All Tea No Shade with Andrea Lo.
Hong Kong is often hailed for its efficiency.
It’s so easy to get stuff done. The public transport system is one of the best compared to those in other metropolises. In fact, in 2015, our government was ranked the fourth most efficient in the world.
Well, I don’t think this is exactly true. When you’ve been living here for a long time, you pick up on all the things that make life inconvenient as hell.
Let’s start with running a household in Hong Kong. When something in your home has broken down, and you need a pro to come fix it, you’d better be a do-nothing who can spare the hours between 11am to 4pm sitting around waiting for them to show up. And start waiting at 10:20am, because that’s usually the time they’ll call you asking if they can show up.
Even when you’ve finally managed to have someone come look at your broken device/machine, sometimes you need major work done to the home by construction workers. When everything kicks off, you learn that construction workers in Hong Kong don’t actually work with real timelines, and will also randomly disappear for four weeks to leave your home in a dilapidated state.
Moving on to activities outside of the home: if you’re trying to track down a particularly hard-to-find item from a store, good luck getting a real response on the phone from the people who run these businesses. They’ll assure you of giving you a callback, but you can just about give up there.
And on that note, have you ever noticed that most shops and restaurants don’t take debit cards? In fact, do we even have real debit cards here? With HSBC, you get an ATM card that’s exactly that: a card that you use to draw cash from an ATM with, and that’s about it.
Speaking of our homegrown financial institution, can it get any more inefficient? “The World’s Bank” has branches in many places, but they have nothing to do with each other — so good luck trying to transfer sums overseas.
What’s more, HSBC’s online banking is such a nightmare that I still use a passbook — which I’m pretty sure is a historical relic, judging from reactions from my friends when they see me whip it out — to keep track of my finances. (You manually enter your passbook into a machine at the bank, and it will print out all of your recent transactions.)
If you think this is just incompetence displayed by a select few companies, I would argue that the problem is much more widespread than that. In Hong Kong, certain organizations operate in a whole different sphere to the modern world. Think using lunar calendar dates for official purposes; and refusing to speak to, or work with, anyone whom they don’t have a personal connection with. (And just throwing a lot of shade in general.)
If our government is truly one of the most efficient across the globe, I’m wondering just how bad things are everywhere else. Many governmental departments that are specifically there to serve people just can’t get their shit together. Last month, I was at an appointment at a governmental department where a simple signing of some paperwork involved an hour-and-40-minute wait.
“That’s just how the Hong Kong government is,” my mom responded when I exploded in frustration.
But why should we settle for that excuse? We can do better than this. If we truly want to be proud of the city and want it to live up to its name, then something’s gotta give.
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