Hey – you can always go to Canada

Politics in Hong Kong is an incessant hailstorm of panics and outrages. Froth at the mouth about this! Wet yourself about that! And the barrage strikes from shifting directions. Wet yourself about this again, froth at the mouth about that some more, but for different reasons!

Members of the normally sensible-but-dull Democratic Party join their more excitable counterparts in People Power and the Civic Party in banging the table and demanding trade and other economic sanctions on the Philippines. It’s about justice for the families! It’s about giving CY Leung’s administration a good kicking! It’s about… avoiding criticism for not jumping on the bandwagon! (The more commerce-minded Liberal Party suggests that we all email the Manila authorities.)

Meanwhile, an old threat is being repackaged for a new cause.

For years, we have been invited to freak out about something called the aging population. Few dared question the existence of this looming danger. It was obvious that people living longer because they are healthier must be a Bad Thing. The then-Chief Executive Donald Tsang and his zombie-brained bureaucrat buddies tried to spread endless alarm about the phenomenon, insisting that we expand savings, start up new health insurance systems and introduce a sales tax in order preserve the government’s bloated reserves and everyone’s inalienable right to sit around doing nothing from their 60th birthdays.

Now, all of a sudden, it’s back. But it’s new and improved. It’s not really about people taking dangerously long times to die; it’s about people dangerously not breeding enough. That suggests a shift in the agenda. Under Sir Bow-Tie the intention was to ensure that the government could go on mindlessly accumulating its own private, not-for-the-public store of wealth. It was a colonial mindset, rooted in the principle that Hong Kong’s people are uninvited guests, just passing through, and nothing to do with the authorities’ core constituency of merchants. Now the reasoning has shifted. It’s not about needing more money; it’s about needing more people. More young people. Young. Fresh. New! New people. New Hongkongers who are diligent and can enrich the workforce.

The South China Morning Post reports proposals to give cash bonuses to women who have babies. Ideas, curiously, abound: monthly subsidies to families with kids; incentives for employers to offer childcare; better access to fertility treatment; and – scraping the bottom of the inanity barrel – time off work for parents to visit schools to review their kids’ report cards.

This comes after rising hostility to the surges of Mainlanders seeking milk powder and Mainlanders sending their Hong Kong-born children to local clinics and schools, at a time when space in the streets, on transport and for housing seems to be running out. It came to something of a head with provocative, not to say disingenuous, newspaper ads linking CY, Mainland migration and the housing shortage, and a prickly response from Hong Kong and Beijing officials. Chief Secretary Carrie Lam rejected the suggestion that the arrival of 700,000 Mainlanders since 1997 has had any impact on housing availability. You know what she meant, but it’s not as if they each brought their own apartment in with them. Without them, we are warned, more schools would have to close – as if most of us lie awake at night worrying about keeping schools open.

Admittedly, Donald Tsang occasionally pleaded for a higher birth-rate. But he didn’t offer money, because in his mindset the main problem was a dire shortage of money caused by grasping people living longer. But that was the old agenda. This is a new, post-colonial one. Post-uninvited guests.

We have plenty of cash now, but not enough kids. So this is the deal: have more babies and we give you money. Experience overseas suggests that such campaigns don’t work. (For many Hongkongers, it can’t work: they don’t have anywhere to put an extra bed, and they don’t want to go through the kindergarten-interview elite-schools-applications education nightmare more than once in a lifetime.) But there it is. Cash on the table, all yours for the asking. Alternatively, have more Mainlanders. Unlike the people of Tibet and Xinjiang, you have a choice.

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14 Responses to Hey – you can always go to Canada

  1. Maugrim says:

    There is a lot of talk about ‘moving back to Canada’, usually from sensible, hard-working, upper middle class educated types. It will be a great loss to HK. It won’t be hard to see that if cash were offered, exactly who would be doing the breeding. Not HK’s Alphas or Betas, but the Epsilons already living on Government cash. Today’s article is another example of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing. Bow tie and others allow Mainland based migration and the birth of ‘anchor babies’ to occur, ignoring any reasonable objections. Worse, when forseeable realities are pointed out, for example, what will happen when the tykes turn 3, 5 and 12 , its all a huge surprise to the brainiacs within the EDB. FMD.

  2. Failed Alchemist says:

    Ya, treat women like cattle.. herd them in, induce, then baby factory. Its already hard for them getting husbands in the first place. Back to the maids issue – HK should start talking more like Scandinavian countries like providing nurseries etc.. Like you said, families with a small flat making way for junior with maid in tow… just to pay the bills especially the rent or mortgage, they will need illegal extensions just to fit the maid there.

    Spore been there, done it and its a complete failure. Sorry folks, the women folk down south told the PM to try giving birth himself.

    As for expand savings – means put more money into MPF even voluntarily. They dislike resorting to a gun pointed at the head. New health insurance system – means we can save expanding public health care while taking care of the same MPF cronies. (watch Michael Moore on this one). Sales tax? Why not start on the two famous red wine collections and give the ordinary Joe a break (seen last weekend – Mainlanders buying up rice even when controlled item. So you know what is next).

    Summary – Don’t listen to the Pontificated Duck & his mindless minions in LEGCO.

  3. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    This news won’t help local perceptions of Singapore: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304330904579135220056016750.html

    Is it too much to think that HK pressure on Philippines on the Manila massacre is linked with the UN tribunal case? Probably so.

  4. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    Sorry, “perceptions of Philippines”, not Singapore.

  5. gweiloeye says:

    I see the SCMP has officially hit rock bottom, publishing an article taken directly from the China Daily written by some 100 year old lefty, Beijing sympathiser.

    The subStandard is now starting to look like quality journalism in comparison.

  6. Foxtrotosca says:

    A little off track but interesting bit about old énry and his dodgy (alleged)wine collection!

  7. Joe Blow says:

    The SCMP print edition reminds me of an anorexic teenage daughter: you never realized that anything could be that thin.

  8. Mjrelje says:

    The HK Govt reminds me of an overgrown 11 year old baby. You never realized how anything could be that stupid.

  9. Sir Crispin says:

    Big earthquake in Bohol today. Not to be insensitive to the suffering of those caught in the destruction, but this quote on BBC News made me wonder, how can they tell?

    “Cebu officials have declared a state of calamity in the province.”

  10. C Law says:

    As Hemlock has implied, it’s all about the price of property.

    So long as the baby producing age group are paying so much of their salaries in high prices due to commercial rents being so high and in the price of their own accomodation – which cannot be big enough for an extra child – they cannot afford an extra child. Any reasonable sounding subsidy will never be enough anyway. Get the price of property sorted out and many of the other problems will resolve themselves.

    Don’t hold your breath, though.

  11. C Law says:

    TFF, I think that it is rather the recent, unusual public comments from Beijing on the Manila hostages case which is more likely to be linked with the UN case.

  12. Here’s an idea: give Hong Kong women a year’s maternity leave for each baby. This will solve several problems at once: it will incentivise (horrible trendy word) them to have more children who will in time support the growing population of centenarians; it will facilitate breastfeeding, thus producing healthier babies who will be less of a burden on our health services and freeing milk powder supplies for re-export; the latter will in turn enable Hong Kong’s smugglers – sorry, entrepreneurs – to resume their traditional role of selling stuff to the mainland at a profit, thereby stimulating our economy; mothers will have time to take care of their own kids, thus relieving the shortage of overseas helpers and reducing overcrowding in their gathering places on Sundays; we won’t have to worry about empty schools (or pesky teachers demanding that they be used as an opportunity to reduce class sizes); and it will give Hong Kong a higher score on those international “status of women” surveys that India usually comes bottom in, making us feel good about ourselves. Of course the SMEs will scream that they can’t afford it, but hey, I can’t solve all our problems at once!

  13. Tom says:

    “It’s not about needing more money; it’s about needing more people. More young people. Young. Fresh. New! New people. New Hongkongers who are diligent and can enrich the workforce.”

    Literally Kafka-esque:

    [I]t struck Mr. and Mrs. Samsa, almost at the same moment, as they looked at their daughter … how she had blossomed recently, in spite of all the troubles which had made her cheeks pale, into a beautiful and voluptuous young woman. Growing more silent and almost unconsciously understanding each other in their glances, they thought that the time was now at hand to seek out a good honest man for her. And it was something of a confirmation of their new dreams and good intentions when at the end of their journey their daughter stood up first and stretched her young body.

  14. Hyperlink says:

    Community tastes today regulate the entertainment business in a manner which had beeninconceivable before the net together with the virus-like submitting of news reports, in addition toentire entertainment content. As soon as you add to that distribution on the web and, press, online sites, from rumor to whole videos. This is a completely new world. Some of it beneficial, some not.

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