• Wed
  • Apr 16, 2014
  • Updated: 11:37pm
PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 February, 2014, 12:11pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 February, 2014, 2:05am

Anti-mainlander protest shouts out an ugly truth

Michael Chugani says the anti-mainlander protest, while ugly, forces us to admit the real problems associated with the flood of visitors

BIO

Michael Chugani is a Hong Kong-born American citizen who has worked for many years as a journalist in Hong Kong, the USA and London. Aside from being a South China Morning Post columnist he also hosts ATV’s Newsline show, a radio show and writes for two Chinese-language publications. He has published a number of books on politics which contain English and Chinese versions.
 

What happened in Canton Road last Sunday was repugnant. There are more civil ways to express fear over the city being swamped than taunting mainlanders as "locusts" to their face. But I am going to stick my neck out and say that what happened needed to happen.

Let's admit it, without the repugnance, would we all be talking about the protest? Decent people were shocked but the incident did more than anything so far to force onto us an inconvenient truth - that there is genuine public frustration about the city being overwhelmed by visitors.

Top officials, from the chief executive down, lined up to condemn the behaviour of the protesters as totally un-Hong Kong. It was, of course, politically correct for them to do so. But the mainlanders who suffered the indignity of being called "locusts" were more the victims of the failed policies of these officials than of the protesters, who used ugly tactics to highlight what policymakers pretend doesn't exist - a growing public resentment against mainlanders.

Saying what happened last Sunday needed to happen doesn't mean I condone the actions of the protesters. It just means we need to replace political correctness with honesty.

If you did that, would you not admit the protest, distasteful as it was, represented your inner feelings? Did it not remind you of how you resent having to wait for four MTR trains before you are able to board, or how you can no longer ride the Peak Tram because of the long lines? Did it not make you hope that our policymakers would wake up? I asked this of four Hongkongers and they all replied in the affirmative.

Sometimes you need a fist between the eyes to wake you up. Last Sunday's ugliness was that fist. Did it wake up our policymakers? The answer is no. What else did they do after expressing moral outrage? They repeated the same mantra about Hong Kong's survival being dependent on an ever rising tide of tourists instead of admitting we have a problem that needed fixing.

We can feel disgusted by what happened last Sunday but that doesn't mean we should feel moral guilt in saying Hong Kong simply cannot cope with the projected flood of visitors in the coming years. The government's condemnation of the protest doesn't mean we should keep our mouths shut about a pressing problem just to be politically correct.

We all know the numbers - 70 million visitors a year by 2017, rising up to 100 million by 2023. No country, let alone a city, has that many tourists. Two days after the protest, the Tourism Board announced that our visitor numbers jumped 12 per cent to 54 million last year, 41 million of them from the mainland. We can expect 59 million visitors this year.

And how do our policymakers plan to deal with the flood that they say our survival depends on? Build more hotels, giant shopping malls at the border, and new infrastructure. Let's ask ourselves which of these wonderful solutions would be ready to deal with the extra 5 million visitors this year. Which of these would be ready in three years when we will have 70 million visitors? Would we have doubled our hotels, Peak Tram and MTR lines and built giant border malls by 2023 when tourist numbers will double? Giant malls? We can't even get our landfills extended.

Michael Chugani is a columnist and TV show host. mickchug@gmail.com

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pslhk
Here’s another one from my well-stocked warehouse
under "rubbish disposal section"
inventory clearance benefits everybody
-
Since manure’s use of the crappy word
the dropout deserts only one kind of response
unclothed distain befitting manure’s thickness
that knows no better than applying nologic in sifting trivial rubbish
mistaking that as logical analysis
feeble adhom attempts and crying m’boy
-
No one needs to “read” his rubbish to whop the nuisance
every normal person can readily dismiss such a fool
pslhk
It’s clear manure's best is still inferior
however hard sHe may try to apply hierself
-
Manure is a moniker
conferred on 666 by a wise and learnt reader
whose iq and eq must be hundred times manure’s
-
historians in the future will recognize manure
as a peerless feet-in-mouth contortionist
leader of domocrazy
a humble follower of scholarism
321manu
Wow, Pierce m'boy, that first stanza is barely English. Perchance, are you "evolving" the language en masse now, rather than one word at a time? LOL. You should probably look up Munchausen in Urban Dictionary cuz the way you're using it isn't going to be consistent with its description in more rigorous texts. I see that your penchant for neologisms is as strong as ever. Well, everyone needs a hobby, and I'm glad you've found yours.
My response earlier to Mandmf is discussion, but I readily admit my comments directed at you aren't. It's just an ongoing challenge for me to see how many different ways I can call out one guy's stupidity. It's going well so far, wouldn't you say?
I see that you're still quite enamoured with body parts and low-rent humour, and that's ok. Pierce m'boy, water finds its level, as I said recently. I am so glad that you're openly embracing it. Why fight your genotypic destiny, right? Worry not, though, for you have many of your CCP apologist brethren who can keep you company at your designated level. Idiots are people too, right?
BTW, only the one comment in nearly 9 hours...that's progress. You should really try to ruminate less.
pslhk
It’d be atrocious but not Münchausen
for foish to put the foot of nogician’s “broken leg”
into dropout’s feety mouth again
smartie apparently feel no pain
and seemingly enjoy feet in mouth
so he won’t need factitious disorder
but I want no part in 666’s perverse indulgence
and loathe hiser feet-in-mouth performance
which isn’t the what people consider discussion
-
manure should be proud of his various monikers
each an award for his outstanding foot-in-mouth performance
for celebration, go stuff yourself again manure
321manu
Ah Pierce m'boy, yeah, keep telling yourself I'm "afraid". Cuz apparently, ripping you a new one is what I do "in fear". LOL. Your logic is just hopeless.
And Pierce m'boy, you wrote something useless, then came back over 7 hours later and did it again. What is it with you and leaving multiple comments hours apart? I think you're becoming a little too fixated. Now, I'd normally tell someone to go out for a walk to clear their head, but we already know that when you take a walk, you come back dumber...so that's not gonna work. Gimme a few hours to work out a remedy for you, Pierce m'boy. This CCP apologist stupidity affliction from which you gravely suffer is an all-too-common condition.
But here's a suggestion. Try to condense your stupidity into 1 entry. There's really no need for 2, is there? You really are too lame for words. Anyway, do come back and write something stupid again. I can't wait...(but seriously, can you do better than the bodily function references? I know I'm getting this for free, but I was hoping for something better than humour that befits a 3-year-old. Aim higher, Pierce m'boy).
pslhk
The crappy pot is smartie’s creation
which nogician threw at the fan
that’s why he got drenched
-
The silence
too frightened to say something foolish again
or just dropout’s intractable mental constipation
now it looks like foish is about
to wet hiser pants again
pslhk
dropout is in fear for good reasons
when frightened he cries uncle
but in disorientation
he cries “m’boy’
Mandmf
To my understanding, the protests aren't centered around tourists, but schooling, housing, export of baby formula and different manners exhibited by mainlanders here. I don't agree with racist protests, but I don't think the cause should be linked to tourism. Protestors are struggling to get children into schools, living in cramped and developer-favourable housing. Public transport has become a joke, but congestion has been building for years without govt increasing construction of lines. Introducing more frequent, but smaller buses (vs large buses that run empty half the day, then in peak hour cause traffic jams amongst themselves). HK understands the importance of tourism, we don't understand 350-500 sq ft apartments for families, lack of schools openings in our neighbourhoods and incessant congestion.
321manu
I think a distinction should be made, as Mr. Chugani did in his piece. Some of the reasons you listed may be the underlying motivation for protest, or some of the root causes of discontent. However, the protest itself was indisputably targeting tourists. As you suggest, those underlying issues cannot be ignored. However, the nature of the protest cannot be justified, regardless of how legitimate the grievances may be.
321manu
Well, Pierce m'boy, back to the trough of potty humour. Makes sense. When the going gets tough, go with what you know best.
You would be better served using your time to learn subtraction, expand your vocabulary, brush up on logic, or perhaps discover what Munchausen syndrome actually is. But potty humour it is. Just as water finds its level, so too have you.

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