HK Time Out Magazine – Column #4

timeout

I recently started writing a short, light-hearted political column for Hong Kong Time Out Magazine. Below is the uncut, original version…

Bus TV

Shopping may be a territory-wide obsession, but even when between purchases we are constantly, relentlessly being sold something everywhere we go in the Capital of Capitalism. Advertising is so ubiquitously brash around our supposedly fragrant harbour that vulgar neon signage has become one of the iconic, defining features of the city.

Talking billboards and gargantuan video screens are offensive enough but it is the more subtle and intrusive messages than burden and encroach upon regular people just trying to get through their day. Certainly, nothing wants to make me want to stab myself with chopsticks more than being subjected to Bus TV. Frankly, I feel myself getting slightly dumber with each minute of inane, invasive, ‘infotainment’ drivel spewed out from no less than 15 speakers and 4 TVs installed on no less than 4000 double-deckers.

Activism – Letter to ATV

Activism

The media’s choice of words and how they present facts can affect a whole story. One man’s freedom fighter in indeed another man’s terrorist, and it’s important TV news and press get it right. It seems that, in a fit of over-cautiousness, ATV got it wrong this week when they used ‘allegedly’ in describing the deaths of Tiananmen Square activists.

This is a term usually thrown in to protect news teams from prosecution, usually during ongoing cases, but the Beijing crackdown occurred in 1989 and many of the facts are quite clear.

Here are the BBC’s ethical guidelines: http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/editorialguidelines/edguide/

I wasn’t expecting a reply from ATV, so just emailed off a short rant. I received a surprising response a few days later…

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I noticed some of the language used in your report on legislators visiting Guangdong (17/5/09). I was confused by your use of the word ‘allegedly’ when describing the deaths of students at the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Is this a suggestion that there is somehow ambiguity surrounding the fact that protesters were killed. I understood that outside of the mainland, this is a simply a given fact?

Sincerely,
Tom Grundy.

Activism – Letter in The Standard

Activism

Printed on the letters page of The Standard 21.5.09

What an offensive article by Mary Ma (“Ripe for new political bananas,” The Standard, May 15). Let bygones be bygones? Tell that to the Tiananmen Mothers or the thousands of Hongkoners who are here because they had fled the regime over the border. No-one has received justice for the Chinese Communist Party’s brutal oppression in 1989.

It is the same party, made up of some of the same people that instigated the massacre – what is to say it couldn’t happen again? Certainly, they have never admitted responsibility or apologised. Being the only place in China where self-expression is tolerated, we are morally obligated to ensure the crackdown is never forgotten, and is taught properly in schools.

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HK Time Out Magazine – Column #3

timeout

I recently started writing a short, light-hearted political column for Hong Kong Time Out Magazine. Below is the uncut, original version…

Flying Freedom Kites.
20 years ago the central government crushed the world’s biggest peaceful pro-democracy movement in a violent crackdown on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square – thousands were killed and wounded. In the run up to the June 4th anniversary this year, I will be joining other activists to fly ‘kites for democracy’ this Sunday at Clearwater Bay Country Park, 2pm.

Between April and June, 1989, students in the capital sang the The Internationale, erected a Democracy Goddess statue and went on hunger strike. They also flew kites in an attempt to disrupt military helicopters, and it is this peaceful act which inspires Sunday’s HK Alliance-organised gathering.

As the anniversary nears, there will also be forums, a demonstration, lectures and a public petition organised by the HK Alliance (www.alliance.org.hk), which was formed just a few weeks after ‘6/4’. It comprises of over 200 members from political, labour, students, women and religious interest groups. The upcoming kite event is just one imaginative way in which they – along with other local groups like the Social Democrats and Tiananmen Mothers – attempt to ensure the fight for democracy in China stays in the headlines. Even as recent Chinese history remains absent from even Hong Kong’s schoolbooks, these groups are proof that grassroots efforts can have a worldwide impact.