Tuesday, December 04, 2018

One Country, Two Languages

Predictably, following Eddie Chu's contentious disqualification from a village election, pro-Beijing forces are now suggesting that he should also be stripped of his LegCo seat. What is interesting about this is not their typically fatuous arguments, but how mainlandization is infiltrating the language of politics in Hong Kong. DAB leader Stalin, sorry Starry, Lee is quoted as saying:
“We wanted the Legislative Council to be more harmonious as there is only around a year left for this term. But there is a new development and we have to discuss it.”
"Harmonious", in this sense, is pure mainland-speak, meaning purged of opposition voices.  In standard English, the correct word for this is "unrepresentative" or "undemocratic".  George Orwell, thou shouldst be living at this hour!

And a postscript: after writing this post, I came across another example of how "harmony" apparently has a different meaning in the mainland - in this case the toleration of threats and violence:
                ‘Preserve family harmony’: Chinese courts give domestic abusers a pass

Friday, November 30, 2018

Elections Hong Kong Style

"Permanent residents of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall have the right to vote and the right to stand for election in accordance with law."
--Basic Law, 1997

"...unless we don't let them."
--Basic Law, 2018 

Good luck, Eddie!

UPDATE - 3 December 2018

Having asked Eddie Chu the same question several times over in different ways in the hope of eliciting an answer he can use as an excuse, the Returning Officer has finally kowtowed to the Liaison Office's wishes by disqualifying Chu - the most popular candidate in any constituency at the last Legislative Council election - from running for the post of village representative.  Unjustified, ridiculous, and legally questionable, but not unexpected in today's political climate, where every promise of genuine autonomy and democracy for Hong Kong is being systematically shredded.  What really irritates me is the way the government insults our intelligence each time it further restricts the limits of allowable political discourse by insisting that:
“There is no question of any political censorship, restriction of the freedom of speech, or deprivation of the right to stand for elections as alleged by some members of the community.”
Do they think we're totally brainless?  Or are they too stupid to realise this is a blatant lie?

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Brexit Noir

If you are British, probably the best way not to be driven crazy by the ever more chaotic nonsense of Brexit is to treat the whole sorry saga as a black comedy.  It is, after all, full of delicious ironies, beginning with the fact that then Prime Minister David Cameron originally called the referendum in a bid to unite the Tory Party (how's that been working out for you, Dave?)

But perhaps the finest piece of dark humour to come out of Brexit is this:

The idea that extreme nationalism may deprive the country of its national flag carrier just points up the ridiculousness of the entire isolationist Brexit concept in a globally connected world.  Priceless!

Comrades in Harm

Hong Kong's pan-democrats shoot themselves in the foot - again.

Yeah, that sounds like a good excuse...

Friday, October 12, 2018

From Yes Minister to Spitting Image

When I began this blog, in addition to some serious analysis (which I have sadly little time for these days), my intention was to poke gentle fun at those in public life who deserved a bit of mockery.  Unfortunately these are no longer gentle times.  We have a rabid dog in the White House, a murderous thug in the Kremlin, and a genocidal goon in Zhongnanhai, plus a general resurgence of fascism, a global decline in human rights, and a planet well on its way to unchecked environmental disaster. So though I still label it humour, most of my satire these days is far too serious to be funny - like Trump's response to the Khashoggi killing, which represents a new low even for him (only days after you thought he'd already reached the bottom by mocking a victim of sexual assault after placing her alleged assailant on the highest court in the land).  Hold on tight, things can only get worse from here.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

A&E – the difference between

In British slang, it is commonly said of an ignorant person that he "doesn't know his arse from his elbow".  However, one would expect medically-trained individuals to have a somewhat more accurate grasp of basic human anatomy.  Sadly, an elderly patient in Queen Elizabeth Hospital recently found herself the victim of incompetent radiology staff who don't appear to know the arse from the other nearby orifice. As one medical specialist drily commented, "it should not have happened because there were usually no difficulties locating the vagina and anus" – something most of us learn quite early in life.

Friday, August 17, 2018

A nation of crybabies

Quick - call Guinness World Records!  Just by talking, one mild-mannered young man in Hong Kong has succeeded in making 1.4 billion people cry, which must be some sort of record.

Except, like most CCP propaganda, it isn't true.  "Hurt the feelings of the Chinese people" is one of those stock phrases, like "foreign interference in China's affairs", which the Party Pavlovically [is that a word?] trots out in response to certain stimuli as a substitute for genuine thought.  But if you actually asked all 1.4 billion Chinese if Andy Chan's FCC speech had hurt their feelings, 99.99% of them would reply "Andy who?"

The reality is that China's highly efficient censorship machine shields most of the country's citizens from being exposed to anything that might challenge the official, albeit fictional, narrative of universal national unity and social harmony under the benign guidance of the all-knowing Party.  And you can hardly have your feelings hurt by something you aren't even allowed to be aware of.

But never mind, China, in addition to "largest population", which you hold already, there are still plenty of other categories you can claim a record in.  How about "largest number of Muslims forcibly detained for so-called re-education"?  Or you could try "biggest area of ocean claimed on the basis of dubious historical evidence" - that's a popular one.

Monday, August 13, 2018

CY's Lost Marbles

My immediate reaction to this headline was that Hong Kong's former Chief Executive - apart from confirming Godwin's Law - has lost his marbles.  Reading the article only confirmed this.  There are several layers of irony here - one being that the hysterical over-reaction of pro-Beijing forces in Hong Kong, and CY in particular, has done more to bring the ideas of Andy Chan and other independence advocates to public attention than they could ever have achieved unaided.

Another irony is that if you are seeking a genuine contemporary equivalent to Nazism, the current mass roundup, incarceration and brainwashing of Muslims in concentration camps in China's northwest would provide a much closer analogy than one young man freely expressing his opinion in the FCC.  But that is being done by the very government for which CY is such an ardent apologist, so we won't hear a word from him about this particular egregious abuse of human rights.

A third irony is that the pro-China camp's heavy-handed attempts to derail Andy Chan's planned speech reinforce his assertion that Hong Kong can only enjoy true freedom outside the suffocating embrace of the motherland.  While most of us don't regard Hong Kong independence as either likely or practical, those most determined to prevent it are inadvertently strengthening the case in support of it.

Monday, August 06, 2018

A home on the rolling deep

The last thing the critically endangered Chinese white dolphin population in the Pearl River Estuary needs is thoughtless politicians advocating yet more development in their territory.  See here and here.

Making It Better:
Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society
WWF Hong Kong

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

It’s Good News Week! (and blame the ref for the bad news)

Watching the news these days is usually a depressing experience, as Donald Trump continues to insult America’s friends and embrace its enemies, the UK continues to lurch like a lame lemming towards the fecal morass of Brexit, and human rights are increasingly under threat everywhere from Venezuela to Vladivostok – via Hong Kong.  However, the last week or two has been unusual in that there have actually been a few items of good news for a change.  For one, Liu Xia was finally released from house arrest in China and allowed to leave the country.

Meanwhile in Thailand the 12 young lads and their football coach trapped in a flooded cave complex were all safely rescued.  What made this case particularly heartwarming was that experts came from all over the world to contribute to the complex but finally successful operation to save the boys.  In a world full of division and strife, it is refreshing to see people cooperating across national borders to help others – that’s the way the world should work.

And until the semi-final, the unexpectedly successful run of England’s football team in the World Cup was – if you’re English – another cause for celebration.  Then they had the misfortune to come up against not just the mighty Croatian team but the Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir, who provided some of the worst refereeing I’ve ever witnessed in a major tournament.  In the early stages of the game, Croatian players went on an orgy of pushing, shoving, tripping, obstruction, elbowing and shirt-grabbing, much of it directed at England captain Harry Kane, and all of it ignored by the ref.  If he had stamped his authority on the game at this stage, who knows how much more Kane could have achieved with more room to move, rather than being hemmed in by a string of fouls?

When Cakir did eventually get around to booking a Croatian player, the commentator was convinced that he’d picked the wrong one (though the correct one picked up a yellow card later).  And if the ref’s objective was to keep the game flowing by ignoring minor transgressions, then why did he stop play for one foul on an England player when England still had possession and were charging forward, instead of applying the advantage rule?

But perhaps Cakir’s worst error was to give Croatia a goal kick when video coverage clearly showed that England should have been awarded a corner.  A quick look at the VAR would have made this obvious, yet Cakir was oblivious – as he generally was throughout the game – to all pleas, entreaties and complaints.  A truly shoddy performance which has rightly attracted heavy criticism (and accusations of bias) online.

None of which is to say that England would necessarily have won under a better official – it’s too easy to blame the referee for a loss.  England certainly made mistakes, and when not testing the limits of the rulebook the Croatian team – especially Luka Modric – played some magnificent football.  Yet England’s young team, under the superb management of Gareth Southgate, went far further in this tournament than anyone expected, playing intelligent football with passion, commitment to the very last minute of the game, and strong team spirit without a trace of a superstar ego.  They are still maturing, and I look forward to seeing them do better in future tournaments – under a different referee.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Leaving from the front

The Great Leap Forward, UK style.

Exactly according to the script

See yesterday's post for the script.  Only one question remains: is Trump really the naive total idiot he appears to be, or a very cleverly disguised covert Russian agent?

P.S. On second thoughts, "cleverly" is giving Trump too much credit.  Replace that with "thinly".

Monday, July 16, 2018

Sticking to the script

You may have assumed from Donald Trump's tendency to veer wildly off-topic and to make up his own facts as he goes along that his speeches are entirely spontaneous utterances.  In fact, everything he says is carefully scripted.  As proof of this, I received the following draft from a White House source who found it, in Trump's own distinctive handwriting, on a scrap of paper discarded in an Oval Office wastebin.  It appears to be part of Trump's preparations for his lovefest today with his puppetmaster Vladimir Putin.
Trump: What's all this about Russia interfering in the US Presidential election?
Putin: Nothing to do with us - that's FAKE NEWS.
Trump: Great!  So that's all right then.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Ministry of Truth

Story here.  It's good to see her free at last.

Alternative facts are such convenient things

Donald Trump is notorious for inventing his own "facts" to support his arguments - such as the record-breaking crowds of invisible people at his inauguration, or the thousands of dead centenarians who begged him to bring back their sons' remains from North Korea.  It appears that his supporters share this tendency towards fiction - last night's TVB news contained a vox pop snippet from a lady called Tina Whittington, who asserted that: "The majority of Americans voted Trump in on his promise that he would elect [sic] and nominate a pro-life Supreme Court justice, and that's what he's done tonight."

On the face of it (leaving aside the irony - surely deserving of an in-depth psychological study - that Americans who identify themselves as "pro-life" are more likely to support capital punishment and oppose gun control) this is a plausible democratic argument.  The only problem is that the majority of Americans didn't vote Trump in - they voted for Hillary Clinton.   While the archaic quirks of the American political system put Trump in the White House, in reality he has no popular mandate for anything.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Is that how it's speld?

"Jettison Held" says the Doctor Who soundtrack.  Unfortunately someone in the BBC Props Department seems to need spelling lessons!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Everything Old Is New Again

Theresa May knows very well the claim that Brexit will release substantial funding for the NHS was discredited by just about every economist within days of the referendum result.  Apparently she is too desperate to care.  As another leading idiot would say: sad.

Leading from Behind

As if he has no responsibility for the outcome of his own actions.

Friday, May 18, 2018


Who knew that being old and decrepit was now a lifestyle?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Improvements for the Worse

As I have noted before, the MTR has a history of unneeded "improvements" which actually make things worse.  Well, they're at it again.
Getting a train at Tai Po Market station the other day, I found that the familiar display signs - which show the destinations and timings of the next couple of trains in big red glowing letters - had been replaced by TV-type screens.  This, says the MTR, is to give us "even more information".

Well, I don't want "even more information" (which probably means intrusive advertising anyway).  What I want is to see when the next train is coming.  And whereas the old signs were clearly legible from a substantial distance along the platform, the new ones can only be read easily if you're close to them.  From further away they just appear as a vague blue blob.
This is not the only stupidity the MTR is inflicting on us.  It was announced this week that when the new Shatin-Central Link opens, trains on the existing Eastrail line will be reduced from 12 cars to 9.  Fine, if the line only went from Shatin to Central - but what about all the stations between Lo Wu and Tai Wai, where the new line starts?  Quite often the train will already be filled to capacity with border crossers when it leaves Lo Wu, and at peak times in the morning, every carriage is jammed with commuters..  Do the people who make these decisions ever travel on the trains they run?

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Typically Trumpian

Donald Trump's response to the fire in his eponymous New York building displays all the gracelessness and lack of human warmth we so detest in him.  No mention of sympathy for those injured, one of whom later died.  The condescending parentheses around "and women", as if female firefighters counted for less than men.  Instead the braggart seizes on a tragedy as yet another excuse to blow his own tarnished trumpet.  A masterpiece of bad taste!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Unity Mitford is alive and well and living in Hong Kong

The past week has seen much grave news, from Donald Trump appointing a notorious torturer as CIA head to attempted murders in Britain possibly perpetrated by the Russian government.  But among all these, the piece above was possibly the most sickmaking story of the week.

This kind of gushing praise might be appropriate from a 10-year-old attending her first Justin Bieber concert.  From a married middle-aged head of government, it is most unseemly.  One expects serious leaders to display a certain degree of gravitas, not to enthuse publicly about a schoolgirl crush.  And it is particularly insensitive at a time when most intelligent people around the world - certainly those in Hong Kong - are deeply concerned about Xi's accumulation of unchecked power.  Not that one expects much awareness from someone who doesn't even know where ordinary people buy toilet paper.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Race to Nowhere

Another own goal from the Hong Kong government's publicity arm.  This well-intentioned poster is intended to promote racial harmony, so presumably the people depicted are supposed to represent the racial diversity of Hong Kong.  Well, the young woman on the left wearing a Muslim headscarf is presumably one of Hong Kong's 150,000-strong army of Indonesian domestic helpers, though fewer than half of these wear the headscarf when in Hong Kong.  The boy on the right is supposedly Chinese.  As for the other three, they appear to be Humpty Dumpty (with a baby in a pouch, kangaroo-style), a skinny scarecrow, and a green-haired alien from Mars - all with white faces.  No representation of Hong Kong's sizable South Asian population (here since even before British colonial rule), or its smaller contingent of African descent.  WTF seems the only appropriate response to this nonsense.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Is it just me, or...?

Am I the only one who wants the kid to take that one extra step into oblivion whenever I see this TV commercial for baby milk?  I guess I'm just a nasty person.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

A lovely day for an election

If you're eligible to vote in today's LegCo by-election, there's still time.  Go and send the government a message - that elections should be decided by the voters, not faceless bureaucrats disqualifying candidates.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Rotten to the Core

Freedom of Speech Hong Kong style:

Text - Article 27 
Hong Kong residents shall have freedom of speech, of the press and of publication; freedom of association, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration; and the right and freedom to form and join trade unions, and to strike.   [Basic Law of Hong Kong]

Subtext - so long as they only say what we like.

By the way, did KMB read that last part?


Monday, March 05, 2018


If I was an American citizen, I think I would be deeply embarrassed at my country’s president’s ignorance of the most basic principles of economics.  Here are just a few of the simple facts the so-called president doesn’t appear to comprehend:

Ÿ   Import tariffs impose costs – while American steel makers may welcome curbs on their overseas competitors, steel users such as Boeing – one of America’s biggest exporters – and General Motors will face higher costs for their raw materials, which will make them less competitive (and leave Boeing’s main rival Airbus laughing all the way to the bank).  This will reduce exports, cost jobs, raise prices for American consumers – hurting retailers as well – and even make Trump’s promised infrastructure upgrade more costly – bridges, tunnels and railways (not to mention ridiculous border walls) consume enormous volumes of steel.
Ÿ   Import tariffs invite retaliation – countries which see their exports to the US restricted are very likely to impose barriers to US exports in a tit-for-tat move.  Back to square one!
Ÿ   Trade wars have no winners – ultimately everyone ends up paying more (see above).
Ÿ   Trade deficits are normal – it is pointless to worry too much about the US trade deficit with a single country, because it is part of a much larger pattern of deficits and surpluses.  Every trading country will have a surplus with some countries and a deficit with others, depending on what it imports and exports.  America may have a huge deficit with China, for example, but it has a massive surplus with Australia.
Ÿ   You need to look at the whole value chain – much of America’s trade deficit with China is accounted for by American companies outsourcing their manufacturing to China (as well as other markets where labour costs are lower).  True, this may take jobs from American workers, but it brings back profits to the USA and makes goods cheaper for American consumers – if every T-shirt in Walmart was US-made, it would probably cost several times as much.  And manufacturing is only one stage in the entire value chain (does Trump even understand that concept?) – value is also added by raw material production, design, packaging, shipping, distribution and retailing, etc. – much of which remains in American hands.
Ÿ   Giving the rich more money doesn’t benefit the economy – while tax breaks for the super-wealthy – with a handful of token concessions to the middle class – has been the policy of every Republican administration since Reagan’s, the money has never been shown to boost the economy significantly.  The reason for this is simple – rich people already have all they need, so if they receive more money they tend to save it.  By contrast, if the poor get more money they will usually spend it quickly, stimulating demand for goods and services and thereby creating more jobs.  The one thing the rich do consistently spend money on is supporting politicians who will continue to enrich them by pursuing the failed “trickle-down” policy at the expense of everyone else.

The global economy – which every country is part of – is a highly complex and heavily inter-related monster.  Every action in one part of it has consequences far beyond the immediate local result.  Donald Trump’s butterfly mind tends to alight on one contentious issue and rush to take some superficially attractive action in response without analyzing the whole chain of consequences which will follow.  Effective economic leadership requires joined-up thinking – something for which Trump shows no aptitude wha

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Unconscious Uncoupling

While admiring the courage and determination with which young Billy is facing his horrific injuries, I can't help feeling his doctors might have made better decisions if they were conscious at the time!

Passport Blues

While Brexidiots have been celebrating the return of the supposedly iconic blue British passport, two ironic facts have largely escaped their attention:

  • Contrary to their whines about supposed EU petty bureaucracy, there was never anything in EU regulations compelling Britain to adopt the EU burgundy colour.
  • Research shows that areas where fewer people hold passports were more likely to vote Leave.  So we are being forced out of Europe by ignorant people who have never visited mainland Europe and presumably know little about it.  I know those in the Leave camp always complain about Remainers talking about them as if they were stupid, but frankly this kind of thing just proves the point.

Personally I don't give a damn what colour cover my passport has, but I do care deeply that these idiots are depriving me of my right to use it to live, work and travel freely across 27 countries in Europe.