My Hong Kong

Hong Kong celebrated the 27th Anniversary  of the Establishment of the SAR with the usual fanfare in searing heat as our Chief Executive called on everyone in Hong Kong to expect a better tomorrow – or something to that effect – ending with the good news that China has agreed to give us another pair of Giant Pandas. The news was greeted with delight and great joy from many sectors. Su and I had visited the Ocean Park in early April and were pleased to have seen a pair in action. Earlier, in response to a question on whether he was planning for a second term, John Lee had predictably responded that he was finishing off his second year in office and was very pleased with his team, such that the question was never on his mind, but he did stress that he would focus on the economy now that the Article 23 legislation was behind us, referring to local legislation having been enacted and were in force.

Hong Kong has always been perceived as a one-issue community, and the issue was often politics-led. Thus, during the pandemic days, Carrie Lam had often openly and repeatedly proclaimed that her sole focus was on fighting the Covid pandemic and indeed she had held daily press conferences on that single subject for a long period. Maybe the community at large could only focus on one issue at a time, the one that stands out most prominently, and maybe that is what happens in every city, or for that matter, in every country. It therefore seems obvious that Americans are now only concerned with the aftermaths of the presidential debate later and in the run up to the November election, with whom to choose to stay in the White House in January next year, between a mad man and a senile old man.  In World Order – first published in 2014 – Henry Kissinger, noting that the world had sufficient weapons to obliterate civilizations and the interactions between value systems, questioned the relevancy for a world order based on the balance of power or a community of values. He went on to say that the structure of the 21st century world order lacks four important dimensions. In over simplified terms, they were: First, the nature of the state itself, noting that we now have “failed states,” of “ungoverned spaces’ or of states that hardly merit the term. Second, the world political and economic organizations are at variance with each other. Third, there is no effective mechanism for great powers to consult and hence to cooperate on issues that matter. Fourth, the world awaits leadership from America. In his concluding remark, Kissinger said that as a young man, he had thought he could pronounce on “The Meaning of History.” He realized then (in 2014) that “history’s meaning is a matter to be discovered, not declared.” In the end, it will be up to statesmen making decisions at the right time to dictate the outcome of history.

I move from Kissinger’s world order to my big little Hong Kong where our leader has urged us to become more innovative and to capitalize on all beneficial measures presented by Beijing. While I won’t disagree that the economy could well be the single most important issue facing Hong Kong now, I would hasten to say that it takes more than one or a few policy changes to turn around our present situation. We certainly cannot rest on our laurels; and we must move on. More relevantly, it would be defeatist mindset to take the view that nothing Hong Kong does would matter in the scheme of things, when the West, led by the US and the UK and joined by the Five Eyes and what not, speak with one voice against Hong Kong in the hope that it would contain China or upset the leadership to the point that the country would act rashly and against its interest. Against such backdrop, it is somewhat unnerving that most people in Hong Kong still find it fashionable to knock the Government whenever they had a chance to do so as if they were the opposition, now that the traditional opposition seems to have gone underground or abroad. Thus, even though it is now generally acknowledged that the differential tunnel charging scheme has worked to ease road traffic in general and tunnel traffic in particular, we don’t hear any open support for the policy. Or for that matter, the pay as you dump scheme, which is a text book example of what estate management entails, or how the failure to articulate “The Problem” would result in all sorts of unintended consequences resulting in the original and principal focus being blurred if not obliterated.

I have said in my blogs every now and then – maybe not in that many words – that Hong Kong is and probably will be the only place I would choose to live, whatever happens, particularly now that I am closer to 80 than 75. Friends, particularly those with means and assets the values of which they need to protect, insure and ensure, have discussed finding a place they could be sheltered from war or nuclear fallout. I find it a waste of time, interesting though for the mind. My top priority is to stay healthy and mindful, by keeping company with younger, energetic and beautiful people, and by avoiding people that would likely upset me.  For example, we spent the last weekend attending a party in Taipa, staying overnight and having good food and wine. We had a chance to exercise the body with impromptu dancing and were rather pleased that we still could, as Su took some interesting selfies using her new found skills. We happened to be in Fanling yesterday. At lunch we rediscovered Better ‘Ole which I had once frequented when I was much younger, but it was Su’s first visit. We both enjoyed the food and the excellent service and environ. The place opens at 11:30 am and closes at 3 am every day. Su said it was more English than an average pub in UK. It could be, but even as I was finishing off this blog, Su had come back from the fishmonger with some good catch.

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