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January 04, 2006
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Guest post: Hong Kong in 2006
John Louis Swanie of What Comes to Pass on the year ahead for the Big Lychee:
I know I sound like an old man who is just itching to dash out a letter to the Times signed "yours faithfully, Thomas Martin, 52 Highbottom Greens, Ponceneyton" but I'm genuinely tired of "two thousand and X". Why can't we just call them "Twenty-Oh X"? It fits with convention and makes the year sound less like a battery-powered cheese grater.
It occurred to me, whilst I was mouthing the words to every year of the coming decade (I'm left wondering exactly how I pass my degree modules when I spend time on such pursuits), that '06' when said in the 'archaic' pattern of our forefathers sounds a like the cantonese for "so tasty"; "Ho Sik!"
Is this some good omen for future profit? Will this annus delicere herald a bright new beginning for Hong Kong?
In the typically infuriating manner of almost every other pundit my answer is, "yes and no".
From a financial perspective, I expect Hong Kong to grow. It may be farcical to attribute a lack of political autonomy to economic growth as the pro-Beijing camp have for so many years, but the bottom line is that we can expect 'business as usual' in the coming year. Sir Donald may not have any particularly ripe gifts for the cartels for the coming year (at least not ones of the same caliber as his predecessor) but the status quo isn't going to be shaking anytime soon.
We've finally gotten past the years of Hong Kong writing itself off after the fallout of the '97 crash and then limping through the gloom of the Tung-SARS sucker-punch. The only thing which can and historically has, held Hong Kong back is itself - the territory has never suffered the full force of currency speculation and the artificially inflated property market is its own doing.
A leader directly after 1997 had the opportunity of either bolstering or shelving property speculation as a means to make money but he instead decided to hide under the carpet, so we are left with a rather ill-fitting financial waistcoat - stretched by the portly excesses of the pre-97 years but just about wearable. This will not change in the coming year and I expect to see property prices rise at a healthy rate.
Perhaps 2006 will be the year that the Cyberport really starts bringing in that new generation of high-tech investment we've been promi-Pffft-HAHAHAHAHAH! My apologies, it's almost impossible to resist poking fun at one of the more entertaining White Elephants in our midst. It does however act as a serviceable segue into the other important 'public-works' matter: Disneyland.
I expect Hong Kong Disneyland to plod along at the pace it has set out for itself. Fueled almost entirely by vacationing mainlanders, the Hong Kong Disneyland will do little to help Hong Kong's pre-existing tourism industry in the year to come. We will know this to be true once the Tourism Board haul Jackie Chan out in front of some cameras to waste a few billion HKD on another grand advertising scheme featuring our _one remaining_ sail-powered junk and the same arial footage of the Po Lin Buddha that every person in every country around the world (including, Hong Kong) has seen eighteen times before.
From a political point of view, I predict the most boring year imaginable. Anson Chan, who has been loitering in the democratic wings of Hong Kong politics, will go from innocuous to irrelevant. Sir Donald will begin channeling vintage-Sir David Wilson and do absolutely nothing on the suffrage front - we'll not hear of a political reform agenda until he's sure he's out the door and that won't be for a few years yet.
No one will address the massive, glaring constitutional hole in the Hong Kong judiciary's continued application of _post 1997_ UK House of Lords decisions such as _White v White_ and we will happily float along with the ghostly hands of the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary on our judges' shoulders.
So a good year for Hong Kong? It depends on where you stand. We'll have our annual march, rabidly support football teams with whom we have no ethnic or legal ties during the World Cup and then shut up and make money. Nothing that happens in Hong Kong will affect our political status, change will come when China has finished putting out its many domestic fires or if it fails to deal with them outright.
Ultimately though, I'll be a happy Hong Kong resident if I can find the new address of the Tai Cheung bakery.posted by Simon on 01.04.06 at 09:50 AM in the Hong Kong category.
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