Monday, February 16, 2015

Lighten Up, Loonies!

The Hong Kong government's arrogant insistence that it's right about everything, even as it steers the ship of state ever closer to the looming rocks, is annoying enough - it's come to the point where I feel physical revulsion every time I turn on the TV and the face of CY Leung, Gregory So, Paul Chan or one or two other particularly creepy ministers looms out at me.  Now it seems some of these people are going totally off the mental rails into the stratospheric realms of hyperbolic simile, far removed from mundane reality.

The government has been seeking HK$35 million from the Legislative Council to set up an Innovation & Technology Bureau - a request opposed by many pan-democrats in the Council.  The proposed Bureau is supposed to spur the development of the technology sector in Hong Kong - though many in the IT sector, one of its principal intended beneficiaries, doubt it will achieve anything other than adding a few more overpaid political jobs to an already bloated roster.

Partly for this reason, and partly out of their generalised (and not entirely ill-founded) principle that anything the government wants to do must be wrong, the pan-democrats in LegCo are opposing the government's funding request.  Hong Kong politics as usual, so far - but this is where things start to get crazy.  First Chief Executive CY Leung likens moves to prevent the Bureau's formation to "killing a baby in the womb".  Then ExCo member Fanny Law literally brings down a curse on opponents of the Bureau, suggesting they will "be destroyed by heaven and Earth" (apparently heavy stuff in Chinese).

As if this isn't extreme enough, she compounds her self-righteous posturing by likening the bill's opponents to terrorists, declaring "Just like the Islamic [State] when I saw them kidnap people and just chop off their heads ... I was just heartbroken."  Well, lighten up, CY and Fanny - the pan-democrats may often be irritating, even to their own supporters, but so far as I'm aware not even the occasionally rabid-mannered Wong Yuk-Man has yet started kidnapping people and brutally slashing their throats.

It's not a moral issue, not a matter of life and death - just a new government department that may or may not help boost Hong Kong's technology sector.  Probably not - I tend to agree with Civic Party legislator Alan Leong that the administration lacks the vision necessary to boost innovation and technology in Hong Kong. In fact, efforts by governments usually have far less to do with the expansion of a particular economic sector in any country than the chance confluence of the right conditions for its growth.

So less of the heavy talk and more of the calm discussion, please - and Fanny, if you continue to have these delusions, you can get free psychiatric treatment at government hospitals in Hong Kong.  Just ask - they won't cut your head off!

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Slow Painful Death of ATV

Amid all the hopeful talk of finding new investors to revive ATV's fortunes, no one seems to be paying much attention to one awkward fact: the station's licence expires later this year.  Since it has already failed to pay its licence fee on time and cannot even afford to pay its staff at present, the prospect that any sane broadcasting authority would renew its licence is virtually nil (though in Hong Kong's current crazy political climate nothing can be entirely ruled out).  Anyone putting money into ATV would be extremely unlikely to recover their investment in less than a few years, even if they could turn the station around and persuade people to watch it again, something which would require substantial additional investment in some decent programmes.  Meanwhile they would run a strong risk of the licence not being renewed, sending their investment straight down the drain.

Unless an insane investor comes along, therefore, the station is likely to expire completely within a month or two, opening the way for a renewed licence application from HKTV which the government would find it very hard to turn down this time.

Meanwhile the station still limps feebly along.  The English evening news, now curtailed to 15 minutes, shows little sign of being edited and turns up some entertaining bloopers.  Apparently all the pilots of the Taiwanese airline that had a crash recently are going to be "evacuated" (evaluated).  Even more surprisingly, the Costa Concordia was "a floating hotel 290 km long".  That being the distance from Hong Kong to Shantou, it's not surprising it was so difficult to salvage - unless they mean 290 m, the sunken ship's real length.

And as for the sports news, why does Bo Leung insist on referring to every goalkeeper as "the custodian"?  That's a pretentious word that sports hacks occasionally use for stylistic variety, but no ordinary football fan would do so - the goalie or the keeper will do nicely, thank you.