Despite the over-obvious patriotic glorious-motherland angle, the lack of popular enthusiasm for the 20th anniversary of reunification with China, and the fact that the finest of the treasures are in Taipei, Hong Kong people should have broadly welcomed the prospect of a local Palace Museum. It would introduce some badly needed content into the concrete boxes planned for the West Kowloon Concrete Box Hub. And – judging by past exhibitions of these items in Hong Kong – the displays would be well worth visiting.
But no – the officials had to find a way to mishandle it. We wake up one day to learn of it for the first time, and it’s a done deal: the plans for West Kowloon have been rejigged behind closed doors, the Jockey Club ‘charity’ is serving as a political-project slush-fund, and they even lined up an architect six months ago. Within seconds, a lengthy TV series on the Palace Museum is miraculously ready for broadcast, and a lavish promotional ad lines a vast hall in an MTR station.
The original idea must date back to a time before the Chinese government decided to toss out Chief Executive CY Leung. Perhaps desperate fantasists in the Communist hierarchy thought such a ‘gift’ would win the hearts and minds of the Hong Kong public for both the sovereign in Beijing and the (yet-another) disastrous local administration it had appointed. (Previous ‘gifts’ to Hong Kong from Beijing include surgical masks to counter the Mainland-caused SARS outbreak, and unmanageable floods of tourists letting their kids pee-pee on the sidewalk – so, in fairness, we can detect a trend in the right direction.)
An average PR company could have devised a Communications Strategy with lots of win-wins and buy-ins to lure public opinion onside, even inspire a little excitement. The problem is that a consultation-led approach sends a message to the populace that they are ultimately in charge of the government, not vice-versa. If Hong Kong’s bureaucrats find this hard to stomach, the big bosses in Beijing see it as dangerous and alien. So to the extent that this was an act of generosity, it had to be delivered in a patriarchal manner guaranteed to piss off the intended beneficiaries.
But we the taxpayers, residents and museum-goers are not the only audience. For Carrie Lam, who takes some credit for the HK Palace Museum vision, it is a test to convince Beijing that she is tough and loyal enough to be CE. And so, in the bizarre and tragic way of Hong Kong’s post-1997 governance, the object of the exercise becomes – in effect – to anger the population by ramming the project through at all costs.
And the good people of the city rise to the occasion with their usual wit and verve. The ad at Hong Kong MTR station gets a magnificent bloody handprint, a Tiananmen Square tank sticker, and other subversive adornments. Predictably, MTR staff swarm the concourse with advanced anti-bloody hand technology. Opposition lawmakers are drooling with disruptive questions and investigations. Localists get a new high-visibility, easy-to-mock-and-parody target for their creative ingenuity. Some shoe-shiners have started up a pro-Palace Museum alliance, and a handful of sad culture enthusiasts who would just like to see Ming vases here struggle to get a word in.
Before she has even announced her ‘candidacy’ for the Beijing-chosen CE position, Carrie Lam has cooperated in creating a controversy – soon to be upgraded to ‘scandal’ – out of nothing, and is now placing it squarely upon her shoulders, where it will fester for however many years she remains in the public eye.
The only good news for Carrie, perhaps, is that the Palace Museum might distract attention from the probably-murkier Lok Ma Chau Loop Tech Hub-Zone Shenzhen Project. A couple of commentaries worth reading: on the futility of the concept, and (more to the point) the sort of real-estate scam we are probably looking at, assuming it ever happens.
Spot the difference. L: Lok Ma Chau Loop, HK tech-science innovation swamp-zone; R: Antioch, Greco-Roman trade and cultural hub and cradle of Christian civilization…
Jake and Peter Guy are awesome.
How long before they’re squeezed out by Jack’s lackeys?
I note that the Standard says the police were unable to locate the owner of the handprint. Not that I want the culprit to be caught, but for pity’s sakes, it’s a HAND PRINT.
It’s probably all right
If Kowloon is the site
Of a museum of the City once Forbidden,
But why was the project
And the choice of architect
Decided secretly and then hidden?
I would like to say it’s wrong
That the Government of Hong Kong
Is criticised so much and disparaged.
Some things, they do well;
But … oh, what the hell …
Yet another thing has been mismanaged.
A supporter of the Museum plan said on TV that turning down Beijing’s offer would be “very embarrassing”. For whom, I wonder?
No matter how stupid any CE acts, there has to be someone in the legislature, usually pro-Beijing, who has to top them in stupidity.
@WTF – you omitted the follow-up sentence: “He said people may find the living conditions there so good that they wouldn’t want to live in Hong Kong anymore.”
Perhaps we can build a flat in Shenzhen for Ho himself, in the hope that his theory is correct?
Re the Lok Ma Chau Loop, as David Webb shrewdly pointed out, it’s known as the ShIT Zone (Shenzhen Innovation & Technology Zone).
Welcome to the SHITZ.
Why not simply combine the Palace Museum with the recently made homeless June 4th Museum? They’re very much on the same topic, and such a move would bring most of the protestors onside… and it would save the
governmentMTR a fortune in employing guards to protect Communist propagandaadvertisements.
Indeed you could just adapt the current rash of splendid
local creativity and innovationvandalism and add loads of stickers of tanks and APCs chasing after students on to the handrails, and you’ve got the June 4th section of the museum covered!
Several problems solved in one fell swoop.
In the spirit of not jumping on the hapless when they are down, I’d like to divert away from Hari-Carrie to Eddie, the sputum HAcK KIMg , Ng.
Classic Hong Kong government cad, enriching himself and his friends by shoving government money and land at his friends in the private education sector while driving those less fortunate to jump from roof tops to lighten the tax burden of the well off.
Quite right to focus our attention on Fast Eddie.
In the confederacy of dunces which purports to be the Hong Kong government, it is surely difficult to carve out a niche as an all-round, first class arsehole. Eddie, however, manages to achieve this with little or no apparent effort.
Incidentally, I note with undisguised relief the recent disappearance from this comments section of someone whose name I am reluctant to mention for fear of tempting providence. Any thoughts?
@ red dragon
He’s slithered back today
KMB bus vs folding bike? That’s a bit much to wish on all but the worst prats. Sometimes I wondered if you were not just a more sane personality, fairly well isolated from what must be a mad house in Stanley. I suspect he (may they is a better way to address all those people in that skull) were to engaged with watching Donald the Duck spin.
BTW, isn’t it ripe that Donald is possibly going to the mat for a failed business? DAB (digital radio, not the faux political party) in HK is dead, just like almost anything domestic here not tied to retail, land/housing or money laundry. Meanwhile overseas, Norway gets ready to pull the plug on FM and go fully digital. Says it all, does it not.
The other thing I’ll point out is that the Duck did just what ex US Ambassador Locke did in reverse. https://theintercept.com/2016/08/03/gary-locke-ambassador-to-china-house-sale-chinese-tycoon/
Just goes to show what a bunch of morons our CS have all been.