Flying Sand

Is a Hong Kong-Macau rivalry lost in the global news babble?

A dose of perspective is sorely lacking when it comes to world events; meanwhile recent storms blew open a festering political wound in our corner

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 September, 2017, 12:06pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 September, 2017, 9:15pm

Whether you buy into the building barrage of media babble inviting us to believe that the world is teetering on the brink of nuclear Armageddon, one thing is clear, the Korean war of words and warheads – the only casualty of which so far appears to be perspective – is drowning out coverage of the havoc visited on the planet by extreme weather.

Three storms crashed through our little corner of the world in a two-week period, while at the same time torrential rain and floods killed 1,200 people and displaced 40 million more souls in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

All this while Hurricane Harvey was delivering a reminder that while the United States may still be king of the military hill, a distinct whiff of ramshackle recklessness lingers over its ability to keep its people safe from a myriad of threats at home, in this case, the population of oil and natural gas-rich Houston,Texas.

As the nation’s fourth-largest city and a jewel in the crown of corporate America, the human and financial – not to mention reputational – cost that Harvey inflicted at this critical point in the relatively short history of the US should not be underestimated.

Before turning to a festering domestic sore born of political sibling rivalry which is threatening to go full-blown in the wake of Typhoon Hato, a word about the shameful under-reporting – and in some cases no reporting at all – of the South Asian floods in favour of blanket coverage of events in Houston.

It appears the “if it bleeds, it leads” adage synonymous with the terminally ill media beast has as much – if not more – traction today than ever. The problem is – so does the racist caveat which underpins it: “depends who it is that is bleeding’’.

Storms bring out the worst in governments, but the best in people

Talking of blood, as Macau continues its People’s Liberation Army-assisted recovery from the recent deadly meteorological assault it endured, the trauma of Hato has put wind in the sails of a simmering mood of resentment in the world’s richest gaming hub over what is considered Hong Kong’s “superiority complex’’.

In fact, a not-to-be-sniffed-at theory has it that a series of entry bans slapped on pan-democratic politicians and journalists from Hong Kong – one of them a Post photographer – went ahead after calculations by security chiefs in Macau. Concerns about press freedom and political expression would, at worst, be seen as sufficiently muffled, and at best be trumped by a groundswell of opinion that the “bigger and older SAR” is out to trash Macau at every turn.

This vein of animosity runs much deeper than scoring points over petty civic pride and reaches further back into history than can be explained here.

Suffice to say, on a purely historical level, it annoys many in Macau to the point of distraction that their only bedfellow in Deng Xiaoping’s unique nation-rebuilding formula is regularly referred to as the “older SAR’’.

Of course in terms of when the two Special Administrative Regions formally came into being, Hong Kong is older, but this, to put it mildly, is an accident of a less than harmonious historical relationship between Britain and China.

Proud Macau people contend – not unreasonably – that apart from the odd bump in the Portuguese road, their almost 500-year relationship with China has been one of consensus and cooperation and deserves commensurate recognition.

Bringing things right up to date, Macau lawyer Carlos Lobo, who has lived and worked in the city for more than 30 years, said: “Hong Kong’s plan to develop Lantau Island as a tourism and integrated resort destination strikes at the very heart of the plan for the Greater Bay Area and Macau’s part in it. It would be a good thing if we could work together to make the SAR formula work.’’

Time for some bridge-building before SAR comes to denote “Sibling Animosity Rage”.