30 June 2010

Pseudo-models for Pseudo-book Fair


Last week the Trade Development Council lifted the ban of teen models, which was proposed earlier, from its book fair in July under the pressure of the models’ publishers. However, book-signing sessions are still not allowed because the council argued that the models’ risque photo books are of bad taste and too vulgar, which contradicts the fair’s image as being family oriented. They don’t want the chicks to hijack such significant cultural event as they did last year.

I can’t help worrying about the fair if it no longer allows some boob-flashing and legs-flaunting from the bikini-clad models. Who would then pay to see the show? Booklovers? Well, as an old-fashioned booklover who insists on 15-minute bedtime reading every night, I don’t feel the urge to cram myself into the venue to see Haruki Murakami or Stephen Fry for real. I am drawn to their writing talents, not their physical looks and autographs. Besides, most people nowadays just read everything from the Internet and their iPhones. Or worse, they don’t read, they watch videos. Taking a long way to Wan Chai and paying a fee to read something new is so 1990s. Only some jaw-dropping cleavages would provide enough incentives for lads to bother.

I also wonder if the panel members of the council are sexually mature enough to make sound judgements. As a woman who is capable of being turned on by the same sex as long as they’re hot, I looked through Chrissie Chau’s last year’s photo book and find it far from being ‘risqué’. It can’t even compete with American Apparel’s catalogue. The photos are just Chrissie in curve-hugging flesh-revealing clothes, doing harmless poses to accentuate her shape. Calling it vulgar would be like calling Sex and the City porn. In fact, if I were a parent, I would be pretty happy if my son found these photos the most stimulating materials he ever came across. At least I wouldn’t need to worry about becoming a grandparent by accident.

In fact the problem with teen models’ albums is that their albums are not erotic enough to be qualified as adult products. Yet they are not intellectual or aesthetic enough for booklovers to purchase on Amazon.com. That’s why these pseudo-models found their perfect match – the pseudo-book fair. When these pseudo-porn publications are worshipped by sex-deprived chaps and condemned by moralists as the culprit in failing reading culture and sex education, one would not be surprised that Hongkies always rank last in international sex surveys. We are just damn suppressed.

28 June 2010

To Be Loved For Money

Traditionally, we wish to embark on a relationship not for one's financial status, but simply to find a companion who is able to open up the private sphere of our hearts in our torment souls and avoid contemplating romantic dramas on TV in evenings alone. In the world of the twenty first century, however, the romantic conception of love has undergone a paradigm shift. The definition of love, depending not on being curled around and talked to with infantile, affectionate language after making passionate love in bed, but rather, on whether the male counterpart can afford an overly priced apartment or whether he can financially allow his female counterpart to wage an exhausting wardrobes competition with her female friends. What precisely damages the clarity of this traditional romantic conception of love? What heartlessly reduces the abstract notion of love to a couple of Louis Vuitton handbags or an fetish obsession with high heel shoes?

If love is getting commercialised, it is perhaps because capitalism has succeeded in exploiting human greed as an instinctive root of human nature. Driven by such pecuniary culture, we are often liable to worry at length about whether our financial status will allow us to sustain our living. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see money being regarded as an object of worship which ultimately leads to the innovatively capitalistic formation of love.

Consequently, emerging there are two schools of thought in love. One school proposes that one should find in her partner logically reducible elements: money, fame, social status etc. Where traditional conception of love may require us to sacrifice for our partners, self-love, as opposed to selfless love, ought to be raised to a status of superiority. The other school, as obvious as it seems, condemns this pecuniary culture. It insists that money will ultimately nurture shallow relationships. A similar trajectory can hence easily be drawn for one's obsession for one's body, outlook, or even sexual candour. One should find in her partner some sort of inner beauty, elements that are critically independent of change and decay, things that might not be easily washed away by misfortunes such as intelligence, compassion, and sophistication.

In the midst of choosing sides, for the fear of being shallowly condemned, a great deal of social critics and groups of people whose thinking is submitted to the predictable brand of the mature middle class nonsense wish to draw their moral landscape from the latter school as the sole criterion for true love. Is our quest to find true love must necessarily be based on one's quality rather than one's material possession?

Perhaps it is shallow psychology to think that it is impossible for genuine affection to grow out of the love of one's money. Though the instinctive root may be self-interest, through the assistance of money, one may have felt for the help, namely, an expensive cosmetic set or a McQueen's dress, which she owes to his male counterpart that easily develops into sincere love. In the cynical world of ours, most of us severely condemn those who decide matters measured in money. However, the fact always runs counter to what is considered noble. It is precisely money or other superficial elements which one's attractiveness is based on. The fact that people are rich or look beautiful easily fools us into thinking that some sort of mysterious schemas are deeply attached to them. It is ignorance that muddies our objective judgement on them. It leaves room for a reflective delight which our imaginative vision flowers.

We are often told that we should not fall at first glance or for qualities that are unable to bear the verdict of time, that we should give a clear-eyed investigation into the depth of waters before we can testify for our romantic destiny. If we are prone to falling in love with people whom we know nothing, it is because they defy our ease of understanding. We are creatures of habit and therefore liable to grow contemptuous of what is familiar. If knowing each other means deviating away from the romantic conception of love, then perhaps we should cut away our effort for psychoanalysis and fall for merely superficial elements like money or physical beauty. The quest to find a true love is hence critically dependent on understanding absenteeism, that a great deal of affection is based on the paradoxical fact of less understanding.

Many Hong Kong girls anchor their criterion of love to money. But they should not be condemned merely on the ground of self-interest. Because things that invoke our promotion of self-interests are the ones that generate our desire of love. Therefore, love can be seen as a direction, not a place, and burns itself out with the attainment of its goal.

The problem in Hong Kong is that this ideal is being enforced to be a norm rather than a choice. Nevertheless, wealth can purchase the reality of love. It may be undesirable and less noble. Unfortunately, it is a fact.

W

25 June 2010

Math, Memorization, and Mind Control

The educational system in the Village is famous for producing students who are almost as good at memorizing and calculating as my smartphone. Because students have to pass high stakes tests of their information regurgitation skills to move on in the education system, the system ensures that only masters of those skills are likely to succeed. This meritocracy based on math and memory is of course much older than the Village itself, originating over 50 years ago in the Imperial Examination System of the beloved Motherland. (The picture above is of Imperial Examination Cells in Guandong.)

In the days when China first ruled the world, having a standardized education system, and the resulting standardized belief system, was a huge advantage. Other societies couldn’t muster the kind of organized manpower that the Motherland’s mastery of math, memorization and mind control could, and so they were conquered and integrated into the Empire.

Times have changed. Importantly, the rate at which the times change has changed. Memorizing knowledge from the past is only useful to the extent that it helps you predict the future. But the past is increasingly irrelevant for predicting the future. Besides, if I want to perform some calculation or recall some fact, my brainpower is augmented by so many devices that I'd prefer to use my mental capacity for tasks that my phone can't do better than me.

Not only is this emphasis on math and memorization largely useless, it's harmful as well. In a society where everyone knows the same facts and believes the same things, where are the innovations going to come from? Big Beijing is in a difficult spot. On the one hand, they know that there is an "innovation gap" between China and the US. On the other hand, the kind of education system that would allow them to close that gap would also create waves of people capable of seeing through their propaganda, which might threaten their sacred stability. So far, their solution to this conundrum seems to be stealing and copying innovations from other countries. But that strategy will keep China perpetually behind the curve.

There is a rare psychological disorder that causes people to remember everything. Literally. So our tendency to forget things isn't due to some innate limit on the brain's information storage system. We forget because forgetting is useful. These people who remember everything have a lot of difficulties in life. Their personal relations suffer, because they remember every little thing that anyone ever did to them. Forgiveness is a lot harder when you can't forget. Also, they have trouble making sense of the world. To forget is to focus on what's important. Some information has emotional salience to me, I naturally remember that information. Other information doesn't, and I will only remember that kind of information through effort and repetition. Remembering only what's important allows us to better pick out patterns in an increasingly complex world.

The success of American innovation is largely due to the failure of our education system. Compared to what I've seen in the Village, American students don't respect their teachers and they don't learn what they're supposed to learn. As a result, Americans have less respect for dogma and authority. So when they get to college, and they have an idea that contradicts what their professor says, they don't automatically think their idea is wrong; it could be the professor who's wrong. If you don't think the professor could be wrong, you don't innovate. As the rate of change increases, the professors are increasingly wrong.

24 June 2010

Selling Out is Sexy


I pray that the time when this post is published, the government’s constitutional reform proposal has already been passed so that my appreciation of footballers’ ripped abs and round butts (yum yum!) would no longer be interrupted by disturbing government ads and news reports which feature the grumpy faces of pan-democrats. I would no longer be under surveillance from the suspecting eyes of thousands of police standing by in Central as if they knew I am a post-80s member who writes for a secret Commie blog. The officials would then hide their ass in the office instead of showing up in shopping malls which ruined my shopping spree.

As you know, the latest twist in the saga is that Big Bro finally endorsed the Democratic Party’s compromise proposal, which would be adopted by the government and enable it to bag the Party’s votes on its revised package. Since the news was announced, my facebook and twitter have been flooded with condemnations of the Democrats as sellouts, because they put forward a proposal less prefect than universal suffrage, though slightly more democratic.

For me, the threshold of selling out is much higher. Democrats would only be a true sell-out if they become Communists as this is totally against their principles. Agreeing to something not contrary to but less perfect than their ultimate goal or dream is not selling out. It’s just real life, and a life I love.

Would you not do the job because you are not working on paradise island?

Would you not sleep with someone because he might not be marrying you?

Would you not learn a new sport because you might not be getting Victoria's Secret models' figure?

Would you not buy iPhone 4 because it has 1028 more flaws than the invincible iPhone 9028?

A ‘no’ would mean you would be forever embittered and waiting. A ‘no’ would mean nothing is done. A  'no' is no life and so fucking boring, just like the thousand tweets and critics on the topic which look totally alike.

While the compromise proposal will do no more harm than the original one or the status quo, why don’t we just give it a go, move on and see what Big Bro has to offer or what else we can fight for? As a woman who trains to be adventurous, the last thing I want is to be stuck in a rut.

Sometimes, I wish the pan-democrats were like the France football team – end it quick and stop the fuss.

23 June 2010

Lets talk about Football, baby!!!

Lets talk about the world cu..i mean our world wide sporting event... for a second, shall we? 2 weeks on and it has proven to be quite the emotional roller-coaster already, with a few heartbreaks (aie, les bleus ~ RIP), a few fizzled out expectations (do the English play football anymore?!) and a few instants of la joga bonito (one word: Messi).

For us villagers, the world cup has some serious consequences:

1) MONEY: with cable TV being a selfish greedy bastard..i mean...loving, conscientious cable provider, most of us are unable to watch the games at home, thus prompting all villagers to venture out into our hi-tec glory and stimulate our seriously suffering retail and f&b industry, while making our pockets all the more meeker.

2) BOOZE: like most things in our beloved village, especially within the expat community, its just another excuse to sit around and have an intellectual conversation on the merits of sport and its ability to unite people get trashed, without actually watching the game

3) FASHION:

Girls: okay girls, i know we have a habit of slutting it up, I mean, dressing provocatively at every sporting event, and i know and fully appreciate that it's part of the fun of being a girl, having done so myself....BUT, if you are going to wear the south african/french/argetina/etc etc jersey, tie it up to your mid riff, with shorts and heels - and then be unable to name at least 4 - 6 of the 11 men on the field, and you are not south african/french/argentinian etc etc - TAKE IT OFF....hmmm that didn't come out quite as i expected....

...but for real, this is FOOTBALL game not a fashion show. the chances of you impressing a guy before, during or after the game with your football fashionista skills are low, very low. So if you are wearing the jersey to support your team, (even if you are not from their country), then by all means, go for it. But please, have some vested interest in the GAME before you decide to don your LV heels with your green and yellow jersey.....thats all I'm asking for here.

Guys: jerseys are hot. and yes, myself and every other hardcore lover of the game will judge you by the team you support (assuming here, that you are not from said country) and the name on the back of your shirt, so choose wisely :P muaahahhahaha

4) SEX: ahhhh the eternal question of life, Sport vs Sex, what to do!!

Fortunately or unfortunately, for us villagers the games are screened from 7:30 pm onwards, and while this allows us to watch the games in relative ease - it DOES pose some conundrums when it comes to 'getting jiggy with it'.

For those of us in the singles game, Trying to be vested in picking up women or picking up men became a lot harder when there are games on every evening, all evening, for one month straight.
For those of us in relationships, well, to be honest....what else is new?

But no matter where your relationship stance in life, here's my two cents:
Your team wins, go celebrate! and what better way to do that than getting laid?! ha!
Your team loses, find a way to make you feel better! and what better way to do that than getting laid?! :P


So, in conclusion, the serious consequences imposed by the WC on village life is actually not much different from anything else; money, booze, fashion and sex predominate more than the actual game, sportsmanship and unity. Ahhhhh, how i love this hi tec village of ours :) :)


ps. as a disclaimer,
the above photo is clearly photoshopped - and all of us here at Libertines are proud of El Diego for moving past his awful coke addiction....and in good faith, we'd like to remind you, drugs are bad...mkay.

22 June 2010

Politics ABC for our Villagers

I was sent overseas for two weeks of slavery, so I missed most of the rants against my beloved Democratic Party, which is kind of...cool. Words just can't explain how much I'd like to see this futile row over our electoral reform ends. Idealists in this Village dream everyday that the Big Bro will finally say "Fuck it! You guys can do whatever you like!" They think that the Big Bro cares so much about your rant and raves here and there. So when the Democratic Party decided that they want to take a relatively pragmatic approach as known as bargaining, everybody accuse them being sold out. Now some of you idiots could get a bit puzzled; shouldn't the DP say no to everything the Big Bro or local government decided on? Isn't it the essence of democracy? Have they become DAB after they started negotiating with the Big Bro? Let's say I'm like every other normal Villagers here; I know nothing about the electoral reform packages. Or more precisely, I actually don't give a shit. Yet, is there anything to learn from this incident?

Yes, my fellow Villagers, it's time for us to learn what politics really is. I googled "politics" and found...gee...thousands of tl;dr writings flooded in. As the major illiterate of the Pub, I naturally moved my cursor to that little button called "image", and found some nice pics explaining the most complicated human endeavour to me.

I found we're basically looking at two types of personalities here:


When the Special Administrative Village (SAV) bravely took up the responsibility of "ruling" ourselves under the great One Country Two Systems ideology back in 1997, Villagers have often been accused of being "politically immature", and that became the major excuse for the Big Bro camp to deprive us of our basic human right of democracy. After all these years, I got somewhat convinced...


Villagers need to learn that politics is never about working hard towards your ideals, neither is it about defending your principles. Politics works simply like this:


Even if we have a universal suffrage, the same damn thing would still happen. We can ask our American friend Wesley here. So Villagers, get a life! That is what politics is all about, and now you've experienced it.


Anybody interested in politics still?

21 June 2010

On Consumerism


If the dominance of consumerism has been severely criticised, it is perhaps because consumption cannot be justified without need. Aside from its environmental issues, consumerism condemns us as mere robots, easily manipulated by advertisements on what we truly need. Shopping is, therefore, a secular sin, that fools us into thinking we need an excessive amount of ornaments and decorative items to exemplify our self-indulgence, a manifestation of what we want rather then what we need. It encourages temporary satisfactions. However, to be fully human, the anti-consumerist maintains, is to only buy what we need. Why would one need an expensive cardigan when a cheap one can equally serve the exact same function? Why should we follow the trend when we can have our own styles? After all, we all, in essence, should long to be admired for logically irreducible elements: intelligence, excellence, integrity, compassion etc. No matter how chic we can get, death will still come and haunt us, threatening to turn our worldly possessions into ashes and dust. Whatever arguments may be brought up against shopping without need, should we not allow shopping a part of our guilty pleasure in the private sphere of our heart?

If shopping has to be subject to rational scrutinisation, one may perhaps find its root in our rampant pecuniary culture, however, rather than accusing our economic system of the capitalistic formation of unnecessary desires, perhaps magazines are largely to blame. If magazines take up their part in triggering our commercial minds, it is because magazines have to make us unhappy. Flipping over pages of lifestyle magazines, how an ordinary unaided mind might be able to resist the seduction of the satanic genius of the editors.

Though a great many magazines on the surface may offer solution to the human conditions, though they may help us to discover ways to materially manifest certain good ideas of life, it only leaves us miserable in the end. In the clothes section, it reminds us of how many new garments have to be compensated for our wardrobes. In the decor section, it informs that our homes probably have no style. Lastly, in the cleansing, cosmetic products and perfume section, it enforces a message that we are far from being able to keep our skins in good conditions and may lead us to lose temper over a flask of limited edition perfume.

Therefore, magazines are not mere the gospels of what a good life means, but rather, they are instruments of psychoanalysis. Because the fact that they leave us miserable is only a reminder that we should suffer aesthetic analysis. Learning how many clothes are missing in our wardrobes and how many decorative items are missing in our homes attend to us the idea that perhaps our tastes have to be refined or even unlearnt and that our sense of fashion has to be sharpened in order to love life. These magazines invoke in us a succession of questions: why don't I have this particular handbag to harmonise my Anna Sui's cosmetic sets? Why am I unable to wear long loose shirts correctly over leggings? How can I neglect purple is the colour of this summer? Why am I ignorant of certain cleansing product that may neutralise the dermatological disaster on my face? Little wonder why our tastes deserve scrutiny.

However much pain these magazines have inflicted on us, looking over images of a world of perfect beings, we are still stripped of defences. We still find pleasure in contemplating pages of unhappiness in our beds alone and devising a detailed shopping list to make sure that we follow the "correct" social logic of tastes and styles. All this, unfortunately, is an illusion. The editors of these magazines have successfully fooled us into thinking we are actually the models ourselves, that once we put the clothes on, we will be under the illusion of possessing the stylishly posed figures who are modelling the summer collection and being photographed under big spot lights. Only until we return home, we will realise our lack of physical candour and therefore are liable to avoid the verdict of a full-length mirror. We mistakenly confuse the mirror with the lens skilfully placed in the sophisticated design of a camera and overestimate our own ability to see through the photographer's eyes.

The problem of these magazines inevitably leads to the problem of shopping. Shopping invites us to cast aside our reasoning abilities and favour a trust in mindless consumption. However, to condemn shopping is to fail to ascribe to shopping a proper value in our psychological make-up. Shopping is not just about buying what we need, but rather, it reflects a deep question of who we are, a question that might provoke us to search for the answer for a lifetime. The reason why we always shop for what we want instead of what we need is that we are often unsure who we are or what we want to become. Confused, we are then liable to adopt the suggestions made in magazines that provide a justifiable defence for our shopping rituals.

Our search for a decent camera, a pair of jeans, a Hermes handbag, or a pair of Martin Margeila's represents a process of soul-searching. Since we are unsure who we actually are, then we might as well figure that out by fitting in the current trend through the workings of shopping, anchoring ourselves to a more socially recognisable forms. It is also precisely because trends and styles endlessly fluctuate that allows us to abandon identities that may not inherently belong to our selves. Shopping, like science, is piecemeal. It leaves open for the possibility that we are susceptible to change and therefore open to revisions when necessary. It conspires to test itself against mental evidence. Which means our tendency to switch styles may suggest that our identities are always subject to change due to accumulation of new experience.

While we often deprecate the consumerist ethics, we ought not to neglect the unmentionable gravity of shopping in our philosophy of life. So rather than just buying what we need, we might as well buy what we want as long as it is financially affordable. Because shopping is not merely about consumption, but rather, it is a means to self-understanding. It allows us to see through the shop windows to a more enchanted world, a part of us that lies beneath our skin that remains undiscovered until a considerable amount of money is chiseled in our bank accounts. Shopping is no trivial task.

W

17 June 2010

Extreme Hong Kong


My daily commute is an exercise in extremes. In the morning, I wake up in the socialist utopia of Lamma Island. Lamma is the least commercialized place I've ever lived: there is no advertising on Lamma, and the only corporate chain of any kind on the island is the tiny little branch of HSBC in Yung Shue Wan. Lamma is also the most egalitarian place I've ever lived: all the houses are roughly the same size, nearly all the apartments are around 700 square feet, and people don't advertise their wealth by the way they dress, since everyone wears shorts, a t-shirt and sandals all day everyday.

Then I get on the ferry, and arrive in Central. I go up an escalator, and I'm in the IFC mall. There I'm bombarded by images designed to make me feel bad about who I am, bad about the clothes I wear, and bad about where I am in life. I make it through the mall, and head to Sheung Wan on the pedestrian walkway. Once I come down to ground level, I'm reminded how this city isn't designed for me, it's designed to use me as a tool for corporate profits. Taxis honk their horns at me for getting in the way of their next fare, people on the street don't show the slightest kindness toward one-another, there's hardly any room to walk with all the money-making going on. I look up at the thousands of anonymous apartment and office windows containing the tools of the corporatocracy. I work, I eat, I get back on the ferry.

When I get off the ferry on the Lamma side, I remember why I'm willing to put up with that ferry ride everyday. Lamma is on a human scale. I feel like I fit. I'm a person, not a consumer. Every place I've ever lived has been designed by corporations for cars. For the first time in my life, I live in a place designed by people for people. And I found that place in the Hi-Tech Village, the world's greatest capitalist theme-park. Go figure.

15 June 2010

Sick Leave (Diagnosis: Radiation affected)

Do you feel unwell in the morning waking up? Headache, nausea? And you are thinking up a reason for calling in. Of course, everyone knows it's because you spent the whole night at a Pub drinking, shouting for your team. I can now suggest another excuse: radiation.

Today the newspaper reported an accident in the nuclear power plant at our neighbourhood nearly a month ago, without any alert from the Company or the Village's gov't. I know some expats readers like you may not even know there is a nuclear power plant in proximity, about 50km away from Tsim Sha Tsui.

I am not an expert in nuclear science, and I can't tell the hazard such accident may bring (so do your boss), I believe even experts at the site can't tell (or not allowed to). With the well-known credibility of the gov't in our backyard, no one really knows what's happening. However, that is a good thing, that's how you i-bankers make money from hoax, aren't you? You just tell your boss you are affected by radiation and are having headache and nausea, no one can really challenge you even a medical doctor.


But why now? Why something that has been kept silent for a whole month suddenly floats to the surface in just one week away from the day the LegCo "may" pass the package proposals on CE and LegCo election methods in 2012? Does the backyard gov't want to remind our fellow villagers your life and power (electrically and politically) are in their hands, your rights to elect and to be elected are basically bullshits.

Anyway, take this chance to call in; stay at home and watch how our LegCo passes the proposals, and most importantly the war outside the chamber between protesters and police. Perhaps our gov't officials and LegCo members should find a better escape than last time.

The Grass Really is Greener On This Side. (at least for now)

Lately with all the fortunate weather we've been having on the weekends, I've been seizing the opportunity to spend as much time as possible adventuring all over the islands, and while on my adventures, I noticed a few things; the most noteworthy being the diversity of people who were also out and about taking advantage of the beautiful weather, not only in the sense of race, but also socially, economically, culturally, age wise, gender wise, - everyone had come together for the same reason. for the love of nature.

Appreciation of nature is one of the few true intergrating points of Hong Kong society and even society as a whole. Love for the earth brings together people who normally wouldn't cross paths ~ old people, young people, Chinese people, Expat people, Klingon people, Filipino people, etc etc and while this may sound almost to be a childish and overtly simplistic observation ~ In this complex self-centered digital village we live in, it is often easy to overlook or forgot or even become apathetic to the more organic things that bind us together, not only as Hongkies, but as humans.

I think on the inside we know that all Hongkies have come to take for granted the beautiful landscape we live on. We are passive drones in our relationship with our environment. We take for granted the financial, social and civic infrastructures our government has set up for us, and we assume and/or expect our government to create the same responsible system for our environment..and yes, while that would be true in an ideal world....we all know like most things in the village, as long as there is no money for the government to make, they are not really going to do shit about it.

Over time, our little village island has blossomed into a land where everything is about value ~ property value, financial value, entertainment value, corporate value, face value, the list is endless. but really, it is our environmental value is of equal and perhaps more consideration. Access to nature is the ultimate 'bang for your buck'. It's fucking FREE. The ability to make full use of nature requires only your body, your imagination, and perhaps your loved ones. Nature can tie together mankind in a way that no religion, politician, video game, song, movie, book, sport or ..well anything really, ever could. Watch a bunch of otters holding hands and feel your cold cynical village heart melt as much as the next person...muahahhahaha!

And to put it bluntly, us villagers are seriously lucky motherfuckers. We live in a city with over 20 outlying beaches, and 100s of hiking trails. In fact, most financial power house cities that are thought of in the same breath as Hong Kong (New York, Milan, London, Mumbai, Shanghai, Tokyo, Dubai, Paris etc..) do not have quite the same access to nature in such a moderate climate. Yes, perhaps their cities are more 'greener' - examples, Central Park or Hyde Park, but New Yorkers and Londoners do not have the same access to hiking trails within 20 mins of their doorstep, as well as fresh seafood available around the door, or a multitude of beaches and outlying islands 30 minutes away...all of that is exclusive to HK.

Our access to nature is what makes Hong Kong so special. Our love of the outdoors stems from our island heritage. It has permeated all parts of our society. It provides us a refuge from all these reflective surfaces and neon lights we are prisoned in day in and day out. Where everything is about buying, selling, being bought and squeezing profit, it is comforting and important to value something that cannot be bought, something that is free for all, something that we can all share, something we all love. And as Hongkies, no matter what divides us, at the end of the day, even us cynics here at libertines, we all love our fragrant harbour, and if we do not take the initiative to protect what we love, well then what can I say really....we're the biggest dumb-ass's of all.

14 June 2010

Should We Sleep With Someone On A First Date?


Driven by pecuniary interests, haste has become a hallmark of virtue while patience would count as a prelude to unproductivity. This culture of haste, unfortunately, has not just effected the world of business, but also integrated with our social life. If haste is considered a norm, it is perhaps because it allows us to get numerous things done in a day, and we may therefore cut away our unnecessary concentration on the minute details which may slow down the process to attain our goals.

If haste has become part of our daily habits, then it is not surprising to see how our romantic life becomes more like a fastfood meal rather than a decent supper at a restaurant. If a man wishes to take a lady out on a date, rather than pleasing her with humours, etiquette, and his intellectual candour, he only offers show off his wealth in front of the lady, while the lady in return harbouring a financial respect, evoking a sense of commercial optimism as well as romantic pessimism. What is worse is that his true aim is not amorous possession, but rather solely physical possession. How easy a sentiment that has been praised in literature, novel, poetry, and films is reduced to a mere mathematical formula. How easy money can savour a woman's body.

If the sole criterion of love is based on how good we perform in bed, it is because sex becomes a legitimate substitution for love. Sex has become an ends rather than a means, just like money has become another substitution for happiness. Traditionally, aside from prostitution, love was thought to go before sex. It was believed that it was not a good idea to engage in sex before the consideration of falling in love. Sex was therefore a supplement to love. That is why the first kiss and the foreplay were important. Because the performers of these acts wished not just to hold and savour the physical realm of the other halves, but also the spiritual realm, in order to make sure that they were sharing the bed with someone who could fathom their souls. However, in the world of twenty first century, where it conspires to kill our power of concentration, the young have become compulsive sex addicts. On the surface, they may all seem willing to risk everything to attain their beloveds, but what lies deep in their hearts is a night in bed generating pleasurable sensation of rubbing their receptors under their skins against each other.

But is sex really our ultimate desire? Are we forever condemned to follow a Darwinian approach to love? But this is an illusion of what we want to attain. The problem of this illusion lies not in the tolerance of easy sex, but rather in failing to entertain the benefits of delay. An easy access to a woman's body is precisely why it is most unlikely to encourage love. At one level, sex may grant us the most pleasurable sensation ever known, but at another level, it may fool us into thinking we have acquired what we truly want. Because the woman is unable to foster doubts in us. What is most attractive about a woman stems not from her submission to the dominance of men, but rather the difficulty of attaining her. If she is not as easy to possess as a prostitute who can be possessed by commercial means, then it suggests that there is something mysterious about her and makes allowance for us to perform a clear-eyed investigation on her.

Upon the interval of desire and gratification, it prompts us to study our beloved on a closer examination. We are allowed to study her tastes for dance and music, her opinions in politics and science, and her characters. Moreover, in the physical realm, we may be able to pay closer to attention to what initially attracts us the most. We could study his facial structures, her indentations, and the curves of her body which may enhance our appreciation and love for her. A prostitute, on the contrary, will sooner or later cease to generate desire in us, because she is always available, ready to reveal her naked truth, and gives us what we want to attain beforehand.

So why do we want sex on a first date? Though physical intimacy may put us in direct contact with the object of desired, it does not guarantee us intimacy of souls. If sex can substitute love and women fail to please us in beds, or vice versa, we may risk laying down judgements falsely on their characters only based on the sexual gratification we have received. We must therefore realise the limits of sexual contact and revise what possession truly means.

W

11 June 2010

In the Mansions

In the Chungking Mansions, everyone's a foreigner, even the locals. Chinese and Europeans feel equally on foreign turf in the Chungkings. Since most of the shops and restaurants are owned and operated by Indians and Pakistanis, it might seem like they are the only non-foreigners in the Mansions. But by treating them like second-class citizens in someone else’s country, the HK police make sure the South Asians feel like foreigners as well.

The Mansions have long been home to the other type of globalization, the kind you don’t see on TV, the kind corporations are largely uninvolved in, the kind that involves individuals traveling long distances to engage in highly personalized relationships based on interpersonal trust.

I love the Chungking Mansions. I love the delicious, cheap Indian and Halal food. I love the people who stop trying to sell me a copy watch as soon as I cross the threshold into the building. When I need to get something done, cheap, easily and in English, I go to the Chungkings. Want to get your phone unlocked? If you’re Chinese, maybe you go to MK or Sham Shui Po. If you’re not, that shit is gonna pose some serious cultural challenges, so life will be easier if you just head to the Mansions. Because everyone’s a foreigner, it’s just much easier for a foreigner like myself to figure out how things work in the Mansions than in the Village outside. MK is interesting and fun, but MK is confusing. The Mansions make sense. I get it. It’s nice to not be so confused all the time. Like the US where I came from, the Mansions are designed for foreigners, and that means that a large body of cultural knowledge isn't needed to navigate them.

Because many of the transactions in the Mansions are done in English, I’m able to understand a much higher percentage of what goes on in the Mansions than elsewhere in the Village. Here’s my basic interpretation of how the economic game goes down: dude comes from Nigeria, Kenya, India, Pakistan or some other poor country that was once part of the British Empire. He gets a room in one of the guesthouses on the upper floors. He gets some cheap cheap tasty sustinence from one of the restaurants on the first or second floor, then he walks to a cell phone shop somewhere very near where he just ate. He negotiates price. He then moves on to another shop and attempts to play one shopkeeper off of the other, trying to get the best deal he can. He chooses the best deal, and then he buys some cheap empty suitcases and fills them up with as many phones as the airline's baggage rules will let him carry. He then gets on a flight back to wherever he came from, and sells the phones. This might seem like a minor economic transaction, until you consider the number of times this transaction repeats itself throughout the year. It's a large number, large enough that the Financial Times wrote an article last year about the Mansions, calling them "the place where Africa goes to buy its mobile phones."

This other type of globalization is primarily made possible by HK's Indian and Pakistani community. The British first brought Indians to HK as a means of controlling the local Chinese population. It was known at the time that Chinese people fear people with dark skin, so the British figured that Indians would make good security guards. (This was also just a continuation of long-established British colonial policy of playing one colonized ethnic group off of another, first perfected with their use of the Scots in Ireland and then repeated all over the Empire.) So Indians have been here a long time. As a result, many of them speak Cantonese and English as well as Hindi, Urdu, Tamil or some other South Asian language. These language and cultural skills allow them to build personal relationships with Cantonese cell phone manufacturers in South China, used cell phone traders in HK, as well as Indian and African traders.

Unfortunately, some of this fear of dark-skinned people persists in the modern Village, and on the planet. Walking around the Mansions, you see some nervous Europeans with their backpacks on their front, and you see the occasional Chinese woman looking terrified because some dark-skinned guy ogled her the same way 100 Chinese guys and 5 gweilo just ogled her on the MTR ride across the harbor. When I've told local Hongkies that I stayed in the Mansions, many of them are shocked, because they think it's so dangerous. But this is all non-sense. The dudes in the Mansions are businessmen, and they're on a business trip. They're foreigners, and the cops watch them relentlessly. These are not dangerous people. They are dark skinned, and they are not rich, but those two things don't make them dangerous. Contrary to local legend, the Mansions are not full of crime (unless you count fake iPhones). So if you haven't been to the Mansions, check them out, if only for the amazing samosas.

10 June 2010

I'm in your blog, ruining your world wide football event this summer fever.


Apparently the official name of the international football tournament which is about to begin on the 11th of June 2010 has been trademarked by FIFA. Anyone who uses it without permission will be greeted with surprise buttsec by a hoards of lawyers from FIFA. Hence the pub can only refer to it as the World Wide Football Event This Summer (WWFETS for short, <-- can we trademark that as well Henry?) Anyways, with the WWFETS just around the corner and a large number of our villager devoted football fans, who will be without the means to see most of the matches, unless paying for it. It's safe to say, pretty soon we are going to see a lots of our villagers out in full force, wearing the football jersey of their choice and camped near anywhere with a T.V with a WWFETS match on.

Nothing new there, but what yours truly really want to discover is: How does a villager decide which team to support? And do they really support the team that they're wearing the jersey of?

cue random cute girls in random football jersey in a random picture.



And a random quote from Dave Chappelle


"The girl says, 'Wait a minute! Just because I'm dressed this way does not make me a whore!' Which is true. Gentlemen, that is true. Just because they dress a certain way doesn't mean they are a certain way. Don't ever forget it. But ladies, you must understand that is fucking CONFUSING! It just is. Now that would be like me, Dave Chappelle the comedian, walking down the street in a cop uniform. Somebody might run up on me, saying, 'Oh, thank God. Officer, help us! Come on. They're over here. Help us!' 'OH-H0H!!! Just because I'm DRESSED this way does not make me a police officer!' All right, ladies, fine. You are not a whore. But you are wearing a whore's uniform." ------Dave Chappelle.

I'm sure most of you have seen our villagers wearing different countries and clubs football jerseys on the streets? Be it the Croatian National team or Barcelona F.C. Now I have no problem or what so ever with people having their own reason when choosing their team (or teams) to support, however shallow their reasons be i.e. Team plays nice football, hot guys in team, or the team just won a lot of trophies last week so I have decided to support them now etc.etc.... However, it's not surprising to see one villager wearing an Arsenal shirt one day, and a Tottenham(yuk!!) next, or proclaiming their love for Liverpool while wearing an Everton shirt...

The situation above may indicate that most villagers might have forgotten that, in most places, the moment you put on a team's jersey, it signifies that you are supporting that team. (that's why there's a badge on it, jackasses.). It might not be a big deal in
this village, but as my good friend Petar Marinov once told me, wearing the wrong colour in the wrong part of town in Sofia, Bulgaria could very well spell the end of your life.

Why so serious? You asked? Because unlike most sporting teams in this Village, sporting teams in Europe (and America even), have something called HISTORIES.

Did you know the reason F.C Barcelona and Real Madrid hate each other so much is not only for football but more a clashes of culture within Spain? Did you know that S.S.Lazio (check out the awesome team crest yo!) is a club that has a fascist background and fanbase? While their rival Livorno is a club that has a Leftist background? (read all here in this wonderful blog)

Football itself is an old old sport with a rich vein of history and background, while the game itself is exciting (not if you support the Blackburn Rovers or any team Sam Allardyce coaches...). It's just a shame that the people who runs it merely consider it as a money maker, while the people who watches it, consider it as a fashion statement or, well.. also money maker. As for those villager who DO enjoy football, next time you put on a footy jersey or decided to support a team, how about go the full length and do some research on the club/country? Knowing and CARING about the club's history and culture background, you might find yourself enjoying the game a little more, why you asked? Well, because you have something new in you, it's call passion.

09 June 2010

From Cutlery-Cleansing Ceremony to Removal of the Goddess of Democracy Statue, the road to complete Doyuness

Daveed is back with another guest post. Read his own great blog here.


The end of another academic year, and I finally have time to write something for the Libertines Pub.

Having left this Hi-Tech Village over 25 years (perhaps it wasn't so hi-tech, or even so much a "village" back then), and only come back for occasional summer holidays, I consider myself an outsider to Hong Kong.

However, during the few times that I have been back, I have noticed some peculiar group behaviours that I don't recall happening when I was still residing here, and definitely are not the norms in the UK, or indeed, other places in Asia that I have frequently visited.

The most glaring example is people washing their cutlery (chopsticks, bowls, saucers, the whole lot) when they go to a Chinese Dim Sum restaurant, or even a Cha chaan teng. Do they not trust the hygiene level of these restaurants? If so, why do they still go? I don't see that happening in western style “high-class” restaurants in Hong Kong, so are they perceived to be more hygienic? Maybe they are, but I have a few questions for those who practise this "cutlery-cleansing ceremony" (I hereby call it CCC for short) regularly:

  1. Is the boiled water from the tea-pots with which you use to cleanse your cutlery some kind of magic detergent that sterilises anything on contact? (I see people just pour the water into the bowls etc, give it a stir, and then pour it out straightaway!)
  2. In other neighbouring places (including places with lower levels of hygiene, e.g. the Mainland, or places with higher levels of hygiene, e.g. Japan and Taiwan), this practice has not taken on. So why does it happen solely in Hong Kong?
  3. Are you the same people who frequently visit street hawkers who sell their delicious-smelling eggettes, fish balls and other "ultra-clean" tasty nibbles?

As a guy myself, I'm not that fussy about the hygiene levels of restaurants, as long as it's not too disgusting or noticeable (i.e. visible cockroaches or other stuff on the dishes that do not belong there!). So maybe guys do it to impress / not anger their date. I mean, if you don't perform CCC when you're with your new hot date, she may look down on you as some kind of unhygienic subhuman, yet when you walk along the streets of Causeway Bay or TST afterwards, she would ask / demand you to buy her some freshly baked eggettes, because they smell so nice.

There is a phrase in Chinese called Doyu (多餘), or more commonly in Cantonese DoXyu (多X餘), which literally translates to things or actions which are "unnecessary", or "fxxking pointless", but in fact has a far stronger tone and deeper implications.

The reason why this phrase is used so often in Cantonese is perhaps Hong Kong is full of people who are indulged in Doyuness. I consider the practice of CCC to be an example. Another well-known example is how people in this Hi-Tech Village are all so eager to join gym memberships, yet never bother to walk down / up the stairs to their apartment, and most often take taxi to the gym and run for hours on the treadmill. Is air pollution really that bad in Hong Kong?

In a way, nobody encompasses the realm of Doyuness more than the government here. A recent example is the removal of the ugly Goddess of Democracy statue from Times Square. I am pretty sure that Big Beijing does not really mind if the statue stayed. After all, BB has turned a blind eye to most things happening in here. However, because of the removal, instigated by Bow-Tie Donald, the number of people turning out on 4th June has increased dramatically. If this is what Mr Tseng really wanted, then he’s a very cunning politician. However, I doubt this very much, and it looks very much like another case of Doyuness.


This type of "bum-licking" (or "shoe-shining" in Chinese) has happened so many times since 1997, especially under Uncle Tung. If I was Big Beijing, I wouldn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

"The type of government in power is what the people deserve!" I can’t remember who said this now, but it makes perfect sense. I don't know when the Villagers of this Hi-Tech land have become so Doyu, but the government is definitely reflecting this shift.

08 June 2010

Watching My Footprint


Last week we were so obsessed with mourning, fighting and cheering for our Goddess of Democracy that we forgot there was another big event happening, which is much more central to our survival – The Air-Conditioning Free Day on June 1.

According to the website of the environmental organization Footprint, 234 schools and a number of unnamed environmentalists had participated in the event with the hope of raising the awareness of reducing carbon footprint. You may wonder why such a meaningful and non-controversial event got such low exposure comparing to the Earth Hour or the Car Free Day. One reason is that our Secretary for the Environment might be too busy doing the laundry for another weekend out in his reusable Act Now t-shirt. Another possible reason is that the act of turning off the air conditioner is not as visual as turning off the lights or making an appearance on the MTR to declare oneself car-free, which provides little incentives for large corporations and government officials to act on, as they could no longer show to the press how environmental-friendly and socially responsible they are, even for just one day.

However, had this event become more well-received, what’s the point anyway? One day away from our cooler simply makes us miss the chilling sensation more the next day. It’s like a lady who tries to cut out her daily fat intake and turns out to munch more chocolate cookies late at night, or like a superstar who flies to the developing world to experience others’ suffering and retreats to his five-star hotel afterwards. We are so used to comfort, convenience and efficiency that we simply can’t quit it for good. Such environmental campaigns may sound sexy to begin with, but pitifully, they could do no more than a mere gimmick. In fact, the NGOs dare not ask for more than an hour or a day of abstinence to keep the events from failing.

Even if we could quit the air-conditioner, does it necessarily mean the world becomes a better place? My observation is that some so-called eco-friendly acts may turn out to be making zero impact to the environment, if not worse. For example, we may take more shower and wash more laundry if we are compelled to stay in a room without air-conditioner. When I use a reusable tumbler instead of paper cups to buy coffee, I turn out to use lots of cleaning detergent to clear the foul smell in my cup. Some activists argue that we should not eat beef and go vegetarian instead because beef cows emit loads of greenhouse gas. But what about the more pesticides used in cultivating crops as a result? Not all of us are entitled to the organic crops quota (as well as the luxury). What goes around, comes around in a different corner.

As we have to consume resources of the world which leads to its end anyway, the only balanced and sustainable way of staying eco-friendly and thus prolonging our Mother Earth’s life is to consume no more than what we need. Just this simple. Any flashy green acts might actually bring about counter effect or no effect at all.

07 June 2010

How Should We Treat Our Guests?


Embroiled by excessive working hours and the necessity of moonlighting, it is no surprise to witness a great many Filipino and Indonesian maids ferry to Hong Kong for working opportunities. They seek to replace the traditional role of women and become masters of handling domestic affairs. If the customary female identity has not been offended, it is perhaps because the feminists have gained the upper hand and brainwashed modern women to become financially independent rather than submitting themselves to male dominance. How indefensible the traditional responsibility of women has become in front of a flock of Filipino and Indonesian maids.

Whatever much convenience these maids have brought us, there is one drawback. Rather than fulfilling our obsession with cleanliness and order, they threaten to undermine the virtue of hard work and inculcate in us a sense of laziness, rendering us liable to take everything for granted. What is worse is that they have a tendency to deprive us of the ability to be good hosts. Upon welcoming guests to our homes, instead of harbouring a respect and warmth for them, we command our maids with fluidity, as if slavery has been reinforced on legal grounds, to articulate from the most trivial art of serving drinks to the most annoying dish washing. How thoughtful of us, who are the masters of our homes, to treat our guests who offer us bottles of wine and flowers with our lack of hospitality.

A real story might help to emphasize my point. The Queen of England Elizabeth II, while having excessive numbers of maids on duty in the Windsor Palace, insists on welcoming her guests by herself rather than relying on her maids. She serves them drinks and supper, does the dishes, and finally makes tea for them all by herself. But why does she insist on doing these by herself instead of asking her maid to do them? Because the Queen herself believes it is a matter of etiquette.

The role of a master is to offer the possibly best hospitality to his guests. To ask his maid to perform all the tasks is to violate the identity of him being the master of his home. It not only reveals the fact that his guests do not deserve any respect, but it also condemns their presence as trivial that their visits cannot mean much to him. It robs his guests of dignity and self-respect in front of a maid who may silently ridicule and mock them over the collecting of the dishes and her puting them in a sink.

A good host should insist on his guests doing nothing but eating and drinking. When they offer to help, he should tell them, with a friendly yet masterly tone, to keep out of the kitchen area. Aside from this, he should tell his maid of her redundancy, to take the rest of the day off, and serve the guests at his best.

W

05 June 2010

The Libertines Pub is one year old!

On the 5th of June, 2009, Henry C. opened this blog with a post ranting about the now long forgotten Nina Wang case. After a year of hard work of our contributors, the Libertines Pub grew into what it is.

The Pub began as a team blog of three. Before having more writers to join us, the three founders all struggled very hard to keep the blog going. One of the founders was quoted to have thought that the Pub would have faded away in a few months time, amongst hundreds of new blogs establishing every month in this city.

Instead, the Pub grew into a magazine-like team blog, updated every weekday. Each contributor, coming from different walks of life, focuses on different aspects of life in this Hi-tech Village. Although the posts published here all have different styles, tones, and sometimes conflicting views on issues, the contributors all treasure the liberty of alternative thinking this platform provides. We deliberately want our writings to be different from the mainstream discourse - we seldom talk about what's been covered or voiced out by others. As pointed out in different occasions, we intend to invite our readers to think otherwise. We are aware of the fact that most readers may not like a blog with alternative views; some even got very offended at some point. Still, we consider it worthwhile to provide some refreshing posts in this otherwise monotonous local blogosphere.

Difficult as it might sound, we grew to become what we are now. Within a year, the Pub has been visited 19,000+ times. More than 200 people liked us in Facebook and our Twitter is followed by around 200. More than 100 readers subscribed to our feed and read us on a daily basis. Considering that Libertines Pub is not-for-profit, where our contributors are all doing this at their leisure (or pressure from the editor), what we are today is a big achievement by itself.

After one year of hard work, we think we earn the right to ask you to show us a little bit of love for the Pub. Firstly, take part in this poll. We would really love to know your reading habits. Secondly, leave us some comments here or there. We want to make the reading of the Libertines Pub an enjoyable experience for everyone. Let us know, and we'll work on it.

Thank you, everyone, my contributors, readers, and most importantly, haters. Let's all keep the fun coming!

Finally, what about a toast?!

04 June 2010

We're stalkers, so you better answer.

No, there will not be a regular post today.

The editorial committee of the Libertines Pub had a long meeting last evening. We saw dozens of beer consumed; after that, the editors came to a conclusion that there'd be no use for us to write anything today. Nobody will give a shit about the Libertines Pub, not even if we could have written the greatest joke ever.

It's the 4th of June today. Everybody is commemorating the day we all know what happened 21 years ago. We thought it must headline all important news agency around the world, like the BBC, CNN, Deutsche Welle, Reuters, etc. The whole world is talking about that in Twitter, they're all trying to figure out how to get the messages that will piss our Big Bro off through Weibo. It's THE game that everybody is playing online today!

Yes, today is important. Everybody should feel sad about today, like how we weep everytime when we read about WWII, the French Revolution, American Civil War, Bleeding Kansas, Cultural Revolution, Reformation, Laconian War, Titanomachy, Midian War...If you feel nothing about all these, you shouldn't breathe.

So we'll do something different today. We want to stalk you. We want to know how and when you read us. Help us with our fetishism by replying to these questions. You can go back crying for the day after a few clicks:



And you get a superfast jellyfish for completing the poll (link available only after you answered all questions, my ass).

03 June 2010

Foxconn in the title, but then pretty much nothing else is related to it.

The big news from Motherland in the month of May no doubt has been the series of suicides that happened within the Foxconn industrial complex. While news outlets has been quick to mention and then un-mention the incidents (I guess as a press, you don't really want to say anything TOO bad about a company that makes products for brand names such as Sony, N0kia, Dell, HP AND Apple.) Anyways, as I'm a active troll, when given half the chance, would troll the hell out of Motherland just for the lulz , communist party member who cares a great deal about our fellow comrade in Motherland, I was looking for explanation and interpretation left and right into this emo-tastic incidents.

So on Monday, while I was reading my copy of the South China Morning Post I stolen from my hotel. (It's call fringe benefits, happens when you work in a shitty place doing shitty stuff, so the management turns a blind eye when you take something from the company i.e the occasion toilet roll, newspaper, can of Pepsi you found under the guest bed. etc. Maybe Foxconn has the same concept? Free razor blades to slit your wrist?) Anyway, While I was reading my free paper, I was excited to see SCMP has a article by Wang Xiangwei named: Foxconn, Honda woes reveal changing face of industrial relations.

Being as stupid as I am, before reading the article my mind started to wonder far and wild, what will Mr. Wang reveal? Is Foxconn really a cult like the loopy Falun Gong? No, can't be, even thou Steve Job is involved, he already has the iphones for mass mind control, he doesn't need this... Is there a virus pandemic within the compound and there's something in the water that is making all the people going fucking crazy? No, no, if so, all 400,000 workers would have gone crazy and killed themselves, right? Or maybe is it the lucrative compensation package to the family members, which really is to die for??

In the end there were 2 industrial relation revelations I was most looking forward and hoping Mr. Wang would reveal! The 1st one is that Motherland intentionally keeps parts of herself poor as dirt, in order to provide cheap and dispensable labor to achieve epicness. The other revelation is that they were playing My Chemical Romance loudly over their public announcement system every morning?? I know I would fucking kill myself if I have to listen to MCR every morning.

Alas, my wishes were not to be granted, instead, Mr. Wang, has pointed out several points in his article, which I will share with you lots:

The developments at both Foxconn and Honda show industrial relations are fast becoming an important consideration.....Several factors have emerged....the composition of work force is also changing..they expect more than just a monthly salary, and their pampered upbringings make them unprepared to work under conditions in which they are treated like robot...

I'm sure Mr. Wang, being a big shot newspaper person, has done his research (?) and even thou his article has no number to show for it, of course we will take his word for it. But just who exactly is getting a pampered upbringing? The Foxconn and Honda workers, who choose to leave their poorer home to travel to the promise land of Canton provinces in search for a higher salary? (You know, we'll all seen them hanging around the Lo Wu Shenzhen Train Terminal, those who pack every freaking stations during Chinese New Year, wanting to catch the train home) One thing for sure, it aint the 35 million who earn less than 100 RMP a month Oxfam told us about, they sure as hell were not getting pampered.

Funny enough, Mr. Wang's 2nd paragraph seems to be in a completely different note, yet this time he has more numbers to back him up. What's it about this time? pretty much just bitching about how the Motherland is screwing it's more skilled and educated work force (AHEM. meaning yourself, Mr. Wang?) with it high personal income-tax. The article ends with:

This tax regime has long been known as one of the biggest disincentives for so-call overseas returnees..instead, most move to Hong Kong and travel to the mainland for work.... It is high time mainland official began simplifying the personal income-tax regime.

Yeah, they move their pampered self to Hong Kong and write personal bitching in SCMP.

I know, I'm a retard that who can't scan...

02 June 2010

Got Democracy?

In HK, it seems there is no political issue more important to the people than "universal suffrage." Hongkies think they don't have it, and they want it.

With universal suffrage, and without any obvious distortions of democracy like functional constituencies, it would seem that these democracy protestors are asking for what Americans like myself already have. So let me tell you, it ain't all it's cracked up to be.


Now don't get me wrong, I support the cause of the pro-democracy crowd here in the Village, and I wouldn't trade the US Constitution for the Basic Law. But both in terms of process and policy, I don't really see a fundamental difference between the two. The anti-democratic elements in HK politics are just a little more naked.

In terms of process, neither the US Congress nor Legco can make any decisions that a majority of corporate interests oppose. This fact is obvious in HK, since the functional constituencies are so obviously controlled by corporations and Big Beijing. In the US, corporations control the political process through the two-party system, lobbyists, campaign finance and corporate control of the media. The two-party system is a bi-product of US election laws (use of single-member districts rather than proportional representation). The US Supreme Court has recently ruled that corporate influence by campaign finance and lobbying are protected by the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution.

Routinely donating funds to both the Republican and the Democratic candidate in the same election, corporations are able to maintain influence no matter who gets elected. The two parties are supported by somewhat different, but overlapping, coalitions of business interests, and the voters are only offered the choice between two candidates who have already been pre-approved by those interests. So in the US, like in HK, the only time the will of the people matters is if the business interests are in conflict with each other.

As for policy, I see even less difference. HK has better infrastructure, better and cheaper public transportation, and a much better health care system than the US, all while collecting less money in taxes. The difference in taxes is partly explained by the fact that HK has a defense budget of near zero, and that the US pays part of the defense bill for Japan, South Korea, and Western Europe, and pays for the military occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. It remains unclear how these military expenditures aid ordinary Americans, though it is perfectly clear that they are extremely profitable for US corporations.

The US has cleaner air and water, and a generally less-toxic environment (or at least it did until a foreign corporation with big connections in Washington spilled a criminal amount of poison into the Gulf of Mexico). Perhaps democratic reform would bring more reasonable environmental standards to HK (and to the US as well). But when I see sustainable environmental legislation killed in the US Congress by corporate interests, I sometimes think that authoritarian states like China might actually have an edge when it comes to solving their environmental problems.

I wish Hongkies well in their fight for democracy that is less of a sham, and I wish Americans well in that same fight. Cherish your freedoms of speech and assembly; they are the most important tools in the struggle for more democratic policies, not the vote.

This is what democracy looks like.

01 June 2010

Our Political Kitsch

Are you as fed up as I do with the Murakami egg-wall talks in this Village by now? Everybody in the pan-dem bandwagon talks about that all the time and claimed that they all stand on the side of the eggs. The talk became so damn popular even one of the little bit crazed candidates of the last LegCo by-election feel obliged to put that in his daft campaign. For the record, I wrote a post here before the big bang in last September discussing the civil liberties in the Village, quoting the Jerusalem Prize speech, without ever imagining that the talk will become a cliché. So if I collectively made Murakami's great slap in the Israeli face a tasteless jive here, Mr Murakami, here is my sincere apology.

Today, let me try to introduce another literary idea here and see how far it will go. Recently, I've been seeing a lot of stuff online that made me think about this idea called "Kitsch".

Though Kitsch is a concept used in art criticism, I first learned the word from my pretentious reading of Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Kundera wrote:

It follows then that the aesthetic ideal of the categorical agreement with being is a world in which shit is denied and everyone acts as though it did not exist...Kitsch has its source in the categorical agreement with being.

Yes, Kitsch is the absolute denial of shit, the absolute denial of anything that doesn't go with the Grand March, "the splendid march on the road to brotherhood, equality, justice, happiness; it goes on and on, obstacles notwithstanding, for obstacles there must be if the march is to be the Grand March." Whatever there is obstructing the way towards any great ideals, Kitsch will bash it down to nonexistence. In Kitsch, nobody will admit any shitty, moronic, and retarded stuff someone did within the Grand March. Fall like this by a great leader could never be admitted in Kitsch.

The seizure of the Goddess of Democracy by the coppers is a Kitsch that denies the bloodshed in Tiananmen Square 21 years ago. At the same time, glorification of this awful piece of sculpture is just another Kitsch. Nobody except the Chinese commies and yours truly have the guts to point out the ugliness of the statue. In the Grand March to our promised land, the Hi-Tech Village with democracy and self determination, everything is beautiful and commendable. In the Grand March to democracy, hypocrisy, sexual harassment, dogs, and assfaces are nonexistence. Kitsch is the locomotive that has kept us going for 21 fucking years.

The latest Kitsch in this Village (at least online) is this clip from LegCo. The clip has been widely shared and promoted on the interweb. Netizens in this Village all praised the outstanding performance of Doctor Singsit, the first speaker in the clip. They all think that his articulation is exceptional among his peers and he should be the role model of every activists in town. Let's put aside his political ideology for a minute and ask yourself with perfect honesty; do you seriously think that Singsit is articulated at all? I have perfect respect for Singsit and his fellow GrassmudMa's activism. But honestly, what I saw in that LegCo clip is a faggot murmuring an awkward series of incomprehensible statements and bland gags. In their Grand March, of course, criticism like this is just not acceptable.

If I'm bold to define Kitsch under a local context, it's the categorical acceptance of anything anti-establishment and anti-Beijing branded under the name "democracy". In this Grand March towards "democracy", everything is perfect and necessarily accepted. Two millions people failed to turn out in the May 16 by-election? No, those are shitizens and are nonexistence. We have that 570,000 Villagers who voted and they're the only ones that matter. Faggotry in the LegCo chamber? No, it's the elegant way of speaking the truth. A clump of awkward statements? He is too knowledgeable to squeeze everything he knows in that three minutes!

Bonus exposition:

My eyebrows raised when I saw that the egg-wall metaphor became popularised among the pan-dem bandwagon, as I knew that the collective bastardisation will only make the metaphor self-referential; the System of the bandwagon would just become a wall and crush anything alien. They would ignore anybody who disagrees with them; the people who didn't turn out in the May 16 by-election are clueless and chose to stand on the wall's side. The bandwagon are the eggs, so they must unit. Little did they know that these fragile eggs eventually formed a system that takes a life of its own. The system starts marching towards its ideal, the democracy. Everything is fine within that system. Shits are simply nonexistence.

I believe for Haruki Murakami, the demarcation between the eggs and wall is a dynamic one, instead of a fixed line that cut through government on one side, and people on the other. Any collective endeavour loses sight of self-reflection could easily traverse over the border and become that big, tall wall; a system of Kitsch.

More bonus for the doctor:

As secret Commies and 50 Cent Party members, Eric and I always work hard on trolling the pan-dems here for the lulz money. I showed my sympathy for Doctor Singsit on Sunday, as I thought, it must be pretty difficult not becoming an idiot when you're overrated by a bunch of them. The doctor just didn't seem to get it. Here is my advice for you, doctor, if you manage to read up to this point:

If you and your fellas are serious about your activism, learn how to deal with assholes like me. I can assure you that the majority of our Villagers either care very little about the great things you guys done online, or like us, enjoy the lulz better than anything. If you have genuine faith in democracy where the majority rules, learn how to convince the majority instead of being a jerk and blame us for not supporting you and your basement dweller friends.

Or take the troll from the Libertines Pub.