All is forgiven as Manila solves HK’s woes

Hong Kong reporters’ pack-of-baying-hyena-pups approach to news-gathering does not always travel well. Was it not then-President Jiang Zemin who chided them in Beijing for their naïve yapping back in 2000? Now they have run afoul of APEC officials in Bali, after aggressively questioning Philippine President Benigno Aquino, specifically demanding to know whether he apologizes for the hostage-taking and killing (by someone else, incidentally) of Hong Kong tourists in Manila back in 2010.

People in the Big Lychee have never been able to comprehend that this tragedy was just one in many thousands that unfortunately happen on our chaotic planet every year, nor that the almost comic incompetence of the local police was pretty much standard for parts of Southeast Asia, and indeed in other less-developed nations. Perhaps it was out of regional and cultural solidarity that the Indonesian authorities have detained Hong Kong pressmen for a stern lecture on Asian values, or some such. The journos are of course accusing all concerned of infringing freedom of the press. So far as we can see, no other countries’ media workers covering the exciting and terribly important international conference have faced similar action.

On the subject of the Philippines’ capital city, it is now cheaper to buy fancy brand-name jeans there than in Hong Kong – despite the fact that the former has heavy import/sales taxes and the latter has none. The reason, of course: our sky-high rents (Levi’s are set to pay HK$388,000 a month for 731 sq ft in beautiful downtown Mongkok.)

Does this mean the designer-label-crap-retailing boom is finally approaching its peak? Or does it mean yet further encroachment of the cancer-like shopping-paradise-curse into those remaining neighbourhoods (the names of which I won’t divulge here) where some stores still sell affordable basics to local residents?

There is a way to tilt the balance in favour of what is right and just, and that is for Hong Kong to impose its own 20% (or whatever) sales taxes on luxury tat. To the extent the tourists continue to pour in and buy this junk, the public purse will get some of the cash currently cascading into landlords’ pockets; this can then be sent out to the rest of us as an annual Visitor Nuisance Compensation payment. To the extent that the tourist pestilence goes to some other fab, glitzy retail destination, we can all breathe a huge sigh of relief.

Admirers of all this understated-but-frankly-still-ugly fashion on sale everywhere will enjoy the heavy, glossy, full-colour tome-insert that came with today’s South China Morning Post, in Escalator-Land at least. And went into the bin, obviously. But not before a quick flick-through to see who counts as ‘Women of Our Time’ – a desperate peg on which to hang ads for the usual watches, necklaces and grotesque shoes.

Actress Carina Lau, last heard of suffering a nasty bout of Triad-induced-nude-photos syndrome, gets in there for her success as a globally respected thespian. Pansy Ho, adoring daughter of ever-youthful casino magnate Stanley, makes it onto the list for ‘learning to lead at an early age’. Basically, it’s Rich Women Wearing Loud Stuff and/or Too Many Pearls, with a token scientist or film-maker thrown in to add a few brain cells to the overall ambience (we’ll skip the plastic-surgery disasters). Plus Jing Ulrich, a name that seems to crop up all over the place – or at least sticks in the mind in a Sino-Teutonic sort of way. She is introduced as a China expert, though the main photo suggests proficiency in the field of furniture as much as ceramics. Anyway, the SCMP must really hate her, maliciously choosing an unflattering picture of her in the company of un-photogenic mutant life-forms that could only say to me…


…the bar scene from Star Wars.



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24 Responses to All is forgiven as Manila solves HK’s woes

  1. maugrim says:

    Im laughing to myself about the HK reporters copping it. In a city where cameras being pushed into the faces of injured people or photos of people getting undressd within the confines of their own flat etc are seen as being ‘rights’ attributable to Hong Kong’s overall freedom and that anything less implies that we have become the Mainland, its refreshing to see some home truths given out. What a pity it wasn’t Singapore, a few lashes would make a story worth covering.

  2. Joe Blow says:

    After old Henry finally croaks, they will put him in a formaldehyde-filled aquarium and ship him around the world to conferences, ‘seminars’ and such @ US$ 500 k a pop.

    Labour leader/ war criminal Tony, who makes tens of millions every year, is thinking by himself -rather amused-: “If this is socialism, then I’ll have some more of it !”.

  3. gweiloeye says:

    Hemmers, I hope you don’t get into trouble for putting paper into the general waste bin. The office greenie won’t be impressed.

  4. Gin Soaked Boy says:

    What a truly disturbing image: Two war criminals and a lady committing a crime against fashion. Anyway, it cheers one up see the ‘children of the pen’ getting a telling off in Bali. The problem is the Hong Kong press is no longer commenting on the scene, it’s creating it!

  5. PropertyDeveloper says:

    I have never been convinced by your arguments concerning the disunity of the pan-dems or even their admittedly manifest failure to pinpoint the origins of the multiple ills affecting Hong Kong.

    But I wholeheartedly concur when it comes to the uber-nationalism of both the democrats and others supposedly supporting liberal causes. Whether it’s the journalists abroad, the dems remaining silent about the tragic handover to the communist bandits, the suppression of maids’ rights, or otherwise quite reasonable people raising the China flag on the Senkakus, the part of the brain that governs reciprocity, empathy, tolerance, common humanity and respect for difference seems to have been lobotomised in nearly all cases. It’s as if only China and Chinese existed, and all others were inferior beings.

    It’s worth repeating: a regime and its accompanying culture, however powerful and successful when viewed from within, that manages to alienate all others must be doomed to failure.

  6. Big Al says:

    Any captions for the photo of the war criminals and the plastic surgery victim? I’ll get he ball rolling with the following:

    Tony: So you ARE pleased to see Jing, after all!

    Okay, not brilliant but it’s a start!

  7. Jason90 says:

    If a 20% luxury goods tax doesn’t do the trick, how long before a destitute former cha chaan teng owner, forced out of business by high rents, holds up a bus load of mainland tourists, resulting in the mainland imposing an eternal travel warning on Hong Kong?

  8. Gerald says:

    Mistook “Creature Cantina” – for some late-night places in Lockhart Road…

  9. Bigot says:

    “Mainland tourists” bus-jack? Not going to work. Not here in the big lychee. Before uttering “yao mo gau chor”, the poor ex-CCT owner-hero would be subdued by the agressive hostages!

  10. Grog says:

    It is incredible how the media have kept alive the Manila bus shooting story long after it has been wrung of every last drop of newsworthiness. Some families of the victims continue to ask for compensation and an apology but the main reason I suspect is an inability to let go and move on. I guess as long as they are fighting for their loved ones’ “rights” they are still alive.

    Unless it really is only for the money, but that seems way too cold.

  11. Chopped Onions says:

    ” These waxworks aren’t very life like”

  12. Mary Hinge says:

    “Unless it really is only for the money, but that seems way too cold.”

    Come on, Grog. How long have you lived in HK?

  13. longtimenosee says:

    Hemmers & Grog.

    That racid little pri5k Aquino and his Manila mayor were a few hundred meters away in a Chinese restaurant (command centre, eh hem), and a timeline of events crossmatches to show that they had been ordering food at the exact time that the gunman was emptying magazines into HK people’s faces.

    The just boundless incompetence is almost forgiveable, almost, but then they mixed up the bodies so families were holding ceremonies to the wrong dead.
    They could not have cared less.

    The outcome was that Aquino protected his own from prosecution, refused to speak to the HK CE (whatever you may think of him), refused to apologise and now ignors the issue.

    Those members of press shouting abuse to him in front of a world audience…perhaps I have been here to long, but I am rather proud of them. At least they showed some balls!

  14. Tom says:

    “Unless it really is only for the money, but that seems way too cold.”

    This reminds me of a grieving-relative quote from a few years back, containing the following quote:

    One male relative answered: “It’s too late for you to be sorry now. Six families have lost financial support and lost their loved ones.”

    Financial support, and loved ones. In that order.

  15. maugrim says:

    longtimenosee, to write about the stuff-ups that week and to discuss the ineptness in general of the Phils would take both of us some time. While I do think there should be an apology from Manila, how much of what happened is used to; a) create a situation where Beijing acts on our behalf so as to show we are really one big, happy family, and b) is focused on ‘compensation’ as opposed to obtaining closure?

  16. C Law says:

    Longtimenosee, you got in just ahead of me – well said!

    Aquino has just been quoted as saying that it is not the Filipino culture to apologise for something done by someone else. However, the total incompetence of the Manila Police and the dire state of the response mechanism to the event in the capital city of his country is a direct responsibility of his government. It is the Philippine Government’s refusal to admit responsibility and to make the appropriate response which has kept this matter alive.

    Hemlock, it may well be that “the almost comic incompetence of the local police was pretty much standard for parts of Southeast Asia”, however, having had the incompetence so dramatically rubbed in their faces they could have had the decency to acknowledge it. After all, the Philippine Government is currently touting the swiftly developing nature of the country and its economy and this whole matter grates with such claims. Not that one is surprised where the Phillipines is concerned.

  17. longtimenosee says:

    Hi Maugrim

    a) I agree, but really the effect is going to be pretty limited as most will think “what took you so long”.
    But yes, the Lamma Ferry disaster was point in case for mainland trying to appear loving and helpful.
    We can handle our own stuff, if only left alone to do so.

    The mainland coming to the rescue of our press is comedy. The irony is massive.

    b)That the families might want compensation…well. Perhaps it is another discussion. Personally I think the journos had a right to ask Aquino in a public non cordoned off area to answer the families, at least.

    I would have asked him how the Chow Faan tasted while people were dying, but that’s just me.

  18. maugrim says:

    longtimenosee, I know one of the families concerned. It was like a knife stabbing me when I heard about people taking happy snaps at the scene, let alone putting the wrong bodies in the wrong coffins. However, I have to question the motivation of some in not looking for closure and moving on as we all must, but not forgetting.

  19. C Law says:

    Maugrim, Beijing has shown that they don’t care either. Taiwan was able to get a prompt, thorough investigation which resulted in the initiation of prosecutions and an apology from the Phillipine Government within three months when one of their fishermen was shot. Could not Beijing have achieved something if they had bothered themselves? Shows where HK really is on Beijing’s priority list.

  20. Failed Alchemist says:

    Tsk, tsk.. with a flick of the sword, Hemlock has ensured the blade worked both ways… “comic incompetence of the local police was pretty much standard for parts of Southeast Asia, and indeed in other less-developed nations” – ie. less-developed nation = Philippines. Not sure which makes it a more “ouch” moment.

    For the world to see the whole episode unravel on TV, knowing the two guest of honour were sipping coffee nearby and laughing things off as in coffee shop talk, the denial of certain quarters to address the disgrunted officer’s plea, the lost opportunity for a sniper to take the shooter out while being handed lunch and the final culmination of maybe the police also shooting the hostages – well, it was a shooting gallery from what we saw on TV.

    In modern lingo its called a circus… so for the family members, an apology may have suffice but that even was not forthcoming.

    Its the SOP down there – a patrol boat unloading every bullet into a fishing trawler even without provocation.

    Alfredo Lim isn’t known as Dirty Harry in Manila for nothing.

    PS. APEC is a boring event and thankfully our journos wanted to spice things up a bit..

  21. Pie-chucker says:

    GSB –

    Re local press. It’s ‘children of the notebook’ not ‘children of the pen’. Attributable to Wolfendale, I believe.

  22. I agree with others here that the Philippine government shares responsibility for the fatal outcome of the incident, thanks to the Keystone Cops incompetence of the police response. And don’t knock the demands for financial compensation – some of the surviving victims have to live with lifelong health problems.

    OK, so HK’s journalists failed to show a politician what he considers due deference – how much deference does he deserve? I was amused at reports that Aquino – while surrounded by bodyguards – supposedly felt his life was threatened by a bunch of shouting people armed with microphones. He’s not half the man his mother was.

  23. P.S. What is this thing Tony Blair has for Asian babe? First Wendi, and now Jing.

  24. Typo – I meant babes.

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