Monday, 23 January 2017

A Leg-Up on the Competition?

Regina Ip gamely showing off her matching boots to host Stephen Chan
The race for the next chief executive of Hong Kong is already more interesting.

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee made an appearance on Commercial Radio this morning and the visit was captured on Facebook Live.

The host, Stephen Chan Chi-wan has been getting each of the candidates to do something different to show another side of them, like having Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and John Tsang Chun-wah take off their glasses.

Carrie Lam had trouble using her Octopus to Ap Lei Chau
However, Ip didn't have any because she claims she can still see quite well. Nevertheless the observant Chan noted that Ip's outfit, footwear and handbag were all matching, in a peacock blue.

She obliged, showing off the handbag and then pushed her chair back before holding up her leg with her hands to present the same blue coloured heeled boots.

Talk about trying to get a leg-up on the competition.

Her assistant later revealed the boots were bought at Lane Crawford for HK$1,000 two years ago. Interestingly no price quoted for the handbag.

Who else has matching clothes, shoes and handbags except maybe the Queen and the Duchess of Cornwall?

Lam recently moved to Convention Plaza in Wan Chai
After flashing some leg, Ip held up two Octopus cards, one for parking and one (we should note for seniors) to use on the MTR.

Chan asked her if she knew how to take the MTR to which she confidently replied affirmative.

It was a jab at Lam, who didn't seem to know how to use her Octopus card when she took the MTR to Ap Lei Chau to visit the community there.

Lam also bizarrely revealed that she ran out of toilet paper after recently moving into a serviced apartment in the Convention Centre, and that she took a taxi in the middle of the night to get some.

There were questions of how much carbon footprint she generated from her quest for TP, but isn't it more important that Lam be more familiar with the MTR?

If she doesn't really know how to use the MTR, how can she even begin to understand the issues the average Hong Kong person faces on a daily basis?

Commuters wait for many trains before getting on at rush hour
Every CE candidate should take the MTR at rush hour and see what it's like. It's no joke that one has to wait at least four or five trains to go by before getting on, and how commuters are squashed in there like sardines.

And they should visit people who live in subdivided flats, spending up to half of their salary on rent even though the living conditions are appalling. Why is it that when banks lend money for mortgages, the applicant cannot spend more than half their salary on the monthly payment back to the bank, but this rule is not applied to rents?

And they should see how much waste is generated on a daily basis, how many items are not recycled, and see how much food is dumped from households, restaurants and hotels, and how non-profits are trying to salvage a tiny fraction of that food, but more needs to be done.

The list could go on and on.

But we really have to give to Ip today for having a bit more fun, being game to show off what a fashion plate she is, though she did have to use her hand to raise her leg, which made us wonder where her core is...


Sunday, 22 January 2017

Chinese New Year Countdown

Many people checking out the New Year market in Victoria Park today
Many people in Hong Kong are anxiously preparing for Chinese New Year on Saturday. The wet market near where I live was extra busy, with people buying up all kinds of fruits, vegetables, and meats to prepare for upcoming reunion dinners this week, though officially it's on Friday.

And today was the start of the Chinese New Year markets around town, the biggest of which is in Victoria Park in Causeway Bay. I checked it out this afternoon and luckily it wasn't packed, though still lots of people.

Vibrant-coloured orchids for sale as well as other plants
I didn't have time to go through all the stalls, but the orchids were gorgeous, and this one pictured here is a kind that I've never seen before.

There were of course many rooster-related items, particularly stuffed toys, phone covers, cushions and trinkets.

And what's a Hong Kong fair without some politics, particularly in an election year?

The Democratic Party had a modified game called "fish prawn crab", a kind of gambling game, with caricatures of the four candidates -- Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, John Tsang Chun-wah, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, and Woo Kwok-hing. Even possible candidate Jasper Tsang Yok-sing was in the mix too.

Another stall manned by the League of Social Democrats sold cushions shaped like luncheon meat tins. It was a reference to former pro-Beijing lawmaker Wong Kwok-hing's condemnation of legislative filibusters, that he once said wasted enough taxpayer dollars to buy thousands of cans of luncheon meat for the poor.

We saw some young people roaming around with a basket of stickers and it turns out they had political satire. One of them was a take on Shanghai calendar girls of the 1920s, featuring two women, and the heads were of Regina Ip and John Tsang...

I intend to go back again to check all the stalls out, and maybe pick up some flowers too!

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Hong Kong on Trump's Radar?

Now that Trump is President, how will he really deal with China, Hong Kong?
I was up late last night on my mobile, on Twitter and seeing people's reactions to Donald J Trump being inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States.

Almost everyone on my Twitter feed was horrified of having a reality TV star, billionaire, and businessman who has been accused of sexual harassment, of not paying bills and being bankrupt several times take over the Oval Office.

Senator Marco Rubio is concerned about Hong Kong rights
Beijing will be nervous to see what Trump will do -- he has threatened to slap a 45 percent tax on Chinese imports as part of his "American first" slogan. And can he really get companies to come back to the United States without raising prices for good and services so high that customers balk at paying them?

He may lay off questioning China about its human rights, but it seems Florida senator Marco Rubio, who is co-chair of the bi-partisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China, has Hong Kong on his radar.

A few days ago Rubio said he is looking forward to reintroducing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.

"America must show leadership and support these values in our foreign policy," he said in an email through his spokesman.

The bill was proposed following the incident of the five missing booksellers at Causeway Bay Books in 2015 and were detained by the mainland authorities without any legal representation or notice to their families.

The missing booksellers incident sparked a new proposed law
And so the bill proposes punitive measures against any government officials in Hong Kong or the mainland responsible for suppressing basic freedoms in the city.

The law would require the US president to identify persons responsible for the surveillance, abduction, detention or forced confessions of booksellers and journalists in Hong Kong or other actions suppressed basic freedoms, and to freeze their US-based assets and deny them entry into the country.

It's an interesting proposal, but would it work in reality? How can one prove where the orders came from for the authorities to detain the five booksellers? We still don't really know. And what if they don't have American assets or care to visit the US?

Regardless, it's interesting Hong Kong is on Trump's radar, and it might be either amusing or embarrassing having him speak out on the behalf of 7 million residents.

But hey -- any attention is good attention, right?

Friday, 20 January 2017

Hong Kong Getting More Depressed

Hong Kong seems to have more depressed people since about three years ago
There are concerns there may be a growing number of depressed people in Hong Kong. According to a survey by the Mental Health Association of Hong Kong -- a non-profit group funded largely by the government -- says around 5.5 percent of 2,351 people show signs of clinical depression, almost double the number in 2014.

In addition, 9.1 percent of respondents scored a medium level on the depression index, which means they should be monitored for depression, up 8.6 percent in 2014.

Ching Chi-kong, an assistant director of the association, believes people had an outlet to voice their frustrations during the 79-day Occupy protests.

The 2014 Occupy protests allowed people to let off steam
"At that time, people had somewhere to express their anger and they may have hoped for change," he said. "If we think we lost something, we will get depressed more easily."

Another factor, suggests Dr Benjamin Lai, psychiatrist and chairman of the association, is the economic downturn that could contribute to "a high chance of depressive symptoms".

But look more closely at the survey results and 35.8 percent of respondents did no exercise for at least 30 minutes during the week, and only 18.1 percent did so only once a week.

"We need a balance in life, so it's not just about money or work," Ching said.

The Hospital Authority estimates about 1.7 million people suffer from various mental illnesses, but wait times for mental health treatment were the longest of all public health services. This is partly because there aren't enough trained psychiatrists and psychologists in the public sector.

Exercise is a good way to relieve depression and stress
The economic downturn has made it harder for people in Hong Kong. There are constant fears of being made redundant because companies are concerned about their bottom line, and there are fewer opportunities for people because some may be holding onto whatever work they have even though they may not be happy in the position.

No wonder so many don't have time for exercise, but just some movement for 30 minutes a day would alleviate some of the stress and rush of endorphins could people feel a bit better about themselves and manage their stress better.

It's tense times in Hong Kong -- for pretty much this entire year. We can't feel sorry for ourselves, or commiserate -- there's no time really. We have to have that can-do attitude and keep pushing forward.