Democracy, Victoria Park and beer

Mayhem – of a Hong Kong, chair-throwing order of magnitude – breaks out in Tin Shui Wai outside what appears to have been a dull enough town-hall meeting between local residents and Chief Executive CY Leung. Such conflict is now becoming normal. Although so far mostly ritualized, it could easily get to the stage where someone gets hurt. It’s not going to get like Belfast or Tahrir Square, but that’s the point: violence is not a part of the modern reality here. It’s as if the whole community is going off-script.

The polarization of the city, spurred on recently by the pro-democracy Occupy Central movement, is the result of 15 years’ poor governance and lack of political reform – or, in one word, Beijing. Although he doesn’t say it explicitly, Legislative Council President and Chinese Communist Party supporter Tsang Yok-sing admits as much in an RTHK Radio 3 interview this morning (starts at 42m 30s). He essentially says that Beijing officials now realize that some sort of universal suffrage is essential for 2017.

That leaves a lot of incredibly tedious quibbling over details. Pan-democrats are already split over it. Absolutists demanding a wide-open nomination system for CE candidates are jumping on the relatively pragmatic HK Democratic Party for looking conciliatory. By strong-arming the pro-establishment/tycoon camp into accepting semi-democratic functional constituencies – the CCP will insist on retaining some sort of veto in the legislature – Beijing will hope to divide the pan-dems and get a reform bill through.

While we’re waiting for that to happen, the psychopaths who do urban planning around here have surreptitiously started to build a highway over 20,000 square feet of Victoria Park, at a cost of 350 trees. It’s right along the northern edge, which not many people go to, so who’ll miss it? The bureaucrats responsible did a good job of hiding this. Another Queen’s Pier uprising, anyone?

Finally, Great Moments in Microeconomics over at the HK Bar and Club Association. A proposed levy on beverage bottles will raise beer prices by 5% to 10%, according to chairman George Tsai. (The government’s let’s-all-be-green-and-happy consultation document estimates that the pre-paid recycling charge will be around HK$1 per litre, or 75c for a wine bottle, but let’s not get distracted.) This price hike, he says, will divert consumers towards… cocktails, thus creating a 50% rise in sales of girly drinks with silly names, and a near doubling in the number of bartenders in town (no word on where they will fit behind the cramped bars – maybe in space once occupied by cases of fine ales and lagers).

This is like saying that if the price of Heinz baked beans and offal-fat frozen sausages rose by a twentieth, every overweight British resident of Discovery Bay will suddenly start eating quiche and salad. I don’t mind the occasional gin rickey (Club 71 off Hollywood Road does an OK one), but Mr Tsai is seriously miscalculating elasticity of demand for what the Chinese call ‘liquid bread’.



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14 Responses to Democracy, Victoria Park and beer

  1. Stephen says:

    Not unlike Robert Mugabe the CCP are now running models on how say a Carrie could be guaranteed a win against say an Audrey. Whilst there were a few voting irregularities previously reported in the last Legco (partial) election I’m not suggesting the CCP are going to employ the crude measures that Britain’s last African thug employs in that blighted country.

    However you know the DAB and the Kuk would be prime movers in this model, hiring the buses and mobilising the masses. One or two dark hints from the obedient press about Audrey not being acceptable to Beijing and is it enough to guarantee Carrie a victory? I hope not and look forward to toasting Audrey with my more expensive bottled beer in a fume filled Victoria Park in 2017.

  2. “Some sort of universal suffrage”…

    That Hong Kong Democracy Medley In Full:

    Born To Be Wild (Within Reason)
    Substitute (For Another System)
    Elected (After Pre-Screening)

    Sung by CY and the Bashers

    Courtesy of Junior Police Call

    As for trees…pesky things. In Stanley, they voted to reduce the number of trees on the waterfront. Too many birds, too many bugs, too much nature. Quite right. “Mehr bumsen in Beton” as they used to say in Zurich.

  3. HKP says:

    Psychopathic urban planners indeed. It’s the least busy part of Victoria Park, which is precisely what’s so nice about it. I walk that path a couple of times a week and could hardly believe my eyes when the plastic barriers went up. Makes me sick.

  4. HKP says:

    By the way, I was in central over the weekend and couldn’t help but notice that a sizable portion of the reclaimed land seems to be covered with new roads. Wasn’t the idea to put the traffic underground?

  5. Sojourner says:

    “During the chaos, a boy complained he was hit by an expatriate man after shouting “support CY.”

    I indict Hemmers for eschewing social harmony and stirring up certain gweilo running-dog malcontents on this site.

  6. Gumshoe says:

    Nobody will miss the better beers. I’m pretty happy about the situation of spending thousands of dollars on a bottle of Chivas one night and then refusing to pay 30 dollars for a good ale in favor if $8/can “beer” the next. It’s a move in the right direction.

  7. Real Tax Payer says:

    Hemmers you really have got your priorities wrong.

    It should be 1st – the cost of bottled beer : elixer for the suffering.
    Then 2nd (as correctly placed) the long-suffering trees
    And then finally the great universal aged suffer debate.

    I’m thinking of organizing a sweep stake for the number of words in the eventual longest-worded new party name come 2017.

    Usually the longer the number of words and the more times democracy is mentioned, the less the party actually mean to institute any resemblance of democracy. Call it RTP’s Law of Names.

    The DPRK is the best example RTP’s LoN in the case of a real country : DPRK = anti-Democracy/anti- People/anti-Republic /pro-Kims.

    So far the DAB = “Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress* of Hong Kong” with a score of 10 plus a bonus of 1 for mentioning the D-word once = total 11.

    (*bet you didn’t know about the “and Progress” bit ! Neither did I till I googled it)

    I’m waiting for something like the “Democratic Union of Movements to Beat (to death) all those who Oppose Movements which are Anti Democracy in Hong Kong”

    Or DUMBOMADHK for short

    That would score 20 + 2 = 22. Twice the DAB !

  8. If it was Hemmers that hit the boy, more power to him. Seen a video still of that same boy tossing a water bottle, so deserves a nice swat or three cross the backside.

    And the replacement of park land is through a swap with reclaimed land in CWB or North Point? Excuse me? I thought the courts ruled that reclamation in CWB was to be temporary and that the govt would restore all reclaimed land to the harbour.

  9. isomoliu says:

    A barrister daintily sipping Death in the Afternoon? Oh, I misread.

    If bottled beer goes up in price, wouldn’t that simply push up the demand for draught or canned beer? Draught beer would seem to be the greener option, short of dying.

  10. Joe Blow says:

    Pre-97 there was this joke: 1997, the year Hong Kong takes over China.

    It may yet happen if even an ex-Red Guard like Jasper acknowledges the inevitable.

  11. NENT PropertyDeveloper says:

    Over the years Hemlock, the most clairvoyant of the political analysts, made two very reasonable sounding predictions: that Henry Tang was predestined to become CE; and that the CCP would never allow any real democracy in HK.

    If the dyed-in-the-red-wool Jasper has really begun to see the light, HK may yet still surprise us.

  12. If price rises force you to move to a more downmarket beer, don’t make it Yanjing – apparently they are the main financial backers of the odious Hong Kong Youth Care Association.

  13. Watt Noparke says:

    Victoria Park is a small slice of a potato. The WKCDA recently discreetly cancelled the tender for the landscape design of the park (which was the whole point behind the place) to save money. Instead of a park it will be a “quality open space”. How do you build a quality open space without design? Concrete and potplants, of course!

  14. Sojourner says:

    @ Private Beach

    Well said …

    It may be that I am a vulgar undiscerning pleb, but I rate Yanjing quite highly as a mass-produced brew. But since I heard of its financial back of the odious HYCA I’ve been boycotting it.

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