Hemlock's Diary
The ravings of Hong Kong’s most obnoxious expat
6-12 October, 2002
Sun, 6 Oct
A curious footnote to the Nicholas Tse saga appears in the form of an email from Walter W Wilde Esq, the
serpent-slaying hermit and last gwailo district commissioner of Lam Tin Valley.
In 1968, when I was a young probationary inspector in the Kowloon Traffic Branch, I busted young Nicholas's dad, film star Patrick Tse Yin, who had driven his flashy sports car through a red light at the junction of Clear Water Bay Road and Choi Hung Road.  Having spurred my trusty Triumph 350 into action, fired up my siren and pulled him over, I was almost mobbed by autograph-hunters as I recorded his particulars in my notebook. At the time I had no idea who he was. He got off with a fine. Maybe they should have had him neutered.
This highlights the inadequacy of boy Nicholas's defence lawyers, whose attempts at mitigation involved pitiful mumbling about the Cantopop idol's charity work, when they could simply have pointed out that the poor lad is cursed with a genetic predisposition to dangerous driving.
Mon, 7 Oct
Has the worst column in the history of the Hong Kong press been axed?  It would appear to be so, as the tortuously vapid "Karaoke Generation" does not appear in this morning's Post, and nor does a reason for its absence.  I am amazed that I have noticed.  Then again, maybe it was scrapped weeks ago.  I can't help wondering what has happened to Shirley Chan (Maggie Wong?  Wendy Tsang?  Whatever her name was).  Doling out free samples of lunchboxes for Seven-Eleven, perhaps. Maybe in a few years she will have something to write about.  It was just as cruel to the girl as it was to the readers to give someone so young a weekly column.

Tue, 8 Oct
Some people make their lives unnecessarily complicated. 
Yang Bin springs to mind. A Chinese-born Dutch citizen lists his orchid-growing company on Hong Kong's dismally regulated stock market, seeing its value double and then crash by nearly 90% as investors ask "who the heck is this guy, anyway?", accepts the governorship of North Korea's dodgy-sounding special administrative region, and gets arrested by Mainland authorities for no known reason, though rumours are flying around that some senior Beijing folk are up to their ears in orchid fertilizer.  And then there's young Yao Yang, who "cuts off sex", as the Shanghai Star (The China Daily's English sex and sleaze rag) puts it. Maybe they can give Joyce Yip (May Cheung?  Linda Mok? whatever) a column.
A rare invitation to see our bold and decisive Chief Executive for a few minutes, at short notice – I suppose something was cancelled.  He seems quite jolly, asking me to call him "CH" when I address him as "Mr Tung".  I tell him that if the rest of Hong Kong actually saw him in such good spirits, confidence would soon recover.  "Apart from the unemployable rabble living on the wrong side of the border, most people have never had it so good," I remind him.  "Their bank accounts are bulging.  Deflation leaves them with rising purchasing power. You're the only problem.  You're depressing everyone by joining in all this 'gloom and misery' stuff.  You're unnerving everyone with desperate, panicky attempts to fix things. Just sit back, relax, and act like everything's fine."  He raises his eyebrows and puts his tea cup down on the desk.  Just as I am about to lean over to pinch his chubby cheeks and delight him with a cheerful "What are we going to do with you, CH, you silly old fat fool?", his exceptionally buxom flunky Cecilia enters and says his next visitor has arrived.  Probably some grassroots activist threatening mass-suicides if the government doesn't subsidize plastic flower factories in North Point, or a senile Heung Yee Kuk member demanding eternal life for all indigenous New Territories males.

Wed, 9 Oct
The circus is back in town after its summer recess. I drop by to see the debate on unemployment, in which Financial Secretary Antony Leung, his mind clearly distracted by the possibility that he has impregnated a former Olympic diving champion, spouts inanities about how job creation is the Government's top priority. 
Sin Chung-kai, who has an above-average number of brain cells for a legislator, points out that cartels create barriers to market entry for new firms, thus dampening creation of jobs.  The rest of the clowns mostly vie with Antony in the inanity stakes, blathering about retraining – as if cretins can be turned into brain surgeons – and begging for free lunches for their favourite, self-centred interest group.  Michael Mak Kwok-fung, who represents nurses, informs the Council that 379 jobless people committed suicide last year. With that number of barely literate Mainland immigrants of working age entering Hong Kong every week, it is of little help.  Does anyone down there stand up and point out that this is an immigration problem?  Does anyone ask the Government to focus on economic growth, not job creation or property price increases, which are merely the effects of economic growth.  Of course not. What a sorry bunch of high-school debating club rejects.
Thur, 10 Oct
With the mercury plunging below 80F, a noticeable number of the desk slaves parading down the Mid Levels escalator are starting to wrap themselves up in warm jackets.  Another six weeks or so, and the aroma of moth balls will briefly overpower the diesel fumes, as a million women choose the same morning to pull their leather and fur coats out of storage in response to a sudden cold snap of, say, 60F.
We are told that 80% of Hong Kong people oppose a war in Iraq.  Six of them can find the place on a map. The idea of anyone anywhere in the world being remotely concerned about what Hongkongers think about US foreign policy is hilarious.  The editorial writer at the South China Morning Post can't resist reaching for the opium pipe and producing some vacuous commentary...
"Hong Kong's place in a region that has known its share of war and dislocation gives it a special voice ... [W]ere it to be heard, it would give substance to Hong Kong's claim to be [You can hear it coming] a world city – one with a unique stake in the key issues of today."
Unique in what way?  Uniquely disinterested, perhaps.  The explanation for this poll result is that Hongkongers vaguely connect Iraq with Jordan and fear a large-scale air assault on Tsimshatsui, though with all the road works and demolition going on there right now, it's hard to see if anyone could tell the difference.
Nathan Road yesteday
The Post's Jake van der Kamp foresees the MTR preventing passengers from transferring onto the KCR's forthcoming, quicker line to Central, through deliberately bad station design or, if that fails, beatings. The MTR's loathing for the KCR is already apparent from their maps, which grudgingly indicate intersections with their deadly rival's network with an unidentified, pale gray line with no station names. A tourist asking MTR staff how to get from, say, Sheung Wan to Shatin will presumably be told to take the MTR to Mongkok, and then take a KMB bus.  As with the Stock Exchange, we have a public facility run by an overpaid boss who hasn't noticed he is no longer in the civil service fighting turf wars but actually has a proper, useful job to do.

Fri, 11 Oct
threat of legal action from a Greenpeace activist, upset that – through no fault of mine – her name is an anagram of "I am a slut".  And if that's not enough, a mysterious phone call from a Mr Kim in Pyongyang.  He is extremely oblique, but it becomes apparent that he is sounding me out for the job of Chief Executive of Sinuiju, North Korea's planned Special Administrative Region.  Electricity 24 hours a day, and an electric fire in every room, he tells me earnestly, describing the free accommodation that comes with the job.  I suggest he contacts MTR Chairman Jack So, who is rumoured to have resigned, presumably as a result of incessant, spiteful columns in the Morning Post.  The MTR's stock price has risen 1.7%