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  • Dec 19, 2014
  • Updated: 10:25am
Lai See
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 August, 2012, 7:31am

CY Leung and the dangers of fishing boat diplomacy

BIO

Howard Winn has been with the South China Morning Post for two and half years after previous stints as business editor and deputy editor of The Standard, and business editor of Asia Times. His writing has also been published in the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune. He writes the Lai See column which focuses on the lighter side of business.
 

If the Diaoyu Islands or the Senkaku Islands, as the Japanese call them, did not exist, it would be necessary to invent them, to paraphrase Voltaire. Why so? Just look at the furious outpouring of nationalism on the mainland over the weekend.

The Japanese do not help themselves but there are few more potent unifying causes on the mainland than anti-Japanese sentiment. Such is the extent of the feeling that it was apparently OK for the editor of the Communist Party-affiliated Global Times newspaper to call Japanese activists "provocative right-wing monkeys". That seems a little disrespectful, to say the least.

Chief Executive CY Leung could not resist getting into the spirit of things last week by calling in the Japanese consul-general over the matter, though you would have thought this was a foreign affairs issue and should be left to the motherland. But perhaps the Beijing authorities felt this was something that CY could benefit from, and let him have a piece of the action.

The issue has dominated the front pages of Hong Kong's press for a week and diverted attention away from niggling issues such as national education, rose trellises, and misbehaving ministers. Will he be able to resist meeting the activists when they return, possibly today, or will Beijing decide that enough's enough? With our motherland making all kinds of claims in the South China Sea, this fishing boat diplomacy could get out of hand.

HK's population implosion

Oh to be a fly on the wall when the Development Bureau goes through its infrastructure planning meetings - particularly when it discusses its assumptions on population growth. As readers will be aware, the Census and Statistics Department recently lowered its projected population from 8.89 million to 8.47 million for 2041 as a result of CY Leung's decision to ban mainland women without local partners from giving birth at local hospitals from next year. That's a decline of 26 per cent in the projected growth.

The adjustment is significant but doesn't go far enough if we consider that government forecasts for growth have been out by some 60 per cent for some years. Hopefully, somebody somewhere is alerting the Development Bureau that its grandiose reclamation plans may not be necessary.

And let's hope the Transport Department picks up on the population revision. The Third Comprehensive Transport Study still appears to be using a forecast of 8.9 million to 10 million for 1997-2016. Time to trim that road budget perhaps.

Turkish delight

From time to time we relate tales of woe from the airline industry and irritated travellers. Well, here's a bit of good news.

One of our readers was returning to Hong Kong from Istanbul last week on Turkish Airlines. He'd taken his digital camera out of his pocket to make himself more comfortable while stretching out on the lie-flat seat. Comfort turned to horror though as he saw the US$260 camera slip out of its stowage area into the inner workings of the US$30,000 seat-cum-bed.

Despite raising and lowering the seat while peering into its inner workings, there was no sign of the prized possession. Alerting one of the cabin crew to the problem, our reader had visions of paying for the entire seat to be dismantled before being reunited with his camera.

On arrival in Hong Kong, the rescue went into full swing with one of the cabin crew ripping off the Velcroed seat covers and searching with a torch, followed by a helpful ground crew member. But it was the captain who got down on the floor, feeling into the electric guts of the seat before calling for a coat hanger and gently extracting the wayward camera. As he said: "It's all part of the service" - although we're not sure it would be for some pilots or airlines after a 10-hour flight.

Games rich people play

We read of a curious situation at Estoril Court, a luxury block of flats in Mid-Levels. The building's incorporated owners are suing a top-floor unit owner for building an illegal rooftop swimming pool, the Economic Journal reports. However, the pool owner is in turn suing the incorporation for violating the public covenant for doubling the parking spaces and turning some into mahjong rooms and pantries.

 

Contact Us Have you got any stories that Lai See should know about? E-mail them to howard.winn@scmp.com

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