The plaintive cries of satirists the length and breadth of Hong Kong are being resolutely ignored by the ruling elite. On the contrary, they seem hell bent on reserving the noble art of satire for themselves.

Satirists have a living to earn but how they can compete with the likes of Carrie Lam, CY Leung and indeed that instantly forgettable person – the leader of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, a name that in itself was evidently unearthed in a dusty satire archive.

carrie lam july 1 democracy rally protest march
Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Summer is drawing to an end and so allegedly is the silly season for news. Yet practically every office holder in Hong Kong, not forgetting their bosses in Beijing, has found time to focus on the activities of a young man leading a so-called political party which, at most, has a couple of dozen members.

This slight chap, whose conventional appearance in shirt and tie is topped off by a severe pair of glasses, is of course, Andy Chan, leader of the Hong Kong National Party.

Apparently, almost single-handedly, he is poised to extract the Hong Kong SAR from the embrace of the People’s Republic of China, which, last time I looked had a population of some 1.4 billion people, the world’s biggest army, a security apparatus that would have made the late dictator Comrade Stalin drool with envy and, oh yes, a pretty big economy.

This mighty world power is apparently quaking in its shoes as a result of Mr Chan’s activities; only last week he sent a letter to President Trump urging him to extend the Sino-US trade war to Hong Kong.

Reliable sources on Planet Zog reveal that this letter is highly likely to change the entire course of history. No doubt Chinese officials somehow obtained advance knowledge of this Planet Zog intelligence, which explains their hysterical response.

andy chan fcc
Photo: Pool/SCMP.

Were it just this focus on Mr Chan that was the source of the flag wavers’ attempts to monopolise the serious business of satire it would be impressive enough. But they will just not rest on their laurels as they resolutely pursue a frontal attack on independent satirists.

One of their tactics (dare I say getting tarnished by overuse) is to chant the mantra of the “Greater Bay Area.” Thus in politically correct circles a simple greeting such as: “how are you today?” meets the response of: “all the better from studying President Xi’s thoughts on the Greater Bay Area.”

They used to chant the Belt and Road mantra, and indeed still do, but it gets complicated when countries marooned on this contraption start muttering about how they are not so sure they want to be there.

Malaysia’s new old Prime Minister Mahathir Muhammad actually went so far as to express these doubts during a visit to Beijing – honestly, that man knows nothing when it comes to etiquette.

Meanwhile, just to be on the safe side, let us say that the promise of the Greater Bay Area will thrust the HKSAR into a new era of fulfillment and will see the ‘city’ (funny how those people who profess to love the HKSAR are always keen to downgrade it to mere city status) play a pivotal role in facilitating the belt and road project by using its internationally renowned expertise as an international business centre.

As living proof of this assertion, we will soon be able to rejoice in the launch of the new express rail link to the Motherland from the shiny new Satire Central Station in Kowloon.

If people would only stop moaning about the extent to which it is over budget, has suffered construction delays and requires a breach of the Basic Law to turn part of the Kowloon terminus into a PRC jurisdiction, they would see the bigger picture.

And, by the way, please put away that calculator which shows that point-to-point journeys to Guangzhou, the main destination, will actually take longer once the inconvenience of getting from the remote Guangzhou South station is factored in and, oh yes, those figures of how fast it will travel are only relevant to non-stop trains. These figures are grossly misleading.

Express Rail Link
Photo: GovHK.

The good news is that Hong Kong residents will be allowed to pay a premium for their tickets, compared with their Mainland counterparts, and will not be able to book online – Go Hongkongers eh!

Meanwhile, we have the new Hong Kong Zhuhai Macau Bridge to look forward to – that’s a road bridge, which most drivers will not be allowed to enter.

But why leave Hong Kong when the treasures of the Beijing Palace Museum are making their way here, indeed they will now form the focal point of the new West Kowloon Cultural Centre. Only nitpickers will assert that most of these exhibits are drawn from the bottom drawer where the Beijing museum keeps its lesser treasures. Some big stuff will be also be thrown in and, of course, it will cost squillions of dollars.

It’s all too exciting for words. Meanwhile Mrs Lam has established a territory-wide public consultation exercise on what to do about redundant satirists. The public is invited to give their views and Mrs Lam has guaranteed that the outcome will not be prejudged even though it’s perfectly clear that the government can do nothing for these redundant beings, because they are just like the poor: an unsolvable problem.

Stephen Vines is a journalist, writer and broadcaster and ran companies in the food sector. He left Hong Kong with great reluctance in July 2021 following the crackdown on freedom of expression. Prior to departure he had been the host of the RTHK television current affairs programme ‘The Pulse’, a columnist for ‘Apple Daily’ and a contributor to other outlets. He continues to be a columnist for ‘HKFP’. Vines was the founding editor of 'Eastern Express' and founding publisher of 'Spike'. In London he was an editor at The Observer and in Asia has worked for international publications including, the Guardian, Daily Telegraph, BBC, Asia Times and The Independent and, during Hong Kong’s 2019/20 protests, for the Sunday Times. Vines is the author of several books, the latest being Defying the Dragon – Hong Kong and Worlds’ Biggest Dictatorship