Headline Makes News in Hong Kong

(SCMP)  Delay no more over restaurant smoking ban, says lobby group.  By Raymond Ma.  October 31, 2004.

A grace period for restaurants and bars to comply with a ban on smoking should be kept as short as possible to protect the health of their staff, according to Hong Kong's anti-smoking lobby.

The Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health (Cosh) has urged the government to allow catering bosses three to six months before they go smoke-free.  Cosh made the suggestion to health officials last week when they discussed draft amendments to the city's Smoking (Public Health) Ordinance.  The amendment will provide for a ban on lighting up in all restaurants and bars.

The proposal to give catering owners grace periods was first announced two weeks ago in the Legislative Council by health chief York Chow Yat-ngok.  It was grudgingly welcomed by the catering sector legislator Tommy Cheung Yiu-yan as a large resort if the government decides to go ahead with the ban despite the industry's protest.

Cosh executive director Raymond Ho Lei-ming said the statutory anti-smoking group put forward the request when it met health, welfare and food bureau officials last week.  "The longer the grace periods are, the more the health of  workers in these places will be damaged by second-hand smoke," he said.

Mr. Cheung agreed that a phased approach should be adopted if a smoking ban in restaurants and bars is made law.  The Liberal Party lawmaker is a staunch opponent of banning smoking in restaurants and bars, but supports smoke-free air in other workplaces.

He said the timing for individual establishments to go smoke-free shold take into consideration the particular type of business.  "But three to six months is too short," Mr Cheung said.  "It should take years.  What is the hurry?  We have been smoking second-hand smoke for the last 60 years, and 80 yeras for those living longer."  He also urged the government to consult the catering industry to help minimise any economic pain felt by the owners of restaurants and pubs if it goes ahead with the ban.

Second-hand smoke has been linked to various illnesses, including heart disease and cancer.  Of about 200,000 catering workers in Hong Kong, an estimated 150 die each year from inhaling second-hand smoke at work.

Something is very wrong with this report.  And I don't even mean the hypocrisy of catering by the sector legislator who thinks that all other businesses can go smoke-free for the sake of public health but it is alright to kill people working in restaurants and bars for the sake of profits.  

Do you see the problem yet?  It is in the title of the report:

Delay no more over restaurant smoking ban, says lobby group

Still don't see it?  It is in the first three words of the title.  

In Cantonese, the English phrase "Delay no more" is a well-known homonym for the local phrase "F*ck your mother."  For reference, see See Lai, BWG and Waaah! for example.  This association was not a recent obscure invention.  It has been known to me as long as I can remember.  If memory serves me correctly, the first time that I saw the phrase on film was in the 1982 movie Lonely Fifteen starring the wonderful Becky Lam Pik-kei who won the best actress at the second Hong Kong Film Awards (and how many of you today even know who she is?).  And I had known about it for many years before then.

Getting back to this article, I will say that given the prevalence of the knowledge and usage of "Delay no more", I cannot believe that it was used either innocently or in ignorance here.  The only questions are who planted it there (being mindful that headlines are not necessarily chosen by the reporters themselves) and to what purpose (black humor? malice?).