A Greene King acquires a new emperor

Central Station | Nury Vittachi 11 Sep 2019

Cheers! Ganbei! In 1955, the writer Graham Greene - who came from a pub-owning family - made a small contribution to the Hong Kong economy by arriving in this city and spending money in pubs and hotels here.

Hong Kong's business community must have invested the money well.

This year, six and half decades later, a Hong Kong man has just flown to the UK and bought practically every pub in the country.

He bought Mr Greene's family business, Greene King, by far the UK's biggest chain of pubs and hotels.

The man, of course, is Li Ka-shing.

So here's the story.

Hong Kong people work and sleep in Li Ka-shing properties (Cheung Kong), live on Li Ka-shing food (Park n Shop), use Li Ka-shing appliances (Fortress), drink Li Ka-shing water (Watson's) and rely on Li Ka-shing's phones, energy companies, transport services, etc.

Now whenever any of us we go on holiday to UK we'll be spending our time in Li Ka-shing hotels, pubs and restaurants.


* * *

Doreen Jaeger-Soong spotted a problem with the protesters' demands for Donald Trump to come and free Hong Kong from China. "He probably wouldn't be able to find Hong Kong on a map," she pointed out.

* * *

Hong Kong government lawyers have established this city as one of the world's most successful places for dispute resolution. So specialist lawyers from around the world flew in for an international conference in Wan Chai on Monday.

Hong Kong justice minister Teresa Cheng's opening speech should have been: "Thanks for coming, people. Could everyone please stand up and walk outside and solve a little dispute resolution problemette we are having right here? Thanks!"

* * *

Can't afford the diamond necklaces of top Hong Kong jewelry designer Michelle Ong? You can now own images of them, thanks to a well-reviewed new book celebrating her work.

No, wait. The book costs 65 (HK$630).

You can't even afford pictures of her stuff.

* * *

The latest in our series of signs with opposite meanings in Chinese and English is this one, sent in by reader Paul Lowndes. The Chinese says "Take care, it's slippery."

* * *

Hong Kong: "We are a modern scientific Westernized society, not like China."

Also Hong Kong: "We skip the fourth floor when we build apartments because ghosts might eat us."

* * *

Local musicians are rehearsing for the 30th birthday party of the Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui next month. I'll never forget the moment of horror in 1989 when the scaffolding and nets came off, and we realized that government architects had created a complex with the greatest harbor view in the world--and omitted to include any windows.

* * *

Many readers commenting on Monday's piece on Singlish decided to write to me in that bizarre language.

Patrick Chan: "You no tell me you in Singland."

Daphne Lee: "I oso surprise."

Javier Yong-En Lee: "Sing Ka Po always welcome you-ah."

Singapore resident Ed Nolan told me that my sentence "Why so liddat?" is too long for a Singaporean, and should be "Why liddat?"

A Hongkonger who goes by the name Regina Phalange informed me that she'd heard that "Happy Meal" (the McDonald's product) should be pronounced in Southeast Asia as "hair pee mew". It's eaten with orange juice, which is pronounced "or leng joo".

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