Prisca Lo Yan Lok, solicitor, Hong Kong
About Novel HKSAR Names
Name Category: Rare
Jul 25, 2011
On reading the letter from Australian visitor Steve Stefanopoulos ("Great city, shame about the locals", July 20), I could not let it go without a reply.
My husband and I are presently on our fourth visit to Hong Kong and while I agree with him that it is a city full of life and excitement, I cannot agree with his other comments.
Many times when I have been on the MTR, I have been offered a seat, rarely have I ever had to stand and there is always that friendly smile.
On other occasions when we have been lost and trying to sort out where we are, we have been approached by local people offering their help who soon have us on our way again.
Unlike Mr Stefanopoulos, we have encouraged family and friends to visit Hong Kong, telling them it is a wonderful place to spend a holiday, and we will continue to do so.
Robin Mead, Brisbane, Australia
Jul 20, 2011
I recently returned to Australia from a week-long holiday in Hong Kong and found the city to be an eye-opener - full of life, excitement and colour.
The streets were bustling, the food was amazing, and the shopping was great. But I am sad to say that the locals were very rude.
I have never come across so many rude people. No one held the door open for another person to walk through. No one offered their seat to a pregnant woman or elderly person. No one said please, thank you or excuse me. Yet there are plenty of signs asking everyone to cover their mouth when they sneeze or cough.
I would not recommend Hong Kong as a tourist destination, purely because of the rudeness of a large number of local residents I encountered during my week-long stay.
Steve Stefanopoulos, Melbourne, Australia
Jul 20, 2011
Cynthia Sze, in her diatribe ("If English is so important, firms should move to Belfast or Glasgow", July 15) not only shows ignorance of Hong Kong's history but the worst kind of flag-waving chauvinism. Claiming to find previous correspondents' opinions "one-sided", she essentially shouts "gweilo go home" and expresses her views against "foreigners" (read: domestic helpers) as well.
Demanding to know who needs "foreign firms and workers that can't compete in the local business environment", she conveniently ignores the integral part English has always played, and continues to play, in that very environment.
Hong Kong was built, from the beginning, on international trade, much of it British and most conducted in English. If foreign firms today help make Hong Kong a world city, it is not, as Ms Sze states, the business opportunities that China has made available to the city, but rather the business opportunities that the city itself has made available to the world.
Betraying her true stance, she states categorically that "ESF schools discriminate against Cantonese-speaking students". Really?
Is it just possible that the admissions process at the aptly named English Schools Foundation favours English-speaking students? Perhaps, if Cantonese is so important, Hong Kong's non-Putonghua-speaking businesses should set up shop in Guangdong?
Interestingly, on the same day there was on the facing page an article by Amy Ho, a senior recruitment specialist for banking and financial services ("What it takes to make city a home for talent"). She said: "ESF is not a colonial hangover, it is an important element in Hong Kong's standing as a world city", and went on to say that if the Hong Kong government "wishes to fill jobs with international workers, it needs to confront issues that increasingly deter those workers. If it wishes jobs to be filled by local candidates, it must address deficiencies in education and training. If it does neither, we all know which cities stand to benefit."
Hong Kong has always been a city of immigrants, multicultural and multilingual. And if Ms Sze truly thinks Hong Kong's domestic workers are "privileged", I suggest she take the job for a month. Perhaps she would enjoy six 12- to 15-hour work days per week, disciplining someone else's children, scrubbing their floors and their toilets. Perhaps she would enjoy sharing a flat with her employer, effectively placing her on call 24 hours a day. This, after all, is the privileged life of a domestic helper.
Reuben M. Tuck, Macau
Repentant News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch and son James apologise during questions from British lawmakers at hearing disrupted by pie thrower
Agencies in London
Jul 20, 2011
It was a humble day for News Corp chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch and his son yesterday at a hearing where lawmakers questioned their role in a phone-hacking scandal that has embroiled some of Britain's top politicians, police and journalists.
As the grilling began, the elder Murdoch at first seemed repentant, banging his hands on the table and saying, "This is the most humble day of my life."
But the parliamentary committee hearing was disrupted when a protester rushed at Murdoch as he gave testimony, setting off a scuffle and spattering him with what appeared to be white foam in a foil pie dish.
The man in a check shirt approached from the left and attacked the elder Murdoch with the plate. The 80-year-old News Corp chief's Chinese-born wife Wendi Deng leaped up to defend her husband and slapped the assailant, who was dragged off by police.
The attacker refused to give his name when asked by reporters. "I'm sure Mister Murdoch will see the irony, but I cannot comment on an ongoing police investigation," he said.
The Guardian newspaper and Sky News named the attacker as Jonnie Marbles, a comedian. In a message on his Twitter account before the incident, he said: "It is a far better thing that I do now than I have ever done before."
After a 10-minute suspension, Murdoch resumed his testimony, without his suit jacket. The testimony offered a remarkable spectacle of one of the world's most powerful media magnates under the harsh spotlight of public scrutiny, sometimes seeming unfamiliar with the matters raised by the panel and frequently denying knowledge of them. He often insisted that no one at the company had been "willfully blind".
Before the pie incident, he became increasingly flustered when committee members peppered him with questions, often turning to James, chairman of News Corp's European and Asian arm, for answers.
Rupert Murdoch said he was "shocked, appalled and ashamed" at the hacking of the phone of a murdered schoolgirl by his now-shuttered News of the World tabloid.
James Murdoch repeatedly apologised for the scandal, telling British lawmakers that "these actions do not live up to the standards our company aspires to".
He also said he was not told that his firm paid big sums - £700,000 (HK$899.9 million) in one case - to settle lawsuits by phone-hacking victims. He said his father became aware of the settlement "in 2009 after a newspaper report. It was a confidential settlement".
After three hours of testimony from the Murdochs, committee members apologised for the assault. Opposition lawmaker Tom Watson finished by saying: "Mr Murdoch, your wife has a very good left hook."
It was then former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks' turn at the hearing. She told lawmakers she intended to answer their questions as openly as possible, while remaining mindful of ongoing criminal investigations. She was arrested on Sunday, but freed on bail.
The New York Times, Associated Press, Agence France-Presse
HOW WE SEE IT
Jul 21, 2011
Rarely has a single volleyball blow had such an impact.
Described variously as a right hook to the head, a volleyball spike or an old-fashioned clip around the ear, Wendi Deng Murdoch's actions in literally leaping to her husband's defence in the British parliament saved the day for the embattled Murdoch clan.
During some three hours of humbling testimony, News Corporation tycoon Rupert Murdoch appeared out of the loop and his son, James, out of his depth.
Only the 42-year-old Deng, shooting daggers throughout while seated behind her 80-year-old husband, came out of the affair well.
When, towards the end of the grilling, Murdoch's assailant pounced with pie made of foam, Deng moved faster than anyone in the room, leaving both British bobbies and a flustered James floundering in her wake.
It is just as well she played volleyball in her younger days in Guangzhou. One shudders to think what might have happened if she had mastered the darker martial arts.
Her actions, of course, had a broader impact. They provided a useful diversion from what was otherwise a pretty bleak day at the office for Murdoch and son.
Contrite, and at times emotional, Murdoch senior nonetheless refused to take responsibility for the actions of his journalists or the private detectives contracted to his newspapers.
Murdoch Jnr, meanwhile, confirmed the controversial payment of private legal fees to staff convicted and disgraced at the start of the scandal.
As stunning as Deng's actions were, it will take a great deal more than a single act of resolute defence to save the Murdoch empire as its troubles mount on both sides of the Atlantic.
"I would prefer not to live in a nanny state. I would prefer to be able to receive all shades and colours of opinion ... so that I can make informed decisions about what's going on in the world, rather than to have my view shaped by the rather limited information which is being made available to me. And I hope most intelligent and thinking people would be in the same position."
Renowned lawyer Mark Stephens defines the role of the hundreds of employees who publish information on the whistle-blowing website
Chris Ip and Natalie Ornell
Jun 10, 2011
WikiLeaks is as much a media organisation as any publisher and its hundreds of part-time staff - many unknown - are legitimate journalists, says the lawyer defending the founder of the whistle-blowing website's founder, Julian Assange, against sex-crime allegations.
"They receive data from members of the public, they verify that data, they get comment on it, they edit it, they put it into stories," Mark Stephens said at the University of Hong Kong yesterday. "They're certainly publishers, they're certainly editors and I would argue they're also journalists."
One of the most sought after proponents for freedom of speech, Stephens has argued in courts from the United States and Iraq to Singapore.
He also lamented the lack of a full freedom of information law in Hong Kong. The Code on Access to Information of 1995 is often criticised as an inadequate measure to ensure government transparency.
"I think it is a great sadness that in 1776 Sweden passed the first freedom of information law and here we are in 2011 and Hong Kong still hasn't got one. I drafted one for Romania seven years ago and they are an essential tool to openness and reassurance in government," Stephens said.
On whether there was any value in keeping state secrets, he pointed to a quip by Richard Dearlove, a former head of MI6, the British secret intelligence service.
"He (Dearlove) said that governments need secrets but not as many as you would think," Stephens said. "I would add, `and for not as long as you may think'.
"A good law on secrecy is the government should have those secrets that it genuinely needs to run the state efficiently and in our interest.
"I think it can't have just loads and loads of secrets because it's embarrassing if the information got out. That's not good enough."
If the information did not threaten someone's life, Stephens said, "the journalist has an obligation, almost unfettered, to publish."
Australian Assange is in London fighting extradition to Sweden.
WikiLeaks, founded in 2006, first gained world attention for releasing the "collateral murder" video showing a US helicopter opening fire on Iraqi civilians and Reuters journalists.
According to Stephens, once information is released into the public sphere, it is up to people to decide its importance. "I would prefer not to live in a nanny state," he said. "I would prefer to be able to receive all shades and colours of opinion ... so that I can make informed decisions about what's going on in the world, rather than to have my view shaped by the rather limited information which is being made available to me. And I hope most intelligent and thinking people would be in the same position."
HOW WE SEE IT
Jun 18, 2011
The humble egg tart has become a political symbol.
When Wang Guangya was in Hong Kong this week, one of the most memorable photos was of him sinking his teeth into the sweet treat and giving his culinary approval.
Then, when Beijing's point man on Hong Kong went to Macau, he made it a point to visit a local eatery selling - you guessed it - egg tarts. In his opinion, the Macau shop's were superior to the ones he ate in our city.
That had sinologists and Hong Kong pundits speculating whether it was a cryptic remark signalling his ranking of the Macau administration above the leadership of Hong Kong.
Ironically, it was Beijing nemesis Chris Patten - branded variously as "a prostitute", "a sinner of 1,000 years" and "a tango dancer" - who started the tradition. Known affectionately to locals as fei pang or "fatty Patten", the last governor had no fear of the artery-choking dessert. Patten still makes a point of visiting his own egg tart haunt when he occasionally visits the city.
Given its Patten patina, it's puzzling why mainland officials have picked up on the political habit. Well, for one, egg tarts, like egg waffles, are authentic Hong Kong-style food. Cheap and readily available on the street, they are associated with the grass roots. All politicians, whether from Hong Kong or the mainland, must make a show of caring about livelihood issues.
Interestingly, while egg tarts have become a favourite of officialdom, egg waffles have become something of a symbol for political agitation ever since Ng Yuk-fai, an elderly hawker who sells the waffles, was repeatedly harassed by anti-hawker squads; he now faces prosecution for claiming social welfare.
Maybe Wang should try egg waffles next time he is here.
"Don't try and copy other people. Don't try and copy me. Believe in your dreams and believe in yourself."
French Open winner Li Na says aspiring champions should pursue the game because they enjoy it rather than because they are forced into it
Peter Simpson in Beijing
Jul 06, 2011
Don't try and copy me - that was the blunt advice issued by homecoming grand slam heroine Li Na to her legions of young Chinese fans yesterday.
The 29-year-old is the centre of attention following her ground-breaking French Open win last month against 2010 winner Francesca Schiavone.
But she said she is concerned the hype may lead to tennis mania and see children forced into taking up the sport by so-called pushy "Tiger Mum" parents.
Speaking exclusively to the South China Morning Post (SEHK: 0583, announcements, news) in Beijing, she said: "I know after my French Open victory more and more children in China want to play tennis. But [parents] have to make sure their children pick up the games for themselves, not for the family. So children have to have interest in the sport first, and then have the dream to win, and then keep going."
She pleaded: "Don't try and copy other people. Don't try and copy me. Believe in your dreams and believe in yourself."
Right-hander Li has become the latest mainland sporting sensation following in the footsteps of 110-metre hurdler Liu Xiang and NBA basketball legend Yao Ming.
Her win in Paris was watched by an estimated 116 million mainland fans, many of whom admire her as much for her maverick, free-spirited personality as they do for for her blistering tennis.
The often outspoken star's career has bloomed since she turned her back on the mainland's rigid government-run sports training system in 2008.
But when asked if other fledgling players should consider opting out of the government's quest for international sporting glory, the Hubei star joked: "You should not ask me such dangerous questions."
Looking fit and relaxed and wearing a classy dress in her favourite black colour, she added: "I'm not interested in what the government thinks and it's not my business if players decide to opt out. I only care about what I should do after each tournament. I am only a tennis player and all I can do is focus on my play on the court."
Sceptics complain the strict government sports system and obsession with Olympic dominance stunts the development of China's young sporting hopes, leading to one-hit-wonders in the marquee commercial sports such as tennis, golf, soccer and basketball.
After her landmark grand slam title at Roland Garros, many pundits declared the win marked the birth of China as a tennis power.
But she came crashing to earth two weeks later at the sport's showcase tournament, Wimbledon, beaten in the second round by lesser-known German Sabine Lisicki.
Some of her harsher media critics have speculated she has peaked and will soon retire. But she laughed this off. "I have no thought of retiring," said Li. "The US Open is my next target for this year, and next year will be the London 2012 Olympics, which will be my last. I made it into the semis in Beijing but I want to do better next year," said the star.
The Hubei government presented Li on Monday with an award and a US$94,000 cash prize for making her home province proud.
She refused to be drawn on her net worth, but after five WTA titles and a string of other tournament wins, her winning total is believed to be more than US$6.4 million.
However, she did say when she does call it quits, she will invest her savings in training the hopes of the future - her way. "When I do retire, I won't start a tennis club. I hope to start an academy where young Chinese players can come and play and train and go to [academic] school.
"If at 18 they believe they are good enough to go professional, or instead want to go university, then that will be up to them," she said.
"We have an emphasis on values. The education features of the Society of Jesus is that we don't force students to accept one set of values but we will introduce values that we think proper to students."
Theology will be core subject if Society of Jesus wins over government to establish institution at Queen's Hill in Fanling, the biggest of six sites on offer
Jun 04, 2011
Hong Kong could be set to get its first university in which theology is a compulsory subject. A 470-year-old Catholic Church order, the Society of Jesus, is to bid for one of six sites earmarked by the government for the building of private universities.
If it wins the 16-hectare site in Fanling - a former colonial military camp and the biggest piece of land on offer - the society, which is headquartered in Rome, would make theology a core and compulsory area of study for students. The Jesuits stressed that it would be a university for everyone, regardless of their religion.
Planners for the society, who submitted an expression of interest to the government, are among nine institutions vying for the massive Queen's Hill site.
Reports said earlier that interested parties included Chu Hai College of Higher Education and a number of other unnamed foreign institutions.
Officials are reviewing proposals and have yet to set a time frame for a decision. The tender is expected to becompleted by the end of next year.
Religious studies will be part of a two-year core curriculum, that also includes psychology and philosophy.
"We have an emphasis on values. The education features of the Society of Jesus is that we don't force students to accept one set of values but we will introduce values that we think proper to students," the Reverend Stephen Chow, the supervisor of Jesuit school Wah Yan College, who is a also a key planner for the Hong Kong university bid, said.
After papal authorisation in 1540, the Society of Jesus has grown into one of the largest religious orders in the world and has dozens of universities across the globe. Formed by Spanish knight Ignatius of Loyola, the Catholic order entered China in the late 16th century, initiated by a missionary led by St Francis Xavier.
But a Jesuit university has been unheard of in China and Chow said it was the main reason why the society was bidding for the site. "Hong Kong is an internationalised city," he said.
Chow said the university would have three main streams: humanities, social science and science. Subjects such as Chinese history and literature will also be provided but the university may not have a business major.
It plans to enroll 3,000 students initially and provide four years of boarding. Under the government's plan, the Fanling site can accommodate 8,000 students.
Describing it as a liberal arts college, Chow said it would provide students with a new perspective to view world affairs.
Beauty salons and slimming centres are resorting to Photoshop to alter the look of the models. Does this practice approach misleading advertising?
Jul 04, 2011
One arm raised, the back of her red skirt billowing to reveal a pair of long, slender legs, singer-actress Linda Chung Ka-yan is on billboards all over Hong Kong these days, promising a flat tummy, firm arms or a life without cellulite.
She is a vision of perfection as she advertises Slim Beauty, a spa and slimming centre. All is not as it seems, however. Before going on display, her image was doctored with that favourite tool of image-enhancers, Photoshop.
Slim Beauty admits it used Photoshop but will not say how.
And it is not alone among the spas and beauty salons that abound in image-conscious Hong Kong where such alterations are widely tolerated despite being frowned on elsewhere, drawing censure and sometimes hefty fines.
A spokesman for rival Oasis Beauty said of its advertisements with model Sarah C: "We enhanced her skin tone a bit." Such a touch-up can be done easily on a computer, as shown in the pictures here.
In Britain, that admission might have got the salon into trouble.
An advertisement featuring former model Twiggy for Procter & Gamble's Olay Definity Eye Illuminator cream was judged misleading by Britain's Advertising Standards Authority in December 2009 after the company did post-production work around her eyes.
Two years earlier, the authority condemned L'Oreal for an advertisement featuring the Spanish actress Penelope Cruz that claimed women could have up to 60 per cent longer eyelashes with its Telescopic mascara. But someone complained it looked fake, and fake it was. The authority ordered the French brand to add a disclaimer on future advertisements whenever models were wearing false lashes
In Sweden last year, L'Oreal was ordered to pay a fine of 1 million Swedish kroner (HK$1.24 million) for its claims for two anti-ageing creams, one of which was said to reduce wrinkles "as fast as a laser" and reduce their visibility by up to 70 per cent.
Despite the widespread use of such strategies in Hong Kong, its residents are becoming more sceptical.
A "Hong Kong Study on Advertising Credibility", published in the Journal of Consumer Marketing in 2009 said: "Doubts about the truthfulness of many advertisements have increased significantly in recent years."
Professor Gerard Prendergast, a co-author of the study and head of Baptist University's marketing department, said the four most misleading types of advertisement were those for weight-loss products, weight-loss services, hair regrowth products and cosmetics.
The Consumer Council recorded 469 complaints in 2008 and 514 in 2009 about beauty parlours' dubious practices. Commenting on the use of Photoshop, a council spokeswoman said: "I suppose what is at issue here is authenticity. If everybody used Photoshop, you'd have to have proof and evidence on how they applied it, as it can be used in enhancing the colours or making the picture sharper, not necessarily altering the shape or features of the model."
Professor Francis Chow Chun-chung, president of the Hong Kong Association for the Study of Obesity, said such advertisements were not aimed at medically obese people.
"It is all about marketing strategies and it is not evidence-based," Chow said. Some centres did not use a safe weight-loss method because they actually rid the client of water instead of fat.
The only way to lose weight in a healthy way, Chow said, was still to cut the energy intake and increase the energy expenditure. In short, eat healthy food and exercise more.
That is not necessarily what Hong Kong's busy, image-conscious people want to hear. "Exercising is not very popular for Hong Kong women," noted Liz Tan, a 28-year-old Australian who works in Hong Kong. "People seem to think that they can lose weight with a massage."
Government's use for social work training of a Christian who believes homosexuals can be converted to heterosexuality draws protest by gays
Jun 18, 2011
The Social Welfare Department has angered a gay rights group by inviting a psychiatrist who believes homosexuals can be turned into heterosexuals to give a talk to social workers.
The speaker, Dr Hong Kwai-wah, a psychiatrist affiliated to a Christian group, said he only taught attendees how to communicate with gay and lesbian youths. But the rights group said his presence was offensive.
"We know Dr Hong had practised conversion therapy ... We don't think it has a scientific [basis] and it has made some depressed," said Yeo Wai-wai, a member of Rainbow of Hong Kong.
Yeo and five other members protested outside the Lady Trench Training Centre in Wan Chai, where Dr Hong Kwai-wah delivered the 3-1/2 hour workshop to about 30 government social workers yesterday.
Hong said he adopted a neutral attitude in the talk. He confirmed that he believed in so-called conversion therapy, in which homosexuals are helped to change their sexual orientation, but said it was not the focus yesterday.
"I only taught them how to understand the same-sex issue better," Hong said. "I didn't tell the social workers they should help change their clients' sexual orientation. Social workers should respect clients' choices ... but they don't have to be always pro-gay either.
"I agree sexual orientation is not up to people to choose, but they can choose how to behave," he added.
Yeo said strategies used in conversion therapy, such as bathing in cold water, doing sport and continuous prayer, were ridiculous.
She said Hong had founded a charity to counsel homosexuals that had declared homosexuality a "sin" on its website.
"Given his background, we are afraid that the speaker will spread the wrong message," she said.
One woman social worker who attended the session said conversion therapy was not mentioned.
A spokeswoman for the Social Welfare Department said it had also invited gay and lesbian groups to conduct training.
"Multiple perspectives [are] essential for social workers to make professional and independent assessments of their cases," she said.
Jun 10, 2011
So how did the Kitchee soccer team win Hong Kong's First Division Football League championship this year? By eating healthily, according to team captain Lo Kwan-yee.
Lo, along with teammates Chan Man-fai and Lam Ka-wai, represented Kitchee as they showed their support for the Sino Group of Hotels' new healthy eating campaign on Wednesday afternoon at The Royal Pacific Hotel and Towers.
It was a sort of bundled promotion for the hotel group, as a month-long campaign - titled "Dad, You're Wonderful" - is not only promoting healthy eating, it also supports local cardiac patients' support group Care For Your Heart, and celebrates Father's Day.
Jonathan Leung, the hotel's head chef, designed a series of dishes that are heavy in zinc, such as braised sea cucumber with abalone and pumpkin and stir-fried grouper filet.
"Zinc has been scientifically proven to be good for the heart, circulation and skin, so that's great for fathers," Leung, a father himself, said.
Even the younger men from Kitchee took the opportunity to boost their zinc levels.
"It's very crucial for us, as athletes, to eat healthy," Lam said. "But of course, the food should taste good, too."
These zinc-filled dishes are also available at three other hotels: The Royal Pacific, Gold Coast and City Garden.
The four hotels have pledged to make donations to the Care For Your Heart foundation after the promotion ends.
The Kitchee team will need all the zinc they can get, as they're facing Chelsea in the Barclays Asia Trophy tournament.
"We're training right now by eating these dishes," Lo joked.