Hemlock's Diary
The ravings of Hong Kong’s most obnoxious expat
4-10 August, 2002
Mon, 4 Aug
Government officials' declaration-of-interests day.  Nothing very surprising.  Bumptious Secretary for Education Arthur Li owns 72 properties and eight car parks – a village with a high rate of vehicle ownership, presumably. At the other end of the scale, DAB leader Tsang Yok-sing has a single apartment, in his wife's name, in shabby Shatin. Were it not for my anonymous donation last year, his child would still be going to school hungry and in bare feet – I must slip them another few grand some time.  Meanwhile, his ridiculous Liberal Party counterpart,
James Tien, declares shareholdings in 43 companies, mainly property, plus sweatshops and other sunset industries.  Henry "the Horse" Tang has something similar plus the intelligence to wrap them up in a trust managed by his totally disinterested father.

So we may rest assured that officials' interests will not be manipulated to benefit from insider knowledge of government policy.  But they wouldn't be anyway.  It's the government policy that will be manipulated to benefit the interests. God –  I'm starting to sound like one of those
gwailo columnists whining about the government.

Tue, 6 Aug
Ms Tam, S-Meg Holdings' pert-rumped deputy assistant senior manager for human resources, nearly meets her doom in the morning meeting.  Banging his fist on the table, the Big Boss blames her for the fact that the latest intake of management trainees come from "low class" universities.
(It has to be said that there was a very high acne-to-cosmetic dentistry ratio in evidence when the new recruits trooped into S-Meg Tower last week to receive their official welcome to the company.)  Unfazed, Ms Tam rather neatly turns the tables by blaming the more prestigious institutions for producing unrealistic, soft, lazy graduates who are unable to handle six 12-hour days a week and salaries below HK$10,000.

Evening in Lan Kwai Fong, where, in the interests of helping the economy of the Philippines, I drink some San Miguel.  Find myself next to a Cathay Pacific pilot who explains in horrifying detail how badly he and his colleagues are paid and how terribly they suffer from overwork, stress and brutality at the hands of their sadistic employer.  Within minutes, we are both in tears, leaving our beer too salty to drink.  So moved am I by his plight, that I take him down to Statue Square where we solicit donations for CX cockpit crew from the Filipino domestic helpers, who – as would be expected – respond generously, even offering tupperware boxes of spaghetti in sugary tomato sauce, canned fruit in mayonnaise and similar delicacies. 

Wed, 7 Aug
More proof that Hong Kong is finished
: sales of clocks went down 18% year-on-year in June.  Consider suicide.  But then it occurs to me  –  perhaps this is a good sign.  Perhaps the people of Hong Kong are approaching that state of horological bliss where everyone who wants a clock has one.  Feel much better, and write a letter to the Morning Post pointing out that if we are to avoid a situation where we are walking around knee-deep in clocks, it is very much in the community's interests that sales of time-keeping devices continue to fall.

Thurs, 8 Aug
Days after an editorial on Taiwan's president that sounded like a Xinhua press release, the
South China Morning Post acquires a new publisher – its chief bean counter, Thad Beczac.  My main impression from past meetings with Thad was that I wouldn't want to be head-butted by him.  The only other thing I remember was his nervously protective wife, who gave me the impression of fearing that others perceived her husband as out of his depth – but my telepathic powers were at a low ebb at the time.  Simultaneously, the newspaper also loses its editor, presumably to avoid confusion – Thad's middle name and the ex-editor's first name both being Thomas. Thus a new, more rigorously pro-Tung and pro-Beijing Morning Post is born.  The good news is that we will all, at last, be spared Mr Tung's incessant complaining about the newspaper. The bad news is that my letter about declining sales of clocks will probably not now be published, as I overlooked the need to include praise for either our visionary Chief Executive or the glory that is the motherland.

Fri, 9 Aug
According to an un-named official, via the radio
: "There is a possibility of a Number 1 typhoon signal, there is an amber rainstorm warning, and the black thunderstorm warning is in effect."  Are you trying to say it's OK to go out but take an umbrella, you cretinous public-sector slime?

Grab a bowl of macaroni in soup with egg at the corner store on the way to the office, but find when I open it that the aged crone concerned has used alphabet-shaped pasta instead of macaroni. Same thing, of course, except... I notice the letters floating in the soup are spelling out "MASTER LI HONG ZHI", the name of the leader of the Falun Gong.  The mentally feeble adherents of this absurd religion would have some magical explanation, but so far as I am concerned – given the millions of times alphabet soup has been served throughout history – it was simply a matter of time before it happened. I am no more inspired than before to rush out and get a copy of Master Li's un-put-downable classic
No Use of Mental Activities, No Going Awry, and a Rapid Increase of Gong.