Hemlock's Diary

The ravings of Hong Kong's most obnoxious expat

23 February-1 March 2003
Sun, 23 Feb
Pleasant dim sum buffet at China LKF, with favourite married couple Lincoln and May, and Polly the lipstick lesbian.  Polly and I try, with limited success, to describe Laurie Anderson’s
Happiness, which we saw last night at City Hall. Then Lincoln updates us on our reflexology business, which yielded an amazing 50% return in 2002 – a testament to the gullibility of apparently educated, middle class females, who believe in this ridiculous New Age fad, therapeutic foot massage.  However, lunch ends on a sombre, disturbing note.  Lincoln and May are seriously thinking of leaving Hong Kong for Toronto, where they have a house. “Taxes are going to go up,” they lament. “Tung Chee-hwa is running this place into the ground – it’s almost as if he’s been ordered to do it.” They are not alone in suspecting that our Shanghai-born Chief Executive is implementing official Beijing policy in killing off their hometown, though the theory is as irrational as reflexology.   I have five minutes with CH later in the week.   Will make the most of them.
Mon, 24 Feb
What Tung needs is some sort of moral Viagra.  Something to stiffen his limp, shrivelled resolve, so it can part the folds of popular resistance and push reforms deep into the fragrant harbour.  Forget the rumours about injections of human placenta essence flown in fresh from Guangzhou by PLA helicopter – it’s obvious from his lame performance that he uses nothing stronger than jasmine tea.  That’s the problem.  I might suggest Margaret Thatcher’s
whisky and vitamin B12 regime.

Tue, 25 Feb
Why is Fu Mingxia, the queen of Olympic diving boards and Financial Secretary Antony Leung’s heart, allowed to give birth in Hong Kong while
our Mainland wives can’t?  So asks the Society of Community Organizations (Community of Society Organizations?  Organization of Community Societies?  Whatever).  Basically, because your wives are fat, ugly, loud, badly dressed, eat with their mouths open and have stupid-looking permed hair – or, to use the official terminology, it’s decided on a “case-by-case basis”.  Happy now?  Good.
During a quick lunchtime stroll through Central I notice many office workers, especially women, carrying a single golf club.  For self-defence, presumably – but against what?  The vicious, 90-year-old, pug-faced dwarves who drag cardboard boxes through the streets?  The hordes of lepers who thrust their putrefying stumps into your face near the Star Ferry?  Hit men from the Mainland on their way to silence their nameless clients’ former business partners?  I am intrigued, but dare not ask.
Wed, 26 Feb
Just when we are on the verge of despair, something happens to restore our admiration for the beauty of the Paranoiac Critical Method of Hong Kong Government, though it is obviously wasted on our lower orders in their dark, Kowloon-side hovels.  Email EK Yeoh, our Health and Welfare Secretary, to congratulate him for his magnificent services to surrealism,
announcing an 11% reduction in Comprehensive Social Security Allowance payment levels with the phrase “These are not cuts in welfare…”
Slamming the stable door after the three-legged donkeys have charged in, Chief Secretary Sir Donald Tsang hangs up the ”no riffraff” sign over the city gates.  His population policy is the usual lame HK Government cop-out.  If we were run by Singaporeans, unmarried female university graduates would be compulsorily inseminated with PhDs’ sperm, foreign maids with the impertinence to demonstrate outside the legislature would get a good thrashing, and newly arrived, illiterate Mainlanders would head straight to private construction sites, not public hospitals.  Still, there must be some good in Sir Donald’s proposals, judging by the way the trade unions, grassroots organizations and similar rabble are all frothing at the mouth.  Will check to see if took up my suggestion of subsidised charcoal for the elderly.

Thurs, 27 Feb
Mrs Antony Leung gets a gold medal for smart timing, giving birth while everyone is distracted by our visionary new “eugenics-lite” population policy.  Let’s hope they do a good job and not leave an ugly Caesarean scar.  The Big Boss orders Ms Fang the hunter-killer secretary to run all over the place trying to find the most outlandish arrangement of flowers for the new mother.  For the company gwailo, meanwhile, every day is Goof-off Day.  The Big Boss gives me just one chore this fine Thursday – prepare a shortlist of applicants for the post of Deputy Assistant Senior Human Resources Manager, to replace the pert-rumped Ms Tam, who was terminated with maximum prejudice a few weeks ago.  Sit in my office with Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony playing, sifting through the resumes.  I discard all male and white hopefuls as a matter of course – an act of mercy, really. This leaves half a dozen, ranging from a bright, ambitious thing still in her 20s, to a seasoned personnel type in her early 50s.  Put those two to one side and examine the remaining four applications up close – specifically, the little head-and-shoulders photos, with the help of a large magnifying glass, checking their eyes for signs of animal lust.  I am startled by a familiar voice.  “What on earth are you doing?”  I look up with a caught-in-the-act jolt and find Ms Tam herself, with a box of personal effects she has just retrieved on this, her last visit to S-Meg Tower. “Um, checking your possible replacements," I say, "… to make sure their eyes are the same colour.  The Big Boss won’t hire anyone with different-coloured eyes. You know – one green, one brown.  Surely you knew that.”  She is not convinced.  “I won’t miss this place,” she says as she turns and leaves.  My last glimpse of what used to be S-Meg Holding’s most grab-able buttocks.

Fri, 28 Feb
My low ranking on Tung Chee-hwa’s “New Year Chat” list can be deduced from the fact that the second moon of the Goat Year starts on Monday.  Entering his Central Government Offices lair bright and early, I find the crop-haired one has the weight of the world on his shoulders.  The Philippine Government is
threatening to stop sending their happy, smiling womenfolk over to do our dishes, to avenge maids’ forthcoming pay cut.  The welfare people are whining.  Then there’s Article 23.  And on and on.  I change the subject by handing over a gift-wrapped bottle of Bell’s Scotch and Vitamin B12 pills. “You’ve got to act like Thatcher,” I tell him.  “Hurt interest groups.  Sack civil servants – thousands of them.  Privatize and outsource anything that moves.”  He starts mumbling about morale. “Do you know what people are saying?” I ask him.  “They’re saying ‘If Tung can’t do these things, he should step down and give the job to someone who can’.  People are saying that.”  I lean forward and lower my voice to conspiratorial level. “People you know.”  More mumbling about consensus and the months of debate with those balding bed-wetters in the Executive Council.  Give up.  Must try to look on the bright side.  We can always turn to alcohol. And it’s only another four years before this fat fool passes his throne on to the Security Secretary Dowager, Regina Ip, our voluptuous, radiant and capable woman of destiny.