Thursday, 31 October 2013

Far from Reconcilation

The Chinese authorities are now calling the car crash and subsequent explosion at Tiananmen Square on Monday as a "terrorist attack".

According to the police, the three people in the car were Uighurs, and the jeep they drove had Xinjiang license plates. They were from the same family, with the driver identified as Usmen Hasan, his wife Gulkiz Gini and mother Kuwanhan Reyim.

The authorities have now detained five suspects that are apparently related to the incident, and are looking for two more people. The police also claim to have found a gas container, two meat cleavers, a metal bar and a flag printed with extremist religious messages in the burned-out vehicle.

While the police claim this is a "terrorist attack", I would rather describe it as a desperate protest against the central government repressing Uighurs and making their lives so difficult.

Physically they do not look Han Chinese, but geographically and politically they are a part of China. Much like the policy in Tibet, the government has encouraged mass migration of Han Chinese into Xinjiang, tearing down traditional homes on the grounds they are not earthquake proof and forcing residents to move into sterile apartment blocks. Uighurs are restricted in practicing their Muslim faith and many younger Uighurs know more Putonghua than their own native language.

After September 11, 2001, the Chinese used the excuse of terrorism to clamp down on Uighurs, claiming they were extremists influenced by the East Turkestan independence movement. Clashes came to a head in July 2009 when riots erupted in Urumqi, where Uighurs physically attacked Han Chinese.

Monday's incident in front of Chairman Mao Zedong's portrait at Tiananmen Square was no accident. Innocent lives were lost, which is why the authorities are calling it a terrorist attack, but the incident was meant to draw attention to the frustration of Uighurs as well as their determination to commit such a brazen act.

Uighurs are like you and me, people who are trying to make a living, retaining their culture and religion and yet the central government insists on making their lives even more difficult just because of their ethnicity.

They are warm people, family-oriented and proud of their traditions. Xinjiang has some of the most stunning scenery on earth and their food has a very rustic taste. Meanwhile the government will "prove" to the general population about how dangerous Uighurs are, and the public will believe it because they have so few interactions with this ethnic minority.

The government will never admit it was wrong in how it has governed Xinjiang and instead will probably impose even harsher restrictions on Uighurs as a result of Monday's incident. And so the conflicts between Uighurs and Han Chinese will never end.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

No Takers for ParknShop

Li Ka-shing may wonder if his valuations are too high or buyers are too cheap
Tycoon Li Ka-shing must be wondering if his right-hand men have got it wrong or potential suitors are too cheap -- but no one's bid for ParknShop under AS Watson was anywhere close to what he was hoping for.

When the sale of one of Hong Kong's biggest supermarket chains was announced, the media wondered if this was a sign that "Superman" was liquidating his assets and moving out of the city.

There were at least four companies interested in ParknShop -- Thai industrial giant Charoen Pokphand Group, Australian retailer Woolworths, state-owned China Resources Enterprise and Japan's Aeon.

But in the end only two companies made non-legally binding bids which were far below what Li and parent company Hutchison Whampoa, that includes AS Watson retailing.

"We're talking about $1 billion or even $2 billion in difference [between the bids and the expected price level] rather than just several hundred million," said a source close to the matter. "Such a big difference can easily and quickly kill the deal because there will be almost no room for negotiations."

Hutchison was looking for $4 billion, but one of the two bidders only put in a $2 billion bid.

So on October 18, Hutchison surprised everyone again and scrapped the ParknShop sale, and announced it would start a review to maximize the value of the retail business.

While ParknShop looks like a nice supermarket, the fresh produce is shockingly bad. There were rumours that ParknShop didn't handle its produce well and housewives would complain that fruits and vegetables were regularly off because they weren't refrigerated in cold temperatures.

I myself have experienced two incidents where the eggs were off -- and one of the eggs contained a black yolk. Needless to say it stank badly and since then I have refused to buy eggs at ParknShop again. I have pretty much stopped buying fresh produce there.

The fruits and vegetables seem to be in a sad state there and so I resort to either shopping in the wet markets during the weekends or at competitor Wellcome, which has cornered 70 percent of Hong Kong's grocery market.

Seems like more of Li's sheen is rubbing off and fewer people are pleased with his business schemes to squeeze even more profits out of ordinary folk.

The man is 85 years old and according to Forbes, as of March Li is worth $31 billion. How much more money can he need?

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Chan's Focus on Hong Kong

Anson Chan Fang On-sang reminds us to protect Hong Kong's core values
Finally -- a voice of reason has spoken out. Former Chief Secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang has said that Hong Kong must "determine for itself" the role it plays in the development of China, and that it should not be content to be just another Chinese city.

She insists she is not "anti-China" but criticized those who seemed to blindly follow whatever Beijing wanted.

Chan said it was important for SAR leaders to safeguard Hong Kong's core values.

"What is best about Hong Kong is the fact that we are a pluralistic society, we are open, we are tolerant," she said. "But above all, we have proper regard for human dignity, for rights and freedoms and above all for the rule of law. These are Hong Kong's strengths and these strengths are what set Hong Kong apart from mainland China."

She warned that those who simply did what Beijing or the central government's liaison office wanted needed to reflect.

"They don't stop to think what is it that makes Hong Kong tick... We have neither the land nor the human resources, so where do we compete if not relying on our strengths?" Chan asked. "Why do business come here? Why are we the pre-eminent financial centre for China and not Shanghai and not Beijing?

Chan said those who had benefited from living and working in Hong Kong "owe a duty and a commitment to the general public" to protect its core values, because "for some of the richer people, they always have a choice, if things go wrong here, they can up and go".

"Hong Kong is our home, but it's our home for very specific reasons, we don't want to turn into another Chinese city," she said.

In light of the tensions between mainlanders and locals in the city, China says it is time to rethink the city's role being a part of China.

"I'm not anti-China. I fully respect 'one country, two systems', but I place equal emphasis on both one country and two systems," she said. "If you see things happening that are chipping away at 'one country, two systems' and eroding our rights and freedoms, then you have a duty to stand up and have the courage of your convictions, that's all I am doing."

When it comes to democracy, Chan says those "who have the ear of Beijing should impress upon them that the SAR's current constitutional framework needs reform such as genuine steps towards universal suffrage and the development of political parties to make Hong Kong stable," she said, adding that if this was not done, "Hong Kong will become increasingly ungovernable".

The Occupy Central movement led by associate law professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting is regarded as the last ditch attempt to force both the Hong Kong and central governments' hand in pushing through democracy for 2017. So far those against it have criticized it at every opportunity, but Chan says it would be better if the government tried to forge consensus and establish an electoral package that would be agreeable to all.

Where's the wolf Leung Chun-ying Hong Kong was scared of?
Reading Chan's comments helps focus Hong Kong back to where it should be. When we had the election for chief executive last year, we hoped Leung Chun-ying would be the better alternative to Henry Tang Ying-yen. We thought Leung would speak for the rest of us, and not the 1 percent that Tang represents.

We were wrong. Instead Leung is going through the motions of what Beijing and the Liaison Office want, and not thinking clearly about what is best for Hong Kong.

He is in a difficult position, but his plunging ratings show that he's not the smartest cookie in the city. He was described as a wolf, but really he seems like an obedient lamb.

Where's the wolf to protect Hong Kong's interests?

Monday, 28 October 2013

Mysterious Crash and Burn

A jeep bursts into flames right by the entrance to the Forbidden City
Something serious happened on the way to Tiananmen Square today, where a jeep went off the road and careened into a barrier and then exploded right in front of the Gate of Heavenly Peace, the entrance to the Forbidden City on Chang'An Avenue.

Three people died in the vehicle and the latest report is that two bystanders, a female tourist from the Philippines and one from Guangdong have also died, and 38 injured.

It's not immediately clear what happened -- if it was intentional or not -- but the location of the incident points to something that may have been planned.

In any event the police were totally prepared for incidents like this and immediately cleared the area, put up green shields to prevent any onlookers, forced the media to delete pictures from their cameras and cleaned up the scene so that tourists that came later had no clue what had just happened.

The Chinese authorities are trying to control the incident as much as possible and it will be interesting to see who they identify as the three people in the car. Some are already wondering if the car exploding into a fireball was another form of self-immolation. If so it raises this form of protest to another level...

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Farmers Market in Season

Island East Markets is a weekend event to eat snacks and buy organic veggies
This afternoon I checked out the Island East Markets in Quarry Bay, where booths are set up like a farmers' market. People can buy everything from organic produce to handmade soaps to crafts, baked goods sample wines. There's even some live entertainment if you don't mind Cantopop songs usually performed on TVB...

It was interesting to see the small selection of organic produce, such as lettuce, eggplant, tomatoes, onions, turnip... and then a few stalls selling a deep red, almost purple coloured flower called roselle or rosella flower, in Chinese 洛神花 (luo shen hua), a kind of hibiscus flower.

Fresh rosella flowers that are ideal for making jam
My relatives introduced me to it a few weeks ago when they bought a bag home from a market and I helped them peel the outer leaves called calyces to get the seed in the middle.

Then water was boiled to cook the seeds and after 10-15 minutes the concoction became quite thick. The seeds were taken out then the leaves were added back in to add the deep reddish-purple colour.

After simmering for a while the leaves disintegrated into the thick liquid and with a bit of sugar became a jam without the need of gelatin. It is tart, but not too sour and not too sweet either, and a bit fiberous. It works well as a syrup over vanilla ice cream, yogurt or even added to soda water for a refreshing drink.

The leaves when dried can also be boiled on its own to create a drink that's apparently good for lowering blood pressure and cholesterol as well as vitamin C. 

Rosella flowers are a kind of hibiscus that has health benefits
It's been such a hit at my relatives' place that they are getting creative and adding fruits like pineapple and Chinese pear into the jam.

Each week I visit them I'm a guinea pig taste testing a new concoction!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Who is Telling the Truth?

A screen shot of Chen Yongzhou making his "confession" on CCTV
Three days after The New Express made front-page appeals for the police to release one of its reporters, there's now a bizarre twist to the story.

Reporter Chen Yongzhou has now "confessed" to having been bribed to write negative stories about construction machinery manufacturer Zoomlion.

Chen made this "admission" on China Central Television where he explained the 10 articles he supposedly wrote about Zoomlion were not actually investigated, researched or even written by him, and yet he was paid thousands of yuan -- as long as his byline was used.

At one point, he made trips to Hong Kong and Beijing in June to meet up with regulatory authorities and report on Zoomlion's alleged fraudulent practices, according to the CCTV report. He apparently made 530,000 yuan for the two trips.

The identity of the third party that supplied him with the information and stories was not revealed in the TV program.

"I am willing to confess and repent my crimes, and I'd like to apologize to Zoomlion, its shareholders, the media groups whose credibility suffered [because of me] and my family," he said on the show.

After watching Chen's "confession", many are skeptical about the way it was done.

Zhu Xuedong, a prominent Beijing-based magazine editor wrote on his microblog that this incident should have been resolved through the courts, and added Chen's appearance on TV had the hallmarks of the "criticism and attack" sessions during the Cultural Revolution.

Another active microblogger Zuo Zhijian criticized the authorities' practice of "obtaining evidence through illegal means". "The job of law enforcement is to uphold social order, not to make us live in fear," he wrote on Sina Weibo.

One microblogger asked, "How could CCTV decide he is guilty even before he gets his trial? And how come CCTV was the only media outlet who was permitted to talk to him?"


Chen's "confession" has roused more questions than answers.

What is really going on? Who is telling the truth?

Where is the 530,000 yuan Chen supposedly received, and the thousands more in bribes? Did he buy a flat with the money? A new car?

More importantly -- is Chen still alive?

Friday, 25 October 2013

Picture of the Day: Fake Windows

Check out the windows on the side of the building
Ah, China... the land of the fake.

You can get everything fake, from designer handbags and clothing to furniture. It even extends to fake food, from soy sauce and black sea moss to even eggs. How you even make fake eggs and make a profit doing that is nuts.

And so we love this picture of an apartment building in Qingdao, Shandong province where windows have been painted on the side of the building to enhance the aesthetics of this low-cost accommodation than to fool potential buyers.

While some wondered if government officials were cutting corners to save money, others queried if it was the builders trying to cheat the authorities to increase profits.

But local officials said the painted windows were there to decoration and that they were painted where the elevator shafts are.
The windows are artistically painted, but aren't functional

However the latest now is that the authorities have asked the developers to rectify the painted windows as they have been "misunderstood" and caused "an adverse social effect".

Too bad. It was going to become the next tourist attraction in Qingdao...

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Please, Release Him

The New Express calling for the release of Chen Yongzhou again
For the second time in two days, a Chinese paper in Guangzhou has called for the release of one of its staff from police detention.

On the front page of The New Express it says "再请放他" or "Again, Please release him", referring to Chen Yongzhou who was taken away by police last Friday and has not been heard from since.

He had written about a construction equipment company called Zoomlion that is partly owned by the Hunan provincial government. After one of several articles Chen wrote, Zoomlion issued a statement claiming that the story improperly accounted for sales, causing its shares to drop.

In a statement to the Hong Kong Exchange in late May, the company described the claims as "false, groundless and misleading".

Yesterday the newspaper's front page read: "Please release him" and since then many other well known media people such as commentator Li Chengpeng and Global Times Editor-in-Chief Hu Xijin have called for Chen's release as well as many other Chinese major state media papers.

Even the State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television issued a statement saying it was "very concerned" about Chen's detention, as well as China's publishing regulator, the General Association of Press and Publishing.

Chen is being held in a detention centre in Changsha, Hunan province, on charges of "damaging the commercial reputation" of Zoomlion. The company said it filed a police report on Wednesday, arguing his investigative reports alleging financial fraud was incorrect and damaged Zoomlion's reputation.

The police say they will be pursuing the case, while the media have been placed on a gag order, and tens of thousands of comments on microblogs have already been deleted.

This case will be interesting to watch because if Chen's reports are correct, it will be pitting journalistic integrity against Zoomlion's guanxi to see who will win out in the end. It seems the company is trying to strong arm Chen into surrendering, but with so much media support for him, there will be pressure for the authorities to play by the rules.

We hope Chen is mentally strong and knows there are others out there trying to help him at least have a fair hearing in the court of public opinion.

We need more courageous journalists like him to root out the truth and more bold media outlets like The New Express to help us know what's really going on in China.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Shameless Self Promoter

Getting some boob action during a group dinner and getting paid for it too
We cannot help but be simultaneously amused and disgusted in reading that a Jianxi businessman paid 100,000 yuan ($16,443) to be breastfed by actress and model Mo Lulu.

The monetary proposal was made during a group dinner and she actually accepted, hence the pictures of a man's head under her black top.

Mo is no stranger to controversy. In September, there were pictures online showing men eating mooncakes off her nude body, and then last Friday she posed next to luxury cars at the Jiujiang Auto Show scantily clad in lingerie. Then she lay on the stage and allowed people to place fruits on her body.

The woman really knows how to get attention. And by the way the boobs look enhanced, while her body needs some workouts. She isn't that attractive so why are men going all gaga over her?

Needless to say comments online were scathing, ranging from "Your mother is young, just like your daughter" to "Doesn't this count as prostitution in public? What is the police department doing?"

Back to my old saying - T-I-C: This is China. Anything goes. ANYTHING.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Grinding the Wrong Way

A Xingbake or Starbucks on Qianmen Street in Beijing
Chinese state media are usually united on issues. They take the same stand suggested by the government and then go of on their own tangents, but they are basically taking the same line.

However, it is just as amusing when they start criticizing each other.

A few days ago China Central Television presented a scathing report on Starbucks, saying it had "hefty product prices" on the mainland compared to other international cities.

It said that the price of a 354ml cafe latte in Beijing cost 27 yuan ($4.43), higher than in London (24.25 yuan), Chicago (19.98 yuan) and Mumbai (14.60 yuan).

The program interviewed the chairman of the Coffee Association of Shanghai, who estimated that a tall cafe latte cost less than 5 yuan to make, and that Starbucks' 32 percent profit margin in the China/Asia Pacific region in the second quarter was higher than in other regions.

Reports like this fan the flames of economic nationalism, but not to the point of last year's torching of Japanese cars and trashing Japanese restaurants because of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Island dispute flared up again.

Nevertheless, the report on Starbucks follows criticism of Apple, with complaints about its warranties and customer service, and then Fonterra's baby milk powder being contaminated.

While all state media were on board with Apple and Fonterra, they didn't go along with CCTV on Starbucks.

Some internet users suggested CCTV go after state-owned enterprises that profit from practically having monopolies on the market, that not only sell expensive products but also have shoddy service.

People's Daily didn't seem impressed with CCTV's report. "Other than coffee, what else is more expensive in China than overseas?" it asked on its Sina Weibo account. It then answered its own question that listed such items houses, cars, medical expenses and education fees.

Seems CCTV will have to crawl back to its corner with its tail between its legs and wait for an Alpha dog to take the lead to avoid making the same mistake again.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Not Just About TV

Tens of thousands showed their displeasure at the government on Sunday
The media was expecting a few thousand people to show up on Sunday afternoon to protest the Hong Kong government's rejection of Hong Kong Television Network's free-to-air license application. But in the end there were tens of thousands, with police saying the turnout peaked at 36,000.

The protesters dressed in black to illustrate what they saw as the darkest weeks for the city's media industry. Not only were they protesting the government's decision, but also calling for the preservation of Hong Kong's core values.

After marching from Causeway Bay to Tamar, the protesters were joined by former HKTV employees, some of whom took turns to make speeches.

Actor Frankie Lam Man-lung of HKTV said the commerce secretary owed the public an explanation.

"Tell me why we were disqualified. Let us work harder to improve. I just want to do my job properly. I do now want to know that I failed without a reason," Lam said teary-eyed. "I do not know whether there is still hope in Hong kong, and if there is any need to work hard any more."

Some of the protesters admitted they didn't watch much TV now, but felt the government's decision went beyond the medium. "The government has given me the feeling that it doesn't care about what the general public thinks -- it didn't even bother to explain its decision," said Philip Wong, a retiree.

Interestingly this protest comes a year after the 10-day standoff on the issue of national education, where tens of thousands descended on Tamar and cross their arms as a sign they did not want to be taught propaganda in schools. As a result the government backed down -- for now.

This insistence on following Beijing's orders doesn't sit well at all with Hong Kongers who can see right through the intentions.

"The government, including the People's Republic of China government, want to control the media and to manipulate the mindset of us so they can format a group of new Hong Kong people who only know to follow their instructions," said Stephanie Tang, a 33-year-old freelancer who was in the demonstrations yesterday. "We want to tell the PRC that the Hong Kong people are not idiots. Don't cheat us."

But it is the Hong Kong government that is cheating us -- it is not looking after Hong Kong interests for Hong Kong people.

That is the bitter pill the public must swallow, regardless of the promised benefits. We are trying to refuse the pill even though the government is trying to force it down our throats.

It's a sad reality to see the Hong Kong government allowing the "mainlandization" of Hong Kong so easily, and so soon after the handover. But as long as we show our displeasure in numbers, Beijing cannot ignore us and our demands. We must continue our fight to keep Hong Kong the way we want it to be.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Gourmet Treats

All nine cheeses waiting to be savoured with passion fruit jam and bread
My friend Marc from Singapore is here for a few days and since he loves cheese, I thought I'd take him to Caprice Bar in the Four Seasons Hong Kong which has an amazing cheese selection.

As the bar doesn't take reservations we arrived just around 6pm and managed to get one of the prime seats looking over Victoria Harbour. It was great to see the ferries coming in and out of the terminals, while also seeing the digital display on the ICC building.

The main event was the cheeses and we chose the menu item "A little bit of everything". Caprice manager Jeremy Evrard asked us what our preferences were (goat cheese, soft cheeses, blue cheese) and then they were paired with three wines for Marc and a Riesling from Alsace for me that was crisp and had a lot of minerality.

After a bit of a wait our cheese platter arrived on a carved piece of wood and Marc was instantly transported to fromage heaven.

Evrard took time to explain each cheese for us, from left to right, telling us stories about each cheese, its provenance and a hint of each of their tastes. For example Pave de la Ginestaire and Le Colagne were from south west of France near Toulouse, both very creamy, though the latter didn't have much character.

The Prerail had a strong animal flavour from the sheep, and Comte (aged four years) was salty and complex that went well with white wine made like a Sherry to balance the flavour. We liked the Munster cheese, but to finish the platter, the blue cheese of Fourme D'Ambert had a clean finish -- creamy with a slightly harder texture, and the blue cheese taste.

The cheeses were complemented with a yummy passionfruit jam and an assortment of breads and crackers.

Needless to say Marc enjoyed the entire experience -- not only learning more about the cheeses, but also the pairings and savouring each taste. He would go back and forth between the cheeses, deciding which ones he liked best.

Indulging in seven flavours of macarons from Pierre Herme
After our fill of cheese, Marc felt we should have a bit of sweetness, so we headed to Pierre Herme for some macarons.

We were obliged to buy a box of seven for HK$210 and fill it with whatever flavours we liked. The array of macarons was so mesmerizing it was difficult to decide which ones to try.

In the end we chose: salted butter caramel; Mogador -- milk chocolate and passion fruit; green coffee and refined Bourbon coffee from Reunion; Envie -- vanilla, violet and blackcurrant; rose, lychee and raspberry; chocolate and smoked salt; and lemon and flaky hazelnut praline.

We took them home and they were safely, but they were packaged such that it was difficult to get the macarons out without ruining their shells! The shells were too delicate to handle -- we preferred if they were a bit harder and crunchier, but the flavours of each of them were unique and memorable.

Our favourites were Mogador with the strong passion fruit flavour, the black currant in Envie, salted butter caramel goes without saying, and the various textures in the lemon and flaky hazelnut praline. The green coffee did had a subtle coffee after taste, though we couldn't really taste the smoked salt in the chocolate one.

Marc had wanted to save a few macarons for the morning, but I couldn't wait -- why wait?! I couldn't imagine them lasting overnight in the fridge. So we finished them, enjoying every bite.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Red-Faced Hong Kong

Hollywood director Michael Bay is in Hong Kong filming Transformers 4
This morning some friends woke up very early and wandered around Central to find director Michael Bay shooting Transformers 4 in Hong Kong.

They did find him at Chater Garden and took some snaps that were uploaded on Facebook.

Later in the afternoon I just happened to see a small crew huddled in a corner across from the Bank of China building with lots of uniformed police standing around.

We're assuming there's more security after Bay, 48, was attacked by two locals trying to extort money from him in Quarry Bay earlier this week.

On his blog, Bay explained that every vendor who is inconvenienced by the filming is compensated "a fair price", but then two men made filming difficult by creating lots of noise on the set or purposely bumping into the stars.

Bay says the two demanded four times the amount of compensation and he personally refused to pay them more.

"He didn't like that answer. So an hour later he came by my crew as we were shooting, carrying a long air conditioner unit," blogged the director.

"He walked right up to me and tried to smack my face, but I ducked, threw the air unit on the floor and pushed him away."

Bay then said security tried to subdue the man, but Bay says it took seven men to do this, suggesting the extortionist was drugged up. "It was like a Zombie in Brad Pitt's movie World War Z."

Then according to Bay, the perpetrator lifted seven men and even bit into one of the guard's shoes. In the end it took 15 policemen in riot gear to control the situation.

A police spokeswoman said two brothers surnamed Mak, 27 and 28, approached Bay and demanded HK$100,000 ($12,900).

It was the elder brother who attacked Bay and was arrested on suspicion of assault, while the younger Mak was arrested for suspicion of blackmail and assault.

Bay suffered minor injuries on the right side of his face from the attack and refused medical treatment.

At the end of his blog post, Bay wrote, "After that, we had a great day shooting here in Hong Kong."

Incidents like these are so embarrassing for Hong Kong. We have ambassadors like Andy Lau Tak-wah trying to promote the city as fun and exotic, but then the positive images are thrown by the wayside when a few rotten apples crop up.

Perhaps the Hong Kong Tourism Board is bending over backwards for Bay and his crew in order to ensure this doesn't happen again. And if it isn't, it should -- We can't afford the negative publicity.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Populist Underdog

We will have to wait and see what HKTV chairman Ricky Wong does next
Move over, Li Ka-shing, there's a new hero in town.

Hong Kongers have found a new underdog to support and it's Ricky Wong Wai-kay, 50, Hong Kong Television Network chairman whose application for a new free-to-air TV license was rejected by the government earlier this week.

Instead it was given to i-Cable's Fantastic Television and PCCW's HK Television Entertainment, both run by established tycoons, Peter Woo Kwong-ching and Richard Li Tzar-kai, son of Li Ka-shing respectively.

In 2009 Wong was encouraged to apply by a senior government official who he refuses to name, and was never told only two licenses would be handed out; nor was Wong's application considered the weakest of the three.

On Tuesday, about 15 minutes before the formal announcement, Wong received a call that his application was rejected without any proper explanation. He then held a press conference in which he voiced his anger, saying the whole decision-making process was opaque and is now seeking a possible judicial review.

After that he gave lay-off notices to 320 of 500 staff effective at the end of this month.

Many of the public were outraged by HKTV's rejected application, and they immediately setup a Facebook page supporting Wong and calling the government to issue HKTV a license. It was also a way for them to show their concern about the government's fairness in its decision. Some 400,000 people liked the page.

And then last night Wong showed up at an open-air forum at Chinese University -- his alma mater -- and was overwhelmed to see some 2,000 students and teachers eager to listen to him.

Reports described Wong as having tears in his eyes to see such strong support that it inspired him to continue to commit himself to creative industries.

Even though there is a protest march organized for this Sunday, Wong said he would not participate. "I can bring more benefits to people as a businessman," he said. "I am not a fighter for democracy."

He then displayed his dry sense of humour. When asked if he would buy ATV, one of the existing free-to-air stations, he replied his preference for buying flats. He said one had to worry about things not working and rats when buying a second-hand flat, which is why he preferred a clean, new one.

Wong also mocked the government, saying, "I don't understand how they do their public relations... they should provide a simple explanation for the rejection and start damage control."

Then a student asked him how he would deal with calls from "grandpa", a nickname for the central government, Wong replied that his grandfather had died many years ago.

When asked whether TVB, the other existing free-to-air station should worry about not having its license renewed, Wong sarcastically said, "TVB's news programs are so good. They shouldn't worry."

Some critics hypothesize Wong didn't get the license because the government feared he would not support it or the central government, while others worried about the erosion of the city's free market.

Nevertheless, Hong Kong people have propped up Wong as its new underdog to root for. To them he stands for justice, creativity and brashness. As long as he keeps fighting, the public will support him.

They are the ones who wanted better TV programs, but it seems the government would rather have more mindless entertainment on the airwaves.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Dining in Tai Wai

Fung Lum's signature dish of stuff tofu that is panfried served with soy sauce
I just got back from dinner in Tai Wai with YTSL and another friend. Tai Wai is not a place I usually stop over in and so it was all new to me -- from the modern-looking, high-ceilinged KCR station to the pretty good restaurants in the area.

YTSL took us to a place called Fung Lum , a short walking distance from the KCR station.

It proudly displays its Michelin Bib Gourmand recommendation on the door for the past few years now... so is it that good?

The roast pigeon is highly recommended here
Inside it's a typical old-school restaurant, with old fashioned decor, like Chinese wood carvings at the back, the waiters are old men with attitudes and some regulars wash their bowls, cups, dishes and chopsticks with tea.

Of all the tables, ours was the smallest, as every other table seemed to have a large gathering or at least four people.

Luckily part of the menu is in English, but we knew what we wanted to order: Fung Lum is famous for its roast pigeon, and its signature tofu dish that is stuffed and pan-fried. We also asked for braised pomelo skin with shrimp roe, and kale with a variety of mushrooms.

Soon after we ordered, the pigeon arrived, cut into quarters complete with the head covered by a shrimp chip. The pigeon was delicious, very juicy and meaty.

A standard dish of kale with mixed mushrooms
Then came the tofu dish that we all enjoyed. The thick slices of tofu were quite meaty in themselves, stuffed with some shrimp paste and then panfried and served in a pool of light soy sauce.

Then came the kale with mushrooms that was straightforward and not too special. However the braised pomelo skin came out a bit flat, the colour was pale and tasted salty. The pomelo skin was sprinkled with shrimp roe after the pieces were placed on top of each on the the dish.

Braised pomelo skin is a good test of a restaurant, and while we applaud this place for making this labour-intensive dish, I've had better elsewhere.

Braised pomelo skin with shrimp roe
Nevertheless, there was nothing to complain about the bill which came to HK$483 for the three of us.

A table next to us ordered claypot rice with Chinese sausages and YTSL was pining after it. Next time!

Fung Lum Restaurant
45-47 Tsuen Nam Road
Tai Wai
New Territories
2692 1175

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Unwarranted Attacks

Lee Kai-fu is a brilliant tech innovator who established Google China
Lee Kai-fu is an influential man in China. He was the former head of Google China and after he left the search engine (and just before its troubles with the Chinese government began), he became a venture capitalist with Innovation Works funding start ups. The 51-year-old pretty much speaks his mind, particularly on how restricting China's controls are on the internet.

Born in Taiwan, Lee studied in the United States, worked at Apple and then moved to China in 1998 with Microsoft, then founded Google China, and the mainland has claimed him as one of their own, and through social media, people listen to what he says because he has almost 52 million followers on Sina Weibo. That's more than the population of Spain and Canada.

But last month Lee abruptly announced that he had lymphoma and would go home to Taiwan to receive treatment.

Many of his fans were upset, and posted messages of encouragement and best wishes for a healthy recovery.

However now Lee is on the receiving end of scathing attacks thanks to a recent post by Zhou Xiaoping, who wrote an article in a magazine by the Chinese Communist Party's Propaganda Department.

Among his criticisms, Zhou says Lee faked his cancer diagnosis so that he could go back to Taiwan, and that he is a "loser" because he favours the public harassment of girls.

The article is called "Zhou Xiaoping's 10 Questions for Lee Kai-fu". Some of the questions are:

  • did evil for many years, with backdoor programs that stole netizens' information, and bank and credit card information. As the head of the company at the time, how do you see that?
  • What is your real connection to Taiwan and Tibetan independence forces?
  • Why are the young people whom you favour "those who hate the motherland?

The interesting thing is that this article, which was first published in Dangjian magazine last week now has a life of its own, republished in several Chinese internet portals. The strange thing is that no one really knows who Zhou is, and yet he's allowed to be unleashed like a wild cannon making unsubstantiated criticisms.

Some China analysts are speculating the attacks have been given blessings from higher ups and is an attempt to silence what are called "Big Vs", or influential people on social media sites as a way to control them and the opinions they post.

One recent example is Chinese American venture capitalist billionaire Charles Xue who was charged with having sex with a prostitute, and for this he was shown on television in orange prison garb confessing to this transgression. Which other businessmen have not had their frolics with hookers in China?

In any event, Lee has not responded to this vicious attack on him, which he could sue for libel, but this doesn't carry much weight in China. Lee's assistant has said his boss is sick and should focus on his treatment.

It is chilling but also sad to see the senior leadership condoning these personal attacks after all Lee has done for China and the Chinese diaspora.

You never really know what side you're on with Beijing despite years of cultivating relationships -- it can change its mind about you in a blink of an eye and you'll never know why.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Baby Boom or Bust?

How can Hong Kong have more babies? Anyone have any answers?
The Hong Kong government thinks throwing money at a problem -- any problem -- will solve it.

But we don't think it's going to work when it comes to making babies.

The government is concerned about the rapidly aging population and hopes to counteract it (a bit late now) with a baby boom.

There will soon be a four-month public consultation about the issue and among the ideas is a cash handout for couples who have children, and tax rebates for family-friendly companies.

A member of the steering committee on population policy is Paul Yip Siu-fai, a demographics expert at the University of Hong Kong. He says women in Hong Kong want to have a child, but that "it is social barriers that deter them from having one".

Other committee members said they would suggest financial incentives like the ones in Singapore and Canada: cash bonuses depending on how many children they had and government subsidies.

Another idea was for employers to pay for childcare services for their workers and paid parental leave for employees to visit their children's schools and improve access to reproductive treatment.

But are these really incentives to get women to bear children?

Some couples would like to have children, but not have their offspring grow up in a polluted and cramped environment, or start going to pre-school at the age of one-and-a-half, enroll them in six different activities after school and constantly worry if they are academically good enough to get into good schools and universities.

There is also the issue of couples wanting to make sure they have enough money to have a child in the first place, particularly if they have enough room in their flat or have the means to upgrade to a larger place with a growing child or children.

Definitely the work culture in Hong Kong has to change too, as maternity leave is about three months, whereas in Canada it's a year. These days people work later and later... when can they have time to spend with their child? It's much like having a dog. Why have a pet when you're not there most of the time?

The government has the wrong mindset if it thinks money will solve the issue here. It's much broader than that: It's the entire society and culture. Until the government takes the lead and forces reforms and ensures they are enforced, Hong Kong's birth rate will continue to fall, no matter how many financial incentives there are.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Scraping for Criticism

How's this for a seating arrangement for two leaders on the sidelines of APEC?
Henry Tang Ying-yen continues to try to hog the limelight wherever possible to prove he could have been the better man for the Chief Executive job.

On October 7 Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying attended the APEC summit in Bali and on the sidelines had a meeting with Philippine President Benigno Aquino.

It was obvious Leung was pressing for an apology three years after eight Hong Kongers were killed and seven injured in a horrific hostage-taking tragedy in Manilla.

However, Aquino refused to do so, saying a lone gunman, former policeman Rolando Mendoza was to blame.

"We're taking a small step in the right direction, [but] I don't think anyone should overpromise the results of further dialogue between Hong Kong and the Philippines," Leung said.

Almost a week later Tang criticizes his foe in his lack of experience in diplomacy matters.

"I think Leung is a smart person. He will learn a lesson from it and become smarter in future," the former chief secretary said.

Tang is pointing out that during the meeting, Aquino sat on his own, while to his right, Leung and two of his aides sat on a couch.

Academics point out this seating arrangement contradicted diplomatic norms, where leaders sit side by side even when both are not state leaders.

"Hong Kong and the Philippines are both members of APEC and they have equal status," Tang said. "The government should have been able to avoid this embarrassment."

However, none of us were in the room at the time, and there is also the possibility the Balinese hosts did not give them a proper room to have formal discussions.

Nevertheless, days after the botched meeting, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang put pressure on Aquino to resolve the row over the hostage tragedy, taking the discussions to a higher level and led to some kind of breakthrough.

Li said the incident had "dragged on for long" enough and had "affected the feelings of the people of China, especially the compatriots in Hong Kong". He added he hoped the Philippine government would resolve the incident reasonably and fairly.

Aquino agreed ministerial meetings should take place soon, but again refused to apologize.

While we are hopeful the victims and survivors of the incident will finally bring some kind of closure, it is annoying to see Tang trying to prove he could have done a better job in resolving the crisis.

Why is he saying Leung isn't doing a good job when Tang himself was in government at the time... as chief secretary, what did he do to demand an end to the incident?

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Visit to Cheung Chau

We took the Xin Fei or "New Flight" over to Cheung Chau
After shaming me for not having ever visited Cheung Chau in the combined 10 years I've lived in Hong Kong, YTSL finally took me there with two other friends.

Lots of trinkets for sale including Cheung Chau "buns"
We took the 12.15 ferry over and tried to sit out in the back but there were no more seats and when we tried to take the plastic chairs from inside, we discovered they were bolted down -- probably to prevent them from falling overboard.

Many people like visiting this outlying island because it's not too developed though in recent years more and more people come to hang out particularly on the weekends and special events like the Cheung Chau Bun Festival.

Thankfully the humidity has dropped in the last few weeks so it was very pleasant to walk around despite it hovering around 30 degrees. From the ferry pier we walked to the left and along the praya saw many small shops selling Cheung Chau bun coin bags, cushions and key chains, fish pockets made of fabric and dried seafood.

Our steamed fish that cost HK$100!
Further down were a series of restaurants, mostly offering seafood on the menu. We headed to YTSL's favourite eatery here and promptly ordered lots of food: Steamed fish, squid stir-fried with garlic, steamed prawns with chillis and soy sauce, seafood soup, a plate of tong choi and some deep-fried vegetable wrap with mayonnaise that she raved about.

Everything was pretty good, particularly the seafood soup that included fish, that made the broth sweet, as well as tofu, mushrooms and some small vegetables. The steamed fish was only slightly overcooked, while the prawns and squid were fine. Deep-fried vegetables dipped in mayonnaise weren't my thing so YTSL had my share...

Cooked chickens hanging out on the way to the beach
We were pretty full with rice and a bottle of beer and amazed that the bill came to HK$410.

To walk off our lunch, we headed towards the beach and saw a few temples, large and small along the way, as well as some chickens hanging about...

The beach wasn't crowded but had many people taking in the sunshine and kids making sand castles. There were also some people para-surfing, which looked like a total body workout. Further down the beach is an area where Olympic gold medallist Lee Lai-shan's uncle has a windsurfing school and there are windsurfing memorial parks, with the word "memorial" a bit strange...

A para surfer catching some strong winds
Around the corner was a snack street and here people were snapping up all kinds of traditional Chinese puddings, or next door was an intriguing potato chip on a stick -- a potato peeled in such a way that the swirls wrapped around a stick and were deep-fried and customers could add their own toppings. There was also frozen fruit on a stick, or popsicles made with watermelon juice and a few bits of fruit inside it too.

We walked back towards the ferry pier and in the square there was a massive line up for fish balls, apparently the most famous shop on the island. I've heard mixed reviews, some saying they're fantastic, others that the fish balls are nothing special. But there were so many people in line so you have to wonder...

A cute little fire services truck going past the ferry pier
It was already 3.45pm when we boarded the fast ferry back to Central. I'm sure there's many other parts of the island I still need to explore, but it was enough to give me an idea of why people love the place (laid back and quiet). Though I have to say my favourite was seeing the small ambulance and fire truck! Almost like toy cars!

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Picture of the Day: New Iconic

Christy Turlington strikes a pose in this billboard that tries to be iconic...
The misuse or abuse of words is rampant, particularly in Hong Kong.

In China, whenever something is described as "renowned", I avoided it like the plague.

And in Hong Kong, the favourite word is "iconic".

Everything is "iconic". Even a young actress or singer is "iconic".

How can they be "iconic" when they have just started their careers? Or are they foreshadowing something?!

The other day when I was in Causeway Bay I spotted this giant billboard as I crossed Hennessy Road from Sogo towards Times Square.

At first I noticed it was model Christy Turlington -- who still has a hot body at 44 in a sultry but uncomfortable pose modeling some lingerie.

And then I read the ad which says:

"Calvin Klein Underwear: Iconic new bras. Re-imagined for every woman."

But how can something iconic be new and vice versa?

Or shall we say it's ironic?

Friday, 11 October 2013

Getting a Rush

The movie poster for Rush, directed by Ron Howard
My friend YTSL suggested we check out the Ron Howard movie Rush, about the rivalry between two F1 drivers, Briton James Hunt and Austrian Niki Lauda in 1976.

Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl play the rival F1 drivers
The dramatization of this particular year in racing gives the audience an insight into what it takes to be a race car driver, the money and politics behind it, as well as a fantastic character study of the two main characters.

Hunt, played by Chris Hemsworth, is a free-spirited rebellious young man, who likes to party and is a womanizer who apparently bedded 5,000 women. He doesn't necessarily know all the technical mechanics behind the car, but he definitely knows how to drive it and fast.

Meanwhile Daniel Bruhl is Lauda, who is also a rebel in his own way, but is the complete opposite of Hunt -- calculated, technical, disciplined and a downer. He knows how to make a car run faster, though he is such a loner he has no friends -- even his mechanics shun him.

Niki Lauda with the scars of his accident
However, things change when Lauda's car crashes and he has severe burns on his face and body that everyone thinks he's going to die. However his sheer willpower to withstand the utterly painful changing of the gauze on his burns and vacuuming his lungs show his determination to get back on the track, which makes the audience have sympathy and respect for Lauda.

The movie can be loud, but it gets viewers right into the atmosphere and action. The racing scenes right from the drivers' seat are amazing and combined with the music gets the heart racing...

At the end we are reminded Rush is the true story of two people, and actual footage of Hunt and Lauda are shown. It seems Hunt craved speed not only on the track but in his personal life as well, and as a result crashed and burned at the age of 45.

Driver James Hunt died young at 45
Lauda, on the other hand, is still alive, curt and blunt at 64, the scars of his accident still there.

If you have a need for speed, watch this film -- but there's also an intelligent side to it -- showing two self-made men who were driven by their obsessions.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

"New Hong Kongers"

Actress Tang Wei gained Hong Kong residency in 2009
The motherland has decided that Hong Kong needs more mainland migrants to further develop the city, according to the People's Daily.

Yesterday's commentary was 1,600 words long and described the migrants as "new Hong Kongers", with a photo of actress Tang Wei who obtained Hong Kong residency in 2009 from the quality migrant scheme.

Can we interject as Tang got residency because she could work on the mainland after she was lambasted for her traitorous character in Lust, Caution? And can we remind China that it's just a movie based on a short story?

Perhaps a photo of pianist Lang Lang or Li Yundi would have been better examples...

Then the article claims, "Most of [the new migrants] earn their own living rather than relying on social security. Some of them are absorbed to become the city's new elites.

"But while mainlanders today are no longer seen as 'Ah Chaan' [a derogatory nickname for their shabby looks], they become feared 'locusts'," the commentary added.

"Time and wisdom are needed to understand and reconcile the differences," adding that Hong Kong people had "a sense of anxiety" with Shanghai's rise as a financial centre.

This is completely ridiculous because while Shanghai has the hardware with gleaming skyscrapers, its banking system has yet to become transparent and the yuan fully convertible. Until that happens, Hong Kong isn't quaking in its boots yet.

The article concludes with Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor saying mainland migrants were an important source of Hong Kong's population growth. Did she really say that or are her words being spun here?

According to Hong Kong University economics professor Richard Wong Yue-chim, an overwhelming number come here for family reunions, and so those "who marry spouses across the border tend to be less educated and less skilled... the quality of the population has gone down since the 1990s".

In any event you can probably tell we are not impressed by the propagandist commentary.

Hong Kong has always been a city of migrants -- in particular a place of refuge from the Communists -- so are these mainland migrants fleeing China too?

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Quick-Change Artist

The animated version of Mona Lisa
We just got back from an entertaining evening by Ennio Marchetto: The Living Paper Cartoon at the Academy for Performing Arts.

Not knowing what to expect, we were a) intrigued b) surprised and c) weirded out when we saw a man in a black lycra suit (with fantastic legs) doing some fun renditions and lip-synching of famous pop stars and celebrities with only some cardboard costumes that stuck to his head and body.

For example, he came out as the Mona Lisa complete with picture frame, and made hilarious faces at the audience. In another artistic segment, he was Venus de Milo, wondering why she couldn't move her arms.

Marchetto as Marilyn Monroe in her halter dress
Marchetto proved himself deft at portraying such people as Cher and Dolly Parton (complete with pendulous breasts) sitting astride a donkey, and Justin Bieber and Rhianna, Madonna (with conical corset) and Stevie Wonder complete with rainbow braided locks, shades and a keyboard.

We loved Marchetto coming out as Queen Elizabeth II, giving the ubiquitous royal wave and carrying a handbag, and then immediately transformed himself into Freddie Mercury.

It was these "magic tricks" that kept audiences guessing what would be next. And he was non-stop for about an hour, doing one rendition after another, each with a slight twist.

Another favourite was the one of Celine Dion singing My Heart Will Go On from Titanic, and Marchetto comes out with a mane of blond hair and dress, that soon transforms into the giant ill-fated cruise liner and then whips out paper dolls of Rose and Jack, puts them at the bow of the ship and then throw them overboard!

Voguing as Madonna complete with conical corset
His one tribute to Hong Kong was Hero Story, the theme song from Police Story, doing some kung fu and throwing his fist through a "pile of rocks" made of paper. Nevertheless we were impressed he did lip synch the words in Cantonese.

What made Marchetto's act great were his costumes, these paper outfits that were artistically made, but also engineered to fold ingeniously to reveal new characters and items, like thermometers used in the song Fever.

This is Marchetto's fourth visit to Hong Kong, and the opening night had some loyal fans in the audience. What's interesting to note is that Marchetto is 53 and he's been doing this act -- variations of characters -- for about 25 years.

A heavy-set Dolly Parton riding a donkey...
One has to wonder what he was like growing up as a kid -- did he like dress up? He was inspired by the animation of Walt Disney, the choreography of Pina Bausch and mime performer Lindsay Kemp. Marchetto performed for many years at the Venetian Carnival and then got his big break in 1989 at the Edinburgh Fringe and has been a cult hit ever since.

So even though it's not exactly high art, it's great entertainment and makes one appreciate someone who has the guts to go it alone on stage non stop for an hour.

Ennio Marchetto: The Living Paper Cartoon
Until October 13
Drama Theatre, The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Trying to Milk Political Points

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key with Chinese President Xi Jinping
Chinese President Xi Jinping is at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Nusa Dua, Indonesia along with many other top leaders in the region. Most notably absent is American President Barack Obama due to the government shut down. Secretary of State John Kerry came in his place instead, but was relegated to the back in the photo call.

It's pretty telling how the US shutdown is perceived elsewhere...

Meanwhile, Xi hasn't been let off the hook easily by the citizens of his own country when he took the opportunity to berate New Zealand Prime Minister John Key about food safety.

According to Xinhua, Xi reminded Key that food safety mattered to people's health and "urged New Zealand to take tough measures to ensure food quality and thus maintain the sound momentum of economic and trade cooperation between the two countries".

People back in China are inundated with monthly reports on domestic food scandals and so for Xi to say this resulted in a collective face-palm.

"The entire country is laughing," wrote a Sina Weibo user.

Xi said this after New Zealand's largest dairy exporter Fonterra had some of its products banned in China earlier this year because of concerns over bacterial contamination. This resulted in extensive recalls, that impacted the New Zealand dollar and caused Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings to issue an apology.

But can we point out the Chinese domestic dairy industry is in an even worse situation?

Five years after melamine was found in baby milk powder after the Beijing Olympics where at least six children died, China still hasn't sorted out the industry, streamlining how raw milk is collected to pasteurized and then distributed. It also hasn't enforced inspections and established an effective system of checks and balances.

More importantly the lack of trust in the government has meant parents continue to go outside of China to buy milk powder, creating havoc in their demand for above board food for their babies.

So why does Xi even dare to castigate New Zealand?

It's a political ploy everyone can see right through.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Drawing Some Fun

Comix Bubble on the left is Comix Home Base's official mascot
Last week YTSL and I had dinner at Tai Hing in Wan Chai and we ordered the five-spice chicken (leftovers the next day), broccoli and rice made in individual clay pot bowls.

Afterwards there was a sprinkling of rain and we wandered to the nearby Comix Home Base on Burrows and Mallory streets. It is located in a series of pre-war tenement shop houses built around 1910.

Comix Home Base is located in renovated shop houses
Now they are reworked, keeping most of the facade and the structural beams and integrated with modern architectural elements to create new spaces which is fantastic. The shop houses are connected by steel walkways and the way it's designed encourages visitors to walk through every floor (when you start from the top).

One would have thought since Hong Kong is a place that loves comics so much that there would already be some kind of comics museum -- but this is the first one opened in July, a joint project between Hong Kong Arts Centre and Urban Renewal Authority.

It is hoped that Comix Home Base will be the centre for people in the industry to connect and also for fans to have a place to share their interest, as there's even a comic book reading room that also acts as a good resource.

Currently on display is "Tribute to Masters Series: The Birth of a Hero -- Exhibition of Ma Wing-shing's Comics Works". Ma is considered one of Hong Kong's best comics artists and is best known for his Storm Riders and Chinese Hero series. I don't know much about them, but know that Ekin Cheng and Aaron Kwok starred in the movie version of Storm Riders, with the flowing locks and determined look on their faces.

Ma Wing-shing's fluid ink drawing is like a work of art
We got to see draft story boards of Ma's comics as well as concept drawings that are practically works of art on their own. His deft use of ink and brush show he's not just a comic book artist.

There were also many small working models of the various characters he has created as well as a series of weapons -- swords that one wouldn't want to be impaled with...

At the end there's a small room where visitors can make their own drawings, and there were some fantastic ones pinned up on the wall, proving Hong Kongers are very much into comics. There were also some stamps people could use too for fun.

The interior of Comix Home Base
However we arrived at Comix Home Base late and there was only 15 minutes left when a staff member encouraged me to draw something. I said that there were only 15 minutes left and I couldn't think of anything to draw since there was such a short time left!

Nevertheless this is a cool new place to take out-of-town guests, and comics fans to show some local culture. We particularly love the mascot, Comix Bubble, a black bubble character made from ink with a few drips behind him. Hopefully we'll see him star in a few things too!