HK’s disgraceful older generation

The South China Morning Post’s regular columnists obsessively demonize Hong Kong’s student and other young activists. Obviously, the pro-Beijing paper does not pay them to churn out positive commentary on idealists defending their city from the Communist Party’s tightening grip. But the incessant sniping and goading suggest middle-aged has-beens who are bitter, resentful and jealous of those whose best years are still ahead.

So it’s refreshing to read one of these columnists whining about how awful Hong Kong’s old people are. And it’s true – the city’s seniors are famously pushy, aggressive and ungrateful. Their roughness is especially noticeable because they never seem to go home or sleep: from 5am to midnight they are out doing exercises, collecting cardboard, hogging seats in teashops, or just gossiping and elbowing their way around. Don’t mess with them.

However, the columnist is wrong to merely dismiss them as exasperating. They are living proof of Darwinism.

Hong Kong has pretty much the world’s longest life expectancy. But this is not just because of modern public health, good lifestyles and traditional diet. It’s because – if we want to be blunt – a lot of people born in the Pearl River Delta region before, say, 1945 died young.

As elsewhere in the world, there were no antibiotics. But by any standards, the region in the 1920s, 30s and 40s would have been unhealthy and unsafe. There was extreme poverty, disease, hunger, civil strife, Japanese invasion, civil war and famine. Those who were physically weaker or lacked resistance would have died as infants. As they grew older, those who weren’t tough or fast enough would have succumbed. Ultimately, the hardiest, nimblest, grabbiest and meanest had the best chance of surviving. Hong Kong’s old people are the way they are because the ones who were generous, polite to strangers or waited their turn didn’t make it.

I declare the weekend open with a reminder to shut up and get out of their way.

(Oh, and this.)



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5 Responses to HK’s disgraceful older generation

  1. reductio says:

    Brilliant blog post. Never thought of it like that.

  2. Chinese Netizen says:

    The Protest-in-Support-of-the-CCP/Police/National Security Law crowd that can be had for a liter of cooking oil and a box lunch.

    Fervent patriots, the lot of them…

  3. Knownot says:

    For the weekend

    Mrs Knownot’s Shop

    On this blog, two weeks ago,
    In a poem I wrote,
    Some rather flippant lines
    Which I’d like to quote:

    “After all, there are illegal
    Structures everywhere.
    Poor Teresa Cheng.
    People are unfair.”

    I was thinking, Does it really matter?
    Carping critics and their spiteful chatter —
    Perhaps the time has come for them to stop.

    Then I remembered Mrs Knownot’s shop.
    Mrs Knownot owns a retail space,
    A little shop, a rather modest place,
    Not in a major shopping street, and yet
    The shop does business and is always let.
    In the landlord class! Who, me?
    You wouldn’t guess it if you knew me.

    The shop had an unauthorised addition,
    Not in a conspicuous position:
    The first floor was extended at the rear
    Over the courtyard. Yes, it was a clear
    Offence. But they’d extended that first floor
    Thirty, forty, years ago, or more!
    It was safe; and tacitly approved;
    But now, they said, it had to be removed.

    My wife went to a Building Panel where
    (Perhaps Teresa Cheng was in the chair)
    They listened with respect to her submission,
    And then confirmed the Government’s decision:
    ‘The ruling is quite proper and you must.’
    So one illegal structure bit the dust.

    I haven’t mentioned where it was located:
    On the Island. And it must be stated
    That certainly my wife does not belong
    To the privileged classes of Hong Kong;
    She is not ‘indigenous’; not a shaker
    Or mover; or a patriotic faker;
    ‘Connections’ would not get her very far;
    She has not got a Gold Bauhinia Star.
    The Government bravely put her on their list
    Knowing she was unable to resist.
    Some people can. The Government won’t oppose them.
    I won’t say who. Everybody knows them.
    They can build above ground and below
    Because the Government doesn’t want to know.

    And so I think of Mrs Knownot’s shop
    And urge the carping critics: Do not stop!

  4. Incredulous says:

    What is wrong with Yonden Lahtoo? Is it the commie-dyed black hair (or rug) or has he just got a terrible chip on his shoulder?

  5. Tamey Tame says:

    ‘What is wrong with Yonden Lahtoo?’

    What isn’t wrong with him?

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