Have we forgotten how to laugh?

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 July, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 July, 2003, 12:00am

Surely, it is better for us to know exactly how a politician like Philip Wong Yu-hong feels when he sticks his finger up. The deputy prime minister of Britain is much less genteel - he punched somebody back once.

But the wider issue is that we have lost our sense of humour in Hong Kong.

It was pathetic that the restaurateur who started 'Say Tung' was told by the chief executive's office to stop. It certainly does not augur well for Article 23.

We really need humour in this city. Politicians should also realise that it is a very bad thing to conflate humour with a lack of seriousness. On the contrary, humour can often be used, very effectively, to diffuse the most heated of arguments and disagreements.

Furthermore, as humour often involves exaggeration, especially in absurd humour, it gives us a much better and wider sense of perspective in life. That's why insular civil servants are doing Hong Kong a disservice when they tick off people like talk-show host Albert Cheng on the grounds of petty bourgeois complaints. Albert has a great sense of perspective and a great sense of humour and brings a sense of amusement to us all in what is becoming an extremely dull city.

So let's bring back lots of laughter by loosening up. Remember that every international city worth its salt needs a great sense of humour - and wit and irony. If we want, ad nauseum, Hong Kong to be a proper international city, we had better not forget about having a robust sense of humour.