Hemlock's Diary
The ravings of Hong Kong's most obnoxious expat

9-15 May 2004

Mon, 10 May
Most ominous.  On Saturday, Cheng Siwei, the culturally sensitive vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, denounced some Hongkongers as “…bananas – yellow outside but white inside.”  Then, at 10am today, I find that our banana-in-chief Christine Loh’s homepage is unavailable.  What has happened?  Perhaps she has been taken to a special reform camp for westernized Chinese – a cultural detox centre, where there’s no BBC, no New Yorker magazine and no milk and sugar in the tea, and inmates write self-criticisms about eating cheese, not sending money to their parents, being embarrassed to wear a cheong-sam, and writing in English because it’s easier.  Or perhaps she just forgot to pay her Internet hosting charges.

Flicking through
China Daily, I am pleased to find that the ancient art of litotes is alive and well in the commentary section, where the writer reveals that “Some people may have difficulty believing that Beijing genuinely wants Hong Kong to have universal suffrage…”  Meiosis, really. They do it again in reviving an old proposal for bicameralism, noting of Legco's functional constituency representatives that “Absenteeism is quite high among them.”  This is why I will only read the Hong Kong edition – no such classy rhetoric in the Mainland version.

Tue, 11 May
The news is mixed today.  According to a rumour from a dependable source, China’s energy supplies are sufficient to cover less than one week’s demand. 
South China Morning Post columnist Jake van der Kamp writes that grain prices in the Mainland rose 30 percent last year.  Either everything is wonderful, or it’s all about to come apart at the seams, wiping some smug arrogance off northern faces. 

Christine Loh’s website is still down.  This is worrying.  I have terrible visions of her being dragged from her home while officials gather up fragments of her Anglo-Chinese heritage to burn on a huge public fire – those big round red-framed spectacles, Edith Piaf CDs, framed Bilbao Guggenheim posters, John Locke’s
Two Treatises on Government and  jars of Marmite. Meanwhile great-great-grand-banana – or at least semi-banana – Anson Chan expresses concern at Beijing’s declaration that it is unconstitutional for Legco to criticise it.  That’s her third pronouncement in as many weeks – a marked upturn in activity.  Is she laying herself out as a target for Donald Tsang to assault, so bow-tie man, our only hope for a Chief Executive with a clue, can prove his pro-Beijing, anti-British, anti-half-banana credentials? 

Meanwhile, Hong Kong is stirring – preparing to take a horrible revenge on its Beijing oppressors.  Nicholas Tse unveils his latest compelling insight into the human condition,
Fast, I Love the China Football Super League.  This is just the beginning.  When the air-conditioning goes off in Shanghai, and starving peasants surround Zhongnanhai, we send Joey Yung.

Wed, 12 May
Start the morning by reading the punchy
essay by Peking University Professor Jiao Guobiao, complaining that dinosaurs in China's Propaganda Department still ban writings they don’t like for no good reason.   Always willing to support the latest ideas coming out of academia, the department banned the essay.

In S-Meg Tower, a nervous epsilon knocks on the door of the company gwailo’s office.  After I peer up and raise both eyebrows slightly to indicate that he may enter, the courier-minion respectfully approaches my desk, pretending not to notice the clutter or the medieval Sephardic folk songs playing on the PC, and deposits a package in my in-tray.  I offer an effusive “thank you,” and he shuffles out with relief.  Opening the envelope, I find an official booklet, to which Ms Fang the hunter-killer secretary has attached a note – “Pls read + give summary to Big Boss.”   It is the eagerly anticipated
Third Report of the Constitutional Development Task Force, laboriously outlining the scope of the cosmetic changes that Hong Kong can make to its electoral system in 2007-08.   It takes 17.3 seconds to flick through.  The only item of interest is tucked away at the very end of the section listing possible areas for change, paragraphs 3.20-3.23, mentioning that the number of Legco seats open to candidates of barbarian and banana persuasions could be increased if the Council is enlarged.  I briefly imagine myself running for the circus in 2008, carrying the banner for the Scamps Party – the South China Alliance of Millionaire Pranksters – in the race for the Overpaid, Underworked Geniuses’ functional constituency, winning by a landslide and hiring Legco assistants of such buxom proportions that Apple Daily assigns photographers to them permanently.  The election platform writes itself.  Price controls on beer in Lan Kwai Fong.  An immediate ban on all children and dogs in residential areas south of Hollywood Road.  Legalization of cattle prods on the Mid-Levels Escalator.  And there's still plenty of time to organize the ‘Hemlock in 08’ bumper stickers.

Thurs, 13 May
Thor's Day, named for the God of Thunder – hence the German
Donnerstag.  No rumblings, crashes or loud noises of any sort in S-Meg Tower, however, as the Big Boss is in Shenzhen tearing the head off a business partner owing to an unfortunate incident involving squid and money.  I suspect it’s the money part that has upset him.  I watch the video of the luckless Nick Berg having his head cut off by God enthusiasts in Iraq.  The last decapitation I witnessed in real life was also performed by a Muslim, and I was also struck by the power with which the heart pumps the red life out of the carotid artery – but that was a calf in a desert abattoir.

Returning to Perpetual Opulence Mansions for a quiet afternoon in, I browse an old copy of Whitman’s
Leaves of Grass and, to my amazement, find a piece of paper wedged between some blank pages at the back, suggesting that a previous owner had been an American Expeditionary Force doughboy in World War One.
The US Government is permitting you to go on leave, NOT in order that you may SOW WILD OATS, but to give you an opportunity to improve your health and advance your education.

If, by misconduct, carelessness, or vice, you are not improved in body and mind, you will have defrauded the government and will have wasted an opportunity to improve your station in life.

If you become intoxicated, associate with prostitutes, or contract a venereal disease, you are guilty of a moral crime.

Wouldn’t it profit you more to purchase with that money a little gift for MOTHER, WIFE, SISTER, or SWEETHEART???

Fri, 14 May
Enthusiasm verging on rapture greets my decision to run for Legco in 2008.  The
UK chapter of the Scamps Party has already donated a container full of bumper stickers, and my old money-lending friend Heung Kwok-leung is offering ginger-haired Kowloon youths with scowls, tattoos and pots of red paint to help with canvassing of voters.  I am also busy adding two main planks to my platform.  First, tough policies to eradicate some of Hong Kong’s serious mental health problems, including Hello Kitty mobile phones, Nicholas Tse, the skin-whitening mania, the Liberal Party and the small white carpets placed at odd angles in office doorways to hinder bad influences in S-Meg Tower.  Second, repatriation incentives for expats who don’t belong, including more roadworks, faster-closing elevator doors, a TV ban on the European Tiddlywinks championships, louder TVs on buses, demolition of Discovery Bay and introduction of huge taxes on such delicacies as cornflakes, BacoBits and Cheez Whiz, faster than you can say “world city”. 
After having their original draft rejected as constitutionally inappropriate blasphemy, the Democratic Party have toned down next Wednesday’s Legco motion regretting the decision of the NPC to rule out universal suffrage in 2007-08…
“That, in view of the objection of the people of Hong Kong at large to [Beijing telling them to drop dead], this Council considers that the decision of NPCSC completely ignores Hong Kong people’s general aspirations for democracy; this Council expresses regret about and dissatisfaction with such decision, and calls upon the people of Hong Kong to continue striving for democracy with all might and never give up.”
They clearly need me in Legco, if only to give their English a bit of zing.