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

10-16 October 2004

Sun, 10 Oct
The world mourns
Jacques Derrida, without whom many philosophy professors and other academics would surely have been far less tedious over the last few decades.  No-one who has ever been subjected to a deconstruction of phallocentrism (‘woman, female. she’) will ever forget the feelings of utter despair aroused by the mind-numbing obtuseness and sheer Frenchness of the man’s ideas.

Mon, 11 Oct
Up early, I do 20 press-ups, floss my teeth and switch on my PC.  And what do I find but a mass of emails oozing out of the trusty Dell onto my antique huali wood table?  My mailbox is full, owing to an extraordinary number of intelligent people who are curious about the educational credentials of Legislative Councillor Dr the Hon Philip Wong, JP, GBS.  My correspondents have viewed his official
Education and Professional Qualifications :        
* M.Sc. (Engineering), University of California, USA
* J.D. (Law), Southland University, USA
* Ph.D. (Engineering), California Coast University, USA
* Nobel prize for Proctology
… and they have been asking awkward questions.  Did Dr Wong get his master’s without doing a bachelor-level course in engineering?  And which UC campus did he attend?  Why does he mention that his (bachelor-level) JD is in law, when a J (for juris) D can be in nothing else?  How did he get a PhD in engineering from California Coast University (‘distance-learning accelerated degree programs for mid-career adults’®), when it offers no engineering courses?  And how can anyone bring himself to admit to buying a piece of paper from a degree mill like Southland University? 
My correspondents’ findings are murky, and I hold my nose.  A Southland University existed briefly in Texas around 1900, and another was set up in 2003 by a dubious-sounding church in Chile.  But Dr the Hon Wong must be an alumnus of the one founded by James Kirk – last heard of doing five years in a federal prison for mail fraud.  According to an FBI consultant in 2001, Southland failed to meet laid-back California's regulations, so Kirk relocated it to Missouri, where it became LaSalle University and he became Thomas McPherson. He then oozed his way to Louisiana to found World Christian Church. 

What callous fiends would dredge up such muck and email it to people?  I feel sullied.  After my shower I will be sure to delete these scurrilous messages.  In the wrong hands, they could cause Dr the Hon Wong personal distress and damage the reputation of an upstanding citizen.  He was, after all, awarded the Golden Bauhinia Star ‘in recognition of his distinguished public and community service’, and bears his tonsorial disabilities with more dignity than I ever could, were I so afflicted.
MID-MORNING, and wild American friend Odell refuses to enter the IFC Mall branch of Pacific Coffee on the grounds that the strange girl who reads a bible is inside.  “She gives me the creeps,” he says.  Thus we find ourselves sipping our walnut and marshmallow lattes around the corner in Starbucks, which is surrounded by workmen building some sort of display.  I ask the plump female acne victim behind the till what’s happening.  “Picassio,” she informs me.  Ah, Picassio – the famous cubist designer of electronic watches.  “The governor of France is coming,” she adds, “so we’re closed tomorrow.” 

Indeed.  Gallic arms salesman Jacques Chirac is
visiting Hong Kong to launch the Year of France in China, a shameless bout of Beijing-Paris mutual toe-sucking from which right-minded people will wish to avert their gaze.  Agence France-Presse celebrates by gleefully announcing the demise of British influence in Hong Kong.  “The Chinese are here because the gweilos have all left,” a Lan Kwai Fong bar owner informs French propagandist Mark McCord – the first white man allowed to enter the nightclub district since 1997.  McCord produces irrefutable statistical evidence of the near-overnight disappearance of Brits, Americans, Australians and Canadians from the Big Lychee.  Their numbers plummeted from 194,900 in 1996 to just 186,100 last year – a drop of a highly auspicious 8,800 in nine years, at which rate Hong Kong will be totally rid of Anglo-Saxons by 2193.  The mighty French Republic will then be free to pursue its manifest destiny of la gloire and la mission civilatrice in China, enticing the Middle Kingdom into its orbit with Mirage jet fighters, exciting snail recipes and Picassio.
Tue, 12 Oct
The world mourns again, this time over the passing of Superman actor Christopher Reeve, who was paralysed from the neck down nine years ago after being thrown from a horse.  I have often wondered what became of Buck, the equine responsible.  Had I been Reeve, I would have ordered my aides to strap the creature to a helicopter, take it up about 20 feet over some rocky ground and then cut it loose, so the vicious brute would know how it feels.  Typically, the media keep us in the dark about the murderous animal's fate.
Wed, 13 Oct
Hong Kong’s clean-living, taxpaying, disenfranchised middle class glides down the Mid-Levels Escalator this morning in silence.  We are in a state of numbed shock.  Something so unnervingly strange has happened that we can’t begin to rationalize it.  To believe it involves questioning our entire reality.  People pinch themselves, confirm that they are indeed conscious, and stare in open-mouthed incomprehension.  The Government… I find it hard to write this …has done something right.  Faced with fierce public opposition to yet another act of extreme stupidity, officials have taken the unprecedented step of changing their minds. 

As Hong Kong Government cretinism goes, the decision to build a ‘super-prison’ at Hei Ling Chau was about average.  The policymaking process ran its usual course…
Problem: There isn’t one, so large numbers of overpaid civil servants have nothing to do with the public’s billions of dollars sitting in the reserves

Solution: Invent a problem

‘Problem’: Prison overcrowding

: Repatriate Mainland prisoners 

Problem:  This is simple, effective and cheap.  Find a better solution

Better Solution:  Build a huge, multibillion dollar prison complex on an island, complete with reclamation and a highly expensive bridge that will be used once a week, wrecking an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Having determined the most impractical, money-wasting, environmentally damaging course of action, the Government went into a well-rehearsed routine, covering its ears with its hands, lowering its bony head and charging into the crowd of hairy gwailo tree-hugging opponents, screaming “there is no alternative!”  Resistance at this stage is invariably futile.  The planets will come to a halt before a senior civil servant loses face.  Grasping, unprincipled legislator Raymond Ho boasted to his friends in the construction industry that the billions of dollars in contracts will soon be theirs – one of his many grubby achievements.

But now, the Security Bureau
shelves the plan.  I watch my stunned fellow commuters blinking and shaking their heads, and I smell a rat.  Retreating in the face of public opinion is unconstitutional – the Basic Law says ‘executive-led government’ not ‘namby-pamby, limp-wristed pandering-to-the-rabble government’.  The Government doesn’t back down.  They’re up to something.  They’ll be back.

STROLLING THROUGH IFC Mall during lunchtime, I encounter a crowd watching a pair of jugglers dressed as clowns – part of Jacques Chirac’s entourage.  They hand brightly coloured clubs to bystanders, start juggling, and then ask for the clubs to be thrown back – the idea being to incorporate them into the clubs already being juggled  (the USA’s
Flying Karamazov Brothers did it with switched-on chainsaws, but then they never had state subsidies).   When clubs fall to the ground, the clowns stare at the people accusatively and complain loudly.  In France, everyone would roar with laughter, but this is Hong Kong, and the onlookers smile politely, wondering what sort of entertainment this is.  I wave to one of the clowns.  “Excusez-moi, monsieur,” I shout to him, “mais c’est Hong Kong ici, non?  Nous n’aimons pas le ‘audience participation’, vous comprenez?  Nous le trouvons trop embarrassant.  Just shut up and juggle.”  We should look on the bright side – they could be mimes.

Thurs, 14 Oct
Yet more proof that Hong Kong’s days are numbered comes from Reuters, who tell us ‘
Breast implants popular with Shanghai men’.  We are falling behind in the fragrant harbour, still seeking to enhance our status by driving yellow sports cars, wielding Southland University degrees, or adopting the spiky-ginger-hair-and-purple-oblong-spectacles look.  Who can now possibly doubt that Shanghai – already overtaking us with its sinking skyscrapers, maglev train to nowhere and latest Internet censorship technology – is the city of the future?
“…most of the male patients seeking implants in China's financial hub wanted to impress women, or clients, or in some cases their boss.”
What hope do we have of competing with these go-getters?

Fri, 15 Oct
And it continues... Word reaches me that prominent Shanghainese men in Hong Kong, eager to keep abreast of the latest fads in their trend-setting native city, are having implants – with predictably unfortunate results in the case of one or two of the more accident-prone.  Still, it’s less tragic than Legislator Philip Wong’s appearance, which raises awkward questions about the professional credentials – not to say visual abilities, hand-eye coordination and mental health – of his hair stylist.  Maybe the journalist-sleuths at the
HK Standard can look into it, just as they have uncovered mortifying news today about Dr the Hon Wong himself – ‘Lawmaker’s degrees from diploma ‘mills’
“…an investigation by The Standard has uncovered evidence that suggests the quality of the degrees issued by both [California Coast University] and [Southland University] is questionable.  The Legco website does not specify at which of UC's 10 campuses Wong studied for his degree, nor does it elaborate where he completed undergraduate studies.”
I am disgusted that such a distinguished citizen is subjected to such treatment, which is an insult to Southland University alumni everywhere.  Could this smear campaign be the desperate act of deluded malcontents who believe that Dr the Hon Wong is a less than ideal choice for chairmanship of the Legislative Council’s Constitutional Affairs Panel?  If so, they are wasting their time.  Dr the Hon Wong’s ability to express his views on democratic development with digital precision surely makes him superbly qualified for the job.

NOON, AND as Associated Press
wires the despicable slurs about Dr the Hon Wong around the planet, emails cascade into my PC from lawyers, wanting to know if I wish to sue Colum Murphy, the HK Standard investigative reporter who cuts and pastes material from obscure websites without acknowledging them.  Clicking ‘suspend’ on my MP3 download, I consider the parasitical journalist’s plagiarism from moral, ethical and practical viewpoints, and I come to a resolute decision.  It’s not the principle – it’s the money.  He won’t have any.  He works for the Standard.  Maybe one day he will grow up and become famous, and do a daily feature – the Colum Column.  But even then, his name will still be an anagram of ‘pour my mulch’.  That is punishment enough.