Hemlock's Diary
3-9 Feb 2008
Mon, 4 Feb
Which is the odd one out among Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, Donald Trump and myself?  The answer is myself, as the other three (plus others too numerous to mention) have all had a roll in the hay with one Carla Bruni, who has just married the tragically untrustworthy looking French President Nicolas Sarkozy after a brief courtship that commenced minutes after Sarko’s divorce from his previous
femme.  In some countries, the headline ‘Nation’s leader weds slut-model-bim on impulse’ would be a cause to reach for the air motion discomfort receptacle, if not emigrate.  But the French have no such qualms and see a woman who has bedded a string of wealthy and famous anglo-saxonnes old enough to be her father as the epitome of le cool

The French are also laid back about teenagers who splice photos of prominent personalities’ heads onto pictures of scantily clad ladies and upload the results onto the Internet.  Mercifully, we in Hong Kong are made of sterner stuff and don’t hesitate to set the police loose on the perpetrators.  The
Standard, developing nicely as an amusingly moronic tabloid, froths at the mouth over this activity, apparently seeing it as no less shocking than the Baghdad suicide bombing profession’s alleged use of women with Down’s syndrome as delivery staff.  The Standard’s main competitor in Asia’s market for sanitized, English-language scandal sheets is Singapore’s New Paper – and what sort of photo are they uploading onto the Internet today?  Oh la la!
Tue, 5 Feb
Seven million people struggle to keep their congee down after they find that the photos of Hong Kong starlets at the height of celebrity mating season might not have been forged.  A few seconds’ search on Google suggests three things.  First, the scrawny bimbettes pictured were not necessarily unaware of the presence of a camera.  Two – pleas from star Edison Chen and the mighty Hong Kong Police notwithstanding – the images are everywhere and not going to disappear anytime soon.  And three – no, they don’t seem to be fake.  Ewww…

While we are all riveted by the proportions of Edison’s manhood, the many-pimpled hirsuteness of female Cantopop singers’ nether regions and other matters not conducive to a relaxing breakfast, what is going on in the Big Lychee?  It is an important question because, as everyone knows, the imminent start of the New Year will set the tone for the following 12 months, which is why we are all cleaning our homes, clearing our personal debts and (physically unexceptional idols all over the Internet excepted) getting our affairs in order. 

Bank of East Asia boss David Li will,
reportedly, be paying US$8 million to settle his dispute with the US stock market regulators about his friend’s kid’s insider trading in Dow Jones shares.  It is a near-impossible thing to prove absolutely, however much circumstantial, where-there’s-smoke-there’s-fire evidence there is.  We can say that for a non-admission of guilt, 8 million is a lot.  Nonetheless, the Year of the Rat will start with Mr Li proudly continuing to serve on Hong Kong’s top policymaking body, the Executive Council.  From this we can predict that our dashing Chief Executive Donald Tsang will make this a year of broadmindedness, inclusiveness and mercy.
Officials, taking advantage perhaps of the cover offered by the impressive bushiness of a certain female crooner’s crotch, are briefing the press about the apparent decision to postpone work on reforming or replacing Radio Television Hong Kong.  Reading between the lines, it all looks like a decision to pre-empt another Article 23-type mess, in which eagerness to placate dinosaurs in Beijing overcomes common sense and riles the populace.  This augurs well for Sir Bow-Tie’s chances of remaining an improvement on his hapless predecessor Tung Chee-hwa for the coming 12 moons. 

Reading even deeper between the lines, the little episode gives the impression that the Hong Kong Government was planning to pull a bit of a fast one on conservative elements among the black hair dye brigade up in the nation’s capital – making a big show of replacing naughty, disloyal RTHK with something superficially better behaved but in fact under the surface still independent enough to be acceptable to the taxpayers who listen to it.  Nice try. 

Or perhaps that’s what they want us to think…
Wed, 6 Feb
David Li pays US$8 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission ‘without admitting or denying’ the allegations against him.  Will Hong Kong journalist Ching Cheong, convicted in a secret trial on a false charge of spying for Taiwan and now suddenly released from prison in the Mainland after serving 1,000 days, do the same?  Most people who have been framed would loudly declare their innocence, but Ching is a fully paid-up, though widely respected, member of the pro-Beijing camp and will presumably put loyalty to the Communist Party ahead of justice for himself – just as his friends and supporters in the patriotic community, after initially protesting his imprisonment, obeyed orders from the north to shut up about him.  It is impossible not to admire these people.  Saying “it is an honour to be kicked in teeth by you, please do it again” is easy – but to do it with such sincerity!
That said, it is apparently acceptable to openly express happiness at Ching’s release (as Sir Bow-Tie does), which is a curious thing to do when the individual concerned has officially confessed to acts of espionage against the motherland on behalf of the splittists across the Strait.  Everyone politely fails to notice this blatant contradiction, just as they refrain from asking what on earth the whole thing was about.

One theory is that Ching frightened Li Peng and other butchers of Tiananmen by seeking a record of an interview with Zhao Ziyang, the Party chief who was deposed after opposing the killing of the students in 1989 and kept under house arrest for the rest of his life.  Ching’s ordeal was a warning to others to keep clear of this forbidden territory.  Another is that the interview was a lure, and he was framed by anti-Taiwan hawks in Beijing engaged in one of Zhongnanhai’s internal squabbles, or who had some sort of hang-up about his success in forging constructive relations with groups on the rebel island. 

Whatever the truth, Ching will presumably remain silent in public, implicitly accepting his treatment since 2005 ‘without admitting or denying’.  A bit like being innocent but paying US$8 million anyway, to spare the SEC any embarrassment.

WITH GROWN women excited by the coming festival and acting like three-year-olds outside the gwailo’s lair, an early departure is called for, and before the morning even ends, I declare the four-day weekend open.
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