Yesterday’s 16th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover was the now-familiar mixture of ritual, self-delusion, weird juxtapositions and bad weather. Acceptable recipients of the Grand Bauhinia Medal are now in such short supply that pro-Beijing ‘heavyweight’ (I won’t comment) Maria Tam gets one. Textiles heiress Marge Yang gets a GBS; rat-catching lawmaker Priscilla Leung gets an SBS, and Lau Wing-mai – a property guy who supported Henry Tang’s disastrous bid to become Chief Executive – gets the ultimate kick in the teeth in the form of a grimy tarnished old B (for Bronze) BS (emphasis on BS).
The Hong Kong Celebrations Association and other United Front and pro-government groups went all-out to divert attention from the annual July 1 pro-democracy march with more patriotic let’s-all-jump-up-and-down-and-be-happy events than usual. In fact, despite pro-Beijing figures’ scaremongering about a dummy run for Occupy Central, the demonstration seemed to attract a barely average-size crowd. The cops so clumsily under-estimate the turnout that they lend credibility to the organizers’ obviously exaggerated count, but let’s say Chief Executive CY Leung isn’t going to have to pack his bags yet.
All is slogans. The establishment go through the usual stuff about one-country-two-systems and the motherland, but less convincingly than ever; the pro-dems fixate on universal suffrage and wolf-man Leung. Both sides want to avoid reality.
Bloomberg’s William Pesek writes: “Beijing has shackled Hong Kong with one bad, handpicked leader after another.” And – perhaps even more damagingly – with a political structure virtually designed to fail. Why? Is it deliberate and malicious, like the post-1949 economic punishment of Shanghai? Is it out of insecurity and fear of losing one-party control? Or are China’s leaders simply on the take, getting kickbacks from our local property cartel in exchange for keeping this rotten system? No-one’s even asking.
Hong Kong’s problems are not that difficult to solve. Step one: slap a 50% duty on all designer-label handbags, shoes, watches, cosmetics, etc, with a promise to phase it out as the Mainland reduces its own taxes on luxury imports. Within days, we will see less-crowded streets, more room on public transport and cleaner air. Big drops in commercial rents will follow as Abercrombie and Prada and LV and all those pestilential boutiques and perfumed candle stores close their doors. Hongkongers can have their city back, and with it economic diversity and opportunity. Only landlords lose.
What about our reputation as a shoppers’ paradise/free port? Screw it. Tourism is an ‘important’ part of our economy in the same way Japanese knotweed is an ‘important’ part of the ecosystems it invades and takes over. It’s a parasite. Then there’s Disneyland, similar in land area to the residential portion of Shatin – enough space to house half a million people. What housing shortage?
But no – the pro-Beijing crowd recite mind-boggling gibberish about social harmony and positive energy, while the pro-democrats demand an electoral system incompatible with one-party rule. There is hope… Back to Pesek: “Hong Kong is a fascinating proxy for how quickly and deeply Chinese GDP falls over the next one or two years.” When it comes to creating tensions and distortions, our economy beats our political divisions hands down. Is a slowdown in China really something for Hong Kong to fear? A third of property agents will lose their jobs over the coming year. Which means two-thirds, tragically, won’t – but it’s a start. A crash will cause suffering to all the right people. It will also help make the fascinating proxy’s 17th anniversary celebrations far more fun.
Nice to see Dame Anson Chan in the rain in Victoria Park, risking her set-in-concrete perm.
But where was Christine Loh ?
Guess she was shopping for a string of pearls and a new Chanel suit.
Wow Hemmers, those 3 days off has sharpened both your mind and your pen.
I agree 100% with all you wrote ( especially the 50% tax on designer label goods).
You’ll have to write more than this if you are going to be an hour late with your update.
The turnout was below half a million. How right I was to stay at home. What if Albert Ho were swept to power. Has anyone really thought about how absolutely awful that would be.
CY had a good laugh. He’s home and dry. All he needs is for Occupy Central to fizzle out and the furniture van will never arrive at Government House until 2022. Silence is power.
Property agents don’t become unemployed. They just start selling insurance.
11.00 tomorrow. Sharp.
Fuck the pope. That was the only banner missing yesterday.
What a clusterfuck July 1 has become. The government may be shit but the governed are looking just as shit
Sorry for going OT here but I stumbled across something with a HK/FDH angle that some here might find interesting:
And let’s not forget the hunger strikers. Fifty hours without a meal. I hope the ambulances are on standby.
Oneleg decided on neither the talentless concert or the drugless protest…instead he watched World War Z…great summer film about zombies…like HK has been plagued with for a while…
The book has patient zero as a boy from China…how prescient as it was published in 2006…
Mind you, given the rent a crowd of Mainland tourists at the Government’s Tamar festivities, our northern brothers and sisters are an on tap resource, useful in such situations that the Government would be loath to see go. On another matter, I see ‘cuddles’ got a gong in the honours list, things have both changed and moved on it would seem.
Simple fact is the vast majority of Hong Kong people did not march yesterday. Alternative headline : People ignore plea to march!
As regards the hunger strikers … this is a Hong Kong hunger strike, which means no food between meals!
I’m surprised that Tony aka Peter Chan did not get a gong as the best-performing high court player .
After all, several high court judges got gongs, so why not give one to someone on the other side of the dock, “without whose deeds none of this would have been possible”
BTW: When is the verdict due ?
@ Gin Soaked Boy : Like it ! LOL! ( I for one certainly didn’t march)
The fact that Priscilla Leung was rewarded pretty much destroys the last shreds of hope I had for this place.