Hemlock's Diary

The ravings of Hong Kong's most obnoxious expat

12-18 January 2003
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Sun, 12 Jan
My come-to-bed eyes, with which I was born and which I have no means of controlling, got me into trouble last night. A Korean-American woman, somewhat middle-aged but appealing, got chatting with me in Lan Kwai Fong.  She got divorced last year and, with alimony rolling in, is travelling the world in style for a few months.  Invited me back to her hotel � the Mandarin (I never realized the rooms were so small there).  This morning, as I am saying farewell, she pulls two US$100 bills from her purse and offers them to me!  What kind of slut does she take me for?  Manage not to show too much irritation and take the cash, with a view to donating it to that place for pregnant schoolgirls. But feel used. I've never been so insulted.

Horse-racing, 12-minute sex, and staring at mobile phones are all out. Hong Kong's favourite pastime is now whining about Tung Chee-hwa's policy address.  So eager are the piranhas to join this feeding frenzy that if they don't have a real gripe, they just make one up � like Reggie Ho of a charity called
Horizons, who writes to the South China Morning Post to berate our hard-working Chief Executive for ignoring lesbians and gays in his speech.  Poor old CH wouldn't know a lesbian if you hit him over the head with one.  Not that it stops his ever-generous government from sponsoring the Horizons website.
Mon, 13 Jan
It is impossible to see CH cavorting with Disney boss Michael Eisner at the groundbreaking ceremony for the world�s only state-owned Disneyland without being reminded of what James Mills, in his eight-volume "History of British India" (1826) referred to as�
"...the vice, the ignorance, the oppression, the despotism, the barbarous and cruel customs that have been the growth of ages under every description of Asian misrule."
The vice here, of course, being the deal under which the profit-making company, which granted Eisner stock options cashed-in for some US$500 million, gets a US$3 billion handout from hard-working Hong Kong people.  The ignorance, needless to say, is the company�s very product, the debasement of Western culture and the turning of generations of children into cretins who can stare at a screen but can�t turn the pages of a book. The oppression and despotism are represented by the way our Government has reduced Hong Kong, against its people�s will, from a proud achiever to a rich loser, paying others for company and affection.  The barbaric and cruel customs have yet to commence, but people heartless enough to subject their offspring to them are being told that tickets will be affordable.

Today's international obituaries suggest that God has a system �
General Leopoldo Galtieri, former dictator of Argentina, and Maurice Gibb, of the Bee Gees pop group.  Both had names starting with "G", and both were torturers of innocent and defenceless people.
Tue, 14 Jan
Am tempted to vote at the next District elections, if only to scribble something thought-provoking about Central and Western Council on the ballot paper.  The Councillors� attempt to abolish the name Soho for the gwailo-infested streets below Caine Road came to nothing, despite the Government�s well-intentioned and highly creative proposal to style the place Mid-Levels Themed Dining Area � a name that inexplicably failed to catch on.  To avenge themselves and the glorious motherland against the barbarian menace, they now propose to
move a statue of King George VI in the depressing Botanical Gardens from a position of prominence to one near the monkey enclosures.  They would replace it with a statue of Sun Yat-sen, founder of the bourgeois Kuomintang, who plotted the downfall of the tyrannical regime in Beijing from Central in pre-Article 23 times.  Predictable howls of outrage from amateur historians and anglophiles ensue, while Government officials crawl under their desks in an equally predictable effort to avoid involvement in an issue that allows no fence-sitting.  A classic piece of Hong Kong entertainment.
Wed, 15 Jan
A phone call at 8.00am from Ms Fang, the hunter-killer secretary.  �Get down here now!  The Big Boss is back � he�s holding a morning meeting.�  Damn.  The word was that he was taking ages to recover after being thrown downstairs by his wife.  Mad dash down the Mid-Levels escalator to S-Meg Tower, brushing my teeth and nearly tipping a slow-moving and surprisingly light old woman onto the canopy outside Fetish Fashion. Enter the conference room breathless, expecting a stream of abuse, only to find Ms Tam, the pert Deputy Assistant Senior Human Resources Manager.  �He asked where you were,� she reports.  �Then he said you probably deserved a bit of extra sleep. He looked normal except for the bandage on his head, but he was smiling a lot. He didn�t shout at anyone. He delegated some minor investment decisions to the Deputy MD. And he told me to update our personnel policy � no more Saturday working, no more ban on trousers for women, no more ban on beards for men.� I stare at her. �Are you saying he was pleasant, reasonable and rational?� I ask.  �He must be seriously ill.�  �Yes it was really strange,� continues Ms Tam. �He asked if anyone had any suggestions!  Then some doctors came in and took him back to the hospital.�  It sounds like major brain damage.  Excellent.  The rehearsal for retirement continues.
Drop by the circus, where the clowns are discussing the Chief Executive�s profound and moving policy address.  It is telling that, even by their standards of tedium, legislators can�t find anything interesting to say about Tung�s words.  The Democratic Party, in an effort to be big grown-ups capable of formulating policies, proposes that the Government issue bonds to deal with the budget deficit. I can only conclude that their new boss, Yeung Sum, is using hallucinatory drugs. With countless billions in reserves, the last thing the Government needs to do is borrow.  In fact it�s obvious, now I consider his dilated pupils, and his overall, shifty demeanour. Will give an anonymous tip-off to the police.
Thurs, 16 Jan
My presence is requested by Regina Ip, our no-nonsense Secretary for Security.  To my acute embarrassment, I find her in tears. Anti-Article 23 fiends have deliberately and massively exaggerated their case,
she complains.  It�s tantamount to smearing her and the Government � it�s not fair.  She has to let the frustration out. But why me?  I can�t handle a woman crying and find myself awkwardly staring at the ceiling and trying not to squirm. I know some physical contact is in order, but find myself at a loss.  Eventually decide on gently rubbing her elbow with my fingers as the least erogenous option.  What can I say?  She�s totally right.  The opposition�s tactic is to spread baseless claims that Hong Kong is on the verge of civil and human rights calamity, and people around the world are swallowing it. Can�t bear to ask her the obvious question � whose fault is it, really?  Leave her with the pack of Happy-brand tissues that came free with the newspaper.

Evening, and a call from the S-Meg Deputy MD, Mr Chan.  Can I go down to Manila first thing tomorrow to check out a company we are thinking of buying?  What cowards!  I can just picture the conversation.  "We can't go, we're Chinese, and we might be kidnapped and held to ransom by murderous thugs with black teeth and foul breath, wielding M-16s and machetes, and sporting bandanas and lucky charm bullets on chains around their necks...  I know � let's send the company gwailo."  As if the Philippines isn't up to its ears in offshoots of the Al-Qaeda fan club on the look out for anglos.  This wouldn't happen if the Big Boss were around.

Back on Tuesday.  I hope.