In a hole

As Hong Kong’s housing problems became a hotter issue in the last decade, people started calling for the government to build on the Fanling golf course. The exclusive Hong Kong Golf Club responded in 2015 with a quaintly inept (and barely noticed) publicity campaign, stressing the staggering historic and current importance of the facility purely as a place for hitting little balls around with sticks.

Along with inane details of the pastime in the 1890s, 1930s and so on, the Club proclaimed its love for the common people (‘we let 794 native chappies play here’) and commissioned a botanist to list species of trees. That, members assumed, would do it. After all, it was self-evident that the course would be kept intact because otherwise the All-Asia International Open Masters Birdy Cup Tournament couldn’t happen!

Strangely, the PR effort didn’t resonate with the wider population. Now, in a finely-calculated and cunning example of statecraft, Chief Executive Carrie Lam gambles that sacrificing part of the Fanling Rich Folks’ Playground will mollify public opinion and boost support for her plan to spend half a trillion dollars on reclamation.

It may well be that Fanling is worth preserving. From a sociological point of view, it is a superb example of the adoption of colonial ruling-class trappings by post-colonial elites. Hong Kong’s trashy shoe-shining tycoons and the nouveau-rich Mainlanders are mesmerized by stodgy Edwardian Brit ambiance. (As a ‘thing’ it’s perhaps a bit pastiche – ever been to this place?) At the very least, we should stuff and mount some Club Committees and doormen for the HK Heritage Museum.

It is also a superb piece of parkland. If the various factions (also NGOs, politicians, etc) in this hoo-hah had an ounce of common sense, they would agree to pull the little flags and holes out and convert the whole area into an amazing public green space – what West Kowloon could have been. Instead, everyone is so determined to make their point, this is the outcome that can’t happen.

The Club members will now whine about the loss of some of their precious holes, and the appalling damage this will do to the ‘development of the sport’ and all the fascinating contributions from golfing that the other 99.99% of us fail to notice. They are the cream of Hong Kong society – the wealthiest, most influential, most important, most oh-so elite-ish people in the whole of Asia, and therefore surely the most dazzlingly intelligent and perceptive, right? They could, at any time in the last 20 years, have used their privileged positions to call on Hong Kong’s leadership (or even Beijing) and voice their concerns, as prominent citizens with a sense of civic responsibility, about housing. Just a few of these many powerful and famous figures could have spoken out and endorsed what mere economists, activists and others were saying on the issue. For some reason, they didn’t.

Not for the first time, the late great George Carlin.


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8 Responses to In a hole

  1. Probably says:

    If we stopped alowing 150 mainlanders a day on one-way permits then maybe we wouldn’t need so much land for housing? Or would that upset the co struction cartels and their civil service beneficiaries too much?

  2. Probably says:

    Alternatively re-zone the still loss making (for the taxpayer) Disney?

  3. Joe Blow says:

    I wonder what the lunch time topic at the Hong Kong Club is going to be today.

  4. Des Espoir says:

    I don’t think they will re-zone the Hong Kong Club – Carrie is a member…

  5. I Married Miss Fang says:

    (Cough) cruise terminal (cough)

  6. Mary Melville says:

    Golf Club won’t happen. This is just cosmetic to placate the masses and oil the wheels for Lantau reclamation. Show that we all share the burden stuff.
    A JR all the way to Final Appeal will take years and provide the time for procrastination and back tracking.
    Its not like the members will have to grovel for Legal Aid!

  7. Casira says:

    @Mary :
    I’m quite sure they’ll find an indigenous weasel eligible for Legal Aid to take on that fight.

  8. Stephen says:

    I agree with Mary that the “Golf Club won’t happen”

    It set a very dangerous precedent – Hong Kong not sticking up for vested interests and the well heeled !

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