Hemlock's Diary
28 Jan-3 Feb 2007
Mon, 29 Jan
Switching on the radio this morning, I hear an averagely well-spoken, youngish-sounding man reciting a long list of soccer scores from the UK, complete with exhaustive detail of who scored and when and in what precise manner.  Then he reads more soccer results from places like Spain and Italy.  Then I hear a Frenchman talking about a soccer game that had obviously meant a great deal to him.  Then the announcer says, “Onto cricket,” and reads out yet more facts and figures about a particular game in Australia that, judging by the length of the summary, must be of supreme importance.  Finally – the whole sports segment of the programme seems to have lasted almost 10 minutes – he hands over to one of his colleagues who reads out the news.  Mayhem in Iraq, the appointment of an Arab to the Israeli cabinet, Northern Ireland, Taiwan and Japan all receive attention before it is time for me to switch off, leave home and set foot on the streets of a city that may, for all I know, not even be there, or may be on fire, torn apart by rioters or inundated by swarms of locusts.  The only up-to-date fact I have about the place is that it is cold and dry, courtesy of a bizarre, 10-second mention of local affairs from the newsreader before he started to read out all the wire service reports.  Why, I can’t help wondering, does RTHK call this show
Hong Kong Today

Perhaps the person who thought up the name should be nominated for a Celene P Loo Foundation Maverick Genius Scholarship.  I especially like the idea of the individual concerned being ‘groomed’ by a Singaporean banker and Mensa member who likes fast cars, paints female nudes and suggestive arrangements of fruit and – like me, once upon a time – had an art exhibition at the Fringe Club.  She might even let their radio programme adopt the same title as that display of artwork –
Chick With A Dick.  It would be no less relevant than the current one, and far more interesting for listeners to be welcomed to every morning.
Tue, 30 Jan
To my great distress, busybody scientists who have zero understanding of Cantonese culture and traditions are calling for the banning of fat choi, the moss-like life form that people consume around Chinese New Year because its name sounds like the phrase ‘get rich’, as in ‘gung hei fat choi’.  This is upsetting to me personally because it is at this time of the year that I stop using the extractor fan in my bathroom at Perpetual Opulence Mansions in order to cultivate the black delicacy, scraping it off the ceiling around a week before the festivities begin and selling it to my delighted neighbours for surprising amounts of money.  The interfering biochemists claim that it causes dementia.  This is bad science, confusing cause and effect – you become insane first, then you eat the stuff.

For example… Hong Kong’s most tragic example of lunacy today has to be Alan Leong, the Civic Party candidate for Chief Executive.  He believes Hong Kong should be made into
a pleasant place for people to live in and thinks that the Government should stop talking garbage about Hong Kong being marginalized, stop doing favours for tycoons and go back to being a neutral player in the economy.  Has anyone ever heard such madness?  There is a padded cell with black moss on the menu somewhere with this mentally diseased wretch’s name on it.
Wed, 31 Jan
Our Dear Leader Donald Tsang will shock and amaze the world in the next day or so by declaring himself a candidate in the Chief Executive ‘election’ in March.  So far, so good – the mandate of heaven is secure.  But not so fast!  Pan-democrat Alan Leong has meanwhile gathered the 100 nominations he needs to be put on the ballot.  This was not part of Beijing’s script.  As envisaged by the black hair dye brigade in the imperial capital, the number of people in the 800-strong Election Committee prepared to incur the wrath of the celestial throne by nominating an opponent to Sir Bow-Tie would be in double digits, at the most.  However, the pro-democrats, noticing that only a fifth of the 200,000 people eligible to elect members of that Committee bother to do so, decided to turn up in large numbers on the day of that poll.  To their own surprise and amusement, righteous, young, idealistic and sometimes quite cute lawyers, academics, IT geeks and others found themselves among the chosen 800 at the expense of ageing, scowling and reactionary incumbents who assumed their places would be handed to them on a plate as usual. 

With a second candidate on the secret ballot, it is now theoretically possible that hundreds of shoe-shining pro-Government loyalists will accidentally or deliberately tick the wrong box and make Leong the winner, forcing Beijing – which has to formally appoint the Chief Executive – into the embarrassing position of casting him aside and putting Donald in office as runner-up.  The chances of this happening are so infinitesimally microscopic that no-one in Hong Kong has even paused to imagine it.  To the paranoids across the border, however, evil, treachery and subversion are all around.  Taiwanese, American or British plotters might bribe or blackmail Committee members to vote the wrong way.  They might dim the lighting in the polling booths.  They might put hallucinogenic substances in the floral bouquets pinned to the lapel of every voter.  The possibilities are endless.  The result cannot be totally, absolutely 100% controlled.  Sleepless nights lie ahead worrying about it.  I blame the lead in the hair dye.

Thurs, 1 Feb
Accountants, the second-most tedious people in the solar system, are also, it seems, the least numerate.  The Government will make a
HK$35 billion surplus this year, says Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, therefore it should return HK$5 billion to the taxpayers.  After half an hour performing highly complex arithmetical formulas with my calculator, I determine that this leaves HK$30 billion unaccounted for.  What do these deranged bean counters propose should be done with the rest of this pile of cash?  Are they seriously suggesting that the Government should add it to its ridiculously excessive HK$800 billion reserves? 

Not suffering from the tertiary-stage syphilis that tragically afflicts the folk at Deloitte, I am able to devise, in about three seconds flat, the Hemlock Surplus Solution.  Quite simply, the Inland Revenue Department sends every man, woman and child in Hong Kong a cheque for HK$5,000, which happens to be the HK$35 billion surplus divided by the population.  It wouldn’t count as income for tax or welfare means-testing purposes.  For those of us who are intelligent, witty or beautiful enough to be economically successful, it would be less than we would get in a tax rebate – but then we don’t need it anyway.  For a family of four living on half median household income and chopping each other up with meat cleavers all day in public housing in Tin Shui Wai, the HK$20,000 would be a major windfall.  It might actually stop them from whining and bleating incessantly about the wealth gap and not benefiting from the strong economy – in which case they might become less tedious than accountants.
Fri, 2 Feb
A plan to increase health care spending that undermines previous arguments about lack of funds.  A pledge to carry on building unnecessary, wasteful and environmentally damaging infrastructure to pad out the construction and engineering industries’ profits (or ‘create jobs’, as they say).  A promise to cut taxes that neatly illustrates how hard it is to make a noticeable difference when the most anyone pays is 16 percent of gross salary.  A firm and unwavering commitment to consider introducing a timetable for achieving a consensus on introducing a green paper that outlines a framework for assembling building blocks to put together a gradual and orderly road map for universal suffrage.  It doesn’t get much more exciting than Donald Tsang’s
election campaign platform

Sir Bow-Tie’s campaign motto is ‘I’ll get the job done’, a reference, apparently, to a remark he made 40 years ago when he joined the civil service and was made Assistant Sub-Superintendent (Paper Clips ((Requisitioning) Shatin District))).   It is vaguely reminiscent of Winston Churchill’s 1941 plea to the United States, “Give us the tools and we will finish the job.”  And of course Donald also sports Churchill’s favoured neckwear. 

The more I think about it, the more I find that the two have in common!  For example, neither Churchill nor Tsang ever plagiarized Welsh windbag/politician and failed Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock.  Which is more than can be said for Joseph Biden, the US Senator who also recently announced his decision to run – for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.  On a previous attempt, Biden was caught scraping the bottom of the oratorical barrel by repeating part of a Kinnock speech word-for-word. 
This time, he managed to surpass that and say how much he admires Barack Obama for (if I read between the lines correctly) being the only black man around who isn’t a crack-addicted, gun-wielding pimp wanted for murder.  What’s wrong with a Longfellow quote?

One possible difference between the late British statesman and our own Chief Executive occurs to me.  When Churchill said ‘job’ he was talking about freeing hundreds of millions of people from a crazed tyranny.  This seems not to be such a high priority for Donald.