At the WEF, the hallucinogenic drugs kick in

The South China Morning Post gets caught rewriting headlines to give an anti-Hongkonger spin for its Chinese online edition aimed at simplified Mainlanders….


Presumably a plain everyday pro-Beijing angle isn’t good enough over the border; only malice will do. Maybe the paper will translate ‘HK government ranked world’s fourth most efficient’ as ‘HK ranked useless pile of crap compared with other places’…


It has to be said that this is a decidedly strange story. The World Economic Forum is, like FIFA or the International Olympic Scamsters Federation, one of those murky-underbelly-of-Switzerland oligarchies that strut around importantly while the rest of us are supposed to grovel in deep admiration. It has come up with that space-filling curse of the modern media – a grand list of things ranked in order of wonderfulness according to our very own wacko secret-family-recipe objective criteria. The WEF are listing countries/territories in order of efficient government.

To much of the world, the ‘lede’ (as we media jargon experts call it) is that Qatar, oil-rich autocracy, is number one. The feeling seems to be that, if some despotic Wahhabi-financing sheikdom that must have bribed the aforementioned FIFA to host the World Cup and lets hundreds of Nepalese workers die on construction sites can be number-one, what diabolical savagery are places not even in the top 10, say Denmark or Canada, up to?

To us in Hong Kong, we take high rankings in our stride and in a spirit of good humour. If being World’s Freest Economy, for example, means having the planet’s most over-priced housing/wealthiest property tycoons, we can only laugh and say that if this your idea of freedom, you can shove it.

We would note that of the WEF’s top 10, six are essentially city-state money-laundering SCMP-CitysGov2tax-haven places, which I have helpfully marked with a red spot on the SCMP’s table. (I’m including oil-shiekdoms Qatar and UAE in this category, because they are up to their ears in that sort of thing, plus Switzerland, which is more ‘Alps and cuckoo-clocks’ than ‘city-state’ but otherwise fits the bill.) Another two, Finland and New Zealand, are inoffensive, healthy, clean, outdoorsy, blond, heavily wooded, underpopulated, meat-eating democracies famed, we have no doubt, for highly efficient government, marked with helpful green spots.

This leaves two other places. One that rather jumps out is plucky little Rwanda, in Africa, known especially for its mist-shrouded gorillas. We are vaguely aware that it has attracted praise for bouncing back from its unspeakable time of genocide. It vaccinates more kids than Seattle, for what that’s worth. Among other reforms, it has scrapped French in favour of English – which alone surely qualifies as efficient.

The other is Malaysia. This is where we in Hong Kong and the rest of Asia have to ask WEF – WTF? We all like Malaysia for its scenery, for its architecture and – well, mostly, if we’re to be honest – its food. In culinary terms, Malaysia is paradise, the pinnacle of its cuisine perhaps being the hybrid Nonya cooking of the Peranakan, or Straits Chinese. Some of the most amazing eating I have ever had has been piled up on a banana leaf at a plastic table in an open-air street-side tent, for a few bucks.

But this is a ranking about efficient government, not nasi lemak. Let’s leave aside some Malaysian people’s insistence that NASA’s New Horizons probe cannot have reached Pluto because the sky is made of seven layers guarded by angels who do not eat (tragic!) or sleep. Let’s overlook some Malaysian people’s mouth-frothing over a wombat as an offence to Islam during Ramadan. We’ll assume that a partly cretinous populace and highly efficient government are not mutually exclusive. Let’s not even get too bogged down in unanswered questions about the 1MDB fund. Just check out Asia Sentinel and peruse one of the best recent surveys of Malaysia’s development over the decades, which could be titled ‘How to Screw Up a Potentially Great Country’, but is in fact called ‘How Malaysia Became a Kleptocracy’. Maybe the WEF is open-minded about the many ways a government can be ‘efficient’.

I declare the weekend open with a couple of interesting thoughts from the Washington Post and the New Yorker


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10 Responses to At the WEF, the hallucinogenic drugs kick in

  1. Oneleggoalie says:

    A lack of playtime is also responsible for the likes of Benny and Rimsky…though torture in school also played a part…
    They were so cute when they screamed…

  2. Jason90 says:

    Usually the HK Government issues a press release to celebrate one of these rankings – but they seem to have overlooked our No 1 ranking in the Economist’s ‘Crony Capitalism Index’ …

  3. Maugrim says:

    Malaysia? The inept, lazy cronyism created by bumiputra first policies makes a chimpanzee colony more productive by comparison. This is the country that had one of its own planes fly back and forth across its own territory but military ATC control didn’t pick it up as it was after 5.00pm on a Friday lah.

  4. LRE says:

    The “wastefulness in spending” metric can’t rank very high — We have the bridge to nowhere, the oh-so-unnecessary high speed rail link, cyberport, the cruise terminal, WKCD, etc etc etc and that herd of white concrete elephants is just at the citywide level.

    And if I recall 75% of government spending is on salaries and pensions, which sounds a bit wasteful, especially given some of the cases.

    Take CY Leung for example — the government spends HK$4.61 million on his salary each year when he himself regularly pointed out last year that his role could be easily filled by a cardboard cutout of someone holding a sign saying “Ask Beijing, because I’m not in charge.” As a cardboard cutout could also be safely taken into LegCo or a meeting with students or the public without a security detail (you can always get another one printed), there would be further savings there. So yet again — wasteful, wasteful, wasteful!

    Then there’s all the pro-government legislators who can’t even work out how to vote properly in LegCo.

    At the district level, the mind boggles how much is being spent concreting areas of natural beauty and other foolishness — my district council just pissed away HK$20 million on a bicycle park that I suspect no one will ever use because it’s more inconvenient, and even if they did the thing is already under-capacity. Even the relevant government departments quietly admitted it was unnecessary, but because it was “wanted” by the Concrete contractors District Council it would get funded.

    As to Charles Whitman, I think the glioblastoma under his thalamus moving in on his hypothalamus and compressing his amygdala was more at fault than the lack of playtime, but let’s just keep that tiny bit of evidence a secret from Hong Kong’s psychotically competitive parents, eh? After all, maybe a lack of playtime leads to brain tumours … wink, wink.

  5. gweiloeye says:

    so essentially i live in a gigantic breeding ground for mass murderers. have a good safe weekend all.

    i am now twittering?…tweeting?…twitting.. thats it i think.
    @hkgweiloeye coz i cant write more than 14 charact

  6. Joe Blow says:

    Poop in the pool ? I am not surprised at all. When I go for my weekly dip in Kowloon Park there are so many Mainlanders present that sometimes the water turns murky and the life-guards are complaining about the massive numbers of ‘compatriots’ (puke). They are even planning a strike.

    Those who still choose to write for the Pro China rag: isn’t it time to pull the plug ? Leave it to Chugani (who needs the money) and Vagina Ip, who needs a silver bullet in the back of her head. You are better than that.

  7. Cassowary says:

    Let’s play Rewrite SCMP Headlines Patriotically!
    “Lead poisoning rare in Hong Kong, experts say, with most recent cases from Chinese medicine” => “Pansy Hong Kongers freaking out over nothing”

    “Elephants are dying because of Hong Kong’s failure to tackle illegal ivory trade, report says” => “Radical Western environmental group blames Chinese for elephant decline”

    “‘Indecent’ photo album of girl, 6, withdrawn from sale at Hong Kong Book Fair” => “Hong Kong perverts disappointed as child pornography withdrawn from book fair”

  8. Joe Blow says:

    One year ago Tom of Holland quit and that was the right thing to do.
    Van der Kamp: do the right thing !

  9. LRE says:


    “Mainland arrests almost all China’s human rights lawyers” => “”

    “HKJA says Hong Kong media self censors and journalists attacked more often” => “”

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