HKTV, dogs and a lack of foresight

Is the HKTV saga coming to some sort of head? The Liberal Party and its leader James Tien are joining the pro-democrats in demanding that the company be issued a broadcasting licence. The Liberals are the party of the establishment tycoons who wanted (and expected) the Chinese government to appoint their buddy Henry Tang Chief Executive last year. They are torn in several directions: between their dislike of eventual winner CY Leung, and their eagerness to shoe-shine Beijing; and between their natural preference to side with their own friends’ cartels, and their occasional fondness for cynical and opportunistic acts of more-or-less populism. (Tien has never really recovered from the immense frisson he enjoyed when he withdrew the Liberals’ support from the Article 23 national security bill in 2003 and found himself the people’s hero.)

In this case, the Liberals obviously cannot resist the chance to skewer the administration, already squirming in discomfort over its ill-judged decision to keep HKTV’s more-watchable pap off the screens. If the Liberals received direct orders from Beijing’s local officials to support CY, they wouldn’t be doing this, which suggests that the Liaison Office has not been too fussed about the possibility of HKTV getting a licence (though other elements in the Communist regime might be). Nor do the Liberals seem to be crossing their tycoon constituents too much, given signs that the successful establishment-linked licence applicants are themselves surprised that HKTV’s bid was rejected. So James can go populist.

Will it help force the government into granting that third licence? The above multi-triangulation could almost suggest that Beijing and the local tycoons, as well as Mr and Mrs Hong Kong couch potato, are all pushing CY to do just that. That said, it seems hard to believe that China’s locally based officials would be urging our beleaguered leader to lose face so horribly.

HKTV boss Ricky Wong, meanwhile, is comparing the government to Adolf Hitler – which tends to be the mark of someone who has given up hope. That’s assuming he still really wants the licence. I hate to indulge in obscure and desperate-sounding conspiracy theories, but if someone wanted to position himself as a Chief Executive candidate in a universal suffrage-lite election in 2017, Ricky Wong is illustrating a half-credible way to go about it.

And then it all starts to go downhill…

It is unlikely most people in Hong Kong think much about Sir David Tang these days, assuming they ever did. The entrepreneur, raconteur, wit, socialite, art collector, psoriasis-sufferer, Anglo-Sinophile and philanthropist capitalized on the 1920s retro thing with the China Club and Shanghai Tang back in the 90s or so, and then withdrew gracefully from the glare of public infatuation (or something). Unless, that is, you read the Financial Times’ weekend edition, in which case you will see his weekly column, in which he dispenses perhaps-questionable advice on etiquette.

By the standards of FT columns, it is, let’s say, OK. Better than the excruciatingly pretentious one by the gay trendy-magazine editor who seems to spend his whole life sitting in and raving about Japan Airlines’ first class, or the one packed with the world-weary introspections of the youth with a Dutch name (can’t recall the details). Still, I must have missed it a couple of weeks ago. I would guess it had a question from a reader that said something like:

“I often stay with dear friends in the country for the weekend. Everything about these visits is perfect except for one thing: their dog. The mutt stinks to high heaven, yaps incessantly and sticks its snout into my groin, leaving putrid mucus dripping from my clothing. How can I suggest to my kind hosts, without causing offense, that they restrain the revolting beast?”

To which Sir Tang would – I am guessing – have replied something like:

“You should be grateful to be the object of this adorable and defenceless creature’s affections. Anyone who does not realize that dogs are the one life-form superior to Homo sapiens, and who does not worship them and share their owners’ commitment to pandering to their every whim, is a Nazi who does not deserve to exist in this world.”

Which is pretty much the default reaction of the emotionally defective, anthropomorphic misfits who gather and tend to dozens of the brutes as if they were human orphans. Anyway, the voice of reason – from the Big Lychee, no less – subsequently appeared in the FT letters page and deserves the widest possible audience …


James Tien, dog-lovers… On the subject of tragic inadequates, the New Age Shop in Old Bailey Street has closed. Aside from a curious mention of how “We expats are no longer appropriate…” the founder-owner’s farewell message is interesting for its tone of regret at various changes in circumstances that necessitated the shop’s closure. This is an institution dedicated to the supernatural and metaphysical, to channeling, fortune-telling, and the power of crystals and, well, foreseeing the future. And they couldn’t even predict a rent increase in Soho in mid-2013.

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12 Responses to HKTV, dogs and a lack of foresight

  1. maugrim says:

    Johannes Pong? If so, its more like a rhetorical statement than a name. As to James Tien, he was grinning like an idiot, well, more like the unpopular kid who finds he gets to be with the cooler kids for a day.

  2. Mary Hinge says:

    Assuming your guess is correct, then I’m not sure Sir Dave Tang has it right. The Nazis rather liked dogs; and, I assume, vice-versa. Historians note that Hitler’s beloved Alsatian even acted as a faithful testing rig for Eva Braun’s suicide poison capsule, thereby adding a whole new twist to the phrase ‘bunker mentality’.

    But, well said, Ms Bersee. And well done Hemmers for allowing her to steal your thunder.

  3. Joe Blow says:

    I have a theory that the British obsession with dogs and horses is a direct result of the homeliness of British wimmin in general. (Cue: Camilla with a fruit bowl on her head)

  4. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    The original letter writer should consider that the dog is more beloved than he and not push the owners to chosing between their house guests.

  5. Stephen says:

    Personally I couldn’t give a f*ck who gets licenses as none of them will have anything worth watching. It will be the usual shite, sorry content, aimed at ensuring the local masses continue watching “bubblegum TV” so they don’t start questioning the whole reason they;

    • Get the national anthem prior to the news;
    • Sensitive subjects are self-censored; and
    • The Government still produces more mind numbing public announcement bulletins than any other city.

    The only other theory, for the refusal to allow HK “Bubblegum” TV, I can think of (I did list out around 8 of them when you wrote about HKTV last week) is that Ricky Wong is in some way linked to Jimmy Lai, who is one of China’s biggest bogeyman and funds the Pro-Dems? Of course it’s more likely to be sheer ineptitude and now an exercise in saving face and Tien (who votes for him?) has jumped on this as a way to bash CY.

  6. You forgot tobacconist and honorary Cuban consul among Tang’s various occupations.

  7. Cerebos says:

    As an erstwhile peddler of one of David’s semi-eponymous brands I’m in a position to say that despite the crippling psoriasis he’s actually a really nice guy. Well intentioned if nothing else and gives the lie to Bela’s (ou est tu passé?) fervent declarations that we are a city of Philistines. Sure – HKTV will gullet-feed crap to the masses but isn’t that the point of the medium (opiate etc.. Bit sensitive to use that metaphor in the fragrant harbour)?

    As for dogs – I recently acquired one of sham shui po’s finest pedigree rubbish bin dachshunds and I can confidently report that canine misbehaviour has nothing to do with human owners. The little guy is an utter “Charlie Uniform November Tango”. I’m considering serving him to the in-laws at Christmas as beef Wellington with a twist.

  8. Oneleggoalie says:

    Joe Blow is funny…he should insult people more.
    Good one Joe Blow.

  9. Sojourner says:

    Oh, Joe Blow may be on the ball, but Cerebos’s comments are wittier.

  10. PropertyDeveloper says:

    Cerebos, Wouldn’t he be better in sausage rolls or toad in the hole?

    Out here in Kuk-land, the semi-stray dogs serve to terrorise outsiders. None of them are licensed or collared of course, but the owners hide inside, and only emerge if their dogs are losing a fight. An Irish wolfhound was torn to pieces by a pack; and most people carry stout sticks for self-protection — hence a decent number of three-leggers.

  11. Grande Poobahk says:

    Nice to see someone else enjoying the craft of Jonny Custard AKA Tyler Brûlée as much as I do.

  12. Knight of the Realm says:

    That’s ‘Sir David’, not ‘Sir Tang’ – his wife would be ‘Lady Tang’.

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