Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2009

A Decade in Review - Special New Year's Eve Double Issue 十年大事回顧-新年雙刊

Today marks the end of the first decade in the new millennium. The past ten years have been a tale of two countries: America, the yester-century superpower on the precipice of decline, whose trade deficit has fueled the rapid ascent of a steadfast challenger, China. Together the odd couple grabbed headlines and dominated global issues, leaving Europe, Russia and Japan scrambling to stay relevant. As we stand on the cusp of a new beginning and, to borrow a line from American poet Emily Dickinson, “look back on time with kindly eyes,” I offer a short poem of my own to recapitulate the top ten events in this deciding decade. I am sure Ms. Dickinson would excuse my occasional iambic tetrameters.


The twin towers had just fallen    and the twin wars soon begotten The wounded eagle lost its crown    before a ray of hope was found Afar the waking dragon streamed    past woes and injured pride redeemed
With birds, swine, quakes and tsunamis    how the Plagues of Egypt stymied
Then foes of yore joined …

I Heart NY - Part 2 我愛紐約-下卷

New York is not America.It is what America wants to be, minus the 45.5% income tax rate and the 15% gratuity at restaurants.



In much the same way, Hong Kong is not China but what China should be, minus the air pollution and corporatocracy. But Hong Kong and New York have a few more things in common. For starters, worker bees in both cities pay exorbitant rent to live in a tiny apartment with barred windows looking right into someone else’s home. Everyone takes public transport and many never bother to get a driver’s license. Single women lament the scarcity of eligible men and rush to tie the knot before they hit their sell-by date, while men cling to their bachelorhood like koalas to a eucalyptus tree. Above all, both cities take great pride in their gutsy, razor-sharp and sleep-deprived citizens who, in trying to improve their own lives every day, create a better tomorrow for everyone else...
_______________________
Read the rest of this article in HONG KONG State of Mind, published by…

I Heart NY - Part 1 我愛紐約-上卷

The regional jet made a hairpin turn over Manhattan before touching down at La Guardia Airport. It was a visual feast to end an otherwise uninteresting flight from Toronto to New York. At 5,000 feet, office towers in every shape looked like young sprouts shooting from the ground, competing for light. The silver spire of the iconic Chrysler Building shimmered gloriously, its beauty matched only by the mélange of red, orange and yellow that was the changing foliage in Central Park. My heart felt an immediate magnetic pull – I was home.


I left New York in 2005 to take up a job in Hong Kong, ending my six-year stint in a city that has comfortably held the title of Capital of the World for nearly a century. To defend my own title as a “Noo-Yawker,” I make every effort to go back at least once a year, invariably around Thanksgiving or Christmas when the city is most irresistible. The Big Apple holds a special place in my heart...

_______________________
Read the rest of this article in HONG KO…

A Climate of Coercion 壓迫的氣候

Imagine there has been a spate of thefts in your office. Every day, news of stolen wallets, cell phones and other valuables terrifies the staff and dominates water-cooler conversations. Scrambling to come up with a solution, management decides to ask each employee to volunteer to have their bags searched by building security every time they leave the office. This “Turn-Yourself-In” program, so called because of its voluntary nature, has left people scratching their heads: who, you wonder, would choose to have a stranger look through their belongings when they can simply walk straight through the door?




But that is exactly what our government is doing to tackle the growing drug problem in the city’s public schools. After a brief period of public consultation, Education Secretary Michael Suen (孫明揚) unveiled a city-wide school-based drug test program (校本驗毒計劃) in which students are encouraged, though not required, to participate. Trials are set to begin in Tai Po (大埔) district beginning Dec…

Six Decades of Blood, Sweat and Tears 六十年的血淚

My brothers and I visited Beijing a few months ago. The capital city, draped in fall foliage, was magnificent, graceful and brimming with pride. Beneath the veneer of quiet confidence, however, were signs of a city frantically preparing itself for an extravaganza. Every 1 October, the Communist Party goes all out to put on a show to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic. Central to the festivities is a massive military parade, followed by an evening of lavish fireworks and staged performances.


As our taxi sailed past Tiananmen Square, face-lifted for the occasion with giant LCD screens and slogan banners, we spotted convoys of military vehicles docked by the roadside after a day of grueling rehearsals. In a few days, rocket launchers and tanks would rumble down Chang An Avenue (長安街), a scene that most of us associate only with North Korea, Iran and the former Soviet Union...
_______________________
Read the rest of this article in No City for Slow Men, publis…

In Sickness or in Health – Part 2 疾病或健康-下卷

Several months ago a good friend of mine in Hong Kong had a medical emergency. Struck suddenly by paralyzing stomach pain, Wilson checked himself into Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital (養和醫院) in Happy Valley. He underwent surgery the following day and remained hospitalized for a week. Luckily for Wilson, his company’s medical plan covered a big part of his hospital bill and whatever extra charges for staying in a swanky semi-private ward were picked up by the supplemental insurance my friend had purchased on his own. Fully recovered and feeling quite pampered, Wilson walked out of the Sanatorium seven days later with a new found zest for life.



Sickness, like natural disasters and death, is a powerful leveler of mankind. Sure enough, Wilson’s health scare struck him without warning and brought his busy life to a complete halt...
_______________________
Read the rest of this article in HONG KONG State of Mind, published by Blacksmith Books, available at major bookstores in in Hong Kong, …