Hemlock's Diary

The ravings of Hong Kong's most obnoxious expat
21-27 September 2003
Mon, 22 Sept
Poor old TS Chang, former
South China Morning Post reporter, finds himself eliminated with maximum prejudice by Bloomberg in Beijing, for the heinous crime of maintaining a thoughtful and decent weblog.  I have always enjoyed visiting outposts of the Bloomberg empire.  The absurdly lavish interior décor.  The extensive choice of free snacks, candy, fruit and hot and cold drinks.  And the relief at being able to walk out, leaving behind all those people being nearly worked to death.  The eccentricities of private ownership, combined with the humourless earnestness of American media managements, make for a slightly fascistic employer.  Give me the bumbling, Confucian cronyism of S-Meg Holdings, any day.

Drop into the pub in Lan Kwai Fong, where Kevin the Australian doorman describes a drunken ex-Mormon Odell one night last week. “He’d already fallen over a couple of times, and I finally convinced him to leave well after midnight,” explains Kevin.  “He stumbled out the door and collapsed into a taxi.  I could hear him screaming ‘Lan Kwai Fong!’ at the driver, who obviously looked a bit puzzled.  Eventually, the guy shrugged and drove down the hill, reappearing in the same spot about three minutes later – he’d just looped round.  Odell threw money on the front seat, got out and – completely on auto-pilot, with mouth hanging open and glazed eyes – staggered past me back into the pub, oblivious to the fact he’d just left.”  If they weren’t evil, I’d tip off Bloomberg about this important story.  Hong Kong’s economy roars ahead as alcohol-induced short-term memory loss boosts bar and taxi takings.  Full details at 10.
Tue, 23 Sept
Selina Chow, the thinking man’s hot stuff,
settles her pert posterior into the Executive Council seat formerly occupied by schoolgirls’ heart throb James Tien.  What a remarkable display of self-confidence and magnanimity on the part of our visionary Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa!  Just months after being betrayed by the boss of the slimy and unprincipled “Liberal” Party, he appoints their number-two to his cabinet.  Selina is more intelligent than Tien – who isn’t? – and promises far more guile, panache and all-round entertainment when expedience and moral cowardice lead the Liberals to stab the crop-haired one in the back a second time.
Wed, 24 Sept
Start the day over congee and noodles at Yuet Yuen with amply proportioned Administrative Officer Winky Ip.  We find ourselves chuckling at the irony of Hong Kong’s predicament.  Winky is 99% positive that Beijing decided last Spring to send CH Tung into
de facto retirement later this year – a long holiday, a rest cure or something.  Now they, and the rest of us, are stuck with the poor old fat fool because they can’t appear to be giving in to the will of the Hong Kong people.  “I don’t know why we’re laughing, really,” she says.  “It’s not funny is it?”   I look at my watch. “What else can we
do? We can’t get drunk for another 10 hours.”  Then we discuss how Tung is in denial about the deceitfulness and ooziness of the sorry collection of gastropods known as the Liberal Party.  I ask Winky about a rumour I’ve heard.  She takes a deep breath.  “I didn’t tell you this,” she whispers, leaning close to me, “but yes, you’re right – James Tien sold his grandmother to a pet food factory.”  So it’s true.  Another scoop Bloomberg won’t be getting from me.
Thurs, 25 Sept
Can there be any doubt that HSBC is making retail banking history with its exciting new marketing campaign?  “Savour our exclusive gifts,” whispers the seductive brochure, before tempting me with a Conair ear and nose trimmer (6,000 credit card points) and a Solesole electronic foot massager “with 10 levels of intensity” (9,000 points).  Beside myself with delight at being offered such life-enhancing treasures, but unable to bear the anguish of having to choose between them, I calm myself by consigning the promotional material to the paper recycling bin on the Mid-Levels Escalator.  Just minutes later in the office, ecstasy returns as I find the
South China Morning Post receiving an honourable mention in a highly respected, US-based website dedicated to unearthing the truth.  No longer the most profitable newspaper in the world, maybe, but still putting Hong Kong on the map!

Fri, 26 Sept
Wimps, wimps and more wimps, on every page of the
SCMP.  Spineless, overpaid civil servant scum scuttle away from their earlier decision to ban yapping, disease-ridden dogs – unless they are the size of small elephants – from public housing estates.  The mutts will be allowed to die out – hopefully with some help from my peculiar acquaintance A-Hing, the famous Mid-Levels dog strangler, from whom I haven’t heard since NovemberThere’s a man with moral fibre.  His people need him.  More spinelessness in Beijing, where Vice President Zeng Qinghong gives the mucus-covered toads of the Liberal Party a grudging, last-minute audience after initially having the good taste to snub them during their patriotic boot-licking visit.  Don’t look so smug, James – these people don’t like you, and they have long memories.  Integrity has gone down the tubes even in Nigeria, where an appeals court full of limp-wristed, wishy-washy do-gooders overturns the death-by-stoning sentence on a woman for having sex outside wedlock. Imagine such a law in Hong Kong.  Where would we get all the rocks?  Or are you allowed to wash them off and re-use them?  Typically, the useless SCMP neglects to tell us.