Sunday, 25 June 2017

[HKBUEB] What Is Agriculture in Hong Kong Indeed?

What Is Agriculture in Hong Kong Indeed?
Translated by Natalie Lung, edited by Chen-t'ang, written by Edith Lam (Jumbo, 48th Editorial Board of HKBU)
Original: [pp. 47-50] 2015 

A brief history of agriculture in Hong Kong

In the 1950s, immigrants from Mainland China (China) became the majority of Hong Kong’s farming population and grew rice for a living in Yuen Long and Fan Ling in the New Territories. Due to the development of new towns in the 60s, they shifted their focus to growing vegetables. The original agricultural labour force gradually decreased under urbanisation.

Ten years later, China lifted the export quota of vegetable produce to Hong Kong, thus forcing local vegetable farmers to pivot again—to fishing or animal rearing. 

In the matter of a few decades, land used for farming drastically dropped from the then thirteen thousand hectares to the present seven hundred or so hectares. Self-sufficiency rate went from a peak of 50% to today’s 2%. 

Agricultural land in Hong Kong today are mainly distributed in the north to northeast New Territories: Fan Ling North, Kwu Tong North, and Ta Kwu Ling; and the west to northwest area: Kam Tin and Pat Heung. 

From yesterday’s thriving agriculture to today’s financial and real estate industries, the Pearl of the Orient has replaced the fishing village—is the decline of agriculture merely a natural progression of history, or is it disregarding diverse, sustainable development?

Indispensable local agriculture

Why should agriculture be revived when Hong Kong has been heavily reliant on imported food for the last few decades?

The main reason is to attain a certain degree of food self-sufficiency; in other words, it is to reach a certain self-sufficiency rate.

Each country must have a food producing industry to minimise its reliance on imports and to reduce the effects of food price inflation.

During the 1967 labour strikes, hawkers and meat suppliers refused to deliver their goods; even pork and vegetables that had already been shipped from the Mainland to the train station in Hong Kong had to be returned. This lasted for four days. 

Since 60% of food came from Mainland back then, a shortage in the supply of agricultural produce emerged. Food prices soared twofold. But it was the self-sufficiency in farm produce Hong Kong had that pulled the city through the crisis. 

In 2012, the supply of Choi Sum from China dropped by three to four% due to a cold climate. Vegetable prices surged from five to six dollars per kilo up to twenty dollars per kilo. The public was forced to purchase expensive vegetables. 

With today’s agricultural labour force in the Mainland shrinking due to urbanisation, farmers’ wages would definitely increase. Coupled with the continuous revaluation of the Renminbi, it can be easily foreseen that Mainland vegetables would become increasingly expensive even without accounting for environmental factors. 

If Hong Kong continues to rely on China's vegetable supply without its own agriculture, the vegetable price would surely fluctuate.

Hong Kong also needs local agriculture to improve food safety. News about tainted food produce is not new. The import of contaminated vegetables from Dongguan in 2012 left many stunned; even after the matter was cleared up, members of the public still felt wary.

In 2015, Cable News uncovered a tainted vegetable smuggling incident where vegetables with exceeding levels of pesticides were directly shipped and sold at several wet markets, circumventing tests at the Centre for Food Safety. This was all unbeknownst to consumers.

If there is local agriculture, Hong Kong people could enjoy more produce that is grown on healthy land and on fertiliser whose source is clearly known, in turn safeguarding food safety.
Kadoorie Farm.

Land shortage: an obstacle for agriculture development

It is no doubt that land shortage is the biggest obstacle for local agricultural development. 

According to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, Hong Kong has 4,523 hectares of farm land, but active agricultural land only amounts to 729 hectares, and only 298 of those are used to grow vegetables. 

People who desire to farm could hardly rent land in the New Territories. Although they could reach out to landlords and seek suitable land through the Agricultural Land Rehabilitation Scheme, the average waiting time is five years. Furthermore, the quality of farmland is uneven in quality. 

At present, there are 3,794 hectares of vacant farm land. Land ownership is concentrated among indigineous people and developers who have had no desire to rent the land out to farmers.

Some of the land has been hoarded for developers to purchase for the development of new towns; Some has been repurposed for illegal uses such as outdoor warehouses, container yards, chop shops, and waste recycling yards. 

In addition, Hong Kong has 803 hectares of brownfield sites—farmland that has been destroyed by construction waste and concrete. They could hardly be turned into arable land again as the environment and ecosystem around it have been destroyed.

Non-indigenous farmers also suffer from short-term leases. Most farmland is leased to farmers on a two-to-five-year contract, but building infrastructure like water canals, conducting water and land observations, and adjusting plantation methods take two years, and the instability of renewing a lease leaves people worried about not being able to breakeven before land is taken away from them. 

Under such substantial risk, farmers become reluctant to make long-term investments, indirectly minimizing the potential for agricultural development. 
Policies ignore the root of the problem

The new agriculture policy proposed by former Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in his 2015 Policy Address comprises four main goals:

The policy’s consultation document advocated the use of technology for sustainable agricultural development. It included several examples of modern agricultural production methods, such as organic farming, greenhouse production, etc., and pointed out how hydroponic farming practices in Singapore and greenhouse farming in London can raise agriculture productivity.

Agricultural organizations and academics believe that the government did not consider the long-term planning of agriculture development in the consultation document.

A major criticism was the absence of a target for self-sufficiency rate. The document mentioned the need for increasing agriculture productivity but it did not set clear metrics for such a goal. It criticises self-sufficiency rate as a metric that values quantity over quality, and setting such a target would instead cause productivity to drop, making it an unrealistic reference for food supply. 

As a matter of fact, many countries around the world have set goals for self-sufficiency. While China’s Ministry of Agriculture had required Guangzhou to set a self-sufficiency target of 50% or above for live pork by 2016, the Hong Kong government is avoiding the self-sufficiency issue that is causing huge ramifications on food safety.

The policy also did not account for the use of the 70 to 80 hectare farmland outside the Agricultural Park. 

Resolving the shortage and the deliberate destruction of farmland are key factors for developing agriculture. The aforementioned 3,000 or so hectares of abandoned farmland should be utilised to increase the area of active agricultural land and the output of crops. Meanwhile, the document did not propose a resolution to the brownfield sites issue that has arisen due to the government’s loose grip on illegal soil dumping, nor has there been any measures to crack down on such illegal behaviour.

Furthermore, the idea of the Agricultural Park has been criticised as unrealistic.

Nowadays, many farmers live in farmhouses next to their land in the New Territories. Such an arrangement allows them to care for their crops any time of the day, which could also reduce the time for travelling to and from the city.

But Agri-Park is an earmarked piece of land that would be leased out to farmers on 5-year contracts, and with no supporting infrastructure, it goes against the customary practice of farmers living and working on the same piece of land. Many problems will arise if the Agri-Park is built.

Academics predict that the agriculture fund would go to industry practitioners who own capital and large-scale vegetable markets, robbing small farmers of chances to improve their livelihood.

The funding scheme aims to reward high-tech agricultural production, such as the introduction of machinery and other modern methods, all of which cost a fortune and are impossible for ordinary farmers to afford.

Take hydroponic farming as an example. It is an indoors plantation method which uses nutrient solution and does not require soil. This way, crops can be arranged in vertically stacked layers. However, basic equipment costs $3 million—that is excluding energy costs. Small farmers who could not afford to employ technology in their farming techniques are essentially placed out of reach of funding assistance. 

On the other hand, vegetable farmers who moved up to China in the 1990s to grow their crops and may now have higher economic status may return to Hong Kong to become the main beneficiaries of the scheme.

Furthermore, the two overseas use cases of agricultural technology mentioned in the consultation report are not worthy of reference. 

The hydroponic techniques used in Singapore are highly energy-inefficient and cause destruction to the environment, not to mention their sky-high costs compared to organic farming. 

Hydroponic farming consumes much energy to power water pumping, lighting systems and the production of nutrient solution. If hydroponic farming is to be practiced on farm land in Hong Kong, there is first a need to remodel the land into concrete ground. Industrial farming methods and the use of chemical fertilizers containing heavy metals will then introduced. It is obvious that hydroponic farming is not an environmentally-friendly and sustainable way to grow crops. 

The document also referred to London’s 120-hectare greenhouse and its high GDP value, but the size of farms in the New Territories are only 0.2 hectares on average. Land over a hundred hectares is hard to come by in Hong Kong. 

These two examples are an indication for the government’s top-down mindset for development and ultimately, their ineptness to understand the reality of the agriculture industry.
What are the ways out for agriculture development?

The prospect of increasing agricultural productivity does not lie solely in large-scale plantation. Neither is the goal of Hong Kong’s agriculture development to produce the volumes that would allow for exports. Small-scale agricultural models—community or combined farming—may be more viable.

According to the Trade and Environment Review released by the United Nations in 2013, organic, small-scale farming is the only sustainable mode of agricultural development. 

Unlike industrial farming, the small-scale farming model share a more intimate connection with the natural ecosystem. Agriculture should not be seen solely as an industry that produces food, but rather, one that protects natural scenery, biodiversity, water and land resources.

In addition to resource-recycling, having agriculture in our society can help safeguard local food safety. Fresh crops grown by local farms could be delivered and sold at farmers’ markets on the same day. People could know where their vegetables came. If they were dissatisfied with the quality of vegetables, their feedback could be reflected to farmers directly. Communication between the consumer and producer can be increased.

Reusing residential and commercial food waste as fertilizers not only reduces waste, but it also ensures that the fertilizer is safe to use, which further safeguards the quality of crops. 

Academics predict that farming would resume on more than 3,000 hectares of idle farm land. Based on the degree of food consumption in Hong Kong, a 27% self-sufficiency rate could be attained.

Food waste is a severe problem in Hong Kong. Given that over one third of solid waste produced by the city is food waste, if food waste is reduced, self-sufficiency rate could reach an estimated 40%, which is enough to satisfy a certain degree of Hong Kong’s food supply.

But the new agriculture policies’ focus on modernization technology distances agriculture and the environment, and neglects the consequences of high carbon emissions and environmental pollution. 

Academics describe high-tech agricultural development as nuclear power: both have high production value, but the price of destroying the environment is something that the public can hardly afford to pay.

Agriculture and cities are inseparable; their development requires holistic and clear land planning. Relying on advanced technologies and putting off land issues can only do so much to solve the root problems.

“There’s no agriculture without farmland”

Facing shortage of farmland, some farmers believe the government should adopt policies that would encourage developers to release the hoarded farmland. For example, the Chinese government charges an idle land tax on land that has not been developed or falls short of the required ratio of constructed area to proposed constructed area. They could even reclaim the idle land.

Hong Kong should also adopt similar policies, encouraging developers to lease their land to farmers to avoid penalty. 

In addition, with the copious amounts of farmland being converted to other uses and to brownfield sites, the government should first improve its planning policy.

Each area of land on the plan has one of these two uses: “Column One use” refers to “uses always permitted” and “Column Two use” refers to “uses that would require permission from the Town Planning Board”, so land that has been earmarked as farm land does not necessarily serve the sole purpose of agriculture, but could also be used for housing or clubhouses.

Recently, some developers proposed three applications, including one to build 270 low-density apartment buildings and an international boarding school in the Tsiu Keng agricultural zone in Kwu Tung South. The proposal was accepted because farm land in the area in question has “school” listed under one of its “Column Two use”. 

Academics pointed out that between 1997 and 2002, 1070 of the 1734 applications for land use change were successful, in other words, a 60% success rate. 

The government does not have regulations on the proportion of the land that is used for farming, and with the low threshold on land use change, zoning plans for agriculture exist in name only.

There also exists loopholes in Town Planning Board’s regulations. Private land that has been excluded from the Development Permission Areas Plan (i.e. the first version of the Outline Zoning Plan (OZP) cannot be regulated, leading to the rise of numerous brownfield site issues, such as the fly-tipping in idle farmland in Pui O in 2015. 

As for farmland that has been included in the district plan blueprint, the government has been ineffective in enforcement and tolerant of destructive practices. 

In fact, the above planning problems has been a topic of discussion for a long time, but government has been consistently indifferent, just as it has been in formulating the new agricultural policies.
Who’s gaining under this policy?

In Hong Kong Connection aired on 16 March 2015, the RTHK-produced Chinese TV programme on current affairs, Chairman of the Federation of Agricultural Associations of Hong Kong Chan Kin-yip pointed out that this consultation paper reflects on the feedback given from his group to the government on agriculture policy and the concept of Agricultural Park.

The organization, which was established in 2013 to push for sustainable agricultural development in Hong Kong, comprises all members of the Chief Executive Election Committee from the agricultural and fisheries sector. They make up 60 of the 1200-person committee, and was elected by 159 industry representatives. 

The agricultural and fisheries sector has been receiving subsidy from the Ministry of Agriculture of China since 2009. Between 2009 and 2012, they have received a total of RMB2.2 billion in subsidy. To become eligible for subsidy, fishermen have to hold a fishing permit in China. Successful applicants could receive RMB600,000 to RMB700,000 in fuel subsidy. 

In the second round of consultations on political reforms, the agriculture and fisheries sector supported the August 31st decision by the NPC.

Profiteering in the name of development
Kwu Tung North development plan.

Plans for the development of the northeastern New Territories started as early as 1996. The government led the application for land-use change of a total of 333 hectares of farmland in Kwu Tung North and Fan Ling North for residential or commercial use, which will be used for the new town extensions of Fan Ling and Sheung Shui. Land was taken away from near ten thousand villagers who were then forced to move away. Former Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po and his wife also became a target for acquisition, and was going to be compensated with over $10 million. The development was an estimated $120 billion project, building 60,000 residential flats, with private housing taking the majority. 

The establishment of this plan had to go through Environmental Impact Assessment, deliberation by the Town Planning Board, and appropriation by the Legislative Council before it could go into action. Since pro-establishment legislators take up the majority seats in LegCo, it is hard to have the real public opinion reflected, hence preparation period is the major battleground for members of the public to prevent the project from going forward.

The Town Planning Board has the power over land use planning but it is chaired by a member of the Development Board, its members are either government officials, government-appointed, or those who do not reveal their identity to the public. 

Despite having 90% opposition rate and a total of 50,000 appeal letters and proposals, the North East New Territories development plan was still approved by the Town Planning Board.

In June 2014, the preliminary budget for the plan was quickly approved as Finance Committee chair Ng Leung-sing was filibustering, the same day on which there were protests and clashes outside LegCo.

In 2015, the government officially moved forward with the North East New Territories in-situ land exchange policy, in which land in two development zones is planned for private development. Under the scheme, if the land is larger than 4,000 sq.m. and is owned by a sole landlord, the landlord could apply for land use change from agriculture to high value-added uses, such as residential or commercial uses, but these land sites have to be vacated before April 2016. 

Land resumption proceedings in North East New Territories was set to begin in 2017, but the establishment of such policy encourages developers to force farmers out as early on as possible. 

It is believed that the Ping Che area, an area that was originally in the NE New Territories development plan but eventually excluded, will be included in the North New Territories development plan. 

Agriculture development does not only concern the interests of rural residents. In fact, it is linked to complex political and economic interests, beneath which lies all sorts of evil and injustice. All we can hope for is unity among people and the courage to challenge the authority to protect our city.

HKBU Editorial Board Facebook Page: 

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Guo Wengui: Cross-border law enforcement in HK; PRC uses real estate to manipulate HK’s economy

Guo Wengui: Cross-border law enforcement in HK; PRC uses real estate to manipulate HK’s economy
Original: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 

Lau Ping 劉冰 @ Next Magazine, 3 May 2017

Guo Wengui made the entire CCP Politburo headaches, Interpol issuing a Red Warrant, and China’s Min. of Foreign Affairs to exert pressure to US congress for ending his tip-off programme on VOA. It is only him who will need the entire country’s force to deal with.

Also known as Miles Kwok, Guo said his family foundation controls over US$280 bn, enjoying lots of luxury products, cars, private jets, flats, etc. Challenging the Party is to “save his life, keep his money and revenge”, Guo claimed.

After the VOA programme was terminated, journalists and editors involved were either suspended or brought away by security guards. Guo disappeared in the press. Next Magazine found him, and he tipped off about HK.

Guo was a grass-root with low qualifications, but with good persuasion, he managed to gain a seat in the officialdom and the business world. According to China, he bribed the deputy minister of PRC Min. of State Security, and Party secretaries in Hebei and Henan have to listen to him. With these forces backing, he once called the shot in China.

Guo recently released two astonishing news - (1) President Xi Jinping does not trust CCDI head Wang Qishan and secretly asked deputy minister of public security to investigate Wang’s family and Meng Jianzhu (Secretary of Political and Judiciary Commission, Central Committee of Chinese Communist Party).

(2) Guo also disclosed an implicit relationship of HNA Group. Guo, in the programme, said Wang Qishan’s wife Yao Mingshan, and her nephew Yao Qing, hold shares of HNA Group. Wang Qishan’s father-in-law is Yao Yilin, once the Premier of State Council.

Guo became a globally wanted person, making him famous. China will soon have its 19th Congress. With such power battle, people are focused on whether Guo will keep tipping off.

TIP-OFF 1: MSS & MPS Officers Work in HK for Long Time
Next: You said Min. of State Security and Min. of Public Security have cross-border law enforcement in HK. What are the details?

Guo: Compatriots in HK are too honest. There are so many MSS and MPS officers working and investigating in HK. I know that at least there are long-term offices in China Res. Bldg., Causeway Bay and Fo Tan. At least 300 PRC officers are staying HK for law enforcement on a long term basis. They often go to search houses, knock people’s doors, check information in banks, stalk people, etc. This is already law enforcement in HK.

Some media said Ma Jian (former deputy minister of MSS) received two flats in Taikoo Shing from me. The two flats were opened and searched for times. You can think about that, was that HK police opening the door? Certainly not, who then? They must be from PRC, PRC cops are searching flats everywhere.

Before coming to the US, I was in HK and met these people frequently. Some from Beijing Public Security Bureau, from “Security Ministry”, intel people from General Staff Dept Session 2. At least few thousands work in HK.
- - -
Next Magazine asked him to prove. Guo said he has the info at hand but will disclose that to the public by himself later on.

Next Magazine asked HK police whether MSS and MPS officers have searched for evidence and enforce law in HK. HK police’s reply was “no comment”.


Guo continued to spill the beans - the high land premium thing by PRC consortia was actually a “sand dilution scheme”. PRC wants to dilute HK people with PRC people, and hope Chinese capital to take over HK’s economy and livelihood.

TIP-OFF 2: High Land Premium = “Sand Dilution Scheme”
Next: HNA Group from China bid lots of land sites with high price in HK in the past 12 months. It won sites in Kai Tak with extremely high prices, surprising the market. (Video clip: Over $27.2 bn spent on sites in Kai Tak)

Guo: They buy land sites in HK but not for development. This is “sand dilution scheme”. Firstly, send more immigrants to HK. Dilute HK people with PRC people, then there will be no more “HKers”.

Secondly, “diluting sand” financially. When PRC real estate tycoons take over, HK developers won’t have a chance, and only PRC will control the entire real estate market. Controlling real estate market is controlling the life of HK. He can make your prices slump by 50%, then HKers will commit suicide. He can also make prices surge to a level you can’t afford. Real estate is a real political conspiracy.

Half of the land premium paid by HNA Group were borrowed from local banks in HK. If they can’t repay, this is tantamount to “hijacking” with PRC banks. That would be “too big to fail”. HK’s economy will be hijacked, and the commoners dare not challenge it.

There will be a very huge catastrophe in HK, financially, politically and in terms of global reputation. There will be huge incident(s).

Next: What is the relationship between HNA Group and Wang Qishan?

Guo: Wang is backing. Wang is a shareholder, or else how can HNA Group bring hundreds of billions out from China? How is that possible? It is certainly abnormal. Of course, Wang’s family is HNA’s shareholder and boss.

In the past you may believe - would Wang and his family do that? No one would believe that. HK is under Secretary Meng Jianzhu’s hands. He can do whatever he wants under Meng’s control.
- - -
Next Magazine asked what proof do Guo have to certify the relationship between HNA Group and Wang, but he did not provide any concrete evidence.

With a heavy Northeastern accent, this super-billionaire also teased the second-generation rich in HK to please Beijing officials for their shelter. Guo said, “it is too pathetic and selfish, without regarding HK people’s overall interests”. After leaving China, he now lives in the US. He remained luxurious, and often post supercars and flats in the UK and the US. He boasted 29 cars, including McLaren P1, LaFerrari, Koenigsegg CCX, Apollo etc. Benz also designed a bespoke car for his safety.

He said he has three houses in Manhattan, NY. One was bought with US$80mn, with a gym room. Guo claimed that he will do gym 6 days a week, 2 hours a day. He posted a lot of exercise pics on Twitter.

TIP-OFF 3: Pathetic to See HK Billionaires to Please Beijing Officials
Next: Do you know billionaires in HK?
Guo: I knew loads of them. HK billionaires all go to Beijing and please officials, begging for their shelter (figuratively), but don’t forget - they are just used tools.

Second generation rich in HK are very arrogant to the public in HK, but they squat on the floor (figuratively) without dignity. Isn’t it pathetic? I knew a lot of rich men. Rich men in the past were well respected, but for their own benefits, they lost such dignity. It’s too pathetic.
- - -
Next Magazine kept asking about names of these rich men but Guo did not reply.

HK people believed the outlook is dim, and One Country, Two Systems cannot be realized. HK gradually becomes a normal city in PRC. There are some voices of emigration in recent years. Guo emigrated long ago, but he ridiculed HK people.

Guo said, “You want to emigrate, where do you want to go? Your home was grabbed, and you are leaving. You are not protecting your home and you are leaving. HK people’s minds are problematic. That is escape, not emigration”.

He urged HKers to voice their views and strive, as the situation in HK is sad.

However, Guo has emigrated to lots of countries. It is said that he has given up China’s household registration, and owns 11 passports, including US and UK ones. He also tweeted about having residency in Abu Dhabi. It is learnt that he has an HKID card too, renaming himself as “Guo Haoyun 郭浩雲”. In 2011, through a BVI company, he bought two super big houses in 20 and 22 South Bay Road, Repulse Bay. It is reported that his son, Guo Qiang, once entered the houses.

Guo kept posting his recent status, including his jogs and so on. It seemed that he doesn’t care about CCP’s suppression. Next Magazine contacted Guo through WhatsApp. His profile picture is a photo with him and Dalai Lama.

Guo said “I will, in a certain period of time, be loud about HK, not getting quiet. Just like things on the Mainland, if I speak up, I will be loud”.

His phone can only receive WhatsApp message but can’t be called. The journalist sometimes did not receive his reply even waiting midnight. When the journalist wanted to do a more in-depth interview, he said he will consider it as many media in HK are finding him.

(5, some duplicated parts have been deleted)

South Bay Road houses were reported to have illegal structures. Our journalist went there and discovered construction works are going on. The journalist asked whether Guo’s family is in there, but security guards blocked our coverage and cameras.

Guo can tip off such important intel because he has a strong “shelter” above. Former deputy minister of MSS Ma Jian, Party secretary of Hebei Province Zhang Yue and Henan Party standing committee member Wang Youjie were some of the “shelter sources”. Ma Jian was under probe due to corruption charges. Guo was a friend of secret police chief, so Guo left China and started his life in the US.

According to CCP, Ma was removed in 2015. In a video, Ma said he knew Guo in 2008, and Guo knew if he gets close to Ma, Guo’s business kingdom can be protected.

Ma confessed in the clip, “From 2018 to 2014, I used my authority and duty convenience to help Guo a lot on Guo’s own problem and his company operations”.

What is most ruthless? Guo also used a “shelter” - the secret service system to get rid of people he dislikes. Qu Long, former executive director of Beijing Zenith Real Estate (Zhengquan Zhiye, in Pinyin), was an underling of Guo. Due to business disputes, Qu reported Guo. Guo asked for help from Ma Jian and Zhang Yue. Ma and Zhang removed Qu with their authorities. They contacted Public Security Dept of Hebei Province. Chengde Court of Hebei eventually charged Qu of “illegal possession of guns” for 15 years. It is reported that Qu has been sent to Beijing for helping the probe into Guo Wengui.

Ma took RMB60 mn bribe. Ma confessed that around 2011, Guo bought two flats for me in Taikoo Shing, HK, with an area of nearly 200 sq.m.. He spent over HK$30 mn for that. In order to avert risks, the properties were under the name of my nephew, but the actual owner is Ma himself.

Ma also said I bought something in an old stuff market in HK, and I already paid over HK$90,000. Before I return, Guo’s assistant came by and gave me HK$100,000.

After Ma Jian was arrested, Guo claimed that Central Investigation Unit has sent officers to probe into this for times in HK, and even entered flats in Taikoo Shing. The blatant cross-border law enforcement was known by the property security guards. Next Magazine asked for detailed address.

Caixin Weekly once issued an article titled “Power hunter Guo Wengui”, revealing how he used his power and relationship to accumulate wealth. In turn, Guo argued Caixin’s editor-in-chief Hu Shuli had an unusual relationship with (Founder Group’s former CEO) Li You. Guo also claimed that Caixin Media is Wang Qishan’s camp member.

Guo’s Minzu Securities and Founder Group merged. Founder Group’s (former) CEO Li You and Guo had a good relationship, as they took the same private jet to countries. They became enemies when they are fighting for a director seat. After the break-up, they also revealed more. Guo also disclosed the relation network behind Li, including Hu Shuli and Wang Qishan. In Jan 2015, Li was detained due to insider trading. Two months Li was arrested, CIRC chairman Xiang Junbo was probed early Apr 2017. Xiang was the president of ABC, and it is said that Xiang approved RMB3.2 bn loan to Guo, so Xiang was dragged down and probed too.

The entire tip-off involved so many people, including businessmen and higher-ups, and even Politbuto members. This has become highly complex and sensitive. As Guo has been among the higher-ups’ network, and his backings were gradually arrested, every one became more interested in his tip-offs.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Stephen Ku Bok-him: Composed and Tactful, the Way We Are and Will Be

Composed and Tactful, the Way We Are and Will Be
Translated by Karen L., written and edited by Stephen Ku Bok-him
Original: The Undergrad, Apr 2017 edition

“We shall endure. All overlords will go.
Away the stranger, who has seized your land.
Time has decided, time has decreed it so.”
—— Imants Auzio

On 5 November 2016, the High Court determined that Youngspiration’s Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching were disqualified from taking office. The decision was made as the court deemed that the duo’s displaying “Hong Kong is not China” flags and changing the wording of their oaths (pronouncing “China” as “Shina”) “clearly confirmed” that they “declined or neglected” to take their oath in accordance with Article 104 of the Basic Law. HK Communist Regime’s judicial review against directly elected members in addition to the NPCSC’s interpretation all point to the regime’s resentment for Hong Kong independence and its determination to get rid of it, even if it means to rip the facade of Hong Kong’s rule of law and judicial independence.

Such means to suppress Hong Kong independence is merely the tip of an iceberg. As early as in 2016, the Companies Registry refused the application of Hong Kong National Party; the Education Bureau declared that “no pro-independence advocacy or activities should appear in schools”; five localist candidates were barred from running in the LegCo election and deprived of their political rights; FEHD cancelled both Youngspiration’s and Hong Kong National Party’s booths at 2017 Lunar New Year flower market as the department saw “significant chances of disrupting public order”. While we are still champing with rage thinking of a way to cope with these acts, the pro-communist authority has already been planning on another wave of suppression at full speed. Not a single second are we left idling.

Meanwhile, the regime is also equipping itself for the mass movements to come. In the 2017-18 Budget, the police force expects to hire up to 600 new recruits and, better yet, to spend 75% more in “specialist supplies and equipment” ($175 million in total) than last year. Purchases included firearms, ammunition, pepper-spray projectiles, and three riot control vehicles equipped with water cannons ($27 million). In comparison, the tear gas that once provoked the Umbrella Revolution is simply insignificant.

Besides, the abuse of police power and grievous bodily harm against protestors are somehow deemed reasonable acts by the police force. Seven police officers were found guilty in the assault of a pro-democracy activist Ken Tsang during the Umbrella Revolution. Having heard that his fellow officers were being sentenced to two-year imprisonment, Stephen Lo, the current Commissioner of Police, was “saddened by the recent court case that saw the seven jailed” and “pledged support for the jailed officers”. Afterwards, Junior Police Officers Association, along with Hong Kong Police Inspectors’ Association and four other police associations organized a special meeting to condemn the court’s verdict in Tsang’s assault case, where some police officers referred themselves as “the Jews under Nazi persecution”. Mistaking themselves for victims instead of perpetrators, it only makes it obvious they are entirely incapable of self-reflection. Their increasing hostility towards protestors is sure to lead to more power abuse.

CY Leung’s regime has exhausted all his power to stem the tide of independence. The political oppression is heavier than ever before. One man’s decision could not have got this far unless he has got backing from higher authorities. Thus, as long as the CE is from the CCP-controlled small-circle election, he or she shall swear to uphold the Basic Law and show allegiance to the central government. It’s only natural for them to continue implementing China’s colonial policy in Hong Kong and to “prohibit the independence movement from harming the city”. Among the 2017 CE candidates, Carrie Lam, former Chief Secretary for Administration, for one, stated that “Hong Kong independence violates ‘One Country, Two Systems’ and the Basic Law”. Even for the public-favoured John Tsang, who received financial support from those self-proclaimed democratic advocates through fundraising, has mentioned in his Chinese declaration that “For those minor irrational minds which root for independence, I wonder what possible grounds they have to deny our history like this. The ideology of their actions is an insult to Hongkongers.” Without exception, CE Candidate Woo Kwok-hing, a retired judge, whose standpoints supposedly most agreeable to democracy, believe that independence can be neither realistic nor practical.

Yet Commentator Joseph Lian sees it differently, “Some think that independence in Hong Kong is gone for good. But think of this, how is it possible to stay fighting every second without respite? The movement at present is simply going through a phase of recovering.”

Recuperation before another storm
Besieged at the moment, we need to keep thinking about further moves, and more importantly, the future direction of the independence movement. We shall be well-prepared for our goal in the meantime and make our comeback by going towards the establishment of our republic further and further.

Route to a revolution – the essentials
The political environment in Hong Kong is ever-changing. While independence is by no means a preordained course, neither is it impossible. If this is the answer to what we aspire for our future to become, we shall be prepared for our course.

In Revolutions and Revolutionary Movement, American scholar James DeFronzo compared revolutions around the world and found out that there are innumerable factors affecting the result of a revolution. Nevertheless, he identified five factors critical to its success: mass frustration, dissident elite political movements, unifying motivations for revolution, severe state crisis, and permissive world context. While the attainment of the five requirements does not guarantee a successful revolution, things look dim without any of them.

The first criterion should be the easiest to satisfy. Since CY Leung’s taking up of his office in 2012, a series of retrograde policies, designed to serve the CCP government but not the locals, have come into play. The Umbrella Revolution in 2014, followed by Mong Kok civil unrest in 2016, embodied the intensive fluctuations of Hong Kong’s political climate and the public resentment against the government. Some people worry that the CCP-dictated puppet government after CY Leung would employ kid-glove policies to persuade the Hongkongers to accept the current situation, and gradually put an end to the resistance, to which Ray Wong Toi-yeung, the convenor of Hong Kong Indigenous, agreed, “If a CE is willing to listen to what the citizens have to say, there will be no room for independence.” As long as Hong Kong is still attached to CCP and the Central government maintains its current policies towards our city, the CEs will conform. Highhanded stability maintenance (weiwen) will, therefore, come first and the rebound resulted in such crackdown is expected to be huge.
Having said that, the economy in Hong Kong is healthy at present. Citizens have little to hold against the government given the fact that most lead relatively comfortable lives. DeFronzo suggested that the turning point of independence movement sometimes emerges with economic recession, where citizens find it impossible to make a living and begin to air their resentment. It would be critical for the independence camp to look out for the times of economic downturn when drawing up their plans. Back in 2003, there were 500,000 citizens taking part in the Hong Kong July 1 protest mainly because the economy had suffered greatly from SARS. It can be seen that mass frustration is a formidable source of political power, and it ought to be put to good use.
As for dissident elite political movements, they have as yet emerged in Hong Kong. At the beginning of Umbrella Revolution, many expected to see extreme division within the government – opposite views towards the occupy movement or even blame-taking resignations from high-ranking officials – but these wishes remain wishes. In The Result of Umbrella Revolution ── Hong Kong as an Existence for Politics, Taiwanese scholar Wu Jieh-min noted the “crack” within Taiwan Nationalist Party started from the second half of 2013. It was the power struggle between Ma Ying-jeou and Wang Jin-pyng that contributed to Wang's solution during Occupy Taiwan Legislature, which crossed paths with the students’ demands. In Wu’s words, “The fights among the politicians at such a significant historical moment gave rise to an unintentional result. What a good fortune Taiwan had.”

Dissident elites in charge can weaken a regime’s power and cause confusion to those suppressing the protesters. In Transitions from Authoritarian Rule by Argentine scholar Guillermo A. O’Donnell and American scholar Philippe C. Schmitter, it is said that elites in the establishment play a key role in democratization, “elite dispositions, calculations and pacts […] largely determine whether or not an opening [to democracy] will occur at all”. Independence is not a movement that can be accomplished overnight, and on that account, the determined activists shall encourage talents to engage in counter-penetration to the government in an organized manner. Such group of independence advocates within the establishment will be of use at serious times. There are times when we cannot risk being blocked by honourable grounds, and challenging the CCP is one of them.

For unifying motivations for revolution, it involves strengthening the movement’s discourse and the application of political language. Thomas H. Greene mentioned in Comparative Revolutionary Movements: Search for Theory and Justice that a revolution without support from various social class would hardly succeed. Independence advocates shall find the rhetoric they share with different social classes and camps in order to unify powers and trigger revolution.

In Greene’s view, nationalism is what brings every class together to revolution. It originated from direct or indirect colonialization as the colony normally has to sacrifice its own benefit to serve the suzerain. This description fits the situation in Hong Kong, a city now under China’s political control, while it has not been convenient to persuade all of the opposition to this ideology due to Hong Kong’s complicated historical context and China’s intensive propaganda. In other words, independence advocates require another symbol – probably democracy – to unite different camps. Whatever advocates they have among the opposition, “I want true universal suffrage”, “self-determination”, “Hongkongers Priority” or “national independence”, “democracy” is always the element in common. Thus strengthening the “independence equals democracy” symbolic linkage can do the trick. The more come to realize that democracy stands no chance under China’s regime and that only the identity of national sovereignty will be able to ensure that, the more will join the course. Pro-democracy camp, as well, will have to recognize that independence is a prerequisite for democracy if they truly have the intention of the genuine thing. On the path of Hong Kong independence, an unavoidable phase to be marked in history, pro-democracy camp and independence camp are not enemies, but allies.

Independence camp is rather passive in the aspect of severe state crisis. Ever since 2001, expositions of “The Coming Collapse of China” and “China Meltdown” have appeared on media from time to time, while CCP is still safe and sound to the present day. Still, in case of any state crisis, it is possible for revolutionary movement to triumph over the suppression forces. Though at this stage the independence camp has not been capable of creating one, it should absorb as much as experts specialized in China’s problems and even cultivate talents in this field. When upholding the principle of “Segregation of Hong Kong with China”, there is no way the advocates do not keep an eye on China. If any signs show up, independence camp has to seize the opportunity and take advantage of the crisis to forward the movement. In If TFR's Less than 1 China Will Force People to Have Children, Joseph Lian mentioned that China’s total fertility rate is currently decreasing in an “avalanche-like manner”. The possible economic turmoil due to the drastically reduced population of Han Chinese could act as a catalyst for “China Meltdown”. Indeed we have no control over this, but before that, we shall be fully prepared. As the saying goes, “Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.”

For the very last one, permissive world context, it is totally out of reach for independence camp. Economically speaking, Hong Kong still functions as the window to the world for China. Especially under the Hong-Kong-China-Segregation, Hong Kong has enjoyed multiple economic benefits in the international world. But ever since Donald Trump has taken office, he has been playing “hardball diplomacy” with China. If Hong Kong continues to be dwarfed, this would make plausible reason for America to cancel or narrow the United States–Hong Kong Policy Act, and in so doing, China will end up being the biggest loser. If there serves as any indication, it is that independence camp has to get involved: breaking the inertia of thinking which Hongkongers often assume that China is a hyperpower, or no one dares to offend it, and communicating with foreign officials every now and then to let them know about Hong Kong’s situation and thus muster support for the movement.

Civil disobedience, peaceful protest and revolution
In 2013, a group of scholars and opposition camps led by Benny Tai Yiu-ting advocated civil disobedience to be adopted. In particular, the group suggested occupying roads, paralysing the core of Hong Kong ’s economy and finance, exercising voluntary surrender, and even enlightening the public as to the morality of such acts.  The participants were disillusioned at the end of the day, finding that Occupy Central did not happen and Benny Tai, along with his theory, received some fierce criticism.

True, Occupy Central did not make the impact it had hoped to achieve, and Benny Tai’s civil disobedience was unsuccessful. While “civil disobedience” and “peaceful protest” are concepts to no avail following the trail of the Umbrella Revolution, they do not self-evidently entail failure. Advocates for independence must enquire: Are “civil disobedience” and “peaceful protest” necessarily in conflict with the independence movement? Must future advocates exclude “civil disobedience” and “peaceful protest” in their agenda?

As a means to fight for changes within the system, civil disobedience is hardly in line with revolutionary movement. The latter implies overthrowing the present system and re-establishing political order. Bruce Pech, an American scholar, said that it is the promotion of justice and reform within just such an existing structure of legitimate legal and political institutions. Michael Walzer, also mentioned in Civil Disobedience and Resistance that “those who engage in civil disobedience contest illicit acts of the regime, not the regime’s legitimacy.” 

It is worth mentioning that figures such as Henry David Thoreau, the honorific Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. regarded civil disobedience as the transformation of the pre-existing system, according to American scholar Lawrence Quill. The social institution during Martin Luther King Jr.’s time was so unjust and evil that King asserted that “The thing to do is to get rid of the system”. This suggests that not only is it possible for notions of revolution to co-exist with civil disobedience,  but they may even become part of civil disobedience. Nevertheless, civil disobedience generally targets the unjust law rather than the legitimacy of a regime. This coincides with the position of Benny Tai’s Occupy Central, which sought genuine universal suffrage but did not attempt to challenge the legitimacy of the government.

As to the use of peaceful confrontational tactics in independence movement, both Alexander Pavkovic and Peter Radan gave in-depth analysis in Creating New States: Theory and Practice of Secession. They pointed out a few characteristics found in the political environment where peaceful separatist movements have taken place: independence camp would end up getting majority in the legislature and seize so much power to the extent that the suzerain would rule out the possibility of suppressing independence movement by force. Yet, in the context of Hong Kong and China, anyone who is considered as part of the independence movement would at once be excluded from the legislature. China would not spare an effort in repressing the movement to cling on to its territorial integrity, even if it means violence. It follows that, however unwilling Hongkongers are to get involved in violence, it is an inevitable element in Hong Kong’s separatist movement.

All in all, we cannot deny the possibility that illegal anti-government conduct and peaceful acts of civil disobedience may one day turn into a revolution that has what it takes to challenge the regime’s legitimacy. The cost is nonetheless huge – Defendants in the Mong Kok civil unrest are facing imprisonment of up to 10 years. No doubt, violence is unavoidable, but few are willing to make such sacrifice. Where power of the mass is still scattered, the only really meaningful way to fight back would be to fight with non-violent tactics. Only when mass uprising and the necessary conditions are available should the independence camp consider advancing its purposes.

Concluding remarks
Most of us independence advocates are now in our 20s. We’ll be in middle age when 2047 strikes. No one can be sure what comes ahead for Hong Kong’s future. One thing is certain though: We have a long way to go. Time is too precious to be spent on brooding.

However harsh the journey is, we will come to the end of it.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Cheng Lap: Why Do We Need Our Country?

Why Do We Need Our Country?
Translated by Peggy, edited by Chen-t'ang, written by Cheng Lap

There is something we always cherish. Unfortunately, we cannot protect them alone. Yet, we want to protect them as best as we can. That is the reason we need our own country. If the country cannot protect what you value, that is not your country. 

There is something one always value. They can be our life, our family, our home, our property, our privacy, our freedom of action and speech, our interest in land and our language, our culture, our religion, as well as our collective memory and our lifestyle. 

We always want to live in a stable environment. We want to speak in our own mother tongue. We also want our friends and relatives speaking in mother language. We want our life are adequately protected. We can live in a safe and comfortable home. We can eat what we like to eat. We can earn a living and enjoy leisure. We want our belief and religion are respected and passed on. 

We want to preserve the films, the books, the places and shops that we encountered at our young age. And we hope they are still there when we are old. We want to provide support for our elderly. Although our memories are fading, we still hope they can become legacies. Although life is short, we still hope all the good memories can last much longer than our life. They can last forever. They can tell the times we live and the culture we share. And they will not be all gone and forgotten.  

From wealth to feeling, emotion and memory, these build our “own self”. They are integral to our life. If they are lost, we will be really upset. That is why we do not want to lose them because they are so important to us. 

If we are alone, we are weak. We do not have enough power to protect things we value. Our life will be endangered by violence. Our property will be usurped. Our freedom will be lost under fear and threat. Our native tongue will be losing slowly if we lose control of education and media. 

These are the things we want to protect. Unfortunately, we cannot protect them alone. Yet, we want to protect them as best as we can. That is the reason we need our own country.

 “Our country” is the institution that is established to protect these things we value. Law exists to protect our life and property. Education passes on our mother language and custom to the next generation. Constitution protects our freedom and rights. Country gathers the power little by little from every one of us. It can be in term of tax or duty. In return, the country protects things we cherish, and enable our lifestyle to continue, develop and last forever. 

You may think that “your nationality reflects your country”. But that is just wrong. If the country does not protect things you cherish, it is not your country. You are just ruled by a country that you don’t belong to and you are only subject to its authority. 

Another country might have very good governance, but after all it is not your country. You may emigrate to a developed Western country. However, if your mother tongue is not the official language there, it is hard to ask them to protect and promote your mother tongue. 

If there is a country that despises your mother tongue, and it even deprives you of your property, threatens your life, destroys your family, eliminates your culture and belief, smears your collective memory, makes you feel unsafe and deprives you of the freedom, that country is not your country even you hold the citizenship of that country by birth. Unfortunately, you are just a slave without dignity. You are like consumable resources that can be sacrificed anytime. 

You are weak and you need to be protected. That is the reason you need your own country. If you do not have your country, you have no dignity. The things you value will not be protected. Even you are obedient, you are doomed to have miserable life and live sadly at old age. 

You need a country. Country exists because it is responsible to you.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

[Film Critic] When Hong Kong Laughed at China

[Film Critic] When Hong Kong Laughed at China
Written by Sean Tierney

I recently re-watched Her Fatal Ways, the 1990 comedy starring Carol ‘Dodo’ Cheng as Sister Cheng, a mainland security officer sent to Hong Kong with her cousin, played by writer/director Alfred Cheung, on official police business. Watching the movie now, more than 25 years later, it’s interesting to see the way China and Chinese people from the mainland were, and were portrayed. In 1990, Hong Kong was certainly far ahead of China in many ways. It was easy to look down on mainlanders as uncouth bumpkins, or at least to be benevolently patronizing. Today, the difference gap has closed in many ways.

Her Fatal Ways opens with Sister Cheng and Cousin Shing arriving in Hong Kong by bus. Our first glimpse of Sister Cheng is of her hand, which holds a cigarette. She smokes while singing a patriotic song. A fellow passenger spits on the floor, hitting Cousin Shing’s foot. He responds with profanity. Sister Cheng then chimes in with a brief lesson on the etiquette of spitting, which ends no better than the first incident. In the span of less than a minute, the film has illustrated its protagonists using the stereotypes of the day.  

While simple, bludgeoning parody would have been the easy way out, Albert Cheung (who appears in the film as Cheng’s cousin) lampoons virtually all sides of the political and cultural sphere. Sister Cheng’s Hong Kong professional counterpart is Inspector Wu, played by ‘Big’ Tony Leung (Leung Kar Fai). He’s a young, urbane police detective who dresses stylishly (for the time). It turns out that Wu’s father is an unrepentant Nationalist. Sparks inevitably fly, but so do laughs and the discovery of common ground.
Hong Kong has always been a dynamic city that changes with breathtaking speed. But no one could have foreseen the scope and speed of social and cultural change in China. Sister Cheng seems like the ghost of another age, and indeed she is. I remember meeting people from the Soviet Union in the 1970s, and they were in many ways just like her; marveling at many of the things around them while steadfastly holding to the ideology that told them how wrong it all was. A young person from today’s China would understandably find Her Fatal Ways offensive. They might find the characterization insulting, overblown, or inaccurate. But for people who remember that time, the portrayal is remarkably astute and, in many ways, sympathetic without being patronizing. 

Hong Kong and China shared a common past, a common ethnicity, and in some ways a common culture. But the recent history of the PRC, as well as it’s closed nature for much of its first decades, helped create a large culture gap that language (and food) alone couldn’t reconcile. Today, Hong Kong and China seem in many ways interchangeable, in financial, technological and cultural terms. In other ways, the roles have reversed; Hong Kong cinema now relies on the beneficence of mainland co-productions. And in still other ways, the differences that remain have become markedly acute. Whereas Sister Cheng’s occasional breaches of professional behavior during interrogations were seen as funny or utilitarian, the reality of mainland security officers operating in Hong Kong is now seen as a much more menacing problem. 

In 1990 people could fall back on a belief in One Country Two Systems and thus keep some of the thornier implications of Her Fatal Ways at arms’ length. But that risk is much more prevalent now than it was in 1990. In 2017, a movie about public security running roughshod through the streets of Hong Kong would not be greeted so airily. 

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Also Read:

Sunday, 12 February 2017

A Gentleman’s Guide on Cantonese - Interview with Benjamin Au Yeung by Apertus

“A Gentleman’s Guide on Cantonese” (Full version with foul language in Cantonese)
Written by Spencer Ng, To Wai-hong, Anson Hung (Apertus, CUHK Student Press 47th Proposed Cabinet 1)

Dr. Benjamin Au Yeung (nicknamed Ben Sir) is a senior lecturer in the Department of Chinese Language and Literature, who is also a celebrity in the media. His GE course in Shaw College, “Canvassing Cantonese”, is so popular that it is always quickly full. Beyond the campus, he has taught Cantonese in a hilarious way in different TV shows, including “Sidewalk Scientist”, “EatLaMen” and “Sermon by Ben Sir”. Meanwhile, being an expert in the language himself, Ben Sir is generous in sharing his knowledge on various Cantonese sub-fields including pronunciation, orthography (how words are represented in written forms), foul language and internet slangs. What would he say about learning Cantonese and the words used in “dem beat (the activity that a group of people reciting some phrases loudly and moving their hands and feet. It is often used for promotions of societies and the games in orientation camps)?”

Why is Cantonese so hard?
Ben Sir thinks that there are three major obstacles for international students in learning Cantonese although they may have some background knowledge in the language. Firstly, he finds that p, t and k stop consonants in the last syllable are quite challenging to them. For instance, the word 十 (sap6, ten) is easily confused with 實 (sat6, solid). Likewise, the word 熱 (jit6, hot) is often mispronounced as 葉 (jip6, leave). From his observation, even though non-local students consciously try to, they still struggle to distinguish these ending consonants. Besides, they often misuse or avoid using the Cantonese particles, which indicate the tones and emotions of the sentences. Words like 呢 (ne1), 喎 (wo3) and 喎 (wo5) might sound strange to foreign ears, but to locals, sentences without them sound like coming from a news report. Ben Sir has also noticed that counter words are also challenging to non-local students. Instead of using the specific words for different nouns like locals do, they might replace any others with the most common one 個 (go3) and this would sound odd. Ben Sir thinks that as non-local students may be too afraid to make mistakes and so they avoid unfamiliar words. Lastly, as mentioned above, the Chinese particle 喎 has two tones, wo3 and wo5, which indicates slightly different meanings. Another word (啩, gwaa3), which suggests uncertainty, might also be mixed up with 喎 (wo3 or wo5), posing difficulties to some beginning learners of Cantonese. But these are all integral parts of everyday spoken Cantonese; avoiding them would make one sound unnatural or too formal.

How might the locals help
But how to overcome these hurdles? On one hand, Ben Sir recommends non-local students to compare similar sentences with minor differences in tones, particles in context so they will notice which one sounds right. On the other hand, he encourages them to experience local culture in places like Lan Kwai Fong, Yau Ma Tei and Jordan Road with their local friends. An effective way of learning is to experience the local’s everyday life such as going to yum cha (Cantonese Restaurants) or travelling by public transport. We might invite international students to guess how the new South Island MTR line station names are pronounced and go together with them to check if they are correct. By then, non-local students could have more common interests and interactions with locals. Likewise, he suggests local students teaching them Cantonese swear words as they are “the most interesting part of a foreign language”.
When asked which swear word he would he teach, the word 屌 (diu2, fuck) instantly came to Ben Sir’s mind. In his view, this is a simple yet useful word for expressing anger, but surprisingly this is not what he would teach the non-local students first. As a humble and polite person, he says he would teach do1 ze6 (多謝, thank you), m4 goi1 (唔該, also means thank you) and deoi3 m4 zyu6 (對唔住, sorry). There is a subtle difference in do1 ze6 and m4 goi1, as Cantonese people say the first phrase to thank for gifts, and the second for an act. Certainly, polite words are a part of “survival Cantonese”.

The best “beat”
Decades ago in CUHK, when Ben Sir was still an undergraduate student majoring in English, limericks with 4 lines and 7 characters were more commonly used in orientation camps than “dem beat”. These limericks are often derogatory remarks about another college. The best-known line 聯合組媽最盡責 (lyun4 hap6 zou2 maa1 zeoi3 zeon6 zaak3), was even mentioned in a stand-up comedy. The word 組媽 (zou2 maa1) refers to the female students who take care of the freshmen in orientation camps. While the phrase literally means that they are dutiful, the next line states that they performed blowjobs to male freshmen. This offensive phrase first appeared in an orientation camp back in 2002, and shocked the conservative Hongkongers. Anyway, Ben Sir generalises that the four lines in the limericks should ideally form a story, otherwise it would sound awkward.

As for “dem beat”, now a necessity in orientation camps, Ben Sir sees that the one by Morningside College gives out a more powerful tone. He adds that “the whole piece is in a traditional style of writing called 駢文 (pianwen, or parallel prose) in which every line begins with 4 characters and ends with 6.” A great example would be the line so2 hoeng3 pei1 mei4, daai3 dung6 fung1 wan4 sei3 hei2 (所向披靡,帶動風雲四起) which roughly means we are unstoppable and bring chaos everywhere. In Ben Sir’s view, the beats of other colleges sound less like Cantonese. The words used in that beat are colloquial Cantonese, such as ging1 tin1 dung6 dei6 (驚天動地, meaning earth-shattering). while the words used in, for example, Woo Sing College’s beats, are rather sophisticated and poetic because of the phrase po4 so1 syu6 jing2 (婆娑樹影), which describes the trees as “paradisiacal” and “beauteous”. “That’s clearly not the words we would use to describe the trees in our daily life. It is important to strike a balance between readability and complexity.” Ben Sir concludes.

The “Woo Sing Beat” is widely heard and ridiculed. After watching the video of the beat, Ben Sir gave a plausible explanation for this: “Although the words themselves are sophisticated, the students’ attitude did not match the beat. A model looks pretty with a fur coat, but not a person with a humble look. How can the students not be mocked when they looked so unenergetic?”

Is Cantonese dying?
When it comes to the future of Cantonese, its marginalization comes to our mind. But Ben Sir says he is not that pessimistic. There was a study showing that 90% of interviewees were native Cantonese speakers, but when it was repeated recently, the result dropped to 89%. He says we can assure ourselves that 89% is still high, but cannot deny that the figure has dropped, “and it’ll be worse as Hong Kongers will immigrate, die and be gradually replaced by mainlanders.” He continues that, “probably one day only 10% of Hong Kong residents are native speakers of Cantonese. Well, at that time we can still say that Cantonese has not been extinct.”
Ben Sir has noticed that Mandarin words have replaced their Cantonese counterparts in everyday conversations. For example, opening ceremony in Cantonese is 開幕禮 (hoi1 mok6 lai5), but some follow the mainlanders and say 開幕式 (hoi1 mok6 sik1). To slow down the decay of Cantonese, Ben Sir suggests us to write in Cantonese* “so that we can add value to the language, before it dies.”

* Currently, Cantonese is seldom written.

- - - The following is provided by Hong Kong Columns (Translated) - - -
和聲BEAT Woo Sing Beat
wo4 zeon6 tin1 dei6 fung1 wan4 zi1 sing1, waan4 pou5 saan1 seoi2 jat6 jyut6 zi1 ging2
po4 so1 syu6 jing2, jan4 git6 dei6 ling4
juk6 wo4 sing1 jat1 doi6 zing1 jing1, laap6 wo4 sing1 cin1 cau1 mei5 ming4
wo4 sing1! wo4 sing1! wo4 sing1!
Rough translation:
Echoing the sounds of the universe, embraced by mountains, waters, sun and moon;
Trees are paradisiacal and beauteous, these men are great and this land is glorious;
Nurturing Woo Sing’s generation of elites, building names for Woo Sing for centuries;
Woo Sing! Woo Sing! Woo Sing!

晨興BEAT Morningside College Beat
ging1 tin1 dung6 dei6, sing1 sai3 mou4 jyu5 leon4 bei2;
zin2 ci3 gou1 fei1, cong3 zou6 san4 hing1 zyun6 kei4;
so2 hoeng3 pei1 mei4, daai3 dung6 fung1 wan4 sei3 hei2;
hoeng2 jyu6 cin1 lei5, wai1 mong6 zan3 sip3 tin1 dei6;
san4 hing1, duk6 hin2 wong4 ze2 baa3 hei3;
san1 si4 doi6, jau4 ngo5 san4 hing1 daai3 hei3!
Rough translation:
Earth shattering, our trend’s beyond compare;
Fly high, we create the legend of Morningside;
Invincible, we are strong to even draw storms and clouds [referring to big events];
Renowned even afar, our reputation shocks the world;
Morningside, only we show manners of an emperor;
New era, we Morningside will create!

Ching Cheong: Why does Chinese Liaison Office boost Carrie Lam’s chance in full force?

Why does the Chinese Liaison Office boost Carrie Lam’s chance in full force?
Translated by Chen-t'ang 鎮棠, written by Ching Cheong

 林鄭月娥 - 灣仔會展舉行參選特首分享大會(We Connect)

The Chinese Liaison Office has left no stone unturned to boost Carrie Lam’s chances in the chief executive race, and that has caused dissatisfaction all over Hong Kong. The LO even dared to bluff Election Committee (EC) members by pretending it is really representing Beijing. The LO also threatened other candidates who might possibly challenge Carrie Lam. Some even said: “Not voting for Carrie Lam means opposition against Beijing.” The LO also made a 700-strong list of nominations for Carrie Lam, which effectively means the Liaison Office wants to “cherry-pick” Hong Kong's chief executive. It is worthwhile to note this.

FIRST, we must clearly realise: the Chinese Liaison Office by no means represents Beijing.
The most obvious evidence is that the LO was completely on the outside when it came to CY Leung not running for a second term. I wrote an article for HKEJ on 8 December 2016, presenting three pieces of evidence that “Beijing is really developing towards the direction of 'giving up CY Leung'”. On the same day, a friend from the leftist camp asked the LO whether my article was true. A vice-ministerial official of the LO said, “Do not believe in rumours,” stressing that “Beijing's attitude is clear: Beijing will support CY Leung for a second term.” Right after that day, CY Leung announced his decision to not run for a second term. This clearly illustrates that not only does the Liaison Office not represent Beijing, but also shows its “outsiderness” when it comes to key issues.

This is not the only faux pas. Another example was the political reform package in 2012. The Democratic Party put forward the “Super District Council“ proposal.   The Office confidently guaranteed that “Beijing won't accept it.” On 14 June 2012, Hao Tiechuan, the Director-General of the Publicity, Culture and Sports Department of the Chinese Liaison Office, described the Democratic Party's proposal of “universal suffrage of District Council representatives” in very harsh words. “No precedent, no legal grounds, no need to come out from the woodwork.” Hao said the Basic Law has no residual power nor is there an ordinance to allow the functional constituency of the District Council to be applied with universal suffrage. On 21 June, chief executive Donald Tsang announced that Beijing had accepted this proposal. The Liaison Office had to do a U-turn. The embarrassing U-turn even made Lau Nai-keung, from the pro-establishment camp, sigh and remark: “The turn is really ugly.”

These two examples fully illustrate that the Chinese Liaison Office does not represent Beijing, nor does it really understand Beijing's mindset. Therefore, I advise EC members to ignore the pressure of the LO.

SECOND, we should be alert to the reason why the Liaison Office spares no effort to boost Carrie Lam.
I believe that among the four candidates (prior to Leung Kwok-hung’s announcement), Carrie Lam is the best representative of CY Leung's policy direction, as she made clear in her first speech when she announced her candidacy. Therefore, supporting Carrie Lam means supporting CY Leung’s policy direction. Why does the Liaison Office feel it has to continue CY Leung's direction? Because, in the past five years, CY Leung has successfully normalised “the governance of Hong Kong by the Liaison Office” and  “filled his cabinet with people from the leftist camp.” Back in March 2012, when CY Leung was successfully elected but before he assumed office, I foresaw the new chief executive would bring four main crises to Hong Kong. The first being “two systems” merging into “one country”; the “mainlandisation” of the government’s ideology; normalisation of the governance of Hong Kong by the Liaison Office; and filling his Cabinet with people from the leftist camp. (19 April 2012, HKEJ).

The developments of the past five years have been the best evidence of my observations. As CY Leung has successfully allowed the Liaison Office to “participate” (or should I say, “interfere”) in the internal affairs of Hong Kong and appointed a lot of people from the leftist camp, therefore, the Liaison Office has the incentive to support CY Leung for another term.  If that proves unsuccessful, then Carrie Lam, who will support the execution of  CY Leung’s policies as the next chief executive, shall have her electoral prospects boosted.

THIRD, the so-called “power struggle” is ridiculous. 
In order to push Carrie Lam to the top job, the Liaison Office even publicised through pro-Beijing media a so-called “power struggle”.  (17 January 2017, Headline Daily). The author of the article argued that choosing Carrie Lam would be protecting or defending Hong Kong’s regime and voting for others would mean losing Hong Kong's regime. There are several amusing points. First, a CE election supposedly conducted in accordance with the Basic Law is now suddenly a “power struggle”. Then why does the Basic Law stipulate such an election in the first place? Second, HKMAO director Wang Guangya already announced that the pan-democratic camp is part of the establishment, and Home Return Permits have been reissued to pan-democratic lawmakers. So even if other candidates win thanks to pan-democratic votes, that only means a different person in the same political spectrum within the establishment camp becomes chief executive. What, then, is the “power struggle?” People affected by the Liaison Office have lost the ability to distinguish rights from wrongs. 

However, the Liaison Office and its underlings are trying to escalate a normal CE election into a “power struggle”. These kind of conspiracy theories make me feel that there is something unusual going on. Continuing CY Leung’s policies can help normalise the governance of Hong Kong by the Liaison Office and fill the cabinet with people from the leftist camp, but on top of that, there might be a more deep seated reason: the Liaison Office intends to put an obedient person in the top job in order to protect the interests of certain people and their respective factions in Hong Kong. This is the key. My suspicion is not groundless because in the past number of years, there have been many signs that suggest this possibility. Some cases now available to the public can illustrate the problem.

A. The Case of Rafael Hui
Former Chief Secretary (CS) Rafael Hui was involved in a corruption case. People saw that former HKMAO director Liao Hui arranged a sum of $10 million to solve Hui’s debt crisis in order to put him in the CS position, so that Hui could be assured of the job instead of working in the private sector. This might only be Hui’s own rhetoric, but I believe this is true because these statements were made by Hui in court. If they were fabricated, he would be charged with perjury and Liao, who would be framed in this scenario, would surely deny. I believe that no one would dare to frame a ministerial leader from the central authority. Now, there are two questions: Why does Liao have to help Hui (in other words, why must Hui become CS to the point Hui has to be helped with such an extraordinary measure? Where did Liao’s $10 million come from (in other words, how did Liao pay this sum of money to Hui)? This unreasonable phenomenon only renders one reasonable explanation, that is: putting Rafael Hui in the position of CS will help Liao Hui protect the interests of his family or his factions in Hong Kong.

Lessons to be learned from Rafael Hui’s case: In order to achieve their goals or objectives, some people might violate the normal employment terms of civil servants and put obedient people in key seats of the HKSAR government (since Hui took the “aid,” he will surely be obedient). In fact, the $10 million sum already constitutes a bribe to Hui, so how can Hui not repay his benefactor when he is CS?

B. The Case of Song Lin
The former chairman of China Resources Group, Song Lin, was charged in Guangzhou on 8 December 2016. Song Lin's corruption case was already reported by Li Jianjun, a journalist from Shanxi Evening Post, to ICAC and the Commercial Crime Bureau (CCB) of the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF). However it was later discovered that someone from the mainland authorities contacted ICAC through the Liaison Office, saying that the case involves mainland China and it was hoped that ICAC would not interfere. Li Jianjun said, as a matter of fact, some misconduct had taken place in Hong Kong and Macau, and China Resources Power is listed in Hong Kong, therefore the law enforcement agencies of Hong Kong are responsible for investigating this matter. ICAC and CCB did not do anything and did not handle this report.

It is universally known that Song Lin is a “super fan” of CY Leung. He was president of the Hong Kong Chinese Enterprises Association. The association had sixteen votes in the 2012 CE election and all sixteen votes went to CY Leung. The year after CY Leung was elected, Song Lin was immediately appointed as a Justice of Peace and holds various public posts, including becoming a member of the Economic Development Commission and chairman of the Hong Kong Business Ethics Development Advisory Committee (HKBEADC) under ICAC. These acts were criticised as political rewards. How can ICAC receive a report and do nothing at all? I speculate that this may be because ICAC was scared of Song Lin, who holds the title of chairman of HKBEADC. Prosecuting him is pretty much a joke to ICAC itself.

From this, we can conclude that whether or not the CE is obedient is very important. If the CE is obedient enough (such as CY Leung), ICAC would not interfere. Economic Information Daily’s chief journalist Wang Wenzhi reported to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) about Song Lin on 15 April 2014, along with the photos taken with Song and his mistress together. If that was not reported, Song is probably off scot-free.

Lessons to be learnt from Song Lin’s case: Whether or not a CE is obedient is very important to the interests of various factions of the Communist Party in Hong Kong.

C. The Case of Xiao Jianhua
The case of Xiao Jianhua is definitely the most shocking news in the political field recently. Rich merchant Xiao, who was handling HK$1 trillion for senior officials on the mainland, was “brought back to China”. The truth behind the incident is yet to be ascertained, but the case led to the surfacing of an organisation founded in 2014, known as the Hong Kong Association of Cultural Industries (HKACI). The vice president of HKACI is Xiao Jianhua and the honorary sponsor is CY Leung. The chairman of the HKACI Executive Council is Peter Lam Kin-ngok. Other directors include Henry Cheng Kar-shun (chairman of New World Development), Robert Ng (chairman of Sino Land), Albert Yeung (chairman of Emperor Group), Charles Ho Tsu-kwok (chairman of Sing Tao Group) and Vicki Zhao (a famous Chinese actress). These facts are worth noting for two reasons: It was unconventional before 1997 for the Governor to hold a post in an organisation with complicated political and commercial ties. Under normal circumstances, this would amount to the CE serving as protection and a promotional tool for this organisation. However, this case may involve the top tier, so the CE can do nothing. Second, many of the directors of the organisation joined Carrie Lam's election office.

Lessons to be learnt from Xiao Jianhua’s case: Putting Carrie Lam in the top job would help strengthen the status and protect the interests of this bloc in Hong Kong. However, this bloc has offended the top tier due to unknown reasons, and thus has exceeded the protection that CY Leung can offer.

D. The Case of Anthony Cheng
The nature of this case is different from the earlier three cases. However, this case can clearly illustrate the direct connection between whether a CE is obedient or not, and whose interests the mainland would like to protect. This case, which was concluded in October 2016, showed that Chief Li and Chief Zhang from the United Front Work Department (UFWD, also known as Tongzhanbu) of the CCP had an appointment with online radio host Anthony Cheng through Peggy Gao, a member of the then CE election office of CY Leung. Cheng was asked to reach out to localists and lure them into contesting about 40 District Council constituencies designated by the UFWD.

The objectives of this were to dilute the votes of pan-democratic candidates and to ensure the “iron votes” of the pro-Beijing candidates. Those localists who accept the offer and contest would get $150,000 per person, and it would not matter whether or not they won. If those bribed localists were to challenge incumbent District Council and Legislative Council members, they could even get $250,000. But the condition would be to get 200 votes. We know that the maximum amount of election expenses prescribed by law in DC elections is $48,000. The UFWD's offer is more than three times the prescribed amount. The intention of the attempted bribery is very clear. Hong Kong Indigenous and Youngspiration, two groups advocating independence, were among the localist organisations that were solicited by the UFWD.

Lessons to be learnt from Anthony Cheng’s case: Some people oppose independence on the surface but support separatist groups privately. This self-contradictory stance can only be explained by the fact that the louder the voice of separatists, the more threats there seem to be to national security. Therefore, more fees for maintaining stability (weiwen) will be needed. Superiors have to acknowledge their subordinates' harsh directions are being executed in Hong Kong, that is, creating non-existent “danger” to strengthen their own political status.

These examples illustrate the fact that some forces in mainland China need to support an obedient CE in Hong Kong so as to serve their factions' interests in the city. These interests are the reason that the Liaison Office is hysterically driven to boosting Carrie Lam with ludicrous rhetoric of “power struggle.”