Taxpayers’ money joins HK’s reputation down drain

Most Pitiful-but-Funny Event of the Month for last September, we will recall, was the leaking of the Hong Kong government’s failure to convince any public relations agency to help try to reverse the drastic decline in the city’s international reputation. (Flashbacks here, here and of course here.)

HK Free Press reports that the Carrie Lam administration is not be deterred, and will do the job itself via a 50% boost in spending on the Information Services Dept for overseas promotional work.

As is readily apparent to anyone who looks at ISD communications material, the department comprises civil servants whose main target audience is the boss. Hence such sophisticated and persuasive messaging as Don’t Do Drugs Because They’re Not Nice – Let’s All Not Do Drugs! Sure enough, HKFP digs around the small print of the 2020-21 Budget and finds the ISD mission focusing on buzzwords our superiors will approve, like ‘Belt and Road’ and ‘cosmopolitan’ and ‘quality living’.

As the PR agencies no doubt explained to Carrie last year: this is not an image problem – it’s a substance problem.

Hong Kong is suffering a serious lack of government legitimacy. Rather than fix that (which the CCP refuses to allow), the authorities are trying to eliminate the main symptom, namely the protest movement, by bludgeoning it out of existence. The wider world sees this on its TV screens – and Hong Kong’s reputation as a stable, free city collapses.

The ISD’s strategy will be to transpose the government’s same inappropriate, counterproductive and heavy-handed response onto the field of communications. Rather than concede there is a problem, the PR campaign will insist that everything is fine, blaring out the same old slogans about rule of law and hubs. We can bludgeon the audience into believing!

McLuhan’s ‘medium is the message’ happening before our eyes.

A little morale-boost for the ISD spin-doctors as they start their work: the cruelest part of the September leak was that PR agencies refused to pitch for the Hong Kong account because it would harm their reputations. Ouch.

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11 Responses to Taxpayers’ money joins HK’s reputation down drain

  1. Corona Wong says:

    Now that all the bars are closing there are demands from Al Semen and such that the Government should pay rents and salaries to ‘save the industry’. It so happens that I am old enough to remember the very beginning of LKF and the fact that greedy landlords have been bankrupting bars and restaurants in that neighborhood for the past 40 years with extortionate rents.

    Memo to HKGov: Not ONE of my tax dollars to those people, please.

  2. Reactor #4 says:

    If I lived in a place that I thought was shit I’d leave (I grew up in one – it was a powerful motivating force that has had a huge impact on my life). It’s amazing what people will put up with year, after year, after year, after year. At some point, no matter how strong the initial attraction, you’ve gotta say “This ain’t doin’ it for me anymore. Life’s too short. Time to move on.”

  3. Roddy the Rodomontade says:

    Talking about another event of the month, it looks as though Lonesome George has decamped to Vietnam, or some other Southeast Asian country:
    http://ntscmp.blogspot.com/2020/03/goodbye-hong-kong.html?view=magazine

  4. Big Al says:

    Interesting small print in the ISD budget, with all current buzzwords mentioned except “blockchain”. Also interesting to note that if ISD had successfully engaged a PR agency last year to do their dirty work for them, the fees paid would have come out of the 2019-20 budget of $147M. Now that ISD have to do it themselves, using their own overpaid inefficient resources, they need $80M more in addition what was previously budgeted. I’m fairly sure that the PR agencies would not have been charging $80M for their services … so let’ wait to see how our $80M+ will be spent. Any bets on “Hong Kong is Great! Let’s all visit Hong Kong together!” And a cute cartoon character that looks nothing like Winnie the Pooh.

  5. Hong Kong Hibernian says:

    Image vs. Substance! The conflict which, in my experience here in HK, reveals the great weakness in Sino culture*. I refer to this conflict almost daily, and never cease to be amazed at how an otherwise formally educated adult can ignore obvious problems or issues which must not be faced if positive growth is to take place.

    This local weakness allows fraud and theft to continue unchecked, it hurts our children who are victimized by clowns posing as ‘teachers’, and as Hemlock states above, it ruins the reputation of Hong Kong since even idiots (COVID-IOTS?) can see through the facade.

    *if, in fact, Sino culture still exists…is it not the case that what we’re presented with is pure simulacra (a la Baudrillard)? Or is it actually Mao’s Paper Tiger (纸老虎)?

  6. Stanley Lieber says:

    “Rather than fix Hong Kong’s serious lack of government legitimacy (which the CCP refuses to allow), the authorities are trying to eliminate the main symptom, namely the protest movement, by bludgeoning it out of existence.”

    Well said, sir.

  7. @Roddy – probably Vietnam – he was often going about how superior it is to Hong Kong. Your link led me to his website for the first time in a couple of years – I see he’s still ripping off ideas from Private Eye (their “Me and My Spoon” becomes “Me and My Chopsticks”), presumably in default of having anything original of his own to say.

  8. asiaseen says:

    There are some real gems in the small print.
    “as a two-wayplatform for international firms seeking access to the Mainland market, and for Mainland companies reaching out to theworld…” Why is HK paying for Mainland firms to reach out to the world?

    Last year they issued 33 press releases in Chinese and English every hour of every day of the year. That was actually fewer than in 2018!

    Just love the terminology for the Time of Protests; ” a six-month territory-wide interdepartmental cleaning operation.”

    Lots more gems, of course…

  9. Joe Blow says:

    Oh dear: Doctor Adams has departed. Life will never be the same again. And if I read correctly between the lines, it seems that Simon #4 may also have plans to exchange sunny Sai Kung for a new and better (and cheaper) home. Ex-colonial Englishmen typically move to Thailand from what I have been observing since 1997. ‘Expat Bangkok’ may be above Simon’s station but a Thai beach resort could be a possibility. He may even try his hand at a beer shack at the beach, knowing that he already has one loyal customer. ‘Ye Olde English Beer Shack sur Plage’ would be a perfect retirement place, wouldn’t it?

  10. caractacus says:

    It takes a real prodigy to think up “Together we fight the virus!” ? Genius Ho?

  11. Hamantha says:

    @ Joe Blow

    Haha, ouch man, your barbs cut a bit close to home. Now I almost feel bad for our resident troll, Simon #4…

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