Please appreciate your city while we wreck it

Stan-SAR-stallsHelped by Beijing’s local Liaison Office, Chief Executive CY Leung has imposed a new style of governance in Hong Kong since taking office in 2012. The gloves are off, and the government and its followers treat critics with undisguised malice, spite and venom. It is – with suitable adaptation to local conditions – the standard Communist United Front approach: crush the small number of hostile dissenters through intimidation, smears and subterfuge, thus scaring moderates into joining the obedient and loyal masses. These are the tactics that have brought such harmony to Xinjiang and Tibet, as People’s Daily reports every day.

But now – a boost for those of us nostalgic for a kinder and gentler Hong Kong! Back to the days of benevolent bumbling arrogance, when inept and patronizing bureaucrats desperate to Serve the Community dreamed up embarrassingly trite measures to divert and amuse their childlike populace. Behold the gloriously pitiful ‘Appreciate Hong Kong’ campaign.

It is, inevitably, brought to us by Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, who reminds us that it follows the ‘Hong Kong: Our Home’ and ‘Bless Hong Kong’ initiatives that spread good vibes throughout the city with such dazzling effect in 2013 and 2014.

Before we get to the, um, substance, we should note some real evidence that CY Leung’s ‘Boot Stamping on a Human Face Forever’ leadership style has shocked the Hong Kong Civil Service into adopting a grittier, more manly, approach to public communication. In the past, a facile publicity campaign (like Let’s All Wash Our Hands, Shall We?) would be accompanied by featureless kindergarten-level grinning comic characters. ‘Appreciate Hong Kong’ uses relatively adult circular colour-coded logos. That’s progress.

In other respects, the initiative has all the ingredients of past attempts to spread happiness, unity and general amnesia, and put trivial problems like unaffordable housing, rising inequality and creeping authoritarianism to one side. You can check them off

SCMP-AppHK1

  • Free fun stuff (for a limited period, conditions apply) for the simple-minded, easily amused ‘less advantaged’ and disabled members of the community.
  • Generous Government Gifts, in the form of brief free access to things you’ve already paid for through your taxes (in this case, museums).
  • Token participation by a property developer, via its Dickensian charity for the deserving poor, so we will all ‘Appreciate Hong Kong Tycoons’.
  • A fair or market for small local non-tycoon producers, of the sort most cities have all the time as a matter of course.
  • An excruciatingly lame sounding carnival. Or two.
  • A cultural event hosted by some patriotic shoe-shining association.
  • Nothing remotely imaginative that allows local people and groups to get involved through voluntary bottom-up projects because that would be freaky and scary.
  • An underwhelmed ‘is that all?’ ‘John Tsang budget’ feeling, as we realize that the civil servants ran out of ideas at this stage, and this is the end of the list.
  • Depressing line of men in suits at campaign launch to arouse interest and enthusiasm.

Meanwhile, a bank predicts continued increases in local housing prices, officials are still passing the buck on the lead-in-water affair, and the Communist Party is planning the next stage of its Decolonization Rectification Purge of Hostile Forces and Traitors in Hong Kong.

APPreciateHK

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13 Responses to Please appreciate your city while we wreck it

  1. Joe Blow says:

    Somewhere, deep in the bowels of the government offices, there must be a bureau of some kind that produces shit like this. Or perhaps it’s a group effort – a team building exercise: they pass a circular through those departments that are not too busy and solicit ‘happy ideas’. Maybe this is what Christine Loh does most of the time. She can’t be doing much of anything else.

  2. The irony here is that most of the things I appreciate about Hong Kong are under attack by the same government that is urging us to appreciate the place. Maybe we can hijack the campaign to appreciate the rule of law, academic freedom, country parks, etc.

  3. PD says:

    “crush the small number of hostile dissenters through intimidation, smears and subterfuge”? But this is only half of the two-legged dialectic, as you say later, the other being: shout down, charge or arrest on offences systematically flouted by the citizenry, enlist the NT heavies, or simply stick the boot in.

  4. Stephen says:

    Fitting that the failure that is Carrie Lam gets to front this days before the District Council elections – in case anyone has forgotten ? What will she be rolling out next September on the eve of the Legislative Council elections ? It won’t be policies that’s for sure. I read somewhere that she spent 20 months “working” on the political reform package. Of course “working “without the brains to understand what and would not pass the legislature or win majority public support neatly sums up the political ineptitude of the Head Prefect and her ilk. She must have been in the Civil Service during Patten’s tenure ? Yet failed to learn from a skilled political operator or was her head stuck up her, oh so important, arse whilst blathering to herself about the dignity of Government ?

  5. Red Dragon says:

    Many thanks to Hemlock for directing me to the hugely informative hand-washing poster. I now know what I’ve been doing wrong all these years, and why, consequently, I have the dirtiest, stickiest hands east of Suez. Yes, you guessed it, I’ve never turned on the tap (or should I say “faucet”?) to wet my hands before applying the soap. Schoolboy error, really, but there one is. Thanks to the Hong Kong government, however, I’ll be doing this right from now on.

    Before I go, I’d just like to say what an absolute crock of shit these so-called “events” are. I can’t imagine anything so paltry and dismal. Rest assured that, in keeping with my response to previous campaigns of this ilk, I won’t be attending a single bloody one. It’s always been a source of wonderment to me that apparently well-educated, and certainly well-remunerated, people such as those who infest the Hong Kong “civil service” are among the stupidest, most unimaginative carbon-based life forms on the planet. I could do what that Curry Lamb does ten times better and for a fraction of the cost. There really is no justice.

  6. PCC says:

    @ Joe Blow

    Recently I saw Christine Loh featured on the side of a milk carton.

  7. Docta G says:

    It’s North Korea without the jokes.

  8. Buy One Get One says:

    I didn’t think that HK had that many “special needs kids” – I thought they were all put down within three years of their birth.

  9. Joe Blow says:

    @PCC: you mean that Christine has gone missing, but nobody in the government has noticed ?

  10. Monkey Uncensored says:

    What a perfect example of unconscious, Freudian expression by the the unaware (in the Socratic sense of living an unexamined life).

    Perhaps, just perhaps, the unconscious collective id of our government leadership or civil service heads are sending an urgent message to their Beijing overlords in the only way their pseudo-Confucian deferential inner posture allows – via unconscious messaging and symbolism.

    I just want to let you all know, oh bureaucratic idols of our community, that i fully agree with you. It is about time that Communist leadership, and the general populace of the PRC starts to truly appreciate Hong Kong from a humanistic perspective, instead of through the narrow prism of nationalistic or Maoist rhetoric.

    Market-based, capitalist economic development without some semblance of rule of law, protection of economic property rights of the general populace, basic mechanisms for contract dispute or enforcement, etc, has never been sustainable and never will be.

  11. Gin Soaked Boy says:

    Christine LOH is learning that once inside the tent it’s hard to …. out. All her bright ideas for clearing air pollution have slammed into the inertia of government procrastination. Being a sensible lady she probably opted to keep her head down and take the money.

  12. Red Dragon says:

    A haiku for Christine:

    Sad, lost Christine Loh
    Nobbled by the government
    Fresh idol no more

    Not the best, I grant you, but I’ll get better when I learn to wash my hands as well as Pontius Pilate.

  13. Nimby says:

    Appreciate that Eddie Ng is doing his best to protect the interest of the 3 families who are behind most of the (for profit of the owners separate management firms, but non-profit for tax reasons) by keeping schools sites out of the market. Eddie has only released a few of these sites, with the best locations, to these families, thus protecting the interests of part of Hong Kong (even if he is doing so to the cost of all of the rest of Hong Kong).

    “The Education Secretary, Eddie Ng, has played down criticism that the bureau has left over 100 vacant school premises idle. Mr Ng was speaking after a Director of Audit report on Wednesday slammed the bureau for failing to take the sites back and put them to better use. Mr Ng said only 29 premises fall under their purview, and that four of them had already been returned to the government. He said he is working with the Lands Department to retrieve another four sites on private land that have not been earmarked for any use.”

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