Reflections on recent events, plus the occasional fact
free rant unfiltered by rational argument.
Hong Kong has suffered its worst typhoon on record. With sustained winds of 250 km/h, Super Typhoon Mangkhut hit this weekend. The damage is extensive and going to take some time to repair. People had windows blown in and the contents of their homes trashed. The only saving grace is few injuries and no deaths.
But, you wouldn't think we'd suffered much listening to our Chief Executive. In her statement today she asserted that Hong Kong is “largely unscathed”. Secretary for Security, John Lee Ka-chiu, proved forthright in his assessment that the damage is “serious and extensive”.
I’ve attached a few images and videos below - would you assess this as “unscathed”?
I must state my gratitude for the tremendous effort by the first responders. Police, fireman and staff from the Civil Aid Services worked under demanding conditions to ensure public safety. The police received 20,000 calls for help, compared to about 6,000 they receive on a typical weekend. The fact that no one died or sustained serious injuries is a testament to their work. Police officers were injured during the rescue work. I wish them a fast recovery.
Also, the public utilities continued throughout what was a frightening day. Telephones, internet, gas and electricity all uninterrupted except for a few specific locations. This allowed us to keep in touch with family to reassure them and to coordinate help for each other. The utility companies get a pat on the back for keeping the systems up. Especially electricity because without that everything else halts.
Today we woke up to thousands of trees blocking roads. Public transport struggled to get going, as sections of the rail system proved unusable. Bus couldn't access their routes. Huge crowds built at transport interchanges as folks struggled into work. Walking the streets broken glass crunches under their feet.
It is remarkable how localised the damage is. Central looks untouched, while a few kilometres away it’s a war zone. Thus in fairness to Carrie Lam perhaps that why she formed an erroneous impression. Yet, you’d think she’d be better informed or is she playing down matters? As per her usual approach.
In public statements, she made mention that overseas visitors are here for conferences. That millions of ordinary people struggled to get to work appears to be of little concern to her. When asked about a day-off to aid the recovery, she passed the buck. Staff and employers need to come to an arrangement is her lame response. How is that supposed to happen when the power balance rests in favour of the employers? Once again, Carrie displays her indifference.
Carrie Lam’s statements have a profound impact locally and overseas. Her priority today should be the people of Hong Kong. Instead, she is signalling the world we are open for business. Never-mind that we have destroyed homes and a faltering transport system.
Today was a moment to display leadership. Macau granted a day off to civil servants to ease the load on struggling transport systems. This simple act sets an example for the private sector that would contribute to Hong Kong’s recovery. Instead, Carrie Lam made excuses, wobbled and then passed the buck. She fumbled the leadership test.
Scathed or Unscathed - You decide?
Video of days events
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.