'The purpose is to use Hong Kong to get special favours from the central government at a time when the central government is very worried about the economic future of Hong Kong.' Thomas Chan Man-hung, China Business Centre, Polytechnic University It is the most interesting statement I have yet seen of Shenzhen's objective in supporting the politically correct notion that Hong Kong get together with other towns of the Pearl River Delta to create a megalopolis, which is a word for dinosau ... oops ... sorry, I mean dynamic big city. Given that Mr Chan also claims status as a special researcher for the Guangdong provincial government, you have to believe that he knows a little whereof he speaks and that there is something to this cynicism he attributes to the Shenzhen authorities. It certainly would be cynicism. Just think of it. They don't care in the slightest about becoming the world's biggest megalopolis. They only see a chance to lever the central government's (misplaced) concerns about Hong Kong into advantages for Shenzhen. Hong Kong can go (pick your own next word) ---- itself where they're concerned. What makes all this particularly interesting is another quote from Mr Chan only a few paragraphs along in this feature piece we published on Thursday - City of dreams (nightmare city, I'd call it). Here he says: 'The only way for Hong Kong to become an international metropolis is creative destruction - to give up its identity to help the PRD become the world's top metropolitan region.' Let us put a little perspective on this. In the first place, as the bar chart makes clear, for all that the various districts of the Pearl River Delta like to believe that they have grown up to be big muscle boys, the equation here is still best described as Hong Kong and the Seven Dwarves. No, I don't have the tally wrong. That 9 + 2 business was about nine provinces plus Hong Kong and Macau in what is called the Pan PRD, which is an even more recent invention than the plain PRD and one that probably won't stop growing until it has expanded at least to the Vancouver suburb of Richmond. Hong Kong and the Seven Dwarves it is and whom do any of the dwarves think they're really fooling? Without Hong Kong, Shenzhen would still be only a vegetable patch and Guangzhou a farmers' market. And as to this idea that the only way forward for us is to subsume our identity into that of the dwarves, well, yes, that's the sort of thing you might expect these dwarves to suggest when feeling altitudinally challenged. It can't be the first time in human history that jealousy has masqueraded itself as something else. But let's just remember, because some people have a way occasionally of forgetting, that the exact reverse is true. Our only way forward lies in maintaining our distinction from the dwarves. What we have, and they do not, is a longstanding culture of entrepreneurial freedom, civil liberties, clean administration and the rule of law. They may not know that this is what makes all the difference. They may think it is only that we built a lot of tall buildings before they did. People in Shanghai certainly seem to think that way. But let's make sure we do not commit that mistake here. What makes Hong Kong stand head, shoulders and hips above the eye level of the dwarves is something that they apparently cannot yet see and probably would not yet observe if they saw it. When they recognise the true worth of the intangible strengths that have made Hong Kong tower above them we may be ready for megalopolis. Before that time let's just keep it as a fairy tale. 'The Legislative Council Subcommittee to Study the Subject of Combating Poverty arrived in Madrid on Sunday (September 16) to begin its six-day overseas duty visit to Spain and the United Kingdom.' Government news release Sept 18 How interesting. First, we have eight legislators of the I'm-alright-Jack set travelling the world at public expense to look at how the rich live (cruise terminal visits) and now we have four legislators of the I'm-not-alright-Jack set, including 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung, travelling the world to see how the poor live. You may wonder how it is that these four could not find enough poor people to look at before they came to Madrid. Bangladesh? India? Pakistan? Where they? Let me explain. All legislators get HK$61,000 a year each from the public purse to make 'duty' visits. You wouldn't blow that much money on a trip to Karachi, would you? And who would pick Karachi for a jolly anyway, or am I mistaken in thinking that, in studying poverty, this bunch indulged their 'duty' visit privilege of flying business class?