Wednesday, September 22, 2010

If you can't see it and can't touch it, it may not be there

Ulaca has already commented on the speech by 1967-rioter-turned-Home Affairs Secretary Tsang Tak Sing announcing Hong Kong's exciting plans to bid for the 2023 Asian Games. However, it simply cries out for another of our Orwellian deconstructions of politicians' utterances. Let us quote it first:
"It will put Hong Kong on the map and reinforce Hong Kong’s position as Asia’s World City, which will bring in long-term, though perhaps intangible, benefits."

What does this mean in plain English?

It will remind people [unnecessarily] that Hong Kong exists and has pretensions to being a world city. We can't think of any other real benefits at the moment, but we want to go ahead anyway.

Whenever a politician talks about intangible benefits, you can be sure that the tangible benefits are rather thin on the ground.

This case raises a number of interesting points about Hong Kong's peculiar system of governance. For a start, it will no doubt give the government an excuse to construct another quasi-national stadium, when we already have a very good one which is criminally underused. This is largely because the government caved in to pressure from a handful of nearby residents and refuses to allow it to be used for concerts, thereby both wasting a valuable community resource and denying Hong Kong people the opportunity to enjoy performances by major stars for whom no other venue in the city is capacious enough. The fact that there was already a stadium on the site long before most of the residences around it were built, and that the inhabitants should therefore have expected occasional noise when they moved in, seems to carry no weight.

This plan also illustrates the tendency for such schemes in Hong Kong to be cooked up behind closed doors. Witness the presence of Timothy Fok, the man the media like to describe as Hong Kong's Olympic supremo, at the announcement. Despite having the worst attendance record of any Legislative Council member, Fok seems to be able to persuade the government to go along with anything he wants to do.

Fok also exemplifies one of the failings of the Functional Constituency system - despite supposedly representing the Sport, the Arts and Culture constituency Fok, ubiquitous at any major sporting event, doesn't seem to know his arts from his elbow. When was the last time he was seen at a Hong Kong Philharmonic concert or a performance by the Hong Kong Ballet? Effectively, this means the Arts are unrepresented in LegCo, with no one to fight for funding for them

Another point illustrated by this case is Hong Kong's warped financial priorities. The government is happy to spend money it admits will be unrecoverable on a sporting event, while insisting there is no cash in the kitty to invest in the city's future by taking advantage of falling birth rates to reduce class sizes in secondary schools. The schools already exist, the teachers are already trained - at public expense, and it is almost universally agreed by educationists that smaller classes obtain better results, but the government claims that using these already existing resources would be too costly. What can you do with people who think like this?

1 comment:

cecilie said...

Fire them! Vote them out of office!! Oh no, hang on ...