Leung's initial policy address feeds our appetite for acronyms

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 January, 2013, 4:25am

Whether you're an MHPP or an HOS man, if it's NDAs that float your boat, or if you're worried the CCF might be swallowed up by the CoP, Leung Chun-ying had it covered last week in a speech that contained a mind-numbing 176 acronyms.

If nothing else, the chief executive's maiden policy blueprint was a showcase for Hong Kong's obsession with strings of letters.

Readers of the Chinese version of the document were spared the acronym pain - they got truncated versions of the full titles instead. But the significant English-speaking minority were left to wade through an alphabet swamp.

But that's life in HK. We leave our NT village home, ride a KMB bus to work at HKU, drop into DBS to invest in an IPO, before cashing in some CBBCs at BEA. Work over, it's time to hit the MTR for some shopping at IFC, and maybe APM.

And that's just the start of it. Dealing with government communications requires the skill of an intelligence-code breaker.

Robert Lee, author of The Naked Listener blog that offers a wry look at Hong Kong's cultural idiosyncrasies, said: "The chief executive's policy address is a great example of acronyms being used to try to show how very important the whole document is. This over-officiousness makes the document even more unreadable, but that's not taken into account. It's like if you want to be taken seriously, stick in as many acronyms as you can."

"Instead of making life easier for people and getting your point across clearly, the public just ends up being more confused."

Key: MHPP (My Home Purchase Plan); HOS (Home Ownership Scheme); NDAs (New Development Areas); CCF (Community Care Fund); CoP (Commission on Poverty); IPO (initial public offering); BEA (Bank of East Asia); CBBC (callable bull/bear contract); IFC (International Finance Centre).