Wednesday, September 25, 2013

No Alternative?

Those with limited imaginations - a category which sadly includes most members of the Hong Kong government - invariably see only one solution to any problem and are blind to other ways of looking at the situation. Former Canadian Gregory So, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, speaking on TVB news a few days ago about the negative impact of mass tourism from the mainland, said: "The solution must [my emphasis] lie in the fact that we need to expand our capacity so that we can take in the visitors".

Why must it?  If a highly-regarded restaurant is so popular that one needs to book a table weeks in advance, the owner's first response is not usually to rush out and expand his capacity.  Given that mass tourism benefits only a few in Hong Kong and reduces the quality of life for everyone else through overcrowding, higher prices, and the disappearance of popular shops and restaurants in favour of more profitable luxury goods outlets targeted at tourists, why should we encourage more visitors to come?  Perhaps we should decide, as Bhutan for example has done, that the benefits of mass tourism are not worth the cost, and limit the numbers allowed in - possibly through a quota system or a tourist tax.  Furthermore, those who do arrive will have a more enjoyable experience.

Another group unable to see an obvious solution to a problem are those who demonstrated recently demanding that mainland mothers of Hong Kong-born children whose fathers have died or abandoned the family - they claim there are 7,000 of these - should be given accelerated entry to Hong Kong to care for their offspring.  Again, why?  The one-way permit system is supposedly intended mainly to allow mainland residents to be reunited with their Hong Kong spouses (which doesn't explain why a man already deported from Hong Kong after serving a sentence for homicide here was allowed back to settle in the territory, but that's another question that needs asking).  If there is no husband here for the wife to be reunited with, wouldn't it be more natural to send the child back to live with its mother?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Twitchers' Delight

While many local people were disappointed that the rapid - and less violent than predicted - passage of Super Typhoon Usagi did not give them a "typhoon holiday" today, Hong Kong's birdwatchers were delighted to have the rare opportunity to observe the yellow stormwatcher, one of the territory's most reclusive species.

With its distinctive plumage of bright yellow anorak and safety helmet, the yellow stormwatcher only emerges from its nest during typhoons.  Its natural habitat appears to be the Star Ferry concourse in Tsimshatsui, where it seems to be particularly intrigued by the sight of intrepid tourists foolish enough to venture out being buffeted by the wind.  However, little is known about the hiding place and habits of this species at non-typhoon times, and ornithologists agree that much more research is needed into this mysterious example of local wildlife.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Suppose they gave a demonstration and nobody came

A war of no words broke out today between two rival pro-Beijing groups after no one turned up to support their rival mass demonstrations.  Silent Majority for Hong Kong convenor Robert Chow expressed delight that the group's rallying cry of "Apathy in the Streets" had persuaded the entire population of Hong Kong to stay at home, showing, he said, that "all Hong Kong people are part of the Silent Majority and therefore are fully united behind us".

However a new group calling itself Sounds of Silence disputed Wong's claims, saying: "it is our strategy of silence which has de-energised Hong Kong people into failing to turn out in such record numbers.  We deserve a round of silent applause."

Despite the disagreement, both groups welcomed what they claimed was their success against the Occupy Central movement, saying : "No one occupied Central this weekend except thousands of Filipina domestic helpers, and of course they don't count".
"Speak no evil, except of the pan-democrats"

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Intro and the Outro

Nothing wrong with the English here grammatically, but no one in common speech uses the words "ingress" and "egress" - why not just say entrance and exit?

Meanwhile what could sound more appetising than this?

Longer still and longer

I was out for about 4 or 5 hours this afternoon.  I returned to find no fewer than 34 email messages in my Junk Mail folder, every single one of them offering to enhance what the British tabloid press would refer to as my "manhood".  If I responded to all of them it would probably grow long enough to "put a girdle round about the earth in forty minutes".


An alliance of Hong Kong's real estate agencies withheld advertising from the media yesterday in protest at the higher stamp duty imposed by the government to curb property speculation. Urging the government to scrap stamp duties on commercial properties, Pierre Wong, Managing Director of Midland Realty, said on TVB news last night: "We don't think the commercial market affects most Hong Kong people".

He has got to be joking (cue incredulous John McEnroe tones here), because this remark is utter nonsense.  Commercial property prices form a major component of the operating costs of every shop, restaurant, warehouse or other business in Hong Kong.  Consequently they affect the price of all the goods and services purchased in Hong Kong, giving them a direct and powerful impact on every Hong Kong person's cost of living.  Has Wong not seen all the media coverage of businesses catering to local people (including estate agents) being forced out of operation by rising rents and replaced by luxury goods shops catering to mainland visitors?

It doesn't say much for the professionalism of the real estate business here that the head of one of the largest agencies has such a simplistic and inaccurate (and, it should be said, self-serving) view of the local property market.  Consequently, while the industry is trying to arouse public sympathy for its job losses arising from the government's bizarre attempts to reduce property prices by making property more expensive to buy, most Hong Kong people are likely to show little concern if the entire parasitical real estate business goes down the drain.