You have probably heard of SAD ... or Seasonal Affective Disorder to give it a proper name. It means basically that if there is a lack of sunshine people get depressed and I am sure you have noticed it yourselves. How much happier do the folk around you seem when the sun is out? Many countries because of their geographic position will have a higher percentage of SAD sufferers than others. If you are in virtual darkness for most of the winter because it just doesn't get light for many hours each day you can understand the depressed feeling it would create. Others suffer a change in mood because of unusual weather patterns. Dubai today, for example has a lot of glum looking people around because it is - somewhat unusually for this time of the year - raining.
SAD, as the name suggests, is supposed to be a seasonal affliction, but I am getting a sense that in Hong Kong we are beginning to suffer from the syndrome on a regular, even annual rather than a seasonal basis.
Okay, maybe in Hong Kong I have to admit perhaps we do have a lot of things on our minds that could be distressing. Pollution is never pleasant. Striking dock workers, a recent phenomenon and by the way where did their Australian brethren come from to support them? (I wonder whether the Australian dockers union knew that some of their brothers had an all expenses paid trip to Hong Kong. And were trying to compare wages in Australia with those in Hong Kong - hello; real world!) There is the threat of a new Occupy Central movement in support of Universal Suffrage - this is going to be depressing for the many commuters who will have to thread their way past the debris of such a movement that seems to have been created to provide "grandstand" opportunities for the politicians involved. Perhaps the Government could consider hosing down the streets at night to keep them clean.
And then there is "Government" itself - that re-branded (but hard working) civil service that occupies the Governmental role, unelected and unremovable facing off against the elected de facto and permanent opposition who operate with no accountability for their actions.
Okay, perhaps there is a reason to be depressed after all. But has nobody got any good news out there? If we do, it is getting increasingly hard to find.
How many times did I hear former Chief Secretary Anson Chan, in extolling the virtues of Hong Kong in her promotion of the city overseas and indeed within Hong Kong itself, point to one our greater strengths - a "can do" attitude. This has become a rather petulant "won't do" attitude now. And it's not doing our future any good at all.
I am in the Middle East at present, where I visit from time to time, and where the attitude to the future is just a little different - despite the rain!! There is a recognition here that the world is not sitting on its hands and doing nothing. Investments here and in Sub Saharan Africa and In Latin America are growing quickly, and those who sit on their hands too long will get pins and needles. We are undertaking an exercise that looks at the future of the world, and the impact it is likely to have on business here. Business that is going to be done by younger people using technology far in advance of anything we know about today. Few older people running companies today have any idea as to how their businesses will be done in 10, 15 or 30 years time, yet they have to start putting in place the framework that will enable them to face up to new competition. Where new market players without traditional baggage, will be fierce competitors.
This is the sort of thinking that Hong Kong needs. As a City, even, not just its individual corporations.
The business community doesn't speak up enough, I get told, because they fear being "branded" as uncaring or sympathisers with the present form of Government, or worse, the Chief Executive who has still not been given much of a chance lets be honest (no pun intended), then the media will have a field day saying that comments from the business community - yes, the same community that creates jobs - are self serving.
Is the business community really willing to push the Government to do something about pollution, and no it does not all come from China, even if there are costs involved? Heaven knows, we tried a few years ago. But how come Tokyo and Seoul managed to clear up their heavily polluted cities (and please don't tell me it's all because of the wind that we are where we are!)?
But if we carry on doing things the old way, and if we allow a bunch of disruptive and grubby tents to be erected in the business district of Hong Kong, and do nothing about the levels of pollution, then we will be a SAD city in more ways than one.