Saturday, 23 August 2014

Hong Kong's Anger Erupts from a Bus

I caught the no. 104 bus to get back home from Jordan and it was a very smooth ride -- up until we were about to cross Water Street to reach the Chiu Kwong Street stop in Sai Ying Pun.

This stretch of road is a relatively steep hill, and in front of the bus was a truck that carries gas cannisters, what YTSL lovingly calls "gas bombs". It didn't seem to move, and so the bus driver began honking his horn -- actually he leaned on it and wouldn't let up.

When the truck still didn't move and it was another red light, a man from the passenger side of the truck came out and got onto the bus and began berating the bus driver. The two quickly got into a heated argument and both decided separately to call the police to file a report.

It just happened that a policeman on a motorcycle passed by but didn't offer much assistance and sped off. Meanwhile the bus driver refused to let us off the bus. And so we were basically held hostage there as we saw these two exchange a war of words that included lots of swearing.

The driver of the gas truck then got on board too and the bus driver promptly shut the door behind him so he couldn't get off either. There was yet another face-off and it was really heated.

Most people on the bus just tried to stay out the fray and keep quiet or play with their phones, hoping the incident will end soon.

But we waited for about 15 minutes until the traffic warden finally arrived and asked for the two men on the gas truck to come with him and give their statements. The bus driver still didn't let us go and asked for witnesses to come forward and give their names and phone numbers. No one spoke up.

Finally the traffic warden came back and asked the driver for his details and then soon afterwards both vehicles were allowed to move to the Chiu Kwong Street stop and park there, and we could finally get off. The driver also flagged his colleague to let us on the bus and finish our journey.

There lots of simmering tension in the city and small things, like the vehicle in front of you not moving can spark a hot-headed dispute. Is this what Hong Kong has come to? Are we all stressed out and looking to pick a fight with someone so that we can use that as an excuse to let off some steam?

There's over 7 million people living in this city and rents are sky-high while our wages are not keeping up with inflation. The latest figures showing it will take people 14 years to come up with money for a flat, compared to five years in 2002.

Then there is the constant debate about the minimum wage that doesn't seem to be enough for anyone to live on, and that results in people living in sub-divided flats that are horrible environments to live in and actually give them a sense of despair as well as poor health.

Did I mention the stress from so many mainlanders coming to Hong Kong? They are everywhere clogging up streets, buying up items we can't afford or snapping up basics we need.

The other day when I was waiting for the next MTR train, several mainlanders asked a supervisor on the platform how to get to Admiralty station. Instead of verbally telling them to go downstairs to the next platform, he actually held a sign that said "下层".

Perhaps these supervisors have to say this so many times a day that they actually made a sign to save their breath. In the time I waited for the train he must have held it up four times.

It also makes one wonder what other questions they come across everyday...

The tycoons who own almost all the utilities, supermarkets, shopping malls, and real estate continue to screw us for every cent we have and yet the government hardly does much to make this less blatant.

And now we're hearing how a former no. 2 official in the Hong Kong government borrowed tens of millions of dollars from two tycoon brothers to satisfy his penchant for the finer things in life even though he was spending way beyond his means so he could feel like he belonged in the billionaire club. Not.

The deep divisions between the rich and the poor are becoming starker and the general public don't feel like the government is on its side as well. Oh did we mention there's also the conflict between what Hong Kong people want and what the Chinese government wants?

With no resolution in sight, it seems tensions are still going to bubble beneath the surface and we're probably going to see more arguments sparked on the street...

Hold on, because it's going to be a tempestuous ride...


  1. Surprisingly what you going to do about it? Maybe joining Occupy Central? maybe immigranting elsewhere (other than PRC China)? Maybe berating redneck Mainlanders as locusts? Maybe stop voting for pro-Beijing parties in district elections?

    Maybe a few gas bombs at CY Leung or the HK Police HQ? :p

    1. Hi nulle -- which option would you choose?