A feast of ironies

Aficionados of extreme obsequiousness were in shock for a few hours last week after it emerged that a particularly nauseating exercise in shoe-shining – a full-page ad glorifying a particular individual – was in fact a malicious sarcastic attack. Who would have thought that satire and parody would spread from our mischievously witty radicals and activists to pompous and dull establishment circles?

The personal feud in this case is of a common sort: grown adults regularly become deranged lunatics when bickering over obscure details of school governance in Hong Kong. But this unprecedented lapse into ungentlemanly public mockery could be yet another sign that the city is slipping into an abyss.

Which bring us to death threats against politicians – notably Eddie Chu, scourge of the rural mafia. The South China Morning Post’s Alex Lo writes a curious column stating that, ‘as everyone knows’, the Heung Yee Kuk ‘is a highly respected body whose leaders stand for the rule of law’…


Is this satire, or not? At a first glance, it is clearly tongue-in-cheek. But on a second reading in context, it seems dead – and suspiciously ponderously – straight. The plot thickens when we go from the print to the online edition of the paper, where the same lines in the column make far more sense and allow for the possibility that the Kuk is not the pinnacle of righteousness and divine perfection…

But besides representing rural interests, the kuk’s leaders must stand for the rule of law, not lawlessness and violence; for rational land development in the public interest, not for the dark forces of criminality and hidden vested interests for land exploitation; for transparency, not secretive and unaccountable decision-making.

Maybe the original intention was satire (which the SCMP has, perhaps wisely, has never tried on its largely English-as-second-language readers), and editors failed to recognize it. Perhaps the online version is more or less authentic. A simple-minded, ham-fisted, hyper-correct in-house censor would have turned the original Kuk-skeptical copy into this idiotic-sounding tribute on the assumption that that is what higher powers would want – and this went to press. Someone with brain cells subsequently fixed the online version.

The delicious ironies continue.

Our new Mainland-made electronic buses have been kept off the streets


You would have thought the stop button would be the one part of an electronic bus that worked perfectly.

And then we have the tragic fate that has befallen a billionaire. Two years ago, businessman Jim Thompson denounced the ‘spoiled brats’ of the Umbrella Movement (now known as ‘newly elected legislators’) and nostalgically recalled how their illegal-immigrant forebears lived in tin shacks and stole to survive. Anyway – now an upwardly mobile Mainland burglar has progressed from village-house noodle-snatching to ransacking Jim Thompson’s luxury home, and even swiping his Gold Bauhinia Star…


Well, I think it’s funny. Karma, perhaps.

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12 Responses to A feast of ironies

  1. Big Al says:

    Off-topic, but James TAM has put forward a cracking CE election platform here: http://guo-du.blogspot.hk/2016/09/my-hong-kong-chief-executive-election.html. Unfortunately, as he says, he’s not stupid enough to run for CE. But if he did, I’d vote for him … oh, wait a minute …

  2. Chinese Netizen says:

    Could the mainland bus designers specifically intended the stop button to sound each and every time?

    After all, have you not been in a lift full of mainlanders? As soon as the lift reaches its intended floor, someone starts madly pushing the door open button…as soon as someone walks into the lift, a passenger starts madly pushing the door close button…once the mainlander enters the lift, he/she madly pushes the floor button in rapid video arcade shooting game fashion…

  3. The best Hong Komg headline I can recall was:



    But this is Hong Kong.

  4. PD says:

    “The chairman of the Shap Pat Heung Rural Committee, Leung Fuk-yuen, dismissed [the] allegations of collusion between the government, business interests, indigenous villagers and triads. Instead, Leung said there was “co-operation” between them.” (http://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1284835-20160913.htm)

    Once you start detecting satire, it’s hard to know when to stop.

  5. LRE says:

    I’d say satire is avoided at the SCMP more because of the Post’s English-as-second-language editors, than its English-as-second-language readers.

    Given that it’s Alex Lo, however, I’d go with the dead straight overly pro-establishment version. Alex knows that this fawning will be showered with Wu Mao praises and wind up sane people enough to argue with them, thus enlivening the comments section.

    He uses this tactic primarily to ensure that “his take” on Hong Kong keeps getting published despite his having fled the arrival of the glorious motherland by moving to Canada years ago and therefore having very little clue what the actual mood in Hong Kong is. Luckily for Alex, this cluelessness paradoxically keeps him in tune with the other hopelessly out-of-touch people who don’t really understand the mood, like the Liaison Office and the Politburo.

    The overly obsequious shoe-shining satire ad only played badly due to poor choice of target. The upper class elite of Hong Kong’s shoe-shining is essentially impossible to satirise, as no matter how seemingly absurd you make the sycophancy, it will still be indistinguishable from the genuine article.

  6. Hank Morgan says:

    Satire, parody, irony, sarcasm – open territory with boundless potential

    A bell rings more than once and the buses are taken off the street – pretty strong driver union

  7. Cassowary says:

    @LRE – Alex Lo has been known to take swings at the Heung Yee Kuk. They’re one of his designated safe targets, as long as he spends the rest of his time slagging off democrats and youths. But I doubt it’s satire because it’s much too subtle for him.

  8. PD says:

    Alex Lo reads this blog (he commented on it some while ago) — and may even get ideas from it, after an interval.

    He may even have made slight progress recently on safely social issues, but of course starting from total insipidity.

  9. Joe Blow says:

    The biggest question is why people talk about Alex Lo, Mary Ma or Chugani at all. It’s not like it makes any difference what they say or don’t say at all.

  10. Walter De Havilland says:

    Alex had a dig at CX last week but was careful enough not to offend in case advertising revenues were impacted. He was honest enough to say that. His take on the HYK is odd. The links between certain nefarious elements and the HYK are well known in government circles and to anyone with an ounce of sense. It was Donald Tsang who gave them a surge of credibility when he invited LAU Wong-fat into Exco.

  11. WTF says:

    The ironies continues. The tan streak nosed/fecal material mustachio “publisher” sans press of the Harbour Times is one of those moaners about schools. Much the same moaning –that the government should take a hand in bringing about feces face’s agenda at the private, run for profit Canadian International School. This ups the irony as Mr. Tongue-in-(between)-the-Cheeks promotes libe-retardarian views of non-government interference in the gouging done by his pay-master’s un-natural, government inforced monopolies.


  12. Gunpowder Plod says:

    HongKongers are more worried that the buses might catch fire and that the doors won’t open to allow them to escape: http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/1890986/hong-kongs-prototype-electric-bus-goes-flames

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