Hemlock's Diary

The ravings of Hong Kong's expat Diamond Bachelor
24-30 August 2003
Sun, 24 Aug
The Internet world buzzes with excitement as archaeologists announce the discovery of the lost works of the renowned Patsy, Hong Kong's first known gay blogger (or "on-line columnist", as they were called in those days).  Even by the disagreeable and mentally diseased standards of contributors to
Not The South China Morning Post, Patsy was outstanding. "Wanton", "promiscuous", "reckless", "debauched", "against nature" and "perverted" – these are just some of the words critics used to describe his English.  I am privileged to host these recently unearthed, long-forgotten writings here, numbered from 5 to 21.  The earlier episodes date from the colonial era, when rickshaw men served pink gins to their expatriate passengers and begged for more when given a sound thrashing for tardiness. Number 20 is Patsy's valedictory, in which he elegantly expresses his heartfelt fondness for Hong Kong, a city personified for him by its upstanding taxi drivers. I am delighted to note that the HK Tourism Board has accepted it for use in their promotional materials.
Click on image for Patsy's in-depth examination of HK
Mon, 25 Aug
A bit of wind and rain – that’s all we have to show for Typhoon Krovanh.  Like so much else, tropical storms have become dull non-events since 1997.  When the British ran Hong Kong, we had the real thing – typhoons for
men.  Citizens raced from their offices, pausing only to strip the stores bare of solid and liquid supplies before getting home and putting tape on the windows.  As darkness fell, Mother Nature would ravage the Big Lychee, knocking trees across roads, tumbling boulders down mountains and whisking potted plants from rooftops onto anyone demented enough to be passing by.  Morris, the HK Police Force’s finest living Scotsman, loves recalling the night he saw a police van, on its side, being blown along Nathan Road by the gale.  Violence and death were delivered in the name of a gentle-sounding girl called something like Debbie or Susan.  And, of course, we got the day off.  This is the heart of the matter.  Our bloated, interfering Government, influenced by tycoons eager to ensure we all do a full day’s work, has micro-managed the traditional typhoon out of existence.  Now it’s just a Number 3 signal, top up the reservoirs, and back to the office first thing the next day.

Tue, 26 Aug
Just days after praising democracy and the 1st July marchers, Li Ka-shing delivers another snub to the Government by hiring Anna Wu as an advisor to Shantou University.   The former Equal Opportunities Commission boss is beyond the pale for two reasons.  First, she brutally humiliated our tireless administration by forcing it to obey some absurd anti-discrimination laws she dredged up somewhere, leaving officials with no choice but to
replace her.  Second, she is married to journalist Frank Ching, whose columns, though moderate in tone, tend not to lay particular stress on the glowing achievements of the Tung Dynasty.  What will the old billionaire do next?  Grow his hair long and burn the national flag outside Legco?

Wed, 27 Aug
The Big Boss announces that he is off to Beijing for a few days to give senior comrades the benefit of his opinion on Tung’s shortcomings – or wondrousness, if the officials concerned are from the Jiang Zemin faction who picked the crop-haired one to be our visionary leader all those years ago. Either way, he will leave no shoe unshined.  With a lot of S-Meg management away, the company gwailo is needed to sort out affairs in an overseas branch.  The good news is that I have a choice – Seoul or Singapore.  Leave today.  Which to choose?  Koreans are undeniably interesting.  Where else in the world do electric fans
kill sleeping people, or parents improve their children’s English by subjecting them to oral surgery?  However, there is a snag.  The Korean S-Meg staff are effectively on strike, demanding a massive pay rise on the grounds that it is “shameful” to work for a foreign company.  Ms Doris Pang, the Pit Bull Human Resources Manager from Hell can put these xenophobic fiends to rights.  It won’t be a pretty sight – she will return with kimchee-flavoured veins between her teeth.  The task in Singapore is a breeze – conduct final interviews for an urgently needed secretary while the local manager is in hospital. It will be nice to see the Lion City one more time, before it is consumed by the 300 million-strong Malay hordes patiently waiting in the jungle hinterland, sharpening their knives, cleaning their blowpipes and perusing their Korans, preparing to topple Lee Kuan Yew’s arrogant, hollow, socialist city. And the food’s so good.
Indeed, excellent.  Straight from the world’s second-best airport, along the hanging gardens of the Pan-Island Expressway to a superb South Indian dinner with Ranjay the economist, an ex-colleague from the pre-S-Meg era.  We laugh about his old Indian passport, with its huge paper concertina for the mass of visas demanded by even the scummiest, vilest, least civilized and most desperate countries on earth – “even the Philippines!” he recalls in mock-horror.   So he became a Singaporean, complete with Singaporean Indian wife, nice healthy Singaporean kids learning Mandarin, and a condo at Pasir Panjang.  Singapore is loosening up, he says, proudly showing me his licence to dance on bar tops – an activity recently legalized as part of a strategy to unleash the creative-without-being-rebellious risk-takers that are struggling to get out of these three million sheep.
Thurs, 28 Aug
Ah, Singapore...  The heady raciness of Discovery Bay combined with the elegance and charm of Shatin.  The sidewalks are so clean!  In awe, I drop to my knees and crawl all the way from Clemenceau Rd up to Orange Grove Rd, not taking my tongue off the pavement once, except briefly to gaze upon the architectural jewel that is Snoopy Place.  And let’s not forget the low crime rate.  Apart from the murder of a famous tycoon’s daughter years ago – which everyone forgot about almost as soon as it happened (which of course it didn’t) – nothing nasty ever happens.  With nothing to complain about, the silence is deafening.  What more eloquent proof of the uncorrupt, meritocratic and error-free quality of government here than the absence of public criticism and opposition. (The taxi drivers have a scurrilous streak, but every time they start talking politics, a little bell rings in the cab to shut them up.)

A quick look at the
South China Morning Post on-line confirms that all is well with the Pearl of Asia. The Government wants to spend HK$300 million of taxpayers’ money hosting a major World Trade Organization meeting. In return, we get an infestation of foreign trade officials, from whom our merchants will extract HK$100 million in receipts – plus some anti-globalization riots. To the simple-minded chattering classes, it’s a net HK$200 million going down the toilet. But they're wrong – it’s worth every penny.  The WTO gabfest will ensure that hundreds of civil servant scum and other pubic-sector parasites are too busy to interfere with the rest of us, who will therefore be free to create wealth.  What else?  An article by Yeung Sum, the exceptionally charismatic leader of the Democratic Party, contains the words “industrial zone”, and 698 others, which I ignore.  Meanwhile, up in the glorious motherland, official accountability improves by the day – at least that’s my reading of the headline “City morgues to close after eyeball vanishes”.

Fri, 29 Aug
Wipe the casting couch clean and go back through the resumes of the four hopeful secretaries. Thanks to the economic planning skills of its far-sighted civil servants, Singapore is trying to compete with third-world dirtbag manufacturing bases of the sort Hong Kong owns on the Mainland.  Must give Tung a big hug next time I see him.  The Government here is actually cutting people’s wages in an effort to keep refrigerator factories from relocating to China.  Thus, I have an array of cheap secretaries before me.  I feel especially sorry for the girl asking for a third less than the others “because I’m Malay, and no-one will hire me otherwise.”  Even the most avaricious applicant is a bargain by Hong Kong standards.  And she is the one who gets the job!  We need someone Canto-friendly, someone who can fit into S-Meg’s corporate culture – the ethos that says “I want everything and I want it now,” the spirit of anarchic greed that took a barren rock sticking out of the sea and covered it with skyscrapers and Hello Kitty mobile phone stores. To all of which I fly back later this afternoon – just time for laksa, king prawns and durian at the food court near the place where they display the bodies of executed chewing gum traffickers.