SCMP does humour

The op-ed page of today’s South China Morning Post is largely dedicated to attacking evil foreigners plotting to hold the glorious motherland back…


American academic Tom Plate traces market jitters about the Yuan to the West and its ‘fast-buck investment jackals’ responsible for the Asian Financial Crisis. And local pro-Beijing polemicist Lau Nai-keung rants that George Soros’s attempts to short the currency will fail and takes another 800 or so words to insist that we must therefore ignore the guy. Both authors sound hurt that anyone might imagine that China’s economy is in any sort of trouble. Their tone suggests that we should believe everything is in fact fine, or, if it is not, it is the fault of the aforementioned barbarian devils.

What a joy, then, to have a third item on the page that is actually entertaining, and indeed SCMP-ADayvery funny. Peter Kammerer hilariously suggests that Hong Kong’s divisions could be healed by having an annual celebration of the day in 1841 when the British seized the place. The idea presumably came to him just a few days ago, on January 26 – the 175th anniversary of the event, which he felt went unmarked (though, as we shall see, it did not).

The Hong Kong government – not to mention our sovereign overlords in Beijing – would of course find such a suggestion horrifying. The local authorities are currently eradicating colonial-era symbols from Post Office mailboxes and, and more to the point, are engaged in a struggle against freedom-loving residents to curtail the city’s pluralism and liberty. The official line on everything is relentlessly Mainland, Mainland, Mainland, and young people seeking to defend Hong Kong’s distinctive culture are viewed as enemies.

I am amazed that such a scurrilous article could make it through the SCMP’s in-house Patriotic Mass-Line Enforcement Committee. How could they miss the joke – the idea that we have an annual celebration of the British legal system, as a sort of light relief from the other 364 days a year when the government and its Communist Party minders are dismantling rule of law?


The author makes one slip-up. He believes that pro-colonial and anti-colonial camps switched positions in the city’s power structure after the handover in 1997…


It was not that simple. The Chinese government made a point of co-opting interests like the property tycoons and the rural Heung Yee Kuk – the very people who had previously most energetically shoe-shined the British. The local pro-Communist loyalists remained largely excluded from the post-1997 government.

Hong Kong’s tycoons and New Territories mafia now seem to be losing favour among China’s leaders, who have finally noticed that these ‘elites’ are dedicated purely to extreme avarice. But the traditional leftists are still mostly sidelined and taken for granted – used for United Front purposes as required, and kicked in the teeth for their faithfulness, as with Tsang Tak-sing, like beaten dogs that come back whimpering to their master. Beijing seems to have given up the idea of having ‘friends’ in Hong Kong.

Anyway – the 175th anniversary of the British acquisition of Hong Kong was in fact celebrated. I guess Peter Kammerer did not get an invitation to the Party No-one Came To. It probably helped if you lived in or around the neighbourhood where it all began…


A good time was not had by all.

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15 Responses to SCMP does humour

  1. reductio says:

    Ah, the SCMP Holy Trinity is now complete :

    Lau Nai Keung
    Michael Chugani
    Yondon Lhatoo

    (For all you fans of Trinitarian debate, I’m more of a Modalist: all three are manifestations of the unknowable Godhead, aka the CCP).

    Also starring Tom Plate as John the Baptist

  2. The SCMP has been amusing me ever since I founded Not The South China Morning Post in 1995. I recall the moment, cowering in your darkened flat, the tiny Libretto computer, Patsy and Tony, white box wine seltzers. Ou sont les laughs d’antan. Nowadays I hardly ever get past the headlines. They thought the recent American show of strength in the South Chna Sea was repulsed by the brave Chinese navy. Everybody else said different. Then they pointed to the fact that few teachers turned up to a protest letting at HKU on a Sunday wheras opposition to Arthur is rife amongst the university’s teaching staff. Two reasons why I hardly ever get past the headlines. It’s a branch of China Daily. Bring back Jonathan Fenby.

  3. PD says:

    Poor Peter Kammerer reminds me of Peter Mathieson.

    Both are well-intentioned, naive, determined to uphold principles of politeness, but unable to understand modern HK. Without the means to resist the popular mood, they are reduced to grasping at straws, to merely acknowledging their weakness to change anything (or even survive?) in a brutally utilitarian and realpolitik-based society.

  4. Boredcaster says:

    Poor old PD, still doesn’t realise when someone’s taking the mickey

  5. Sojourner says:

    You should check out the “distinguished scholar” Tom Plate’s Wikipedia page. It’s self-evidently a hagiographic puff piece written by himself. … That is truly stooping low.

  6. Qian Jin says:

    I wonder if all those photos of posters serve to provide a pointer where Hemmers lives?

    We might even be able to lift his fingerprints off the pages he printed out at home.

  7. inspired says:

    @ Qian Jin, by ‘we’ do you mean the ‘relevant mainland security body’? Or do you own a fingerprinting kit like I do?

  8. Regislea says:

    Article just gone up in the SCMP website about HK being voted “World’s freest economy” for the last two millennia.

    Half way down the text, we are invited to:

    READ MORE: Disappearing freedoms – five examples of Hong Kong’s fading liberties under one country, two systems

    Unfortunately, Access is denied to me: “You are not authorized to access the requested URL.”

    Was it something I said?

  9. Stephen says:

    The SCMP might do humour but no tells a better joke than the U.S. based think tank, The Heritage Foundation. For the twenty second consecutive year Hong Kong has been awarded the world’s freest economy !

    So rejoice when you get gouged by Park N’ Weep / Not Wellcome, rejoice again when you pay your utility bills to the sole providers, rejoice some more if you are one of the lucky 40% who live in Government subsidized housing, rejoice as you travel home on the Government owned subway or fly from the government owned Airport. I could go on …

  10. Joe Blow says:

    the world’s freest economy, the No. 1 tourist destination on planet Earth, the most expensive housing in the galaxy, the cheapest BigMacs anywhere and the highest consumption of oranges in both the eastern and western hemisphere.

    I could write an essay about but I won’t.

  11. LRE says:

    I’m still slightly agog that they let van der Kamp get his latest scathing truth bomb in.
    Does nobody in the S-CCP-MP minitrue memory hole department read the business section?!?

  12. Laguna Lurker says:

    Hemmers: “I guess Peter Kammerer did not get an invitation to the Party No-one Came To. It probably helped if you lived in or around the neighbourhood where it all began…”

    Peter Kammerer is blind. I doubt the fly-posters would have gone to the trouble of printing them in Braille.

  13. PD says:

    Is it just me, or do I find all the former assistant lecturer’s antics a little tiresome?

  14. Qian Jin says:

    In reply to ‘inspired’
    ” Qian Jin, by ‘we’ do you mean the ‘relevant mainland security body’? Or do you own a fingerprinting kit like I do?”
    It was a collective “we” .
    You by your admission own a kit , I might be inclined to go out and buy a set if I think Hemmers has stooped so low as to paste up his own posters to create a story and so might also the forensics division of the Food Hygiene & Environmental Protection Department (FHED) who turn out just before hosing down the blood of their fallen comrades.
    If Hemmers did indeed put up these posters himself, he is exposing himself potentially to quite serious trouble under the Public Health and Municipal services Ordinance. It’s covered under the same set of regulations about dumping dead bodies on the streets.

    As well as being fined once for his offence, he could be fined repeatedly an additional $50 for each day he fails to remove offending posters. This is even more stringent than if he had merely tossed a corpse into the gutter for which he can be only fined once.
    The current rules appear to have lain there unamended from not long after British administrators landed at Possession Point.
    Public Health and Municipal services Ordinance
    Chapter 132B ( Regulations Sec 1)
    1. It shall not be lawful for any person by himself or by any billposter or other person employed by him to affix or otherwise exhibit any hoarding, notice board or poster used for the purpose of advertising upon ……. upon or against Government property without the consent in writing of the Director of Lands……
    Any person who contravenes …(this) section… shall commit an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine.
    (2) Upon conviction for an offence ….. an order may be made for the removal of the advertisement.
    (3) Any person who fails to comply with any such order shall be liable to a fine of $50 for every day that he is in default and to imprisonment for 3 months.
    Chap 132 BK Sec. 10
    No person shall, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, place or cause to be placed, any corpse or carcass, or any part thereof on or in-
    (a) any street or public place;

    Of course if I were caught offending the last section there are statutory defences which may be presented :_ “having a reasonable excuse” …. I guess this means circumstances like suddenly coming across Joshua Wong or Billy Fung while exercising the dog.

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