THE DARK SIDE OF HONG KONG NIGHT LIFE 1

With the headline screaming out “Slim Pickings”, Bernice Chan, writing recently in the South China Morning Post, opened her excellent piece on the woes stunting the Hong Kong restaurant business with the following: “High rents are often blamed for the woes of Hong Kong restaurateurs, but the past 12 months have brought other challenges to pricier establishments as the volume of diners has thinned. Operators cite a number of reasons for the downturn, including job losses, especially in the finance industry, the political climate and the fact diners are increasingly spoiled for choice.

“Some mid-range and fine-dining restaurants have seen a drop in business of at least 10 percent compared with 2015, and expect the rough patch to last another 18 months. Owners are shutting up shop at 10pm- the time last orders are usually called”.

CAN HONG KONG GET ITS MOJO BACK 1

Huston might have had a problem, but Hong Kong is facing something that, like Humpty Dumpty, even all the King’s horses and all the King’s men, wouldn’t be able to put Humpty Dumpty together again: A no-confidence mood that hangs over the city like one mighty big cloud of gloom and doom- and which the government seems oblivious about.

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Without confidence in a city, without doing anything to rectify this very basic problem, what you have is an unhappy and insecure community. Once this happens, the cup is always half empty, and, if financially able, or having done the maths, there’s a need- not a holiday per se- but a real need- to travel and, as Paul McCartney once sang, “Get out of my head.”

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Going out in Hong Kong is no longer fun. Anywhere in the world, if those around you are not people one wishes to communicate with, or with whom one is unable to share common interests, it just makes sense to have a home-cooked meal, and stay in with your partner.

This is what many restaurateurs are not understanding, especially in Hong Kong: The halcyon days of Shirley Bassey singing “Hey Big Spender” and bottles of Martell Cordon Bleu poured and Dom Perignon being popped open by nubile Eastern European beauties are well and truly over. The Fat Lady sang years ago.

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All those former wolves of Wall Street are either toothless, or else bankruptcy has made them sink underground into the mire. It’s a matter of that thing called face and being bitch slapped into reality. It’s a worldwide economic wasteland.

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Everybody everywhere is looking more than once at what they’re spending, while the usual suspects will continue to look for handouts by posing as caring friends. This might have worked once, but not anymore. They’ve become persona non grata and seen for what they are- users and time wasters. As a friend has preached for years, if people are of no help to you, why have anything to do with them? Indeed.

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Without sounding elitist, on the lower end of the spectrum, and perhaps this is part of the fallout from Hong Kong’s “no confidence vote”, there’s the truly awful trait to gossip by all the wannabes and never-beens, who bow and scrape in front of conmen masquerading as “celebrity chefs” instead of revealing them for the parasites that they are.

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It’s sickening to hear, especially when know-it-alls have their facts all wrong and throw around million and billion dollar figures as if they’re going out of style. But when all this inane chatter becomes a chain reaction of cheap gossip fodder, it’s another reason to think twice about where to go, and with those you definitely don’t want to be associated. It’s bad for business. And it does your head in.

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At the end of the day, however, it comes down to the Hong Kong government being able to read the mood of the city, and not just the self-serving old rich business tycoons with, let’s face it, one foot in the grave.

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These people are part of the past and have no place in the future. They’re Oliver Twisted old fogeys wanting more- for their families and for their other families and mistresses on the side. The hypocrisy of it all is crippling.

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It’s time the government- and all those other government funded organisations with public money are held accountable- realises that the woes of the restaurant business, and every industry in this city is waiting for at least one Feel Good moment. If none of these people know where to start, they have no place governing this city and marketing it to the rest of the world.

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We’ve written here at length about the absolute ineffectiveness of the government-funded CreateHK with its befuddled “leader”, but what about the Hong Kong Tourist Association, InvestHK and all the other toothless organisations being funded to basically create pension funds for the Old Boys Club? Where’s the full transparency? Where’s the beef?

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With Hong Kong gearing up to “elect” or else be given a new Chief Executive by Beijing, what’s adding to the confusion are too many jockeying for some sort of leadership roles, but with zero power- Regina Ip, John Tsang, the ubiquitous Allan Zeman, Longhair, No Hair, Li Ka-shing who’s quickly turned into a tiresome old man irrelevant to this city, Jimmy Lai, and all the other faces from a very distant past with no grip on the present or the future of this city.

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Of course, Hong Kong is still a much safer and better place to work and live in than nearly every other city in the world other than probably Singapore, Taiwan, and certain cities in Scandinavia. But, somehow, somewhere, we cannot afford to keep following outdated leaders while watching our parking leaders. We can’t go through the Subterranean Homesick Blues.

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Bob Dylan warned America about the dangers of doing this decades ago. And look what’s happening there now. It’s something that just might impact the global economy and draw a very hostile line in the sand. Dr Strangelove is about to enter da building called the White House and he’s got the finger on the button with his conflicted mate Vlad trying to play him like a puppet. He makes CY Leung look like Saint Francis Of Assisi. It makes what’s going on in America, the land of the tweets, look like something created by the fertile mind of the Monty Python Flying Circus.

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Frankly with the world almost on hold, and Hong Kong being this low down when it comes to creating a more positive city means there can only be an upside. It’s not at all difficult to achieve and now is the perfect time to start a chain reaction of positive Change. Let this revolution and evolution begin. Let’s not keep going around in circles.

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