Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Number of the Day: 579

Carrie Lam has definitely secured her name on the ballot for the CE election
Hong Kong Chief Executive contender Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor must have been an overachiever as a kid because today she handed in a whopping 579 nominations to the Electoral Affairs Office be eligible for next month's election.

She only needed a minimum of 150 nominations. Her rival John Tsang had 156, and Woo Kwok-hing 179.

Surely Tung Chee-hwa's hug is a big hint from Beijing?
Some say she did that to quash Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee's chances, others say it's just in her nature to get A++ on everything. We're not in school, Carrie. And this isn't the real race -- that's next month!

The real work begins now, getting out into the hustings and trying to get 601 votes on March 26.

While people may nominate her now, it doesn't mean she has 579 votes in the bag.

Many worry she is CY Leung 2.0, while others are resigned to the hints from Beijing that she is the preferred candidate. As the vast majority of us aren't allowed to vote, we'd at least like to see her work for her votes.

Lam didn't handle negotiations with the students well in 2014
Her handling of the recent Palace Museum fiasco isn't going as smoothly as she had hoped, and the vestiges of the Occupy protests are continuing to haunther too.

Not everyone is as enamoured of her as Beijing had hoped...

Monday, 27 February 2017

Picture of the Day: Woo Kwok-hing

Woo Kwok-hing commuting like everyone else on the MTR
I forgot to post this picture last week.

Last Friday after I checked out the interactive art installation Super Pool, I took the MTR home, and who got on the same carriage? A guy who looked like Woo Kwok-hing, who is now officially the second person to run in the election for the next chief executive of Hong Kong.

Was it him? I wasn't sure, but it looked like him.

He got on the train, saw an empty seat and sat down. No one recognized him or even said hello. I was very surprised he had no assistant with him. He just sat down, saw that others were focused on their phones so he decided to do the same.

In the end he got off at Sai Ying Pun and just as low-key as he got on, he left the train without anyone noticing.

Cool? Or pathetic no one seemed to care?!

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Review: Hidden Figures

An inspiration film based on true events with a touch of humour
Last night I caught the movie Hidden Figures about the black women who worked at NASA as "calculators" during the 1950s and 60s. The story was set in 1961 when the Russians were beating the Americans in the race to space.

Luckily NASA had Katherine Goble (played by Taraji Henson) who as a young child already displayed a talent for mathematics. She was assigned to work in the Space Task Group on John Glenn's first trip into space and manages to figure out an equation to bring him back safely.

Her friends are Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae), who aspires to become an engineer and even fights in court to be able to attend engineering night classes in an all-white school, and Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) is smart enough to learn computer code so that her job and those of her cohorts won't disappear.

Katherine Goble made calculations for space missions
It was difficult to watch the underlying theme of segregation in the film, how blacks had to use "coloured" washrooms, lunch rooms, sections in libraries, buses, and so on. But it reflects that era when blacks were forced into such humiliating situations. The same could be said with Asians as well in another period.

But at the same time it was heartening to see how the three women handled such condescending attitudes by still carrying on with dignity and teaching their children to do the same.

It was pretty amazing that these three women are real people who accomplished so much under such adverse conditions as documented in the non-fiction book by Margo Lee Shetterly. However the movie has a few historical inaccuracies that should be pointed out.

While the movie was set in 1961, Vaughn was already made the first black and female supervisor in 1949.

By 1958 there were no more segregated facilities at NACA (later called NASA). The scene where Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) takes down the coloured sign for the bathroom is fictional, nor was he her boss, but Robert Gilruth.

The real Goble (Johnson), Jackson and Vaughn
Also in that same year Jackson becomes NASA's first black female engineer.

Although John Glenn did request Goble (she later remarried and became Katherine Johnson) to recheck the IBM calculations for his landing, she had a few days to do this, not within hours of his launch.

The movie's epilogue says Johnson also calculated the trajectories for Apollo 11 and Apollo 13, and for the Space Shuttle. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 and a 40,000 square foot Computational Research Facility at the Langley Research Center was renamed the Katherine G Johnson Computational Research Facility in her honour last year. She is 97 years old.

Jackson also went onto helping other people, particularly women get promoted at NASA.

Thank you to these women and all those who worked as "computers" at NASA to inspire us to keep pushing onwards and upwards in realising our dreams. There is no limit unless you think they exist.

Hidden Figures
Directed by Theodore Melfi
Starring Taraji Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae

Saturday, 25 February 2017

A Three-Horse Race

Big smiles from John Tsang securing enough nominations to run for CE
It's not even Wednesday yet and two chief executive hopefuls have already submitted their formal nominations.

Former Finance Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah beat the pack (and almost tripped) on the way to the electoral office on Saturday with a submission of 160 nominees, even though the requirement is 150.

Woo Kwok-hing is also formally in the race with 156 nods
While Tsang has the popular vote among the public for his easy-going attitude, interest in sports, and apparently coffee and French movies, he only managed to bag 10 nominations from the pro-Beijing camp, which doesn't seem to bode well in the election next month if he is to beat Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.

Former Justice Woo Kwok-hing is also formally in the race too with 156 nominations. Upon receiving the forms to apply, Woo said it was "his happiest moment" since he declared his candidacy and he would strive to bring democracy to Hong Kong.

Lam has said she will give in her nomination on Wednesday, even though she has apparently secured 300 nominations already. Sounds like she is hoping for extra brownie points.

And as we covered here yesterday Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee is far behind, but continues to try to get more nominations though her chances are slim.

Leung Kwok-hung didn't even get enough public support
But she's not the last one -- "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung is faring even worse than her with not even enough public support to suggest he should run. He had hoped to get 38,000 names from the public, but only got 20,234.

Thank goodness that embarrassment is over. While he thought he would offer an alternative, he was seriously not even a decent candidate. See, the public knows how the game works.

It looks like it'll be a three-horse race and we hope it'll get feisty with Woo holding Tsang and Lam accountable for what they have done or not done. We've already had a few crooks in office, we don't need more...

Friday, 24 February 2017

Regina Ip's Losing Battle

Regina Ip is determined to keep fighting to the end of the chief executive race
Is chief executive candidate Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee trying to get sympathy votes or trying to show she's become a different person since 2003?

She is now saying that Beijing's "insecure" leaders have been trying to offer her top appointments to national bodies in exchange for dropping out of the leadership race next month.

Ip has also criticized front runner Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor as "Regina Ip" from a decade ago, who thought everything she did was right.

"[Lam] was like what I was some 10 years ago," Ip said in an interview with Cable TV, referring to her intense unpopularity when she tried to push through Article 23 and failed spectacularly, and had no choice but to resign.

Carrie Lam is way ahead with 300 nominations, Ip has 20
Continuing her critique of Lam, Ip said: "[She] always fights those who hold different opinions as she has spent too long in the administration and hears only one side of voices -- just like how I was before."

So far Ip has only secured about 20 votes from the Election Committee and needs a minimum of 150 by next Wednesday to be on the ballot.

Lam already has 300 nominations.

Ip also said it was rare for Beijing to express its strong preference for a candidate before the nomination stage.

"The central government is... insecure," Ip said, suggesting Beijing was worried she would take votes away from Lam.

"I think it would bring no good to the governance of the next administration if it is perceived that a candidate could only win the race because of the strong backing from the central government."

She also revealed that someone claiming to have close ties with Beijing had offered to compensate her if she quit the race.

Zhang Xiaoming had offered the LegCo President spot to Ip
"They said I do not necessarily need to stay in Hong Kong if I want to serve the city as they could offer me posts at the National People's Congress or the Chinese People's Consultative Conference... even very top positions. But I do not want a consolation prize," Ip said.

In December, Ip said Zhang Xiaoming, director of Beijing's liaison office in Hong Kong, had once asked her to be the Legislative Council president. She dismissed it as a signal from Beijing that she was not a favoured candidate, Ip said at the time.

Is Ip serious? Or is she just talking a load of hot air?

It's really intriguing that she is so open about what Beijing is trying to do behind the scenes.

It seems Beijing is anxious about Ip losing big time and like an overprotective parent wants to cushion the blow by offering what she calls "a consolation prize" now. If you had 20 nominations, would you take up Beijing's offer?

Even Woo Kwok-hing has 70 nominations -- not bad for a black horse.

Ip may have to face the music and realize that even though she may have tried to change her image, people still have very strong reactions to her and distinctly remember what she did in 2003. She may have been following orders, but she pushed through what was very contentious legislation.

The next chief executive may try to pass Article 23 again, but in the meantime Ip is an interesting character who seems determined to fight to the end, even if she loses by a huge margin...

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Tsang Saga Isn't Over Yet

Kwok Cheuk-kin has filed a judicial review on Bill Wong and David Li
Former Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang Kam-yuen is now in Stanley Prison with his cohort Rafael Hui Si-yan. Perhaps Hui is giving Tsang some orientation and tips on how to survive prison life.

Tonight some friends told me Tsang was known to be stingy. Was he so miserly that he didn't want to pay for the renovations on his Shenzhen flat? Or was he greedy? The man was well paid as chief executive of Hong Kong AND has a pension of HK$80,000 a month.

Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen is named in the application
If your housing is already taken care of, surely that pension would be more than enough to spend... it's definitely more than most people's salaries in Hong Kong...

In any event, the saga over the trial is still not over.

A former civil servant who has a penchant for filing legal challenges against the government on behalf of the little guy has done so again today.

Kwok Cheuk-kin has filed a judicial review application, questioning why Wave Media's Bill Wong Cho-bau and BEA bank's David Li Kwok-po were let off lightly. Kwok accuses the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the Department of Justice of maladministration, as they failed to do justice to all relevant parties.

As well as ICAC chief Simon Peh for maladministration
In the application naming Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung and ICAC chief Simon Peh Yun-lu the respondents, Kwok claims the commission and department should take action against Wong and Li, citing equality before the law according to the Basic Law.

We heard during the trial that Li evaded ICAC investigators for years and then gave up, believing he would not cooperate. As for Wong, why wasn't he called to testify?

Will the judicial review go ahead? In the benefit of public interest, it should.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Bow-tie Tsang Begins 20-Month Prison Term

Donald Tsang (in handcuffs) was escorted to court for sentencing today
Donald Tsang Yam-kuen heard his fate this morning and the judge handed him a 20-month sentence behind bars. Tsang is now the first knighted and highest-ranked official to be convicted for misconduct.

"Never in my judicial career have I seen a man fallen from so high," said Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai. Tsang closed his eyes as he heard the sentence, while his wife Selina of almost 50 years began to cry in the public gallery.

The judge was originally going to sentence him to 30 months, but after receiving over 40 letters of mitigation from people like former Secretary for Administration Anson Chan Fong On-sang, pan-democrat Albert Ho Chun-yan, and chief executive hopefuls Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and John Tsang Chun-wah, Justice Chan lowered Tsang's jail time to 20 months.

Tsang's wife Selina cried upon hearing the 20-month jail term
Justice Chan said Tsang had breached the trust placed in him by both the people of Hong Kong and the people of China.

The prosecution has already indicated it will retry the charge of misconduct regarding the alleged HK$3.35 million in renovations on his Shenzhen apartment in exchange for approving Wave Media applications when the jury failed to reach a verdict last week.

People have mixed reactions about the sentencing. Some feel Tsang didn't do any harm to anyone and so he should receive a lighter sentence, or none at all. But he was the leader of Hong Kong -- there are expectations our senior officials are supposed to exercise strong moral judgment not only on what's best for the city, but also of their own behaviour.

While he did a lot of good for Hong Kong in his 45-year career with the government, he was caught red-handed hanging out with tycoons on one of their yachts in Macau. He tried to worm his way out of it, but the evidence was stark.

Rafael Hui is serving a 7.5 year jail sentence for bribery
Tsang's sentence sets a precedence so that all civil servants know that they cannot take advantage of their positions for personal gain. If he didn't do any time for that, then we might see even more corruption cases.

But now we're two for two -- Rafael Hui Si-yan, and now Tsang. They may be reunited in Stanley prison too.

Two is already too many -- why does Hong Kong have people like this in office? More importantly why has Beijing chosen these people?

Seeing the intense media interest in Tsang's trial shows that senior officials must prove their worth, otherwise they too will suffer the same fate -- the humiliation of having fallen from so high.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Mainland Misunderstandings About HK

The seven police officers who were sentenced for assaulting Ken Tsang
After the seven police officers were sentenced to two years in jail for assaulting Ken Tsang Kin-chiu during the Occupy protests two years ago, it was shocking to read that the son of a general in China was willing to pay people 10,000 yuan each to beat up the judge who sentenced them.

Cai Xiaoxin, the son of late PLA Major General Cai Changyuan, wrote on his social media account he would pay anyone who would assault Judge David Dufton.

Other mainlanders were angered that a foreign judge would rule against the police officers, and felt Dufton was sympathetic to the Occupy protesters because he was British.

Hu Xijin claims the British judge's ruling was biased
Even Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of The Global Times said Dufton's ruling was biased and influenced by politics. He said the judicial system in Hong Kong had inherited a tinge of colonialism and not committed to China's constitution.

Here we go again -- the giant rift between how Hong Kong and China works, and the difference between rule of law being upheld by the book, and by political influence.

Eric Cheung Tat-ming, a lecturer on law at the University of Hong Kong, said the outrage expressed in mainland media over the case was due to the lack of understanding of how the city's legal system worked.

"The Basic Law establishes that our judges were appointed by reference to their professional ability and merits rather than where they are from or their race," Cheung said.

The ruling, he explained, was not influenced by politics, and that jurisdictions that practiced common law regularly had judges from overseas hear local cases.

"The common law system is a legacy of the colonial era. But it is guaranteed in the Basic Law that we can continue the... system."

Ken Tsang (centre) was beaten up after in police custody
Also, it is outrageous and dangerous for the People's Daily to say: "The genesis of the Occupy movement in Hong Kong is inseparable from the political landmine the British government planted before it left the city."

That is fake news.

A culmination of factors led to the Occupy movement that sprung up completely spontaneously, the likes of which we will probably never see again.

The Chinese government is trying to blame someone else for Hong Kong people's unhappiness with the electoral reform package, but it was Beijing's white paper in 2014 that set the tone for the resentment and frustration towards the mainland that resulted in the 79-day protest.

But the Chinese will never understand these things because they see things the way Beijing wants them to see them, ie: warped.

The fact is, is that seven police officers beat, punched, kicked and slapped a man already in custody. Yes he got into trouble with the law by pouring liquid on them, but that doesn't give the police license to assault him when he was already ziptied.

This is what is wrong and they are being punished for it.

Seems pretty straight forward, no?

As for former Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's conviction, there was probably no news about it at all on the mainland...

Monday, 20 February 2017

Super Fun Super Pool

People playing with lights in front of the Bank of China
On Friday evening I finished working out at the gym and on my way home I heard music and saw some glowing lights at Chater Garden, across from the Bank of China Building.

The circular art installation gets people involved
I took a closer look and saw in a circular penned area were colourful discs that changed colours when people stepped on them, and music played in the background.

It turns out it's an interactive art installation called Super Pool by Jen Lewin, an American artist based out of New York.

She is known for combining light, sound and complex engineering to create art installations that use LED lighting.

One of her best known works is called Pool, that uses over 200 LED-lit platforms that change colour according to the pressure and speed changes of the person stepping on it.

The Pool Around The World from Jen Lewin Studio on Vimeo.

For Super Pool, over 100 of the LED-lit pads are used.

The installation is part of the 45th Hong Kong Arts Festival that just kicked off last Thursday and it has since moved on to either Tsim Sha Tsui or Tsing Yi because tonight Super Pool is already gone from Central.

Everyone had fun watching the pads change colour
Nevertheless, I managed to get inside to try out Super Pool myself and it was the perfect playground for kids to run around, while adults were busy taking selfies. Super Pool is even cooler at night with the pads glowing from blue to aquamarine to magenta.

Visitors could play at Super Pool for about half an hour until the next batch of people are allowed in, but really 15 minutes was plenty. Afterwards we were encouraged to Instagram pictures we had taken and add #superpoolhkaf so that it would appear on its own account on a large screen and we could even get our picture printed out for fun.

While most people probably didn't understand the artistic value of the piece, it was definitely enjoyed by a lot of visitors who had fun playing with lights and sound on a Friday night.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Swimming and Dogs on Sunday

There was little fanfare about the Kennedy Town indoor pools open
I don't take the bus home often these days, mostly because of time. But yesterday I wasn't in a rush and did, only to find that when the bus passed the Kennedy Town Swimming Pool, I was shocked to see people standing outside.

It was just before 6pm and I saw a banner out front that announced the indoor pool was open!

I had read earlier it wouldn't open until April!

When I went home I checked the government website and yes -- it was open since February 9.

At left is the 50-metre pool, 25 metres on right, and jacuzzi
So this morning before a brunch appointment at noon, I rushed over to the pool to check it out.

Underneath the futuristic roof are two pools, one 25 metres long, the other 50 metres. The former looked like it was occupied with adults and children taking swimming lessons so I went over to the other pool.

While it was great to be in the pool again, it was dismaying to find nothing had been done to fix the problem of people swimming into each other thanks to no proper lanes nor separating people according to their speed.

As a result (much like my previous public pool experiences), I had to keep a constant eye on what was in front of me in case someone literally popped up in front of me and had to duck the side.I also had to pass many people because they swam so slow.

Yes, many of them were men!

I'm not used to swimming 50 metres so I got tired out quickly, but this will be good practice for me to build my endurance. In the end I swam 1,500 metres in about 35 minutes.

So many puppies asleep together, the latest addition at the top
In the changing room I overheard two women, one senior, one middle-aged, exclaim how wonderful it was to have the indoor pool open. They found the Dr Sun Yat-Sen pool in Sai Ying Pun inconvenient to get to, and so this one was a marked improvement. I hope they won't tell all their friends...

At the same time it'll be interesting to see the dynamics in the pools once the outdoor one is open too.

I still fondly remember swimming outdoors in November, when the water temperature was a bit cooler, which deterred many people from swimming outside, and a bonus was a nice tan on my back.

This little guy was very cute to meet!
After my brunch appointment in Central, I decided to walk home and took the long route, popping into stores I was interested in and then when I approached Sai Ying Pun I remembered a friend telling me about the SPCA having dogs available to pet from 3pm on Sundays.

I headed over and saw the "Adopt a dog" sign. In a makeshift pen, five puppies slept inside it. One of the volunteers gently pinched their ears but they were dead asleep. There were two dogs that were outside the pen on leashes. I got to pet one of them, a lovely mutt that was curious and very gentle, who didn't mind us patting his head.

It's too bad they are located in such a small obscure area so not many people know they are there. But it was nice to see some cute dogs and hope to visit them again soon...

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Hong Kong Copy Cat

Commerce Secretary Greg So announced a big shopping day on July 1
The Hong Kong government really has no idea how to stimulate the economy.

Its latest brilliant notion?

Go shopping.

July 1 this year is the 20th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong back to China, and how best to celebrate than to have a shopping day similar to China's Singles Day on November 11.

Prices and discounts will involve the numbers 7 and 1
While the one on the mainland is mostly online, the one in Hong Kong will be online and offline, and even better, discounts or prices will involve the numbers "7" and "1" in honour of July 1. So there can be items that are HK$710, or 71 percent off, HK$71 or just 71 items available.


Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Greg So Kam-leung explained the idea was inspired by e-commerce giant Alibaba's annual super sale day on November 11.

In China, Singles Day is the biggest shopping event in the world, last year setting a record at US$17.8 billion, beating the 2015 record of US$14.3 billion.

So said the government would help facilitate bringing offline and online sales together, and Hong Kong's shopping event would last between three to seven days.

Singles Day is a boon for China -- will it be for HK too?
If this is the best strategy our government has for improving our economy, it just reveals its pathetic short-term thinking.

We're also all in big trouble because it also means the government is not determined to protect the environment in terms of recycling or reducing waste, which actually has the potential to be an innovative way to boost our economy...

Friday, 17 February 2017

Donald Tsang Found Guilty

Donald Tsang emerges from the courthouse with his family
Today Hong Kong has reached another new low -- its former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has been found guilty of misconduct in public office.

It was the charge of discussing Wave Media's broadcast license but failed to disclose it was a conflict of interest because he was also negotiating a Shenzhen penthouse with one of Wave Media's shareholders, Bill Wong Cho-bau.

Designer Barrie Ho was involved in renovating the flat
However, Tsang, 72, was not found guilty of public office in the charge in Tsang's failure to disclose his relationship with designer Barrie Ho Chow-lai when he nominated him for a civic award. Ho was involved in the HK$3.5 million renovation of the Shenzhen flat.

The defense had said it was not necessary for Tsang to declare the connection, because if he did, it would put pressure on others to approve Ho's nomination.

On the third charge of Tsang receiving free renovation work worth HK$3.5 million on the Shenzhen flat in exchange for approving Wave Media's application, jurors could not agree.

Some of them may have agreed with the defense that the state of the flat was uninhabitable so the renovations would have been done anyway, and in any event Tsang would only live there temporarily.

What about the HK$350K the Tsangs received from David Li?
It's surprising the jurors could not come to an agreement on the third charge listed here -- what about the HK$350,000 that was taken out of BEA chairman David Li Kwok-po and Wave Media shareholder's bank account and then half an hour later Tsang's wife Selina deposited the same amount into her bank account in the same financial institution?

In any event, Tsang will be sentenced on Monday, the maximum sentence could be seven years and a fine.

Finally some closure on this long drawn out trial, not the actual trial itself, but how long it took from him being charged to going to trial.

Prosecutors said he was a two-faced liar, who colluded with wealthy businessmen for personal gain, while the defense said Tsang would never want to sully his 45-year career in the civil service by accepting a bribe.

But it looks like on one count at least the jury believed the prosecution, and Tsang will have to pay for that.

Are there more corrupt government officials we need to know about? It just shows the government's checks and balances aren't enough to keep its officials on the straight and narrow, and that the media needs to do more to make them accountable.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Mysterious Murder of Kim Jong-nam

Kim Jong-nam traveled between Macau, China and Paris
The news of the murder of Kim Jong-un's half-brother on Monday is shocking news, and now three suspects have been arrested.

One woman carrying a Vietnamese passport was arrested yesterday. She was seen on CCTV footage at Kuala Lumpur International Airport wearing a white long-sleeved shirt with "LOL" on it, and a long skirt.

CCTV footage of one of the women who was arrested
Is she trying to be ironic?

The other two are an Indonesian woman and Malaysian man.

Kim Jong-nam, 45, was attacked at in the shopping area of the airport before he passed through immigration. There are still questions over what exactly happened -- one story is that two women put a sheet over his head that had poisonous chemicals on it, another is that poisonous darts were shot at him.

But many believe North Korea was behind the assassination, demonstrating Kim Jong-un's undisputed power in eliminating any other critics and rivals in his way.

According to Kim Jong-nam's friends in Macau who knew him as "John", he didn't speak much about the regime in North Korea, but knew he was living on borrowed time, as there had been assassination attempts on him before.

It is believed Kim's son in his early 20s, daughter and wife all live in Macau.

Kim Jong-nam (right) with his father Kim Jong-il
As the oldest son, Kim was believed to be the potential heir to Kim Jong-il, but after he entered Japan illegally to visit Disneyland in 2001 on a false Dominican Republic passport, his prospects ended.

Kim never contested his younger half brother for the leadership, and instead moved to Macau. According to his friend, Kim traveled between Macau, China and Paris, where he liked French wines and food.

Before moving to Macau, Kim had reportedly held senior posts in the Pyongyang government, working in information technology and domestic intelligence.

"He didn't talk much about his brother or the regime, although sometimes he would crack jokes about it," Kim's friend says. "He was mostly reserved in that regard. He never hid that he had some political aspirations. He did not want to succeed his father and he did not agree with his brother's regime, but I think he hoped one day he could play some political role in his country."

The following days and months will reveal more about the autopsy results of the body and perhaps more on why and how Kim was murdered. And to do the dirty deed in another country raises many diplomatic issues...

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Fashion Gripes of the Day

Please cut those white threads off the back of your coat!
Most Hong Kong people like to pride themselves on being fashionable.

But sometimes they are just slightly off the mark.

These days I see a lot of young people wearing coats and don't realize they need to cut off the "x" seam at the back to allow the vent to open.

Yesterday I walked behind this young man for about 15 minutes in Fotan in the New Territories and wanted to tap him on the shoulder and say, "You need to cut off that white thread at the back of your coat!"

I've seen young women wearing coats and not cutting off the "x" threads either. The sales people should really let them know they should cut it off when they get home. It's a sign that the coat is new, but if you keep wearing it like that, then it just shows your ignorance unfortunately!

Furry mules... are they really necessary?
Another fashion faux pas are fashion slaves. They will buy the latest "it" pieces without thinking about practicality or if the item suits them.

Take these latest Gucci mules called Princetown leather slippers. They are designer street dusters because the fur is touching the ground and how practical is it wearing these shoes? How can you even walk in them?

I spotted this woman wearing them in Kennedy Town -- not exactly The Landmark.

Apparently these shoes cost US$995 but they have this air of aristocracy that seems so out of place in 2017. Hardly seems practical or necessary...

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Vindication for Beaten Occupy Protester

Ken Tsang outside the court today flanked by supporters and yellow umbrellas
Finally over two years later, vindication for the Occupy Movement with seven police officers convicted of kicking, punching and stepping on activist Ken Tsang Kin-chiu after he was arrested and handcuffed for assaulting police.

The seven originally faced one joint count of causing grievous bodily harm with intent, but were found not guilty. Instead they were convicted of lesser, alternative charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Seven police officers were convicted of assaulting Tsang
That charge carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison, while common assault is one year.

The police officers will be sentenced this Friday.

Judge David Dufton's verdict caps one of the most controversial incidents during the 79-day protest. During the trial the court heard Tsang, 41, testify how on October 15, 2014, he had poured liquid onto some police officers during a clearance operation in Admiralty.

He was arrested and zip-tied, but instead of being brought to one of the coaches to transport arrested protesters, he was taken to a substation and assaulted.

On October 14, 2014, they dragged Tsang to a substation
The 224-page judgment found that there Tsang was dumped to the ground and immediately assaulted, which resulted in injuries to his face, neck, shoulder, flank, chest and back.

Part of the assault was captured on video by several media that defense lawyers had tried to dismiss as unauthentic evidence.

While a chief inspector and senior inspector did not actually take part in the assault, but watched on, Judge Dufton pointed out: "Every police officer has a duty to intervene to prevent the commission of a crime, even by fellow police officers. A police officer's duty is to keep the peace. If a police officer stands by and watches his colleague beat up a suspected person, his failure to intervene is evidence of encouragement to carry out the assault."

They were captured on video assaulting Tsang
Interestingly none of the seven officers presented evidence during the trial, though several mitigation letters written by other police officers and family members of the seven were submitted to the court during mitigation.

The police also spent a staggering HK$9 million on defense legal fees, and the force has raised over HK$10 million if the seven decide to appeal.

Monday, 13 February 2017

The Risks of Not Training

Tens of thousands of people compete in the 10K race in six heats
Following the Standard Chartered Marathon yesterday, one woman died this afternoon after she finished running the 10K race and collapsed.

The 52-year-old woman was rushed to hospital and then died, with no updates on the cause of death yet.

She is the third person within five years to die. In 2015, a 24-year-old died in hospital after collapsing 100 metres from the finish line in a 10K run. And in 2014, a 26-year-old man died moments after completing the half marathon.

It is crucial for runners to train even for the 10K race
After his death, marathon organizers increased the number of medical staff on site from 700 to 800.

But is that really the solution?

Part of the problem is that there is a number of people who haven't trained at all for the 10K run. While marathon organizers say it isn't feasible to screen the health of participants, the onus is really up to the runners. Surely they must know what a 10K run involves? If not, they need to ask someone who does, and see if it is something they can accomplish and if so, find out how to train for it.

In 2014, Baptist University conducted a study that found one-third of the event's 10K runners didn't train at all for the race in the 12 months leading to the big event.

Another one third trained for the run once a week.

Dr Lobo Louie Hung-tak, who lead the study, said training three times a week -- 40 to 48 kilometres of running -- were recommended to reduce the risk of injury for the 10K event, while half and full marathon participants should train five to six times a week.

He said insufficient training could lead to not only injury, but possibly death.

A 2014 study found 1/3 of runners didn't train for the 10K
"It's like a car that's being pushed to keep going even when the fuel tank is at empty," he said.

"In some serious cases, runners can collapse, be in a state of shock, start hallucinating or fall into a coma."

If that warning isn't shocking enough to get people to seriously consider training, or have second thoughts about running the race, I don't know what is.

The entrance fee for the 10K run is about HK$350 which is very reasonable, but people need to take a race of this distance with some seriousness.

While it is thoughtful of organizers to boost the number of first aid responders along the three routes for the 10K, half marathon and full marathon, it is really up to the runners to know their athletic ability.

There are fatalities at marathons around the world -- usually the full marathon, people collapsing at or near the finish line. But 42km is an extreme distance for the vast majority of us. That doesn't mean that all of us can run 10K -- we can, but we should train for it.

To not train for any race is wishful thinking and disrespecting one's body by pushing it to extremes it is not prepared for.

It would be interesting to know if other 10K races around the world have seen serious incidents. If it's only in Hong Kong, then there is a serious problem about health education in the city.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Nice Day for a 10K Run

Finally making it to the starting line before starting the 10K run
I went to bed early hoping to get a decent night's sleep, but was a bit anxious about running the 10K in the Standard Chartered Marathon. While my start time wasn't too early, I still had to wake up early to get ready and get to the site.

When I ran it in 2015, I overdressed and got overheated, resulting in me walking twice to catch my breath. This time I followed what other experienced runners do -- wear a plastic rain poncho to keep warm.

Several thousand people ran together this morning
And it pretty much did the job, and the weather cooperated as well. However, I drank a bit too much water in the morning and had to go line up for the porta-potty three times...!

By the time I got to the starting line -- I was way, way back. It took me five minutes just to walk to the starting line. And then we were off! But the first almost two kilometres were crazy, dodging people and trying to get some rhythm in my pace. It was hard, thanks to the narrow road (one lane was closed off because of construction), and so it took a while just to jockey out of the crowd.

At first my hands were very cold -- I had shake them periodically to get the blood circulating. The sun was out and so it was nice to be in the shade thanks to buildings covering the sunshine.

In about half an hour we reached and passed the Film Archive building in Sai Wan Ho and turned around to go back. The highway was undulating up and down. I just tried to keep my pace. At the five-kilometre mark I looked at my phone that had an app tracking my progress and it was at 33 minutes. Pretty good.

The view this morning from Tin Hau starting point
Soon it was 6km, 7km... and there were more people walking. I've said this before, but it bears repeating -- people who plan to walk, should move off to the side so that they don't get in the way of runners, particularly in the beginning. But by this point we were decently spread out and I was catching up to people who had been up in the front.

There were also people taking pictures at each sign that indicated which kilometre we were at. Really? Don't you want to run as fast as you can and not waste time taking pictures with your friends?

Past the 8km mark was the second drinks station and the end was in sight. I even saw one of my colleagues and shouted his name and waved to him, and he took some pictures of me...

Just past 9km, I was starting to get really tired, but I had to tell myself to keep going because it was almost over. Getting onto the on ramp (actually the cars use it as an off ramp) was tough because it was pretty steep, but I kept my pace. Many people were walking at this point, others began running again at the top because it was downhill from there.

It took me five minutes to walk to the starting line!
When I turned into Victoria Park towards the finish line I tried to run as fast as I could. The time on my phone? 1:06:17. My official time is 1:06:19.

I shaved off several seconds from my 2014 time, and several minutes from 2015.

Interestingly I wasn't as exhausted as I was before, perhaps because I have been training so hard for this race in the last month or so. But the real test will be tomorrow and see how my thighs are doing.

For a recreational runner I'm pleased with the result and the weather conditions were just perfect for running today.