Bans against looking out of the window. Xi Jinping in a Zhongshan suit standing through the sunroof of his ugly Hongqi limo. Apparently monozygotic thousands of soldiers marching against fascism. Peace-promoting nuclear missiles capable of hitting Hawaii. The South China Morning Post’s owner Robert Kuok in his own paper, patriotically bewailing the Opium Wars and the Kempeitai. For those of us suffering an overdose of this surrealism, the perfect antidote: Hong Kong traffic…
A week or so ago, some former civil servant proposed banning trams from Central to reduce traffic congestion. This was before yesterday’s display of history-warping militaristic overload, so it seemed shocking and bizarre. It was hard to tell if the guy was serious, and afflicted with a bad case of Post-Retirement Serving-the-Community Disorder. Or maybe his submission to the Town Planning Board was intended as satire – the bureaucrat’s equivalent of piece of Banksy street art. Either way, he sparked off some major chatter…
Some background on illegal parking here and – all in the SCMP today – here, plus this and this on the subject of cutting traffic in Central. And it’s not only columnists, the police seem to be joining in, suddenly writing out more parking tickets. This is usually such a rare sight that you photograph it; the example here was last weekend (note that the usual line of illegally parked cars has mysteriously vanished). There has been a noticeable recent increase in traffic enforcement in Central’s streets, with police motorbikes and vans parked menacingly in several illegal-parking spots.
The flurry of interest in this issue offers officials an opportunity to do something highly unusual and bold: listen to what people are saying and take the initiative to deliver. In other words, the exact opposite of the Avenue of Stars/New World/collusion screw-up.
This sounds mightily naïve. Cynics will say that the transport/retail lobby will veto moves to ban commercial vehicles from Central during daytime, and tycoons or quasi-tycoon buddies of our officials will howl in protest if their luxury cars are similarly barred. There are people out there who insist in all seriousness that bus services should be cut to free up space for their Mercedes.
On the other hand, the situation is getting critical. The de-facto policy of allowing illegal parking is now encouraging drivers to double-park, to hold up traffic while lingering for a vacant space, to occupy bus stops, and to occupy sidewalks, and (according to a cop on the radio a few days ago) they reduce visibility and thus endanger pedestrians. Something has to change at some point simply in order to avoid gridlock. Or major loss of patience – I can’t be the only one temped to kick these assholes’ wing mirrors off. Which brings us to ‘rule of law’. The Liaison Office-government is contorting due process to make examples of student protestors, while car owners genuinely occupy Central with impunity. If only a pro-democrat politician had the wits to make something of this hypocrisy.
There are only so many entitled, selfish and arrogant screw-everyone-else vermin you can stuff into a given physical space, so eventually something has to give. I declare the weekend open with the scintillating thought that, after the private car owners, it’ll be the turn of… golfers.