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

17-23 Feb 2002
Mon, 18 Feb

The manager of the Hollywood Road branch of Pacific Coffee tells me that he will ban Nury Vittachi's children if their behavior does not improve.  Apparently, the little horrors have been spiking people's Colombia Decaf with laxatives.  Personally, I think this shows rather good taste on their part – what sort of insufferable bore wants to drink coffee that has had the caffeine removed?  And it shows what verve children have today.  When I was their age we would never have thought of laxatives.  All we did was put instant mashed potato powder in the dairy creamer, so people's coffee turned to a brown sludge – rather pathetic, really. 

Wed, 20 Feb

My first meeting with our Chief Executive, CH Tung, since the start of the new year.  “I try so hard to please everyone,” he complains, “yet I still get so much hostility. What can I do?” Naturally, I try to sympathise, but I can’t help giving it to him straight.  “For heaven’s sake, CH,” I tell him.  “You’re not supposed to make them like you – you’re supposed to kick the hell out of them.  Teachers who don’t want to take professional exams – fire them.  Truck drivers who use illegal diesel fuel – confiscate their vehicles.  Well-off families in public housing – evict them.   People who bought property at the wrong time – tell them it’s tough.  Losers who want tax breaks and subsidies for their crummy businesses – tell them to piss off to Singapore.   Excess civil servants – axe them.  It’s simple.  Stop grovelling to interest groups and start looking after Hong Kong as a whole.”  Then he starts blathering about divisiveness and morale.  I can’t believe we’ve got another five years of this fat fool.

I wonder how much laisee he's given me?

Thu, 21 Feb

The big boss drags me along with him on a visit to the Hong Kong Productivity Council, which is housed in an ugly building on Kowloon side. As you would expect, it is yet another public-sector empire, dedicated to amassing staff (600 at the last count), publishing glossy brochures and posters about itself and organizing inane award ceremonies.  It also presumes to have the ability to increase the value added by Hong Kong’s businesses.  Of course, Hong Kong’s hard-nosed entrepreneurs
know how to boost productivity – move to the Mainland.  They don’t need self-appointed experts clutching iron rice bowls to tell them.  Still, the Productivity Council lives up to its name when it comes to obsequiousness.  Lots of bowing and scraping, which the big boss naturally laps up, and even I find myself having a nasty-looking flower pinned to my lapel.

Fri, 22 Feb

Am I an investment genius?  All I know is that my personal portfolio gained 15% last year, including dividends and net trading profits, while the Hang Seng index was 25% down.  My most successful pick, VTech, has risen 7.5% this morning, leaving the value of my holding nearly 100% up.  Can the gormless looking guys wandering around central wearing suits and clutching paper cups of coffee beat that?  Fat chance.

Sat, 23 Feb

Drop into Lan Kai Fong early in the evening and find myself talking to a 50-something western guy with a disgusting beer belly and tattoos on his hairy arms, accompanied by a 20-something mini-skirted Filipina teetering on absurd platform shoes.  Market forces in action, I suppose.  He is a Brit (but you guessed that) working for some sort of construction company.  Where can he get decent “bangers”, he asks?  After establishing that he is referring to sausages, I urge him to try the very acceptable chorizo at Olivers.   He seems genuinely sorry when I leave, possibly because of the limited conversational value of his girlfriend, who has the mind and tastes of a 12 year old and spends most of the time playing with a garishly coloured phone.  What will result if they breed, I wonder?