29 June 2015

The Moonscape of Sexual Equality - Part 1 走在崎嶇的路上-上卷


There are things about America that boggle the mind: gun violence, healthcare costs and Donald Trump. But once in a while – not often, just once in a while – the country gets something so right and displays such courage that it reminds the rest of the world what an amazing place it truly is. What happened three days ago at the nation’s capital is shaping up to be one of those instances.

From White to Rainbow


Last Friday, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a 5-to-4 decision on same-sex marriage, the most important gay rights ruling in the country’s history. In Obergefell v. Hodges, Justice Kennedy wrote, “It would misunderstand [gay and lesbian couples] to say that they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find fulfillment for themselves… They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

With those simple words, Justice Kennedy made marriage equality a constitutionally protected right in all 50 states. Obergefell will enter history books as a landmark civil rights victory alongside Brown v. Board of Education (the 1954 Supreme Court decision to desegregate schools) and Roe v. Wade (the 1973 decision to protect women’s abortion rights). President Barack Obama praised the Friday ruling, reminding citizens that “when all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free.”

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Justice Kennedy, the man in the yellow robe


12 time zones away, on the opposite side of the world, gay and lesbian folks find themselves navigating a very different political terrain. As far as sexual equality goes, Hong Kong looks like the surface of the moon. This is a place where just three years ago a property tycoon made international headlines by offering a HK$500 million (US$65 million) dowry to any man willing to marry his lesbian daughter. Until 1991, homosexual relations were still a crime. The age of consent used to be 16 for heterosexuals but five years higher for gay men, before the Court of Appeals corrected the anomaly in 2006. Even so, the criminal code wasn’t amended to equalize the age difference until last year. To date, the law remains silent on the consenting age for lesbian sex. 

The Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance prohibits discrimination on the grounds of gender, disability, age, race and other status. Sexual orientation is not one of the enumerated groups in the statute, although local courts have interrupted “other status” to encompass it. But there is a catch: the Bill of Rights applies only to government actions – such as public sector hiring and firing – and not to the private realm. Whereas other minority groups are protected by specific statues such as the Race Discrimination Ordinance and the Disability Discrimination Ordinance, there is currently no law to protect citizens from sexual discrimination.

Gigi Chao, next to her husband
who did not receive the $500 million bounty


In conservative Hong Kong, the path to marriage equality is treacherous and depressing. Most citizens have never heard of the phrase “civil union.” Same-sex marriage is so foreign to the collective consciousness that the mere mention of the idea evokes a range of responses from “What is to stop two male friends from getting married just to get public housing or tax benefits?” to “What’s next after same-sex marriage? Brothers and sisters tying the knot?” Given the growing cross-border tensions, many also fear that even more mainlander Chinese would come to Hong Kong through fake marriages.

The picture is just as bleak at the government level. It is no surprise that bureaucrats find same-sex marriage a hard pill to swallow, but they have proved to be just as uncompromising in situations that most reasonable people would consider uncontroversial. Take the case of W, a man who had undergone sex reassignment surgery and was legally a woman according to the new identity card and passport issued by the Immigration Department. Hell-bent on denying W a marriage certificate, however, the Registrar of Marriages summoned every resource at its disposal and fought her application all the way to the Court of Final Appeal, the city’s highest court. The registrar went after the woman with such tenacity that it began to look like a personal vendetta. The court eventually ruled in favor of W and ordered the government to redefine gender as a person’s identified sex instead of his or her biological sex at birth. Today, two years after W’s victory, the government is yet to make any of the legislative changes to comply with the ruling. A bill to amend the Marriage Ordinance was defeated in the legislature in 2014. 

Opponents of same-sex marriage in the name of
religious freedom and family values


But the picture gets bleaker the closer you look. Here is another example of systemic prejudice. UK nationals living overseas – whether they are in a same sex or heterosexual relationship – can get married at British embassies and consulates around the world, provided that the local government does not object to such an arrangement. Even not so gay-friendly governments like China and Russia have given their green light to this so-called “getting married abroad scheme.” But so far the Hong Kong government has refused to play ball. The resistance has much to do with the fact that hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong Chinese received a British National Overseas (BNO) passport before the handover. Bureaucrats are worried that once they sign on to the UK scheme, a deluge of gay and lesbian couples with a BNO passport would rush to the British Consulate in Admiralty to get married, which would in turn expose the government to future judicial reviews if they don’t recognize these “overseas marriages” administered in Hong Kong.

They say the strength of a society is measured by how its weakest members are treated. On that account, Hong Kong is not nearly as mighty as many think. As much as we hold ourselves out as Asia’s World City, our policies and attitude toward sexual minorities fall far short of our self-image. The gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community needs a change agent to take up the cause, unite the various advocacy groups, and lead the continuous struggle toward full sexual equality.

Enter Ray Chan (陳志全), a pan-democratic member of the Legislative Council (Legco) and a former presenter of the popular Commercial Radio program “Fast Slow Beats” – hence his nickname Slow Beat (慢必). The 43-year-old also happens to be the first, and to date the only, openly-gay lawmaker in Hong Kong. At Legco, Chan has been vocal on a variety of issues from electoral reform to social security. He is not afraid to filibuster important government initiatives even if it earned him many enemies. But ever since he came out of the closet in 2012, Chan has gone from a firebrand to also the go-to person on the uncomfortable subject of sexual politics. It is a role that he has assumed with pride and a sense of duty.

Ray Chan (middle), with openly gay Cantopop star
Anthony Wong (in stripes) at Gay Pride

Chan is an outspoken champion against sexual discrimination and, from time to time, a victim of it. As recently as a month ago, he was verbally assaulted by a woman on the subway train, not for his Legco antics but his sexuality. The assailant’s two-minute diatribe ran the full gamut of insult, but with a curious focus on the size of the lawmaker’s manhood. The video, now posted on Youtube with subtitles in several languages, has been viewed nearly 600,000 times. Adding insult to injury – or in this case, injury to insult – South China Morning Post columnist Michael Chugani defended the woman’s behavior by likening it to the pan-democrats’ frequent tirades and name-calling against government officials, arguing that both cases are constitutionally protected free speech. Chugani’s op-ed landed him in the center of a public relations firestorm, as critics lambasted the veteran journalist for condoning hate speech. To Chan, the incident and the ensuing drama were both simpler and more complicated: it underscores what he has been advocating for years – local legislation to outlaw sexual discrimination – except that the struggle has now become much more personal.

All that provided the pretext for my conversation with Ray Chan. Within 24 hours after Obergefell v. Hodges was issued and social media were plastered with the rainbow flag, I sat down with Slow Beat at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club to talk about the moonscape that is the state of sexual equality in Hong Kong. Wearing a pink Hollister T-shirt and denim shorts, Chan brimmed with excitement from the U.S. Supreme Court decision. Between finishing his chicken rogan josh and sending text messages on his iPhone, the lawmaker spoke candidly about sex and politics.

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Read Jason Y. Ng’s conversation with Ray Chan in part 2 of this article to be posted on 1 July.


The infamous woman in yellow


18 June 2015

Comedy of Errors 錯中錯


In politics, sometimes a mistake is just a mistake. Then there are blunders so shocking that they draw gasps and deer-in-headlights stares from even the opponents. The latter happened at Legco today.

After nearly two years of bitter political wrangling, 79 days of street occupation, months of government-funded media blitz, and a last-minute appeal to the opposition by senior Beijing officials, the biggest constitutional showdown in the post-Handover era finally came to an end – and a dramatic one at that. It came as little surprise that the Beijing-backed proposal for the 2017 chief executive election was voted down at the legislature. What’s astonishing was the 28-to-8 defeat. There are 70 seats in Legco and 42 of them are taken by pro-Beijing lawmakers. That means the government was only about five votes shy of the super-majority it needed to pass the electoral reform bill. There were unconfirmed rumors that pro-democracy lawmakers were offered hundreds of millions of dollars to change their minds, although none of them took the bait. In the end, however, the bill that Hong Kong’s No. 2 official Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) has been peddling for months received only eight out of the 70 Legco votes. Even a Hollywood screenwriter couldn’t have come up with a better twist.

The vote count


Exactly what happened is the subject of much contention and confusion. Here’s what we do know. The reform bill was submitted to Legco for a vote yesterday. It triggered a series of predictable floor debate and political posturing that lasted until early afternoon today. But then, shortly after the voting bell had already been sounded, all but a handful of pro-Beijing lawmakers suddenly got up and walked out of the room. Those who stayed – nine from the pro-Beijing camp and 28 pan-democrats – constituted a quorum and they cast their votes: 8 yea, 28 nay, 1 no-vote, 33 absent. Most of the absentees were the pro-Beijingers who had left the room. Thats right, the reform proposal that the Communists had practically drafted themselves will now enter the history books as a bill that got less than 10 votes. For Beijing and the SAR government, it was the equivalent of being thrown a dozen eggs and having them rubbed all over the face. Dripping yolk and all.

After the vote, Jeffrey Lam (林健鋒), a member of the pro-establishment Business and Professionals Alliance (經民聯) and the bumbling lawmaker who initiated the walk-out, scrambled to do damage control. Flanked by his fellow Beijing loyalists (including a visibly fuming Regina Ip (葉劉淑儀)), Lam told reporters that the whole thing was a case of misunderstanding. He had intended to stall the vote by staging an adjournment, Lam claimed, in order to buy some time for fellow pro-Beijinger Lau Wong Fat (劉皇發) who was late to the session. Lam’s real motive might have been to derail the vote altogether to give the Liaison Office (中聯辦)  the de facto Chinese consulate in Hong Kong – a few more days to get some of the pan-democrats to switch sides. Whatever his rationale, Lam failed to communicate his plan to everyone in his own camp, and so some of them ended up staying in their seats. Of the nine, eight followed the party line and cast a “yes” vote. Poon Siu-ping (潘兆平), a little known labor union head, was present in the room but he didnt vote. The poor guy said he didn’t know how to respond, panicked and then pushed the button too late. 

The walk-out


The turn of events looks like amateur night at a comedy club. It is as mortifying as a soccer player who kicks the ball into his own net, or a runner who passes the relay baton to the wrong team. It may be funny-ha-ha for us viewers at home, but Beijing isn’t laughing at all. A political autopsy is now feverishly underway to find out what went wrong and who should take the blame. Slow revenge is not for China, public lynching on the spot is more its thing. That means heads are expected to roll in the coming days. This time, however, everyone is fair game. Any member of the pro-Beijing camp, C.Y. Leung and his cabinet, and the Liaison Office can potentially be held responsible.

To Beijing, this practical joke is another reminder that it should never send an idiot to do a communist’s job. These so-called loyalists may be successful businessmen in their own right, but savvy politicians they are not. They play too much golf and not enough team sports to know how to work together. They are no better than the rent-a-crowds who were hired this week to stand outside Legco and chant pro-government slogans they didn’t understand. Opposition lawmaker Long Hair put it best: it was like drafting a bunch of boy scouts to fight World War II. The biggest loser today was perhaps Regina Ip. The fact that she was one of the lemmings who headed to the Legco door might have dashed her hopes to be the next chief executive. By Beijing’s book, Ip is just one of the idiots.


The "Make it Happen!" campaign


Meanwhile, the pan-democrats are laughing all the way to the bank. Yes, the situation is comical, but more importantly, they have all come out of the political crisis unscathed. With public support for the reform bill hovering at around 50 per cent, they have reason to be worried. Half of their constituents may punish them at the next election for rejecting a proposal that would have given them a vote, any vote, in 2017. A huge upset at the ballot box for the pan-democrats would be Beijing’s consolation prize, especially if the pro-democracy camp loses enough seats such that they can no longer block future electoral reform bills. Luckily for them, the blooper today has shifted the public’s focus and deflected the narrative. Come the next Legco election, few voters will remember the likes of Alan Leong (梁家傑) and Emily Lau (劉慧卿) as democracy blockers. Instead, citizens will think back and say to themselves, “Ah yes, the reform bill got only several votes. What a dreadful proposal it must have been!” Tonight, the pan-democrats can heave a collective sigh of relief; some of them may be celebrating in Lan Kwai Fong right now. Champagne, champagne for everyone!

As for the rest of us, we are now back to Square One. With the bill voted down, Beijing is expected to permanently shelve the sore subject of electoral reform. Hong Kongers can kiss goodbye Article 45, the Basic Law provision that guarantees the right to freely elect their leader. For the five million eligible voters in the city, universal suffrage is dead on arrival. Amidst the belly laughs and cackles, we know deep down inside that the joke is really on us.

From the left: Regina Ip, Lau Wong Fat, Jeffrey Lam

17 April 2015

Butterfly Effect 蝴蝶效應


I woke up one morning to the buzz of an incoming email on my phone. “Dear Jason,” the message started off disarmingly innocuous, “we are delighted to invite you to our 13th Annual Student Awards ceremony.” The sender was the chairman of a respected NGO that supports underprivileged children in Hong Kong. But the invitation took a sudden, horrifying turn: “It would give us great pleasure if you would be our keynote speaker to address 500 honor students at City Hall. We look forward to your favorable response.” Gulp, gasp, gag. I threw my phone across the bed and leapt to the bathroom. I was ready to hurl.

Worse than death


Surveys have shown that most people, regardless of age, gender or ethnicity, fear public speaking more than they fear death. Jerry Seinfeld famously joked that the average person at a funeral would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy. The phenomenon is called glossophobia, derived from glossa, the Greek word for tongue. The symptoms are those associated with the classic fight-or-flight response: pounding heart, sweaty palms, wobbly knees and a rabble of butterflies in the stomach. For the introverts among us, the mere thought of standing up and talking in front of a crowd is enough to trigger a panic attack. It is the sum of all fears: rejection, public humiliation, and if the speech is taped and uploaded onto YouTube, a searchable embarrassment that will last for eternity.

Nowhere are those fears felt more strongly than in Asia, where children tend to learn by rogue and are taught to be docile. In conformist countries like Japan, Korea and China, speaking up in the classroom or voicing an opinion at the dinner table is often mistaken for rebellion and therefore discouraged, which gives young people little chance to hone their verbal skills. Once they are out in the real world, the virtue of silence quickly turns into a vice, when they are asked to give a presentation or lead a conference call. Fears set in and all the rookie mistakes show up: reading off the slides, dodging eye contact, and looking as cheerful as an inmate strapped to his execution gurney. 


Shut up and learn


Psychologists believe that our speech anxiety has to do with the fear of being ostracized. Humans are social animals and we form social groups to survive the perilous world. Early humans depended on each other to fend off predators and starvation, which makes social acceptance a necessary condition for survival and ostracism a form of social death that preceded the actual, physical one. Glossophobia is our natural response to the risk of being judged publicly and negatively, the same way we are programmed to fear heights and rodents to mitigate the risk of falling and contracting deadly diseases. In other words, those butterflies in our stomachs are the result of millennia of genetic mutations, designed to stop us from sticking our necks out and drawing too much attention to ourselves – a risky proposition for anyone living in a lawless commune of axe-throwing, arrow-shooting Neanderthals.

But loincloths and mammoth furs are so 10,000 B.C. A few things have changed since our hunter-gatherer days, including the wisdom of flying under the radar. Public speaking in the 21st Century is as ubiquitous as it is inescapable. These days, everyone from a 20-year-old web designer pitching for a new gig to a middle-aged soccer mom voicing a grievance at the PTA meeting will find themselves in the hot seat. The ability to address an audience with composure is no longer expected only of presidential candidates and tech company CEOs, but anyone who wants to be heard. In the age of black turtlenecks and TED Talks, glossophobia has devolved from a defense mechanism to a career-limiting defect. The butterflies that were meant to protect us from dangers are now holding us back in life.


Shut up or DIE!


The urgent need to treat glossophobia has spawned a glut of self-help books and magazine articles. A vast majority of them go through the usual dos and don’ts: do practice with friends, do picture the audience in their underwear, don’t use throwaways like “um” and “er”. But if reading a book could cure stage fright, there wouldn’t be so many glossophobes still shaking behind the microphone or dragging themselves to Toastmasters meetings week after week, year after year. To learn how to swim, as it is often said, we just have to jump into the deep end of the pool and start flapping our arms. Anything else, like kicking around all day with a foam board, is likely a waste of time.

That takes me back to the ominous email that rocked me out of bed one fine morning. The next day I accepted the chairman’s invitation and immediately began working on my speech. I practiced in front of the mirror every day for two weeks, each time getting better but discovering something I needed to correct. In the end I did all right. I wasn’t nearly as nervous talking on stage as I was preparing for it. But the whole ordeal frustrated me – because irrationality frustrates me, as does the notion that I have to take orders from, of all things, my adrenal glands. My job at the awards ceremony was to inspire young minds, but every last ounce of enjoyment from that otherwise beautiful experience had been sucked out by my over-preparation, all because I needed to keep my irrational nerves at bay. That night I said to myself: never again.


One of many self-help books on overcoming stage fright


That was five years ago. Since then I have taken the plunge into the deep end of the proverbial pool, taking on as many speaking engagements as time allows. As a lawyer, I jump on every opportunity to give seminars and chair meetings. As an author, I go on the lecture circuit, give radio interviews and speak at literary events big and small. I have learned to not only control my nerves but relish the adrenaline rush. I have discovered that we fear public speaking because we make it all about ourselves – how we sound, how we look and how much we impress. But who gives a hoot? The only thing the audience cares about is what they get out of sitting in the room instead of being somewhere else. Depersonalization – the recognition that the world does not revolve around one person – has made me a better speaker. It has set me free.

Public speaking is not an inborn skill. On the contrary, we are genetically programmed to fear it. Going against our instinct requires patience: we can’t expect to overnight overcome a phobia millions of years in the making. But the human brain is a muscle, and like all muscles it can be trained. If we fail horribly the first 23 times, we are bound to get better on the 24th try. The only way to become an effective speaker is by getting to a point where speaking in public is as uneventful as talking to friends or reading a bedtime story. Every great speaker we admire, from Bill Clinton to Emma Watson (who won kudos for a recent speech on gender equality at the United Nations), can do what they do not because they are missing the glossophobia gene, but because they have done it a thousand times over. As much as we like to associate oratorical skills with knowledge, charisma and superpower, in the end it comes down to one simple, unglamorous word: repetition.


Rely on the power of habit

This article previously appeared in the April 2015 issue of MANIFESTO magazine under Jason Y. Ng's column The Urban Confessional.

As printed in MANIFESTO


05 April 2015

Season Finale 大結局

Hong Kongers are used to duopolies. Every day, citizens choose blissfully between Wellcome and Park’n Shop, Café de Coral and Fairwood, Fortress and Broadway, oblivious and powerless to the glaring absence of choice. This false sense of consumer freedom is legitimized by the government’s corportacratic propaganda telling us that too many options can lead to confusion, cut-throat competition and an economic apocalypse. Nowhere is this phenomenon more pronounced than in the realm of free-to-air television – broadcasting that requires no paid subscription and commands high viewership especially among the low income demographics. Our television dial can only toggle between the complacent TVB and the languishing ATV, two unequal adversaries that nowadays offer numb viewers the Hobson’s choice between bad programming and the unwatchable.

End of an era


For months, ATV – the worlds first Chinese language television station – has been dying a slow and torturous death. Its financial troubles first surfaced last fall when staff complained about unpaid wages. Senior management resorted to stalling tactics and made up stories about new funding and white knights. And when desperate times called for desperate measures, the cash-strapped broadcaster cut its programming to the bone, liquidated assets from copyrights to camera equipment, and even begged key shareholders to offer loans to employees in lieu of pay. All that buffoonery, almost too painful to watch, culminated in a death sentence last Wednesday when the government announced its unprecedented decision not to renew ATV’s license. The announcement came a day after management broke the camel’s back by releasing false information on a prime time news program that Ricky Wong (王維基), owner of HKTV, had agreed to a buyout.

Most people welcome the government’s move to put the struggling broadcaster out of its misery. Even before the recent series of unfortunate events, ATV had long been a glorified placeholder in the public airwaves – an ugly sister that no one bothered to cast an eye over. The butt of jokes we know today is a far cry from the drama powerhouse and trusted news source that it was during its heyday in the 70s and 80s. Frequent ownership transfers in the decades since, however, have weakened management and drained its resources. These days, citizens tune in twice a week only for a few minutes to find out the Mark Six winning numbers. 

Wang Zheng has always been the butt of jokes


Then in 2010, Chinese-born businessman Wang Zheng (王征) acquired a controlling stake in ATV, cementing its unofficial status as a “Mainland channel.” Observers believed that Wangs foray into television had much less to do with a genuine interest in show business than Beijings elaborate scheme to infiltrate Hong Kong’s media, as it has been doing with the citys daily newspapers. Whatever it is, Wang’s arrival as an industry outsider has done irreparable damage to the ATV brand and staff morale. That, combined with ill-conceived decisions to replace drama series with low-budget talk shows, further alienated local viewers and caused advertising revenue to plummet. Less than five years after his controversial acquisition and high-minded promises to turn ATV into “Asia’s CNN” and “Hong Kongs conscience,” this flamboyant last emperor successfully ran the broadcaster into the ground,  squandering hundreds of millions in personal wealth and dragging his fellow shareholders with him.

Perhaps the biggest losers in ATV’s undignified demise are its 700 staff. For decades, employees have kept their heads down working for a perennial underdog, their lives made harder in recent years by an erratic and meddlesome owner. Now that the government has finally pulled the plug on the beleaguered broadcaster, management will likely shut down operations when the company’s liquid assets dry up in the coming months, even though the existing license is valid until April 2016. And when the curtain finally comes down on the 58-year-old institutionhundreds will be out of a job and facing a grim reality: join TVB or leave show business altogether. One ATV actress, a former beauty queen, announced her plans yesterday to try her hand at farming once the company folds.

Explain to us again why his license application was declined?


The ATV implosion has also made the government part of the collateral damage. Just 18 months ago, CY Leung decided to do something about the half-century free-to-air TV duopoly. His cabinet granted new broadcasting licenses to iCable and PCCW, but denied the application by Ricky Wong’s HKTV, the bid most favored by the public. 18 months after that baffling decision, the two new licensees have yet to produce a single hour of television programming, as neither has shown any interest or intention to make use of those coveted licenses. The complete abdication of iCable and PCCW, together with ATV’s impending death, will soon make TVB the one and only free-to-air TV channel in this so-called Asia’s world city – the exact opposite of what the chief executive had set out to achieve a year and a half ago. The utter absurdity of the situation has not only left egg on CY Leung’s face, it is also reopening unanswered questions that his cabinet has been dodging all this time: what funny business was behind the government’s closed-door decision to favor certain TV license applicants and not others?

Still another loser in the ATV saga is its longtime rival. You would be wrong to think that TVB management is jumping for joy to be rid of a competitor. That’s because the so-called “Big Channel” already commands a near-monopoly in both ratings and advertising dollars. Having ATV out of the picture hardly makes any difference to its bottom line. Instead, the ascension from a de facto monopolist to an actual one is calling unwanted attention to the elephant in the room. As the duopoly becomes a monopoly and the illusion of competition is suddenly lifted, even the most blissfully ignorant of consumers are bound to wake up from their comas. After all, the only thing their TV remote controls are now good for is volume adjustment. They will realize that programming thats good only in comparison to ATVs isn’t very good at all, and that the television shows they watch every night by default are years, even decades, behind that of neighboring countries like Japan, Korea and Thailand. Worse, viewers may join Ricky Wong’s supporters in putting pressure on the government to open up the airwaves to serious newcomers. Much to TVB’s chagrin, the age of churning out lobotomized schlock to exact ransom from obliging advertisers may finally come to an end.


The best TVB can do these days? 

If there is ever a silver lining to ATV’s tragic fall, it would be the hope that the city’s free-to-air TV market has become such a cesspool that the day of reckoning is near. They say the night is darkest before dawn, and so perhaps the loss of a broadcaster today will mean the creation of better ones in the future. And if the glaring absence of choice – made more glaring still by the loss of the only other option – can spark an awakening of millions of viewers, then our callous bureaucrats will be forced to deal with the status quo. When that happens, we will have reason to believe that television doesn’t need to be a sunset industry waiting to be replaced by YouTube and social media, that the newsroom can eschew self-censorship and be a beacon of press freedom, that the small screen may once again be a place for future superstars to cut their teeth as it was for the likes of Leslie Cheung and Andy Lau, and that Hong Kong will return to its former status as a net exporter of pop culture to the rest of the world. In the meantime, we will stay tuned for the next season of this long-running real-life drama.


Leslie Cheung back in his television days

02 April 2015

About the Author 關於作者

Born in Hong Kong, Jason Y. Ng is a globe-trotter who spent his entire adult life in Italy, the United States and Canada before returning to his birthplace to rediscover his roots. He is a full-time lawyer, a published author, a contributor to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), TimeOut and Hong Kong Free Press. His social commentary blog As I See It and leisure review site The Real Deal have attracted a cult following.


Jason is the bestselling author of HONG KONG State of Mind (2010) and No City for Slow Men (2013). His short stories have appeared in various anthologies. He is a member of the Foreign Correspondents' Club and the Hong Kong Writers' Circle.

Jason has been featured at, among others, the Hong Kong Book Fair, the Hong Kong International Literary Festival, the Beijing Bookworm Literary Festival, the Singapore Writers Festival and the Cooler Lumpur Literary Festival. He has been profiled in The Apple Daily, City Magazine, TimeOut, the SCMP, Ming Pao Weekly, and various other publications and overseas blogs. Jason speaks frequently on radio and at universities and cultural events.

In addition to being a writer, Jason is an English teacher, classical singer and amateur photographer. His other interests include alpine skiing, mountain climbing and classical music. 

Jason is also a social activist. He is an ambassador for Shark Savers and an outspoken supporter of foreign domestic helpers, new immigrants and other minority groups in Hong Kong. 

Jason’s day job and personal interests make him a frequent traveler. Over the years, he has visited over 100 cities in more than 35 countries.  He speaks English, Cantonese and Mandarin and has working knowledge of Italian and French.

In 2011, Jason was bestowed the title Man of the Year by Elle Men magazine for his diverse interests and balanced lifestyle. In 2013, Jason was the keynote speaker at the Harvard Club Book Prize award ceremony.

Jason earned his double degree in finance and engineering from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He holds a Juris Doctor and M.B.A. from the University of Toronto. He is admitted to the New York and the Massachusetts State Bars. Jason was recently appointed adjunct lecturer at the Faculty of Law of the University of Hong Kong and began teaching international securities law for the Master of Laws program in Spring 2015.

Jason lives in Hong Kong and can be contacted at info@jasonyng.com. For more, visit www.jasonyng.com.

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Jason makes frequent appearances on the literary circuit and university campuses. If you would like him to speak at your school or organization, please contact him by email.