Hong Kong awakens to find itself up to its knees in public consultations. It’s a comforting feeling, in a way – a reminder that normal political life goes on amid all the lunacy and bizarreness. The last anti-corruption boss was claiming expenses for vast amounts of booze, the Catholic former Chief Executive tried to do some intensely tiresome-sounding deal to get an audience with the Pope, and the palm trees on something we’ve never heard of called the Magic Road have mysteriously died. Among all this idiocy, we still have worthy ideas, bound to irritate someone, that are being formally proposed so we can have an informed debate to enable the community to come to a consensus on why nothing can or will happen.
First up is maximum working hours, which is sort of like the minimum wage only different. The challenge is to find a way to stop exploitative employers from forcing low-paid workers to do 60-hour weeks, while not affecting the rights of high-paid bankers and their interns, and of course of brown people from overseas who work as maids, to work 70-hour weeks.
Second is household waste disposal charges, which is such a good and obvious idea that your inner cynic feels slightly bad about mentioning out loud his feeling that it’ll never happen. It works in Taipei (apparently, they snitch on each other). Will it work in a city where drivers park illegally everywhere, unauthorized structures sprout from every building and highly respected officials fiddle their housing allowances to pay mortgages?
And then we have compulsory jack-booted Nazi drug-testing. This sounds like something out of an old Ronald Reagan election platform, until we remember that this is that other side of Hong Kong, where we must delete ‘world city’ and insert ‘Asian values’ and Christian do-gooders agonize endlessly about young people hanging around computer games arcades, officials pester Young Night Drifters, parents oppose equal rights for sexual minorities because it might ‘cause embarrassment’, and we’re not sure whether herding poor dark-skinned kids into inferior schools is OK or not.
The details are here. Basically, it only applies if you act funny or if your eyes have that tell-tale glazed dilated look that extremely alert, highly trained cops will detect with unerring accuracy as they watch you coming off the Lamma ferry. Or maybe if you wear dark glasses, or have one of those stupid-looking pointy beards and/or wear a sort of big hipster-style woolly sock on your head. The highly trained law-enforcement personnel will pull you over and send you off to have a urine test, nodding determinedly at your screeches of “You must be taking the piss.” If the result is positive, you will be lovingly counseled by deeply sympathetic and understanding professionals who are such self-righteous creeps that you will abandon any vice in order not to have to meet them again. This system is called RESCUE, which they say means ‘Reasonable and Early Screening for Caring and Universal Engagement’ – the most mind-blowing acronym I’ve encountered for a long while. (It’s that ‘Reasonable’; Orwell couldn’t have thought that up.)
But… The four members of the Drugs Freak-Out Commission sort of give the game away. Principal Assistant Secretary for Security Mandy Wong can barely contain her giggling, and her colleagues are all putting on stupid faces in their attempts to look serious. “Don’t worry,” they seem to be saying, “this is just to please the God-Tells-Us-to-Worry-About-Youth brigade. You know it’ll get nowhere.” This is just the sort of initiative our more awkward, hard-to-please legislators take delight in stomping to death.
Which is perhaps a pity, because there are some pretty wacked-out-looking people prowling around. Booze-on-expenses for graft-busters, bent Italian senators fixing audiences with the Pope, and mass-tree death out on Magic Road – this stuff doesn’t happen unless someone’s on a steady stream of hallucinogens. A case in point: what is Stock Exchange boss Charles Li Xiaojia on? Mushrooms? If you get off on St John’s Book of Revelation and Coleridge’s Xanadu, you’ll just love the warped, psychedelic allegory in his dream about Mr Disclosure and Mrs Practical following the Alibaba non-listing trauma. Maybe it’s Majoun. A case for Reasonable and Early Screening, if ever I saw one.
RIP Anthony Lawrence, who, at 101, was the oldest person I know. One of his witticisms: “When you get to my age, your friends have all disappeared, you can’t hear what people are saying, and you have no interest in women. And there are many other advantages.”
I was present at a briefing given by the narcotics division of the Police Force. They flagged this as about to happen and said it came from the D of J. What made it worse and made my antennae twitch was that I have never heard such a pissweak explanation as to what and why in my life. There was NO understanding at all of legal concepts. For example, what was the charge? Possession? Ingestion? being under the influence of? Worse still, the entire reasoning seemed to be a few party goers who had dropped their stash on the floor and denied it was theirs. From this, they want to move into drug testing in schools and have a far wider, compulsory education scheme for youth that are caught. They mumbled something about a consultation process. My feeling was that it was a rushed, poorly thought out idea that had come from ‘on high’, that in practice, had real problems that anyone with a brain could foresee. Pretty much what we are used to.
Maybe part of the mainlandisation effort – re-education camps for drugies first, others may follow.
The great standard working hour’s consultation rumbles on and you would need to be on drugs to see it through … On one hand things have improved and that ridiculous Saturday morning nonsense has, in the last 10 years, been scrapped for most of us – decades behind other cities. However there is still a reluctance (at least in my office) to be out of the door, with me, at 6pm on the dot.
But for how much longer is the average wage slave going to have to take it up the ass to appease the “business sector”? We have a pathetically low minimum wage, employers still control MPF accounts and dip into them to offset severance pay which, hasn’t risen in over 10 years and maternity and paternity are straight out of the 1960’s.
All together, after three – “Asia’s World City”!
If there are some astute readers who are also in the habit of contributing comments in the on-line edition of the SCMP you may have wondered why, in all the several reports in the past few days about Bowtie-wants-to-meet-Pope in exchange for ( allegedly) sitting on incriminating evidence against aged sex-fiend Berlusconi, there is not a single comment. Not one comment on any report at all.
I was thinking to myself that maybe the absence of comments was simply because one’s first reaction when reading these truth-is-stranger-than-fiction reports is : “that doesn’t suprise me at all : it’s just the kind of thing both Berlusconi and bowtie Tsang would get up to ” (or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that in Berlusconi”s case it was to get it up , while in sir bowtie’s case it was to suck up) . So the whole thing is so silly, that it’s beneath the dignity of sane people to comment.
Well the answer is in fact that the SCMP has blocked ALL comments on this series of articles ! If you read the SCMP on-line try it yourself and see.
That’s a first for the SCMP.
So either sir bowtie has got the Pope to pray for him , or else Berlusconi has bribed the owners of the SCMP, or the editor is a catholic.
Or all three of the above .
Truth becomes even more strange than fiction.
The first recipient of a urine test has to be Charles Li Xiaojia – whilst under the influence he obviosuly tried to channel Martin Luther King “I have a dream”
@Papal Reporter – I would have actually filed the papal visit stuff in the “who gives a shit” pile and not deserving of a) reporting it and b) actually reading it. Ergo no need to comment on it.
PR, Not all that surprising: the BBC, for a start, has no comments on most articles about China. I suppose they got fed up with all the mouth-frothing and uber-race-ing.
Even Hemlock, and I hope he won’t mind me saying this, has been known to delay posts he considers too close to the bone, presumably as a final warning before the nuclear option.
In other news, Chugani has realised that some government officials are racist. Better late than never I suppose.
If you go to a police station to enquire about this or that, the lowliest carpark attendant or toilet cleaner has the right to demand that you show your ID card, I learned on my last visit. Being able to stop anyone in the street who looks a bit jaded fits with the general creeping curtailment of civil liberties aka mainlandisation.
“But Secretary for Security Lai Tung- kwok assured police will not casually stop and search citizens on the streets.”
I’ll be “assured” some fucking eager police assistant will be stopping every east Asian because he thinks they smell like curry.
You say that as if its a negative thing. They could start in Nathan Rd or O’Brien Rd.
My initial reaction is that Tsang’s craving for a close personal encounter with the mitre and crozier was another example of the self-defeating scrabbling for face. But recall as well his pandering to Beijing, which would not look upon such efforts with affection.
A strange man, Mr Tsang. Perhaps torn between two mistresses, neither of whom cared very much for him.
On the other hand, perhaps Tsang’s sins were so greivous he had to go straight to the top for an indulgence.
The CCCP needs to get in on that racket – if Bo Xilai would repatriate $100m of his ill-gotten gains, he could cut 5 – 10 years before his standing in the party is rehabilitated after he dies.
Can anyone independently confirm that the comments function is inactive on all the Tsang/ Pope series of articles in the SCMP on-line ?
If you are going to go through life being self-serving and corrupt, then the Catholic Church is definitely the religion to adopt. You can commit your sin, then pop along to see one of the bachelors of Rome (assuming he’s not busy with a choirboy) to get absolved of the evilness by chanting a few ‘Hail Marys.’
Sorry to hear about your friend. Bloody good innings (and quote)!
@Gin Soaked Boy
A cheap, dumb, ill-informed and worn-out comment.
@Joe Blow. Are you another catholic in denial? There is nothing cheap or dumb about revealing the hypocracy and evil work of the Catholic Church. Read the details and weep.
I’ve always suspected JB and/or GSB might be avatars of George Adams, but must admit I’m not sure.
PD – Pretty sure George isn’t a bible thumper like Joe Blow, but he certainly does move in mysterious ways.
@Gin Soaked Boy
Not a Catholic myself, but it strikes me that, if you’re going to complain about a few altar boys, then you’re obviously totally down on shooting up shopping malls. Or are you?
Maybe shooting up altar boys instead?
“HKSAR Word for the Day *Consultation*”
““Consultation” has a special meaning for the SAR Government nomenklatura: It’s a scripted process where an authority figure dispenses talking points and then smile broadly waiting for their planted sympathisers to give an affirmation. All other submissions are held, unopened, for 5 years then landfilled. “Consultation” is an especially important word since it obscures the power relations involved by implying all the parties are equals, when they clearly are not.”