Hemlock's Diary

The ravings of Hong Kong's most obnoxious expat
9-15 March 2003
Sun, 9 Mar
An early morning stroll takes me past the ferry terminal in Shun Tak Centre.  Just days after seeing him for the first time in a year, I bump into desperately dismal Desmond again, minus mouse-like wife. He is off to play golf – which he hugely prefers to sex, money, the lot.  The best thing about the game is that it removes the most tedious and least imaginative members of the community from circulation for entire weekends.  When did we ever hear of a golfer writing poetry, creating music or inventing some device that benefits humanity?  They just practice their swing.  Karmic law imposes
a harsh penalty for this self-indulgent waste of time, grey matter (assuming they have some) and green countryside, in the form of agonizing pain caused by herniated intervertebral discs.
Mon, 10 Mar
With a newborn baby joining the family, it is hardly surprising that Financial Secretary Antony Leung feels the need for a car – other than his taxpayer-supplied BMW – that combines the comfort of his Porsche 911 Carrera with the capacity of his Toyota Cygnus Land Cruiser.  Equally unsurprising is the
frothing-at-the-mouth act being performed by the Democrats and similar riffraff because he bought his new Lexus  
430 just weeks before raising car tax in last week’s budget. Presumably, the HK$50,000 he saved is big money to these rabble.   In retrospect, he should have delayed the purchase for a few weeks – in my experience, a small baby will fit into the glove compartment of a Porsche with few problems. But how dare anyone suggest he deliberately dodged his own tax?  It’s like suggesting this “scandal” was leaked to Apple Daily by Chief Secretary Sir Donald Tsang’s office to redress the balance in the struggle between the two Chief Executive aspirants after baby Leung’s birth upstaged Tsang’s new population policy on 26 February. People who think up these things are beneath contempt.
The parallel between financial investment and nocturnal prowlings in search of sex had never occurred to me.  It is left to Dr Marc Faber, who shares the unpredictability of the two endeavours, to point it out.

Tue, 11 Mar
Absconding from the third plenary meeting of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in the nation’s capital, the Big Boss harangues everyone in turn at the morning meeting. My transgressions are relatively mild – the applicants for the post of Deputy Assistant Senior Human Resources Manager are unimpressive, he complains.  “None of them went to decent universities!” He stares at me incredulously.  “And how come three of them are called Doris?”  I point out that S-Meg Holdings has always had a problem attracting top-class people for positions like this.  But what’s the problem, so long as she’s cheap, punishes wayward staff obediently, and – though I keep it to myself – hungers for the company gwailo’s body?  “It’s not like she’ll need to think, or anything,” I remind him.

South China Morning Post seems to have abandoned its week-old policy of filling its first four or five pages with uplifting reports from Heilongjiang and other places that we in Hong Kong find so enthralling.  The multitude of editors have had an even zanier idea – maybe a Hong Kong newspaper should have some Hong Kong news in it!  And so the China Daily-type stories of success and inspiration from the glorious motherland – malaria cures, moon shots, etc – have been returned to pages 6 and 7. However, not all the Hong Kong news is back in the main newspaper. Some of it – crime and non-political inanity – remains in the separate fashion-and-horoscopes section. And page two of the actual newspaper still has a box full of bite-size crime and inanity stories – probably made up – from faraway Mainland provinces. An awkward arrangement that might last another week.  No wonder disloyal SCMP staff are anonymously spilling the beans on-line.
Wed, 12 Mar
Into the gym by 8.00am. How lucky I am to belong to an exclusive, private gym rather than one of the crowded chains with their incessant, loud sales promotions and creepy perverts lurking everywhere. Indeed, I am normally the only one in the place as I stride uphill on the treadmill, reading the newspaper and admiring the view of the harbour. But could standards be slipping? After showering, I encounter what will surely be the least charming sight of the week in the changing-room waste-bin: cotton buds that had been used to scour several ounces of putrid brown wax from the ears of some Neanderthal. A member of staff perhaps? A word with the management is in order.
The “Lexus-gate” feeding frenzy continues, with the piranhas getting their teeth into ever-more lurid details about Antony Leung’s tax-dodging car purchase. The amount of tax the canny Financial Secretary avoided paying has been raised to HK$190,000, and it appears he was unusually eager to get a car at short notice around Lunar New Year. Can’t resist calling him to ask if, back in the days when he was a Marxist, he would have joined calls for the resignation of a senior official in this position.  I am tempted to ask how he feels, as a (rumoured) Communist Party member, about the flaunting of wealth generally.  But he sounds distressed, and I can’t bring myself to make light of his troubles.  “Play the sympathy card,” I urge him.  “Make it known that Mingxia has stopped lactating because of the media pressure, and your baby is going hungry – something like that.”  He sounds most grateful.  

Thurs, 13 Mar
Public-sector parasites demand to be fed by the end of the month, so I write out a cheque for a decent amount of money – not as painful a sum as the first instalment of salaries tax at the end of December, but a noticeable quantity. Not quite enough to buy a Lexus, but more than enough to pay the new tax on one.  The cheque goes into an envelope.  My wealth goes down the insatiable civil service gullet.  Manage my anger at this blood-sucking Government by listening to dangdut on a Jakarta radio station, while reading the US press. The wonders of the Internet. 

Living proof that syphilis should be treated early, Saddam Hussein does his bit for the “knowledge economy” by opening a
vocational training facility.  While reading this, an email pops up from Morris, Hong Kong’s finest Glaswegian law enforcement officer, currently on leave of absence with Her Majesty’s forces in Kuwait.  He is going spare, sitting in a hotel all day waiting to put his prisoner interrogation expertise to use.  His top irritations: France, Angola, Guinea, the over-chilled water in the swimming pool, and the lack of pork sausages. Make his day by replying with a reminder to pay instalment 2 of his HK salaries tax.
Fri, 14 Mar
Hong Kong, epidemiological wonderland, succumbs to atypical pneumonia – a highly unwelcome complication for the coolies and rickshaw-pullers wasting away in Kowloon, afflicted with dengue fever and struggling to shake off doses of avian flu.  As usual, this latest pestilence originates in the disease-ridden Motherland, as even the SCMP, casting patriotism to the virus-laden winds, accepts in its editorial today.  Face-conscious Mainland officials, preoccupied with the censoring of Rolling Stones lyrics, naturally deny everything.  I am tempted to blame the French. Where will this end?  Being just about the only person in Hong Kong who never gets ill, it would not surprise me in the least to wake up one morning and find that everyone else had died overnight.  I could drive the wrong way down the street and grab whatever I pleased from supermarkets, bars and police armouries.  I would probably miss the electricity, though.