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  • Apr 24, 2014
  • Updated: 2:37pm
Public Eye
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 May, 2013, 5:49am

Something is rotten in the city of Hong Kong

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's happening to everyone? How did Hongkongers get to be so damned unreasonable? They demand everything but will give nothing in return. Is there no limit to their selfishness? Hongkongers are among the world's biggest producers of waste. We generate twice as much waste per person as people in Tokyo. Yet we're not the slightest bit shamed by this. What's even more sickening is that we couldn't care less how we dispose of this garbage as long as it's not dumped in our backyard. Hong Kong is running out of places to dump our rubbish. We'll drown in it soon if nothing is done, Environment Secretary Wong Kam-sing has warned. But Hongkongers shrugged their shoulders and yawned. The government has been banging its head against the wall for years trying to get public support and funding approval from legislators to deal with the city's ever-growing mountain of rubbish. A plan to expand the three overflowing landfills has been thwarted for years by our Nimby (not in my backyard) selfishness. Tseung Kwan O residents, backed by vote-seeking legislators, have rejected a government plan to expand the landfill there. And environmental nutjobs, backed by selfish "Nimby" people and vote-seeking legislators, have blocked funding for an incinerator. Not only that, the incinerator proposal is even being challenged in court. If Hongkongers won't tolerate incinerators or larger landfills, and politicians can't be bothered to suggest alternative workable ideas, how do they want the government to dispose of the garbage they produce? Maybe we should rocket it all into space. Public Eye is sure the Martians haven't yet been corrupted by Nimby. Or we could empty it all into our harbour. But then we'll have the harbour protectionists screaming their heads off. Public Eye's advice to the environment chief is to fold his arms, sit back, and let the piled-up garbage rot. Hongkongers deserve the stink. And it will teach our vote-seeking legislators a lesson.

 

Ugly behaviour wins no friends

Back a few decades ago, the world had the "Ugly American" - loud, ignorant and arrogant tourists from the United States, who flashed their Yankee dollars everywhere they went, abusing the culture and customs of the places they visited. They behaved as if their bulging wallets made them a superior class. Now, the world is starting to see the emergence of the "Ugly Chinese" - rude, arrogant and uncouth mainland tourists who think their bags full of yuan give them the right to do whatever they want wherever they go. The case of the mainland teenager who defaced a 3,500-year-old Egyptian sculpture by scrawling his name on it was just the latest in a long list of disgraceful behaviour. Mainland tourists have infuriated Taiwanese by defacing ancient rock faces, people in the Maldives by taking coral out of the sea, and Thais by misbehaving in their temples. Here in Hong Kong, the crude behaviour of mainland visitors is well known - children pooping into shopping bags while riding the MTR, peeing into bottles while eating in restaurants, not queuing up, spitting, and talking too loudly. When Hongkongers scorn such behaviour, mainlanders mock them for being envious of their newfound wealth. What nonsense. Money has nothing to do with it. Yes, Hong Kong shop staff worship big-spending mainlanders, but just on the outside. Behind their backs, they're scorned just the same. Vice-Premier Wang Yang warned recently that mainland tourists needed to shape up their image. He is exactly right. The image of the "Ugly Chinese" is just starting to take root. It's not too late to nip it in the bud.

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

 

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This article is now closed to comments

johndoe
Building an incinerator near densely populated areas is just wrong. The HK people are right to reject the idea.
However, the government should long ago have introduced waste charges both within the government, and in the public and private sectors, and been much more serious about recycling, as well as reducing waste such as surcharges on all single use disposable material, not just plastic bags. The property sector also needs to pay the true price for construction waste, as does other local businesses. The more trash any household, business or organization disposes, the more it pays. Simple as that.
heng.yi.142
Thanks Michael for telling them off for their unreasonableness, selfishness & greediness.
There are too many troublemakers around us!
After watching your TV program tonight, my view about this Benny Tai is disappointed. His behaviors & arguments have failed him - such a childish & mind-dead professor - 'occupy central' is his only mean to express his professional view?!
This law professor is just no different from those secondary students - lying on the street, shouting & screaming, waiting for police to carry them away, and then watching their performance on TV with their potato chips!
I wonder how he got the qualification and no wonder he is only a associate porfessor.
Shame on you, poor professor & your naive & ignorant followers!!
maxhastings
I'll think you'll find there are about 1.4 billion mainland Chinese, and among them every character trait, good or bad, is represented by one or more of them. Remember that half of that number are still peasants and the small number of "xiang ba lao" who manage to travel, to Hong Kong perhaps, and always on those appalling cheap package tours, will demonstrate the peasant like behaviour that was common in Hong Kong 20 years ago and still seen in many housing estates and indeed condos across the territory. In fact, my Hong Kong Chinese neighbours still throw rubbish out of their apartment into the street, spit, curse and swear all the time and use unpleasant terms like "gui lo", when most mainlanders use the more acceptable terms, "lao wai". or " wai guo peng you". I have met many mainlanders in Hong Kong who are polite, charming and display humour rarely found in most of the joyless and grumpy locals. A Professor from Beijing University or a convenience shop salesperson from Wuhan may well put Hong Kongers to shame in terms of culture, manners and social etiquette. I would far rather use and listen to elegant Mandarin, than ugly Cantonese that is always interspersed with the ubiquitous reference to someone called Julie Lomo. It takes all sorts and it comes down to education and socialization ... as always.
dynamco
OK, buy some ships and sell the trash to Oslo. Give the profits to the poor. Europe has massive incinerator overcapacity due to their successful recycling efforts so they have a burning problem and compete for feedstocks.
OSLO This is a city that imports garbage. Some comes from England, some from Ireland. Some is from neighboring Sweden. It even has designs on the American market
“I’d like to take some from the United States,” said Pal Mikkelsen, in his office at a huge plant on the edge of town that turns garbage into heat and electricity. “Sea transport is cheap.”
The problem is not unique to Oslo, a city of 1.4 million people. Across Northern Europe, where the practice of burning garbage to generate heat and electricity has exploded in recent decades, demand for trash far outstrips supply. “Northern Europe has a huge generating capacity,” said Mr. Mikkelsen, 50, a mechanical engineer who for the last year has been the managing director of Oslo’s waste-to-energy agency.
Yet the fastidious population of Northern Europe produces only about 150 million tons of waste a year, he said, far too little to supply incinerating plants that can handle more than 700 million tons. “And the Swedes continue to build” more plants, he said, a look of exasperation on his face, “as do Austria and Germany.”
www.nytimes.com/2013/04/30/world/europe/oslo-copes-with-shortage-of-garbage-it-turns-into-energy.html?_r=0
yongms
I recall not too long ago, Mr. Chugani (supported by the expatriates among us) berating the locals on radio and in another of his articles for being racist or prejudiced against the Mainlanders and their behaviour. His opinion appears to have changed. He sees now, the abhorrent behaviour that locals have seen for a long time. Welcome to reality Mr. Chugani.
stoatmonster
Hmmm, this quote from Chugani's article gave me a sense of deja vu: "Here in Hong Kong, the crude behaviour of mainland visitors is well known - children pooping into shopping bags while riding the MTR, peeing into bottles while eating in restaurants, not queuing up, spitting, and talking too loudly."
I recall observing similar behaviour amongst certain strata of our Hong Kong society 20 years ago or so. What goes around comes around.
yellow_lynx_cat
Hong Kong never tried to reduce waste or the extravagence in their packaging. In fact cost of land put a stopper to recycling of a lot of materials (plastics, metals, glass). Even though I tried quite hard to separate my garbage, but I always wonder how much I can help if the Government won't give hand to help.
mercedes2233
If HK has more public toilets, and in more obvious places, it might help. HK residents can go home to their own toilets, but visitors don't have the same convenience.
maxhastings
This is absolutely true. Across China there are many public toilets everywhere... in HK there are few and they are far between. I have seen a mainland mother desperately looking for a place for her young child to pee, and being turned away from coffee shops, bars, restaurants and hotels. Many public toilets in HK are actually locked and the grumpy lao touzi in the lobby who guards them often turns mainlanders and other foreigners away. As for the MTR? Where?
lucifer
Not soi sure about the first paragraph, but the second hits the nail on the head. But he wrong about one thing, I am actually jealous that I cannot **** in a bag on the MTR. It seems rather comnvenient.

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