Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Benny Tai Announces Change of Direction

The democracy thing is so yesterday, man. The Rev, the Chinese U dude and I are gonna become HK's New Direction

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

A Chink in the Mail?

While that bastion of common sense, fairness and lack of bigotry, the Daily Mail, calls for Malkay Mackay (the man who almost managed for Scottish football what Neville Neville managed for English) to be punished for sending text messages calling his chairman Vincent Tan a 'chink', and taking the mickey out of Jewish agents and black footballers, by being banned from football for a year and being forced to read the Daily Mail, the real question remains unanswered.

What gives anyone the right to be reading private and confidential communications from Mackay to a friend, let alone to be publishing them, let alone to be using them in an attempt to deprive him of his livelihood?

Whatever next? Community service orders for all those who call Americans and Germans 'gweilos'? Plus a year's subscription to Wen Wei Po, of course.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Thomas Kwok Clarifies Comments about Ma Wan Development

No, no, what I said was that I was passionately committed to prophets- Noah, Baal, Mammon, the whole Old Testament crowd.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Rafael Hui Denies Soliciting the Powerful

I'm not here to pray - just waiting for the collection plate to come round

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Unco indeed!

As avid readers of this blog will know, I’m a dedicated follower of the musings of David Eldon, who was until about ten years ago chairman of HSBC.

Having just got around to reading his recent ruminations, my attention was caught by his equation of those who draw salaries and bonuses as bankers with those who run a business. I had scarcely recovered from the novelty and daring of this idea when I was almost reduced to tears by his plea to whomever it might concern to sort out world terrorism (distinguished from rather than including the banking industry, in case you were wondering).

I imagine it was out-of-the-box thinking of this type that led the Koreans to make Eldon a Freeman of their capital city.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Confucian Values Rule, OK?

The university that reaches depths others can only dream of – Lingnan University, located in the hinterland between Shenzhen and Pillar Point Power Station – has plummeted below even its own low standards with a book advocating Singapore-style interventionism.

Prof Alfred Chan Cheung Ming, also known as the man who puts the I into APE and ASS as Director of the Asia-Pacific Institute of Ageing Studies (APIAS), has written a book with Dr Anna Tang King Yung, pro-Beijing District Councillor for Wan Chai.

Essentially, their book is an extended appeal to introduce a law in Hong Kong along the lines of the one in Singapore which makes it compulsory for children to give money to their parents. In reality, of course, given that children in Chinese society who a) don't absolutely hate their parents or b) haven't lost all their money gambling or c) aren't separated or divorced from their spouse and effectively supporting two homes will give HK$3-5,000 a month to their parents from when they first start earning decent money until their parents die, the sector that this cack-handed legislation will really benefit is lawyers and mediators. I assume it is merely a coincidence that DAB member Dr Tang is a member of the Hong Kong Mediation Centre.

If the text of the book is as muddled as its title, From Maintenance to Well-being: Negotiating Responsibilities in Supporting the Aged as in the Modern Chinese Culture, then I imagine it will be about as easy to read as the small print for one of HSBC’s credit card rewards schemes – with roughly the same number of readers. The one-page blurb on the Lingnan website certainly does a good job of balancing unreadability, banality and racialist claptrap.

Take this from Dr Tang: "while the traditional Confucian values of filial piety has (sic) imposed normative pressure for Chinese families to support their elderly members, the rise of individualism in Hong Kong as a result of Western cultural influence has substituted the traditional consanguineous relationship by relationship based on interest". And there was I thinking that guanxi or "relationship based on interest" was something that the Chinese had given to the world.

As for the attempt to smuggle in the idea that "the rise of individualism in Hong Kong [is] a result of Western cultural influence", I suggest Prof Chan and Dr Tang take a look at the 1988 book by Lau Siu Kai and Kuan Hsin Chi, The Ethos of the Hong Kong Chinese, in which the authors make the point that "egotistical individualism" is something that Chinese people can do very well on their own, thank you very much. Failing that, they need look no further than their compatriots across the border, who have managed to achieve all kinds of individualistic feats – husbands without the knowledge of wives, leaders of state enterprises without the knowledge of co-workers, unelected senior government officials without the knowledge of the people they "represent" – without one iota of foreign interference.

But it's when Orientals resort to multiple use of the word "Confucian" (without defining it – for that matter, has anyone ever seen it defined and survived to tell the tale?) that you know that they are winging it. Thus, the authors call for the establishment of "modern standards of providing for parents by reviewing the definitions of filial piety in Confucian traditions, and introducing family mediation to compensate the rigidity of the legal system in handling family disputes".

In case, like me, you can't make head nor tail of that, never fear – a magic wand is on hand to resolve everything by "taking into account the factors of consanguinity, rationality and legality" (I jest not) and defining filial piety. The result of just a single swipe by a "Hanny" Potter? "The clash between modern and traditional values in supporting elderly parents can be reconciled, thus ensuring the 'wellbeing' of the elderly through 'maintenance'."

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Putting the Pyjama Grannies on the Couch

On my way to the office this morning, I passed a "rehab" style bus which was in the middle lane of Tai Chung Kiu Road at the traffic lights, while I was in the outside lane. (I hope you're enjoying the detail.) What this meant - the queue in the middle lane being rather longer than that in the outside lane - was that I was able to catch only the last part of two captions before I slid past.

One read "...Attention Home", while the other presented "...Complex for the Elderly" to view. Now, having lived in these parts for longer than you can shake a stick at, I had little problem getting my head around the first one. The oldies are being asked to turn up to those public forum events where Ann Chiang Lai Wan displays a breathtaking ignorance about every subject she talks about, and actually listen. No one has managed it yet - even the hecklers are always hopelessly off target with their catcalls.

But the second one took quite a bit of working out, and I pride myself on my ability to generate inferences from the most unpromising linguistic material, having once found some meaning in something Noam Chomsky wrote. I could only conclude that the Hong Kong Council for Social Service (and just why is it Service not Services? do they only offer Vita lemon tea and not Hi-C?) has been taking time out from its Caring Company campaign to give all the old biddies the city is awash with some meaning in life beyond standing on the heels of the person in front at 7-Eleven by giving them their own complex.

These were really popular in the post-war period when everyone was a psychopath or had dissociative this and that when everyone still believed all that Freudian guff, but surely it's all old hat now. Or, does the HKCSS know something the rest of us don't know? Or even Ann Chiang? There is - they say - a first time for everything.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Chinese President Denies Corruption Probe Mere Window Dressing

If I charged myself and all the other government officials, who would run the country?

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Pan-democrats Announce Winner of Slogan Competition to Increase Meaningful Political Participation

                                             Say no to stunts!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Ukrainian Rebels Explain Shooting Down of MH17

                                            Because it was there

Monday, 21 July 2014

Webb’s World

There isn’t a lot about which David M Webb can talk without sounding as if he knows quite a lot about it. He was in sparkling form recently on RTHK in a performance where he deftly combined roles of shareholder activist, political commentator, scourge of the Jockey Club and master of the one-liner. Much of the credit, it should be said, must go to the interviewer, Stephen Davies, who, unlike some one might mention, seemed genuinely more interested in what his subject had to say than in what he could bring to the table by way of inane interruption and obtuse preachifying.

Hitting the ground running with a well-polished line about his former life (“I’m a reformed investment banker – I haven’t had a deal for many years now”), Webbie’s first topic was freedom of information – or, this being Hong Kong, the lack of it. Because nearly all large companies listed locally have a controlling shareholder (as likely to be the government – whether of the HKSAR (the MTRC) or Mainland China (passim) – as a distinguished family such as the Lis or the Kwoks), the tendency is “to reduce information flow to a minimum”.

Rather than establishing a freedom of information ordinance as first-world societies which pay at least lip service to the open society have done, Hong Kong brings us what it does best, a toothless fudge with a giant loophole, in this case, a code on access to information which is able to stave off most requests for substantive information by playing the ‘Price-sensitive Information” card. This suits the government fine (since they see themselves as a “self-contained entity” rather than as representatives of the people), and government-controlled companies such as the MTRC just fine too, as they can simply opt out of announcing the terms of the winning bids for their land tenders – probably just as well, suggests the Webbmeister, as determining who wins is “something of a subjective exercise”.

The next bunch of scoundrels the man who moonlighted as a student by writing games for the Sinclair Spectrum turns his microscope on is Hong Kong Jockey Coterie (oops! “Club”). “The charity thing is a fig-leaf to protect the existence of a monopoly gambling company” which funnels enormous sums in taxes to the HKSAR government, with just 1% of what gamblers lose going into the HKJC Charities Trust – “which sometimes spends it and often hoards it”. A situation mirrored just down the road at the Tamar central government offices, where the beneficiary coterie sits on its own swollen horde like a particularly self-satisfied if rather dumb dragon.

Webbie isn’t finished yet. Now it is the turn of the Functional Constituencies (“not a sensible way to construct your government”) to receive the treatment, introduced by another classic one-liner: “We don’t bother with lobby groups in Hong Kong because we give them a role in parliament”. Webb’s main point is that civic nomination being so much pie in the sky (and Occupy Central a “sideshow”), we need to dilute the FCs by the time the next LegCo elections come round in 2016 in order that we might have a more broadly based Nomination Committee for the election of the Chief Executive the following year.

And we need to get our skates on, as 1 July 2015 is the deadline for proposals to broaden the membership of the FCs, in such a way that, for example, all financial services workers get to vote for their representative in the same way that all teachers already get to vote for their rep. Webb’s argument is simple: since the Nominating Committee mirrors the FCs, broaden the FCs by giving everyone the vote and kicking out corporate voting.

Finally, with parting shots at the dictatorship in the PRC (an economic slowdown could trigger an “overthrow” of a government which has “bought the consent of the people”) and our own Chief Executive (anyone who is ushered in in 2017 with no electoral mandate as part of a “rigged election” will be welcomed by half a million protesters on the streets), Webb is off to update his list of dodgy directors and continue his fight against the cosy relationship between government, Hong Kong Exchange and Clearings and the Securities and Futures Commission.

Friday, 18 July 2014

United We Stand

Karl Popper wrote in Conjectures and Refutations that "Classes never rule, any more than nations. The rulers are always certain persons. And whatever class they may have belonged to, when they are rulers they belong to the ruling class."

And human rulers have one characteristic above all others - the desire to keep being rulers. Which, in a nutshell, is why those who are ruled require - for their safety and sanity, not to mention the establishment of the conditions to attain their full potential - the broadest possible representation in the political process.

Whether lying down on the road is the best way of participating in the political process is of course a different question. Seeking to maintain union with those who have similar goals and philosophies, on the other hand, is always a threat to a totalitarian government.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Out of the Mouths of the Beeb and Suckers Comes Perfect Praise

Bleeding-heart liberals from Woking (and I thought only Italians lived in the ugly Surrey railway town) have been on their high horses after Steve Wilson, a BBC football commentator, referred to the German national song as “Deutschland über alles” (Germany over everything! – note, not “everyone”).

If it’s any consolation to Wilson, the verse in which these magnificent revolutionary (and indeed humanistic) sentiments are expressed was part of the national anthem when West Germany, as it then was, last won the World Cup in 1990.

My favourite, though, is the second verse – also now proscribed by the PC brigade – which sings the praises of German wine and German women, two of the country’s biggest income earners and therefore, so you’d think, well worth celebrating in song.

The verse the bureaucrats left the benighted citizenry with is so dull you can hardly blame the men folk for sitting down when they need to take a leak.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Nurture your Own Bloody Solutions

Honestly, I don't know why I still bank with them. People who have their crappy "Advance" account (I'm told you need to keep an average balance of HK$200,000 to qualify for this privilege) tell me that they never bother queuing in the dedicated "Advance" line, as it's always quicker to queue up with the plebs.

And then today, because my local branch doesn't stock foreign currency (it is a bank, after all - what else should you expect?), I had to train it to Mong Kok to get some Thai Baht. As I was waiting, what should pollute my sight but a giant poster emblazoned with the slogan "We nurture solutions for you".

No you don't, HSBC (for it is they), because you can't. No one can. Check Google if you wish, if checking, proofreading, editing and indeed thinking are part of your - what would you call it? - "customer-focused solution-oriented portfolio", I suppose. Wevs!

Look, let me spell it out in terms that even a group of drones who are totally committed to copying what others are doing, and who consider it the height of out-of-the-box thinking to go beyond those they typically ape by sticking buzzwords together for no better reason than that they are buzzwords. You can nurture people (fat chance! only joking), you can nurture plants (think Prince Charles talking to his) but you can't nurture bloody solutions. They're inanimate.

So what can you do to your solutions? Well, you can do us all a favour and chuck them in the bin labelled "Dangerous and toxic clichés", take them to the landfill, cover them with your MBA assignments and consultants' reports, and nurture them there to your heart's content.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Pan-democrats Consider "Most Radical Proposal Yet" for Pushing Forward the Political Process

From the start of the next legislative session, we will be researching motions for debate, consulting our constituents, voting according to our conscience and giving up gimmicks and stunts

Friday, 4 July 2014

Beijing Denies Deal with Pan-democrats Imminent

Why would we deal with those whose own actions bolster our support?

Monday, 30 June 2014

Hong Kong Judges Respond to Beijing’s Recategorisation as "Administrators"

We must object in the strongest possible terms to the imputation that we do not already put considerations of case management before those pertaining to justice

Saturday, 28 June 2014