Sunday, 27 January 2008

You could write it in a letter....

Oh my it never rains but it pours.

As my working life picks up speed, I find myself procrastinating in new and varied ways. Flirting with boys via email and text, playing several boards of scrabulous and latterly turning into Hong Kong's version of "Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells" - the ficticious letter writer to the Torygraph. There is a strange buzz that comes with seeing your stuff in print (er..maybe that's why I like the micro ego trip that goes with blogging?)

Anyway, here's the latest missive published in my newspaper writing career. After sharing my thoughts with the Guardian last year on having a disabled sibling, I'm turning my attention to the painfully banal South China Morning Post. There is, naturally, a formula for getting published.

First, never forget Beijing is good. It just is. OK?

Secondly, letters that refer to business, and how to build business/make money/beat Singapore are particularly welcome.

Thirdly, knock governmental departments. For starters it's easy, always plenty of material to go on and relatively harmless. The SCMP can therefore look like a connected and concerned commentator, whilst not actually promoting any change.

I'm choosing, as my primary source of material, the environment. However, if there are issues that should be brought to the attention of the readership of SCMP do let me know and I'll do my utmost to bring my creative talents to bear to get it into the rag :-)

Wrong day for crucial meeting on air quality

The air quality in Hong Kong is poor and it is a relief to see the government taking steps to consult the public on Hong Kong's air quality objectives.

The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) is therefore to be applauded for launching a consultation forum to gather opinions about these objectives. Unfortunately the meeting is to be held on a Thursday afternoon ("Review of air quality objectives and development of a long-term air quality strategy for Hong Kong consultation forum", January 31).

As the managing director of a business in Hong Kong, the subject of our air quality is of the utmost importance to me, as it has a direct impact on the well-being of my customers and my staff, and therefore, by implication, the success of my business.

I have strong views which I would love to have the opportunity to share with the EPD.

Why then could the meeting not be scheduled on a weekend, or in the evening, which would enable a broader attendance from business leaders in Hong Kong?

Is the EPD afraid to hear our views?

Grande Poobah, Mid-Levels

Friday, 11 January 2008

Dear sir or madam, would you read my book?

A first for me this week - a letter of mine was printed in the South China Morning Post. Regular readers (!) will know only too well my views on this rag, but, for better or worse it is HK's leading English Language paper and the closest thing to a free press that we have locally. My letter was prompted by the news that the mainland is taking action to curb plastic bag use. My good friend, the redoubtable Lottie P, followed it up the next day with a second letter on the same theme.

The most interesting thing about this whole process was the angle that the SCMP placed on both. Both letters had as their core point the lamentable lack of action taken by HK to sort out its own plastics consumption. However, the headings for the letters in the paper highlighted their relative support for the Chinese position. Mine, for example, was titled "Decisive Action" - a header that so missed the mark that I didn't even notice that it was my letter underneath!

Decisive Action

Jan 11, 2008

I read with interest the report that the mainland is taking the lead in reducing the use of plastic bags ("Plastic bag crackdown to include ban on free handouts from June 1", January 9).

I applaud the firm and forward-looking stance that the mainland has taken, which places it alongside other forward-looking nations which are prepared to take decisive action to deal with the environmental problems caused by excessive and irresponsible plastic use.

It therefore is all the more shameful and inexplicable that Legco and Hong Kong retailers are so spineless in their efforts to curb plastic (mis)use.

Where are the leaders who are prepared to take the brave and morally responsible decisions necessary to bring Hong Kong into line with the mainland?

La Grande Poobah, Mid-Levels