Timor-Leste – Time Out Article

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This travel piece, adapted from my original full-length journals, was featured in Hong Kong Time Out Magazine on 10.10.12. Videos here, more photos here and the original article below…

Time Out - Timor-Leste article, 10.10.12

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Isolated and near inaccessible, Asia’s newest nation is home to the largest UN peacekeeping mission on Earth, located in the poorest and most overlooked corner of the region. Emerging from decades of bloodshed and occupation with scarcely any infrastructure intact, war-ravaged Timor-Leste attracts just a few thousand tourists per year. Roads are amongst the world’s worst (where they exist), the airmail service is rumoured to take one-and-a-half years, the humidity is oppressive, healthcare minimal, poverty rampant and the dinky shot-up capital, Dili, makes Beirut look refined. So why would anyone care to visit?

Because travellers will discover in Timor-Leste what everyone else in Southeast Asia is hopelessly searching for. All your dreamy paradise island clichés can be found within – pristine white beaches, crystal clear azure seas, some of the richest and most diverse sea life on the planet and a queue of welcoming, unjaded locals to show you the way. Adventurous tourists will come across incredible hiking routes, thick rainforest, untouched lagoons and delicious seafood – and more often than not, you’ll be the only traveller in town. Continue reading

Activism – £2420 ‘Arrest Blair’ Bounty Awarded

George Monbiot’s arrestblair.org campaign awarded me with a bounty of £2,420.89 this week for my attempted arrest of Tony Blair. This comes on the day Desmond Tutu refused to share a platform with Blair.

The sum will be converted to Hong Kong dollars and donated to: The Palestinian Centre for Human RightsDemocracy Now!West Sahara Resource WatchStudents for Justice in Palestine National Conference and others. Receipts will be collected here over the following week.

Coverage:

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South China Morning Post, 2.9.12

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Blog – Hong Kong: Why We March

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A variation of my article below was published at Naomi Wolf’s Dailycloudt.com and Britain’s leading liberal magazine, New Internationalist. A complete summary of CY Leung’s inauguration weekend, pro-democracy protests and SAR handover events can be found on my Hong Kong blog.

Milton Friedman has long believed Hong Kong to be the model success story of laissez-faire economics. In the eyes of the WTO, the ex-colony’s status as the world’s freest economy is an ideal for the rest of the world to aspire to. In reality, the ‘capital of capitalism’ is anything but non-interventionist and the city today should stand as a warning to libertarians and corporate defenders the world over.

Mind the gap
Although the territory has seen a huge growth in the number of millionaire residents, the local census Gini Coefficient shows inequality to be at its highest level for 30 years. As it celebrates 15 years of Chinese rule, the UNDP states that the wealthiest 10 percent of the populace control more than a third of the city’s income, whilst the bottom 10 percent share only 2 percent. A meagre minimum hourly wage of US$3.5 was only introduced last May and, with little corporate regulation or competition controls, a small handful of rich tycoons and their conglomerates reign freely. It has resulted in Hong Kong having the worse inequality amongst all OECD members; a fact that should make it a poster-boy for the failures of ‘free trade’. Yet income disparity is only set to worsen as the aging population and low birth rate give rise to an ever-shrinking workforce.

Activism – My Attempted Citizen’s Arrest of Tony Blair in Hong Kong (Press Releases)

Press releases below.

Interviews/coverage: RTHK, The Standard, Time Out and South China Morning Post locally. Huffington Post UK,  The GuardianBBC NewsThe Independent and The Telegraph in the UK. Democracy Now in the US.

Coverage via AP & Reuters news wires:  The Daily Mail, Sky News, ITNNDTVTIME Magazine, Fox NYCPress TVGuido Fawkesi4U News, Yahoo, Channel News Asia, Phuket News, B92 , Beijing CreamInformation Clearing House, ShanghaiistStraits Times, XFMStop the War Coalition, Signal1 etc…

Reuters footage via Democracy Now (with clean audio)…


(YouKu video here for those behind the Chinese firewall)

Radio interview with Phil Whelan, Morning Brew – RTHK Radio 3, 18.6.12

Update 2: I am eligible for a share of the ArrestBlair.org ‘bounty’ offered to those who attempt a citizen’s arrest of Mr Blair. I will donate the sum – of around £2400 – to relevant charities (including the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza).  The site was founded originally by British Guardian journalist and writer George Monbiot.

Update 1: The attempted arrest took place at around 5:50 Hong Kong time, 14/6/12. I approached Mr Blair within moments of his arrival on stage – I was prevented from waiting next to him for the police. I stated the following within a couple of metres or so in front of him…

Iran – Time Out Article

This travel piece, adapted from my journals, was featured in Hong Kong Time Out Magazine on 26.10.11. More photos here.

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As your flight descends into the dark heart of the Evil Axis, rumours of 50c heat, a presumed threat of kidnap and the danger of a terrorist free-for-all weigh heavily upon the mind. However, Iran’s terrifying reputation and wildly inaccurate stereotypes mask what must be one of the friendliest and safest hidden gems in all of Asia. From magnificent mosques to bustling bazaars, the Islamic Republic is home to a sophisticated culture and rich history, all showcased with a famously heartfelt level of hospitality. And as for the intense desert heat – long-suffering Hong Kongers may actually find the lack of humidity strangely tolerable.

The lightly beaten tourist trail begins in the ‘City of Love’, Shiraz. No longer a wine producer, this small city is centred around the elaborate Vakil Bazaar. The colourful marketplace comes to life at night and shoppers exploring the endless maze will find locals offering to pay for things (or even dinner!) as shopkeepers chase them down dark alleys merely to return their change.