The answer to yesterday’s quiz was…

some outfit at the Science Park

Today’s question is: can Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam find a way to use the Wuhan Virus to make herself look more ridiculous? And the answer is that she certainly can, proposing a ban on the sale of alcohol at bars and restaurants.

This was no doubt prompted by sensational tabloid exposes of a virus-carrying Westerner frequenting Lan Kwai Fong and having multiple/frequent/frenzied one-night stands. To add to the tabloids’ prurient freaking-out, it was a female. For extra added frisson, she was of an advanced age (well, 50) when she should have been knitting socks for cats or running Taiwan or something.

Critics accuse our cloistered bureaucrats of being puritanical or at least pandering to some ‘boozy rutting aging gwaipo’ stereotype. But in fact something else is going on.

What we are seeing here is the Hong Kong civil service’s obsessive-compulsive hyper-specificity – zeroing in on a high-profile but minuscule and barely relevant aspect of a problem, while of course missing the bigger picture.

Recent examples would include the (pre-pestilence) attempt to ban face masks on the assumption that these caused anti-government protests, and the subsequent bizarre (COVID-19-era) ban on charities buying yellow or black masks (on similar grounds).

This is a long tradition. Years ago, after a spate of trees falling and killing people, officials decided to attach a unique personal identity tag to every large-ish plant in Hong Kong. Another example was the shotcreting of every slope after one fatal landslide.

Perhaps the finest example came after a distraught man went nuts with flammable liquid at an Immigration Department office and burnt a staff member to death. Presumably, officials reviewed security in general, but their Big Idea was to issue personnel special vests with built-in fire extinguishers – as if this freakish and tragic scenario would become a regular event.

To the extent that ‘Westerners drinking and becoming intimate’ pose a public health risk, the government should consider blanket shut-downs of all restaurants and bars plus other non-essential gatherings like weddings for a few weeks. But it’s perhaps more palatable/cheaper to focus on specific, easily identifiable sub-groups and activities. The administration is (I hear) currently pondering how to stop domestic helpers from congregating on Sundays.

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15 Responses to The answer to yesterday’s quiz was…

  1. Johno says:

    Yep, interestingly specific target, no mention of shutting local temples, hot pot and seafood restaurants, cha chaan teng, and all the other places where locals and mainlanders transmitted the other 350 odd known or publicly acknowledged cases. Also fascinating to watch the rhetoric suddenly shift 180 degrees from happy clappy ‘no one is to blame, we are all family/smile under the mask’ to damn dirty gweilos infecting everyone else with their filthy habits.

  2. Revolution says:

    One of the major causes of the spike in recent cases was the Government itself, who announced the quarantine arrangements a few days in advance of them coming into effect, causing what appears to be a number of infected people to come into Hong Kong unchecked. It seems like at least 2 in every 3 “new” cases is someone who recently entered Hong Kong, against about – what, half a dozen – people who were in Lan Kawi Fong.

  3. Hamantha says:

    @Johno

    You and Hemlock speak the truth. Definitely a bit strange how focused the government mouthpieces are on LKF and Westerner residents right now as major sources of the outbreak. It’s almost as if the 50-70% of new cases are not locals fleeing back to the city from abroad, a large number of whom are breaking the mandatory-yet-easily-flouted quarantine.

    Within the local non-Westerner / non-super rich population, however, the earlier high-speed train, temple, and hotpot clusters drew lots and lots of grassroots criticism. And that’s not even to mention the fact that the borders with Mainland China were wide open for so long after the pandemic would have been apparent to even lower forms of life / Reactor #4.

    Of course, taking a diametrically opposed stance from the public on matters large and small, the Hong Kong goverment didn’t seem to take any action against those infection vectors, at least until they were absolutely forced to. But better late than never, I guess…

  4. YTSL says:

    Presumably the apparently inevitable debauchery that comes with drinking alcohol will now move to private premises and residences — and onto the streets — since alcohol will still be allowed to be sold in 7-Elevens, supermarkets, specialist liquor stores, etc.? The idiocy of it all…

  5. A Poor Man says:

    Did Free Sex Fanny confirm that someone had a one night stand? It is just an unsubstantiated rumor until she does.

  6. Country Matters says:

    To illustrate Hemlock’s point about the obsessive attention to the single tree without a lick of sense of the forest so rife in the bureaucratic incompetents we’re supposed to call a government… a splendid example comes via the outraged hordes on the Lamma Facebook groups this weekend.

    LKF with 11 cases causes a shutdown of alcohol sales. (I have mixed feelings — banning drinks and pubs: bad; hurting Alan Semen’s profits and reputation: priceless.)

    Meanwhile… Buddhism* with its 19 cases of WuFlu at a North Point temple gets a total free pass from the government as it decides not to learn from their first 19 cases. Instead they clubbed together with the Taoists (with no masks on) to hire an extra ferry to gather hundreds of credulous followers together at a time to go and try to cross-infect Lamma island and Cheung Chau last weekend via Wing On Travel.

    Wing On plan to put on extra boatloads of tourists to Lamma every weekend until at least the fifth of April or — I suspect — the first outbreak attributable to them, whichever is earliest.

    Lamma Island’s Rainbow Restaurant (disinfected from, but not deterred by their last outbreak of WuFlu — that Jockey Club lady with the dead Pomeranian) has decided to join Wing On to help try to spread the virus by shipping a few boatloads of people over to walk to their restaurant.

    Rainbow is part-owned by South Lamma Rural Committee Chairman, District Councillor (and member of the Tourism, Agriculture, Fisheries, Environmental Hygiene and Climate Change Committee), Chow Yuk-tong.

    Expect no shutdown of this sort of frankly dangerous stupidity from HKSARG: that would be a bigger picture idea. Besides it’s stimulus to the hard hit local economy! Think of the tourist and restaurant sectors! And the maritime sector!
    Under no circumstances, think about old (DAB supporting) folk dying in droves in the last constituency with a DAB councillor (by 32 votes) and how much it costs to ferry sick people to hospital ICUs in a helicopter.

    *”If religion is the opium of the people, then Buddhism must be the alcohol: because it makes you say the same stupid thing over and over and over again.” — Jeremy Hardy

  7. Hamantha says:

    Today, Carrie Lam says that bars affected by her alcohol ban can “do something else”, and I momentarily thought of a brilliant idea for these poor establishments…

    KRATOM!

    https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/health-environment/article/3075147/hong-kong-lawmakers-call-controls-kratom-supplement

    Seriously. It’s not illegal in Hong Kong, can be super intoxicating, seems like the perfect way to flout the Puppet in Chief and her minions.

  8. Reactor #4 says:

    Isn’t it interesting that a majority of the Western democracies (not the eastern ones) are just as bad at implementing an appropriately robust response to Covid-19 as the loathed Chinese one? Moreover, the “puffed-up” Western ones have had a much longer lead-in period. I think it is hilarious.

  9. Probably says:

    No mention of closing churches following the South Korean epidemic? Or what about mahjong parlours (is that why 4 person tables are still allowed)?

  10. Reactor #4 says:

    One other thing. The bloke who looks like an alien who runs LKF will now be taking a whopping whack in the wallet. That’s gotta be worth a smile.

  11. Gregory Samsa says:

    Evil gwaipos are obviously ‘foreign influences creating disease problems for HK’, way to work it back around to CCP talking points, Carrie- Gold star!

  12. Kurious Oranj says:

    @Reactor #4

    Holding the position that “the majority of the Western democracies are just as bad at implementing an appropriately robust response to Wuhan Flu as the loathed Chinese dictatorship” is a bit like thinking Jeremy Corbyn has a Vitamin D deficiency because he’s a lot less tanned than Donald Trump: you’re setting your baseline for comparison on fake data in both cases.

  13. Cassowary says:

    So Carrie Lam thinks it’s an STD now. Just what we need.

  14. donkeynuts says:

    “focus on specific, easily identifiable sub-groups and activities.”
    I’ve always felt this was a Hong Kong thing because, if you are highly targeted, but also targeting the wrong thing, you only piss off the highly targeted, wrong people, not everyone. At least, that is always the desire. The outcome is always that, in being so myopic you in fact cause everyone to be angry and / or to suffer.

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