Thursday, 17 April 2014

New York Mayor Gets Tough on Guns

Americans deserve to know that the guns that kill their loved ones were purchased legally

Monday, 14 April 2014

"I owe it all to Pretorius", says key witness in murder trial

                          No one can act like Oscar

Friday, 11 April 2014

Places to Crash in China

You've got to take your hat off to any road user who can hit five other vehicles in less than a minute. One reason you need to do this is that he doesn't reckon he needs a helmet. An actuary might beg to differ.

The action starts in the top centre of the screen and ends where you're hoping it will, in that big round thing at the bottom. The best is saved till last, as both Evel Kwanievel's erstwhile passenger and the driver of the truck he rams into watch the scooter guy do a Frankie Dettori flying dismount into the canyon and then calmly go about their daily business as if nothing had happened.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Oscar Pistorius Seeks to Repay Debt to Staunchest Supporter

                  I'm putting it up for best actor in a supporting role

Monday, 7 April 2014

True Detective

If you're looking for a genuine hunk, you can do a lot worse than Matthew McConnaughey, who seems to be in everything and to be winning everything these days.

The epitome of cool - a sort of edgy Cary Grant with a drawl - McC basically plays two roles these days: the dude in a ponytail (Dallas Buyers Club and True Detective) and the smart guy who's always threatening to migrate to Christopher Walken territory (True Detective).

Much feted by most critics - the woman at The New York Times took exception to it; a recommendation in itself - True Detective is as good as its hype, up there on a par with the Danish Killing while being somewhat less soap-opery, with fewer silly sub-plots.

The three stars - McC, Woody Harrelson and the Louisiana boondocks - all turn in top performances, while there's enough ambiguity about the baddies to keep the cliché count at a bearable level.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Thomas Kwok Retires as Chairman of SHKP

Thomas Kwok, the middle of the three Kwok brothers, has announced that he is stepping down as co-chairman of the property giant SHKP with immediate effect. Kwok, a devout Christian, said in a statement that he had been reading the Bible and felt he needed to get back to basics.

"If it is harder for a camel to thread the needle than for a rich man to get to Heaven, then I clearly need to reconsider my priorities," the 61-year-old said.

When asked whether he had any plans to close Noah's Ark, the Christian-themed park on Ma Wan Island owned by SHKP which critics say promotes Creationism, Kwok said that since this was a matter that involved others, he was not in a position to take unilateral action.

"For myself, yes, probably, I would shut it down. Is it promoting the Lordship of Jesus or was it set up merely as a plaything which promotes highly contestable ideologies while puffing up the pride of those who established it?"

Asked if his decision to step down had anything to do with his upcoming trial for allegedly bribing, together with co-chairman Raymond, former Chief Secretary Rafael Hui to give SHKP large tracts of land in return for cash, Kwok said that his decision was one he had been mulling over for some time and that the two issues were "absolutely unrelated".

Estranged elder brother Walter Kwok said that his brother's decision came as something of a surprise, given that their mother had apparently not been consulted before the decision was made. Asked to comment on rumours that the decision had been made after Thomas consulted a Feng Shui expert, Raymond said that while Thomas had been known to consult Feng Shui experts, they were always churchgoers and highly reputable.

Co-chairman Raymond Kwok was not avialable for comment, while Rafael Hui is currently on a visit to the Vatican with his old friend Donald Tsang, the former Chief Executive. Both Hui and Tsang are devout Roman Catholics.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Chinese Relatives of MH370 Passengers Demand Evidence for (Some) Claims

The pilot of the plane that has not crashed into the sea is to blame for the death of all those on board

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Chinese Furious about Malaysian Deception

Deception?! For God's sake, that's our department

Chris Martin Explains Split with Paltrow

I could no longer live with someone who says things like "consciously uncouple"

Friday, 14 March 2014

MH 370

I listened with interest a few days ago as a Malaysian government official gave four possible reasons for the disappearance (AKA crash) of the Boeing 777 belonging to the national carrier. We had, if I recall correctly, pilot error, mechanical problem, personal problem of crew or passengers, and psychological problem of the same.

Was the man trying to give a coded message, I wondered, by giving the same reason twice in two different guises? With the US reporting that there have been 24 incidents of pilot suicide (AKA murder/suicide) in the past two decades, what price the plane lying at this moment - and indeed for the best part of the last week - at the bottom of the Andaman Trench?

With oxygen levels kept so low on commercial flights, all the pilot needed to do to keep the passengers quiet (indeed, asleep) was to switch off the oxygen supply to the cabin. How he dealt with the crew is another matter, of course...

It is worrying that whether or not you arrive safely at your destination these days depends as much as anything else on the mental health of the pilots. Maybe basic training should include a module on suicide, with methods that don't interfere with the right to life of fellow human beings being incorporated.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Ann Chiang Set to Star alongside Johnny Depp

Anyone who can demand a 70% refund for a 5% change in schedule deserves to get to play a pirate

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Chance to Hear Top Pianist in Hong Kong without Paying an Arm and a Leg

Okay, the downside is you've got to listen to Yip Wing Sie "educating" you, you'll probably end up sitting next to a seven-year-old who fidgets throughout because his parents have packed him off with his music-teacher taking advantage of the 50% discount scheme, and you'll have to listen to the brass section struggling with their embouchure. 

The upside, however, is that you'll get the chance to listen to a seriously talented lad from Southend-on-Sea called Benjamin Grosvenor - and at a fifth of the price of listening to Lang Lang. The 21-year-old has been a shining star in the musical firmament since winning the Young Musician of the Year competition ten years ago. There's a depth about his interpretation which is very rare - check out his rendition of Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit on YouTube. Only Chopin seems to be beyond his reach at the moment, but I am sure that will come with time.

So, while tickets are still available, get onto Urbtix and book your places for Friday 28 February at the venue with the best acoustic, the City Hall in Central.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Government Announces Sure-fire Measure to Beat Pollution

It's so simple it's a wonder no one's thought of it before. Rather than actually getting rid of the empty buses that chase each other around Hong Kong, "suspend" a bus stop and move it forward 10 metres.

Don't knock it. This is the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that produced the likes of Donald Tsang...and Raphael Hui. And look where they got... 

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Happy Families Hong Kong Style

Videos blaring from my secretary’s PC this lunchtime alert me (and everyone else within earshot) to the latest Hong Kong mini-scandal, which concerns someone I had not heard of since he stepped down as the president of Lingnan University many moons ago.

More than 20 years, while he was still a humble academic at Hong Kong University, Oxford-educated economist Edward Chen Kwan Yiu was the darling of successive governors: David Wilson, who appointed him to LegCo, and Chris Patten, who bumped him up to ExCo for the full duration of his term of office.

More pertinently for the newshounds at Oriental Daily News who trailed him and his former Personal Assistant Rachelle Suen for days after being tipped off about the existence of possible pre-teenage progeny for the man whose own marriage to an eminent linguist at Hong Kong University was childless, Chen was for some years chairman of the Hong Kong Consumer Council.

Having been involved in a number of run-ins with the hacks on that eminent rag during his incumbency at the consumer watchdog, Chen will have been in the paparazzi’s viewfinders for some time. The quiet period before the Lunar New Year – and the continuing difficulty in finding anything interesting to say about CY Leung’s policy speech – finally triggered the telling of a fable that is disturbingly familiar.

Cut to images of Chen holding hands with his wife Rosie, via shots of Chen obligingly winding down the window of his wife’s car to confirm that yes, the child is his, to Rosie leaning across from the driving position to gush that she’s known about the affair for years. But, there’s more. She fully understands her hubbie’s desire to have a child and heir. Not only that, but she looks forward to doing her bit financially to see that the child gets a flying start in life.

You get the impression that if a basement were to be discovered under the presidential mansion at Lingnan, Rosie would drive to the ODN offices in Kowloon Bay with wellies and spade to tell them she dug it herself.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Hong Kong Employer Breaks Silence over Maid Abuse

        It's all a musunderstanding - I thought she was a Filipino

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Patriots in a Frenzy ahead of Lang Lang Rip Rip Off Off

A wag once quipped that if Li Yundi (the artist formerly known as Yundi Li - seen here annihilating Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee at a recent concert) had never existed he would have been invented by Lang Lang's management team to make their man look good. While this is a calumny on Lang Lang to the extent that his own 'Wham, bang, thank you ma'am' style of playing is underscored by the ability to hit the right notes, the fact remains that many of his interpretations achieve the near impossible – to make Wu Fung look subtle.

Lang Lang is coming to town in April to play concertos by Mozart and Prokofiev. Fittingly, the jamboree is sponsored by Bank of China's Wealth Management Arm. Or should that be, "Arm and a Leg", since prices start at HK$780 (rising to HK$1,980 for those wishing to prove their "Love China, Love Hong Kong" credentials).

Those with a taste for music will be bypassing this event in favour of the chance to watch two virtuosi in action the previous weekend (4-5 April), as Vladimir Ashkenazy conducts Argentinian cellist Sol Gabetta in a performance of Elgar's Cello Concerto. Innovative programming sees the Englishman's masterpiece (played Hong Kong so memorably by Lynn Harrell in the mid 1990s) supported by Elgar’s concert overture In the South and Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition.

With top tickets selling for HK$300 less than the cheapest Lang Lang ticket, there can be little doubt where the smart money will be going.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Hong Kong Deep Throat Predicts Five More Years of CY Leung

Two and a half years ago, you heard it here first when everyone and his dog said that Henry Tang was a shoo-in for Chief Executive: CY Leung would spoil the party. Now the same person who made that startling prediction – a former Executive Council member, lest anyone sneer – has re-emerged from his cave to tell us that, far from being ousted before the end of his first term, CY will be returned for another five years in 2017. He also has the inside track on who will eventually succeed the suave surveyor. (Oh and of course millionaire – no one can get to the top in the People’s Republic without being one of those, at the very least.)

His argument, which I received only second-hand, is a rather tortuous one, as befits everything surrounding constitutional matters in China, but appears to depend on a (to me rather far-fetched) scenario in which Hong Kong’s great unwashed find themselves happy with whatever universal suffrage package is finally handed down to them with the bread (tax rebates) and circuses (horse-racing).

In this scenario, true/radical democrats such as Long Hair Leung Kwok Hung and that attention-seeker Raymond Wong Yuk Man will have no role to play, will become political irrelevancies. Fellow-travelling democrats such as Emily Lau Wai Hing and Lee Cheuk Yan (actually, pretty much the rest of them) will happily play their part in maintaining a status quo in which they can feed off the scraps thrown them from the top table and keep well-staffed offices at Tamar and in their constituencies.

And CY’s replacement in 2022? None other than Starry Lee Wai King, whose greatest claim to fame hitherto is that she hails from the same town in Guangdong Province as my uncle-in-law, Xiqiao. She might be only 48 at the time, and she might be a woman, but anyone who says she opposes the ban on endangered species because her daughter likes sashimi has got to be a top contender. Hong Kong, after all, is scarcely ready for a leader who based their policies on rigorous thinking and rational criteria.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Hong Kong Democrats Consider Referendum to Resolve Burning Issue

                   We want to split again but can't agree how to do it

Thursday, 9 January 2014

SCMP Strikes Again

Headline in today's South China Morning Post: Alarm at deaths in public hospitals.

I thought that is what people did in hospitals...

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Constitutional Reform in Hong Kong: A Guide to Key PRC Terminology

Pragmaticism: Do what we tell you

Consensus: Do what we tell you

Negotiation: Do what we tell you

Consultation: Do what we tell you

Compromise: Do what we tell you

Have I forgotten any? Oh, yes - this one will get wheeled out quite often in the next few months:

Stability and prosperity: Do what we tell you

And not forgetting:

Orderly and progressive way: Do what we tell you