"If you want to read a blog to get a sense of what is going on in Hong Kong these days or a blog that would tell you what life was like living in colonial Hong Kong, this blog, WALTER'S BLOG, fits the bill." Hong Kong Blog Review
"In short, lax procedures, poor controls and a failure to manage risks have brought us more cases as the virus spreads."
Richard Hughes famously stated, "Power in Hong Kong resides in the Jockey Club, Jardines and Matheson, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, and the governor, in that order." Well, not much has changed then since the colonial days.
With Hong Kong's Covid cases exploding, as clusters breakout from dance groups and imported cases, you'd expect our officials to be vigilant. Instead, they are busy granting exemptions for jockeys at Hong Kong's favoured gambling syndicate.
Given that schools are closing, care workers are struggling, and the majority can't earn such special treatment, people are right to raise hell.
After all, some of these jockeys are coming from high-risk areas. And what has suddenly made the Jockey Club so risk-tolerant? They were one of the first to cut and run by cancelling race meetings in 2019 during the disturbances.
I'm sure there is any number of Hong Kong-based organisations who could construct the same 'bubble' protocols as the Jockey Club professes to have. Are we to grant them all exemptions or only a favoured few?
These exemptions illustrate the moral shadiness at the heart of a government; people question whether officials put gambling above public health. Our Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, heads the Covid Task Force. So where does the responsibility lay for these decisions?
Meanwhile, we should be grateful to politician James Tien. He's exposed how Covid testing for airport arrivals and the related shambolic follow-up quarantine procedures are failing. If the account given by James Tien is accurate, and the evidence suggests it is, officials have shown a deplorable lack of diligence.
For starters, the arriving passenger conducts the spit test in privacy. Without supervision, there is no verification that the person followed the guidelines. Specifically, did the subject draw saliva 'deeply' - whatever that may mean? The consequence could be a high false-negative rate. Experts agree adopting the medically supervised swab test may yield better outcomes.
Second, subjects are tagged but not required to activate the tag immediately. There are reports of people wandering around shopping, visiting relatives and only activating the tag much later. In one reported instance, the subject waited 24 hours.
This delay is possible because of the third gap in the procedures. Subjects must make their way to quarantine hotels usually using taxis. This movement is neither tracked nor supervised.
Fourth, when in quarantine it is evident subjects are receiving visitors because hotels are not enforcing the rules. In one instance, a man in quarantine infected his visiting mother, who then passed the virus into the wider community.
In short, lax procedures, poor controls and a failure to manage risks have brought us more cases as the virus spreads.
This week Carrie Lam had given a series of interviews in an attempt to reset and polish her image. I'd prefer she spends her time putting in place suitably robust, risk-managed anti-Covid protocols. Also, Carrie needs to stop bowing to the usual vested interests. That way she'd earn genuine applause from the wider community.
Walter De Havilland was one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Royal Hong Kong Police and Hong Kong Police Force. He's long retired.