Tag Archives: chris patten

The best of times: bai bai Hong Kong

2 May

HK night viewRight, that’s it. I’ve had a jolly nice time in Hong Kong over the past two years but, just like Fat Pang, I must now make like a pot of Jasmine tea and leave. Hopefully my departure from this Special Administrative Region of China will be a tad smoother and less tear-sodden than that of the British colonialists who bid bai bai 17 years ago. It’ll certainly be less controversial:

Now I’ve read some pretty self-indulgent “leaving China” twaddle from various flacks and hacks since I’ve been here and I have no desire to add to it. So instead here’s an easy-to-digest list of highs and lows.

Love it when you move in and it seems so QUIET!

Hate it when your upstairs neighbour turns out to be a 15 year old girl who spends her evenings screaming at her family. Every freaking night. Oh, and now the bulldozers have started. Brilliant.

Love the MTR – anywhere in Hong Kong for around a quid.

Hate getting stuck behind someone standing on the escalator (wrong side) watching TV on their phone.

Love listening to my neighbours have extravagant noisy sex at 3am; hate it when she leaves at 3.05 with a packed bag and tears in her eyes. She just did that by the way. Poor girl.

Hate it when it looks like you’ll be late for an important meeting because there are no fucking seats on the mini bus.

Love it when, yup, you always get one and actually make it with several minutes to spare.

Hate it when you meet a lovely bunch of people a few weeks before the big off

Nah, there’s no positive here, unless they turn out to be annoying cunts

Hate not being able to see as far as Kowloon on what should be a normal, sunny day. Cheers Shenzhen, you dirty bugger.

Love being able to hike up the peak from my door in just 40 minutes.

Hate not being able to do it for three months straight because it’s still bloody raining.

Hate standing on Wyndham Street with generic house music raping my ears.

Love bunker rave-in-a-cave parties. Shhhhh.

Love  no frills Cantonese food at dirt cheap prices

Hate Greek restaurants serving pasta, Thai tapas and everything else in Soho. Oh and when that local family run Canto joint is forced to close and gets replaced by a poncy jewelry shop.

Hate being cooped up in my tiny flat with the mould and mosquitos.

Love jumping off a boat into sea as warm as bath water. With a Tsingtao in my hand. And a slice of lemon drizzle cake.

HK night view

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Patten’s last stand: must watch Hong Kong documentary

11 Apr

chris pattenI’ve just finished watching The Last Governor for the second time. The first was in 1997 when it was broadcast following the teary handover of Hong Kong back to China.

Seeing it now, from the comfort of my 6th floor hovel in Sai Ying Pun, has turned what I thought at the time was a rather dry documentary about Chris Patten’s five years in charge of the colony into a fascinating portrait of a soon-to-be-SAR afflicted with what amounts to a massive personality disorder.

The biggest surprise of all was Patten, who emerges from it a genuinely nice chap who literally couldn’t do right for doing wrong. A man of political conviction in stark contrast to the obsequious kowtowing diplomats who preceded him as governor. Watching this I’m not surprised he was greeted on his return to Honkers recently like some kind of messiah.

On the one side he was accused by pro-China dicks of riding roughshod over the Joint Declaration written up by Britain and China in ’84 in trying to force through some very mild pro-democracy changes before the big handover.

On the other side, pro-democrats basically accused him of being China’s bitch and endangering the livelihoods of the locals post-97.

Vitriolic personal insults were hurled at him and his family throughout the five years but the louder his detractors shrieked, the more calm and unflappable he seemed to become.

In fact, Patten only showed signs of slipping once, when in a private scene, after 80 rounds of negotiations with the Chinese over a minor technical point, he calls them “a bunch of wankers”.

The villains of the piece, for me, were not the Chinese – they acted true to form, channeling Sun Tzu at all times to lie, disrupt and discomfort their opponents (the UK).

It was the spineless shower of businessmen who jumped ship when they thought supporting the UK would put them out of favour with Beijing. Pretending to be the true upholders of the Hong Kong way of life this loathsome clique of immensely privileged taipans are truly a disgrace to Britain, Hong Kong and China.

They continue to hold the SAR to ransom even now – making themselves richer still while one fifth of the former colony lives in poverty and spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt whenever their vested interests are threatened.

Watch it now for some spectacularly candid behind-the-scenes moments from the last days of Britain’s last major colony, days when politicians told their press advisors what was going to happen next rather than the other way round.

The final takeway for me (no pun intended) is that the current members of Legco – although they may have lost the clipped public school accents of 17 years ago – are still debating exactly the same issues they were in the late 90s.

That, unfortunately, is what China is going to try and keep them doing until the end of time.

Justin Bieber in Hong Kong? Nope it’s a tubby Tory in a suit.

21 Mar

Hong Kong colonial flagI was in Beijing last week (gratuitous photo-porn post coming soon) and had the strangest experience. Everyone was actually pretty friendly. I mean, not bend-over-backwards have-a-nice-day friendly but, you know, civil. I was not shouted at, hockled on or barged out of a queue. It was a thoroughly relaxing weekend.

All of which made me think how parochial and moany Hong Kongers can be, especially on the thorny issue of mainland tourist “locusts”. I’m not saying the big city types of Beijing are representative of the entire Middle Kingdom, certainly they’re not of the tourists who swarm the streets of Tsim Tsa Chui. But Hong Kong’s NIMBY shrillness is increasingly getting on my wick.

Or at least it was, until a couple of days ago when this little rocky outcrop of 7 million people outdid itself. The occasion? Last British governor of the former colony and current BBC Trust boss Chris Patten was in town to open an exhibition at the Maritime Museum. Now we all know colonial era Hong Kong flags are increasingly being waved about by protesters a) to get on the nerves of the Communist Party b) to protest against what many see as an erosion of civil liberties, press freedom and rule of law here and c) because the Union flag is, quite frankly, a design classic. But the bizarre scenes which greeted Patten’s appearance outside the museum last night took the colonial love-in to a whole new level.

I’m pretty sure portly Patten has never received quite so rapturous a reception. He didn’t really know what to do with himself as God Save the Queen started blaring from a nearby loudspeaker and fans holding banners such as “Dear Governor Patten, we miss you so much” and shouting “we love you” jostled to get a view of the tubby Tory. Some had even waited over 3 hours to catch a glimpse of their silver haired hero, who by now presumably thinks he’s some kind of grey-suited rock star.

The irony, of course, as we’ve mentioned many times on the Noodle, is that Britain never made much of an effort while it was in charge here to transition to a system of government democratically elected by universal suffrage. On the other hand, what it did manage was to uphold those precious civil liberties pretty well. Following the recent knife attack on former Ming Pao editor Kevin Lau, two execs from the soon-to-be-launched Hong Kong Morning News were attacked in broad daylight this week by four men armed with iron bars. Hong Kong is an increasingly dangerous place to be a newspaperman.

The saddest sight during the Patten-love in for a definite article pedant like me, however, was one of the banners held up by his adoring fans. “Save us from the hell!” it read. Hmmm. I imagine another might have added: “Look what’s happened since you left us Chris. All our grammar are wrong now!”