HK Time Out Magazine – Column #31

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…

Sharpened Elbows

When ‘scuffles’ break out on protest frontlines, it’s often difficult to tell whether it is provoked by frustrated activists or the police themselves. If it’s a high profile demonstration, protesters will sometimes find themselves outnumbered by police, undercover goons and a gaggle of photojournalists with sharp elbows. The latter are already somewhat notorious in the territory for snapping away at bloody accident scenes and, with many prepared to literally fight for the most sensational protest shots, their integrity remains in question.

Clement So, Director of Journalism at The Chinese University, says photojournalists getting “too involved” has always been an issue, since “HK reporters are aggressive and try to beat competition.” He agrees there are some bad apples but says that that should not render the whole journalistic community as subjective or taking sides. Despite this, I’ve had quite a few run-ins myself with forceful photographers who can be blamed for obstructing protesters and causing things to escalate.

HK Time Out Magazine – Column #30

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…

Pedal Power

In my wide-eyed naivety, I thought it’d be a splendid idea to cycle to work when I first moved to Kowloon and so set about buying a second hand fold-up bike. I immediately regretted venturing out onto Waterloo Road. The comical spectacle of a lanky Westerner astride a tiny contraption with wheels the size of dinner plates provoked so much staring, I might as well have been straddling a hippo. But aside from the instant face loss and unbearable pollution, it soon became clear why the only folks who risk cycling are those with a death wish and elderly gas canister delivery blokes. So hazardous were the roads that after 3 close shaves in as many minutes, my poor bike found itself straight back on AsiaExpat.

HK Time Out Magazine – Column #29

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…

Republic of HK?

Last week was the 13th July 1st democracy rally and it tends to attract all kinds of causes – from domestic maid unions and a group demanding full British nationality for Hong Kongers, to individuals with personal gripes against the health system. But one eccentric faction unlikely to be showing themselves in public is the HK independence movement. They exist solely in cyberspace, mostly because some legislators have suggested their campaigns are in defiance of archaic treason laws.

The Hong Konger Front is an alliance of websites proposing that the city finally declares itself a republic. Hkfront.org includes mock-ups of what the flag would look like along with a potential national anthem, complete with a catchy chorus – “Is it a great country? Yes, it is. Hong Kong is really great.” It alludes to the fact that we may have somewhat of a war with China on our hands (perhaps lasting ‘20 years’) but fails to discuss how totally reliant we are on the mainland for much of our food and all of our water.

HK Time Out Magazine – Column #28

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…

Monkey Business

Since 2000, increasing numbers of fraudulent monks have been giving hit-and-run blessings to passers-by before bowing, presenting small plastic Buddha statues and demanding cash. Sure, being on the receiving end of an unwelcome sanctification is a refreshing change to risking an unsolicited stabbing (which would probably be the more likely incidence were I back in London). However, with these fraudulent holy men refocusing their attention on uninformed tourists and Westerners, they’re surely making a mint from people’s mystified preconceptions of Buddhism, and their outright kindness.

Utomo Francis from HK’s Buddhist Association insists the fake monks are simply mainland criminals who come over, shave their heads and dress the part. All monks and nuns within China, let alone our city, will be looked after very well by their own monasteries, and begging certainly forms no part of their spiritual journey. Mr Francis has been working with the police, security bureau, mainland Buddhist groups and the media to raise awareness of the issue but legally, the impostors can only be charged with loitering. He recommends that Hong Kongers simply ignore them or report the matter to the police. ‘Donating’ may simply embolden those involved in this dodgy practice and make matters worse.