Blog – New Burma Website

Today I launched a new website for the Hong Kong Coalition for a Free Burma. The coalition was established in February 2008 as a loose coalition of HK-based human rights activists, faith-based groups, and regional and local organizations and institutions of women, students and migrant workers. The website brings together their various social networking feeds and provides a central focus point in Hong Kong for their campaigning during the pseudo-Burmese elections this year.

HK Time Out Magazine – Column #27

I’m currently contributing a short, light-hearted political column to Hong Kong Time Out Magazine. Below is the uncut, original version of my latest piece…

A Textbook Case

Tonight, tens of thousands of patriotic Hong Kongers will gather in quiet, dignified recognition of the hundreds killed 21 years ago by their own government. We have already seen the traditional, sparsely attended debate on the Tiananmen massacre in LEGCO. And tomorrow, as per tradition, the right-wing press will pretend tonight’s Victoria Park vigil never happened.

But it is not only pro-Beijing newspapers that are guilty of self-censorship. Only one of HK’s 12 educational publishers includes full details of the June 4th incident in their history textbooks. In 1994, the then director of Education, Dominic Wong, attempted to cynically ban the topic from schools by ensuring history lessons did not cover anything in the past 20 years. Since then, publishers have played down, omitted or simplified the events of 1989. It is outrageous that many textbooks simply state that the PLA “cleared the square’. Though perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised since they are ultimately businesses and accountable to the government, which compiles a list of recommended, approved textbooks.

Japan – Videography

Easter backpacking in Tokyo, Japan. Footage from Ginza, Tsukiji Fish Market, Harajuku, Shibuya and Shinjuku.

0:00 – Shibuya, 2:09 – Tokyo Metro, 2:30 – Ginza & Sony Building, 3:10 – Tokyo Tower, 3:19 – Harajuku, 3:31 – Shinjuku, 3:49 – Tsukiji Fish Market, 5:55 – Slideshow.

Tokyo – A rare Sumo tournament at the Yasukuni Shrine.

0:00 – Sumo, 3:49 – Sumo pantomime, 6:30 – Yasukuni Shrine, 7:20 – Slideshow.

Tokyo – In search of the weird and wonderful in Japan. Footage from Akihabara – a maid cafe and Meguro Parasitological Museum.

Tokyo – Asakusa & Meiji Shrine

0:00 – Asakusa Shrine ???? Senso-Ji Shrine, 2:10 – Korean food in Asakusa, 2:57 – Capsule Hotel, 3:14 – Meiji Shrine.

Kyoto & Nara – Cherry Blossom Season

0:08 – Shinkansen Bullet Train, 1:00 – Kyoto, 2:05 – Path of Philosophy Cherry Blossom, 3:12 – Geisha Show, 4:16 – Fushimi Inari Taisha, 5:10 – Sagano Bamboo Forest, 5:59 – Nara, 6:49 – Slideshow.

HK Time Out Magazine – Column #26


I’m currently contributing a short, light-hearted political column to Hong Kong Time Out Magazine. Below is the uncut, original version of my latest piece…

Certified Fair

Many Hong Kongers, particularly jet-setting expats, bear rather hefty carbon-footprints, so it’s naive to be too self-congratulatory when wielding reusable bags, recycling and buying organic. However, sometimes a worthwhile idea nurtured by a few can become mainstream in just a few years. This can be said for the Fair Trade movement in the UK, where recent visitors will notice that the accreditation symbol can be seen around every high street. Some entire towns, supermarkets and manufacturers are going 100% fair trade, and the founders want HK to develop a similar, meaningful culture of ethical buying.

HK’s first Fair Trade Fortnight was held last month, and although the organisers – Oxfam – admitted that it is still a tiny movement, it appears awareness is rising in the same way it did in Britain back in the 90s. As CafeDirect CEO Anne MacCaig explained at the opening conference in Wanchai, we’re currently seeing small grassroots efforts in churches, community groups and independent stores – and this is how it all began in the UK

Blog – Giving Thanks

The spring, the unnecessarily verbose ‘16th Parent’s-Also-Appreciate-Teachers Drive’ took place.  (One does have to wonder about the use of the word ‘drive’, which suggests that reluctant parents require some degree of coaxing and persuasion to display gratitude towards their children’s long-suffering educators)

[N.B. The controversial element on the front of the postcard is not the fact that the teacher is clearly a freakin’ owl, but rather that he is accepting a gift over the value of HK$50 from a student, an act which is highly illegal in Hong Kong as per strict civil servant contractual anti-corruption guidelines.]

Despite my apparent popularity in the school (which I measure simply by the number of times a child holler ‘MMISSSTTAAH THHOOM‘ in my general direction), I usually receive surprisingly few cards. Indeed, like on Valentine’s Day, the postman delivers only a world of disappointment and rejection – with just a handful of students brave enough to pen their cards in English. Below are this year’s prime specimens…

Fig 1. – “Thank you for teach me English”, says Cherrie. The bitter irony...