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Of White, Pink and Green Elephants: Discussing the East Lantau Metropolis

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Impractical, unnecessary and exorbitantly expensive, Peter Sherwood reveals why the proposed East Lantau Metropolis is a terribly good plan

Thousands have marched to protest a proposed artificial island off the Lantau coast as a home for a million people. This cosmically deranged idea was agreed at a secretive ‘think tank’ meeting. The genesis of this assault on our only real asset, the harbour – along with a frenzied attack on what remains of our marine life – can be heard in a leaked recording:

“Mr X, your East Lantau Metropolis scheme is so monstrously dumb that the development panel has been forced to appreciate its potential genius. What inspired your brilliant plan?”
“Well, as I am contemplating retirement, I naturally looked to my legacy – apart from a highly paid senior board position with a local developer. What of lasting value can I leave the people of Hong Kong? Four elements were crystal clear: there’s a fortune in taxpayer money in the coffers for another impractical and whacky infrastructure project; the insignificant natural increase in the local population; the need to placate our Great Leader on the mainland with mass immigration here; and how our waters (presently wasted for recreation and some silly ‘marine park’) could benefit from mud, concrete and the elimination of troublesome marine life.”

“So, Mr X, how did you hit upon your quirky island concept?”
“I spent an enjoyable six months travelling the world exploring islands with a lot of people on them: Australia, Hawaii and Corfu. Inspiration ultimately came right here at home with Disneyland, an exercise in how to transform a delightful bay into a financial sinkhole. My eureka moment was that if we can partner with an American conglomerate and lose obscene amounts of money, why not leave the private sector out and go it alone? Our strength of independence could serve as a beacon to aspiring governments the world over. North Korea, for example.”

“Leave the private sector out of it?! Surely you don’t mean that?” “Of course not. That would be silly. It is well known that the only way to get money to the poor is to give it to the rich first, so the money can ‘trickle down’ to the 20% of Hong Kong citizens below the poverty line, many living in cages. But how would that work, you ask. Well, thousands of new jobs will be created.”

“We assume, Mr X, that there would be no hint of borderline corruption.”
“What?! Of course, there would be. How else do you think we remain at the top of Transparency International’s Crony Capitalism list each year?”

“OK, calm down, Mr X, we were joking.”
“Yes, well, fine… for a moment you had me worried.” [Laughs, sound of Champagne corks popping.]

Well, Mr X, that’s about it. On advice from the Government Accounting Office for White, Pink and Green Elephants we will break the news internationally: HK$500 billion for new Hong Kong island.
“But the cost will be double that!”

“I know, but you mustn’t worry so much about money.”
[Applause, cue music: Queen’s We are the Champions.]

Peter Sherwood has lived in DB for 19 years. The former head of an international public relations firm, Peter is the author of 15 books and has written around 400 satirical columns for the South China Morning Post.


Illustration by Andrew Spires


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