Saturday, 11 December 2010

Who owns Hong Kong?

This is a question we amuse ourselves with, when we are not boiling geckos, or peering down the bathroom plughole wondering about the maintenance of the island sewer system.

My best guess is that the entire kit and caboodle is managed by a quiet consortium of powerful interests and family dynasties, and that this management of competition filters right down to the choice we happy shoppers make between Wellcome and City Super.

At the top, I bet there's a Mr Big who sits plotting his portfolio behind a desk atop the IFC shopping mall. I bet another Mr Big overlooks the Jockey Club, stroking a horse head. And don't forget the Mr Big selecting the construction companies best suited to harbour infill.

Of course we're told that Hong Kong is not actually governed by the Bigs families with all their shared interests spread between malls, construction and luxury brands; we're told that the government of this very special region is in the care of the Legislative Council.

I'd like to have a naive faith that it was true. Then again, all land in Hong Kong is owned by the government. So really, that looks to me like another set of Mr Bigs, who administer an extensive range of property portfolios for investment and return, and whose actions might sometimes be thought of as indistinguishable from those of unscrupulous property developers and speculators.

Anyway, this is all very miserable and humourless and bleak, isn't it? I bet you're thinking, thank goodness this isn't a Hong Kong politics blog.

Maybe it's a long way round of saying that I am very glad to be in no danger of desiring permanent Hong Kong residency. As I stare down the bleak shopping malls listening to the tinkly music of non-offensive death, I think, being a resident here probably means having very little opportunity to impact on anything, or even being able to take part in any action likely to lead to a breach of the peace. Disappointing and unsatisfactory.

Which leaves the only option for a temporary visitor: don't think too much, wait till you get home to pick a fight and, meanwhile, slap down some legal tender to choose between ice creams. Egg nog or Christmas pudding?

1 comment:

sharon said...

In answer to an expansion of your title to include the rest of the world - the heartless Mr Bigs in authoritarian regimes and the global corporations in the rest of the world. Now play 'Spot the difference'!