Thursday, 31 July 2014

Another Uyghur Setback

What are the chances of Ilham Tohti getting a fair trial on separatism charges?
On the same day it was announced there was an investigation into Zhou Yongkang, there was also news that Uyghur academic and rights activist Ilham Tohti was formally charged with separatism and that his trial could start within weeks.

The prosecutor's office in the Xinjiang capital Urumqi made a brief online statement yesterday.

Tohti has been detained since January and through his lawyer Li Fangping, has vigorously denied accusations of instigating separatism, a charge that if convicted could lead to several years in prison or even the death penalty.

His wife Guzaili Nuer is upset hearing about the charges. "He only did research and wrote articles about the people of Xinjiang," she said. "I'm feeling ill and sad now."

Li wrote on his weibo account last night, criticizing government prosecutors for not notifying him about the indictment. He also said prosecutors had yet to accede his repeated requests for copies of the evidence against Tohti.

"I am shocked by how the Urumqi procuratorate has trampled on lawyers' right of defense," he wrote.

The formal charges against Tohti come as the authorities further crackdown on violent attacks in the region and a pro-Beijing imam named Jume Tahir was stabbed on Wednesday. It is believed the killing was a targeted attack.

The charges against Tohti will be another blow for for Uyghurs who was their moderate spokesperson, trying to explain to the Chinese government and the world what the ethnic minority wants -- respect of their Muslim religion, language, and way of life.

They feel they are being repressed and losing their identity as more of the younger generation speaks Putonghua than the Uyghur language. They are also being sidelined for jobs because of their ethnicity, limiting their job prospects which leads to them being marginalized financially.

Does the Chinese government realize its policies are provoking Uyghurs to resort to violence?

Tohti was their moderate voice, but now that he's been incommunicado, radical Uyghurs don't seem to see any way out except through brandishing knives and setting off homemade explosive devices.

His daughter Jewher is studying in Bloomington, Indiana -- her father was supposed to go with her on a one-year visiting scholar position at Indiana University, but was detained at Beijing International Airport in February 2013.

"I am angry about this, they have not followed the legal path," she said. "My father was only trying to foster a dialogue. What they have charged him with is untrue."

Now that Tohti will be tried for separatism, Jewher and her family need to step up the campaign to rally the rest of the world to protest her father's innocence. International pressure is needed now to show Uyghurs they have not been forgotten.

He was the winner of the 2014 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award. More information about Tohti here.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Xi Bags a Tiger

Xi Jinping rises further to the top with the formal arrest of Zhou Yongkang
If you've been counting, Chinese President Xi Jinping's name has been mentioned in 4,186 articles in the first eight pages of the People's Daily for the past 18 months.

This compares to former presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao mentioned in less than 2,000 reports each. The statistics are collected by Qian Gang, a former journalist who is the director of the China Media Project at the University of Hong Kong.

He compared the coverage of eight party leaders of their first 18 months in office. The leaders were: Xi, Jiang, Hu, Mao Zedong, Hua Guofeng, Deng Xiaoping, Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang.

Of course Mao and Hua were mentioned most frequently because of their cult-like status at the time.

But with Xi's numerous mentions, does this mean he is trying to elevate himself to the status of the Great Helmsman Mao?

There has been a two-year wait for today's announcement
Qian says no, but with the current anti-corruption campaign and today's official announcement of former security chief Zhou Yongkang being investigated for "serious disciplinary violations", Xi seems to be further consolidating his power (and mentions in the paper).

Zhou's case, which will be handled by the Commission for Discipline Inspection, ends the unspoken rule among party elders that Politburo Standing Committee members would not be prosecuted on economic or social crimes for the sake of party unity.

The announcement also signals that all party leaders are finally behind the decision, including Zhou's former patron Jiang, and now they can move forward on the main policy issues to be discussed in October during the fourth plenary of the 18th Party Congress.

It was only a matter of time before Zhou would be formally investigated. He was a strong ally of Bo Xilai and we know what happened to him. Zhou seemed to be the only person publicly defending Bo before his formal arrest, and at one point they allegedly conspired to grab power from Hu.

On the outside many ordinary people are pleased Xi has bagged himself a "tiger", taking down corrupt senior officials, but deep down, is this Xi's strategy to further build his power base by eliminating his enemies?

Or is this his way of uniting the Party?

Either way Zhou is going down... crashing and burning big time...

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Hong Kong's Impending Diabetic Explosion

Not all is well in Hong Kong with the high numbers of young diabetic patients
It is frightening to read one in five Hong Kong diabetics is under the age of 40 -- and the number is expected to double by 2030.

A study by Chinese University of Hong Kong has found that diabetes is diagnosed in more younger people, with the median age at 50 now, compared to 57 in 1990.

Dr Andrea Luk On-yan, CUHK's department of medicine and therapeutics describes the results as "alarming".

"More complications arising from the illness are expected as the patients have the disease a decade earlier," Luk said.

CUHK's Institute of Diabetes and Obesity analyzed data of 10,129 patients at Prince of Wales Hospital, where they were diagnosed between 1995 and 2009. Twenty percent of the patients were diagnosed as diabetic before the age of 40.

Other interesting statistics is that 30 percent of the early onset patients were considered to be slim, while 60 percent had a family history of diabetes.

Luk said those who developed diabetes before the age of 40 had a 35 percent greater risk of developing kidney disease, and a 48 percent greater risk of cardiovascular disease.

Last year the Hong Kong government warned that one in 10 Hong Kong people, or about 700,000 people had type 2 diabetes. That's slightly lower than the 12.7 percent prevalence rate in Singapore, but higher than 7.3 for Japan and 6.7 for Taiwan, according to the International Diabetes Foundation.

Luk said if a person's mother or father had diabetes, the risk of contracting the disease tripled. If both parents had diabetes, the risk was six times greater.

She added rapid lifestyle changes, uncontrolled diet and lack of physical exercise resulted in the rise of diabetes.

As diabetes often does not have obvious symptoms, many young and slim people go for years without realizing they have it.

Professor Juliana Chan Chung-ngor of CUHK said this meant sufferers were missing the "golden period" for treatment -- the first five years -- when the risk of complications such as blindness and kidney failure could be reduced.

Chan urged people to get checked regularly, and those who have a family history of diabetes should get checked sooner rather than later.

There are many people in Hong Kong who regularly -- ie everyday -- eat out and most of the time their food choices are not healthy. By the same token many are not exercising at all or enough.

The government needs to really make people more aware of diabetes, the symptoms and that if caught early, it could be controlled or even cured. I find many locals I meet have no understanding of what a good diet is or what makes a healthy lifestyle.

Otherwise the government's going to see massive healthcare bills, and wondering why more wasn't done in terms of preventative medicine.

On the other extreme, a man in Toronto has cut out added sugar in his diet for almost 600 days. Jason Holborn used to add half a cup of sugar into his Frosted Flakes or Cocoa Pebbles cereal every morning, or even add a cup of sugar to a cup of butter and eat them mixed together.

It was only when he decided to advertise to everyone by putting a sign on his window counting the number of days of not eating refined sugar did he really make an effort to quit. He had a few stops and starts, but now at over 574 days, he can't stop now.

Since then he's realized that sugar caused his extreme mood swings, he has lost some weight and now has a six-pack under his shirt and everything tastes sweet now -- even milk.

If only Hong Kong people were more aware of what they were eating -- but with the recent meat scare at McDonald's -- maybe they will now wake up and wonder where their food comes from and start making more smarter and healthier choices.

A healthier lifestyle means less trips to the doctor -- and wouldn't that make you happier?

Monday, 28 July 2014

Giving Air Travel a Bad Name

Imagine the chaos inside Beijing International Airport...
Last Wednesday there was a news story warning there would be major flight delays at 12 airports in China for two weeks supposedly because of PLA military exercises.

Airports affected included Shanghai, Nanjing, Qingdao, Wuhan, Hangzhou, Ningbo and Hefei.

This is because the PLA has controlled mainland airspace since 1949 and only allocates 20 percent of it to civil aviation. It has probably only been 20 percent for over six decades.

Compare that to the United States where commercial airlines occupy 90 percent of airspace, leaving only narrow corridors for the air force.

So as expected, over the weekend there was chaos at airports over the weekend, with 130 flights cancelled in Shanghai's two airports by 6pm yesterday [Sunday], while 519 flights were delayed.

Beijing International Airport saw 55 flights cancelled and 126 delayed. Xiamen was hit the hardest, with capacity down by 77 percent due to "busy airspace".

The reason for the delays is that the PLA is conducting live-fire drills in the waters off the east coast until August 15.

Military experts claim the drills are to signal to Japan and the US of China's military might, in marking the 120th anniversary of the Sino-Japanese war.

However, these military exercises -- seemingly selfish -- are severely affecting the booming aviation industry. One passenger complained that when he arrived at the airport for his 8.40am flight, it had been delayed to 1.30pm. "Why didn't they tell me in advance so that I didn't have to wake up so early?" he asked.

But in today's paper, China's Defense Ministry claims it's bad weather, not military drills to blame.

The ministry said in a statement yesterday that exercises that had been scheduled in the southeast coastal areas would begin tomorrow, and that weather had caused disruptions.

Uh huh.

Many passengers for commercial flights did not take these disruptions lying down. At Shenzhen's international airport, fights broke out between ground staff and frustrated passengers in a video clip taken by witnesses.

One female passenger explained that the confrontation came about after they had been waiting three hours to board a plane to Hangzhou. She and 30 others refused to board the plane, demanding compensation and a public apology from the airport.

But it's not the airport's fault -- it is really the PLA who decide when and where they will use the airspace without giving airports and airlines much time to deal with the situation.

It's not wonder the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) is nicknamed "Chinese Airlines Always Cancel".

How do you shake that reputation off when the PLA is the one calling the shots?

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Who Has the Last Laugh?

Prospective buyers checking out the model of Mont Vert flats in Taipo
Can you hear the wicked laugh in the distance?

That's probably Hong Kong's richest man, Li Ka-shing, amused that 400 of the 492 flats on sale at Cheung Kong's Mont Vert project in Taipo were sold on the first day of sales yesterday.

This despite buyers not being able to view the flats at all -- even though it is stipulated by law. Under Section 44 of the residential properties ordinance, which took effect in April last year, developers of a newly completed project are required to make every flat -- or a comparable flat -- available for viewing by potential buyers.

If a developer is unable to do this, it needs to seek written consent from prospective buyers.

Cheung Kong claims "the personal safety of those prospective buyers will be endangered" if flats ready in the first phase were opened for viewing while there was ongoing construction on the second phase.

The flats here are affordable -- but some are very tiny...
However, many of these prospective buyers were willing to sign the agreement promising to buy without personally inspecting the flats -- which seriously harms the interests of the buyers.

The buyers of some of these Mont Vert flats, some of which are as small as 172 square feet, aren't probably going to be occupying them -- they are most likely going to rent them out to people who commute across the border to work, or to mainland students studying at Chinese University.

The tycoon looks like he is trying to alleviate the affordable housing situation by bringing out flats that are just under HK$2 million, but in reality how does a person live comfortably in less than 200 square feet with all their worldly possessions?

That is why Li is probably laughing at us again -- coming up with this "excuse" not to allow buyers to really see the actual space they are buying with about HK$2 million dollars, and they actually fall for it and purchase these micro flats anyway.

It just demonstrates there is a healthy demand for tiny flats -- and no doubt developers will think of even tinier places for people to live in, but also the hope that riding on the Li ticket will be the first step to becoming wealthier.

Are the boom times of flat speculation back again? Time will tell.

But in the meantime we can hear laughing in the distance...

Saturday, 26 July 2014

A Taste of Portugal in Macau

Delicious plump and juicy clams stir-fried with garlic and white wine
I'm really clueless when it comes to local eateries in Macau. The only ones I knew about previously were Fernando's in Hac Sa Beach and Club Militare behind Casino Lisboa.

So a friend who lives in Macau was shocked -- shocked -- that I didn't know about the old Taipa Village and had to rectify the situation by taking me to one of the restaurants there called A Petisqueria.

Old Taipa Village is right across from Galaxy Macau and up until July 1 this year, there was a dedicated shuttle bus taking visitors there. Currently there's road construction on in front of the casino complex, but it's basically just across the street.

The famous codfish cakes that were absolutely divine
I visit Macau on average once every other month and it's to check out the latest happenings in the casino complexes, so I don't have much of an opportunity to see the real Macau.

Some 20 years ago I remember the quiet alleys (compared to now) and most of the tourists were other people from Hong Kong getting a bit of rest and relaxation on the weekend.

Nowadays it's choc a block pretty much everyday with mainlanders still coming to try their luck at the casino tables.

But back to A Petisqueria...

It's on the corner of Rua de S. Joao and Rua das Virtudes, and once you walk inside you're greeted by the head of a deer with giant antlers on the wall flanked by hanging garlic and then an archway decorated with fake grapes leading to the main dining area, that like Fernando's, has red-and-white checkered tablecloths and wooden chairs.

A light and refreshing octopus salad makes a great starter
Locals like to come here, particularly those of Portuguese descent and so I was looking forward to a memorable meal.

For starters, the octopus salad is very refreshing, chunks of octopus marinated with diced onions, parsley and lots of olive oil garnished with olives.

Another favourite -- and the highlight of the meal -- were the bacalhau, or fried codfish cakes. They were unexpectedly so light and fluffy inside it was a pleasant surprise. It was definitely fresh codfish that made this dish exceptional.

We also ordered stir-fried clams with garlic and white wine sauce with a few chilli flakes for good measure. The clams were plump and sweet and our only complaint was there wasn't enough sauce to mop up with warm bread.

Finally, the Spanish paella came in a large wok-like platter, filled with saffron-flavoured rice, prawns, crab and squid.

The hearty Spanish paella with seafood and olives
This rice had lots of flavour and the two of us managed to finish most of it!

It's also nice drinking the Portuguese beverage Sumol -- fruit-flavoured sodas. I had the passion fruit one and it hit the spot.

We love the lack of pretension in this place and the heartiness of the dishes. Meanwhile service is friendly and brisk.

I'm still thinking of those codfish cakes...

A Petisqueria
15 Rua de S. Joao
(853) 2882 5354

Friday, 25 July 2014

Another Food Scandal

The fast-food restaurant had been serving bad meat processed in Shanghai
McDonald's has been in crisis mode since Sunday when Shanghai broadcaster Dragon TV reported that meat supplier Husi reprocessed and repackaged old beef and chicken and put new expiration dates on them.

Not only were they sold to the fast-food restaurant with the golden arches, but also KFC and Pizza Hut.

Owned by Illinois-based OSI Group, Husi has a plant in Shanghai that is at the centre of the scandal.

Not only are McDonald's outlets in China affected, but also in Hong Kong.

What made it worse was that McDonald's Hong Kong first denied it imported any food products from the Shanghai plant, but then yesterday apologized for the "confusion" and said the food served from now on in the city was not from Shanghai Husi.

The Hong Kong government had earlier announced an immediate ban of the import and sales of products from Husi Food Company.

Assistant director of food and environmental hygiene Dr Lee Siu-yuen stated that any Husi food already in Hong Kong would be sealed and stored in warehouses.

The fast-food restaurant had been importing cooked chicken leg meat from Husi's Shanghai plant since May, and from July to December last year it had imported 10 batches of frozen pork from Shanghai Husi.

There are concerns the meat also made its way to Japan, where McDonald's there said 20 percent of its meat for chicken nuggets was supplied by Husi.

Meanwhile OSI Group chief executive officer Sheldon Lavin apologized to "all of our customers in China". He said the incident "was terribly wrong" and "I am appalled that it ever happened in the company that I own".

So far five Husi executives have been questioned by Shanghai police. Surely charges will follow.

This incident clearly demonstrates that six years on, the Chinese government still has not set up an effective accountability system to ensure food products produced on the mainland are safe to eat.

There was such a huge uproar in July 2008 following the melamine milk scandal in which at least six infants died and hundreds of thousands more became ill from drinking powdered milk laced with melamine to make the milk seem like it had higher protein content, but in fact was just watered-down milk.

This resulted in over 300,000 children with malnutrition and kidney damage.

Beijing promised to set up 800 testing centres around the country, 80 of which are dedicated to food.

But because there are so many small producers, the government doesn't have enough inspectors to go around. And even then some may be easily corrupted by bribes.

As a result China's already precarious food quality reputation is at risk again and one wonders when the country will get its act together. As others have said before -- you can sell us cheap clothing and shoes, but contaminated food is where we draw the line.

Perhaps the upside is that people won't be eating at McDonald's for a while, but also it has forced the public to question where their food comes from and do restaurants really check on their suppliers.

Not only is the Chinese government to blame, but so is OSI Group and Lavin for not knowing what was going on in the Shanghai plant. Since when is it OK to reprocess rotten meat? Not only is it a health issue, but also morally wrong.

And then for McDonald's Hong Kong to flip flop on such a serious issue demonstrates its unwillingness to deal with the problem, or it too is unsure of where all its food products come from.

Fast-food restaurants seem to have a disconnect when it comes to food quality -- it's not just about the bottom line anymore.

The public cannot afford to eat bad food.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Picture of the Day: Toad-ily Similar...

Do you see the resemblance with the glasses superimposed on the toad?
How amusing, but censors are madly trying to delete pictures of an inflatable toad in cyberspace because it bears a resemblance to former leader Jiang Zemin.

After Hong Kong's giant inflatable yellow duck last year, other mainland cities have been competing amongst themselves to have other cute animals.

The 22-metre-high toad sat on a giant lily pad in a park in Beijing, but then it was mocked by social media users who said it bore an uncanny resemblance to the former Communist Party chief.

Toads (really frogs) are seen as a symbol of good fortune, but in this case, making fun of Jiang was too much.

Last year censors worked overtime to delete all references to the lovable inflatable yellow duck after images of it appeared in a re-worked image of "Tank Man", where a protester blocks a line of yellow ducks instead of tanks.

But the toad really does look like Jiang!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Picture of the Day: Getting on the Bus

The mobile Octopus machine reader during rush hour
In Beijing, I used to take the bus and my colleagues would complain traffic was horrific, but I felt these were a more comfortable alternative to the subway, or at least good for short distances.

Many of the buses are accordion ones and so you could swipe your card at the front, middle and back of the bus.

Here in Hong Kong, you swipe your Octopus card only at the front and it is expected passengers will move towards the back, but they don't always do that, particularly during rush hour.

A bus company assistant at one of the stops
So it's good to know the bus companies have thought of other ways to make sure commuters can still get on the bus during rush hour.

They have a mobile Octopus swipe machine and a bus company attendant manning some stops. When the bus arrives, some people get off at the middle and so there's sometimes space there.

So commuters swipe their cards at the mobile machine and then get on in the middle and fill that space. And when it's full or there's no more passengers, the attendant alerts the bus driver and we go on our way again.

It's very efficient, granted its crowded, but at least gives a chance for commuters in the middle of the route to at least get on the bus...

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Dining at The Diner

Grilled cheese sandwiches with bourbon bacon jam
Last night some friends and I went to a recently opened restaurant in Central called The Diner on Arbuthnot Road.

It replaced the ill-fated Brasserie de I'ile, retaining the beautifully tiled floor. But everything else is very American diner -- 50 license plates from different US states on the back wall, the back of a 1960s Cadillac converted into a seat, booth seating, a large traffic light and an open kitchen.

Mac n cheese balls with jalapeno slices
We got there after 8pm and there were only three tables occupied on a Monday night -- mostly by women interestingly enough.

The place focuses mostly on hamburgers, but also has dishes like buttermilk fried chicken ($108), onion rings (HK$58) and sliders (HK$115).

We started with Mac n Cheese Balls (HK$68), the favourite American dish rolled into balls and then dipped in batter and deep-fried, served with sliced jalapeno peppers. Inside was pipping hot macaroni and cheese that seemed more creamy than cheesy.

Another starter was frickles or sliced dill pickles that are deep-fried and served with chipotle mayo, a delicious dip. These are not as chunky as the ones at Roundhouse, but still retained the sour taste.

The cobb salad (HK$128) is hearty for one and best shared. It's choc full of Romaine lettuce, hard-boiled egg, chunks of grilled chicken, unripe avocado, blue cheese, tomato and cucumber.

Frickles with chipotle mayo sauce
I had a hankering for the grilled cheese sandwich (HK$95), but it wasn't like the one made in the movie Chef using three different cheese melted on the griddle. Instead it was cheddar cheese with bourbon bacon jam that made it taste quite sweet and presented in three layers of bread cut into quarters. Nevertheless the dish came with apple slaw that seemed to have more cabbage than apple in it.

My friends split the Memphis Burger (HK$145), featuring a beef patty topped with pulled pork, smoked cheddar, caramelized onions, dill pickles and BBQ sauce. The burger overall tasted more beef than pork which was a tad disappointing, but was quite hearty and not too dry.

Even more bizarre was that after our food was served, around 9pm, the waiter came by the tell us it was last call for food because the kitchen was closing. Already? We were quite surprised, but didn't have anymore requests because we had just started digging into our food.

Nevertheless a male customer walked in and ordered a chicken burger, so the kitchen actually stayed open for another hour.

A large portion of Cobb salad
In the end we finished the grilled cheese, the burger, the salad and left some frickles and one mac n cheese ball. We had no room for dessert and eventually left around 10.30pm, with the two tables of women still there.

We like the concept of The Diner, but have to wonder, like its previous tenants, how the restaurant will attract diners to schlep all the way up here for a meal. If it's not too busy now, how will it sustain in the long term?

And they do have an enticing brunch menu, but it won't be starting for another week... We wish them luck.

The Diner
G/F, 4-8 Arbuthnot Road
No telephone number!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Putting up Barriers

People gathering in Civic Square for the HKTV protest last October
The Hong Kong government is taking a page out of Beijing's handbook on how to deal with negative public gatherings by shutting off access to protest areas on government land even though they were financed with taxpayer money.

At the Tamar site, there's a forecourt area where protesters like to convene at, and I have been in for the march on press freedom following the brutal chopper attack on former Ming Pao editor Kevin Lau Chun-to.

However, the Hong Kong government has all of a sudden decided to start constructing a three-metre-high fence to the entrance of this area that protesters like to call "Civic Square".

When the construction work is completed, there will be a rule introduced to deny unauthorized people access to the area from 11pm to 6am. Fences will also be built to separate the forecourt from the Legislative Council complex.

Nevertheless, mass protests will be allowed into the square on public holidays and Sundays with prior consent from the director of the Administration Wing.

Which probably means no, since the application rests on one person.

Officials say the fencing was necessary due to recent protests outside Legco where protesters against plans to build new towns in the New Territories used bamboo poles to pry open the doors to the complex.

"A review of the existing security arrangements revealed it is necessary to enhance the overall capacity to withstand potential security threats to the building," a government spokesman said.

And coincidentally construction of the fence will begin next month, sealing off the entire area when then Occupy Central movement is supposed to commence.

Ever since the government relocated to this area in 2011, protesters have used the 1,000 square-metre area to meet since it was designed with the theme of "a door is always open".

Dr Chan Kin-man, a co-organizer of Occupy Central says the closing off the forecourt doesn't affect the protest movement. "We believe it is useless to occupy the Civic Square as the administration has become numb towards the protests there," he said.

"The government is only trying to find an excuse to kill the protest zone."

But James To Kun-sun, a Democratic Party lawmaker finds the government's latest actions as "tightening the public's freedom of peaceful demonstration and assembly. If the officials only want protesters to stay away from its office, it just shows how weak and afraid the government is."

Doesn't that sound like a comment one would make about Beijing as well?

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Sweet French Treat

The decadent chocolate noisette tart in the shop
After the macaron craze in Hong Kong died down (finally) as lines at Laduree evaporated, there's a new French pastry shop that has fans, though not at the same intensity.

It's called Dalloyau and yes there really was a Mr Charles Dalloyau in France, whose breads took the notice of Louis XIV and in 1652 appointed him "Officier de Bouche", the highest gastronomic title at the time.

He and his brothers were allowed to attend the king's meals, invited to official ceremonies and could take part in culinary and gastronomic research.

More pastries on display
This all ended with the French Revolution in 1789 and descendant Jean-Baptiste Dalloyau saved the family name by starting "Dalloyau, house of gastronomy" in 1802.

The name became more associated with the art of good eating, offering to prepare meals for bourgeoisie families at home, much like aristocrats used to. Dalloyau settled at Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, the current address of the Paris shop.

Since then the name has come to be associated with sophistication and quality.

A few months ago Dalloyau opened its first shop in Harbour City with an excellent fine dining restaurant called Epure attached to it. But the name Dalloyau is not only strange to pronounce for locals, but also in Cantonese sounds like "big fat ass"...

I arrived late this afternoon to pick up some pastries to take to my cousin's place for dinner and even though it was almost 6pm, people were still standing in line waiting to try the afternoon tea.

However staff were on hand to serve me at the take-away counter. I had to pre-order the pastries as the signature Opera cake is usually sold out -- layers of jonconde soaked in coffee syrup, with coffee butter cream and chocolate ganache. It's topped with a bit of gold foil for that rich touch.

Another decadent  one is the chocolate noisette tart, featuring hazelnut chocolate ganache, chocolate glaze and sesame tulle on top. The chocolate ganache isn't too sweet, but it's a dense flavour while the crust holds up well.

Our delectable selections this evening!
The same goes for the lemon tart, that had a fantastic lemon curd topped with lemon zest.

On the lighter side is the berry tart, baked almond cream and vanilla custard, decorated with strawberries, red currant and blueberries.

We also like the mango and passion fruit mousse cake, that was light and fluffy and also had mandarin and apricot compote.

Perhaps the only one that didn't hold well after being transported inside and outside was the Dalloyau, an almond meringue cake with praline cream inside and covered with crushed caramelized hazelnuts.

There's many others cakes we didn't get a chance to try which means we'll have to come back again... a big hint is to come after 7pm on weekdays, but you have to hope not everything has been sold out by then.

Shop 403, 4/F, Ocean Centre, Harbour City
17 Canton Road
Tsim Sha Tsui
3185 8330

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Giving the "Silent Majority" a Say

The Alliance for Peace and Democracy was launched a few days ago
The anti-Occupy Central movement out in force today with 468 stations around the city collecting signatures in the hopes of surpassing the 793,000 votes for the civic referendum last month.

Unlike the unofficial referendum that lasted 10 days, this signature campaign will last one month in the hopes they will get over 800,000 signatures of support.

At the top of the form it says:

I oppose violence
I oppose occupy [sic] Central
I support peace for Hong Kong
I support democracy for Hong Kong

The group called "Safeguard Suffrage for Chief Executive, Oppose Occupy Central Movement" is insinuating that the Occupy Central movement is violent, which is far from it. If anything Occupy Central is also hoping for a peaceful solution for universal suffrage in Hong Kong.

Opposing sides: Benny Tai listens to Robert Chow
Not only is the form skewing the truth, but already the campaign has received lots of criticism because anyone can vote -- mainlanders, tourists and even kids -- as long as they show some kind of valid identification, whereas in the civic referendum, voters had to be permanent residents and adults.

How can this signature campaign be considered legitimate in any way by allowing anyone to fill out the form and its premise is far from the truth?

Nevertheless, the group, led by Robert Chow Yung, who is also a spokesman for the pro-Beijing Alliance for Peace and Democracy, has a lot of backing from various corporate groups like Towngas that tried to force its employees to support the campaign, and later backed down.

However there is word the central government's Liaison Office here has asked mainland students who are applying to study in Hong Kong to add their signatures to the anti-Occupy Central movement.

Will the campaign garner more than 800,000 signatures? And if it does, not all of them are Hong Kong residents, so why consider this legitimate?

The battle lines continue being drawn...

Friday, 18 July 2014

Neighbourhood Swim

The Kennedy Town Swimming Pool has a scenic view of the area
Yesterday I finished work early and decided to check out the Kennedy Town Pool -- over two years after I moved into the area!

It's a relatively new pool, built in May 2011, as the other one was demolished to make way for the West Island MTR Line that -- crossed fingers -- will open at the end of the year.

However I was not very organized when I arrived at the changing room to use the locker. At the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park Swimming Pool, there is the option of using your own lock or insert a HK$5 coin to use the key lock provided.

But here there was no such opportunity to do the former and not having enough change, I had to go all the way back downstairs, ask for change from a HK$100 bill for a HK$5 coin and then finally be able to lock a locker.

After I had changed, I wasn't clear on how to get to the pool and started walking down stairs and the attendant told me to go back up and turn right. Obviously I'm not reading signs closely!

By the time I start swimming in the pool it was almost 6.45pm and thankfully it wasn't too busy. The far right lanes are reserved for a swimming group, then two lanes for lap swimming and then rest are a free for all.

Visitors can use their Octopus card to pay for pool admission
I started out swimming in the free pool area and I'm constantly dodging people, some who swim OK, and others practically dog paddling. The Olympic-sized pool is 50 metres long and I'm not used to swimming such a long length. By the time I get to the other side I need to take a mini break before going back.

Then I switched to the lap lane and it was better, though there was one guy who was a slow breast-stroker and didn't understand he had to yield to others who are faster than him.

Others had to pass him, which was tricky with oncoming traffic to deal with as well. I also find that Chinese men can't stand having a woman, especially a Chinese one, swim faster than them and try not to let the fairer sex pass them...

It is one of the few times I have swum outside and I could see the clouds above us and the sun setting behind them. Then after a while the clouds gathered more densely and began to darken.

Though there was a thunderstorm warning, none of the lifeguards told us to leave. Soon it started to rain, around 7.10pm or so, but I wanted to swim a few more laps.

The water was so warm in the pool that it was nice to have the rain to cool things down a bit.

I watched a family with a daughter about 15 years old who wore glasses and floaties on her arms... did she really think those small inflatable things would keep her afloat? And why not wear goggles? The father wore his glasses too.

And then there was a young kid in my lane who tried to do freestyle -- without breathing. He would take a big gulp then move his arms like a windmill for six or seven strokes and then stop and stand up. He obviously had not been taught how to breathe while swimming...

I've also heard of some stories of people -- mostly men -- coming up to women and trying to give them swimming pointers. A friend's boyfriend did this to me at the Sun Yat Set Memorial Park Pool, giving totally unsolicited advice. He really expected me to follow his instructions. Again that big male ego just won't go away...

Many people started leaving as it started to rain, so by the time I left the pool at 7.30pm, my lane was empty whereas before there were four or five people.

I went back in to take a shower, and when I came out I heard a huge BOOM! And then realized it was thunder.

Soon afterwards other people started entering the changing room area which meant everyone was told to leave the pool.

By the time I finished, it was pouring rain -- and T3.

The pool is not bad as long as it's not too busy so we'll see when I'll go again next time.

Kennedy Town Swimming Pool
2 Sai Cheung Street North
Kennedy Town
2817 7973
HK$17 on weekdays, HK$19 on weekends and public holidays

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Exiting China in Droves

With the CCTV tower in the foreground, hardly anything visible behind it
A few years ago China used to be a hot place for expatriates to be posted, with economic development going through the roof and lots of growth in various sectors.

But nowadays the fears of pollution levels have scared many expats who are starting to worry more about their health than their bank accounts or resumes.

The air pollution is getting so bad in China that multinational companies are now offering extra compensation for expatriates based in the middle kingdom. Seems they are leaving in droves and so companies are trying to retain staff with a financial incentive.

It is believed Japanese electronics company Panasonic started paying its expatriate staff "hazard pay" in April to compensate them for the hazardous air quality.

And now Coca-Cola is offering its expat staff an "environmental hardship allowance". The allowance, which was introduced "recently" is apparently a 15 percent increase of the employee's base salary.

A company spokeswoman confirmed the introduction of the additional pay, but would not comment on the amount.

"Our competitive mobility package includes an environmental allowance for postings to China," she said in an emailed statement.

Last year only three of 74 cities in China met the minimum government standards in air quality, and air pollution has become a key issue for foreign companies posting employees to cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

Companies now offer better medical insurance benefits, more paid trips home and subsidies for air filters for the some half million foreigners working in China.

An Australian architectural firm called Hassell gives its staff face masks to travel to and from work. It also changes air filters every week during heavy pollution.

"In Australia, you might do that every year," said Peter Duncan, Hassell's managing director for Asia, who is based in Shanghai.

Headhunter Peter Arkell, managing director of Swann Global, says the Coca-Cola allowance indicates the company is having trouble retaining and attracting staff to China.

"I hear more and more stories about executives not extending their contracts because they don't think China is a good place to bring up a family," he said. "It [the environmental payment] is a way of addressing the air pollution issue, but it does look like a pretty generous payment to me."

But is it really worth taking the extra money and greatly increase your chances of developing some respiratory disease or cancer?

China used to be a great place for young executives to cut their teeth in new territory, but with many of them having babies and toddlers, they worry about their exposure to the polluted air that could lead to asthma and possibly developmental problems.

Will the new financial incentive stem the exodus? We shall see...

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Academic's Wise Words

Law professor Johannes Chan is concerned about the erosion of core values
Hong Kong is not only being divided by the haves and have nots, those pushing for Occupy Central, and others towing the Beijing line, but there's also the issue of corruption reaching further into the city than ever before.

The former dean of the University of Hong Kong's faculty of law, professor Johannes Chan Man-mun has expressed alarm at the erosion of the city's core values, saying corruption was more evident despite higher awareness of the importance of a sound legal system.

"Corruption has grown more serious. It's not even about people breaking the law; what is scarier is how corruption is seen as socially acceptable," said the academic and barrister.

As a result he is concerned about rule of law during the city's current political turmoil.

"Just the fact that a former ICAC chief [Timothy Tong Hin-ming] would attempt to explain away his actions -- this is something that would be impossible to accept in the past," he said, referring to Tong's overspending and gifts to mainland officials.

"Hong Kong's success hinges on having a complete and wholesome system of judicial independence," Chan said. "We could rely on economic prowess as an advantage 20 to 30 years ago, but that's all gone now -- the rule of law is our only advantage."

When Beijing released its white paper last month, Chan said he was "extremely angry" that judges had to "love the country and love Hong Kong".

He said this would cause the public to doubt judicial independence, adding, "The secretary of justice has the responsibility to come out and explain it."

Chan also commented on police chief Andy Tsang Wai-hung's statement that police would "enforce the law strictly as the law indicates" if the Occupy Central civil disobedience movement goes ahead. The professor said all legal systems allowed for discretion.

"Whether any law is broken is one thing, whether or not to prosecute is another," he said. Whether to prosecute or not -- it takes into account our core values, human rights and many more factors. It's not just a matter of whether it's against the law or not -- it's not black and white.

"[Society] is not just about the law -- it's about upholding core values as well. Discretion is not something the law can tell you -- and it's something society cannot be without."

Wise words from the academic, who is trying to remind us the importance of upholding rule of law in Hong Kong and that while the authorities may threaten to go by the letter of the law, there is still some leeway -- mixed with common sense -- which makes this city what it is today... though corruption is what we need to get rid of asap...

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

High-Achieving Activists

Joshua Wong Chi-fung (centre) spoke in Central after the July 1 march
The results of the Diploma of Secondary Education exams were released yesterday and because the media were so interested in how core members of the student-led Scholarism group did, they held a press conference.

"I think it's the first time in Hong Kong that a student has had to announce his exam results in a press conference and I feel uncomfortable," admitted Joshua Wong Chi-fung.

Nevertheless, he didn't have much to hide. He received a level 5 in liberal studies and a level 4 in Chinese, overall meeting the basic standards for university admission requirements.

However he refused to reveal his results for his other four subjects: English, mathematics, economics and business, accounting and financial studies, saying he "is planning to make appeals".

Results for the DSE are graded from levels 1 to 5 with top-scoring students at level 5 receiving a 5**.

Wong and Agnes Chow both performed well academically
Considering Wong has been in the media spotlight for his activism, leading the protests against national education in 2012, he has done academically well.

"On top of study, pupils take part in different extra-curricular activities -- it's just that the one I participate in, which is a social movement, is less popular among students.

"Participating in the movement allows me to get to know more about social issues, which is beneficial for me -- especially in liberal studies.

"I'm satisfied with my performance but, of course there's room for improvement... I failed to obtain 'stars' for liberal studies, which disappointed me," he said.

Wong denied rumours that he had received conditional offers from local universities.

"... I have no plan to study abroad. I really love Hong Kong and I like living here," he added.

A fellow Scholarism activist Agnes Chow Ting did well too -- a level 5* in English, a level 4 in Chinese, mathematics, liberal studies, geography and history.

"Academic performance is about how you manage your time," Chow said. "I tried my best to balance my time between the social movement and study, as they are the most important things for me."

This is proof that Wong and Chow are not just rabble rousers. They are intelligent and want to passionately defend their city in their own way.

Who says these kids are "provoking quarrels and making trouble"?

Monday, 14 July 2014

Quote of the Day: Provoking Quarrels and Making Trouble

Protesters being removed the morning of July 2 in Central by the police
When describing the pro-democracy protesters who sat overnight on Chater Road on July 1, The Junior Police Officers' Association used the phrase, "provoking quarrels and making trouble", which was hardly the case.

The association got a lot of heat for this because it's a well-worn one from the mainland, which is often translated as "picking quarrels and making trouble", and really means provocation and causing disturbances.

It is typically the phrase used when reporting the detainment or arrest of rights activists in China and have yet to find specific evidence to charge them.

In article 293 of China's Criminal Law, four types of activities are prohibited:

1) Casually attacking people;

2) "Chasing, intercepting, berating or intimidating" others, where the "circumstances are heinous";

3) Forcibly taking, destroying or occupying public or private property where the circumstances are serious;

4) Making a commotion and causing disorder in a public place.

In China a single offense by an individual is punishable by up to five years in prison, and up to 10 years for multiple group offenses.

As a result Chinese police like to use this vague phrase to detain anyone remotely considered to be a troublemaker even if they haven't provoked anyone.

So it's surprising to see the phrase "provoking quarrels and making trouble" has made its way south to Hong Kong -- where this criminal charge does not exist here.

If there's any need for proof of the "mainlandization" of Hong Kong, this is a good one.

Since when did Hong Kong police follow the lead of their counterparts up north? We have completely different judicial systems.

They need to remember which side they're on -- and it's not Beijing's.... yet.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Star Anchor in Corruption Probe

CCTV anchor Rui Chenggang was detained by authorities on Friday
The corruption net has widened in China to include a well-known anchor from China Central Television.

Rui Chenggang was taken away by the authorities on Friday from the CCTV premises, leaving his Economic News co-anchor Xie Yingying to host the show on her own that evening.

The routine camera angles continued, with shots of Rui's empty seat, though his microphone was there. Seems like no one in the control room knew how to deal with Rui's sudden departure.

In addition to taking away the 36-year-old, prosecutors also rounded up Li Yong, deputy director of CCTV's financial news channel and an unnamed producer.

This trio isn't the only group of people from CCTV caught up in investigations -- other high-profile figures at the state media have also been detained, including senior executive Guo Zhenxi last month.

Interestingly auditors found over 1 million yuan in Rui's office, but it was unclear if the money was related to his detention. Perhaps he was planning to take it to Brazil where he had planned to cover Chinese President Xi Jinping's trip to South America and the BRICS summit? Too much speculation at this point.

After Guo was taken away in early June, there were rumours Rui was implicated into the investigation into Guo, but Rui denied this. Instead he continued to host his show and even posted pictures on his Weibo account interviewing Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on June 3.

If Rui is formally arrested, this will signal the downfall of one of China's most prominent young rising stars. He is fluent in English and apparently has a taste for Ermenegildo Zegna suits, and drives a Jaguar.

A biography on the CCTV English-language website said Rui had interviewed more than 30 heads of state, and more than 300 top executives of Fortune 500 companies.

In 2005 then Yale University President Richard C. Levin nominated Rui to be a Yale World Fellow, and Levin even wrote the introduction to the anchor's book called Life Begins at 30, on China's economic rise.

Two years later Rui gained notoriety when he used his blog to campaign the government to remove a branch of Starbucks from the Forbidden City in Beijing. It was later replaced with a Chinese cafe.

In 2010 Rui became the subject of Internet mockery over a comment he made when US President Barack Obama called for questions from the Korean news media at a Group of 20 summit meeting in South Korea.

"I'm actually Chinese, but I think I get to represent the whole of Asia," he said.

The next year he point blank asked then incoming US Ambassador to China Gary Locke, "I hear you flew here coach. Is that a reminder that the US owes China money?"

Locke replied it was standard practice for American diplomats and other American officials to fly economy.

In some aspects, Rui's character may represent China today -- ambition, conniving, patriotism, and hubris.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Food Truck Fun

Chef stars Jon Favreau (centre) who resorts to making Cubanos in a food truck
Just came back from watching Chef with YTSL at Palace IFC, starring Jon Favreau in a fun comedy with lots of yummy food on film.

OK the food part isn't as mouthwatering as the opening scene of Eat, Drink, Man, Woman, but it also gives an interesting insight into the restaurant industry and why chefs are fanatic about what they give their guests to eat.

Favreau is Carl Casper, the chef who works in a fine dining restaurant owned by Dustin Hoffman's character. When a top food blogger has made reservations to review the restaurant, Carl puts out all the stops ready to present a creative menu.

But this is vetoed by the owner and having lost all interest, it seems Carl's food only gets a two-star review that goes viral.

Carl tries to hit back, but in a very public way that climaxes into a rant that also goes viral.

The El Jefe goes on a road trip from Miami to Los Angeles
He has to start all over again and his ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vergara) takes pity on him and invites him to Miami where her other ex-husband (Robert Downey Jr), a wealthy narcissist gives Carl an old dirty food truck.

This gives an opportunity for Carl to bond with his 10-year-old son Percy, who seems to shuttle back and forth between parents. Martin (John Leguizamo) from the restaurant comes by to help out, and the trio go on a road trip driving the food truck back to Los Angeles.

As Carl teaches Percy how to make Cubanos, a type of Cuban sandwich, we also get some cooking tips and watch how they prepare these delicious-looking bites.

The scenes are spiced with lots of humour, physical and verbal. Now we know what chefs do during a hot summer nights...!

However there are a few holes in the story -- what kind of job does Inez have that requires a publicist? And there's not indication of how she grew up in Miami and then has lots of staff tending to her household. She also seems too young to be Carl's wife...

A scene from the movie showing a mouth-watering steak
Also, would an ex-husband help another by giving him a food truck? Seems like there were some favours made behind the scenes that we are not privy too, but are expected to accept.

Nevertheless we enjoyed the foodie road trip and how social media can make or break a restaurant. The posting of messages on the screen, allowing us to read them was fun and entertaining, and Chef is also a lesson in what not to do on Twitter.

I won't be looking at cornstarch the same way again.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Micro Living

Interested in living in a flat this small in Taipo?
Hong Kong flats are getting smaller and smaller.

And that's not just the ones in town -- developer Cheung Kong (a la Li Ka-shing) has a new project called Mont Vert ("mount green") in Taipo where 196 of the flats are less than 200 square feet.

The smallest one has 177 sq ft -- leaving 97 sq ft for the living room, 13 sq ft for the kitchen, and 31 sq ft for the washroom.

These flats are similar in size to public housing studio flats that are rented out for HK$1,200 a month.

But they are selling for HK$10,000 per sq ft, making them about HK$1.7 million.

However these aren't the smallest flats around -- High Place built by Henderson Land in Kowloon City that will be released in September are 166 sq ft.

Apparently Mont Vert has a lot of interest from investors who want to rent out to tenants like mainland students who find the location not too far from Chinese University.

But no one is going to buy these micro flats for their own use. These are strictly for investment. But will it be worth it in the end?

It's incredible how small these flats can get -- does this mean people only have 10 articles of clothing and have no possessions whatsoever or they will stack everything up in boxes and weave around them in the room?

Whatever the case is, it's pretty claustrophobic to live in such tiny units. One wonders what that does to people psychologically, never mind the under HK$2 million price tag.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Pushing Invisible Boundaries

Murong Xuecun was questioned by police about an essay about June 4
The 25th anniversary of June 4 was over a month ago, but novelist Murong Xuecun was questioned by police and then released after he admitted his involvement in a private gathering the commemorate the the crackdown.

Other human rights activists were detained after attending the event that was held in May, including civil rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang.

Murong Xuecun, whose real name is Hao Qun, did not attend the gathering as he was at another event at the University of Sydney in Australia. However, he released a public statement on Saturday saying one of his essays on the suppression of the pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square.

It was his way of showing support for the gathering.

"I oppose their detention. I have done the same thing as them and should not enjoy any sort of exemption," he said in the statement that was circulated on social media on the weekend.

"I will stay at home for the next 24 hours waiting for arrest, but please call me to make an appointment if you fail to make it in the next 24 hours," he said.

Hao wrote about the event in The New York Times in May about the piece he had written.

"Reciting such an essay at a private gathering can violate China's laws," he said. "By the government's logic, I, too, have committed the crime of 'picking quarrels and provoking trouble'. I am going to turn myself in."

Then on Tuesday Beijing police contacted Hao and asked him to come in for "a cup of tea", a euphemism for a chat with the authorities, he said during an interview with German broadcaster Deutsche Welle before he went to the police station at dusk.

"The police called me about an hour ago. I asked them to wait as we've already scheduled this interview," he said.

Hao added he was prepared for a jail sentence.

"No one likes or wants to be imprisoned, but I want to do the right thing," he said. "If a jail term is the price I have to pay, then so be it."

He was eventually released after midnight and joined his supporters, some of whom were waiting outside the police station, for a late-night snack.

From Hao's words one can see that he is very clear about the rules and knows his actions will result in some kind of consequence. He is prepared for it which shows how determined he was to do what he did.

He also seems like an old hand in dealing with the authorities on these matters and didn't provoke them enough to make them want to incarcerate him. Also it helps that friends were waiting outside the police station showing they knew where he was.

These calculated risks made with courage are what rights activists in China go through everyday. They are trying to push civil society forward inch by inch in the country without the government's blessing.

There is hope that eventually civil society will become more mainstream on the mainland thanks to people like Hao.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Satisfying Sweet Tooth

The warm brownie pudding with chocolate sauce. Yum!
Cafe Causette in the Mandarin Oriental is a great go-to place when you can't really decide what you want to eat. And most of the time it's not too busy so you can get a table.

The menu for a hotel coffee shop is quite gourmet and has a number of healthy dishes on the menu like salads, detox juices and vegetarian mains, as well as indulgent items that are either Asian or Western.

You can dine on nasi goreng, Hainan chicken rice, and prawn masala, or have risotto, steak or pizza.

But be sure to save room for dessert -- and there are too many options to choose from!

Three of us this evening opted to try the warm brownies pudding (HK$108), a dark chocolate brownie baked in a ramekin topped with a scoop of peanut butter vanilla ice cream with a side of hot chocolate sauce.

Sound delicious?

It tasted divine.

The dark chocolate brownie was slightly bitter, but combined with the sweetness of the ice cream and a touch of chocolate sauce was a perfect combination. The ice cream had a flavourful peanutty taste that wasn't overpowering, but more than a hint.

But oh that brownie... nom nom...

Cafe Causette
M/F, Mandarin Oriental
5 Connaught Road Central
2825 4005

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Mixing Religion with Politics

The installation of Archbishop Paul Kwong (left) in 2007
The campaign against Occupy Central continues, and this time it's Reverend Paul Kwong, the Archbishop of the Hong Kong Anglican Church.

On Sunday he spoke to his congregation and gave a sermon on how to be a Christian.

He could not help but wade into politics, and perhaps it's not surprising that as a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, he would have a particular slant on the July 1 march and Occupy Central.

"Whenever people see me, or other church leaders, they will say, 'We must speak up! Speak up at all times, on everything, understand? It is a must to fight'," he said.

"For what do people have to speak up so much? [It appears] as if they wouldn't have another chance, as if they were dumb otherwise," Kwong said.

He then talked about the virtues of silence, citing a Biblical story of how Jesus behaved when he was sentenced to death by Pontius Pilate.

"Jesus remained silent in the face of Pilate. He was like a lamb awaiting slaughter. Sometimes we don't have to say anything. Silence is better than saying anything."

Kwong also made a dig at the young protesters who were arrested on Chater Road in Central the day following the July 1 march.

"Last week some students arrested by the police told reporters: 'We had no food to eat. We had to queue up for the toilet'. I would say, 'why didn't they bring along their Filipino maids to the march'."

But perhaps the best part was when he said the city should keep quiet, just as "Jesus remained silent" in the face of crucifixion.

Not everyone was a fan of Kwong after he made these remarks.

A female caller told RTHK today that she was outraged by his sermon and that she now "needs to join another church".

"He is really outrageous," she said. "He has changed since his CPPCC appointment. He feels the need to speak for the central government. Does he know what the 'one country, two systems' policy is? He doesn't even know the Basic Law. How can he be a religious leader?"

It's interesting that Kwong is a member of the CPPCC as Beijing doesn't look too kindly on religion unless it's government sanctioned. Perhaps the Hong Kong Anglican Church is "harmonized" or politically correct towards the central government?

And since when does a religious leader (other than the Pope) make political comments?

And why is Kwong making fun of people who felt strongly enough to spend most of their public holiday to come out and march in the heat and rain with hundreds of thousands of other people to peacefully express their outrage about Beijing's white paper?

Some of the students may have been young and didn't know or think about what they were getting themselves into when they decided to stay overnight in Central. But the July 1 march is a good introduction to civic education, to exercise their right to express themselves and be part of a congenial atmosphere that is rare in Hong Kong the other 364 days of the year.

Kwong's most egregious comments are telling people not to speak up, and that they should be docile, like a lamb to the slaughter.

If we don't speak up and push back, then our freedoms and rights will be infringed upon even more -- no one is looking out for us -- the pan-democrats are too busy bickering amongst themselves, or throwing things in the Legislative Council. And so it is up to us to say something.

We understand that Beijing has some jurisdiction over Hong Kong -- but not all. The city still has rule of law that is unique as well as freedom of speech and the press.

The last I looked it's not 2047 yet...