Not The South China Morning Post

May 1997

Q. What main differences will I notice after the handover?
A. First and foremost, you will no longer see the drab-looking, puffy, overweight ("big-boned") wives of British military personnel wandering around town looking depressed. That's right: no more of that ghastly hair, horrendous dress sense, fat thighs, and sickly skin (apart from American tourists, who will still be allowed).
Q. This alone makes the handover thouroughly worthwhile, does it not?
A. Yup.
Q. What about the wives of Chinese military personnel?
A. After conducting extensive research in Guangdong Province over the last 18 months, I can safely say that they are the most ravishing bunch of cuties going. In the words of a circa 1985 Hong Kong TV commercial for a short-lived brand of ice cream: "Yummy Yum Yum!" (Does anyone else remember that commercial?)
Q. What will change in terms of political institutions?
A. The "through train", as originally envisaged, will not happen. There will be some serious changes. For example, not only will Chris Patten be replaced by Tung Chee-hwa, but Chris Patten's hair dresser will be replaced by Tung Chee-hwa's lawn mower.
Nonetheless, there will be much continuity. For example, although the Legislative Council we elected in 1995 will be replaced by one selected by China, the members will mostly be the same people! OK, cretins, if that's the way you feel. But the SAME cretins!  Even symbols of sovereignty will enjoy a certain thematic continuity. The British coat of arms, a symbol of a clapped out European system (feudalism) will be replaced by the PRC state seal, a symbol of a clapped out European system (communism).
Q. Will colonial street names be changed ?
A. The People's Liberation Army, mindful of the humiliation involved in having British Kings and Governors celebrated in this way, says "yes". Hong Kong taxi drivers, mindful of the huge effort already required to remember street names that have been around for only 150 years, say "no". There are some things even nuclear weapons cannot beat. The old names will stay.
Q. Will I still be allowed to read unbiased newspapers like the South China Morning Post after the handover?
A. You're in luck! Reading the SCMP will be compulsory after the handover.
Q. Will Nury Vittachi's column be funny after the handover?
A. You obviously were not paying attention to the late patriarch Deng Xiao-ping, who, over the last 10 years of his life, answered this and similar questions repeatedly and clearly through his simple but profound phrase "50 years, no change". Rest assured, under the terms of the Joint Declaration, codified in the Basic Law, Nury Vittachi will remain tortuously un-funny until 2047. (At the earliest, we suspect.)
Coming soon to a colonial paradise near you:
1st July 1997 - the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong from the UK to the PRC.
What will happen? Your questions answered...
Q. Am I still going to wake up at night in a cold sweat, dreaming that Rita Fan is coming to castrate me?
A. Yes, this is perfectly normal, don't worry about it.
Q. TV in Hong Kong is even worse than everywhere else. Might it actually get better after the handover?
A. Hong Kong TV has been all but unwatchable since the Yummy Yum Yum commercial went off the air a decade and a half ago. There is a simple solution to this. Gently unplug your TV. Grasp it firmly (but - hey! - gently) on either side with your hands. Lift it up. Carry it out of your front door. Chuck it down the stairs.
Q. OK, what's with the grinning cartoon dolphin?
A. This is getting trivial. The USA has a presidential seal, the UK has a prince of whales, Hong Kong has a grinning cartoon dolphin. Aquatic mammals play a major role in constitutional symbolism. Lay off the grinning cartoon dolphin and ask something sensible.
Q. Will I still be allowed to live here after the handover?
A. They're working on this. Hey, there's still a week to go! What's the rush?
Q. I'm absolutely riveted about the principle of "one country, two systems" devised by the late patriarch Deng Xiao-ping in relation to the handover. Please bore me to tears, at considerable length, in more detail, in order to fill in the gaps, flesh out the bones and all that kind of stuff, about this extremely significant aspect of this historic event.
A. Well, OK. First of all, how do you "flesh out" bones? I can see how you can cut flesh OFF bones, at a barbecue or in a rough and ready operating theatre etc etc. But how do you put it back ON them?? Huh? Got you there haven't I?   To get to your point: The "one country, two systems policy" is very simple.
In THEORY it means something like this. Mainland China is run according to very strict principles, with nothing left to chance. The central government in Peking exercises total control over everything. Hong Kong, on the other hand, can carry on as usual, but mustn't let people in the Mainland know, in case they feel jealous.  
In PRACTICE it means this. Zhongnanhai (the compound in Peking inhabited by senior government leaders) is run according to strict principles with nothing left to chance. The rest of China completely ignores them and indulges in an orgy of money-making mayhem, leaving Hong Kong looking like a convent in contrast. No-one lets the people in Zhongnanhai know in case they feel jealous.
Q. Now you've whetted my appetite, I'd really like some excruciating detail about the changes in Hong Kong's political structure instigated by the British over the last couple of years, and the ways in which China is reversing these reforms, preferably with copious references to obscure articles in the Basic Law.
A. Since you asked, under Article 61 (b) of the Basic Law, the composition of the Legislative Council must undergo some profound changes. For example, the current Deep-fried Stinky Tofu Salesmen Functional Constituency will be disbanded and replaced by the Secretaries and Receptionists with Black Underwear Functional Constituency. This is highly regrettable and would not have been necessary had the British colonial government not unilaterally implemented ill-advised political reforms. The criminal for a thousand years Chris Patten has left China with no choice in this matter.
Q. Yummy yum yum!
A. Well, quite.
Q. Will the communists ban the John Lennon song "Imagine" from juke boxes in Hong Kong bars after the handover?
A. I've approached them about this, and they insist that they have no such plans. I'm still working on them however - they may yet come to their senses. I'm also urging them to ban "Piano Man" by Billy Joel, "Your Song" by Elton John, and the one that goes "God is watching us - from a distance" by whoever did that. Some good news: I detect real flexibility on the part of the Mainland authorities when it comes to the death penalty for those bands that play in hotel lounges. They're definitely warming to the idea.
Q. Screw Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong Telecom - are the communists going to be buying a majority stake in San Miguel at friendship prices, and how will this affect my lifestyle?
A. We applaud your rationale. Who needs airlines and telephone companies? Let's get our priorities right here. Your favourite brew seems safe for the time being, but buy shares in Tsing Tao to be on the safe side.
Q. During the five days' public holiday we get during the handover, there will obviously be loads of really fun events like firework displays, lion dances, flag-lowering ceremonies, you name it. Where is the best place to watch it all from?
A. So far, the consensus seems to be evenly split between Bali and Penang.
Q. I've heard rumours that bad elements in Mongkok are planning to kidnap Prince Charles and cut off his ears, in order to use them as woks. Is there any truth to this?
A. After measuring various restaurants' kitchen doors, they decided this was not feasible.
Q. Yummy yum yum! Are we going to be allowed to eat dogs now?
A. Woof woof!