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Showing posts from July, 2015

10 Years in Hong Kong - Part 1 香港十年 - 上卷

This past Saturday marked my 10th anniversary in Hong Kong
To be precise, it was the 10th anniversary of my repatriation to Hong Kong. I left the city in my teens as part of the diaspora which saw hundreds of thousands others fleeing from Communist rule ahead of the 1997 Handover. For nearly two decades, I moved from city to city in Europe and North America, never once returning to my birthplace in the interim. Until 2005. That summer, I turned in the keys to my Manhattan apartment, packed a suitcase, and headed east.

My law firm agreed to transfer me from New York to their Hong Kong outpost half a world away. On my last day of work, Jon, one of the partners I worked for, called me into his office for a few words of wisdom. He told me that there was no such thing as a right or wrong decision, and that people could only make life choices based on what they knew at the time. “I assume you’ve done your due diligence,” Jon gave me wink, “in that case I should wish you good luck. Boldly…

Hong Kong's New Disease: Ridiculitis 香港新病:荒謬症

Cynics in the local media like to say: there’s no such thing as the most absurd, only the more absurd. The Cantonese saying may not translate well, but the message is clear – just when we think we have seen everything, something more bizarre will come along to knock us off our feet. That about sums up this past week in Hong Kong, where a spate of mind-boggling events in local politics left citizens jaw-dropped and thinking only one thought: are these people for real?
Several days ago, a woman was convicted of attacking a police inspector with, of all things, her breast. No, this is not one of those “his face ran into my fist!” excuses we used to hear in second grade – it is an actual ruling by a local magistrate. The 30-year-old defendant was found guilty of hitting the officer’s right arm with her bosom during an anti-parallel trade protest in March. It is unclear what kind of injuries the victim had sustained – no medical expert witness was called to testify.

In a separate incident…

The City that Doesn’t Read 不看書的城市

The Hong Kong Book Fair is the city’s biggest literary event, drawing millions of visitors every July. The operative word in the preceding sentence is “visitors,” for many of them aren’t exactly readers. A good number show up to tsau yit lau (湊熱鬧) or literally, to go where the noise is.

In recent years, the week-long event has taken on a theme park atmosphere. It is where bargain hunters fill up empty suitcases with discounted books, where young entrepreneurs wait all night for autographed copies only to resell them on eBay, and where barely legal – and barely dressed – teenage models promote their latest photo albums. And why not? Hong Kongers love a carnival. How many people visit a Chinese New Year flower market to actually buy flowers?

If books are nourishment for the soul, then the soul of our city must have gone on a diet. In Hong Kong, not enough of us read and we don’t read enough. That makes us an “aliterate” people: able to read but not interested in reading. According to a…

The Moonscape of Sexual Equality - Part 2 走在崎嶇的路上-下卷

Jason Y. Ng sat down with Ray Chan, the city’s first and only openly-gay lawmaker, last Saturday. They talked about the state of sexual equality in Hong Kong in the wake of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.
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JN: What does the Friday court ruling mean to you?
RC: It means everything. It sends a powerful message to the world that marriage is a right for all and not a privilege for a few. It pains me to say that in Hong Kong we face tremendous pushback from conservative groups and bureaucrats on even a simple piece of anti-discrimination legislation to protect the LGBT community. Same-sex marriage is still many years away.
JN: What initiatives are you working on at Legco [Hong Kong’s legislature]?
RC: As you are well aware, individual lawmakers don’t have the right to initiate new legislation at Legco. So we must wait for the government to draft a bill and present it to us before we can debate it and propose amend…