Hemlock's Diary

The ravings of Hong Kong's most obnoxious expat

1-7 December 2002
Sun, 1 Dec
Stay indoors in order to avoid any events marking
Martin Lee's last day as leader of the Democratic Party.  The Democrats' post-1997 mistakes were his, and they were many.  When Hong Kong needed a coherent, economically literate opposition, he delivered a group focused on fighting for a democracy that cannot constitutionally exist before 2007. When the communist-funded DAB built a power base among the working class, and Christine Loh's young, Westernized, middle-class Citizen's Party proposed serious policies, he just railed blindly against anything and everything the Government said.  When the rest of Hong Kong bowed to the inarguable fact of Chinese sovereignty, he and his party nobly clung to purist, anti-Beijing symbolism that they knew would leave them in the wilderness. 
As a result, he has a bulging file of clippings from Western newspapers hailing him as the fearless champion of the Hong Kong people, many dating from a time when he had an American girl called Minky as a press secretary. Human rights groups, US universities and something called the European Parliament take him seriously.  In Singapore, he would have been sued, bankrupted, banned from politics and jailed.  In Hong Kong, he thrives as a millionaire lawyer.  No-one hates him.  The most I ever encountered in the way of malice towards him was the spreading of rumours that his wife kicked their sick domestic helper out of the house lest she infect their academically disappointing son.  He and probably his party have faded into irrelevance. To the extent that there is popular demand for democracy in Hong Kong today, the credit must go to the rank incompetence of Tung Chee-hwa's administration
Mon, 2 Dec
Great moments in investigative journalism are few and far between, especially at the
South China Morning Post...
"....The South China Morning Post has revealed that [ "round tripping" of Mainland funds through HK to gain perks reserved for foreign investment ] is an open secret in the financial world..."                                                   -  Glenn Schloss, p.3, today's SCMP
They've revealed an open secret?  Might as well do it now before anti-subversion laws forbid it.  Whatever next?  That plus two columns, Lai See and "SAR", simultaneously reporting gossip about a (different) famous person buying baby-related items in Central!  All for a mere HK$7!  I would willingly pay at least HK$25.
Tue, 3 Dec
An S-Meg epsilon nervously enters the company gwailo�s office and deposits a large cardboard tube before bowing slightly and shuffling backwards out of the door.  Inside is a vast umbrella, the sort the educationally sub-normal use on crowded sidewalks in Central when it rains. On the handle is a tag inviting me to a conference.  No right-thinking person would disagree that, in a perfect world, people who persistently organize conferences would be put to death.  People who organize retail investment seminars would be garrotted.  Organizers of forums on eco-tourism would be drowned in ugly, open-cast mining pits full of pangolin vomit. Spouters of inanities about �leadership�, �excellence� and �strategies� would have their tongues nailed to their lecterns and their laser pens inserted imprecisely into a bodily orifice.  Keynote speakers would be impaled on stakes � there is a special part of Hell for them, next to the place where they put Austrians and other tiresome euro-rabble who cycle around the world in pairs.  Meanwhile, I have a tacky umbrella.  It will make an ideal gift for Ms Fang, the big Boss�s hunter-killer secretary, next time I need a favour.

Wed, 4 Dec
Only the neglected, desperate and pathetic vie to attract contrived, outdated, money-losing non-events to their shores.  Nigeria got Miss World.  Manchester got the Commonwealth Games.  Now, Shanghai gets the
2010 World Expo, the purpose and nature of which are about as clear to me as the precise whereabouts of Yeosu, Korea or Queretaro, Mexico.  The dodgy-sounding, Monaco-based organizers of the Expo presumably rejected those towns on the grounds that they were inoffensive and surely had better things to do with their money.  Wroclaw in Poland caused too many pronunciation problems, as it did of course for Prussia�s Frederick II, who called it Breslau. And that left Moscow, the Eurasian landmass�s heart of atavistic darkness.  The South China Morning Post, with its increasingly warped priorities, interprets this as shattering evidence of Shanghai�s world-conquering might and makes it the lead story.

Thurs, 5 Dec
Spend the morning with Ben, Hong Kong�s second most obnoxious expat, who is making a rare visit to civilization from the Sai Kung wilderness.  Once an investment banker, he now scrapes a miserable living teaching English to children and proofreading advertorials on weight-loss products for the English section of a women�s magazine. A victim of the inexplicable belief that Porsche ownership prevents market downturns.  �Sorry I�m late,� he says, sitting down at the Coffee Shop in the Mandarin Hotel with a traumatized look on his face.  �I had a nasty experience hitch-hiking into town.�  It seems he got a lift from a Cathay Pacific pilot�s middle-aged Australian wife, who expected a contribution towards petrol. Short of cash, he ended up having to pay in kind, in a dark corner of the Murray Road Car Park. I feel ill just thinking about it.  A double Scotch brings a bit of colour back to his cheeks. 

SCMP�s bizarre idolization of Shanghai Expo 2010 continues.  In the news pages, reporters peddle drug-crazed economists� forecasts of stunning economic spin-offs from this absurd money-wasting event.  Meanwhile, the editorial writer gives new meaning to the words �embarrassing� and �demeaning� in his determination to jam publishing company tongue up Mainland posterior.  If I want a favour from someone, I try to make myself look useful � not pitiful.
Fri, 6 Dec
Give a sympathetic wave to HK Monetary Authority chief Joseph Yam, as he glides past in his limousine outside S-Meg Tower.  Last time we spoke he was in high spirits, looking forward to relocating his empire to the top floors, no less, of the 88-story International Financial Centre Two.  But he is clearly despondent today.  The word is that his dream of heading not only the world's most under-worked central bank, but also its most lavishly accommodated, is coming to nothing.  The HKMA is under orders to economize. Plans for gold-plated bathroom furnishings, art deco silk carpets, porcelain vase lamps and rosewood half moon tables have all been put through the shredder.  They will still be moving into the tip of Hong Kong's biggest concrete penis, nestling between the voluptuous, warm, moist folds of the mist streaming down from the Peak � but the standard-issue, tatty Civil Service desks and filing cabinets will be going with them.