Sweating the small stuff


Perhaps it’s the time of the year, the alignment of the planets or simple coincidence, but the Hong Kong government seems to have lapsed into unremitting, inane trivia.

It is issuing bonds for which (with bulging fiscal reserves and budget surpluses) it has no need. Their yield is moderately attractive, but only individual Hongkongers aged over 65 can buy them, and they cannot trade them. To further ensure the elderly investors do not get over-excited, everyone will be limited to HK$10,000 worth each. What is the purpose? There is no purpose.

After organizing an elaborate qualification and bidding process, and imposing numerous specifications and high entry costs, the government is also issuing permits for a small number of food trucks designed to sell things like artisanal toasted cheese sandwiches. Again, no-one knows the purpose of this. The SCMP article says it’s to ‘boost tourism’ – tourism being a euphemism for landlords. But the trucks’ number and locations are being restricted in order to protect the interests of fixed restaurants, by which we also mean the interests of landlords. Landlords-first policy quandary! Besides, the city is overflowing with tourists. Meanwhile, the government continues to stamp out traditional street-food and other local heritage. All is cluelessness upon cluelessness.


Speaking of heritage, the government is also agonizing over Queens Pier, the bare concrete Central waterfront structure that launched a thousand drunken junk trips. Architecturally, it was nothing. But its demolition 10 years back to make way for reclamation and under-used multi-lane highways sparked the first protests by what we would now call young Localists. Although unaware of the pier’s historic counter-revolutionary significance, officials imagine it to be of interest as the arrival point for colonial governors. So they have proposed rebuilding it on the new shoreline, where it would look grotesque, at a cost of HK$230-300 million. Following complaints by activists, they are now conceding that the structure could be put in its original location (where it would at least mark the old shoreline). But they are in a mighty huff and reserve the right to insist on their original plan, however stupid. So there.

Just when you think the sheer mind-numbing inconsequentiality must have reached its limits, along comes the Central Fishing Themed Zone Hub Concept Scheme. Currently, anglers can, and do, indulge their scintillating pastime pretty much anywhere they please on the harbourfront. Now the government has come up with the idea of a special 200-sq-metre strip of promenade dedicated to them. Rather than just having the same old footpath and railings you get everywhere else, this spot would feature tables and – exciting! – basins. (For gutting all the marlin, bass, shark, etc?) They will be diamond-encrusted platinum tables costing HK$3.5 million plus HK$900,000 annual recurrent expenditure, because this is Hong Kong and we look after our anglers.

Members of the relevant advisory committee say the Zone Hub should be bigger, or not bigger, or replicated elsewhere in Hong Kong, or not, and so on. A piscine enthusiast on the committee suggests that anglers tend not to cluster in confined areas, partly to avoid accidents and partly to keep their special techniques secret. He also warns that fish too do not necessarily stay in one place but have a whole harbour to roam around, and so may not turn up consistently at the exact Zone Hub spot. It could be the world’s first fishing zone with no fish or anglers. The committee still has work to do.

The Hong Kong government, on the other hand, apparently has very little.


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14 Responses to Sweating the small stuff

  1. Regislea says:

    I have seen people on a number of occasions fishing of the harbour wall – between the ferry piers, outside the Convention Centre. Why? There can be nothing worth catching for sport, and as for eating!!! You’d be in chemotherapy in a week!

    If you caught enough and araldited them together, they might make a nice reading lamp, and would come in very handy during power cuts.

  2. david price says:

    Off topic, apologies.

    Shek-O had a visit yesterday evening from the fragrant Starry, plus a coterie of grannies and a photographer. For some reason Starry wanted a shot taken with a crusty gweilo, viz me. I posed, with an arm around her shoulder, and our future Leader (one day) was most charming. A most cordial moment. She then asked for my vote.

    I said I was disinclined to vote for someone seemingly in thrall with Beijing.

    “Communication is important.”

    “Indeed, if you are communicating this society’s growing distrust of the CCP.”

    Cordiality vanished. I would never have thought The Fragrant One capable of stomping. But stomp off she did.

  3. LRE says:

    I for one hope the food trucks turn out to be an enormously expensive flop that embarrasses the Hong Kong government almost as much as genuine Hong Kong culture obviously does.

  4. reductio says:

    Marinated pig uterus? Personally I prefer boiled dog urethra sprinkled with chopped cat anus.

  5. oberon says:

    Mischief makers keeping the population busy in inconsequential matters so that they forget about the more important,urgent,serious and consequential issues. Distractions !

  6. Chinese Netizen says:

    So the anglers are yet another functional constituency CY needs votes from, hence the payback?

    Fishing & gutting hub in Asia’s World City!

  7. PCC says:

    @ David Price

    An amusing story. Thanks for sharing.

  8. dimuendo says:

    david price

    keep an eye out is said photo is used anywhere, and in a context that implies agreement. If so, you can always object and seek correction.

  9. dimuendo says:

    “if” said photo….

  10. gweiloeye says:

    Ah the food trucks where you might be able to get a $168 Canadian lobster roll. Very authentic HK – all imported and over priced.

  11. Joe Blow says:

    I would love trucks selling fish & chips, or French (Belgian) fries like they have on the continent, or German sausages or real BBQ meat like those shacks all over the States.

    Instead we get halal shortbreads *sobs*.

  12. Probably says:

    Whether it is food truck regulation, meaningless government bonds or unnecessary fishing zones, this is all the hallmark of a bureaucracy out of control (re. Parkinson’s Law).

    As they are not producing any worthwhile product that people will pay good money for to generate wealth within a (quasi) capitalist economy bureaucrats will just create schemes to increase the size of their departments and therefore their perceived importance and status.

    This is exactly the problem that affects the EU and is killing it where there is no real leadership and whereby the bureaucrats fill the void. This is why some simple minded people of the U.K. voted for Brexit rather than addressing the fundamental issue that is crippling the originally laudable objectives EU.

    Pulling it back to the HK situation, all of the above post from Hemmers basically reflects a lack of government leadership (either from HK or PRC).

  13. C.Law says:

    Probably; I think that the Brexit voters were straightforward rather than simple and that the objectives of the EU may have been laudable but the means by which those objectives were meant to be achieved nullified the aim.

  14. Mary Melville says:

    The ‘fishing zone’ appears to be part of a master plan to keep folk away from the Central harbourfront.
    A big chunk was cordoned off and left to rot for the military pier.
    Relocating Queen’s Pier between Piers 9 and 10 would effectively close off another viewing corridor.
    Now 200mts of fishing lines and smelly bait to keep the kids out of the way.
    Slot in a food truck or three in the remaining spaces and bingo, another first for AWC,
    a harbourfront with no view of the harbour.

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