Adjusted for geographical scale, the Typhoon Haiyan death toll in the Philippines is reaching Indian Ocean Tsunami proportions, with reports of 10,000 dead, or 10,000 dead in one city, and bodies hanging from trees. In Hong Kong, Democratic Party legislator James To seems to suddenly drop his crusade to ‘help’ the families of the Manila bus shootings victims. Instead, he will be spending today ‘helping’ small investors who lost money after the 2008 collapse of Citic Pacific’s share price after the princeling-conglomerate’s disastrous foray into the Australian dollar through the insane semi-suicidal investment instrument known as an accumulator – or, ‘I kill you later’, as wits dubbed it. It is a long-running saga. James To’s part in it seems to be bogged down in complaints about the system for handling complaints about corporate governance, but the issue still has its uses.
Others in Hong Kong are less squeamish. The Standard’s ‘Mary Ma’ editorial defiantly declares that the thousands of bodies etc in Tacloban City are a separate issue from the Big Lychee’s promises of vengeance for the bus tragedy. It also accepts, however, that we have an awkward contradiction on our hands. Threatening the Philippines with visa controls and other silliness at a time like this looks more obtuse and self-centred than ever.
Hong Kong has its own, little-known foreign-aid programme in the form of a disaster relief fund with a rubber-stamp advisory body stacked with pro-Beijing figures. Typhoon Haiyan is exactly what this fund was designed for. If the city pointedly abstains from donating official money on this occasion, it looks too callous and downright narcissistic for words. If the fund writes out a cheque (as it presumably will), it leaves the mouth-frothing xenophobes demanding collective punishment of Filipinos looking ridiculous, or at least – like James To – scrabbling for something else to do.
Seeking someone to blame for this logical (I don’t think we can say ‘moral’) quandary, ‘Mary Ma’ goes a bit off-message. The last Chief Executive, Donald Tsang, treated the Filipinos with kid gloves out of deference to Beijing’s policy at the time, which was to try to charm Southeast Asian barbarians into accepting China’s claims to own the whole South China Sea. His successor, CY Leung, is acting tough in accordance with Beijing’s own shift in stance to frighten the tributary states into submission. So, not only must the families of the Manila bus shooting victims be used as tools by the likes of James To, their cause is being picked up, cast aside or waved around, as the paranoid and insecure needs of China’s foreign policy demand.
We now wait to hear from our self-appointed chief scourge of the Filipinos, lawmaker Regina Ip. Maybe she will demand ‘no visas for people whose bodies are hanging from trees’, or organize an emergency air-drop of dead dogs for Leyte. Or perhaps she will realize the typhoon’s impact on rank opportunism and keep her head down.
On a personal note, I too am pondering the typhoon’s far-reaching effects. My domestic helper’s daughter recently had a few weeks off from her strict convent boarding school after the institution suffered slight damage in an earthquake. So my helper went down there so they could spend a week together. They are somewhere south of and, I think, inland from Bogo City, Cebu, where one report says 70-80% of homes’ roofs were blown off. Best-case scenario is that I have to wash my own dishes for a few days longer than planned.
Always thought you had two helpers, Hemmers (‘the elves’)?
Anyway, all the best to her, and her family.
And, yes, pray silence from Regina from now onwards.
In other news, in a breakthrough in Hong Kong’s transgender politics, the Hong Kong Standard discovers “male cows” on Lantau.
On James To’s logic, the Catholic Church is responsible for Acts of God and therefore must apologise for the typhoon and pay compensation for the damage
It’s a category error to call Filipinos “barbarians”. They are, after all, as you point out, a vassal state, and the term only applies to those completely untouched by the benefical hand of the Celestial Empire.
I noted with interest that the no. 1 headline on the PCMP site was: 6 Chinese dead. Only in second place, almost as an afterthought: more than 10,000 dead in the Philippines.
This disaster really puts the petty bleating of our politicians into perspective. But there exists an opportunity here for Hong Kong to demonstrate it is a truly compassionate place, by organising a massive relief effort. I’m not holding my breath.
Maybe Ms. Ip can bring a late boost to the campaign for further apologies and compensation from Jimmy Kimmel and the ABC television network for broadcasting the “Kill all Chinese” remark by a six-year-old child, which hurt the feelings of Chinese people everywhere, after which she could resume her regularly scheduled programming.
Hemlock, why do you keep providing a platform to That Bloody Woman you mentioned in the fifth paragraph ? There is nothing these people hate more than not getting any attention.
“Best-case scenario is that I have to wash my own dishes ” reflects exactly the attitude you condemn. Perhaps it is said in irony, but if it were me that had lost my children and spouse, I may not read it that way.
I hope that Bloody Vagina Woman (and the rest of the supreme idiot council) does read this site each day.
Am I the only one who saw this contortion act yesterday? I know it will upset some of you, but it is quite breathtaking:
Chris Maden, I think you might have missed Hemlock’s point which was perspective.
As to the accumulator thing, I heard of some big names who were burnt when such a scheme collapsed a few years ago. The interesting thing is that people knew it was risky, but joined because they wanted to ‘show off’ and not lose face to others who also wanted to show that they too, could waste their money.
From the “Assessment of [Grant Relief] Proposals” section from the above-linked foreign aid programme:
” (5) The appeal/application should have received a measure of public support in Hong Kong”
So that’s that then.
@reductio – but there is this one:
“(4) The appeal/application should be based on humanitarian grounds.
Political considerations will not be taken into account.”
Let’s see if that gets glossed over this time around.
The typhoon death toll is just a desperate attempt to avoid responsibility for the Manila bus massacre. Our leaders will of course not let them get off so easily.
Why don’t our pathetic rabble of so-called leaders get some ****ing backbone and deal with REAL problems in Hong Kong. Healthcare, pollution, universal pension schemes, housing, schools…. etc, bloody etc instead of worrying about TV stations and some hapless tourists that just got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time!!
Yes, and it would be a magnanimous gesture to donate HK$100M to the Philippine Government immediately – likely chance though!
So CY has decided to keep the sanctions deadline in place. Whilst the rest of humanity is rushing to give aid and help to the 4 million homeless in the Philippines, Hong Kong is going to give them a kicking because of an issue that should have been resolved by our government three years ago. The ineptitude, lack of compassion and sheer stupidity of this government is beyond belief. Shameful, as is the silence and wilful blindness of all political parties.
One of your best columns today, but a couple of the comments deserve further comment:
@The Regulator – yes, it would be a good idea if the Catholic Church coughed up some of its riches to help. If it didn’t encourage Filipinos to have so many children, more of them might be able to afford homes that don’t blow away in a typhoon. Or perhaps God was watching the Jimmy Kimmel Show and took things too literally…
@PropertyDeveloper – in fairness to the PCMP, this is a universal tendency, and similar examples abound. On hearing of a disaster, our first thought is usually “I hope no one I know was a victim”. Human nature, I’m afraid – but from another perspective, it may perhaps be seen as a way of bringing a distant event closer to home for readers.
The gods blessing on all this is that HKs unelected government and China’s by default China’s too, will have egg all over its collective face for shear ineptitude and a basic lack of knowledge of diplomacy. Nothing in any country could be worse than the current unelected ‘leaders’ of HK and China. It took a huge storm and countless lives, but Yolanda has brought the end too the MNila bus fiasco, the IMO Spartley’s and nine dashed line; as well as the bollocks in the live thy neighbour foreign policies of Beijing and blatant racism of HK. Rest in Peace all lost soles.
reductio: re your item (5), the Chinese language news broadcasts are listing the bank a/c nos. of various NGOs through which one can contibute to the relief efforts and reports are that significant sums have already been donated. It appears that Mr & Mrs HK are reacting with their normal generosity and have not been swept along with the politicians rants after all. An official donation would, therefore, have ‘a measure of public support’.
@private beach: it was the nastiest typhoon ever to make landfall. I doubt if half of HK’s high-rise glamorized slums would withstand that.
At first, you feel for the victims, but then you realize in the end: it’s all about the money and self-importance of HK Politicians. President Aquino is a “democratically elected leader of a sovereign state.” Unfortunately not a single word in that phrase applies to HK and its politicians.
The biggest irony: some if not all of the supposed HK victims were in fact using Canadian passports.
I was reading the story about the continuing requests for the Filipino government to apologize for the Bus Hostage tragedy, and it occured to me:
The HK government should, in a sign of great gesture, offer to send members of the Flying Tigers (飞虎队) to help train the obviously poorly-trained Filipino SWAT.
This will help prevent such incidents from happening in the future and ensure that the lives of the victims were not lost in vain.
Would someone be able to post a link to a place where I can donate? I should do the research to work out who are the best organisations, but I am a lazy man. Perhaps Hemlock can include a link in today’s post as a concession to his soft-hearted readers who don’t have Filipino maids they can give a pay rise to.
Let’s hope your helper and her family are okay. One of the most ridiculous things about this visa issue is that some HK legislators actually think people in the Philippines will actually care if they lose visa free access to HK.
@chris maden. Is it possible that you have confused “best-case scenario” with “worst-case scenario”? That’s the only way I can make sense of your comments.
Bit late to comment but to pick up on a previous comment : ” I doubt if half of HK’s high-rise glamorized slums would withstand that’ I think that’s very true.
If that typhoon had hit HK directlyI think we would have had hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries , and certainly hundreds of thousands of apartments completely flooded once their windows were blown in .
I recall once meeting the son of a long-time civil servant who lived with his parents through THE great HK typhoon of the 50’s ( was it Wanda ? … Anyway the HK once in a century monster).
His home at that time was a govt quarters block on the Peak and he said that by the end of the storm every window had blown out, all the furniture had been blown away and the residents were crouching in the lift lobby for safety.
Sometimes we in HK get blase about typhoons and yearn a really “exciting one”, forgetting how destructive these monsters can be at their full peak.
A friend was recently on the China East coast when the “big one” hit there a couple of months ago near Fujian, and he said every window in his brand new apartment was leaking water like a sieve
Oneleg hates sanctimonious no-wits who can’t see humour in disasters…war…or incurable diseases…
…btw…are the victims really feigning death…like Benvenuti Acquino says ?
@Tiu Fu Fong – try https://www.oxfam.org.hk/en/oneoffdonationform_2013it043.aspx or https://www.worldvision.org.hk/od/i-donation.asp?type=od_noncs&ID=239&lang=e – both Oxfam and World Vision are responsible charities that won’t let corrupt politicians cream off the money, and already have aid workers on the ground in the affected areas.
@Real Tax payer – I’m not sure about the 50s, but Nury today has a piece on the great typhoon of 1937 which killed similar numbers in Hong Kong to the current Philippines death toll – http://www.mrjam.org/2013/11/when-hurricane-haiyans-twin-hit-hong-kong.html.
@ Private Beach
The typhoon I was talking about was certainly post-war.
But yes the 1937 typhoon was even worse.
BTW: Nury once did a correlation between news articles of all types per person-death in natural disasters like typhoon across the world.
The USA, not surprisingly came out at about a zillion per death (certain tens of thousands of articles/ death ). Some African countries scored numbers like 0.01 or even 0.001 .
To score anywhere near the USA the Philippines must reach about 100 million news articles in the next 2 -3 months as they clear up the mess and try to get back to some kind of life again