Tiny hint of localism detected at aviation gabfest


Under duress, I ended up at a South China Morning Post ‘Redefining Hong Kong’ thing yesterday. One of those events where hordes of people in business attire crowd into a hotel function room to network, have lunch and listen to a panel of experts. The worst bit is swapping business cards with strangers – in this case, an ‘Ir’ (silly and pretentious title adopted by engineers), and the Grand Vizier and Imperial Wizard ‘Elect’ of a Rotary Club coven. I am already the lucky recipient of a cold-call email from an aircraft-leasing outfit.

Although the gathering was called a ‘debate’, all the participants accepted without question the premise that Hong Kong must keep expanding its airport because other cities are doing the same. Unless we cram more flights, more passengers and more cargo into CLK, we will ‘fall behind’, become ‘marginalized’ and die a horrible death. Everyone wanted a third runway, except for Liberal Party lawmaker Frankie Yick (centre), who demanded a fourth…


The SCMP’s piece covers the dull blather. But, like – I expect – many of the attendees, the reporter missed a faint but definite hint of reality coming especially from Andrew Cowan (right), boss of budget airline HK Express, and one or two audience members during the Q&A. Buried between the lines of their comments was a sense that powerholders deciding issues like financing the third runway and defining the airport’s role in the city should maybe consider the interests of Hong Kong’s people. And not the interests of the community as defined by the bureaucrat-tycoon parasite-sleazebag nexus, but the interests as voiced by the local residents and taxpayers themselves.

OK, so this was not an unfurling of yellow umbrellas and call for independence. And HK Express, which basically caters to local backpackers on regional trips, has a different hub-development agenda from Cathay Pacific (represented by James Tong, 2nd left), which enjoys a semi-protected position gouging full-fare passengers who transit Hong Kong. But there was an underlying recognition – which you wouldn’t have found a few years ago – that the public might have a stake too. (I am not recommending HK Express, which on my one trip with them departed Taipei on the 90-minute hop to HKG four hours late. [Update: Whoops – that was HK Airlines; HK Express no doubt wonderful.])

I declare the weekend open with the tremendously heart-warming thought that more and more people are realizing that HK Disneyland is a rancid hell-hole, and even more nightmarish when it rains. My loyal and well-travelled domestic helper recently compared the Californian and Hong Kong ‘Disney Magic’. In the US, she says, visitors can chat with the cartoon characters. When she took some young members of her family to the Hong Kong Disneyland, and they approached Mickey Mouse, the employee inside the costume whispered “We’re not allowed to talk!” This did not stop him from adding that he was a fellow Filipino, which apparently made everyone’s day.


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16 Responses to Tiny hint of localism detected at aviation gabfest

  1. mtolg says:

    HK Express ever flew to Taipei??
    HK Airlines meanwhile _is_ horrible

  2. Enid Fenby says:

    I was invited to the SCMP do with Yawning Tattoo or whatever his name is. I decided to walk out before I arrived.

    I really admire your ability to weather these ball-aching events.

    Who had the most noticeable absent chin? Did they organize one of those truly deadly Hong Kong events, a Tea Recaption, afterwards?

    Your steadfastness is only matched by your ability to follow Hong Kong politics, day in day out. You deserve a Bauhinia Star at least.

  3. Stephen says:


    Flown with both and found them both perfectly acceptable. However I’m slightly biased as I adopt the NWC (Not With Cathay) approach when choosing a flight. Can you Marco Polo’s out there tell me if they are still charging fuel surcharges, to there already ludicrously overpriced ticket prices, to cover for their ongoing fuel hedging incompetence ?

  4. reductio says:

    I think we should hand the whole Disney HK operation over to the PLA. By all accounts they’ve got lots of experience managing hotels, brothels etc. and they’re already here anyway. As part of the ongoing integration process I think it would be great as they could bring a PLA vibe to the present attractions. Like the firework parade replaced by live firing of artillery and anti-aircraft rockets (but operated by Mickey, Pluto, Snow White etc. so as not to frighten the kids.)

    Win win.

  5. Cassowary says:

    They’re saying that we have to build this 3rd runway not so that more people can visit Hong Kong (leaving aside whether we want more visitors), but so that more people can transfer planes here. Why in hell would we want them to do that?

  6. Headache says:

    Apologies for giving the dead horse another whack, but … does the SCMP actually think this is journalism?

    “Hong Kong should start planning for a fourth airport runway or run the risk of being overtaken by competing regional hubs in an increasingly competitive global aviation market.”

    The lead of the linked story, which doesn’t attribute, question or attempt to balance out this viewpoint of the concretophiles who run our beleagured city, but appears to adopt it wholesale.

    Or, if they think they’re being clever, how does regurgitating the official line as peddled by damp-snouted bureaucrats and reptilian conglomerate landlords constitute “redefining Hong Kong”?

    What a loathsome rag and contemptible coterie of ass-kissers.

  7. LRE says:

    Mostly the airport need transfers so that they can charge them airport tax to cover the huge costs of a 3rd Runway. And looking down the road 20 years, they’ll need a ton more money to build a new runway when the first 3 disappear under the rising sea level resulting from global warming, itself the result (in part) by the rise of air travel.
    “Busy, busy, busy.”

  8. mtolg says:

    @Stephen – similar here – not _paid_ with cathay. Nothing wrong with using miles. And regarding HX – nothing but delays, and this: http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1287104/safety-questioned-hong-kong-airlines. UO is quite good by low frills standards

  9. RSG says:

    “bureaucrat-tycoon parasite-sleazebag nexus”

    You can quite blogging now. That sums it all up.

  10. WTF says:

    Nonlocal students will be allotted not less than 70 percent of the places, with local students taking up the rest.


    They need the new runway as mainland brats will fly in every day. Eddie Ng will be singing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJOjTNuuEVw after he gets back from moving his off-shore corporation from Panama. Surprised the localist parties are not making more hay out of Eddie’s pandering away HK land for his private gain.

  11. WTF says:

    Forgot to add that my a good friend advised that the English-medium Government Aided Jockey Club Ti-I College in Fotan is getting both a new expat principle teacher and a new policy of reducing the intake of local children in favor of expat children (with a Putonghua accent) starting next year. The school, uniquely for a GISS, has no catchment limits and has a dorm facility that original was for use by students recruited from more remote HK locations. Apparently the later facility caught the eye of some China officials in Western, who spotted an opportunity to earn points getting connected party member children a free education in HK. This new emphasis helped sealed the doom of the current principle teacher, who doesn’t speak Putonghua.

    So… It seems HK is in for the Tibet treatment, ie drown the locals out by steadily increasing the intake of mainlanders. A target rich environment for any upstart political parties.

  12. Chinese Netizen says:

    @WTF: Tibet treatment, Xinjiang treatment, Guangdong treatment, Africa treatment, Vancouver treatment, Flushing NY treatment, ad nauseam…

  13. C.Law says:

    WTF, I think the word you are looking for is “principal”, as in main or head, rather than “principle” which is an ideal, perhaps lacking in the board of directors if you are correct in your interpretation of events.

  14. Apparently everyone in the aviation industry insists that a third runway is vital. This is probably so, just as everyone in the sports community will insist that we need a new stadium, the tourism industry will demand more hotels, and those in the road transport industry will call for new highways. But it is the job of sensible governments to balance such sectoral claims against wider community interests, not to pander to them unquestioningly.

  15. PD says:

    George, naughty, naughty! Saw your name on a download site, ‘nuf said!

  16. WTF says:

    Another combine trying to play up to localist interest by a badly made lie.


    This mall is/was obviously aimed at Main Lander shoppers, fondly known as ” Locust”. The sudden drop in mainland shoppers, along with a fear that localist will target the mall calls for that common device of Hong Kong advertising, the out right lie.

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