From the long weekend…

An unusually provocative SCMP op-ed gets skeptical about the West Kowloon Cultural Hub-Zone…

…the idea that one can simply build a cultural district is questionable. It hardly counts as a vision to point to a location, call it “cultural” by throwing museums and theatres in the mix, then expect it to be well-developed and profitable.

Culture is born, cultivated and explored through customary or historic practices, through artistic performances and expression. Urban fabric is important and prudent city planners would study how well a new public venue knits with and enhances its surroundings.

There are preserved neighbourhoods across the world that have been named as cultural districts, with efforts to conserve their identities and offerings. But this rarely happens, if at all, with a piece of vacant real estate. A “cultural district” built from scratch is folly in itself.

This also no doubt goes for tourism, tech, green blah-blah, Chinese medicine, Islamic finance and other contrived ‘hubs’.

An illustrated HKFP piece on how the Hong Kong government makes life as unpleasant as possible for street sleepers. Even if we see homelessness primarily as an eyesore to be swept out of sight, these countermeasures are aesthetically worse than the huddled figures they are supposed to deter. Why not just put some benches in those spaces so anyone who wants to can rest? 

Also from HKFP – some possible measures in tomorrow’s Policy Address. Try to induce people to have more babies, but also to push property prices back up. Fret about a shortage of manpower, but also try to cram more tourists into the city. Officials will wear green ties and scarves for the occasion.

Singapore’s CNA asks whether the NatSec and/or Covid regimes are responsible for declining numbers of teachers in Hong Kong…

Teachers will be “100 per cent safe” if they follow the [new] textbooks, [a teacher] said. “The problem is that students will ask the teachers for their views. If you can’t handle it properly, will students denounce you?”

This has created an atmosphere where teachers and students find it hard to trust one another, he feels. “Suppression and concern are growing on campuses.”

Fears of being denounced by bitchy colleagues or venomous parents are real. But are they leaving in higher numbers than other middle-class professionals? If it’s any help, student numbers are falling too.

RFA on China’s forthcoming ‘patriotic education’ law, which will also affect Hong Kong…

Analysts said it likely heralds the further development of a personality cult around Xi, whose authoritarian style and 180-degree turn away from the economic policies of the past four decades has sparked economic hardship for many, along with a mass exodus of Chinese nationals known as the “run” movement.

This push also fully rehabilitates officially authorized Confucianism, a religion/philosophy/social-hierarchy ritual-system which the CCP for decades wanted to eradicate as feudal.

A must-read from New Yorker – Evan Osnos goes back to see how China is doing these days…

At the age of seventy, Xi has removed term limits on his rule and eliminated even loyal opponents. He travels less than he used to, and reveals little of the emotion behind his thinking; there is no public ranting or tin-pot swagger. He moves so deliberately that he resembles a person underwater. Before the pandemic, China’s official news often showed him amid crowds of supporters applauding in stilted adoration. The clips circulate abroad with the mocking caption “West North Korea,” but at home censors vigilantly guard Xi’s honor; a leak from a Chinese social-media site last year revealed that it blocks no fewer than five hundred and sixty-four nicknames for him, including Caesar, the Last Emperor, and twenty-one variations of Winnie-the-Pooh.

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7 Responses to From the long weekend…

  1. Load Toad says:

    It is only a matter of time before we have a West Kowloon Museum Of Neon Street Signs

    HKG Government seems to be able to do nothing right regarding tourism – what a waste of time & money was the Food Truck Charade when the government has spent years trying to eradicate Dai Pai Dongs; the first a US import unsuitable for Hong Kong conditions and the other a local staple that was useful for locals, of interest to tourists and something that could have been adapted and developed to make it more international and interesting.

    One of Hong Kong’s problems now (in additional to all the others, NSL, expense) is it’s not much different to any other big, international city…and you can get far more bang for your buck by visiting KL, JKT, BKK etc

  2. I've been here too long says:

    I was moved on for borderline vagrancy about 20 years ago in the garden behind the Cheung Kong Center. I got up very early one Saturday morning and made my way down from Caine Road, I think. It must have been an autumn day because it was temperate and there was a light breeze. The sun had just come out and the birds were singing and I just felt a little tired, so I sat down and then stretched out on the path. I then drifted off into a blissful sleep which was shattered about two minutes later by a Cheung Kong security guard. I didn’t object because I thought it was private property but with hindsight I think the park may be a public area, in which case I should have told him to sling his hook. But it sort of sums up HK. I had never felt so content for those couple of minutes and still look back fondly on them.

  3. Stanley Leiber says:

    @I’ve been here too long

    Thank you for sharing. Your idea of blissful contentment is interesting. I hope you experience more such moments before you pop your clogs. As you seem a rather undemanding sort when it comes to achieving nirvana, I feel confident you will do so.

  4. DelBoy says:

    Ha. This is topical. Up a mountain side today and discovered an informal ‘hillside resting spot’. One of many places where HK’s elderly get up at 5am to haul stuff up the hillsides to make little ‘hideaways’ in the hills. The govt sometimes demolishes them and sometimes leaves them alone; apparently there’s an NGO trying to ‘formalise’ these places. And why not; it’s exactly what HK people want. A seat, some shade and a bit of quiet. Not more bloody shopping/cultural zones. Appalled at what’s been done to the old Kai Tap runway. Sold to the highest bidders when it could have been a world class public park with the most spectacular views.

  5. Chinese Netizen says:

    “…could have been a world class public park…”

    There goes “world class” again. If only I had something “world class” for every time a HK official declared something “world class”.

    As for the Osnos piece… a compendium of e v e r y other piece that’s ever been written about Emperor Pooh. The best was the one written by the former Party School marm who knew the Infallible One and now resides in the US.

  6. Mary Melville says:

    @I’ve been here too long.
    Indeed the exterior area around CK Center is public open space, a small handback to the people for the extensive amount of public facilities developer was granted to build its bland tower.
    Note that every possible effort has been put into making it as unuser friendly as possible, note the ugly square planters to the front, lack of seating, etc. The narrow path through the rock garden is designed to keep folk on the move. You never see folk relax there like they do at the adjacent St. John’s sitting out area.
    During the port strike when the workers camped there, the OS was contested and the courts ruled that it should be open to the public.
    At one time LKS used to park 3 cars at the exit of the car park. It took an intrepid citizen many months and complaints to Lands Dept, Transport Dept, CK management office, to have it decreed that the exit is part of OS and not a private parking lot. Note the cones. Of course this requires constant diligence and reminders.
    Re the parking, developer lost a JR to build an underground shopping mall on part of the public parking area. But a few years later ……………………….. opened the supermarket on the lower floor. Note there was never any public announcement as to how this sleight of hand take over of a public facility was achieved.
    Issue was being followed up by the then DC who was forced to exit town.

  7. steve says:

    The SCMP op ed author makes some cogent points, but his “solution” to the West Kowloon problem involves building a fossil fuel race course and otherwise emulating Singapore’s Marina Bay development, which is like an equally kitschy/tacky amalgam of Fisherman’s Wharf and Myrtle Beach, plus high rises. At least WK has a place with some nice paintings, even if they have to hide some of them in a sub-basement for fear of going to prison.

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