Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Is Redemption Nigh for Leonard Cheng?

                                                Watch me fly!

And who, you might be asking, is Leonard Cheng? Well, from this evening for some time into the foreseeable future, if things go his way – in other words, if the students (including some of his own, of course) continue to ignore the High Court order to remove themselves from the streets of Mong Kok and Central – Leonard Cheng Kwok-hon, president of Lingnan University in deepest Tuen Mun, is set to be the new face of the moderate faction in the stunt-driven shenanigans that pass for serious political debate in these parts.

Some will say that Lenny is the perfect man for the job in pragmatic Hong Kong, as he has connections to both of the candidates for chief executive the last time the fake election circus rolled through town. His relationship towards the surprise (to some – but not readers of this blog) winner of that race, Leung Chun Ying, may be closer than his relationship with the also-ran, Henry Tang Ying Yen (who was after all disadvantaged by having other things on his mind), but, I ask you, who can put his hand up in an interview with Michael Chugani and say categorically, “No, I have never done anything stupid in my life, like agreeing to appear on your programme and get asked questions that are so inconvenient that the only way out is to lie”?

Anyway, enough about our scumbag chief executive and back to Len’s even-handed suitability for the mediator job at this evening’s “debate” between government officials and student leaders in Wong Chuk Hang. While his role as an adviser to CY Leung during his election campaign ensured that his career at Hong Kong’s least prestigious UGC-funded university got off to the shakiest possible start, what is less known is that he had a Henry Tang moment of his own. Not with one of the fillies (equine or otherwise), but with a basement – that must-have accessory of the rich, famous and lawless members of local society.

Lenny knocked down a few walls below ground at the Sai Kung house where he lived while doing his former job as dean of the rapacious School of Business and Management at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, a school which earned the nickname “Carlsberg” from some for having not – probably – the best beer in the world, but – probably – the most expensive undergraduate course in the world. In words resonating with our ’Enry’s curious mixture of obfuscation and self-pity, Lenny said last year when the hole came to light that he did not think increasing the living space of his abode by more than one-third “was illegal at that time” – whatever that might mean.

Success and fame have come late in life for Len, who turned 60 earlier this year. For those not familiar with the Machiavellian workings of local academia, Len’s appointment caused considerable surprise not only on account of his having been an associate of CY Leung but because his elevation from dean (quite a lowly rank in academic terms, in all truth – and typically a poisoned chalice to be passed on to the next gull as soon as possible) represented a double, or indeed treble, jump – almost unprecedented in appointments of this kind. People in high places (although CY has been chairman of the Council of Lingnan University in the past, the urbane insurance millionaire and Executive council member Bernard Charnwut Chan was helming the ship at the time of Len’s appointment) obviously thought that Lenny was made of the sort of stuff that justified passing over candidates who had cut their teeth as a vice president or associate vice president, as would normally be expected. Or, indeed, as president of an inferior institution in Hong Kong or overseas – although one appreciates that numbers in this sub-category might be small.

                         Students welcome Lennie (2013)

Which brings us to yesterday and the congregation at which nearly a thousand Lingnanians had various degrees and diplomas conferred upon them. The placards were out in force once more, as they were last year for his introduction as president, together with the inevitable umbrellas.

               Former students serenade Lenny with brollies (2104)

It was not our Len who received the hottest reception of the day, though, but former secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Frederick Ma Si Hang, who showed up to get his gong (an honorary doctorate in social sciences) but received heckles rather than plaudits from those in attendance when he, perhaps unwisely, decided to impart some of the wisdom he has accumulated over the years since he was a callow youth at the University of Hong Kong being taught economics by Edward Chen Kwan Yiu – former Lingnan president.

I bet Fred thought he was quoting Voltaire when, adopting his best Churchillian tone, he told the cream of Tuen Mun’s youth that he would “defend to the death your right to speak”. Alas, no. These words were never uttered by the dissident Frenchman, but were invented by an Edwardian English gentlewoman by the name of Evelyn Beatrice Hall to spice up her book The Friends of Voltaire.

Inventions, lies? Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, as those Frenchies say.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Hong Kong Umbrella Movement Strikes Back

                    We don't want the fight to become pointless

Friday, 17 October 2014

Student Leaders Vow to Erect and Worship at New Shrine

                                    The new one will be a mirror

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Ken Tsang Breaks Silence after Police Beating

                                     Can I keep the wheelchair?

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Spirit of Mao Invoked as CCP Give Verdict on Umbrella Movement

Stability is bliss, and turmoil brings havoc. Think Chinese Civil War, think Great Leap Forward, think Cultural Revolution, think Beijing Massacre. They all worked for us...

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Students Mount New Production of Les Mis

Some will fall and some will live
Will you stand up and take your chance?

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Only One Item on Agenda for Protest Leaders

Constitutional reform must wait while we discuss the really important issue– how we can come out of the forthcoming splits looking better than the other sides

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Hong Kong Students Issue Ultimatum

We will answer no questions until more cameras arrive

Monday, 6 October 2014

Hong Kong Students Issue Fresh Demand

We demand that CY Leung reverses the verdict about the right to use cliches and carry out stunts

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

CY Leung Gives Reason for Withdrawing Riot Police

There was a little confusion - half of them thought they were supposed to be controlling a riot, the other half that they were meant to be having a riot

Monday, 29 September 2014

CY Leung Dismisses Minibus and Taxi Blockade Comparisons

We all need to remember that blockades of the roads by taxis and minibuses are completely different. They are run by triads, and the triads have tradionally enjoyed a close working relationship with the Chinese government

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Hong Kong Police Explain Need for Full-length Riot Shelds

We must be ready to protect ourselves from the rocks that our plain-clothed colleagues may throw at us

Thursday, 25 September 2014

SCMP Puts Latest Gaffe down to Too Much Wanking*

A headline in today's SCMP online:

'Women's low sex drive blamed for falling birth rate'

The article begins:

'Lack of a satisfactory sex life among women has been singled out as a reason for Hong Kong's low fertility rate.'

A woman's sex drive is her urge to seek satisfaction of her sexual needs. A woman's sex life is her sexual activity and relationships considered in toto. They are different.

Like this:

and this:

are different.

Got it now?

* Well, it's also got something to do with sex.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Mata Offers Advice to Rooney

There's no need to put your 'and in front of your face. No one can understand you anyway.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Murray to Prove Good Form Guide for Scottish Independence Vote

So Andy Murray used the most vapid form of communication, the tweet, to finally enter the Scottish Independence debate (after voting had already started, note) and urge fellow Scots (but not those living in England like him, of course, who have no vote) to vote Yes to a future without much of a future.

I don't want to sound mean to our first home produced Wimbledon champion since Sir David Akers-Jones was a wee annoying mite, but I'm not sure if I were that one-trick-pony Alec Salmond that I would be too keen to have a Jock on my side who has slipped outside the top ten in the men's rankings for the first time since his last political faux pas and indeed lost all his form since parting with Czech coach Ivan Lendl and taking on Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo.

Does the bairn from Dunblane not understand that all attempts to get into bed with the Froggies against the Sassenachs have ended in tears? Think Hundred Years' War, think that trollope Mary Queen of Scots, think that halfwit Bonny Prince Charlie?

(At the time of writing, only Clackmannanshire and Orkney are in, and they have both voted No.)

Monday, 15 September 2014

Wretched Arbitrary Wrenching

All the Hong Kong and Central Chinese Governments' flummery about so-called constitutional reform (AKA ways of ensuring the maintenance of the tyranny of the elite) put me in mind of a nice passage in CS Lewis's The Abolition of Man. Written while Europe was being oppressed by and fighting back against the tyranny of Nazi Germany, this little book has become something of a sleeper hit in the seventy years since it was published.

Lewis's central thesis is that you can neither invent new systems of value nor pick and choose bits to "live by" (or, more pertinently in respect of the Hong Kong case, for your subjects to live by) from what has been passed down to you. If what Lewis calls - with a nod to Chinese civilisation - the Tao exists independently of us and is the sole source of all our value judgements, then any attempt to replace it with a new value system is self-contradictory, since any such system would consist of fragments from the Tao itself.

As if anticipating events half way round the world seven decades on, Lewis gives among his examples of values that totalitarian governments will be tempted to "arbitrarily wrench from their context in the whole" and swell "to madness in their isolation" from the rest of the natural law patriotic duty. The last refuge of a small bunch of unelected scoundrels, indeed!

On edit: I found some interesting reflections about freedom and democracy in a Lewis essay called "The poison of subjectivism": "The very idea of freedom presupposes some objective moral law which overarches rulers and ruled alike. Subjectivism about values is etrnally incompatible with democracy. We and our rulers are of one kind only so long as we are subject to one law."

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Robert Chow Prompts Change in National Education Syllabus

We would like to thank Robert for helping us realise that skipping lessons is in fact illegal rather than a matter between school and pupil

Monday, 8 September 2014

Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Double-Deckers

I am indebted to my logistics mole, who has not only spotted something rather special - even by Hong Kong standards - but also managed to do it in time for my readers to benefit.

Anyone eager to howl at the moon or desecrate the environment with red candle wax tonight need look no further than Hong Kong's prime lunar viewing site: the Tuen Mun Road Bus-Bus Interchange.

And who do we have to thank for this brainwave? None other than one of Hong Kong's proudest polluters, KMB, who have followed in the footsteps of other local luminaries such as HSBC by saving themselves the trouble of thinking outside the box by throwing the box away altogether.

This from their latest press release: "To further celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival...KMB recommends that passengers go to the upper level of the Tuen Mun Road Bus-Bus Interchange (Tuen Mun-bound) for views of the full moon complemented by vistas of the sea." It doesn't get much more picturesque or romantic than that, does it? All in a sickly shade of green, to boot.

The Romans were certainly onto something when they called those who get a bit too excited about the moon lunatics.