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Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Federal Labor Announces Omphaloskepsis Strategy

Canberra, 1st of April, 2085

The Federal Labor Party has announced an exciting new strategy for winning the next federal election.

Called 'Omphaloskepsis', opposition leader Anthony Albanese hopes that nobody will notice that this is the Greek term for 'navel gazing'.

"It's an exciting new direction for us. In the past, we've always been far too focused on ourselves and our own silly factional fights, and I think the people of Australia are sick of that. By rebranding this age old practice, we believe that we'll be able to convince people that we're doing something different."

Ghostly hand of the past Gough Whitlam was at the launch, as was the more recently created shade of Bob Hawke. Also in attendance was the Labor Shadow Minister for Zombie Memories, Paul Keating.

"I think that continually trading on past glories and being more focused on our own power struggles than the needs of ordinary Australians is just the way political parties have evolved in this day and age. Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis," he said, before being expelled from the gathering for practising obfuscation in the wrong ancient dead language.

Labor diehard Kerry Definitelynotamarxist said, "I think this is going to revolutionise the way Labor conducts its business."

The launch was accompanied with fireworks and much rejoicing.

Additional reporting provided by the vengeful ghost of the original aims of the union movement. 

Morrison Government Legislates to Approve Compulsory Exorcisms

Canberra, 1st of April 1956

The Morrison government has used the political capital accrued in its shock election win to push through controversial legislation requiring at risk youths to undergo exorcisms. 

"Given that we're cutting taxes and therefore the funding for programs for the criminal underclasses nobody cares about, we feel that this alternative solution will be leaner, more efficient, and more in keeping with Australian values," the Prime Minister said at a press conference to announce the bill.

"We in the Liberal Party are a broad church of churches, and world leaders in public private partnership. Just look at our successes with Westconnex, and all those tower blocks our donors in NSW keep building. I support a rugby team and I like a pint," Mr Morrison was keen to point out.

The proposed program will see youths who are engaged in antisocial or criminal behaviour being referred to a priest, faith healer, or other holy man/woman in order to have the demons causing this behaviour expelled from their earthly shells. "No shamen or whatever, though," Minister for Being a Depressed Potato Peter Dutton was quick to assure the public. "We're a Christian nation, so it'll all be stuff broadly falling within the umbrella of Christianity, and the other two religions we kinda barely tolerate."

When asked how he felt about the new legislation, Darren, aged 8 said, "I was the fangs in the night. The fear beyond the firelight. I was the terror of man and I will prevail. You will worship the earthly form of Hattusas! Get off me, priest!"

"The great beauty of this program is that it costs nothing. And it contains all the crazy people with all the other crazy people so we can stop worrying about them," said Mr Morrison.

When asked about whether his own personal faith had influenced this policy change, Mr Morrison replied with marketing and management gibberish.

A future program aimed at housing the homeless in The Eternal Kingdom of Heaven is slated for consultation later this year.

Additional reporting provided by the great god Ba'al Enchridion. 

Monday, 1 July 2019

Hong Kong vs China

I know why the Brits handed over in 1997. The world looked different then. The USSR was a 'sick man' empire, China looked for all the world like it was liberalising, and besides, they'd paid for the New Territories and all the infrastructure that went with it. And besides, stealing territory and works from yellow people is something the British have only ever done when it was convenient, and not necessarily with any reference to what was right. 

But I'm not here to talk about territory or sovereignty or morally questionable deals designed to resolve morally questionable situations. I'm keen to use my privilege as a person with a Chinese face to say some stuff that other commentators might fight shy of. I'm keen to talk about colonisation - about some of the positives of colonisation, in fact. And about the moral duty of a parent. I know, but bear with me.

Speaking of parents, whenever my mother referred to people from Hong Kong, she'd always derisively call them 'Hongkies' while carefully explaining that they didn't like to be called that to their faces, and that they weren't really Chinese. Not like us Singaporeans. As it turns out, both of these things are true. Most Hong Kongers prefer to be addressed by their names, funnily enough, and they really are very very different to the mainland Chinese - about as different as we Singapore types, but in different ways. 

In Singapore there is a pardonable skepticism about the British and their legacy. This is evident in their having a whole damn museum dedicated to the day the Brits abandoned both us and the Aussies who stayed to defend us to the tender mercies of the Japanese. But that's all ancient history now, apparently, if we're to judge by the collective memory of the west. But we'll get back to that later. 

In Hong Kong, what I've always seen is a sort of cheerful mongrel dog. There is, of course, Chinese signage everywhere. Yum Cha is the preferred breakfast, and there's an abundance of distressingly (to my Hakka self) Cantonese manners. The way they yell out "M'goi!" repeatedly and in steadily increasing volume to get a waiter's attention. The way everyone's whole life seems to be solely about stuffing their faces with food and buying shiny stuff (sound familiar, quai lo?). The casual cruelty to foreign maids, the obsession with exam results and authority, the general insensibility to big abstracts like 'materialism' and 'nihilism'. All these strike me as classically southern Chinese, but that's mostly because of my own racism. 

But there's another and equally visible side of Hong Kong, and this is the colonised side. One of my earliest memories of Hong Kong is Maxim's, the cake shop. Sure, there were weird green things, and the sponge was either dew on spider web diaphanous, or seven egg house brick, and nothing in between, but this was a shop full of recognisably Anglo-French tea cakes, mechanised and weaponised with Chinese efficiency (it takes less than ten seconds for a Maxim's worker to pick, box and giftwrap a three tier sponge cake) and matcha powder. And then there's the 'Western Breakfast', which consists of a sad piece of fried bacon-shaped ham, a cup of tea with a whole sliced lemon crammed into it, and fresh eggs deliberately prepared to look like powdered eggs. Apart from the lemon, that's basically a British or Australian army breakfast. 

But where we most see a culture is in its film and literature, and in this respect, Hong Kong is a goddamn miracle. Deep social commentary, films about families corroded by poverty, knife-wielding youths destroying themselves and everyone around them through global mindless hatreds worthy of Compton or any other urban battleground, weird non-conformist love stories, and a kind of ebullient, deluded individualism - the hero will prevail, love will overcome, freedom will ring... so far so Disney, right? But then there's that beautiful added touch that everyone I met in Hong Kong called  cinematic villains 'The cool guy'. And that wonderful Chinese lack of insistence on a happy ending - sure, it'll be a moral one, but we like our morality to cost blood - lots and lots of blood. 

And there's the rub. The British Empire - the west in general - has not been kind to people who look like me. Whether it's force feeding us addictive drugs, creating racial theories which define us as subhuman, actively treating us like nature's dogs and butlers, or simply stealing our shit and then looking the other way when we're in distress, such has been the lamentable track record of the white man and the yellow man. But contact equals transference, and in Hong Kong we find a person who looks Chinese, but somehow, woven into the fabric of their being and world view, are some ideas that are extremely precious to us here in the west. Individual liberty. The right to spend the rest of your life sharing pictures of your cat while scoffing overpriced bijou foodstuffs. Defiance of the tyrant. 

Sure, territorially, and by every other sensible or 'Realistic' measure, Hong Kongers are Chinese of a sort. Always have been. But in the only way that's really important, they're your people. Our people. They are, deep down, westerners incapable of understanding the self-abrogation of freedom, the essential servility and stupidity of the mainland Chinese Communists. A people who cannot - simply cannot - understand why they should have to give up the real estate in their heads to a bunch of guerilla peasants who spit in the street. That's right - they're the spiritual children of the west. 

Which is why every July 1st they protest. Which is why if we look away again, if we once again fail to act as the protectors we've always falsely promised them we'd be, they're going to die like flies. And as the weird surrogate Frankenstein parents of Hong Kong, the western world cannot, in good conscience, look away any more.