My Take

We all need a little light relief …

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 April, 2013, 3:27am

Writing about such weighty subjects as the euro-zone crisis and Hong Kong's democratic reform is a heavy responsibility. To bring some light-hearted relief, my fellow writer Peter Kammerer and I like to trade politically incorrect stories, i.e. dirty jokes, whenever our bosses are out of earshot.

In this spirit of exchange, Mr Kam was intrigued when I told him I witnessed a young white male relieving himself early one evening in full view of dozens of commuters, pedestrians and patrons of a popular sushi bar on Leighton Road, near our office. That was during the Sevens, when the world descended on Hong Kong to misbehave with relative impunity. He thinks the incident is full of cross-cultural significance and argues we each should give our take in our respective columns. As you know, YouTube is full of misbehaving mainlanders and their children caught on camera doing just that, and many such clips go viral and attract the usual racist venom. Why should a Westerner be treated differently?

Mr Kam's idea was he would give his expatriate's view and I would offer my local Chinese take. I was sceptical. Mr Kam has lived in Hong Kong so long he is practically native. I am almost half a gweilo as I spend all day working with expats and my children refuse to speak Chinese to me as they attend an international school. We have both been hacks since dinosaurs roamed the earth, so we've had our share of late-night drinks. This is often followed by the call of nature when a loo is not always available.

A mutual colleague of ours was a correspondent in Washington and used to hobnob with diplomats. Once, after a night at an embassy from a Middle Eastern country, he had an urgent urge and thought he could relieve himself in a dark alley behind the embassy. It was, alas, well-monitored by state-of-the-art security cameras and he was promptly surrounded by heavily armed US Secret Service agents. He was ordered to turn around with his hands in the air. Well, you get the picture.

My point is that we hacks are not the most objective on this issue as we belong to a tribe that tends to take an excessively indulgent view of what Mr Kam calls "al fresco relief". For a more intellectual discussion, please go to his column.