You can always tell when a hyped-up fad has jumped the shark and started to plunge into inevitable oblivion: the Hong Kong government establishes a mega-bureaucracy with responsibility for it.
Accidentally perusing the classified ads on Saturday, I spotted a ‘help wanted’ notice from the Ministry of Managing Market-based Wealth-creation, who want a ‘Commissioner for Belt and Road’…
I choked up a snarky Tweet. Meanwhile, sleuth-reporters went digging and found that the salary for this position is HK$260,600 a month. This is, I think – on calm reflection – the least any sentient and self-respecting human could realistically accept for having such a humiliating job title on their business card.
Checking back, it seems that a position of this sort was originally created by Chief Executive CY Leung, who went through a hyperactive-obsessive frenzy of ‘Belt and Road’ mania at one stage. The post was presumably instant symbolism for shoe-shining purposes, and went to a retired civil servant – who was not remunerated.
With ‘Belt and Road’ acquiring a bad name internationally as a neo-imperialist debt-trap diplomacy and vassal-state-formation resources-grab, the Hong Kong government thought the time right to ask the Legislative Council to approve a more-permanent position with the aforementioned modest salary (plus housing, plus ‘leave passage allowance’, punkah-wallah, etc) earlier this year. The proposal included assorted trimmings like a civil servant sidekick on HK$190,000+, and another one on HK$160,000+, and no doubt an array of flunkies. The aim was to ‘take forward’ stuff ‘effectively and on a sustained basis’.
This recruitment website classifies the job as ‘program development’ and ‘marketing/PR/communications’ with a straight face. The government ad-blurb explains that the mission is to ‘formulate’, ‘promote’ and ‘enhance’ various things with regard to ‘platforms’ and ‘stakeholders’. There is no mention of what the taxpayer can expect in return for their money (‘deliverables’, in the jargon).
In terms of qualifications, applicants must have endless years of ‘administrative experience’. This is Hong Kong-speak for a former civil servant with a track-record of zero ideas or imagination, who is in need of a sinecure, however depressingly futile.
Meanwhile, in the bowels of the bureaucracy, plans are being drawn up for ‘Commissioner for Greater Bay Area Tech Opportunities Hub-Zone Positive Energy (Blockchain)’.