18 June 2009

A Tale of Three Cities – Part 3 三城故事-下卷





The first sunbeams pierce the morning fog and sweep across the island’s verdant back. A lonesome streetcar emerges from the west praya, still dark in the shadow of the Peak, and rumbles noisily down the tracks. One by one congee shop owners push up their metal gates, not long before the sound of clanging crockery fills the dewy air. As the rising sun pours gold over the silver city, tree sparrows tweet to its quickening pulse and Hong Kong wakes up to another day.

If New York is the city that never sleeps, then Hong Kong must be the one that doesn’t even blink...



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Read the rest of this article in HONG KONG State of Mind, published by Blacksmith Books, available at major bookstores in in Hong Kong, on Amazon and at Blacksmith Books.




15 comments:

  1. Three weeks ago, I asked my Swiss boss why he invested in Hong Kong rather than Shanghai or Singapore. He said he prefers the workers in HK for our English standard, the legal system of Hong Kong and the "less" corruption environment. Only 1 week ago, I was informed that we would also open an office in Shanghai next year to capture the Chian and Korean Market. Shanghai is under the "non-democratic" rules of China, in comparsion to however little degree of so-called democracy we enjoy in Hong Kong, but it is catching up fast.

    I wonder if we will see any article on the distance cousins -- Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia too.

    P.S. Talking about non-stop, who is the one staying up to finish the article up to 3 am, hah??? ;)

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  2. Phil,

    Hong Kong is losing ground to Shanghai fast. The World Expo next year will be Shanghai's big coming out party and Hong Kong will just be a passive bystander looking from the sidelines.

    As for our "cousins," I am already working on articles about Seoul, Singapore and Taipei based on my recent trips there.

    Cheers,

    Jason

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  3. I believe Hong Kong can still maintain its status in the next 10 odd years. But 20 years later, there's a very good chance that Shanghai will be overtaking if our government and our legislators aren't doing anything constructive.

    I have a question though: former civil servant Bow-tie is bureaucratic, whereas former merchant Tung Chee-hwa didn't have the experience to run a city. What kind of qualifications should a chief executive possess?

    Dennis

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  4. Shanghai may be able to attract short-term foreign capital as it provides direct access to the Chinese economy. However, without a reliable legal environment, which includes not only legislation but also enforcement of laws, Shanghai can never really challenge Hong Kong as the international financial centre of China. Corruption problem in China cannot be resolved without political reform and a truly free press. Will these emerge over the next 10 odd years? And then how many more years it will take for the people to change their mentality and business practice?

    I don't want to encourage complacency, but I really don't think Hong Kong is under threat of losing its position as financial centre in China - even with its very questionable leaders in the government.

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  5. I take your point. But China is adopting the Singapore model -- an authoritarian but business-friendly system -- for strategic cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen (by the way, Singapore is a whole separate topic for another day).

    Many businesses are already moving north. If Hong Kong doesn't do something to reinvent itself, I don't think it will take long before we wake up one morning and realize that what we count on being there forever is no longer there.

    Jason

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  6. Dennis,

    The chief executive is an awkward role, a role that lacks legitimacy and a clear mandate. It's a lose-lose situation for anyone, even the most qualified and principled. I think you got me there.

    Jason

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  7. Hong Kong is a difficult book to read, and a very huge one too! but your post is concise and up-to-date and should add a good little part to this still ongoing project. fschubert

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  8. Franz,

    You are right, it was difficult to sum up the state of affairs of our city in a short essay. But I hope I managed to hit on the main point: our energy and creativity are being stifled by a reactive and reactionary government with no real vision for our future.

    We are stuck in time and we need something or someone to jolt us out of the rut.

    Jason

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  9. Hey Jason.

    Go to mytv.tvb.com and watch this week's episode on News Magazine 13 June 2009(www.mytv.tvb.com/news/newsmagazine/28694). It is about the Science Park and what the HK government can do more to develop that area.

    Indeed, Donald Tsang always mentioned Hong Kong as a Asia's financial centre but rarely mentioned anything on new technology development only until recently. But in hintsight, Tung was not THAT bad. (Well, I guess because I wasn't in HK during that time. So I didn't see how really bad he was as a CE).

    Do go and check out the programme. It's worth seeing.

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  10. Once again, your article satisfied my intellectual curiosity about Hong Kong, deeply and meaningfully. I find your comparison of a typical Hong Kong person to the Energizer Bunny funny and very true. Which city will be next?

    JC

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  11. Jason, thank you for this interesting piece. I particularly like the line "In the end everything stays the same but nothing stays the same, for we regress if we don't progress". That's exactly what i feel about the current Hong Kong.

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  12. Your article is really pinpointing the problem. Can you imagine a city which constantly reminds people to walk and not to run on the escalator in the mtr station, is capable of transforming itself into an international metropolis independent of our motherland? Hong Kong is a nanny society. Unless we, local citizens, refuse to be treated as babies, the chance of Hong Kong coming out of the 'contradictions' you had mentioned, would be rather slim.

    Olivia (first-time visitor of your blog)

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  13. Welcome to my column, Olivia. Please keep reading and posting your thoughts!

    Jason

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  14. Can't wait to read about your next story on Seoul, Korea. Haven't been there for over 2 years!! ^^

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