Saturday, 1 October 2016

October 1 Unpatriotic Banners

A pro-independence sign hangs at Baptist University in Kowloon Tong
For many in Hong Kong, the October 1 National Day holiday is just another public holiday -- and this year it falls on a Saturday so many people took advantage of going out of town. We're so patriotic.

This contrasts with the Hong Kong government, that attends a flag-raising ceremony at the Golden Bauhinia sculpture next to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. This morning there was some rain that marred the festivities.

Another banner at the University of Hong Kong...
However to mark the 67th anniversary of the establishment of the People's Republic of China, banners that read "Hong Kong Independence" in Chinese and English were hung up in eight universities around town. They included the University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the University of Science and Technology, Baptist University and City University.

Some of the tertiary institutions removed the banners.

The Hong Kong National Party, a pro-independence group, admitted to providing the banners to the students, but insisted it was the students who put them up themselves.

At Chinese University hangs a large pro-independence banner
A few days ago the party had a message on its Facebook page, telling students not to celebrate National Day and called China a "colonial master" of Hong Kong.

Were any caught putting up the banners? Will they be punished? Or will their actions fall under freedom of speech?

The pro-independence movement, despite being scoffed at for being completely unrealistic and illegal, seems to be growing in popularity. Young people are becoming more radical in their outlook in their hopes to have the Hong Kong they want.

Not exactly what the Communist Party had in mind...

Friday, 30 September 2016

Not Buckling Under Ridicule

A still from the video that spoofs a viral Japanese music video
The Hong Kong Police are working hard to protect the community, and to send out messages to the public on how to keep safe.

The latest is a public service announcement that spoofs a popular Japanese earworm-style music video called Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen by Japanese comedian who goes by the stage name Kosaka Daimaou.

In the Hong Kong police version, the 33-second clip starts off with a man and woman in blue T-shirts and wearing sunglasses and they lip sync the words: "I have a belt, I have a buckle, ah, car seat belt".

Then two officers in uniform sit in the back of a police van and lip sync the same words before ending with the tagline: "Buckle up, it could save your life".

Uh right.

The video was meant to be fun and educational, but instead it was ridiculed, with over a million views in less than 24 hours. It got a deluge of comments from the public, while a senior police officer who declined to be named, said, "It's an embarrassment, the force looks more like a farce with this video. What were they thinking?"

The unidentified officer said comments internally and from ex-officers were even more scathing, saying they could not be published in a newspaper.

That bad.

However the force is taking the comments, good and bad in stride.

"HKP Facebook will continue to utilize the advantages of multimedia including videos, images, texts and other innovative means to engage the community. The HKP Facebook post on 28 September was one of many different types and styles to illustrate our diversified nature of police work, and had attracted a large number of 'Likes' and positive comments," the force said in a statement.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Picture of the Day: Cheap Treat

For many in Hong Kong, Ovaltine conjures childhood memories
The other day I saw my friend's Facebook post saying that Ovaltine soft serve ice cream was back at McDonald's -- but only for a limited time.

I hadn't tried it before, so the other day I checked it out, only HK$5.50!

It does have that Ovaltine taste, the malt flavour with a bit of cocoa mixed in that isn't too sweet. For many people in Hong Kong, Ovaltine is a nostalgic food, bringing back memories of their childhood.

Another friend on Facebook posted a picture of waffles with the Ovaltine ice cream on top with chocolate sauce drizzled over them. He said it was available at the McDonald's at Admiralty, Quarry Bay and Cityplaza in Taikoo Shing.

The waffles definitely looked decadent, but I was OK with my cone. It seemed like just the right portion for a quick (and cheap) treat!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Two Years On from Occupy

A large yellow reminder of two years ago for the fight for universal suffrage
Today marks the second anniversary of the Occupy protests that spontaneously broke out at Admiralty, when people were trying to get the activists released who were surrounded by police in Civic Square.

The milestone was marked by a six-metre long yellow banner "I want true universal suffrage" placed on Devil's Peak in Lei Yue Mun by the League of Social Democrats, that was taken down about 90 minutes later.

People gathered at Admiralty tonight to mark the anniversary
And then in the evening at 5.58pm people gathered at Tim Mei Avenue in Admiralty and observed three minutes of silence, the time when the police began spraying tear gas into the crowd.

I was there that afternoon, and told YTSL to come with me. She had just gotten off the plane from Japan and didn't understand what all the fuss was about.

But after we got a snack and I checked my Twitter feed to find out tear gas had been unleashed and we rushed back to see what was going on. We saw a surreal sight of people occupying the Connaught Road overpass and Queensway and refusing to leave. And there were people getting giant barrels of water ready in case the police would fire more tear gas.

We knew the roads would be blocked for a while at least and I remember getting to my great aunt's place in Tokwawan via the Star Ferry and then a bus.

Two years ago this was the initial surreal scene in Admiralty
On the news later that night we saw that Mongkok, Tsim Sha Tsui and Causeway Bay had also been occupied. It was simultaneously shocking and thrilling to hear that ordinary people had taken control of the area -- when was the last time something like this had happened?

They were brave but also determined to stand their ground which made me so proud of them. They were tired of being pushed around by Beijing and the Hong Kong government wasn't representing their interests.

The last straw was the white paper released in August that reiterated there would be no direct elections of the chief executive in 2017. So when would we ever get universal suffrage that was promised to us? They had to stand up for themselves and they did -- for 79 days.

I miss being able to walk along Connaught Road Central and there was such a community spirit there, people were very friendly and eco-conscious, everyone had the same mindset. It was a calm, but also passionate place, especially when there were gatherings to hear speeches.

Eventually evenings would look like this, crowded but friendly
The sad thing is that Occupy will probably never happen again.

But it has spawned a new generation of politically active kids, a few of them even elected into the Legislative Council! Who would have thought that would be possible! Pretty amazing.

So there is hope, but how do we proceed from here? What is the legacy of Occupy and what does it mean to us?

Thanks for the memories that are still vivid two years later. We will never forget that day.