Dec 30, 2010|
2010 was a hotpot of a year: it started with a solid base, and then all kinds of
crap got thrown in. From Post-80s protesters to mass Legco walkouts to ineffectual
democratic reform, our government has been feeling the heat from all sides. Add the pseudo models banned from the book fair, the Octopus Card scandal, and that guy who dressed up as an 80-year-old white dude, and it’s obvious that 2010 has had its sad, its doubtful, and its just plain ridiculous moments. But who really takes pride of place among the the year’s most dubious achievements?
The powers that be have been spending money like it’s going out of fashion. We take a look at the clunkiest, most pointless endeavors of the year.
The Guangzhou-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL)
In this much-loathed project, a whopping $66.8 billion of public money was earmarked for a highspeed rail network that goes from West Kowloon to a suburb of Guangzhou, plowing right through the 40-year-old Choi Yuen Tsuen village.
Our Asian Games 2023 Bid
We don’t have the money, the infrastructure, or, in fact, the inclination. A government paper predicted that hosting the games would cost us $13.8 billion—and that’s not counting the $30 billion set aside for building new sporting venues. Let this dream die.
The West Kowloon Cultural District
A survey from the Tourism Board suggested the creation of more cultural opportunities in 1996. Tung Chee-hwa floated the idea of the WKCD in 1998. Just to make sure we’re on the same page, it’s almost 2011, and we’re kind-of-getting-there for the third time now, with designs by the likes of Norman Foster, Rem Koolhaas and Rocco Yim released for public comment in November. The WKCD has become a running joke—in these pages, in Legco, in Hong Kong. Why, oh why, oh WHY is this so difficult?
It’s been a heady year for sexy shenanigans. Which titillating tales made our list?
Sex and Zen 3D
A sequel to the cult Category III film that spawned an entire squishy industry—in 3D? How could it possibly fail? Sex and Zen 3D has been billed as the first 3D sex movie ever, and the trailer boasts admirable production values and lots of boobies. The $2.58 million-budget film is currently in post-production, but there are dissenting whispers. The actresses? Japanese AV girls. The 3D? A gimmick. The enormous rock sculpture in the shape of a penis? Styrofoam. Our fingers are crossed; our legs aren’t.
Taoist Sex Wizards
Here at the HK Hacienda, 2010 will always mark the Rise of the Taoist Sex Wizards, con artists posing as Taoist spiritual leaders in order to scam people out of money and sex. Back in February, a former PLA officer scammed a middle-aged woman by telling her that she was destined to receive $130 million. However, as she suffered a lack of yin, or leung hei, she could only attract the fortune if she had sex with him eight times. Oh, and she paid him a $1.65 million ritual fee. Worryingly, there has been case after case of these con artists reported all throughout the year. People of Hong Kong, let’s please get this straight: TAOIST SEX WIZARDS DO NOT WORK.
The Sex Tape Rower
27-year-old former Asian Games rower Gloria Chan Hok-yan found herself blackmailing her sugardaddy, a 73-year-old known only as “Mr. X,” for $3 million by threatening to release a sex tape of the two of them. Chan, who took to shouting in court “I’m not a chicken [prosititute],” has since admitted that the tape does not exist. There’s something to be said for being 73 and having plausibly made a porno. Mr. X, your invite to the Playboy Club (Macau) is in the mail.
2010 has been the year of the villain. These baddies have been crawling out of the woodwork from day one.
In Two-Thousandand- Wikileak, disclosure’s been the name of the game. But Legco and Executive Council member Lau Wong-fat had to show and tell more than most. The chairman of New Territories legislative body Heung Yee Kuk— known as the “King of the New Territories”—found his objectivity called into question in October when he was caught failing to disclose properties he owned in Yuen Long. Over 10 days, Lau changed his mind three times about the number of properties he owned. The current total stands at a massive 724 plots of land, over 500 of which are in Tuen Mun, whose council he chairs. So is he biased towards development in an area where he stands to make millions? Surely not.
We get a lot of crap from Beijing, but none of it more unwelcome than the March sandstorm which shot the Air Pollution Index (API) into the 500s. But remember: don’t blame it all on the sandstorm. We’ve got a serious bad air problem here.
The Mong Kok Arsonist
This 32-year-old restaurant kitchen worker by the name of Kong decided it would be fun to set fire to Fa Yuen Street. Over 50 stalls burned to the ground and seven people were injured. It left us with two questions: 1) what kind of midlife crisis is THAT; and 2) now where is he going to go for his clothing bargains? Stanley?
Prudence Chan of the Octopus Scandal
In July the ubiquitous “doot” fell silent as Octopus Cards Limited’s Chief Executive Prudence Chan first denied, then admitted, that Octopus had sold the personal data of 1.97 million cardholders to partners of the company, making $44 million over four years off the private information of its users—us. Fighting her corner in Clintonian style, she insisted that her company had not lied—they just had a different definition of the word “selling.” But has Prudence truly lost? After all, you can take our personal freedoms, but you’ll never take our Octopus cards.
The Bowen Road Dog Poisoner
He’s back, again. The serial and geographicallyspecific dog murderer resurfaced in December when he struck down Pepper, a four-and-a-halfyear- old dog who had been rescued from a cage after being abandoned two years earlier. Why has no one caught this guy yet?
But it’s not all dubious! Let’s not forget that this year has been a year in which the masses have been triumphing over The Man.
The Post-80s Protesters The 20-somethings aren’t all about Xboxes and Kanye, although don’t expect them to be protesting the week a new Call of Duty game comes out. This was a watershed year for getting involved again, as those born after 1980 took to the streets in protest at the funding for the XRL—and just sort of stayed there. The label “Post-80s” was originally used to describe the apathetic youth of China, but in Hong Kong it’s taken on a meaning of its own: young people who care deeply about heritage preservation and democracy—and lomography.
Getting our Heritage Back
Two great victories for the heritage movement this year: Tai Long Wan and Wing Lee Street, both of which were on the verge of destruction when the people moved in to stop it. In July businessman Simon Lo Lin-shing moved the bulldozers in to the beautiful Tai Long Sai Wan in Sai Kung, planning to develop what was either an “organic garden” or a lodge with tennis courts, a helipad, and two artificial ponds, depending on your point of view. In under a week, over 65,000 people had joined a Facebook group in opposition, petitioning the government to step in. Lo caved and halted construction.
Wing Lee Street in Sheung Wan was a pristine example of a tong lau terraced street, and when the government said in March that it was going to knock all but three buildings down, that wouldn’t fly. Town planning official Wong Kwok-kin dismissed the protest as “a little bit of noise” but the people got their way, and Wing Lee Street was saved. The makers of award-winning Simon Yam film “Echoes of the Rainbow,” which was shot entirely on the street, are happy, and we are too.
Booby Prize: The Pan-Democrats
Well, some of it is dubious. The Pan-Democrats might mean well, but they throw their toys out of the pram at the slightest provocation. In January five pan-democrat Lecgo members resigned in order to force a by-election that was spun as a referendum on political reform and the abolition of functional constituencies. Turnout was a miserable 17 percent, and all five councilors were returned to their seats with a definite sense of anticlimax, at a cost of an estimated $150 million. Just to round off the year, in December the Democratic Party split further when 30 “radical” members, known as the “Young Turks,” jumped ship in protest at the slow pace of democratic reform. Seriously, guys: if you don’t like something, why don’t you just get together and try to stop it? Stop fighting, stop squabbling for territory, and forge yourselves into more than a collection of fractious egomaniacs. Please?
When they were bad, they were very, very bad.
The CE’s “Act Now” publicity campaign for the democratic reform bill fell on deaf ears.Everyone was all for acting now: the problem was that the Hong Kong public had no say in the democratic reforms in the first place. The propaganda campaign—which cost over $9 million in public funds—set out to interest andgalvanize the young into supporting his proposal. Problem is, Donald, most of the galvanized youth of Hong Kong are those Post-80s guys you don’t like very much. Oh, and in a televised debate in June, Civic Party leader Audrey Eu’s graceful speech and surprisingly awesome legs kicked Donald’s ass to the curb. Kudos to the Chief Executive for having the stones to go up against her, but it was pretty bad PR.
Act Now, Part 2: or, Sell-out of the Year
This year we lost a lot of people to the corporate side, but one late emergence pips everyone else to the post: MC Jin. What the hell, Jin! You went from underground NY hip hop icon to underground Hong Kong star when you moved here to get back in touch with your roots. You impressed us with your bilingual freestyling over Youtube. And now this.You’ve teamed up with Donald Tsang in a lame “Merry Christmas” rap, and—even worse—you slip the “Act Now” slogan in as a catchcry at the end of every line. You could probably still destroy us verbally, Jin—but instead you’re hocking Vita lemon tea and propaganda from Upper Albert Road. Shame on you.
And then there are those poor suckers who just can’t catch a break.
Pity poor Rosemary Vandenbroucke, model-singerdesigner, who was busted in Nevada in September for possession of a controlled substance (just a bit of E at counterculture festival Burning Man, which is just kind of a bum rap) and—more amusingly— for crashing her rented motor home into the city of Reno’s signature lighted neon arch (showing those pseudo models how it’s done). We figure she just saw a whole bunch of neon and thought of home. Fortunately for Rosemary, the trial has been postponed indefinitely, although she comes up for the drug charge in February.
The Unwitting Scions of Henderson Land
Pity also the triplets born in October to Henderson Land heir Peter Lee Ka-kit. The children were born to a surrogate mother based in the U.S., and brothers Lee Chi-shun, Chi-yan and Chi-yong will grow into a life of luxury—and expectations. They are, after all, the first grandsons for Lee “Uncle Four” Shau-kee, king of Henderson Land. Good luck, little ones.
The Poker Bustees
Police shut down a hive of scum and villainy when they raided the Hong Kong Poker House in August, arresting more than 160 lawyers, bankers and accounts. Well, not so much, as the Hollywood Road venue was actually holding a shutting-down tournament which, according to participants, was free to enter, and they weren’t playing with—or for—money. Poker inhabits a grey area of Hong Kong law, but the police seemed to have chosen the worst night possible for the raid. Nice try, fuzz.
No doubt following up on his wife Grace’s visit to the city the year before, Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe himself saw fit to grace our shores in August, where he was spotted trying on shoes in Harbour City. Mugabe’s daughter Bona is studying at City University and he owns a house in the New Territories. In our 2009 Dubious Achievements issue we reported that Zimbabwe has a hyperinflation rate of 79,600,000,000 percent. Since then, Mugabe has been forced into a coalition government, and the abandonment of the Zimbabwean dollar for a multi-currency economy has brought inflation down to a much more manageable 4.2 percent. Will Mr. Mugabe make another appearance in 2011 for more shopping? Perhaps he’ll be in the market for another presidency by then—or at least a Chief Executiveship.
In a perfect world, it would have been the perfect disguise. On October 29, a man—thought to be a farmer in his 20s from Fujian province—traveled to Chek Lap Kok airport and boarded Air Canada flight AC018 to Vancouver. Oh, and he was wearing a silicone special effects mask that disguised him as an 80-year-old westerner. At 35,000 feet the man—who was observed to have remarkably young looking hands—went to the toilet and removed the mask, which unsurprisingly aroused the suspicions of the cabin crew. He claimed asylum from Canadian authorities when he landed: the question is still being discussed, but it’s hard not to see a future in espionage for this two-faced gent.