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Showing posts from 2014

15 Minutes with Mr. Lau 與劉師父的對話

I finished dinner in Causeway Bay and hailed a taxi outside the Excelsior Hotel. The driver was a middle-aged man with grizzled hair and a penchant for small talk. Small talk is not my thing, much less with a stranger at the end of a long day. As I was disentangling my earphones to signal my desire for a quiet ride, the driver said something that piqued my interest.

“Look at this mess,” he complained, pointing at the snarled traffic on Gloucester Road. “We had 79 days of heaven and now we are back in hell.”
I wasn’t sure if I had heard him right. My impression was like everyone else’s – that taxi drivers were upset with the Umbrella Movement because thoroughfares like Harcourt Road and Nathan Road were occupied. And for those who are in the business of moving people around, blocked streets mean bad business.
“How do you mean?” I probed, glancing at his ID on the dashboard. His name was Lau.
“I mean business was much better during the protests,” Mr. Lau declared.
“I was told your inco…

Mobile Occupy 流動佔領

There is no question that Hong Kong people love to shop; that’s why they call the city a shoppers’ paradise. This past week, citizens took our national sport to a whole new level. Gouwu (購物) – which means shopping in Mandarin – has become the rallying cry for pro-democracy protesters to call on one another to visit busy shopping streets in large numbers to overrun the area. The goal is to get even with the police for aiding and abetting the clearance operation in Mongkok last week. These shopaholics were hard at work in Kowloon even during Sunday’s violent clashes outside the Government Headquarters on the other side of the harbor. They have also found unlikely allies in the United States, where citizens have been staging “die-ins” at shopping malls and train stations by playing dead on the floor in protest of the fatal police shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri.

Mongkok, or MK for short, is a rough neighborhood on a good day, a cross between Harajuku in Tokyo and t…

A Season of Discontent 不滿的季節

On 28 October, the one-month anniversary of the Umbrella Revolution, tens of thousands of citizens assembled at protest sites on both sides of the harbor. At precisely 5:58 pm, they opened their umbrellas in unison and turned the sea of people into a tsunami of colorful blossoms. The congregation then observed 87 seconds of silence, one for each shot of tear gas fired at protestors on that fateful day. It was “the day that changed everything,” the day by which we would forever divide our history: before and after 9/28.

The student-led movement that put Hong Kong on the world map has a modest beginning. A small group of university students had organized a class boycott to voice their anger over Beijing’s decision to renege on a promise — a political compromise made 10 years ago to allow Hong Kong citizens to democratically elect their chief executive in 2017. The promise wasn’t supposed to have any strings attached or funny business with semantics. Earlier this year, however, in an of…

Sexless in the City 無慾都市

The notion that Asian folks take a backseat in the sex department has been debunked time and again. The Japanese, for instance, make no secret of their bent for dominatrices and cosplayers. Korean men, on the other hand, can’t seem to find their way home without a stop at the neighborhood hostess bar. The Thai and the Filipino are equally comfortable with expressing their God-given sexuality. In Anything-goes Bangkok and No-tell Manila, the sex trade has gone mainstream and become a main draw for tourists.
What about Hong Kong, a place where skyscrapers rise like phallic symbols and animal genitals are eaten with gusto?
It turns out that Asia’s World City is also one of the world’s most sex-deprived. In a recent poll by the city’s Family Planning Association, 20% of the female respondents said they had no sexual desire, while 24% said they did not achieve orgasm during sex. Another local study found that one in five adult males had not gotten off in the last six months. As if that’s …

Million Dollar Question: What’s Next for the Umbrella Movement? 有獎競猜: 雨傘運動何去何從?

A week ago, a small army of masked men gathered outside the Legco Building in Admiralty in the dead of night. They were upset over a copyright amendment bill that they feared would limit the freedom of expression on the Internet. The angry men smashed a pair of glass doors at the building's north entrance and urged other protesters nearby to occupy the legislature. Not sure whether to take orders from these strangers, the students didn’t heed their call. Instead, they notified the site marshals to block the break-in. Minutes later, police moved in with pepper spray and batons, and the agitators fled the scene.

The clumsy “wreck-and-run” operation has touched off a political firestorm for the Umbrella Movement. Since the incident, self-proclaimed “netizens” began showing up in Admiralty every night to settle the scores for what happened that night. The challengers question the Hong Kong Federation of Students' (HKFS) ability to lead and the marshals' legitimacy to thwart t…

Searching for Umbrella Man 尋找雨傘人

Edward arrived at the vehicle-free Connaught Road expressway and surveyed the Admiralty protest site, which, until then, he had only seen on CNN. It was 18 October, Day 20 of the largest political event in Hong Kong’s post-Handover history. The 40-year-old law firm partner had just returned from a business trip in London that had kept him out of town for the last two weeks. He climbed over the median barrier and studied the wall of pro-democracy signage written in a few dozen languages. From his elevated vantage point, he could see metal barricades blocking major arteries that connect the financial district to the rest of the city. Protesters had reinforced the roadblocks with garbage cans, wood pallets and water-filled barriers, held together with household cable ties. He took out his phone to snap a few shots, and heaved a sigh.
Xiaobing would turn 15 in a few days and Nai-nai, his grandmother, had baked him his favorite sweet buns. The evening before, Xiaobing had biked the five-…

The Dark Before Dawn 黎明前的黑暗

Tear gas and pepper spray were so last week.
On Friday, Day 6 of the Umbrella Movement, masked thugs fanned out at all three protest sites across the city, starting with Mongkok and quickly spreading to Causeway Bay. By nightfall, angry mobs had moved into the movement's nerve center in Admiralty. They called themselves “pro-Hong Kong citizens” — vigilantes who had self-organized to clear the streets and restore public order. They had taken matters into their own hands because they believed the cops had been too lenient toward the students.

I had arrived in Admiralty earlier the evening to offer protesters free help with homework. I was telling the stories of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. to two university freshmen, when my phone started to buzz with ominous text messages. “The Triads are heading your way. Stay Safe!” a reporter friend warned. “Leave Admiralty NOW, and remove any yellow ribbons on you,” said another. The yellow ribbon was a symbol of the occupy movement,…

Worst of Times, Best of Times 最壞的時代 最好的時光

It was Day 3 of Occupy Central, now known across the globe as the Umbrella Revolution. Umbrellas and raincoats, the humblest of household objects, had been thrust onto the world stage, as had the tens of thousands of students who used them to fend off a police crackdown on Sunday. Tonight, their trusty rain gear would be needed once again – the Hong Kong Observatory had issued a rain and landslide alert for a coming thunderstorm.

I changed out of my work clothes in my office in Central and walked to Admiralty, the de facto nerve center of the student-led movement demanding the right to choose our leader. I spotted my brother Kelvin and his wife deep in the crowd. They were listening quietly to a student speaker on the podium. It was a small miracle that I was able to find them, as they were swarmed by people as far as the eye could see, all dressed in black. No one knew how many more had come out tonight — nor did anyone really care. Public turnout normally mattered a great deal to p…