Desperate elders in plea for help

As part of its 110th anniversary, the South China Morning Post has asked readers to help it celebrate Hong Kong’s unsung heroes, to be named by a group of judges of its choice. The list of these worthies is a celebration of the Big Lychee’s oldest and most predictable fogeys.

  • Heading the line-up is Mesozoic-era Chief Secretary and Monkees lead singer Sir David Akers-Jones, everyone’s favourite voice of wisdom, experience and moderation.
  • Next is SCMP editor Wang Xiangwei – which is fair enough. But…
  • Then, perhaps gilding the lily that is the newspaper’s representation on this august panel, is one Dr David Pang Ding-jun, of whom we know little except that he is Chairman of the SCMP Group.
  • This leads us on to – it hardly needs to be said – Ronald Arculli, member of everything, including every government body (right down to the Justices of the Peace Selection Committee), and of innumerable property companies’ boards, not to mention that of the Real Estate Developers Association.
  • Then we have another retired senior civil servant, Shelley Lee, one of Anson Chan’s ‘handbag gang’ of female bureaucrats.
  • Next is Daryl Ng, son of Robert Ng of property developer Sino Land (on the board of which sits Ron Arculli, as does landlord Allan Zeman, who should be on this judges’ panel but strangely isn’t). Sino Land is co-sponsoring these Spirit of HK Awards.
  • As a slight contrast, we get ‘author and explorer’ Rebecca Lee, of (some) polar expeditions fame. Among the many wastelands she has visited is the 1996-98 rubber-stamp Election Committee that pretended to choose Tung Chee-hwa as Hong Kong’s first Chief Executive.
  • Last-and-perhaps-least-but-one is university professor Nelson Chow, another dependable member of endless government commissions that never achieved anything.
  • Finally comes Ronald James Blake, who we are told/reminded was Secretary for Works back in the early 90s, and who would be the only octogenarian on the Commission on Strategic Development when he celebrates his 80th birthday next year, except Akers-Jones (86) has beaten him to it.

It would be tempting to liken this list to the membership rolls of Hong Kong government advisory committees, with their grindingly repetitive names of trustworthy and pliant shoe-shiners who loyally play their part in the tired old colonial co-opting-of-elites ritual. But this is even more clichéd, almost a parody. Officials would include a token, easily out-voted semi-outsider.

One problem is that the two families who run the SCMP and Sino probably have more limited imaginations, not to say social circles. (They’re not exactly reaching out to the kids; strip editor Wang and the boy Daryl out of the line-up, and the average age here must be in the mid-70s.) The list also suggests a lack of clarity over who is shoe-shining whom: are the Kuoks and Ngs shoe-shining those invited to be judges, or are those accepting such invitations shoe-shining the Kuoks and Ngs? It’s usually obvious, but it’s harder to tell here. Mostly, of course, the silliness of this selection comes down to the impossibility of allowing real people into the process. Draft in a jury of a dozen residents taken at random from the electoral register, and heaven knows what sort of unsung hero they’ll pick.

You are free to nominate someone. Just bear in mind there has to be a filtering system.


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15 Responses to Desperate elders in plea for help

  1. Stephen says:

    I would like to nominate Jimmy Lai – yes I know he will be filtered out and sure has his rough spots. But if it wasn’t for the Apple Daily we wouldn’t know half of what goes on in this city. Plus he funds the Pro-Dems.

  2. NENT PropertyDeveloper says:

    I note with some dismay that the words “… Hong Kong government” occurs in the details about Aching Bones. Only the phrase “HKSAR government” is permitted. The violator must be rectified asap.

    I nominate: all the judges, for doing so much to add to human knowledge and happiness, while speaking out so loudly for justice and democracy.

  3. This catalogue of nonentities was only possible to get through with a stiff Brazilian coffee. It was worse than that photo you brought some time ago of Regina Ip kissing Allen Semen, quite honestly. Smaller doses please.

    I usually whip past that section of the SCMP web site. Who doesn’t. It’s a pathetic attempt to glorify Hong Kong and thus themselves. It would be much better to have a Mr Obnoxious contest. Then we would have a chance of winning.

    My French prose tutor, a real chain-smoking French dragon, used to call anyone with a double barreled name by the first name of it only. Thus Keith Clouston-Thomas was Mr Clouston. Surely then it is Mr Akers although associations with little Davy are attractive. He is dead too. Green Akers might be a good nickname.

    Glad you mentioned Wang Xiangwei. I have a secret diary of his on the web site but he is much too dull to write anything very interesting about. I am sure that if he ever gets an English name, it will be Eric or Norman. He looks like a Fortress sales assistant. Suggestions for livening him up willingly received please. He must have some secret vices to stand being a Postie for so long. We never reveal our sources.

  4. Big Al says:

    I’d like to nominate myself as one of Hong Kong’s unsung heroes since I’ve put up with all this government bollocks for more than 20 years without complaining. Much. Anyone care to second me?

  5. Bela Barfing says:

    Seconded. Only if you nominate me. This is Hong Kong.

  6. Karen Eliot says:


  7. Chopped Onions says:

    I’m going to nominate Hemmers………

  8. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    Surely all those tired names have been well and truly sung.

    How about some of those people who daily put their lives and/or souls on the line for the well being of HK people, like doctors, nurses, firefighters etc?

  9. Andanotherthing says:

    I’d like to nominate the Duck that graced the Fragrant Harbour recently – not the other one. Large in its own way but merely a tiny dot on the ocean. Garish in some ways but with amusing qualities. Easily inflated and deflated. And of course it said and did nothing controversial at all. A true hero!

  10. Cerebos says:

    Or we could simply nominate the biggest shoe-shiners we can think of and bathe them in such an unnaturally suffused glow of adulation they might start to feel uneasy. Complete with looky-likies of their childhood nannies / amah’s frowning sternly – but lovingly – at them while muttering proto-puritanical aphorisms.. “Thy rod and staff comfort me” all the while giving off a faint whiff of naphthelene.. Long repressed tears start to trickle..

  11. Gumshoe says:

    I would vote for the duck.

  12. G. Hova says:

    “…while muttering proto-puritanical aphorisms.. “Thy rod and staff comfort me” all the while giving off a faint whiff of naphthelene..”

    Very cerebral, Cerebos, me old salt. I see how it runs.

  13. Gin Soaked Boy says:

    I nominate the blokes who catch the rope to tie up the Star Ferry as it docks. In 34 years of harbour crossings I’ve never seen them drop it.

  14. Claw says:

    I would agree with you, Cerebos, but I don’t think that you can over-egg the adulation to the extent that these people would realize that you were taking the mickey, or even feel uneasy.

  15. Pornstar Wong says:

    Just choose the person who made the most money over the shortest period of time.

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