Gracie Foo. Gracie Foo, as we all know, is Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs. Someone mentioned in passing that Gracie is Convenor of the Hip Hong Kong Working Group.

My curiosity got the better of me, and now everything is starting to fall into place.

Behold the HK Our Home Campaign. Launched by Minister of Everything Carrie Lam with great, but sadly little-noticed, fanfare on April 23. It does not require additional funding, Carrie insisted, and ‘is not a sign of negative sentiments’ – as if anyone would imagine otherwise. To do their bit, pop icons Jackie Cheung and Eason Chan sang from the heart, which may well be a first for them. The campaign runs for the rest of this year, no less, and is divided into four colour-coded themes: Hip Hong Kong, Vibrant Hong Kong, Caring Hong Kong and, of course, Fresh Hong Kong, each under the experienced convenor-ship of a Director or Deputy Secretary of a relevant bureau. Gracie she’s-so-cool Foo’s Hip Hong Kong is, as we would expect, all about nurturing young people’s leadership and commitment. Funky or what? As Charles Ramsey would no doubt tell Gracie, “You gotta have some pretty big testicles to pull this one off, bro’.”

But wait! There’s more! In fact, an incredible 480 events (all compiled here) are coming our way as part of the ‘HK Our Home’ Campaign. Looking through the list, it becomes clear how Carrie can deliver such a bloated package of activities with no extra funding: they were all going to happen anyway. Beach-cleaning, for example. The inaugural berthing at the Kai Tak cruise terminal sounds especially desperate. (Yippee! More tourists!) I look forward to the ‘no-waste lifestyle’ promotion, no doubt organized by the same people who thought up the Zhuhai Bridge and HK$60/70/80 billion Kowloon-Shenzhen High-Speed Hole. And, just in case senior citizens thought they could enjoy a bit of peace and quiet in their retirement, there’s an ‘Opportunities for the Elderly Project’. The grassroots are also going to get hassled, courtesy of the Shatin Methodist Church ‘Lord’s Grace in Neighbourhood’ bash. Even a Correctional Services Department bar-bending training course for convicts gets dragged into the sprawling attempt to apply the ‘HK Our Home’ brand to everything.

And just 18 days to go to… Positive Energy Day. Details are still to be announced, but basically on May 26 Carrie Lam will march into your home with her sleeves rolled up, drag you out of your bed and beat you with a rattan cane until you smile and agree that there are no negative sentiments.

While Working Group Convenors and their underlings rush around slapping the ‘HK Our Home’ logo on everything, 7 million people are asking the inevitable question: What is actually going on here? They can debate two possibilities.

Either the Chief Executive nagged the civil servants for some sort of press-button-make-city-instantly-cheerful miracle plan, and, unaware of the imminent arrival of the morale-boosting giant Rubber Duck, they produced this large-scale but otherwise default, cookie-cutter condescending publicity exercise because they can do no other.

Or desperately underworked bureaucrats eager to justify their air-conditioning allowances by Serving the Community to death pestered the Chief Executive with a vast, loopy patronizing quasi-promotion to make the Big Lychee oh-so Happy and Harmonious, and he swiftly agreed in order to get them out of his hair (I mean, offered enthusiastic backing).

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12 Responses to Civil Service coughs up biggest-yet PR hairball

  1. Nothing surprising here. They have a lot of money to spend. Not much of mine.

    And the campaign to get people to wash their hands with detailed instructions is more absurd.

    My real incredulity is that RTHH Radio Four also play those dumb announcements from the Government, sometimes two at a time. Jonathan “Feet Under The Table” Douglas seems to be the worst culprit. Blow the respect for precious music and up with compliance with the Civil Service. Insulting to the listeners.

    I much preferred our own campaign some time ago:

    HONG KONG: THE BLUNDERS NEVER CEASE!

  2. Property Developer says:

    As you so acutely imply, it does seem a desperate campaign, whose relentlessly cheerful tone belies a profound existential malaise.

    The English website, in particular, is all gung-ho process and no context or self-reflection, as if the Freudianly obsessive question in the foreign-tainted senior civil servants responsible was: Whither HK? why HK?

    Or as Julian Sorel asked: surely there must be something more than that?

  3. Joe Blow says:

    Is that Gracie standing there between Eason and Jacky, beaming at no one in particular ?

  4. maugrim says:

    In HK a sense of ‘mo lei tau’ lives when as soon as a few mainlanders die from bird flu we have instant advertisements reminding us to wash our hands. The nanny state is thus literally exemplified, largely as a consequence of the largesse of funds available to be wasted. Im sure the clean underpants and chewing your food properly campaigns are around the corner, coincidently before the end of each financial year lest budgets in the following year be reduced. We need a mascot, something like Pong the Pointless Panda perhaps.

  5. Oneleggoalie says:

    Good one man…Stop Blowing Chickens Backsides…btw, bird flu comes from homo chickens doing it, and not having their bottoms blown.

  6. Chimp says:

    Eason Cheng used to be quite a decent performer… little bit of passion. His “1997” song is quite good. Catchy tune, good lyrics with a nice use of irony. He’s gone (as they all do) very market oriented, sanitised and focus-grouped.

  7. Jason90 says:

    @RTP 2 days ago: You just have to join the General Chamber of Commerce, hold your nose as you sign the 10K annual cheque, and register your company to vote in FC1. With any luck Markus Shaw ER al will stand again (54 votes last time, I think). But hurry, you have to have been a member for a year it do before you can vote, or you have to register to vote at Leary a year in advance of the election.
    I guess my vote costs me about 50K, and doesn’t make any difference, but if enough SME’s registered we could out-vote all of Li KA Shing’s companies….

  8. Jason90 says:

    ‘et al’

  9. Dream Bear says:

    All this cleaning and preening is ultimately counterproductive because it isolates our gene pool from viruses and other threats. Applying Darwinism we need to expose everyone to all the threats, kill off the weak and vulnerable thereby allowing the strongest to survive. In the end we will emerge as a more robust species. So tonight on the way home, help the process along by sneezing in a crowded MTR carriage. You will be doing the human race a favour.

  10. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ Jason90

    Thanks for the info about FC1 and the HKGCC

    Having retired a year before my 65th (well more-or-less-officially so and even got back my miserable MPF ) I am about to write the last ever tax cheque of my life once I clear up 2012/13 tax year . Then all I have to look forward to is claiming my old-age Octopus card .

    So frankly I don’t give a rats arse ( or a blown -up chicken’s arse for that matter ) about voting for any FC any longer. My point the other day was only rhetorical

    But talking about blowing up arses : follow this youtube link :

    http://youtu.be/HxUQO6YsDNE

    Or else search Youtube for “Armageddon felching gone bad”

    I defy anyone ( including Gracie Foo) to listen to the whole 3 minutes of this Youtube recording of a news announcement story without cracking up in laughter.

    If everyone listed to this story every day it would make the Big Lychee a much happier place (besides saving a few gerbils)

  11. Bob a fet says:

    http://hongwrong.com/duck-gets-cancer/

    Giant duck in the harbour gone for good

  12. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ Gracie Foo

    Did you check the Youtube link?

    Wasn’t funny ?

    (But I feel somewhat sorry for the gerbil))

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