Hemlock's Diary

The ravings of Hong Kong's most obnoxious expat

26 January-1 February 2003
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Sun, 26 Jan
Which Hong Kong sight best rounds off the weekend?  The setting sun, giving the west-facing sides of skyscrapers an electric glow?  A group of happy, chattering Filipino domestic helpers in Central, one playing a violin?  Children playing badminton in the courtyard of the local temple? All might be pleasing to the eye, but nothing can beat the scene I witness outside Central MTR on Chater Road. A Canto-princess is having a tantrum, her acne-prone beau having fallen short of her expectations in some way, possibly by offering an insufficiently expensive, thus face-losing, birthday gift. She stamps her feet on the ground. Whimpers. Stamps feet again. And � yes! � a most satisfying slap on the less zit-ridden side of the luckless suitor's face. Then she storms off into the MTR in a financially-ruinous-to-end huff.  The words of
Lizz Winstead come to mind � �I think, therefore I�m single�.

Mon, 27 Jan
Jonah Goldberg loses patience brilliantly and concisely with a hypocritical, irritating and unprincipled part of what Donald Rumsfeld affectionately terms �old Europe��
�In effect, the French �do not want a war-for-oil because the current peace-for-oil allows them to collect billions from the corpses of dead Iraqi children.�
Though they will, of course, beg to be allowed to join in a war at the last moment.

To the Foreign Correspondents� Club, where Olympic diving fan and Financial Secretary Antony Leung expresses vehement concern about the budget deficit he is doing virtually nothing to fix.  His strategy is � trim the vast, bloated public sector a tiny bit
; extract a bit more tax from the 17 of us who actually pay any; ignore the remaining 90% of the problem, and chuck the reserves down the toilet.  Still, he deserves some sympathy.  Will I, at his age, be able to satisfy the needs of a woman less than half my age and still have the strength to tell economically illiterate rabble that demand-side economic stimulus won�t work in a small, open economy like Hong Kong?  The first shouldn�t be a problem, but even today I doubt I could endure explaining the multiplier effect to a member of the Democratic Party.

Tue, 28 Jan
tussle between Cathay Pacific and Dragonair continues, with the latter thinking up ingenious reasons why CX should not compete with it on the Beijing and Shanghai routes.  Of course, Cathay cannot bring itself to use the most compelling argument in its favour � that it would be in consumers� interests. What would my Swire B shares be worth if the principle of consumer sovereignty was applied to the whole CX network? I shudder to think.
Wed, 29 Jan
Sesame Street today was brought to you by the word �
misprision�.  No fewer than 18 newspapers carry pictures of our voluptuous Secretary for Security, Regina Ip, looking resplendent.  Spend the morning cutting them out and pasting them into the Regina scrapbook I keep by my bed, next to the tissues.  The Government�s response to the Article 23 consultation could have been dull, but Regina, mindful of our need for a bit of entertainment, wittily insists her concessions are mere �clarifications�, thus keeping humourless lawyers frothing at the mouth.  To rub salt in the wound, the Government has classified submissions from weird fringe groups like the Falun Gong and the Bar Association as not explicitly for or against the original proposals.  Given how deeply our Beijing masters appreciate the noble art of being intensely irritating with a completely straight face, this can only nudge Regina that little bit closer to being the next Chief Executive.

Thurs, 30 Jan
The dreaded early-morning phone call from S-Meg Tower.  He�s back.  The start of the new year sets the tone for the following 12 moons, so it was only to be expected that the Big Boss would choose the eve of the holiday to return to work after recovering from his wife�s vicious assault.  After more than a month in hospital, he is definitely better. �Where the hell have you been � we started five minutes ago!� he yells as I slip into the morning meeting.  �What the hell�s been going on here?�  Bangs fist, shaking the feng-shui ornament across the table. �Why didn�t we buy Magdusaka Investments?  I was introduced to them by [Filipino-Chinese slimeball] Bong-Bong Queveco � now we�ve made him lose face!  I should fire the lot of you!  I�ve only been back 20 minutes, and I�ve already fired three girls for wearing trousers.�  He glowers.  �Where�s Ms Tam?�  The pert-rumped Deputy Assistant Senior Human Resources Manager nervously peers round from behind the spotty accountant.  �You�re fired!� he spits. �Get out!�  She runs sobbing from the conference room, as S-Meg�s terminated HR managers always do. �And somebody tell her before she goes to cancel the laisee for staff � we�re not doing that this year.  Just give them candy.�  And to think that just a few weeks ago the doctors thought he might be permanently brain damaged. It�s wonderful what modern medical science can do.
The South China Morning Post�s clumsy attempts to ingratiate itself with Beijing continue with an embarrassingly ignorant editorial on President Bush's state of the union address yesterday.  ��[Bush] spoke as if he, not the UN, dictated global policy��  Since when has the UN dictated anything, let alone global policy (whatever that is)?   �If Mr Bush succeeds, there is no indication where the aggression will end�� The aggression has long been Saddam�s, and it will end if Bush succeeds.  But could the pro-Saddam SCMP be backing a winner after all?  Iraqi victory looks significantly more likely now that Luxembourg has joined the �Old Europe� opponents of unilateral action � the �cheese-eating surrender monkeys�, as Bush so eloquently described them.  All bets are off, now.
Fri, 31 Jan
An eerie silence descends over Central, the teeming millions of Hongkongers having fled town for the four-day weekend.  With no newspapers for a few days, I find much to read on-line. One can always dream that
With Britain's help, U.S. can foil European power grab.  And with the Year of the Horse ending with A bad week for France, the tone for the next 12 moons looks encouraging.