Hemlock's Diary

The ravings of Hong Kong's most obnoxious expat
30 November-6 December 2003
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Sun, 30 Nov
Send an email to our ever-eager Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa with an encouraging quote from Winston Churchill, born on this day in 1874.  "Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm."  If the British hero was right, the crop-haired one is a dazzling star.  The master of the Asian political scene.  It is a privilege to remind him of his achievements and cheer him up.
Mon, 1 Dec
Near the top of S-Meg Tower, in the heart of Asia�s World City, an epsilon nervously enters the Company Gwailo�s office with an offering, which he deposits in the in-tray before respectfully shuffling out backwards, avoiding eye contact.  What has this acne-faced minion brought me?  Why, it�s a box containing laisee packets. It takes me over 30 minutes to examine each little red envelope in turn.  There are precisely 200 of them, and, to my intense distress, not a single one contains even the faintest hint of my favourite smell � money.  Is this some kind of sick joke?  Or could the absence of cash in these red pockets be related to the fact that they all have �S-Meg Holdings� and the company logo printed on them in gold, and they come in plastic packs of 20?  Or at least they did.  They are now strewn all over my desk.  Gathering them up and throwing them in the bin, I realise that the gods are sending me an important message here.  �Chinese New Year is coming early,� they are saying.  �If you haven�t booked a flight out yet, you�ll be stuck in Hong Kong.�

To the Liberal Party�s
10th anniversary bash in the romantic and evocative setting of the Conference and Exhibition Centre, where I drink far too much and embarrass myself.  No-one notices a quick grope with Selina Chow, the thinking man�s bit of hot stuff, in an empty pantry outside the hall � so no problem there.  But by the time I stumble up to the party�s boss, James Tien, I am very much the worse for wear.  �James,� I shout, slapping him on the back.  �Did anyone ever tell you that you�re far and away the most odious little creep on the entire Hong Kong political scene?�  He bursts out laughing.  Apparently, people have been asking him this all evening. 

Tue, 2 Dec
Hong Kong falls silent and all work stops as we wait to hear whether the
DAB�s leaders are stupid enough to accept chairman Tsang Yok-sing�s offer to resign after the party�s thrashing in last week�s local elections.  Alternative leaders would be gifts to the pro-democracy camp.  Ma Lik is presentable, but would try too hard to please everyone, in his pro-Beijing establishment way.  Chan Yuen-han, with all her Maoist blather about the masses, could split the party by stressing opposition to Government policies that don�t favour the lower orders. Only Tsang is probably shrewd enough to exploit the Government�s need for a vote-winning, loyal DAB � a need that must be on the mind of Tung Chee-hwa as he jets off to Beijing today.   It�s the Government policies, not the DAB, that need to change.  And after all, what is a front for the Communist Party for, if not to force tycoons to share power with the people?

Am I alone in understanding Donald Rumsfeld�s much-
ridiculed comments, which earned him a �Foot in Mouth� award from some self-appointed language watchdogs? 
"Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know".
He is simply referring to blind spots in intelligence.  They know Terrorist X exists.  They don�t know his whereabouts.  They don�t know that a Terrorist Y exists.  Perhaps Rumsfeld deserves the �Most Inelegant Phrasing as a Result of a Well Intentioned Attempt to Explain Things to Simple-Minded Reporters� award.

Wed, 3 Dec
Senility is tragic.  How heartbreaking it is to see Lee Kuan-yew, the father of Singapore, succumbing to the  advanced stages of Alzheimer�s.  �We need mavericks, people who can think outside the box,�
he mumbles, as a nurse wipes the dribble from his mouth.   He spent a lifetime ensuring that every Singaporean capable of independent thinking was cowed, exiled, jailed or bankrupted.  The result is his splendid achievement � a city of polite, almost childlike automatons who obediently wait to be told what to do, when and how.  Such tidiness and efficiency!  None of the dangerous anarchy, the uneconomic disorganization, the discomforting unpredictability of places where people dance on bar tops without permission, wreck their minds and morals by reading Cosmopolitan, and threaten civilization itself by chanting �down with Tung/Bush/Blair� in public.  Fortunately, his number-one son, Deputy PM Baby God, is still in perfect mental health.  Given his record of biting the heads off live chickens during cabinet meetings, we can be sure he will slap Singaporeans back into a perfect, orderly line after his father has gone to advise the Almighty on how to run heaven.

Thurs, 4 Dec
In an elevator ascending S-Meg Tower at 8.20am, the buxom human resources clerk, the spotty accountant, Ms Fang the hunter-killer secretary and I break into spontaneous boogie-woogie dancing in a purely involuntary response, some sort of primitive reflex, to the building management�s choice of muzak today � a disco version of
Joy to the World. Amazing! I haven�t felt so good since the time I bludgeoned my anger management counsellor with a baseball bat.

Within minutes of boring the national leadership to tears, babbling excuses and pathetic requests for face-saving support, Tung is promising to �
enhance communication�.  Again.  By my reckoning, this is the 23rd time since 1997.  It's like turning up the speed on a treadmill � you run faster but still don't move anywhere.  How much more can communication actually be enhanced?  Maybe, inspired by fictitious rock band Spinal Tap, our ever-more garrulous Chief Executive has an amplifier with a dial that goes up to 23.  I estimate that in another 13 months or so, Tung-people interaction will reach saturation point, and 6.8 million brains will explode, ripping open Hello Kitty woolly hats and splattering their bloody, high-IQ contents all over the gleaming skyscrapers and shopping malls of the Big Lychee.  A fitting climax to the Year of the Monkey.

Fri, 5 Dec
"...Since 1998, because of Tung's increasingly corrupt and capricious rule, Hong Kong's economy has collapsed. About half of all Hongkongers now go hungry, and widespread starvation is likely in the months to come. Annual inflation is running at about 900 percent, the country has exhausted almost all of its foreign-exchange reserves, 80 percent of adult Hongkongers are out of work, AIDS is devouring the working class and driving life expectations to under 35 years, hospitals and schools no longer function, and the government regularly issues bizarre decrees that only worsen the economic and financial mess..."
It is impossible not to feel sorry for the poor old fat fool.  Tung is so amateurish and inept that he can't even do a decent job of screwing up a nice place.  Unless he gets his act together like Zim-Bob, his future memoirs, How I Trashed Asia's Greatest City, will be more tedious than Nury Vittachi's mind-numbing advertorials in the Far Eastern Economic Review.  Which reminds me, I must send the HK Tourism Board my brilliant idea of offering visitors day-long, "Architecture of Shatin" open-top bus tours.