Customs officers play the waiting game

Central Station | Nury Vittachi 6 Nov 2019

Customs officers in Hong Kong are spending a lot of time in toilets.

Four people have been charged with flying into the city with illegal drugs in their stomachs in recent days.

Each was locked up in a room with an en suite toilet, although it's hardly the Four Seasons.

Officers resist the urge to give the smugglers laxatives, in case they cause the drugs to break open and cause death by poisoning.

"They just have to wait with them, sometimes for days," said my source. "And then sort through what comes out."

I mentioned this to my neighbor who had an answer. Double-boiled white fungus and pinenut soup has natural laxative effects, she said.

Would I prefer to die by poisoning or to eat her white fungus soup?

Hmm. That's a hard one.

* * *

By unfortunate timing, the spike in toilet-watching duties coincides with the preparations for Hong Kong customs departments' annual open day, where they demonstrate their duties to the public. I can't wait.

* * *

One of the items listed for the upcoming Hong Kong film festival in Shanghai is called City On Fire, I noticed yesterday.

It must be either an old Ringo Lam movie or a live stream from the Yau Ma Tei protests on a Saturday night.

* * *

This picture of the sign on the door of a conference room makes me think there must be a term for when a spelling mistake actually makes a statement more truthful.

Spotter: Jane Sin.

* * *

Statisticians released the expected gloomy news yesterday about a massive drop in third-quarter takings at restaurants.

But they were surprised that revenue at fast-food outlets favored by young people went up by 2 percent. Protesters have scared regular customers off the streets, but late-night brick throwing gives them an appetite.

* * *

At a coffee shop yesterday, I had people on either side of me viewing horrible video clips of violent gangs beating people followed by images of gang members posing with a smiling politician.

The image on my left: white-shirt thugs with Junius Ho Kwan-yiu.

The image on my right: black-shirt thugs with Claudia Mo Man-ching.

There were surprisingly similar.

* * *

Facepalm of the week goes to reporter Tse Pui-shan who halted the police press briefing on Monday and then complained that "the police were depriving the public of their right to know."

* * *

To mark literary festival week, this reporter is visiting schools every day to discuss journalism.

Hong Kong children are smart. Even those as young as 12 could see that reporters are failing to be balanced.

An insightful comment came from a teacher: "Everyone knows half the reporters are fake, just protesters in disguise. But the problem is that the real reporters are also just protesters in disguise."

* * *

Readers sent me a clip of a TV reporter trying to get an old man in Tuen Mun to criticize the police.

Reporter: Did you feel unwell when the tear gas came in?

Old man: Can't you see how well I'm looking? I'm 80 years old! There's chaos everywhere! Of course, there is a chance that tear gas would end up here. It's hardly a surprise. Not a problem.

Reporter: So you won't be making a complaint?

Old man: Complain about what?

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