Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Trinity of Reverse Evolution


Further proof of the decline of the South China Morning Post

From their website today:

The 46-year-old, one of the European Union’s youngest prime ministers, is then expected to unveil his programme in a parliamentary session on Monday, before the government is put to a confidence...

10:44AM


Does anyone at the paper actually read what they put out?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sharing the Love

Fool me once, shame on you
Fool me twice, shame on me
With Chinese officials constantly emphasising the importance of Hong Kong showing love for the Motherland, the latest earthquake in Sichuan Province has thrown up some interesting developments.

Hong Kong people have traditionally been quick to donate generously to victims of past natural disasters in China.  However, the government's proposal to repeat its massive donation of local taxpayers' money following the previous Sichuan earthquake was not so readily accepted this time around.  Having seen how much of their hard-earned cash ended up in the pockets of corrupt local officials last time - most notoriously, a school built with HK$2 million of our money was soon afterwards demolished to make way for a commercial development - Hong Kong people want guarantees that the money will reach those who really need it.

Ever eager to score brownie points in Beijing, the government perhaps did not stop to think that putting this donation on LegCo's agenda for approval would give the Council an opportunity to air complaints of corruption on the mainland, a sensitive topic which would usually be out of bounds for discussion.  Naturally the pan-democrats seized that opportunity in yesterday's Finance Committee meeting, leaving the DAB with the awkward choice of either seeming to show a lack of love for the Motherland by rejecting the donation proposal, or seeming to condone corruption there by accepting it unconditionally.  In the end no vote was taken and the issue remains unresolved.

However, also as usual, the pan-dems missed an opportunity to do better.  If they were smarter, they would have painted their objections as showing their strong support for President Xi Jinping's recent calls for a determined fight against corruption in the Party, thereby casting anyone who disagreed as an enemy of the Beijing leadership.  But perhaps that was too imaginative for them.

In fact, the pan-democrats seem to be letting the pro-Beijing parties hijack the mantle of "love" by default., like the "Voice of Loving Hong Kong" group which first came to public notice by lovingly trying to silence any other voices at a public forum on democracy.  Again the pan-dems need more imagination.  Instead of "The Alliance for True Democracy", why not call their new united(?) front group "Love Hong Kong, Love China, Love Democracy"?  Don't give those who are trying to ruin Hong Kong a monopoly on claiming to love it.

Song for today.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

My Country Wrong or Wrong

The surprising thing about today's SCMP poll question - "Do you agree with judge Kemal Bokhary that critics of Beijing can also be patriots of China?" = is not that 93% answered yes, but that as many as 7% were stupid enough to answer No.  Does the CCP really have that many readers of the English-language media in its ranks?

The simple fact is that if you love your country (whichever one it is), you want it to improve.  This can only happen if people point out where it's going wrong, so the errors can be corrected.  And if you seriously think that any country is so perfect that it's above criticism, then you need an urgent  reality transplant.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Finish Line

Do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place.
--Jeremiah 22:3
Anyone who kills children for any cause (assuming the Boston Marathon bombings were some kind of political act) amply demonstrates that their cause is not worthy of support.

Yesterday when I heard the news, my first thought was for a close friend who is visiting the city, where her daughter, son-in-law and grandchild live.  Thankfully they are all safe.  This boy, Martin Richard, was not so lucky.  Rest in peace, little one.  And rot in hell, whoever did this.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Confusion All Round

Last night's TVB news, talking about a case of burd flu in China:
"The girl's mother also developed a fever, but her temperature has come down and is in good condition."

I'm glad the temperature is in good condition - I wonder how the mother is?

Also reported last night was the case of "W", a male-to-female transsexual in Hong Kong who is seeking the legal right to marry her boyfriend.  W has had gender reassignment surgery and both her Hong Kong ID card and passport now specify her sex as female.  Yet despite officially recognising her as a woman for most purposes, the government is arguing that she is still a man for the purpose of marriage.

One of its arguments in the Court of Appeal yesterday was apparently that "a criterion of marriage is to produce the next generation".  There may be valid reasons for not letting W marry a man (though I can't think of any), but this is certainly not one of them.  If it applied this logic consistently, the government would also have to consider the inability to procreate an impediment to marriage for infertile couples and post-menopausal women.  Not even the Catholic Church would go that far!

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Institute of Trite Observations

According to a Chinese University study, Hong Kong people experience excessive anxiety as a result of inflation, with those who have a household income below HK$10,000 a month being 8 times more likely to suffer from it.  This is hardly news - Professor Wilkins Micawber of the Dickens Academy made a remarkably similar observation in his groundbreaking economic study of 1850.

According to the director of the CUHK Hong Kong Mood Disorders Centre, Lee Sing, people with anxiety symptoms should seek treatment as soon as possible.  I would have thought seeking better-paid work might be more useful, but what do I know?
 
What I do want to know is this: how much anxiety is "excessive" when you can't afford to eat?  And how can I get the government to give me loadsamoney for stating the obvious?

Song for today here.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Pecuniary Incentive (Shock Horror!)

The NTSCMP's parody of it led me to a Standard article on the dangers young women allegedly face by going out drinking.  Among the other horrifying statistics there was this shocker from a social worker: "As for those who work in bars, we believe that money is the main motivation." 

As opposed, presumably, to social workers, lawyers, dockers, toilet attendants, shop assistants, accountants, civil servants, journalists, cleaners and construction workers, who all go to work purely for the love of the job.  With srticles of this quality, one wonders if a parody is really necessary.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Singapore girl, you're a great way to hop

It appears from this picture that a missing foot is no impediment to employment as a Singapore Airlines stewardess.  Some may think this is carrying equal opportunity employment a bit too far!

Richard Li, hijacker

I was planning to start the day with some remarks on the obnoxious Margaret Thatcher, who died yesterday - an obituary I've ben writing in my head for several years.  But when I opened Firefox to get into Blogger this morning, instead of my usual home page - set to Google - I was greeted by the Chinese version of this:
After my initial WTF reaction, I tried opening my other two browsers, Chrome and IE, only to find the same thing - appropriately labelled "PCCW Force Portal" - in all of them.  Attempts to bypass it by closing and reopening, and by opening new tabs, proved fruitless, with each new tab just popping up another copy of the same screen.

Finally I was forced to respond to the offer from PCCW (declining it, of course - I am not giving these clowns any additional opportunity to mess with my system; in fact I didn't even read the details of whatever scheme they were trying to push, I just wanted them off my screen) in order to get rid of the damn thing, and eventually got a screen graciously permitting me to go about my usual online business:
So why did this happen?  PCCW's subsidiary Netvigator is my Internet Service Provider, and while others have good cause to hate them, I've generally found their service OK.  But I don't recall ever signing anything that gave PCCW boss Richard Li the right to override my system settings and hijack all three browsers on my system with his unsolicited advertising.  If PCCW want to contact me, they have my email address.  This is outrageous - contrary to all the rules of netiquette and totally unacceptable - in fact I shall look into making a formal complaint to OFTA about it.

And while I'm bashing PCCW, I received a letter from them recently (they know where I live, too, if they want to contact me) using all the standard meaningless PR buzzwords: "Thank you for choosing HKT as your telecommunications partner [i.e. phone company]. We constantly strive to provide the best customer experience through service excellence." before going on to say: "In order to cope with increasing costs and continue to offer high standards of service quality, we would like to inform you that the monthly service fee for Local Business telephone Services will have to be adjusted with effect from May 1, 2013."

Why can't businesses (not just PCCW) just be honest and say they are "raising" their fees, instead of always using the weasel word "adjusted".  When was the last time you saw a fee adjusted downward?

Monday, April 08, 2013

Stupid is as stupid does

If Hongkongers are "stupid enough" to vote for a chief executive candidate who does not meet Beijing's criteria of "loving the country and loving Hong Kong", they should not blame Beijing for the consequences ...

and blah blah blah, says the former Secretary for Justice and vice-chairwoman of the Basic Law Committee of the NPC, though she does at least go on to admit that this eventuality is unlikely - in which case, why all the insistence on screening out candidates who do not (in the eyes of Leung and her cohorts) meet these criteria? ..

I am sure I am not the only one who is getting extremely tired of old Beijing lackeys like Elsie Leung and Maria Tam insulting the people of Hong Kong by implying they're so stupid they have to be told who to vote for.  Who is being stupid here?  Hong Kongers are well aware that whoever they elect as CE will have to work in close cooperation with the central government, and will use their vote accordingly.  Can we have an end to this pathetic scare-mongering?

Perhaps, like Hemlock, I should take to wrapping up my posts with a song.

Monday, April 01, 2013

The Dark Side of the Farce

Beijing-loyalist Maria Tam says the right to be elected is not universal.

So says the South China Morning Post today.

Imagine if the last US election had given voters a right to choose only between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton excluded from aspiring to the presidency.  That is effectively the scenario now being proposed for Hong Kong by the small clique of Beijing loyalists that has undue influence in such matters.  Their idea is that we will all have an equal vote for who runs Hong Kong, but anyone who might actually stand up for Hong Kong's rights instead of kowtowing to the central government will be unable to run for Chief Executive.

It is of course farcical to claim this as any sort of democracy - but then Maria Tam, Rita Fan and the other Hong Kongers who sit on the NPC and NPPCC are not interested in democracy.  Their main discernible talent has been worming themselves to the top of a system where a small self-appointed elite claims to represent Hong Kong with no popular mandate whatever - first under British rule, and then as sudden patriots, under Beijing rule after 1997..

If it were not so serious, the last NPPCC "election" would have been quite amusing.  China declared that members would be required to display high moral standards, then demonstrated their sincerity by giving Henry Tang - failed CE candidate, self-confessed adulterer and owner of an illegal basement below his house three times the size of the average Hong Kong family's total living space - a seat.

As Hong Kong people have grown in political awareness and self-confidence, elements of democracy have gradually chipped away at this old cozy system, but those who benefit from it are not willing to lose their influence without a struggle.  The problem is that Beijing actually listens to these people and takes their advice on Hong Kong matters as if they were representative of anything more than their own self-interest - which probably helps account for its gross misreading of the public mood on such matters as Article 23 and "National and Moral Education" (the coupling of the two is a dead giveaway - the subtext being "if you don't love the nation [as we define it] you are an immoral person").

If the central government understood that in a democracy, an opponent is not automatically an enemy, they might talk to articulate moderate democrats (Audrey Eu would be a good choice, for example) to get a better understanding of Hong Kong, instead of just being told what they want to hear.  Until then we will have to suffer mad old bats selling out the rights we are supposed to enjoy under the Basic Law.