Heel, Hemlock, Heel!
Obviously some people know him personally, but amongst many bloggers who have little better to do, the identity of Hong Kong's preeminant English-speaking political-satirist blogger, Hemlock, has been something of an ongoing mystery, discussed over water-flavored brown liquid at Pacific Coffee outlets and other similar establishments across Asia and the other planets.
He prefers his anonymity and is prepared to defend it.
And good luck to him: does it really matter if we have a name to ascribe to the powdered wig?
It's not like he has to put up $250,000 as a bond before registering to comment on politics, or risk imprisonment, internal exile (house arrest, not being to get out of one of the most boring countries on Earth) and bankruptcy like those of us who do daily verbal battle with the Gahmen of this* strange country are supposed to do.
Well, battle may not be the word. Whinge. Whimper. Nor daily for that matter. Sporadic ill-advised bleating about describes it, at least in my case.
But in my experience of Hong Kong, when people ask "WHO" someone is, what they are really asking is, "WHO DOES HE WORK FOR?"
All we non-cognoscenti know (courtesy of his own witty admissions) is that he is the "Company Gwailo" for a man called "Big Boss", that he breakfasts in the FCC with "shapely Administrative Officer Winky Ip", and mets his "American friend Odell" after sampling the atmosphere on the mid-level escalators most mornings...
But what does he REALLY DO? Apart from watch his carefully planned investment strategy balloon, and gloat...
According to Joe Studwell's new book Asian Godfathers (a triumph of negative marketing - the cover is so lame no-one will take its explosive material seriously - I bought my copy in HK recently, haven't seen it in Singapore stores yet) there are still some non-Chinese people placed high up in the large family run corporations who control Hong Kong that he calls "Gwailo running dogs." These are token British or Amercians who serve "as a racial reminder of who is in charge..."
Studwell says parenthetically:
(...one such lone running dog in Hong Kong, employed by a major regional family, is sufficently underemployed to maintain an entertaining daily blog of his activities),26... Asian Godfathers, 2007, pg 92.
A shuffle to the back of the book finds the link to the end-note 26 - "http://www.geocities.com/hkhemlock/papers.html" ...
Presuming Studwell knows what is talking about (he was editor of China Economic Quarterly, last issue Q2 2006. Is that a recommendation? Never heard of it...), Hemlock REALLY IS the token company Gwailo!
Still, who is E@L to criticise a comfortable sinecure in troubled time like these...
OTHER MONKEYS SAID
I always figured Hemlock was a reporter for the Standard given his pre-occupation with the government and his references to the Press Club.
Now that said, I really sometimes take offense to his hi-handed attitude towards those of us who enjoy the company of "Southeast Asian Women of humble origins" from time to time.
So how does one get a job as token Gwailo-I think I could do that-and would for the chance to live in Hong Kong.
That has been a common thought, oft bandied. Might yet prove to be true! Who owns the Standard? F'ked if I know.
Gawd I miss HK!