The South China Morning Post reports that the Hong Kong-Zhuhai Mega-Bridge Committee of Wise Expert Advisors were snoozing, sipping cocktails and listening to this on noise-cancelling headphones, when they could have been meeting to discuss the latest Drifting Dolosse Disaster developments. No surprise – if they had met, everything would be perfect and wonderful, right? But lower down, we learn that the government has budgeted HK$270 million for maintenance of the Hong Kong section of the project for this financial year.
Before troublemakers can point out that the bridge isn’t even open yet, officials hurriedly explain that the money is being earmarked ahead of time. But it raises the question of this vast white-elephant project’s running costs.
The good news is that the link will attract so little traffic that the road surface won’t suffer much wear and tear. But we are talking about a massive concrete and steel structure constantly exposed to seawater – and not just any seawater, but Pearl River Delta seawater with special glow-in-the-dark effluence and Bay Area Opportunity by-products sloshing around in a typhoon-whipped, corrosive frenzy.
And then there are the costs of the massive, well-manned, brightly lit, air-conditioned immigration facilities, with eager and alert passport-checking staff and Customs officers and expensively trained sniffer dogs and pricy X-Ray scanners, plus legions of cleaners and their top-quality government-issue mops. Open 24 hours (I presume), year-round.
The Lantau Trail south of Tai O is acquiring a reputation as an observation hub for unfinished-but-already-crumbling infrastructure. On a recent stroll there, I also spotted some interesting wildlife…
I can identify the pregnant brown thing as a cow, but I am ashamed to say I can’t name the rest: a mutant ant-mantis insect, a handsome well-camouflaged gold-backed frog, and a serpent that is too visually dull to possibly be venomous (presumably/that’s what it wants you to think/were the last words that went through my mind).
Some quick Thursday links… The SCMP publishes Angela Gui’s complaint about their coverage of her kidnapped father Gui Minhai’s forced confession, and alongside is the editor’s breezy, positive-energy, have-a-free-T-shirt response – thoughts on which are here. (Meanwhile, here’s a headline saying that Fox TV host Sean Hannity’s credibility is on the line.)
And, from the Straits Times, a stunning look at the gender-ratio disparities in China and India, of which we will be hearing more for several decades, and it won’t be pretty.
Looks like a Common Rat Snake, although, as with all snakes, I wouldn’t check too closely.
As one who reads between the lines, I have noticed that you have been making lots of off-the-beaten-track excursions lately.
I have been in Hong Kong long enough (since circa the Boxer Rebellion) to know what that means: you are planning to emigrate, now that you have sold your little bunker in Castle Street (?) at the top of the market.
Lemme guess: English bachelor, colonial background, streetsmart enough not to return to your wilted roots……..(drum roll)……..and the winner is…Bangkok ! Am I right ? Where’s my prize ?
I don’t get the whole Twatter back and forth and tar & feathering of Tummy Tum Tum. It’s pointless.
You KNOW the SCCPMP is a semi disguised propaganda mouthpiece…why expect better???
Interesting analysis, Joe Blow. And, yes, Bangkok is the thinking person’s choice now.
Yes, that would explain a lot of things.
Scene: An opium den in Bangkok. A westerner, balding but with a steely gaze, turns over on the divan
Girl: Mr Hemmer, you want good time now? I good girl.
Hemlock: You are indeed, my dear. But no, I have work to do.
Girl: Awww, you alway work. What you do?
Hemlock: I have a blog to write. Many people in a land far away are depending on me.
Girl: What land? Is it a happy place like Denmark, or other Scandinavian country with high GDP but low Gini Coefficient?
Hemlock: Sadly, my dear, it is not a happy land. The Gini coefficient is high, the people live in coffin-sized hovels, working every hour that God sends, while the rulers crush them under the boot of tyranny, laughing at them and insulting them in a language they can’t understand. The overlords are corrupt and venal, leaching off the sweat of those below.
Girl: Mmm, that could be anywhere in Asia, Mr Hemmer. Put the laptop down, and take a drink of this.
Hemlock: Well, I suppose nobody would notice if I skip a day or two.
Smoke drifts lazily to the ceiling in the mid morning heat as two figures clinch in a passionate embrace. Afterwards, a balding Westerner with a blurry gaze wakes up to find his trousers, and wallet missing…
Re that bridge and other white elephants…it’s always the O&M that’ll fuck you.
@ reductio: you forgot the ‘I love you long time’ line.
@ Joe Blow. Interesting analysis, but I suspect that Hemmers is American. And the bolthole / retirement destination could equally be KL. Or, if he’s saved enough, a beachfront home in Florida.
Surely the Bai Ben Xiang bridge was really a method of funding mainland construction and concrete consortiums with HK taxpayers’ money, with a secondary mission of highlighting how amazing the mainland’s civic engineering tech is nowadays? Like most showcase things, it’s not actually meant to be used in anger (and the voluminous user restrictions and conditions make that fairly obvious — given the current regime, even a game of pooh sticks will be out of the question).
So as far the pandas-that-be are concerned, both missions accomplished already — although the secondary was perhaps a little too revealing in all the wrong areas: eg it mostly highlighted that mainland tech is fairly sketchy, their building practices both dangerous and corrupt. But they got the cash, and skimped on the materials whilst charging top dollar, and that’s the important thing, eh?
Why, through their
corrupt schemingselfless actions to serve the people, the contractors have got themselves — or some other mainland firms — a nice little earner of somewhere in the ~HK$500m–HK$1bn region of taxpayers’ cash p.a. keeping the dodgily-built elephantprestige project from falling into the seadisrepair.
Also: I have definitely missed a few meetings — When did Sean Hannity start having credibility to lose?!?
@Hermes. You are new here ? Everybody here knows Hemlock’s background. Super English, (lapsed) Catholic, confirmed bachelor, and more. Most ex-HK Brits have moved to Bangkok, except the Angeles City crowd, but they are a different kind of degenerates.
Who would ever want to live in KL Garden City, with a sign on the front door that sez “Waiting to die” ?
This gave me a good, well needed laugh !
However you are likely to get blocked if you call Hemlock “balding!”
Surely the major driving force behind the construction of highways and bridges by many governments is to facilitate the movement of troops?
Bangkok as a bolt-hole? I doubt my tai tai would go for it…
Hemlock, please don’t leave us alone!