Behind the masks of darkness

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

Come you masters of war
You that build the big guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

– Masters of War, Bob Dylan

The ‘beach temporarily closed sign’ at Tai Pak Beach in Discovery Bay symbolises the difficult situation here in Hong Kong as COVID-19 cases continue to spiral.

More than 17,053 new cases, mostly locally transmitted, were reported on Friday, up from 10,508 a day earlier. As of Friday over 60,000 residents who have tested positive are waiting to be admitted to hospital or community isolation facilities. There’s no disguising the strain that the city’s services or people are under and things are going to get tougher here for some time before they get any better.

But reading many of the comments of outrage in the reader response section of the South China Morning Post or on my local Discovery Bay residents’ WhatsApp group, I can’t help but compare the difficulties here with those of the people of Ukraine.

As tragedy – an overused word but precisely apposite here – and horror unfold in Ukraine, we wonder how this situation could be happening in an age of mass communication. And after we wonder, we watch. Impotently. Sanctions will only do so much; so will the important statements of solidarity with Ukraine and its people from other countries, business groups and individuals.

The pandemic situation in Hong Kong continues to deteriorate. Click on the image to read the story from the South China Morning Post.

Most of us in travel retail know quite a number of Russians who are involved in our sector. I do, in fact several of my closest industry friends are from the country. We must remember that this is a hostile move by the Russian leader and not by its people.

I feel for them though of course I feel even more for those I know in Ukraine – such as our good friends at Nemiroff distillery in the town of the same name in Vinnytsia Oblast (province), which is now closed. Several of the personnel have joined the army forces, Global PR Manager Sofiya Makaruk told us yesterday in a desperate and powerful plea for aid to the country.

Sofiya Makaruk’s plaintive plea to business partners
A flashback to just a few weeks ago as Nemiroff vodka released a space-themed limited-edition expression to celebrate the launch of the Ukrainian ‘Sich-2-30’ satellite on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rocket. Just six weeks on, the distillery has closed and several employees have left to join the defence of their country. Our thoughts are with them. One suspects that Ukranian products such as Nemiroff will get a lot of retailer and consumer support in travel retail over coming months.

Dark days indeed. Mankind’s history is stenched with the blood of warfare and it appears that the tragic lessons of conflict are never learned. When Bob Dylan wrote his searing 1963 anti-war song quoted above, the masks he referred to were of the symbolic kind rather than those we associate with today’s pandemic. But whether real or allusive, those masks cannot hide the darkness of man’s heart.

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