It’s that time of year again for the pagan festival that was adopted by Christians to celebrate the birth of Jesus, allegedly born in a stable when his parents traveled to Jerusalem for the purposes of taking part in a Roman census, although there is no reliable record of such an event being conducted at this time of year.
However, as many people in the business of journalism like to say, “never let the facts spoil a good story”.
I am not trying to offend Christians by writing in this way, because, as I understand it, belief in Christianity is not dependent on adherence to a particular historical narrative but is a matter of a deeper faith.
In Hong Kong, matters of faith tend to be swept aside in favor of the real meaning of the festive season, which follows the special administrative region’s cornerstone religion: commerce.
Yes, its boom time for the food trade (thank goodness), a busy time for stores and a great opportunity to churn out all kinds of entertainment, however bad, on grounds that it is “something for the kiddies”.
That leaves this old curmudgeon with a spring in his step, because there is plenty to be grumpy about and much tut-tutting to be delivered when approached by people wearing strange-looking red bopped caps, apparently in imitation of that other mythical creature Mr. Santa Claus, a Nordic personage best known for dashing around on a sleigh drawn by reindeer displaying a reckless disregard for highway regulations, or as they like to say in Hong Kong, the relevant highway regulations.
Where am I going with all this, you may ask?
The answer is not very far — because it really serves as no more than a peg, no less spurious than the various Christmas tales told at this time of year, for reflecting on some hopes for things that might make life slightly better in the coming year.
First up, because we keep being told that this a season for the kiddies, could we ask Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim to ease up on his war against education?
How about Mr. Ng giving us a full year in which he says nothing about fostering flag-waving forms of indoctrination for children, spends time not only listening to parents and teachers but has the humility to admit that they may know more about children’s education than he does.
And he might also consider easing up on feeble attempts to prove he knows how to read books.
Secondly, what about a truly radical plan to put forward measures that alleviate the dire situation of one in five Hong Kong people who live below the poverty line?
By that I do not mean one-off handouts graciously bestowed by well-fed bureaucrats but lasting measures, such as a proper pension scheme.
Thirdly, is there the smallest of chances that the government might let up on its war against the countryside?
The foresight of past administrations left Hong Kong with a unique and truly wonderful network of country parks.
Why not celebrate this precious gift rather than keep looking at ways of turning a pearl into a Shenzhen-made piece of tatty jewelry?
Fourthly, there is another aspect of Hong Kong that makes this place valuable, safe and secure – it is called the rule of law. Is it too much to ask the very people charged with maintaining its integrity to do just that?
Our old friend Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung has a real chance to be something more than the Secretary for Some Kind of Justice; he should consider taking it.
Finally, but this is probably asking way, way too much — how about a full year in which the interests of the tiny tycoon class are set aside in the interests of the vast majority of the people?
Yes, I quite appreciate that this is a starry-eyed aspiration in a place that comes under the sovereignty of a Marxist state, where in the words of the Great Karl himself, mankind should expect “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”.
However, and this is where we square the circle of the current season, Marx’s words are remarkably similar to the New Testament’s Acts of the Apostles, which portray the lives of Christians in Jerusalem as being ruled by a regime of “distribution” being “made unto every man according as he need”.
Anyway, if you are celebrating Christmas, in whichever way, good luck, and as our leaders keep reminding us: don’t expect too much.
You will find details of these thoughts in The Book of CY, under the section headed 689 Is Quite Enough.
– Contact us at [email protected]