Time to pull up a seat and enjoy the irresistible sight of righteous wrathful hordes savagely turning on a lame, whimpering, out-of-touch government that has made a basic and predictable blunder.
Hong Kong front-line services like the fire department, observatory, hospitals, the drainage guys and even methadone clinics handled the city’s worst ever typhoon on Sunday pretty well. A prudent, perceptive and competent administration would have followed up by declaring Monday a day off for non-essential business, as during a Number 8 storm signal. But it seems the smug mediocrities at the top thought it would look really cool if everyone just went into work as if nothing had happened.
Standard damage-limitation practice would be for Chief Executive Carrie Lam to come clean, admit she and her top officials were in error and apologize profusely. Whoops – we forgot you people don’t all have chauffeur-driven limos to take you to the office ha ha.
Instead, the government digs itself into siege-mentality mode and insists It Is Right and Everyone Else Is Wrong, so there.
The Standard reports actual (semi-paraphrased) quotes from Carrie: ‘…the government has done sufficient and effective preparatory work to cope with the typhoon [what more do you whiny taxpaying rabble expect us to do?]’ and ‘…encouraging a mutual understanding between employers and employees suits the city better [you know how mutual understanding levitates fallen trees and repairs rail lines]’. The administration’s ardent defender Ronny Tong joins in: ‘…the government is in no position to order the suspension of work in a capitalist and free society [if shoe-shining Leninists by spouting Libertarianism doesn’t get me a Gold Bauhinia Medal, nothing will]’.
Other desperate reasons we are being offered… By the time the government figured out its own legal powers to declare an emergency, it would be late November. A day off would reduce GDP by 1/x (where x = working days per year) – ask any Nobel-winning economist, and imagine how much wealthier we’d be if we all worked 7-day weeks. It’s all the fault of the environmentalists for insisting on having these damn trees everywhere.
We can only look on in amazement and imagine what is going through Carrie’s mind at times like this (the ‘not much’ theory is as good as any). She could have been seen looking concerned visiting affected areas, but instead she went to a conference for actuaries* – indeed, it is tempting to believe that her immediate gut response when she saw the videos of flooding and broken windows and closed-off roads was to blink incomprehensibly and then snap at an aide: “Right – find me an actuaries’ conference to go to!”
It’s still not too late for her to do a contrite, teary-eyed, bow-down-to-the-cameras ‘Sorry’ act. Maybe her Beijing enforcers at the Liaison Office, mindful of her symbolic role in the ongoing dissident-crushing campaign, will order her to do one. Otherwise (as her detractors will make sure), Carrie has let a good crisis go to waste, and consolidated her clunky, clueless, toilet-paper-buying-incapable, klutziness image, and widened the gap between Hong Kong’s government and governed – the seemingly impossible.
* Mentions of ’Belt and Road’ and ‘Greater Bay Area’ in speech: 5 each