Here, have some of your own cash back

Central Station | Nury Vittachi 17 Jan 2020

This columnist's wife, a car owner, stared at the receipt from the gas station. "They gave me a HK$80 discount," she said with a big smile. "Pretty good, huh?"

No: it's an evil scam!

The cost of petrol has fallen almost in half since 2014. But local gas companies have passed on literally none of the savings to Hong Kong drivers.

When our ultra-busy population failed to notice, oil executives sneakily raised Hong Kong petrol prices to the world's highest. (It costs HK$18 a liter, about the same price as Stout beer.)

The gamble paid off, earning embarrassingly large sums of cash for petroleum companies.

Now, with no more room in their swimming pools to store the money, they are returning tiny amounts of the gouged cash back as "discounts" to motorists.

Who are thanking them politely.

* * *

A company from China bought a piece of land in Tuen Mun this week. So, is that what's called a communist plot?

* * *

Dream Cruises is offering Hongkongers a five-night luxury cruise for HK$1,823, including food, gym access and entertainment - that's cheaper than just normal life in Hong Kong.

Might as well just live on their cruise ships.

(Incidentally, the cruise itinerary includes a visit to the Taal volcano in the Philippines, so bring an umbrella.)

* * *

Prison guards in Hong Kong are using a cunning scheme to stop people smuggling things into jail, they revealed this week. They tell gift-senders they can only send items from a limited list [pens, notebooks, lip balm, etc] and then randomly shuffle the nametags before delivery. So secret love letters or maps hidden in pens, for example, end up going to strangers. This has comedy potential.

* * *

China-basher Kenneth Roth wrote on Facebook about being refused entry into Hong Kong. Thousands of people added comments criticizing the Human Rights Watch leader. Some were nationalistic attacks, but many were just ordinary Hong Kong people adding pictures of the awful vandalism of the past half-year. Best comment: "Roth's report is so biased that it's like a mirror image of the People's Daily."

* * *

Modern Hong Kong children: "The light bulb in my room stopped working, we need to buy a new apartment."

* * *

A company called Pack and Save put up a recruitment poster saying that they need a speaker of "Englisn" (sic) as a "first prioritile" (sic), I heard from reader Scott Smyth, who sent in the picture. "It goes without saying," he said.

* * *

When Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee suggested that the Hong Kong government give HK$10,000 to each citizen, she was slammed by pan-dem supporters for an outrageous attempt to buy popularity. This week, as this newspaper's Mary Ma column pointed out yesterday, the Democratic Party made the exact same suggestion. Hear those deafeningly loud screams of outrage? No, neither do I.

* * *

What a gulf there is between the gloom in much of Hong Kong and the happiness in the hard-partying business district.

This columnist arrived at the Stock Exchange at 7.20am yesterday to find a celebratory queue outside as the first of seven new listings were added.

The offices above were also busy. More than 50 new private equity forms moved into Hong Kong in the second half of last year, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said. "There is reason for optimism," he added. Thank God.

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