By Hans Ebert


It’s become impossible to figure out what works in Hong Kong. Knowing what didn’t work used to be easy, but, these days, what some might think hasn’t a hope in hell of being successful, takes off. Nothing and no one is quite what it seems, and perhaps, consumers are really unsure what’s good and what’s pretty ordinary. They’re guided by hype and relentless self-promotion.


It’s probably why so many quasi- “Italian” and “French” restaurants are so popular in Hong Kong. No one knows any better. A bisque or a biscuit? Pasta or plaster? Scampi or Bambi? Who’s to know? Many see a sign like “Mamma Mia’s Italian Restaurant” or something pretentious like “Le Elegante Restaurant Francais” and are sold. Who cares if “Ravioli A La Mamma” is made by Luigi Wong, or that the Lobster Bisque comes out of a tin can opened by Pierre Chan? No one’s the wiser and ignorance is bliss.


It’s also probably why hotel buffets in Hong Kong bring out a very unusual tribe of people. Like “The Night Of The Living Dead”, these are “The Day Of The Buffet Locusts”


With a buffet, there has to be something that appeals to someone. It’s no doubt why we see entire tribes of families knock everyone down as they attack buffet tables with the ubiquitous fat kid wobbling back to his table having piled his plate into a pagoda comprising noodles, sushi, curries, oysters, lobster, giant prawns, satay and every dessert available. Feeling ill?


Same with music. The reason why very average singers are elevated to professional status is, again, because customers, and those booking these acts, don’t know any better. It’s all about playing it safe and appealing to the lowest common denominator. As every tedious Canto-Pop concert has proven for over two decades, it’s all style- well, hairstyles and those are just the male peacock of the Canto-Pop species- over what little “substance” there is in costume changes, numerous guests dropping by to make these concerts seem longer than “Heaven’s Gate” (RIP Michael Cimino) with the odd tepid wobble board of a song thrown in. And, like trained seals, the audiences sit there and clap and take Selfies. It’s safe. It’s not exactly Rage Against The Machine. It’s more like Geri Halliwell. And, again, those are just the male peacocks prancing around.


Everything in Hong Kong is about appealing to the lowest common denominator, and probably why this city is so void of creativity. There’s a herd mentality at work.


The hiring process by companies follow a similar modus operandi and where those actually DOING the hiring- those “human resources” robots- keep going to the same well. Again, they don’t know any better. They’re pre-programmed.


So, what you have is incompetence, or the average and the mediocre being promoted. And then promoted again until incompetence rules.


There’s no quality control as the genie has escaped, has multiplied, and have been put in decision-making positions. And with this being the case, do you think they’ll hire anyone who thinks differently? Of course not. Too much competition, and which might even mean actually mean having to work instead of running around like a blue-arsed fly having meeting after meeting where nothing is ever resolved, and everyone leaves none the wiser. But all these meetings are to show that everybody is doing something even though there are no results. It’s like all those important lunch meetings- important because that’s around 2-3 hours out of the office.


If played well, one can get away with maybe four hours in the office and with enough time for a reflexology session and a visit to the new fung shui master just to make doubly sure that money is flowing in and not only flowing out. That’s the other thing about Hong Kong: How much is enough and how do you plan to take any of this when Dr Death comes calling? By courier?


Webcam scams, where mature adults are talked into seating there in front of their computers buck naked chatting away to some stranger, and then being blackmailed, phone scams, fitness centre scams, yogi scams, landlord scams, a government that cannot govern, overnight politicians trying to find their cause célèbre, what the hell is going on here? Naïveté? Being gullible? Trying to outdo Dumb and Dumber? Or has Hong Kong actually managed to create for itself a mind-boggling real life version of The Goon Show and Monty Python’s Flying Circus? Forget Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Keeping Up With Hong Kong is far more entertaining.