15 July 2016

Unfit for Purpose 健身中伏

Twenty years ago, a Canadian entrepreneur walked down Lan Kwai Fong and had a Eureka moment. Eric Levine spotted an opportunity in gym-deficient Hong Kong and opened the first California Fitness on Wellington Street, a few steps away from the city’s nightlife hub. Business took off and by 2008 the brand had flourished into two dozen health clubs across Asia. There was even talk about taking the company public on the Hong Kong Exchange.

Then things started to go south. The chain was sold, broken up and resold a few times over. Actor Jackie Chan got involved and exited. The Wellington Street flagship was evicted and shoved into an office building on the fringe of Central, while key locations in Causeway Bay and Wanchai were both lost to rival gyms. What was once the largest fitness chain in Hong Kong began a slow death that preceded the actual one that stunned the city this week.

It needs a corporate workout

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This article appeared in the 16 July 2016 print edition of the South China Morning Post. You can read the rest of it on SCMP.com.



As posted on SCMP.com



27 June 2016

Brexit Lessons for Hong Kong 脫歐的教訓

It was an otherwise beautiful, balmy Friday in Hong Kong, if it weren’t for the cross-Channel divorce that put the world under a dark cloud of fright and disbelief.

Asia was the first to be hit by the Brexit shock wave. BBC News declared victory for the Leave vote at roughly 11:45am Hong Kong time – hours before London opened – and sent regional stock markets into a tailspin. The shares of HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank, both listed on the Hong Kong Exchange, plunged 6.5 and 9.5 per cent, respectively...

It ended in divorce

________________________


This article appeared in the 29 June 2016 print edition of the South China Morning Post. You can read the rest of it on SCMP.com.



As appeared in the printed edition of the SCMP


21 June 2016

Media Attention + Upcoming Events 媒體關注 + 最新動向



Upcoming events

Speaker at Department of Journalism, Chulalongkorn University (visiting from Thailand)
Topic: The role of new media in the Umbrella Movement
Venue: TBD
Date: 4 August
Time: 12:30 - 2:00pm

Talk at Raffles Institution (visiting from Singapore)
Topic: Student activism and the Umbrella Movement
Venue: TBD
Date: 12 September
Time: 12:30 - 2:00pm

Talk at Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand
Topic: TBD
Moderator: TBD
Venue: Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand, Lumpini, Bangkok
Date: 15 September
Time: 7:00 - 8:00pm

Talk at Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University
Topic: Umbrellas in Bloom: Hong Kong's Largest Pro-democracy Movement Explained
Moderator: TBD
Venue: Thammasat University, Prachan, Bangkok
Date: 16 September
Time: TBD

Book Talk with the Hong Kong Literary Group Book Club

Venue: TBD
Date: 24 September
Time: 3:30pm 

Talk at Chi Sun College, University of Hong Kong
Topic: "Stay Young, Dream Big" 
Venue: Jockey Club Student Village III, University of Hong Kong
Date: 26 September
Time: 7:30 - 8:30pm

Book Talk Presented by University of Hong Kong Libraries (HKUL) Reading Club
Venue: Main Library, University of Hong Kong
Date: 17 November
Time: 6:30 - 8:00pm 




2016 (to date)

Interview with the Associated Press
Publication date: 22 July

Featured in Beijing-based Literary Site Five Books
Publication date: 7 July

Interview with Epoch Times
Publication date: 20 June

Interview with The Guardian
Publication date: 17 June

KEE Club Book Talk Presented by the Hong Kong International Literary Festival
Title: Umbrellas in Bloom
Moderator: Nick Thorpe
Venue: KEE Club, Central
Date: 7 June

Interview with Epoch Times
Publication date: 7 June

Singapore Book Launch of Umbrellas in Bloom Presented by Select Centre
Moderator: Professor Ian Chong
Venue: TheatreWorks, Mohamed Sultan Road, Singapore
Date: 2 June

Featured in Stand News立場新聞
Publication date: 30 May

Umbrellas in Bloom Featured in Southside magazine
Issue: May 2016

Featured in Books4You《讀書好》
Issue: 104 (May 2016)

Lunch Talk Hosted by Latham & Watkins
Topic: Reflections on the Umbrella Movement
Venue: One Exchange Square, Central
Date: 10 May

Talk at Journalism and Media Studies Centre (JMSC), University of Hong Kong
Topic: Tips on feature writing
Moderator: Professor David Bandurski
Venue: Eliot Hall, Pokfulam
Date: 24 April

Second printing of Umbrellas in Bloom
Date: 24 April

Book Talk with the Serious Book Club
Venue: Blue Place Cafe, Wanchai
Date: 20 April

Featured in the South China Morning Post
Publication date: 16 April

Interview with The Guardian
Publication date: 10 April

Commencement of Spring Term at Faculty of Law of the University of Hong Kong, LLM Program
Course: International Securities Law
Venue: Cheng Yu Tung Tower, Centennial Campus, Pokfulam
Dates: 8 - 29 April

Hong Kong Book Launch of Umbrellas in Bloom
Venue: Bookazine, Lyndhurst Terrace
Date: 6 April

Interview with D100 Radio
Show: "Running the race 對沖人生路" with presenter Edward Chin
Broadcast date: 5 April

Interview with RTHK Radio 3
Show: "123 Show" with presenter Noreen Mir
Topic: "Umbrellas in Bloom"
Broadcast date: 5 April

Featured in Portuguese News Agency Agência de Notícias de Portugal, SA (LUSA)
Publication date: 3 April

Featured in the New York Times
Publication date: 24 March

Featured in Hong Kong Free Press

Publication date: 13 March

Featured Author at 2016 Bookworm Literary Festival
Panel 1: "The future of Hong Kong" moderated by Guardian reporter Tom Phillips 
Panel 2: "Umbrellas in Bloom" moderated by Los Angeles Times Beijing Bureau chief Julie Makinen
Venue: Sanlitun, Beijing
Date: 12 - 13 March

Release of Umbrellas in Bloom
Date: 9 March

Guest Speaker at Rotary Club
Topic: "Writing about Hong Kong -- A Decade On"
Venue: Hong Kong Bankers' Club, the Landmark
Date: 1 March

Interview with TimeOut HK
Publication date: 24 February

Joined EJInsight as a Contributor
Date: 22 February

Featured in TimeOut Beijing
Article: "8 must-see talks at the Bookworm Literary Festival" by Helen Roxburgh
Publication date: 12 February

Article Reproduced in the Wall Street Journal
Date: 10 February

Interview with Radio France Internationale
Publication date: 10 February

Interview with the Los Angeles Times
Publication date: 5 February

Volunteer Lawyer for Helpers for Domestic Helpers

Start date: 3 February

Master of Ceremony at a 1,500-guest Corporate Annual Ball

Co-host: TVB actor/present Kelly Cheung
Venue: Hong Kong Convention Centre, Wanchai
Date: 23 January


MC'ing at the annual ball

Shooting of Hollywood/UK documentary
Venue: Pokfulam
Date: 22 January
Release date: end of 2016


2015
2014
2013
2008 - 2012


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If you would like Jason Y. Ng, bestselling author of Umbrellas in BloomNo City for Slow Men and HONG KONG State of Mind, to speak at your school or organization, please contact him at info@jasonyng.com.


20 June 2016

About the Author 關於作者

Born in Hong Kong, Jason Y. Ng is a globetrotter 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 PostTimeOut, EJInsight, and Hong Kong Free Press. His social commentary blog As I See It and restaurant and movie review site The Real Deal have attracted a cult following in Asia and beyond.

Jason is the bestselling author of Umbrellas in Bloom (2016), No City for Slow Men (2013) and HONG KONG State of Mind (2010). Together, the three books form his Hong Kong Trilogy” that tracks the city's post-colonial development. Jason's 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, the Cooler Lumpur Literary Festival, and Raising the Bar (HK). He has been featured in the New York TimesSouth China Morning Postthe Apple Daily, City Magazine, TimeOut Hong Kong, TimeOut BeijingMing Pao Weekly, Stand News, Hong Kong Free Press, RTHK Radio 3, the Taipei Times, Epoch Times, GB Times, the China Daily, and the Volkskrant. He has been interviewed or cited by the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, BBC News, the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg News, the Voice of America, Radio France, Breitbart News, and the Dagens Nyheter. He speaks frequently on television and radio and at universities and cultural events.

Jason earned his double degree in finance and electrical 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. In 2015, Jason was appointed Adjunct Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Hong Kong, where he teaches international securities law for the Master of Laws (LLM) program. He has given guest lectures and talks at Columbia University, New York University, University of California Los Angeles, the University of Toronto, York University, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and Hong Kong Baptist University.

Jason is also a social activist. He is an ambassador for Shark Savers and an outspoken advocate for Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement and the rights of foreign domestic workers and other minority groups. 

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 addition to being a writer, Jason is an English teacher, classical singer and amateur photographer. His other interests include alpine skiing, mountain climbing, classical music and home cooking. In 2011, he 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 awards ceremony.

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.


19 June 2016

Hero’s Return 英雄歸來


It was supposed to be a slow news week. Chief Executive C.Y. Leung was away on holiday and his deputy Carrie Lam had just returned from a nine-day trip to America. The front page story was meant to be the grand opening of Shanghai Disneyland Park and the bizarre sight of Mickey and Minnie dancing on stage in gold dresses. The headline? “Snow White spends new wealth on bling from Chow Tai Fook.”

Lam Wing-kee at the press conference

Then, a bombshell.

Lam Wing-kee (林榮基), one of the five booksellers missing since last winter, came out of the woodwork on Thursday night with shocking revelations about his detention in the mainland. Like a POW who had escaped from enemy camps, Lam gave a blow-by-blow account of his eight-month ordeal in Ningbo, an industrial city south of Shanghai and 1,100 kilometers from Hong Kong. Throughout his captivity, he was never told his charges or given a phone call. He was put on suicide watch and forced to make a scripted confession before his release a few days ago. During the hastily-held press conference, Lam fought back tears and thanked Hong Kongers for their support. He also called on the city to “say no to tyranny.”

To the viewers watching on television or online, Lam’s testimony confirmed a few things about the city’s grim political reality – none of which they didn’t already fear and know.

First, much of the crime and punishment in China is overseen not by the gong’an (mainland law enforcement) but by an extrajudicial body called the “Central Special Unit” (中央專案組). It answers only to the Communist Party and allows operatives to bypass whatever limited due process that exists in the law books, such as access to legal representation and a maximum detention period. The unit is so secretive and powerful that Security Secretary Lai Tung-kwok (黎棟國) nicknamed it the Mighty Division (強力部門).

The five missing booksellers

Second, in the event of an arrest in the mainland, citizens cannot expect the SAR government or the Hong Kong police to be of much help. The arrestee will have to either wait it out or agree to a false confession and a lifetime gag order in exchange for a release. During his involuntary confinement in Ningbo, Lam was all on his own. On the Legco floor, bureaucrats paid lip service by “expressing concerns” and promising to “reach out” to their Chinese counterparts. But like that snooty girl at the bar who fakes a phone call to look busy, they probably never picked up the phone or even knew what number to dial. 

Third, any remaining pretense that the “one country, two systems” framework is intact has been shattered. At the press conference, Lam confirmed that Lee Po (李波), one of his fellow abductees, had been taken away by force while he was Hong Kong, suggesting that mainland agents are not afraid to make a cross-border arrest if they so choose. No matter how vehemently Lee himself tries to deny that claim, he still hasnt been able to explain how he managed to enter China without proper travel documents. Any sensible person can figure out which man is telling the truth and which man is telling forgivable lies to protect himself and his family.

Brave as it is, Lam’s decision to go public is fraught with enormous peril. Openly defying the Communist Party invites harassment and even physical assaults by hired thugs or secret operatives – just ask Next Media’s Jimmy Lai (黎智英) or Ming Pao’s Kevin Lau (劉進圖). Surely enough, Lam, who has now joined the ranks of high-profile whistleblowers like Edward Snowden  has become a fugitive in his own city. While traveling to China to visit his girlfriend is clearly out of the question, he has to look over his shoulder – whether at home or in countries like Thailand – for assailants and kidnappers. 

Then there is the psychological warfare to wrestle with. Since the press conference on Thursday, local newspapers like the Sing Tao Daily and HK01 have already published a slew of damning stories attacking his credibility. Three other previously kidnapped booksellers, including Lee Po, have gone on record to discredit his testimony. To avoid reprisals in the Mainland, Lam’s girlfriend in Shenzhen has called him a selfish lover and a con man. Every trick on the communist playbook, from character assassination to actual death threats, will be hurled at Lam in the coming weeks and months. It will take a heart of flint and nerves of steel to endure it all.

The smear campaign begins


Lam’s courage to come forward when so many others have stayed silent is not lost on his fellow Hong Kongers. Thousands braved the summer heat in a march this weekend to show their solidarity. Even the ever-cynical localist groups, who normally have a bone to pick with just about anyone, have been relatively muted (instead, they ridiculed citizens for attending a “feel-good” rally and berated the pan-dems for turning it into another fundraising event). For a few days, it seems, Hong Kong people have set aside their differences and united to commend Lam’s heroism.

What’s more, the Democratic Party – the bane of voters ever since then-chairman Albert Ho’s (何俊仁) Faustian handshake with the Liaison Office sealed the fate of the 2010 electoral reform – appears to have found redemption. In his most desperate hour, Lam sought the help of neither Long Hair nor Joshua Wong. Instead, he went straight to Ho and clung to him like an exhausted child at the press conference. In so doing, he reaffirmed Ho’s status as the elder statesman within the pro-democracy camp. If the Legco election were to be held this week, the Democratic Party would have easily turned those brownie points into votes. It is a pity that election day is still 11 weeks away and by then much of that aura will have likely dissipated.

The missing booksellers saga has been a game-changer for Hong Kong’s relations with the mainland. It has triggered not only widespread anxiety but also a new wave of mass emigrations. Equally significant, Lam’s revelations have exposed the Communist Party’s blatant lies and dirty tricks. Half a century after the Cultural Revolution and nearly 20 years into the handover, little seems to have changed in the communist leadership’s strategy or mindset. This past week has made clear that no amount of gold or bling can mask the party’s stench or cover up its filth. In the meantime, Hong Kongers have learned to trust no one but themselves. Lam is right: what happened to him can happen to any of us. We are all in it together.   

Mickey and Minnie in gold

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This article also appears on Hong Kong Free Press.



As posted on HKFP.com