On a brighter note…

Other parts of the world boldly stride towards a bright shining future of progress and enlightenment. Take plucky little Denmark, which tackles its giraffe menace in no-nonsense, can-do fashion by shooting the lanky beasts, then dismembering them in front of children and feeding the bloody, dripping bits to ravenous lions. Meanwhile, what are we doing in Hong Kong? Whining about how Shanghai has overtaken us to become Asia’s number-one ‘binge spending on luxury goods by fashion-conscious locals’ hub-zone, or desperately hoping that Singapore’s immigrant rejects will move in and save us from doom.

Clearly it is time for some good news.

Every January, the Police Commissioner sends all his favourite people a copy of the previous year’s crime statistics. It’s all public information, but there’s a letter attached sort-of explaining the numbers. I say ‘sort of’: a 5% decrease in violent crime is attributed to, well, a decrease in violent crime… 

Coming from any other government department, this would instantly arouse suspicions of bureaucratic wrongdoing – overpaid civil servants sweeping evidence of laziness, incompetence and collusion under the carpet. But to the crime-counting cops, this tautology is a perfectly rational explanation for the data. You want to know why there was less robbery, rape, wounding, etc last year? Ask a sociologist. Indeed, so determined is Commissioner Tsang Wai-hung to maintain the stereotype of police as plodding and unimaginative that he reports a genuinely stunning statistic as if it were barely worthy of note… 

A city of over 7 million people, and not one single robbery with a firearm. (Washington DC, with less than a tenth of our population, recorded 1,400.)

Hong Kong’s crime rates are mostly so low that year-on-year comparisons show apparently wild swings. Thus the number of goldsmith/watch shop robberies jumped by 300% last year. This sounds appalling until we notice that only one crime in this category took place in 2012, compared with four in 2013. Statistically, it tells us nothing about any trend (and you have to wonder what role is played simply by the proliferation of these Mainlander-oriented outlets across the city). The main sort of crime that shows growth in halfway meaningful quantities is online. Hence the rise in blackmail, which the Commissioner blames on the bizarre ‘naked chat’ thing – ‘mostly men in their 20s and 30s’ [Hello Kitty collectors?] doing things in front of webcams.

Then we come across something that looks pretty shocking: the number of homicides rose from 27 in 2012 to 62 in 2013…


It’s a 129% increase. If it was watch shops, we’d think ‘cool!’, but this is about people getting killed. However, the Commissioner matter-of-factly makes everything clear…


Strip out 39 counts of manslaughter arising from the Lamma boat accident, and you’re left with 23 homicides – four fewer than in 2012. And 16 of them were domestic/family mayhem-dramas, sad but inevitable results of Hong Kong’s ongoing experiment in cramming humans into small boxes, tormenting them with warped notions of success and failure, and denying them mental health care. That leaves seven ‘normal’ killings of the sort most of us might worry about. One in a million.

Now – if they could only sort out all the illegal parking.


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21 Responses to On a brighter note…

  1. Regislea says:

    “Now – if they could only sort out all the illegal parking.”

    And knocking domestic helpers around!

  2. Bigot says:

    And disregard of traffic regulations by some cyclists,

    drivers using mobile phones while on the wheel.

  3. Gumshoe says:

    Just this morning I saw the hard working police bust a ring of illegal parkers who park on a rarely traveled street with no signage or road indicators showing parking restrictions while eating a quick breakfast. Meanwhile gangs of rogue Alphards and moving vans stop in the middle of major roads for hours at the time with no sign of restriction. Great stat boosting, guys.

  4. Real Fax Paper says:

    It’s illegal to park on a street on which there are streetlights. Doesn’t matter if you’re not obstructing anything, not parked on a pavement and if there are no yellow lines or other markings or signage of any kind indicating that parking is illegal. Streetlights make it so, so naughty. And a very easy win for police who need to catch up on their quota.

  5. Gumshoe says:

    Thanks for that info real fax paper. I had looked through the driver manual and had no idea that was the case which pretty much rules out any street anywhere. Great.

  6. Sid says:


    And the destruction of the countryside.

    I note with interest that one of the 62 homicides was not “detected”. Will we found out only from the smell then?

  7. I’ve noticed in past years that if the crime rate goes down, the police give themselves a pat on the back. If it goes up, they proclaim the success of their efforts in persuading more people to report crime – though in reality the only category of serious crime that is grossly under-reported is rape and sexual assault. (The biggest category of unreported offences, however, is probably “unauthorised structures” – everyone’s got ’em, so no one shops their neighbour for fear of the same being done to them.)

  8. Scoff Law says:

    Hey Bigot if you ever rode a bicycle in this city you’d quickly realize that traffic regulations, infrastructure and routes were developed without the slightest interest in your wellbeing.

    And don’t you know it’s a respected Hong Kong tradition to ignore laws that are inconvenient to you?

    What are you? Some kind of bigot? That’s me on the bike on the tram track going through the red light giving you the finger.

  9. maugrim says:

    Hemmers is correct, even the Police state they have no idea why certain crimes go down. Others are seasonal. eg summer school holidays. The stats per district are an interesting read and give an interesting look at the nature of each district, the rates for individual crimes varying often markedly in comparison to other districts. Domestic violence is growing, as is computer based crime, which is going off the scale. Interestingly, non-Chinese crimes are reported under a different subset meaning that Mainlanders are not singled out as no distinction is made between Chinese residents and non residents. Other data is missing such as the percentage of crimes such as upskirt photography, theft etc that is committed by Mainland visitors. From memory though, I think the crime rate per 1000 for non-Chinese members of society was higher than that of Chinese people. This includes it would seem tourists. The data the police use/publish is very politically correct and is presented in a way that other, real truths aren’t touched upon.

  10. Backspace-Enter-Shift says:

    I too enjoyed the news coverage concerning the Danish giraffe. What a fantastic story to start the week. Actually, maybe the powers-that-be should invite the executioner over to HK so that he can knock-off some of the feral cattle and buffaloes. I’m sure the “inbred” excuse could also be invoked.

  11. Headache says:

    Am I the only one who finds it a bit premature to record deaths as homicides when charges have been laid but not adjudicated?

  12. Apple-A Apple-X says:

    All the other issues else aside, you would have to be really unlucky to be murdered in Asia’s upskirt photography hub.

  13. CH says:

    @ Headache

    It’s not premature. A homicide is a factual description of someone dying from non-natural causes. Whether or not anyone can be found personally criminally liable for them is a question yet to be determined. But the homicides still happened.

  14. PCC says:

    For those interested in the topic of car parking restrictions, the law in Hong Kong is: you may park your car in only those places specifically identified for parking. Every place else is illegal and subject to penalty.

  15. Ex Tax Payer says:

    Good to see that illegal parking is still on the agenda of The Big Lychee

    I have come to the conclusion (based on a lot of first-hand observation) that

    a) parking wardens only book illegally parked cars when no-one else is looking ( and people “looking” includes the driver, whether inside or outside the car.) Otherwise the rule is just to move the car on regardless of where it is parked

    b) police only book illegally parked cars on sunday afternoons, public holidays (except CNY when there is a general amnesty ) and at any other times when there’s nothing much else for them to do

    c) it makes no difference if the car is parked on a double yellow line or not i.e. the police just treat it as parking offence and don’t write to the car owner to ask WHO parked the car ( unlike speeding and other “mobile” traffic offences when the police do ask the owner who was driving the car )

    In other words : as far as the police are concerned, booking illegally parked cars is below their radar horizon and a pain in the neck , or to put it another – and more accurate way – they don’t give a flying fuck

  16. Stephen says:

    What will a well organised “Occupy Central” next year do to Police Commissioner Andy’s figures ?

  17. Sojourner says:

    @ Stephen: “What will a well organised “Occupy Central” next year do to Police Commissioner Andy’s figures ?”

    Well, if some commentators are to be believed, we may see an exponential increase in the homicide rate.

  18. Ex Tax Payer says:

    Having slammed the Police’s casual attitude to illegal parking it’s only fair to say that HK is a very safe place to live in – probably one of the safest in the world outside quiet little towns like Chipping Sodbury (one one burglary per century) .

    And I’d rather life in a safe town with illegal parking than vice versa

    PS: For those with an interest in Tom Clancy, his latest book Threat Vector makes gripping reading, with live gun battles along the backstreets of Wanchai and Causeway Bay : AK47 -armed 14K triads shooting it out with infiltrated US delta force soldiers, the death toll in that battle alone exceeding the total real 23 homicides in 2013. The action in China is even more surreal.

    But strangely, the book does start with China extending its maritime rights to the whole of the South China Sea and declaring something akin to the recent air defense zone thing…..So perhaps before long our homicide figures will soon literally be shot up to DC levels .

    (Mind you, the book does end up with China and the USA in all-out war following a huge cyber attack by China on Uncle Sam, and then the son of the US President personally rescues a downed US fighter pilot from a river in Guangzhou. So this book does take a lot liberties with the imagination : a sort of Chinese cyber-war version of Harry Potter…. )

  19. If the police moved on all the illegally parked vehicles in areas like Central, there would just be a massive (barely) mobile traffic jam as drivers crawled round in circles waiting for those they are supposed to pick up. So, not much improvement there.

  20. Z-Cars. says:

    I’d much rather live in a city policed by the HKP, then one covered by the racist bully boys of the Met or gun slingers of the NYPD. Count your blessings.

  21. Legal Legal says:

    PCC, about motor vehicle parking you are correct, but Scoff Law will be pleased to note that while “It is also an offence to park a cycle on a footway, pedestrian way, central reserve, verge, hard shoulder or traffic island, … the Road Traffic (Parking) Regulations, provides a defence, in respect of other vehicles, in that if it can be proved that no danger or [actual] obstruction was caused, no offence is committed if a cycle is parked on a footway etc.”
    – from Transport Planning and Design Manual Vol 3

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