Hong Kong has millions of doses of the (classy, superior) BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine that will have to be dumped in a few months when the ‘sell by’ date comes up.
Fewer than 20% of the population have had even their first shot. The low level of cases in the city makes hesitancy an easy default option (see Macau). But there’s a twist to it: in some quarters, not getting vaccinated – or tacitly tolerating or backing those who do not – has become a form of anti-government defiance. This might sound deranged, but the new NatSec-style of government has become so threatening and lost so much trust that many people see even this type of resistance as justified.
The regime itself has not always appeared to be prioritizing public health. The initial mess over border closures, the use of anti-Covid measures to suppress protests and the apparent downplaying of BioNTech in order to flatter the Chinese vaccine – these all look politically-driven. To the extent the government appears eager to achieve herd immunity, it focuses mainly on being able to reopen the border to Mainland visitors.
Now Chief Executive Carrie Lam laments that many of the city’s people will refuse the shots even if she offers them money. But she seems curiously reluctant to give it a try.
A humble suggestion – just offer everyone who gets vaccinated:
- cash (say HK$1,000); plus
- a lottery ticket; plus
- the right to enter HK without being quarantined; plus
- the right not to wear a face mask.
(In anticipation of complaints: those of us who have already been vaccinated and are tempted to whine about not getting their thousand bucks would get a back-dated Bronze Bauhinia Medal as consolation. Top prize for the lottery could be a never-used retirement home in Oxfordshire owned by a certain Lam family; 2nd prize, an apartment in Thamesmead. The sky’s the limit.)
Even a dictatorship should be able to mount an effective public-health campaign if it wants to. It would be an opportunity to gain some legitimacy (indeed, if our officials were genuinely devious, they would see it as a way to sow discord within the opposition movement). Yet the administration dithers.
Of course, all this assumes the government actually wants the current state of domestic semi-crisis to end. Maybe, instead, it is biding its time while secretly working on a special vaccine that makes tourism safe but leaves opposition gatherings risky.
My prediction: social distancing regulations will remain in place until the dangerous dates of June 4th and July 1st are safely past – though I doubt if they can creedibly stretch this to cover October 1st as well.
An article in the current edition of The Economist is worth a read: the masters are eyeing up the businesses of the local tycoons, which is no surprise to those who have predicted this outcome over many years. The very shoeshiners who will be spluttering ‘You can’t do that, it’s against the law’, are those who willingly assisted in, at first the nibbling away at the edges, and then the dismantling of HK’s rule of law-based legal system. They will find that a different set of rules applies, one which they are unlikely to be able to game. Useful idiots, indeed.
Here is THE win-win suggestion, and a way for Carrie to earn her Golden Bauhinia Medal (with oak leaves and swords) for doing the ultimate sacrifice as a true patriot: Announce that once 70 % have been vaccinated – that she will resign!
Oxfordshire eh? I thought they had a pad in Cambridge. Anyone know which town in Oxfordshire? Not trying to dox – just need to warn my many friends in Oxfordshire to sell up now before the tone of the county goes down! And what’s with “Thamesmead” – have I missed something?
Carrie and co. are obsessed with wielding sticks rather than handing out carrots. Who’d have thought that governing without consent would be a problem when looking to mobilise the community? Hong Kongers have ever-diminishing ways of expressing dissent, so vaccine hesitancy is an easy way of telling the government to do one.
Maybe the brains trust could incentivise vaccination through the HKD5k coupon handout. Announce a staggered rollout whereby those who have had two shots — even of that vaccine that doesn’t work very well — are first in line for coupons. Face saved all round and not an extra penny spent.
Properties in the London Borough of Thamesmead have been offered for sale to HKers who want to relocate. The borough has been described as if it is a cross between Knightsbridge and Venice. A recent video from a HKer in London described it in less than glowing terms and introduced the comparison of the English ‘Chav' to the HK subtype ‘MK仔’ (MK zai2) or Mong Kok Boy.
 a Chav is sort of a cross between a Bogan and a Hoon.
Excellent suggestions here, but Kwun Tong Bypass has the best one by far. The ensuing mad rush for vaccinations would really drive home the message and cost nothing!
“Maybe the brains trust could incentivise vaccination through the HKD5k coupon handout.”
I think you’re asking for too much here. Remember these are total muppets.
@ London lovey – Thamesmead – It’s from the 23 May posting below:
Which brings us to middle-class flight to the (UK) suburbs. In his Escape the Commies series, Bob’s Your Uncle checks out UK residential areas being pushed in real-estate ads in Hong Kong media. In this episode, we visit a swampy place in East London called Thamesmead – which seems to be a sort of Tin Shui Wai, but with high crime, no mass transit and a sewage plant. Check the youtube link there
“A recent video from a HKer in London described it in less than glowing terms and introduced the comparison of the English ‘Chav' to the HK subtype ‘MK仔’ (MK zai2) or Mong Kok Boy.”
Funny comparison too but I think MK boys are far more endearing than chavs.
Nice plan, K.T. Bypass, but have you considered it might speed up a CY Lufsig 2.0 regime as he sits drooling at the prospect in the wings?
Or – heaven truly help HKers – Paul “Harass & threaten high school kids” Chan.
Apple Daily shares resumed trading again this morning. They went up by 3000%. Not bad for a company that’s hasn’t turned a dollar’s profit in years.
Chav = Council House and Violent
Yes, people expressing dissent with their dollars is uplifting.
Unfortunately, the CCP has set its sights on destroying Apple Daily.
It will be a miracle if they’re still in business at year-end.
Mr Smith, “chav” is derived from Romani “chavi”, meaning child. And not all those living in council houses are chavs There are plenty of mindless thugs all over the UK who own their own homes, live with their parents, etc.
“ An article in the current edition of The Economist is worth a read: the masters are eyeing up the businesses of the local tycoons…”
It’s already since few years that the assets Hongkongers held in mainland are scooped up by patriotic or well connected locals, and the sellers took the chance to retire abroad pretty much comfortably, given the implicit warning behind the offers. It was thus matter of time before the patriots would want to complete the task and took on the remaining assets in the SAR territory itself (and no doubt an extra point in taking on the old foreign hongs and taipans, ahem Swire, and local conglomerates, ahem Superman). For the remaining few still clinging on their property in mainland the offers in future may be not as generous as before, especially since Hongkongers are treated as second class citizens whose only duty is to integrate without complain in whatever scheme the mainland masters are concocting (HK as a suburb or Shenzhen, or dilution into a GBA scheme)
Rule of thumb: if properties in the UK are being advertised in Hong Kong they are generally either overpriced or underwhelming, or both. Wikipedia has a very informative article on Thamesmead – essentially it was originally built to house uprooted slum dwellers, but is now on the front edge of the wave of gentrification sweeping downriver through the Docklands area, which has already transformed Canary Wharf etc. Being bordered by three prisons and a sewage treatment plant, the area still has a long way to go to achieve gentility.
Thamesmead is actually situated to the west of the Crossness Sewage Works, with the Beckton Sewage Works to the north-west on the north bank of the Thames.
I lived in London for five years and never went to Thamesmead once as people in London are a bit like those in Hong Kong and New York – think North Bank v South Bank (London), HK island v TST, and Manhattan v New Jersey (NY). I was a north-bank partisan, albeit a very humble one who lived in Bethnal Green.
But sewage works have advantages. They no longer smell (as far as I’m aware) and you can’t build flats over them, so you can corner the housing market in the bits in between.
As a Brit, for anyone looking at housing outside London, I would buy a medieval map of England and look at the towns and cities that haven’t since been industrialised.
These are usually nice places where property prices don’t fall, especially if they have a cathedral or minster, or are known as market towns. This is where the feudal lords used to hang out.
So it’s places like Winchester, Chester, Shrewsbury, Worcester, Richmond, York, Lincoln, Gloucester, Norwich, Durham, Isle of Ely.
Then you have your Oxford and Cambridge plus your stockbroker belt of Surrey or the Cotswolds.
I see CBRE are pushing a development in Thamesmead. I also remember Li Ka-shing having some sort of London mass residential project on the go at a former royal dockyard at Convoys Wharf, south of the river in Deptford, near Greenwich. It’s in the SCMP.
When is our intrepid press corps going to call out so-called Carrie, s0-called Sophia et al and the self-proclaimed experts calling for more restrictive (and illogical) limitations and force them into a clear definition of what an epidemic is?
As of 9am this morning there were 31 patients (one critical, one serious) being treated in public hospitals for Covid 19. By no stretch of the imagination can this be described as an epidemic, still less, a public health emergency. God knows how many people have been incarcerated in quarantine but you can bet that the CDC is not going to disclose just how many of them have actually developed any symptoms needing hospital treatment.
We must also remember that the supposed experts have skin in the game. I doubt any are offering their services for free, but, more importantly, this is their 15 minutes in the sun with its chance for them to boost their academic careers.
@Where’s my mask
Unless I’m thinking of someone else, you were making similar arguments throughout 2020, downplaying the epidemic whenever the chance arose.
I for one am glad that we, as a whole, are not as complacent or hubristic as other places. With a disease as transmissible and latent as the Wuhan Flu, it does not take many infections before things begin to spiral out of control.
Our Chinese government knows this, because they were the ones who conducted the gain-of-function research that started this whole thing!
/Suck it up and be patient.
..be patient? Is the virus going to go away?
@Rob the Bob – a nice list of nice places, though focused on only one of the UK’s four countries – but all on the pricy side. Those of us on a tighter budget are better off looking at former industrial areas, some of whivh are quite attractive, where property prices tend to be far more affiordable. And anywhere within commuter reach of London is definitely too costly – that rules out St Albans, which would otherwise fit your criteria.
No, the virus is obviously endemic.
Am I wrong to think your comment implies that, because the virus is here to stay, social distancing measures should be scrapped altogether?
I’m quite happy with social distancing.
The government cannot continue with its zero covid lockdown indefinately, will they wait until covid is endemic in the region before opening up?