Evolving Hong Kong

Another day, another chapter in the South China Morning Post’s epic 10-part ‘Moving Forward’ series on how Hong Kong can boost its competitiveness after the Occupy-Umbrella Disaster Mayhem Cataclysm Massacre. And another aging Chinese professional male spouting exactly the same ‘correct’ things.


SCMP-MF2Integration with the Mainland is seriously cool, the opening blurb says, because it will give Hong Kong workers ‘opportunities to commute’. Interviewee Paul Cheng then recites rather too comprehensively from the list of Stale Stuff to Say if You Want a Silver Bauhinia Star. We should be part of China, not block it. Democracy sounds good, but… Nasty minority ruining everything… Young people creative blah blah innovation and technology blah blah. Beijing helped poor little Hong Kong. Losing edge to Shanghai… Singapore much better and nice and authoritarian…

In a nutshell: Why oh why can’t everyone just shut up and move to affordable housing outside Zhongshan and enjoy the lovely opportunity to commute to the New Territories Mega-Mall every day to work selling stuff to Mainlanders?

More tomorrow!

You might flick through the newspaper in the hope of finding something less shallow, less unoriginal, less trite – less depressing. And then you get to the report that the HK Tourism Board wants to ‘lure art lovers’ to a particular street that happens already to be known worldwide for its art galleries and is in no need of special promotion. But there’s a twist. The Board hopes to ‘evolve’ Hollywood Road into something like Samcheong-dong in Seoul, because obviously being something like Hollywood Road in Hong Kong isn’t good enough.

A Tourism Board spokes-zombie blathers on about attracting non-shopping men who are into art and greenery, because we desperately need this last remaining tourist segment that is not yet swamping the city. Meanwhile, an art gallery owner gushes with unseemly enthusiasm about the bureaucrats’ dim-witted ideas.

The key feature needed to make the art-and-cafes district trendy is, apparently, an antiques shop that never opens. I’ll bet that a Tourism Board fact-finding trip to Korea discovered that Samcheong-dong has a unique and seductive air of mystery about it owing to such an enigmatic outlet. Fresh from their success in installing a Ferris wheel to make the Central waterfront something like London, they now plan to develop Hollywood Road into our very own antiques-shops-that-never-open hub. The antiques shop that never opens will be given a new high-quality plastic exterior to make it look more authentic, and there will be special purple signage sprouting from the middle of nearby sidewalks directing visitors to this famous must-see attraction.

(Just a thought… Living in that neighbourhood, I can attest that a large proportion of the tourists clogging up the area are Koreans. Apart from spreading an air of solemn despondency, their main kicks are the Mid-Levels Escalator, egg tarts and standing outside Marks and Spencer – in other words, the very things that are not something like Samcheong-dong.)

Time, surely, at last, to ‘evolve’ the Tourism Board into something like a bunch of unemployed people.

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13 Responses to Evolving Hong Kong

  1. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    A pity that most of the HK protest discussions are in Cantonese and very little of it is making it across the language barrier.

    Here’s an English article about how the protestors outwitted the police over the weekend: http://www.bcmagazine.net/bc/2015/03/10/so-the-inevitable-finally-happened-on-sunday/

    Wong Yeung-tat’s passiontimes video about the protesters hassling the mainland mother with 3 year old child was interesting and effectively a position of “yes, we will end up making kids cry, we have to accept that”. Again, unfortunately only in Cantonese.

  2. PCC says:

    Cheng Ming-fun is a useless toady — always was, always will be.

  3. gumshoe says:

    The government will never understand that trendiness and style come about naturally, not with money injections and consultations. They destroyed the art of Lennon wall in one fell swoop, destroying one of the most authentic art installations in the city, then complain about how there isn’t enough art in West Kowloon Cultural Dumpster. My patience is long gone.

  4. McManus says:

    @Tiu Fu Fong

    Salient point from the article:

    “I have watched these protests for hours and have pointed out many times, when the police aren’t there in force, the protests carry on relatively peacefully. Of course, there are minor skirmishes on the peripheries, but this is symptom of the fractured nature of society, it’s certainly not indicative of the violent nature of the groups.

    With this in mind, the protesters have flaunted with trying to lose the police, because without doubt, large amounts of police quickly lead to batons out and indiscriminate pepper spraying.

    In the first Tuen Mun protest the crowd experimented with being highly mobile and ‘like water.’ On this occasion, protesters visited many smuggler shops where the police presence was minimal and nothing happened. It was only when the police finally caught up with the protesters that they caused a shit-show.”

    The cops must instigate violence. Without the instigation the encounters are all nonviolent and suddenly the protests gain more legitimacy. Once the encounters turn violent who started what where when becomes almost irrelevant. To the average middle class taxpaying law abiding citizen the very idea that law enforcement could be “rogue mobs” is inconceivable. They missed Kristal Nacht and the Cultural Revolution. Not to fear, the very bright minds who enjoyed that gynormous genocidal enima are the masterminds behind today’s headlines.

    Lucky us.

  5. Joe Blow says:

    Why did you put a picture of George Adams in today’s banner art ?

  6. Stephen says:

    Paul Cheng – “walked away” really ? I recall it being a little different and he’s been bitter about it ever since…

  7. Porklover says:

    Angela clearly does not know her neighborhood well.
    That roasted pork shop is great. And the lady in the coffin shop is nice. Lots of life there. The antiques place opens for Mahjong EVERY DAY EVERY HOUR. So what is Angela talking about? The arts places are well… empty, no people.

  8. reductio says:

    That’s right Angela, let’s get rid of THOSE kind of people. They’re just so ..ugh…I bet they can’t tell a Picasso from a Rembrandt. I know, unbelievable, but I’m next to these people EVERYDAY. OMG they are SO Chinese. What we need are some beautiful people here. The kind you find in the SCMP Luxe Magazine. The other day I saw that man who works in the Funeral parlour – he was wearing a CASIO WATCH!! Frightful, all of it.

  9. gweiloeye says:

    Hey guys give Angela a bit of a break. She likes the mix of shops.

    Now if we could just get rid of the gallery.

  10. Cassowary says:

    Isn’t it redundant to try to turn SoHo into Samcheong-dong? It’s already called SoHo, for crying out loud. The barbecue pork and coffin shops are the few remaining outposts of old school Hong Kong business in a yuppie-hipsterscape full of tapas bars and upcycled clothing boutiques.

  11. Hermes says:

    @ McManus, did you mean enema or enigma? 🙂

    The tourism board hasn’t got a clue.

    As Gumshoe rightly says, trendy areas grow organically over time. Recreating a successful tourist attraction elsewhere lacks imagination and doesn’t always work, e.g. Chengdu’s fake ‘Lan Kwai Fong’ has zero atmosphere compared with the old HK version. Likewise the ‘new’ LKF, people have now moved on to other, more interesting areas.

  12. Diane Butler says:

    I walked around LKF on a recent afternoon and I noticed that tat emporiums for China tourists are creeping further and further up the hill. I guess it’s only a matter of time before Al’s Diner turns into a nail salon -cum- sex toys boutique.

    Not that that is a bad thing.

  13. Chinese Netizen says:

    People call mainland Chinese tourists/smugglers “locusts”…trust me, you do NOT want HK taken over by ROKs either.
    Can’t there just be normal, sane tourism by various independent minded travelers without having to have a specific ethnic group, through their country’s obsessed tourism industry, completely making someplace “theirs” and, in effect, ghettoizing it???

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