Hemlock's Diary

The ravings of Hong Kong's most obnoxious expat

20-26 October 2002
Sun, 20 Oct
In the charnel house that is Kowloon, the maggots of flesh-eating flies are gnawing at the insides of old women's mouths, and the dengue fever outbreak continues to ravage the many neighbourhoods where the population has particularly low standards of hygiene.  But that is on the other side of the harbour. In Central, the Lan Kwai Fong Carnival is in full swing, with crowds of revellers admiring the African drummers, a mime artist and stalls selling snacks from the local restaurants.
Members of the gay community are much in evidence. No-one in Hong Kong really cares any more, thanks, no doubt, to the work of outspoken pioneers who broke down the barriers of prejudice. Following Canto-crooner Roman Tam's death last week, the media largely displayed uncharacteristic good taste by not dwelling on his sexuality – unless you count the Singaporeans' "flamboyant bachelor" tag. However, most right-minded observers still agree that those absurdly tight black T-shirts look ridiculous, not to mention uncomfortable. 

Mon, 21 Oct
A visiting academic with an
interest in Mickey Mouse embarrasses the Hong Kong government by pointing out the drawbacks of having a Disney theme park here, largely subsidized by the taxpayer. For two pins, he says, they'll recreate Lan Kwai Fong at the park to save tourists the trouble of actually setting foot in town. Am I the only person to recall that, aside from cretinizing such classics as the Jungle Book and Winnie the Pooh, Disney distributed Martin Scorsese's Kundun, a movie which, by nauseatingly hero-worshiping the splittist Dalai Lama, grossly interfered in China's internal affairs and hurt the feelings of all the Chinese people. By making a gift of part of the Motherland's soil – albeit a highly polluted part – to this pack of anti-Chinese scoundrels, our supposedly patriotic Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa displays himself as a lackey of American capitalists and a running dog of imperialism.  Or something.

The noose!  The noose!  The clamour being too deafening even for the normally insensible Justice Department to ignore, Nicholas Tse's feeble sentence for conspiring to pervert the course of justice will be reviewed. He should be glad.  The degenerate and debauched lifestyle of a Cantopop star amounts to physical abuse.  A few months of regular sleep and Correctional Services congee will do wonders for him.
Tue, 22 Oct
"Are you waiting for a love partner to telephone you at work?" Edwin Ma, the
South China Morning Post's uncannily perceptive horoscope writer, asks everyone born in the Year of the Ox. "If so, be sure to listen for the phone."  The enigmatic mystic is silent on the course of action that non-bovines awaiting calls from their other halves should follow.

email from Prince Azu Zubby, a charming-sounding gentlemean who describes himself as the Chief Accountant of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in Lagos.  Owing to sloppy invoicing, it seems Zub and his colleagues have US$28.6 million left over after buying US$86.7 million worth of oil rig equipment.  Would I like some?   I couldn't possibly think of it, but, as with the kindly people who mistakenly imagine that I might be in need of a larger penis, I'm grateful to have been considered.  
Wed, 23 Oct
Which is greater – the administration’s obsession with turning Hong Kong into a tacky, fake theme park, or the local Buddhist leadership’s obsession with jamming its tongue as far as possible up the government’s posterior?  The answer is just in – the former.  The monks at Po Lin Monastery are upset by official plans to cover the neighbouring countryside with concrete and branches of McDonalds, as they won’t get any of the extra tourist dollars (or to use their exact words, “it will disrupt the peace of the monastery”).  Their
threat to close the place to the public is causing hysteria among officials, who see Disney-ization as the only hope for Hong Kong’s teeming millions of illiterate jobless.  This is the same obsession that has led to the construction of pseudo-Chinese ("Chinatown-style") gateways among the slums of Western and Aberdeen, the moronic Tourism Board assuming that tourists expect to see such things.  They will force restaurants to offer fortune cookies before long.  A committee of civil servants decrees what tourists wish to see. As the Buddhist saying goes, "Churning and churning water, doesn't produce butter."
Thurs, 24 Oct
At my desk at 8.05, before the rabble of S-Meg Holdings turn up for work.  The office guerilla goes into action on a pre-dawn raid on benighted, open-plan territory, liberating a dozen ball pens (including a green one), three thick felt-tip pens, six highlighter pens (assorted colours), a box of staples, 500 sheets of A4 printer paper, a pad of note paper and a box of jasmine tea bags. The alternative is to fill in a requisition form.  The company gwailo does not fill in requisition forms, any more than he wears the company tie on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, sings karaoke at the Spring dinner, or tries to appear shorter than 5' 8" when standing and talking to the Big Boss to avoid looking down at him.
Standard & Poors ratings agency gives the Hong Kong government a jab in the ribs about the budget deficit. The stupidity of Tung Chee-hwa's post-1997 government can best be illustrated by the rise in public expenditure from 15% of GDP back in the 1990s to around 25% today.  (And this neglects hidden expenditure in the form of giveaways of precious land to parasites like Disney and Cyberport.)  In practice, the deficit is simply a device whereby Hong Kong's vast financial reserves are siphoned off month-by-month into the bank accounts of civil servants.  Their take-home salaries are probably 20-50% above market rates, but we mustn't do anything about it because it would upset their morale, or somehow break the Basic Law (the same Basic Law that requires a balanced budget).  Who gave these blood-suckers the right to appropriate the wealth of the Hong Kong people?
Fri, 25 Oct
Scientists – bored and at a loose end, presumably – determined some time ago that the direct injection of monosodium glutamate into the eye could cause nerve damage.  It would serve you right for doing something so idiotic, I would have thought. They have now found that when MSG constitutes a fifth, no less, of rats' diets, the
rodents can go blind. By the standards of seaweed extracts, MSG is interesting.  The world would be different without it.  Much Cantonese food would have so little flavour that the Southern Chinese would be forced to admit that their cuisine is as dull as everyone else says, and please pass the chilli.  Sensitive Westerners would no longer make everyone else's lives miserable by whining about how Chinese food gives them a headache.  Evil, mad scientists' rats would not keep walking into things.