Activism – Occupy Hong Kong

On Saturday, October 15th 2011, hundreds of protesters occupied Exchange Square in Central. Since then, dozens of activists have been occupying the space beneath Central’s HSBC building.  Here are a few links to local/international coverage:

  • Tom on Reuters (video), on TVB (video) Sina (press), CRI English (radio) and a longer quote on RTHK 3 (radio) after the Exchange Square protest on 15.10.11.


Article:
An unpublished piece I wrote about the relevance of #OWS in Hong Kong…

At a time of deep cuts and austerity measures in Europe and the US, booming Hong Kong is enjoying such a surplus that the government is offering personal US$700 bail-outs to all residents, subsidising electricity bills and allowing families in public housing free rent for 2 months. However, not all is as it seems beneath the Tiger Economy’s glittering skyline.

Last Saturday, over 300 ‘Occupy Hong Kong’ activists gathered at the city’s Stock Exchange. As the freest economy in the world and the third most favoured tax haven, one would doubt that the thriving ‘Capital of Capitalism’ would have seen anything of the Occupy Wall St movement. However, the turnout exceeded all expectations as demonstrators were keen to raise awareness of the territory’s shameful growing income disparity.

HK Time Out Magazine – Column #32

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…

Capping Greed

Japan is one of the world’s most equal societies partly because large salaries are seen to be somewhat uncouth. The average Japanese CEO earns just over HK$3million – which is relatively low compared to their US counterparts who often earn between HK$8-30million annually. Toyota’s board members received a comparatively modest HK$3.4million last year whilst, say, HSBC’s chief enjoys a rather gratuitous basic wage of HK$13.5million.

Executive pay in HK remains the highest in Asia, surpassed only by South Korea, and there is certainly little taboo locally over amassing big bucks. The new watered-down minimum wage bill may help curb inequality – our city’s biggest social problem – but since we lack a ‘cultural cap’ on excessive earnings, further legislation is the next natural step to control executive greed.

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.