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Dim Sum rituals

Whilst having Dim Sum today I watched the lady at the next table carefully cleaning all the cups, bowls and chopsticks (using the tea and hot water provided by the restaurant).

The problem is that once you notice people doing this you can’t help but observe that most people who do this (and many restaurant staff) handle cups, bowls and chopsticks quite indiscriminately.  So we have to hope that their hands are really clean.  

I wrote about this several years ago, and these were the explanations offered in the comments:

  1. There’s a lot of TB in Hong Kong.  Which is true:
  2. Restaurants use bleach to wash everything, and it needs to be rinsed off.

    Another comment was that a brief wash with hot water is unlikely to kill many germs, which must be correct (for that you’d need water that is actually boiling).

    So if you are really a germaphobe you should probably stay at home.


        Health Scare

        Two years ago I complained about President’s horrible Ambassador product (I can believe its not butter) and here it is in an SCMP report

        Almost 20 spreads sold in Hong Kong ‘could increase your risk of cancer’

        GlycidolAt least 18 margarine products sold in shops in Hong Kong contain glycidol, a substance thought to cause cancer, and at least 16 carry a by-product [3-MCPD] that can harm kidneys and male fertility, the Consumer Council said on Monday.

        The watchdog revealed the findings from tests done last October on 30 items – nine types of butter and 21 products containing margarine. The latter comprised 16 margarine spreads, four blended spreads and one sample of shortening.

        [..]  The European Food Safety Authority (ESFA) is set to publish its standards for glycidol intake this year. Last year it recommended that the intake of the by-product 3-MCPD should be no more than 120 micrograms per day for adults.

        3-MCPD comes about when refining edible oils and is found in noodles, chips and even infant formula.

        Among the samples, President’s Ambassador Salted Culinary Fat Blend contained the most 3-MCPD at 1,100mcg per kg.

        As I said two years ago, I really don’t understand why a respectable company such as President is selling this product in packaging that looks just like butter (and that was when I knew it contained trans fats, but didn’t know about the glycidol and 3-MCPD).  Seriously, what’s wrong with them?

        Having said that, the risk is quite low:

        But a person would still have to eat 24 teaspoons of the fat blend in a day to exceed the ESFA’s guidelines, the council said.  “With normal consumption, the impact on health is minimal,” Wong Kam-fai added.


        SCMP still printing nonsense

        I don’t normally read the South China Morning Post, but I came across an actual printed copy so I glanced through it, and what a delight it continues to be.

        Oxfam Haiti sex scandal arose from arrogance, but cuts to funding are not the answer

        The Oxfam sex scandal has highlighted sexual abuse and exploitation by staff at the British-based charity in Haiti, after an earthquake ravaged the country in 2010. It also exposes the arrogant culture and lack of accountability in the aid sector.

        The reason the sector is so vulnerable to such allegations is that it is too often consecrated. Oxfam uses “ending poverty” as slogan to rally for funding and support. As a charity, it is often seen as a representation of the “good” and “sacred”. It was not expected to do harm to society. This explains why it has fallen so far from grace recently.

        Such an incident reveals not only that aid workers have been sexually abusive in local fields, but that they are using their position to exploit the most vulnerable.

        Believe it or not, this is not an isolated incident.

        I was expecting some revelation here.  There is nothing.

        When aid workers from the developed world are sent into the developing world, this possibly breeds a sense of exceptionalism. Coming from the “better” outside world, as well as under the aim of “saving the world”, aid workers are inclined to do things differently than they otherwise would do back home.

        Well, that’s hardly a revelation.  I am sure many people behave differently when away from home.

        Some even believe that they are godlike saviours for the locals, reinforcing the image of white fantasies with the mission of civilising the global south. They are left to their own devices to operate freely in such yet-to-be-liberated spaces. Some even perceive themselves as above the local norms and laws.

        I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.

        Amid such a power hierarchy, incidents such as these are probably only the tip of the iceberg.

        Probably.  Probably!

        Still, a few black sheep do not justify cutting off funding to Oxfam and the entire sector. Cutting off funding will not help curb sexual exploitation by workers on the ground, but mostly affect the vulnerable populations who require help.

        This under-supervised industry requires a structural overhaul. It is also important to realise the overhaul shall not be based on an event, but be a long-term process of constant evaluations.

        The way forward is not only to improve the transparency of the organisation and sector, but for the management in these organisations to articulate new and renewed commitments, to their process, the core vision and values.

        Neville Lai, Ho Man Tin

        Why does the SCMP print letters from people who have no particular insight into a subject?  What’s the point?

        And then there was this:

        Hong Kong reaps HK$380 million bonanza thanks to overseas visitors at Sevens

        …and even more visitors could be among the 40,000-strong crowd each day this weekend (April 6-8) as the Cathay Pacific/HSBC-sponsored showpiece is sandwiched between Easter and Cheng Ming Festival when many Hongkongers tend to travel abroad.

        The Rugby Sevens are after Ching Ming (which is on Thursday).  So, not sandwiched at all.  Do carry on.   

        [..] Tickets sold out for the 13th year in a row despite initial fears over the event’s proximity to major public holidays.

        “We had a few concerns over the Easter break [March 30 to April 1] and Cheng Ming Festival [also known as Tomb Sweeping Festival, April 2],” said McRobbie after the unveiling of an enormous “floating” rugby ball in Victoria Harbour. “But it has not been as negative as we thought it would be at one point.

        That’s Thursday 5th April, by the way.  And it’s normally called Ching Ming.

        Then there was this totally baffling headline:

        EFFORTS TO REACH
        DEAL WITH HOLY
        SEE STILL ON

        That’s just a random jumble of words (if you need a clue, “Holy See” means the Vatican). 

        In the online version they abandoned all efforts to write a snappy headline and went with the extremely verbose "Controversial bishops deal could still be on track after Beijing signals it hopes for progress in Vatican talks" which even I can understand.