In and out guide to the new society
Monday 24 March 1997
Amnesia: It is neither fashionable nor necessary to have the ability to recall who were pillars of the colonial establishment and how they have become stalwarts of the new order.
The Island Club: A discreet enclave owned by the family of Tung Chee- hwa, the head of the first post-colonial government. Invitations are at a premium.
Things Chinese: Well, up to a point. Hongkongers are still sniffy about their compatriots from across the border, but nowadays keep their tart comments to themselves and profess a great love for the motherland.
Committees: Anyone who's anyone is a member of a Chinese advisory committee. Fortunately, there are loads of them and so scope for gaining membership is not too limited.
Colonial memorabilia: Everything, from letter boxes with the royal crest to stamps with the Queen's head, is being avidly hoarded. Interestingly, some of the keenest buyers live on the Chinese mainland.
Optimism: The glorious return to the motherland is an occasion for celebration. Things can only get better once the colonial shackles are removed.
Chinese values: The new buzz- phrase is Chinese values, a sort of Confucian- Communist melange, with an emphasis on the values of obedience, community interest and respect for authority, as opposed to individual interest
Putonghwa: The northern Chinese language, which is China's only official language. Hong Kong people have great difficulty speaking it, but they are really trying.
Making money: Some things never change in Hong Kong.
Long memories: Too much was said by Hong Kong leaders in the past which can no longer be said at present. The facility of recall is not required by the new order.
Government House: Applicants used to queue up for invitations to enter the residence of Governor Chris Patten. Invites are now a positive embarrassment.
Things British: Those with British connections are doing their best to keep them under wraps. Various privileges, including special immigration rights, which were enjoyed by Britons have been scrapped.
Gongs: MBEs, CBEs, OBEs and all other royal awards were once coveted. Now, some aspirants for high office have gone so far as to relinquish use of their titles.
Colonialism: Regarding colonial memorabilia as anything but quaint history is out. The new order wants to rewrite school text-books to ensure that children have a "correct" understanding of the past.
Pessimism: Those expressing doubts about the future have been warned. There is no place for doubters who go round spreading despondency.
Western values: These are defined by the new order as a combination of anarchism, welfare- stateism and unfettered freedom to criticise for the sake of criticising - an intriguing mixture of Haight-Ashbury and Clement Attlee.
Cantonese: The mother-tongue of most Hong Kong people is not exactly out, since that is what most people speak, but it cannot be regarded as politically correct.
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