Friday, October 29, 2021

Of Hong Kong film censorship and international celebrities who are speaking out

Hong Kong's second biggest film festival is currently taking place!
The latest edition of the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival kicked off on Wednesday, the day that Hong Kong's now opposition-less Legislative Council passed amendments to the film censorship law to allow film censorship on the basis of national security considerations.  As a Variety article points out: "The revision to the law is the latest operation to tighten the government grip on civil society, artistic and speech freedoms in the country"; and "[u]nder the film censorship amendment, violators screening unauthorized films may face punishments including fines up to $129,000 (HK$1 million) and three years in prison." 
As was pointed out in the same piece: "Significantly, the amended law gives authorities retrospective powers. Films that have previously received release approval can now be blocked if they are considered to be glorifying or supporting acts that could endanger national security."  And I wouldn't be all that surprised if a film (or more) will end up getting pulled from the ongoing Hong Kong Asian Film Festival; this not least because one of the Hong Kong International Film Festival's scheduled opening films ending up being pulled from the program this year.     
As it so happens though, both of the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival's opening films were allowed to be screened as planned.  Something else worth noting is that, for now, the amended film censorship law does not cover the online screening of movies.  And neither does it cover music videos.  Thus it is that while Malaysian bad boy rapper Namewee's Fragile music video (featuring Australian singer-actress-model Kimberley Chen) has been banned in Mainland China, this Mandopop song which makes fun of jingoistic Mainland Chinese nationalists known as "little pinks" has not been banned in Hong Kong -- and, in fact, has gone to the No. 1 spot on Youtube in Hong Kong as well as Taiwan!    
Actually, Namewee and Kimberley Chen -- not just their particular collaboration -- have now been blocked from Weibo in the wake of the release of Fragile!  But neither entertainer seem particularly upset or regretful about this.  After all, their music video now has more than 20 million views and been a big hit in Namewee's native Malaysia and neighboring Singapore as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan! 
Amidst all the furor, NBC News reported that Namewee had said some interesting things which I reckon deserve amplifying.  Firstly, in response to accusations that he, whose real name is Wee Meng Chee, is insulting Chinese people: “I am [ethnically] Chinese. Am I insulting myself?”  And in response to accusations that he has been promoting Hong Kong and Taiwan independence: "I have never said anything [about Hong Kong and Taiwan independence]. If you don’t believe me, you can do a search... “Regarding this question, you should ask the people of Hong Kong and Taiwan what they think. My nationality is Malaysian. I cannot speak on their behalf."
At the same time though, Namewee made the following clear: "I will definitely stand with freedom and democracy. The human rights that we were born with are universal values, and that is what [I am] after as a Malaysian. This is why people take to the street to protest over and over again."  
After seeing the likes of his compatriot, Nigel Ng (AKA Uncle Roger), kowtow to China (or, at least, Chinese money), this is a refreshing take to see and hear.  Also refreshing and heartening to see and hear has been NBA player Enes Kantner standing up for Tibetans, Uyghurs, Hong Kong and Taiwan.  At a time when many people living in China don't feel able to speak up (for themselves, never mind others), it is a good thing that there exist people ouside of it who are caring and willing to do so.     

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Fondly remembering my time spent in a Hagi hotel two years ago this very month (Photo-essay)

The tightening of pandemic travel restrictions that were already tighter than most other territories in the world, at a time when Hong Kong has recorded zero local transmissions for some weeks now has perplexed medical experts and upset a whole bunch of people.  And it's got me thinking that I won't be vacationing outside of Hong Kong for many months to come even while, as it stands, I've now been on a plane for what may well be the longest period of time since I turned five years of age! 

For the record: the last time I was out of Hong Kong was two years ago this very month.  And since I haven't finished posting about that Japan trip (24 months after having taken it!), I figure I will devote the rest of today's post to one more photo-essay that hopefully will bring back good memories when I look at the photos and bring some cheer tonight -- the latter for those visitors to this blog who enjoy looking at my travel pics as well as myself...
It took two trains and one long bus ride for me to get to the
next town that I'd spend a number of days and nights in --
On account of it being off the beaten international tourist track,
it was hard to find a hotel to book there -- and the one that 
I ended up staying in felt more like a ryokan than regular hotel!
(*Sadly, it appears to no longer be in business -- a victim of the pandemic?!)
The dinners (which were included in the room price, along with breakfasts) 
there were quite something -- quantity- if not quality-wise! (N.B. This is 
just a portion of the dinner I was served my first night at the hotel!)
Part of the dinner I was served my second evening of my stay
at the hotel -- and yes, fugu (a Yamaguchi prefecture specialty) 
was indeed on the menu!
Also part of dinner my second night at the hotel -- 
there seriously weren't stinting on the ingredients
as well as amount of food served!
The dinners there were memorable, and I very much enjoyed 
my luxuriously large room (and its tatami main section) but
the highlight of my stay at the hotel might actually have been
the spectacular sunset views from its rooftop space!
Honestly, it seemed that every few seconds, the views
got better and better!
Also, truly, I feel that I've really lucked out with regards
to getting amazing sunset views in Japan (with the standouts
in addition to these being those seen over in Matsue and Takayama)

Monday, October 25, 2021

Difficulties with leaving home safe in a city where mere words are adjudged to be national security threats

First, an update re the LeaveHomeSafe app saga: In a move some interpreted as a bid to be "flexible" over the smartphone app rule that the government plans to impose from the beginning of next month (i.e., next week), "Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip told reporters yesterday that the question of whether people without a smartphone could enter government premises would depend on “practical circumstances”... "Every department will look at its buildings and facilities, and based on operational needs, the people that they serve and the practical circumstances, make suitable arrangements accordingly," he was quoted as saying.
But as a representative of the Society for Community Organisation (SoCO), an NGO which works toward supporting the underprivileged living in some of Hong Kong's poorest and most industrial neighbourhoods, pointed out, "while the government had pledged flexibility, homeless people without a smartphone may face varying treatment from different government departments.  “Saying that government departments will make judgements depending on practical circumstances is actually quite problematic. Some departments can be quite strict,” he said."      
SoCo has estimated that almost 80 percent of the 1,562 homeless people registered by the Social Welfare Department do not own smartphones.  The NGO has helped street sleepers to procure mobile phone so that they can look for jobs but while the basic phones that can do that job cost around HK$165 (~US$23), even the cheapest smartphones needed to download the LeaveHomeSafe app costs around HK$900 (~US$116).   
This is something I can personally attest to post going smartphone shopping this afternoon and getting sticker shock upon seeing how much smartphones go for in this city.  And for the record: I learnt today that not only is it hard to find a smartphone that costs under HK$1,000 (~US$129) but that there smartphones that cost upwards of HK$17,000 (~US$2,187) new and still over HK$13,000 (~US$1,672) when purchased second hand!  (And should anyone wonder: of course I'm never going to buy a crazy expensive smartphone.  Also, I haven't actually made a smartphone purchase as yet.  I'm still shopping around for them!) 
Since I don't own a smartphone, I didn't check the news while I was out and thus was blissfully unaware until I returned home that a second individual has been convicted under the national security law in Hong Kong this afternoon and stands to be sentenced to up to seven years imprisonment for nothing more than "chanting slogans, displaying placards and speaking publicly in support of Hong Kong independence".  This is a concerning development, to say the least, since, as a member of Hong Kong Twitterverse noted, "There was never any doubt about the outcome, of course, but this sets the scene for future cases: simply saying something the govt doesn't like for any reason is a national security threat."

On a personal note, I first heard about Amnesty International when I was at college in the USA.  There were university chapters of the organization and there regularly would be people about on campus asking students to sign petitions to free people that it had designated as Prisoners of Conscience.  Little did I think then that I would end up living in a part of the world where a number of political prisoners are to be found, never mind which Amnesty International no longer thinks it would be safe to operate. 

But fears for the safety of its staff is only to be expected when Hong Kong has become a place where a marathon race can be considered to be a politically sensitive event that required 2,000 police officers to be deployed to make sure that participants did not wear clothing (or have tattoos visible on them) with the words "Hong Kong ga yau" (i.e., "Hong Kong add oil" -- a phrase use to cheer people on that's about as innocuous and ubiquitous in Hong Kong as the Japanese "gambatte", American "go for it" or the South Korean "fighting")!  
And yes, this is all clearly absurd and makes what's happening in Hong Kong seem like one big joke.  But few people are laughing as there's also denying how disturbing it is that this kind of thing is being taken very seriously indeed by those who have the weapons to cause serious damage to a whole host of individuals and society at large. 

Saturday, October 23, 2021

The latest oppressive government decision that's been the talk of the town the past few days

My phone for more than 11 years now
I saw a Tweet on Thursday that sent chills down my spine.  Galileo Cheng broke the news that the Hong Kong government was going to enforce the compulsory use of its LeaveHomeSafe tracking app in government buildings and for a couple of hours or so, there were no other reports about this -- prompting me to dearly hope that he would be wrong for a change.  But, alas, Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) confirmed that this would indeed be the case and the more details came out about this decision, the worse it sounds.          

For one thing, individuals exempted from this requirement include those under 12 years of age and over 65 year olds: which is really strange if this move is truly the anti-pandemic measure it is officially touted as being due to it already containing loopholes and members of the exempt age groups being the least likely in Hong Kong to have been vaccinated!  (Yes, Hong Kong is that rare territory where the elderly are less likely to be vaccinated than young and middle-aged adults while being similar to other territories in not requiring children to be vaccinated as yet.)   

For another, the government buildings and offices that people who don't use the tracking app (including those who can't because they don't own smartphones) don't only include the likes of the Legislative Council and courts but also libraries, museums, sports centres, community centres, cultural centres, cooked food centres, wet markets (that are housed in government buildings) and, possibly, post offices and even public toilets!  Reports have come in too of entry to public hospitals requiring the use of this much derided app, prompting a furious reaction from medical personnel and scientists along with raising valid ethical issues (e.g., as per a Tweet by DefianceT, "On how many grounds is HA violating medical ethics by denying treatment for one who already holds a negative test within 72 hours just on the ground of not wanting to scan a dumb code?"). 
There is particular concern for what will happen to the homeless, since the majority of them -- as one might expect -- do not possess smartphones, and they -- and other economically impoverished individuals -- are being exempted from the requirement to use this app.  Not only do they face being barred from entering public hospitals and libraries (where they can be in free air-conditioned space for a few hours of each day) but they also look to be denied access to public shelters as a result of not only owning a smartphone but also, if by some miracle they had money to have one (and not losing it, it not getting stolen or "cleared away" over the course of periodic government "cleaning" exercises), not having a data plan for the smartphone!
Then there are the likes of me, who has been content to live life without smartphones and reckons one should have the right to do this (or, like at least one friend I know, not have any mobile phones at all!).  For the record: not only have I been happy all this while to use the 2G Nokia phone that a then colleague bought for me to use more than 11 years ago is still working but I think it'd help the environment if more people didn't feel a need to change their (smart)phones every year or so (or seemingly sometimes even less)!  (And, okay, there's also this anxiety that I now face when it comes to buying a new phone since, actually, I've never ever bought a phone in my life -- with the three previous moboile phones I had prior to the present one having been gifted to me by other people!)     

At the very least, many thinking folks are agreed about the following: Deciding who can access a space or place should be based on who has been fully vaccinated or not, rather than who uses a tracking app or not, if one really is intent on enacting effective anti-pandemic/public health measures.  Something else many of us can clearly see is that this latest move by the Hong Kong government most certainly is not going to provide any encouragement to those who still have yet to be vaccinated against the Wuhan coronavirus to go and do so.   

One last thing: Hong Kong has actually been coronavirus free for some time; with no local transmissions for 15 days now and for a two month spell or so before this!  So there doesn't seem to be a rational reason to suddenly implement this app requirement now if you look at it from a health perspective, only political ones.  Consequently, this turn of events has gotten people thinking that the Hong Kong government has gone beyond incompetent to downright malicious (if it doesn't do a u-turn upon realizing how disastrous this latest plan, which is set to be implemented from November 1st, is -- the way it ended up doing with its stupid dine-in ban last year!).   

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Cases dropped, cases and complaints not pursued, and one that's sadly ended in the conviction of five university students

Some dishes on offer at Jie Genge, 
a "yellow" restaurant that's been in the news
Reportedly, police officers had found "items including extendable batons, shields, gas masks, cable ties, reflective vests, press cards and posters with political slogans on them" in a room on a rooftop connected to Jie Genge, a popular member of the Yellow Economic Circle, last December.  Before anything else, I think it's instructive that this is what the authorities took to be "offensive weapons and instruments fit for unlawful purpose" since those words would tend to conjure up such as guns, explosives, knives and other (way) more dangerous objects for most folks.  
It's noteworthy too that the prosecution decided to "offer no evidence against the pair" after obliging restaurant owners Wong Hung-hin and Nicholas Shum to appear in court.  Also, despite the charges being dropped against them, Wong and Shum still didn't get away completely scot free.  Instead, like with singer-activist Anthony Wong Yiu-ming back in August, they were "handed a HK$2,000 bind-over order, which requires them to maintain good behaviour for 12 months" -- meaning they're put on notice that they're considered suspect citizens and are going to be watched closely? 
Someone else who one might expect the authorities to seek to prosecute but they thus far have not done so is Chan Tong-kai.  Should the name not ring a bell, here's pointing out that he is the murder suspect whose case led to plans to change Hong Kong's extradition rules which then triggered the mass protests in Hong Kong in 2019.  
Although he served time in jail for having withdrawn money from the credit card of the murder victim, who happened to have been his girlfriend, Chan Tong-kai has never been charged, let alone tried, for her murder -- even though there's strong evidence pointing to his being the individual who killed her when they were vacationing in Taiwan back.  Even stranger is the fact that he had been installed in a police safe house, and therefore protected by the police, from June of last year until recently
When this situation was first known, some people concluded that Chan Tong-kai was effectively a prisoner while living in the police safe house.  Even if this was so though, he legally was a free man then as well as now -- and it's small wonder that many people find this situation worth protesting about.  Chief among these is the mother of the murder victim, Poon Hiu-wing -- and today, she publicly lashed out at the individuals involved to the case, deeming them ""unrighteous people".  
For the record, the individuals in question are: Chan Tong-kai, his parents, his pastor and facilitator (Peter Koon, a pro-Beijing minister who's spoken out against the leaders of Hong Kong's Occupy movement), security minister Chris Tang, police chief Raymond Siu, as well as pro-Beijing politicians Starry Lee and Holden Chow.  Poon Hiu-wing's mother had asked to meet with them outside the government headquarters this morning to meet with her.  None of them turned up.

Sadly, this outcome was expected by most; this not least because the bodies that supposedly investigate and oversee crimes committed by the police tend to be pro-police (or, in one case, actually part of the police force).  And for the record, it's worth noting that the HKJA had filed its complaints with the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC), whose independence has been questioned (and impotence asserted), but the body the one that contacted HKJA to relay the news was the Complaints Against Police Office, which is the police force’s internal complaints unit. 
Still, lest it be thought that Hong Kong's courts and prosecutors are not active, here's pointing out that five Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) students were yesterday sentenced to up to four years and 11 months in prison after being convicted of "rioting" on their university's campus on November 11, 2019 despite a "lack of evidence over the defendants’ level of involvement" in the battle waged between the police and protestors who had decided that CUHK needed to be defended from invasion by the authorities.

The one female among the five, Foo Hoi-ching, had elected to represent herself in court.  The most harshly penalized of the quintet, she wrote a moving letter to the judge to the judge (that has been translated into English and publicized in a series of Tweets by Lokman Tsui).  Some choice excerpts from it:
I do not agree with the law itself, nor do I feel I have done anything wrong.  Simply put, I do not think this is a reasonable sentence. In the eyes of some people, “the law is the law, and if you break the law, you need to bear responsibility”.  Others may also believe that the court’s ruling proves that the protesters’ behaviour is wrong, and their actions in vain. But I believe that authority does not equal correctness...

Under a totalitarian regime, the law is only a bloodless but violent tool of the authorities to control the people, and the court is not a place of justice.  In such a place, only attention is being paid to social order on a surface level, but the root cause of what is tearing the society apart is ignored.  When the penalties for political cases get heavier, some defendants will plead guilty or appeal to the judge, in order to reduce their sentence, but this does not necessarily mean they agree that the current law is moral or just.
The judge may point out that if you are not satisfied with the ruling, you can appeal. However, I no longer believe in Hong Kong’s judicial system, and even the highest courts may not listen to the voices of dissidents.I just want to take this opportunity to express my dissatisfaction. If the court hears what I have said, and believes that it is justified in giving me a heavy sentence to make me regret and reflect, then it will be just as it is. 

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Looking back on a fall evening at another eventful week for Hong Kong

Last month was the hottest September in Hong Kong history and I think that the heat added to the misery that I often felt as a result of the torrent of negative political developments that befell the city.  One reason for concluding this is that, even while this week has brought its share of bad news, I've generally felt in a better mood -- and I'm going to credit the cooler temperatures that have continued even after Typhoon Kompasu moved away from the city that got me thinking that, close to one month after the Mid-Autumn Festival, fall is finally here in the Big Lychee.     
Another reason to feel good these past few days has come by way of the Pillar of Shame continuing to stand tall on the campus of the University of Hong Kong despite the stipulated deadline for its removal having come and gone.  Granted that its days are undoubtedly numbered but, if anything, I think its value and (international) exposure has increased thanks to the HKU authorities' actions.  (Also, the Pillar of Shame saga has helped bring attention to other Tiananmen Square Massacre memorials in Hong Kong, including a relief located on the campus of Lingnan University sculpted by Chen Weiming, who also created the Goddess of Democracy statue which stands on the campus of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.)
Speaking of magistrates' (and judges') decisions: yesterday saw seven pro-democracy activists were given prison sentences of up to a year for their roles in protests that took place on July 1st last year; while Friday saw a physicist who had been trying to help a fellow protester shot by police (on October 1st, 2019) sentenced to a year in prison for taking part in an illegal assembly that day.  (And it really says much about Hong Kong these days that I find myself welcoming typhoon and black rain days because this means that courts will not be in session and there thus won't be sad news concerning the jailing of this and that pro-democracy activist or protestor.)
In further legal news, a Student Politicism member was granted bail on Friday.  But while it's good to learn that 18-year-old Jessica Chu is no longer in custody, it's sad to realize that the other three Student Politicism activists charged under the national security law remain in custody after having their bail requests denied.  In addition, it's troubling to realize that her bail conditions include her being required to observe a curfew and report to police daily, and refraining from contacting foreign officials, giving interviews and making any social media posts.  In other words: she's been silenced.  
As the title of a Tim Hamlett piece in the Hong Kong Free Press earlier this week declared, "Forget the 'small minority,' the national security law has silenced Hong Kong society".  And as its author stated in the piece, "We are told that things have returned to “normal”. Well, returned to what was normal in Stalin’s Russia or Ceausescu’s Romania, perhaps."   
And yet, there are people out there determined to do the right thing.  Going back to Samuel Bickett, here's quoting another one of his Tweets today: i.e., “When you see a child being attacked by a stranger and choked to the point that he can’t even breathe, and you have the ability to help, you should do it. If there are people who think this is something a person shouldn’t do, then I don’t know what to say to them.... Another recent Tweet that I find inspiring (this one by the individual who goes by monkmonkii on that social media platform): Resistance is overcoming our fears and being ourselves.  

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Zero to Hero is the rare Hong Kong-Mainland China co-production that I love (Film review)

The Hong Kong poster for this 
Hong Kong-Mainland China co-production
Zero to Hero (Hong Kong-Mainland China, 2021)
- Jimmy Wan, director and co-scriptwriter (with Lo Man-tsun)
- Starring: Sandra Ng (who also co-produced), Leung Chung-hang, Fung Ho-yeung, Louis Cheung 
I'll be upfront: I remain a fan of Hong Kong cinema but, in recent years, I've made it a point to steer clear of Hong Kong-Mainland China co-productions.  My reasons for this are not just political.  I tend not to like the kind of films that come out Mainland China (whose general style and outlook differs quite a bit from the cinema of Hong Kong) and I've found that many of a Hong Kong-Mainland China co-production tend to be made with Mainland Chinese audiences in mind rather than Hong Kong ones; even those whose helmers (e.g., Dante Lam, Peter Chan Ho-sun and Derek Tsang) hail from Hong Kong. 

So it was against my better judgement that I decided to go check out Zero to Hero, a Hong Kong-Mainland China co-production starring and co-produced by Peter Chan Ho-sun's wife, Sandra Ng.  And I must admit to mentally bracing myself to be disappointed by this cinematic offering when its opening scenes were indeed set in Mainland China rather than Hong Kong.   

But, as it turned out, Zero to Hero is mainly set in Hong Kong and tells a very "Lion Rock Spirit" story of a Hong Kong Paralympian and his mother who moved to Hong Kong early in his childhood.  And, as the end credits make clear, this movie is actually a dramatized bio-pic of So Wa-wai, who represented Hong Kong in five Paralympic Games, including those held in Atlanta in 1996 and Beijing in 2008, and the mother who told him that since he was not ordinary (because he's physically challenged), he should aim to be extraordinary.
While his mother is played throughout the film by Sandra Ng, So Wa-wai is portrayed by a number of different actors in it.  Early on in the movie, he is seen as a baby diagnosed by a Guangdong doctor with aemolytic jaundice whose resulting cerebral palsy means that he will never be able to walk or feed himself.  So is also shown as a young child (played by Choi Tin-lok) who, against the odds, shows the doctor's diagnosis to be wrong -- and, in so doing, unleashed the first wave of tears from this (re)viewer (who this movie did cause to cry quite a bit and generally emotionally impact)!    
Much of the heavy dramatic lifting falls to the actors who played So Wa-wai as a teenager and young adult though -- and their turning in winning performances plays a big part indeed in Zero to Hero being the thoroughly affecting movie that it is.  Fung Ho-yeung is heartbreakingly fragile but also endearingly goofy at times as the teenage So who caught the eye of athletics coach Fong (Louis Cheung) and is enlisted to run anchor in the 4 x 100 meters relay at the 1996 Atlanta Games; while Leung Chung-hang shows well how admirable a man as well as athlete So grew up to be.     
It shouldn't be a spoiler to reveal that So Wa-wai is a multiple medal-winning Olympian.  (You can look this up on Wikipedia, etc., after all.)  Also, that he is the current world record holder in both the 100 and 200 meters men's T36 category.  And that all this did not come easily -- and that So, and his family's struggles, are chronicled in Zero to Hero rather than just his triumphs. 
Really, the fact that one is able to get much out of a viewing of the film even when one knows these facts about its hero says a lot about how wonderful his story (and that of his amazingly supportive mother) is.  In sum: it may not be full of surprises but Zero to Hero is one of those sports dramas that's still well capable of thrilling, inspiring, and touching your heart.

My rating for the film: 8.0

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

One final visit to see the Pillar of Shame at the University of Hong Kong's campus? (Photo-essay)

I went to the University of Hong Kong (HKU) for the first time since June 2019 yesterday.  It used to be that I'd think nothing venturing onto its campus to check out museum exhibitions (at its University Museum and Art Gallery) or attend free lectures or concerts.  I also would pass through the campus sometimes post hike.  But since late 2019, when university campuses became battlegrounds and sites of political repression, visits to them looked to have become ordeals, if not outright discouraged.  
Still, after learning that it is very likely that the Pillar of Shame that currently is installed on the HKU campus will be removed (or outright destroyed) come this Wednesday*, I felt a need to go and cast my eyes on that memorial to the victims of the Tiananmen Square Massacre (whose removal, let alone destruction, will bring shame to the University of Hong Kong) at least one more time.  And after I got onto the campus, I decided to go check out another sculpture -- one whose existence remains unchallenged for now; this despite Sun Yat-sen having been quite the revolutionary: one who managed to overthrow an emperor (and got his revolutionary idea to do so while a student at HKU), no less!
The Pillar of Shame has had a prominent place on the 
University of Hong Kong campus for 24 years
Standing eight meters tall, it commands the attention
of those who come within its vicinity
Message in English on one side of its base
Message in Chinese on another side of its base
the Statue of Shame these past few days (see also here) despite the visits 
of Typhoons Lionrock and now Kompasu to points close to Hong Kong

Also on the HKU campus, a few steps away 
from the Pillar of Shame...
Sun Yat-sen looks at peace here but I don't think his heart
would be at ease with HKU's recent decisions with regards to 
the Pillar of Shame (and, also, the university's student union)!
*Update: The stated deadline came and went yesterday and the Pillar of Shame is still at the HKU campus!  I half expected workers to appear and start smashing up the sculpture at 5.01pm. (That's how low my regard of the university's authorities has sunk!)  But, thank goodness small mercies, that's not been the case!  And while I think it's too much at this point to hope that the sculpture will stay on campus indefinitely, hope has risen that it can be safely removed and transported elsewhere to a venue that will give it the rightful reverence and respect it deserves.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Musing some more about what's happened to and in Hong Kong on "Double Ten Day"

Not so long ago in Hong Kong, pro-democracy protest marches
were a thing -- and ditto the displaying and waving of Taiwan flags
Years ago, I viewed a Hong Kong movie with scenes showing parts of Hong Kong where refugees from Mainland China dwelled and congregated decorated with the flags of the Republic of China (AKA Taiwan) on "Double Ten Day". Given recent political developments however, I doubt we will see these kind of scenes again in Hong Kong movies, or real life.
A case in point: Ng Hong-lim had led celebrations in Hong Kong to mark Taiwan's national day for more than 50 years.  "Born on the Chinese mainland, Ng fled to Hong Kong in the 1950s  At the age of 15, he left for Taiwan and joined the army in hopes of defending the ROC -- to which he still pledges unwavering allegiance.  Following security chief Tang's warning last month, restaurant bookings for more than 100 tables by Ng's group was abruptly cancelled."  But even if "[n]ow we are not allowed to express it, but we still remember it in our hearts," he told reporters.
Other reporters went over to the Red House in Tuen Mun that was used as a base by Sun Yat-sen to conduct his revolutionary activities today and found it cordoned off, and heavily guarded by the police and other security personnel-- like was the case last year but not previous years.  Upon beholding this scene, Ryan Ho Kilpatrick, a Hong Kong journalist now based in Taiwan, was prompted to ask the following: "How long until Dr Sun’s statue is removed from HKU along with the Pillar of Shame?"  
The deterioration of the situation in Hong Kong is something that English professor Jessica R. Valdez has most definitely noticed.  She shared her thoughts and feelings in a poignant Twitter thread yesterday about the university that she currently is a part of (which happens to not only be the university whose campus the Pillar of Shame is currently located but also Sun Yat-sen's alma mater):
When I first came to HKU from Shanghai for an interview more than 7 years ago, the Pillar of Shame represented everything about HKU and Hong Kong that was different from mainland China. I saw it as a promise of what was possible at an HK university.  

More recently, I have been going out of my way to pass it on campus to reassure myself that it was still there. No matter how bad things were, at least we could still have this emblem of open critique and historical memory.

It was bound to be taken away at some point, but its removal will feel (for me, at least) like the end of the HKU I believed in, the university I was so excited to join seven years ago.

Erasures, absences, and removals like this one are why I can’t bear to stay here much longer.

But while Valdez has effectively given up on Hong Kong and the elderly men who celebrated the "Double Ten" for decades had decided to not do in public this year, at least one person has gone about making his/her mark today over at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) campusMore specifically, they broke thru a barrier and put up posters of Sun Yat-sen and Qian Mu on CUHK’s democracy wall!  (And yes, I reckon that both Dr Sun and Qian Mu -- the latter of whom co-founded one of CUHK's member colleges before relocating to Taiwan -- would have approved of this act of defiance and resistance enacted today!)