The appointment of Graham Sheffield, the artistic director of London’s Barbican Center, as the CEO of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority deserves to get the champagne corks popping. Hong Kong needs the worldwide publicity that comes with such good news. The selection of a white Anglo-Saxon man for the top job organizing Hong Kong’s ambitious but controversial arts and cultural white elephant doesn’t come without grumbles, though. Many have challenged Sheffield’s appointment based on his skin color, questioning why a gweilo who doesn’t speak a word of Chinese should be allowed to teach Hong Kong Chinese people how West Kowloon should be run in terms of art galleries, museums and concert halls. He would be, some argue, “difficult to communicate with.” Ask any American or European diplomat in Beijing. When a westerner is hailed as someone “easy to communicate with,” or labeled “an old friend of the Chinese people,” it usually connotes the rare virtue of a deep understanding of the Chinese social language of “guanxi,” which means a willingness to accept bribery as a gesture of “friendship” in exchange for some personal favors. Hong Kong people should be grateful that past British colonial officials were so haughty that they wouldn’t easily give a Chinese businessmen his telephone number; otherwise, he would should be expecting a little private “communication” over a special price for a piece of land in return for a future CEO job after retirement. No, communications were difficult, and if things went wrong the ICAC or the Bureau of Commercial Crime Investigations would be the proper channel for further advice. A white man from London is the right choice for this job, with the right authority. Hong Kong’s education system has never encouraged arts subjects. The MBAs, lawyers, accountants, starlets and models of our fair city love karaoke, the Hang Seng Index and horse racing. It would be dangerous to leave West Kowloon in the hands of the frustrated bunch who have been fighting for government funding for years, marked by endless civil wars and smears among cliques of local poets, writers, artists and dramatists. The rumbles could only be quieted down with the appointment of an alien from London or New York. When we see a pile of bricks or a heap of dung immaculately highlighted in the middle of an exhibition hall with some escalator music playing softly in the background, his presence will help convince us that it’s not actually a joke, but a great work from a master. We just need to be told so by someone like Sheffield. Or anyone from London, really, even a former cleaner from the Barbican Center, as long as he’s of the same cultural origin as Mr. Sheffield. Didn’t Hong Kong prosper as a colony in this way in the pre-1997 era? Give us back the former emperor-governor of Hong Kong. Even if he’s naked, we know he must be wearing something worth seeing, as long as he’s not from West Kowloon, but the West.