Second thoughts

Beijing indulges in a bit of unseemly backtracking. China’s government has second – and you can’t help thinking cynical, clumsy, let’s-do-soft-power – thoughts about snubbing the Philippines with a miserly contribution towards disaster-relief, and stumps up some more cash. Global Times quotes a Mainland academic growling that the US and Japan may have hidden intentions behind their humanitarian aid. Obviously, it’s all the fault of slick do-gooder foreigners that China ends up looking bad and that Filipinos have a highly developed sense of who owes whom a favour. On top of that, the Communist Party’s Third Plenum communique being so vague and vacuous about what it was being ‘decisive’ about that it caused a stock market slide, leaders are now promising the ‘full’ version, crammed with lots of exciting detail about what will happen now everyone’s adequately felt the stones in the river.

Perhaps Hong Kong could use some of this promised Third Plenum-style reform and opening-up. First, our policymakers deny a licence to a budding TV broadcaster in such a way as to protect the interests of the city’s monopolistic property tycoons’ families. Now, our precious small stockbrokers want the government to authorize an official cartel so they can pad out their fees at investors’ expense, rather than accept the fact that the Almighty put them on this Earth to be taxi drivers on account of the appalling things they did in their previous life. These are the same grubby intermediaries who for years demanded that the stock exchange shut down for hours every day so they could shovel vast piles of food into their mouths and then snooze at their desks, rather than survive off two bites of a cold sandwich like real men in real financial centres do.

On the subject of people who deserve little sympathy, Cathay Pacific’s ‘Fanfare’ promotion predictably leads to wailing and gnashing of teeth among hordes of gullible penny-pinchers. Some folk actually believed that if they went on-line at the promised time, they could pick up a HK$50 flight to New York, among other too-good-to-be-true offers. Needless to say, while a handful may have, the vast majority of these poor guileless wretches floundered away for hours trying to get through to an overloaded, frozen website.

Cathay’s spokeswoman blathers away about an ‘intermittent technical error’. This is, of course, totally the wrong response to the inevitable howls of anguish from bitter, unrequited graspers of improbable bargains. The correct press statement would read:

Please be informed that, obviously, only an idiot would seriously imagine that, as a profit-making enterprise, we would give our product away to anything more than a token, headline-grabbing number of applicants. Our main aim with this promotion was in fact to entice large numbers of the most dim-witted members of the community and occupy them on their PCs for several hours, so the rest of society could get a bit of peace. We consider this meaningful project an example of good corporate citizenship, in addition to which, we take pleasure in declaring the weekend open. Thank you for your attention.

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27 Responses to Second thoughts

  1. Gumshoe says:

    Do nothing for others and then only capitulate when embarrassed into doing so; then do it indignantly? Seems about right.

  2. maugrim says:

    Just a thought, only a year ago, Chinese warships were patrolling Philippino waters arguing that they were in fact ‘Chinese’. Strange that now, the Phils are ‘unreachable’ via China’s navy and for some unfathomable reason the Phils are no longer part of China. The whisper is the Chinese are good at parades but lack any real logistic ability/capabilities. As to Cathay, seriously, in HK, offering free excrement would attract a queue. $50 fares to NY (indeed anywhere) is going to attract every see lai to get as many as they can. Today’s newspaper report of a lady complaining after she scored some 12 tickets is QED.

  3. Sid says:

    The reason why China is so reluctant to roll up its sleeves and do some hands-on help is in their working methods.

    No sooner disembarked than they’d be setting up a works committee, dozens of working groups, some for Chinese some for (local) “foreigners”, cutting the internet, builiding “temporary” 10-storey structures underground and discarding the waste over a large radius — then shooting anyone who disagreed.

  4. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    “The whisper is the Chinese are good at parades but lack any real logistic ability/capabilities.”

    Didn’t Doug MacArthur and his ilk have similar preconceptions?

  5. Sojourner says:

    The response of the Beijing government, Legco, and HK citizens to the Philippines disaster is an inglorious heap of ordure.

    Much local opinio can be summed up in what a local wrote to a mutual gweilo friend on FB when he criticised her for her callous indifference:

    “… who should apologies for those overstayed maids, those stay here as prostitutes, those who supposed to take care of kids or old people but just keep talking on the phone. Those dressed like going parties after their master going to work? Those who supposed to walk the dog but will never leave her phone but sit aside? see the poor dog standing next to the shit but the maid even didn’t notice it as they were talking! and those who just wanted to get rid of their countries and willing to do ANYTHING, including seducing the master?!”

  6. PCC says:

    @TFF. Yes, MacArthur had those same preconceptions and he was wrong.

    He took no account of the fact that the Chinese Army in 1950 consisted of highly motivated battle-hardened veterans who’d spent the previous decade fighting the Japanese and the KMT. Contemporary accounts attest to the skill and bravery of the average Chinese infantryman, although there were decidedly mixed reviews regarding the performance of their generals.

    Today’s PLA is probably pretty good at land-based emergency relief work due to their experience in helping out victims of earthquakes and other natural disasters. It’s unlikely that their airlift and logistics capabilities are very strong, but no doubt with practice they could develop them to a reasonable standard.

    As for war fighting capability, today’s meanest MFers would be the Americans, the British, the Islamic extremists, led by the Taliban and al Qaeda. I don’t think any other military, including the Chinese, even comes close. Man for man against any of the four above-mentioned adversaries, the PLA would probably get slaughtered.

  7. Incredulous says:

    Even the cops are stooping to new lows as I witnessed yesterday on Lamma a cop who should by now know everyone on the island, stopping a Filipina helper for an ID check. If it had been my wife I would have demanded an explanation very quickly.

  8. Sojourner says:

    I generally concur with your analysis, PCC, though I am not so convinced that if you take away all his high-tech equipment and firepower the average american soldier quite deserves to be number one on your list.

    I would add both the Israeli Army and thir Hezbollah opponents to the list.

  9. maugrim says:

    Sojourner, you have to wonder about the ‘karma’ that HK builds with the view that they are ‘masters’ of people they see as being beneath them. Of course, the irony is that anyone uttering such comments in say Toronto or Sydney would have instant cries of racism and would know how to exercise any ‘rights’. Except you can’t be racist to poor people. /sarc.

  10. Real Fax Paper says:

    Incredulous, fair enough I suppose, but what makes you think stopping helpers and asking for their ID is the kind of thing your wife would do? Or is it just a Lamma thing?

  11. Incredulous says:

    @Real Fax Payer, not quite. What I mean is if he’d stopped my wife who is Filipina, I would have had words with him.

  12. Real Fax Paper says:

    Incredulous, yes, I know. I was trying to be funny, innit.

  13. Oik says:

    Incredulous – why?

    Aren’t cops permitted to do so under law? Or are you just making a massive presumption (of actually quite humungous proportions) that this check was based on racist grounds?

    Sometimes I’m quite staggered by some posters’ indignation about perceived racism directed at ‘brown’ people here when they exhibit just the same level of racism against the local Chinese in their postings.

  14. I think Incredulous’s point was that in a small island community the local cop should recognise everyone, so there would be no valid reason to check their ID. But maybe Filipinas all look the same to HK cops…

  15. Sojourner says:

    So being disappopinted at the local response to the disaster in the Philippines is racist, is it?

    Some people must have a very broad definition of the term.

  16. Sojourner says:

    @ maugrim

    well said

  17. Baldleon says:

    I am sure there are many local efforts to raise funds for the victims of this typhoon and much sympathy as well. It would not be fair to consider the general consensus of the locals from the ignorant statements from Sojourner’s acquaintance, just like it would be unfair to state that Sharon Stone’s comments about the victims of the 2008 Wenchang earthquake as the general American/Western sentiment.

  18. Monkey Master says:

    After some time trolling (and very much enjoying both posts and comments), the Filipino tragedy and HKers reaction necessitates a response.

    native HKers are probably the most racist bunch of c*** s ever born (I speak as someone born and raised here who is part Shanghainese). After much contemplation, I believe this phenomenon, as well as other dysfunctional aspects of society here: constant skyscraper development; expensive, big cars as fashion items; the focus on generating wealth at the expense of quality of life and family (ironically considered pragmatism); the rather asexual lady folk (broad brush strokes), and the eunuch like menfolk; ultimately all of these phenoma find their roots in a generalized, subconscious penile insecurity within the collective HK masculine id.

    At least the mainland Chinese have good reason to be uncouth, xenophobic, ruthless wankers: 60 years of domination by a corrupt and violent state (incl. 25 years of lovely, good ‘ol beat-your-parents-to-death-in-the-local-square-with a stick Maoism) will do that to you.

    HKers abject lack of compassion for victims of the typhoon, and rather venal approach to the bus tragedy, is shameful. I believe the resentment comes from the fact that the Filipinos who live here reflect an uncomfortable truth: you can be happy, you can experience joy, without constant striving for material wealth. And when HKers witness this – joy for the sake of joy – it makes it so much harder to pretend that the new car, apartment, gourmet meal, fulfills and satisfies the soul.

    And so, rather than using the uncomfortable feeling to spur contemplation of the nature of true happiness and life fulfillment, HKers choose to judge and hate and deny the only really happy people who live here. Sad.

  19. Gin Soaked Boy says:

    I don’t get Incredulous’s point. Does he seriously expect the cops to personally recognise everyone on Lamma. Even if the cop recognized the lady concerned, that does not preclude the fact she could be here illegally.

  20. Sid says:

    MM, I concur wholeheartedly with your overall argument, namely that most HKers tend to sacrifice true happiness for material gain, and to do down anyone who, like John Lennon, is happy or free.

    And the racism displayed by many Chinese in HK and most on the mainland is indisputable.

    But all this emphasis on outward show, with conspicuous consumption, in contrast with personal conscience, is simply part of a more collectivist culture (shame vs guilt), which it would be hard to show to be inferior to more individualistic systems.

  21. Oik says:

    @GSB – or the possibility that she had been spotted acting suspiciously or that a crime had been committed by a Filipina and she was a potential suspect. The point is we don’t know and shouldn’t jump to conclusions.

    It smacks of the bolshy ‘the law don’t apply to me’attitude that some expats here seem to hold.

  22. Gin Soaked Boy says:

    @MM. A pretty accurate assessment. I would add that HKer’s are lost. Pre-handover they were somewhat unique as colonial citizens; post 1997 they have gradually had that status eroded as they are absorbed into the greater Chinese diaspora. That has proved unsettling for them and led to the current collective psychosis, which manifests itself in constant complaining, a lack of self-awareness and an inflated sense of self-importance. Anyone who has a teenager will recognize these traits.

  23. PCC says:

    Do I understand correctly that Incredulous’ wife is a Filipina domestic helper who has been going around Lamma asking cops for their IDs? That’s weird.

  24. mjrelje says:

    Excellent MM. I think we are also seeing the fall out of the disaterous Dongguan boomtown days of the then 50 somethings HK men marrying 20 somethings that they were shagging 15 years ago. These doomed second marriages and affairs completely undermined great swathes of HKs society compounding a sense of ‘things are going badly wrong’ by 2003 and the great march. By now, most of these marriages have failed leaving a huge poll of fucked up children to work out the racism against them from both sides of their parents alone. Awful place really.

  25. Mjrelje says:

    p.s. – the whole brown skin / superiority thing that racism most shows its head is because HK sees primarily only one side of a nation’s citizens — female. This over the years has lead to an elevated master/servant reflection of the perceived view of neighbours. This is further allied to the fact that both nationals realise Fancl has no effect on being white and HK women are of equal shades of brown/yellow/white.

    The biggest and growing reason for racism is that FDHs are considerably smarter than their employers in most cases and are doing a job they enjoy in a faith that guides them.

  26. Sid says:

    GSB, I too had a teenager last week.

    In my view, this whole racism-cum-cultural superiority/inferiority complex runs deep in the Asian psyche. Colonialism, skin colour and gender discrimination may add to it, but it goes back to ideas of Middle Empire and barbarians start at the Great Wall.

    Without most of the benefits of the Enlightenment and “all men are created equal”, there is simply no tradition of fighting against discrimination.

  27. Real Tax Payer (retired) says:

    @ Monkey Master

    I wholeheartedly concur ( sad to have to say).

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