Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Moving Backward

I've never enjoyed crowds; I wouldn't be caught dead in Mong Kok if Jesus himself promised to make an appearance. But when they raised the reward for identifying the acid thrower to HK$900,000, I thought: Now there's a reason to start hanging out in MK more often.

The area so essential to Hong Kong's identity has long been a death trap, with sketchy small shops somehow profiting off of the latest cell phones at irresistible discounts, food stalls right next to double-decker bus stops selling mouth-watering battered organs deep fried in thousand-year-old animal fat, reckless drivers and even more reckless pedestrians roaming the streets, Hello Kitty-tattooed "landlords" cruising and cursing entertainment venues with their gangs, and menopausal women slicing passersby with flyers promoting $88 "massage" services. Not to mention druggies, pickpockets, con artists, young men carrying unsightly women's purses (sometimes for their girlfriends) and girls dragging along really, really tiny miniature toy poodles.

With my luck, had I really been hanging around MK I would’ve escaped the plummeting loudspeaker just so I’d be back a couple nights later to get run over by the minibus. With my ear-raping noise cancellation earphones pumping phat tunes on my eardrums, I probably wouldn’t even have seen it coming. And with my luck, the odds of my in-case-of-emergency person being able to fork out over HK$20,000 for the doctors at QEH to start administering Novo Seven on me before I bled to death would be pretty slim.

I used to think there were only two places that would allow public hospitals to put money before someone’s life: China (they’ll need a deposit before you could even be admitted) and the US (“Sicko” stirred up more sympathy from me for Americans than did the re-election of George W. Bush).

How the hospital authority in Hong Kong could’ve allowed the existence of such a lethal gray area in something as fundamental as the protocol on administering necessary drugs in life-or-death situations is beyond me. Was it not one of the first (hundred) things to consider before playing doctor? Makes one wonder what would’ve happened if the victim had no family, or the family couldn’t afford the meds.

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