"But how can you live and have no story to tell?" Fyodor Dostoevsky
"Any soul with an ounce of compassion would applaud this help from the Mainland."
A respected boss once advised me, "Don't dip your pen in blood", after I'd fired off a robust and quick response to a counterpart who dared to question my integrity.
Wise advice. That is why I waited several days before penning this rant. Such was my anger and disgust; I thought the time might abate my bile. It hasn't.
So, here we go. As Hong Kong struggled with world record rates of Covid deaths, the Mainland has pulled out all the stops to support our struggling medical staff in an over-burdened system. They've made supplies available, built quarantine facilities in days, and sent medical teams here. The latest batch included doctors and nurses to care for the suffering old folks.
Our elderly are dying in droves. A perfect storm of cramped elderly homes, the unvaccinated, weak immune systems and a government that dropped the ball sent a scythe slashing through the old. Coffins are in short supply, as the crematoria work flat out while bodies pile up.
The call had gone out for help, and the Mainland responded. One nurse postponed her wedding to join the effort in Hong Kong; most left their families behind.
Then what happens when the matter comes up at the daily press conference? Given a chance, the first thing the reporter from Now TV asks is, "How may we complain against these mainland medical staff if they make a mistake?" Wow.
The question is not only dipped in blood, it oozes contempt and doesn't have a shred of gratitude. Thus, I can only surmise the reporter has something pathologically wrong with her to frame such an inquiry.
The reaction has been swift, with the reporter burning at the stake of public opinion. Her editor issued an apology. He suggested that the question did not represent Now TV's stance as he threw the lady under the bus. Calls for her termination abound. I wouldn't sanction that. Maybe a two-week stint on the wards watching an intubated granny struggling to breath is needed.
The Journalist Association resorted to their rote 'freedom of the press is under threat' by asserting the question is legitimate. Yes, in a strict sense. I'm sure the naysayers can construct a position around 'one-county/two systems' to stir up an altercation. Except it was made clear that these volunteers would work with local medical carers and come under the auspices of the Medical Council. Thus, existing mechanisms apply.
Anyway, whether the question is legitimate is a moot point because there is also the matter of context, timing and appropriateness. None of which appear to have entered the reporter's mind.
Any soul with an ounce of compassion would applaud this help from the Mainland. Especially when so many Hong Kong people abandoned their old folks into care as they moved overseas. Moreover, locals haven't been rushing to jobs in elderly homes.
A couple of years ago, howls of pain went up when the PLA turned out to clear typhoon debris so that roads could reopen. Given the protest, you'd think tanks were rolling down Pedder Street. It is approaching 25 years since the return to Chinese sovereignty. Has that fact has not penetrated the psyche of some?
The serious issue here is the inflated sense of superiority that runs through specific sectors of Hong Kong society—believing themselves better than the Mainlanders, their world-view shatters when such help is needed. Yet, for decades they've been drinking Mainland water, eating food from there, and enjoying prosperity because of China's rise.
A bit of humility, please.
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.