Thursday, December 17, 2009

Why Christmas is Merrier in the Far East

By Chip Tsao | published Dec 17, 2009

Christmas is the time of the year when I feel proud to be a Hong Konger, particularly this year.

Not because of the US government’s announcement last week that their economy is recovering, nor because of the miraculous rebound of the Hang Seng Index on Monday upon learning that Dubai will be able to repay its debts. And not for Hong Kong’s haul of 26 gold medals in the East Asian Games, which finally earned us a dignified place in the world.

No, these are not the reasons. It’s the first time during Christmas when I’ve felt the world is my oyster. A British alumnus from my university came to Hong Kong for a holiday from Margate, Kent, England, last week and guess what? He asked me if I could help him apply for political asylum. He wants to become a Hong Kong permanent resident before becoming naturalized as a Chinese citizen, following the good examples of Allan Zeman and Mike Rowse.

As an Anglo-Saxon Briton, he is fleeing his home country because he has deeply offended his Muslim neighbors in Margate this year by decorating his front door with a tiny red statue of Santa Claus, a symbol of Christmas that is becoming increasingly offensive in Britain under the guise of maintaining multicultural harmony. He thought he had already downplayed the insult to his neighbor by opting to decorate with this little toy, made in China, instead of using a giant silver cross embellished with green leaves and golden bells, but still his neighbor complained to the local council. The police came and courteously advised him to take it down out of respect for the feelings of ethnic minorities.

The buzzword “harmony” is not only widespread in China, it’s equally insidious in a nation in the “free world” with an established Christian church and a Muslim population of less than two percent. Christmas cards are slowly becoming “Winter Festival” cards, and “Happy Winter Festival” has become the politically correct way to say, “Merry Christmas.”

I took my former classmate on a ferry tour of Victoria Harbour. We were both in tears. What a sentimental reunion.

I proudly told him that the Christmas lights on display there partly celebrate the good governance of Sir Donald Tsang, our beloved Chief Executive, who is ushering us into a prosperous future where China is the new superpower of the world. When the ferry sailed past Wan Chai, I showed him the Immigration Department building and asked him to get a few passport-sized photos and about HK$1,600 in cash together for his residency application. The cost is about the same as the renewal fee for a British National (Overseas) passport, which was falsely rumored on local websites earlier this month to soon enable Hong Kong holders to enter Europe and stay permanently with all attendant social benefits, leading to widespread euphoria—until an official EU spokesman flatly denied it last week.

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