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February 19 2014

Hong Kong Protesters Target Shopping Mainland Chinese Tourists

Anti-mainland Chinese protest in Tsim Sha Tsui on February 2014. Photo from United Social Press by Nathan Tsui.

An anti-mainland Chinese protest in Tsim Sha Tsui in February 2014. Photo from United Social Press by Nathan Tsui.

[The author of this post is a volunteer editor for news site inmediahk.net, which is quoted in this report.]

A protest against mainland Chinese tourists took place in the most crowded shopping district in Tsim Sha Tsui in Hong Kong on February 17, 2014, with about a hundred protesters yelling at mainland Chinese tourists and calling them “locusts”.

The total number of tourists in Hong Kong in 2012 reached 48 million, with 72 percent coming from mainland China and most of them under the “individual visit scheme“. It has been estimated that the number of tourists would rise to more than 54 million visits in 2013, with 75 percent coming from mainland China and 67 percent under the “individual visit scheme”, half of which were coming from Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

Though the huge number of tourists has contributed to Hong Kong's economic growth, it has generated a number of social problems. In addition to the seemingly always overcrowded shopping districts, hopping the border to shop for daily necessities has led to the shortage of goods such as infant milk powder and medicines. Shops that serve local communities’ needs have been turning into luxury good shops for mainland Chinese nouveau riche or pharmacies that sell infant milk powder and medicines for professional cross-border carriers.

However, as the “anti-locust” action targeted individual tourists rather than policymakers, only about a hundred joined the protest. The next day, a number of key government officials criticized the act as “barbaric”.

Indeed, many people disagreed with the action. For example, blogger “Montwithin” found the protesters, who claimed that they were “localists”, unreasonable:

今天的「本土」經常口中念念有詞要「反共」[...],但從來不敢去挑戰共產黨的軍政機關[...],對共產黨政權的極權、壓制自由和人權沒有半點批評,反而喜歡攻擊在「中港矛盾」上立場跟他們不一樣的香港人,説穿了祇不過是黨同伐異而已。到現在更變本加厲去騷擾沒有任何反抗能力的遊客,就跟義和拳一樣,是欺善怕惡。
如果要說遊客太多社會不勝負荷,那控訴的對象就應該是政府,問它爲什麽不採取任何措施減少這個問題。

The so-called “localists” in Hong Kong today claimed that they are against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) […] yet they seldom challenge the Chinese communist institutions and criticize the human rights violations and authoritative nature of the CCP regime. Instead, they like to attack those Hong Kong people who don't share their views when it comes to the “Hong Kong and China conflict”. They cannot agree to disagree. Now, they even harass tourists who can't fight back. They act like the Boxer Rioters [in Qing Dynasty] by choosing the weak to attack.

Even if society has been overwhelmed by the huge number of tourists, they should direct their anger at the government and demand policy changes.

But Lam Shui-Bun pointed out that the “barbaric act” is a reaction to the government's refusal to address the problem:

梁振英政府一直對大力發展旅遊業所帶來社會問題視而不見,導致族群衝突的炸彈爆發,有市民竟然要直接向內地旅客表達不滿。因此,香港政府才是族群衝突的始作俑者,是香港的可悲。
不論香港政府如何企圖增加旅遊景點,其實旺角、尖沙咀、銅鑼灣等熱門遊客區也是旅客必到之處,不能夠無限量增加旅客數目。旅客為香港帶來的擠迫,以及社會資源分配問題,香港人每日也感受得到。大力發展旅遊產業,所帶來的資本摧毀了本土特色的小店文化,更帶動了租金和物價上漲,香港人每日也感受得到。旅遊業所帶來的大部份經濟收益,通通流到大財團和資本家的口袋裡,普羅市民根本沒有明顯的得益,香港人每日也感受到。試問香港人又怎會不憤怒呢?

Leung Chun-ying's government had been playing dumb in regard to the problems brought by tourism and the explosion of cross-border social conflicts. [Instead of demanding the government to address the problem], people expressed their anger directly at the tourists. The Hong Kong government should be responsible for such conflict. The incident also reflected the pathetic situation in Hong Kong.

The government wanted to solve the problem by investing in more touristic spots, but the existing shopping districts in Mongkok, Tsim Sha Shui and Causeway Bay are still the “must visit” sites. These districts can no longer take in more tourists. Moreover, the city is overcrowded with tourists and people can feel the uneven distribution of social resources. The capital investing in the tourist sector has killed local shops and pushed up rent and inflation. The economic benefits are in the pockets of big corporations and capitalists, and ordinary Hong Kong people have gained very little. How can they not get angry?

Jonathan Chan, on the other hand, criticized the protesters for ruining the campaign:

一次絕劣的政治行動,又將本來努力構建的理論正當性被推翻了。[...] 這次「驅蝗遊行」另一個秀逗的地方,是參與者口叫「反殖民」,卻舉著港英旗。[...] 不但會含糊了反對自由行的目標,而且「政治不正確」,給建制派扣「港英餘孽」帽子的籍口。

A extremely poor political action has ruined all the justifiable reasons [for policy changes]. A highly funny scene is that the protesters chanted an “anti-colonialism” slogan during the “anti-locust” rally while holding the British colonial flag […] An action like that has distorted the objective of bringing change to the “individual visit scheme”, and it also has provided an opportunity for the pro-government political forces to label them as “colonial leftover subjects” because of the flag's “political incorrectness”.

Judging from the reaction on popular microblogging site Sina Weibo as translated by Mitch Blatt from China Hush, the British flag did generate public opinion in mainland China that may justify the Beijing government's policy in Hong Kong:

洋羽君在倭国:Haha, raising the British colonial flag to oppose colonialism, this wave of Hong Kong people is really cool. Except for yelling the slogans “Chinaman,” “locusts,” and “independence,” what other tricks do you have? Would singing a big imperial country’s national song make you feel strong? God Save the Queer, Oh, no, I mean Queen.
深情拥浮云:Raising the Union Jack to oppose imperialism. That’s a really good joke.
nbcherry:What do they mean by waving the British era flag? Being a dog for your compatriots isn’t as good as being a British running dog?
渣熊josh:I think British people are laughing until they cry.
XDH-谢: Really funny! If all the people holding up the Union Jack could go to England, then Hong Kong wouldn’t feel so crowded!

February 13 2014

Self-Censorship in Hong Kong Claims Another Popular Radio Host

China is ranked 175 while Hong Kong is ranked 61 in the freedom of press index 2014 released by Reporters without Border.

China is ranked 175th while Hong Kong is ranked 61st in the World Press Freedom Index 2014 released by Reporters Without Borders.

“Hong Kong's media independence is now in jeopardy”, Reporters Without Borders pointed out in its 2014 World Press Freedom Index. The conclusion echoes the Committee to Protect Journalists’ special report on the practice of self-censorship in Hong Kong, in which Hong Kong legislator Claudia Mo commented:

Self-censorship – it's like the plague, a cancerous growth, multiplying on a daily basis […] In Hong Kong, media organizations are mostly owned by tycoons with business interests in China. They don't want to lose advertising revenue from Chinese companies and they don't want to anger the central government.

In the past ten years, a large number of newspapers columnists, editors, radio and television talk show hosts have been sacked because of their critical stance towards the Hong Kong and Beijing governments. The situation has worsened in the past two years, thanks to the new leadership of Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) adoption of a hardline position on “ideological battle”, which upped the political pressure on media organizations in Hong Kong. The political interference is exercised through replacement of senior news editors and the withdrawal of advertisements by pro-Beijing corporates.

The latest example of the poor state of affairs is Commercial Radio Hong Kong (CRHK), which sacked its most popular radio host, Lee Wai-ling, on February 12, 2014 without providing any reason. Back in November last year, Lee was forced to switch from a morning program to an evening program under the excuse of program improvement. Despite the pressure, she vowed to keep her voice heard over the radio. But now she has been silenced, as depicted by Lam Sui-bun's political cartoon.

Ng Chi-sum, a former phone-in host for Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK), whose contract was discontinued in 2011 in spite of his popularity, pointed out that such “program rearrangements” are a kind of political punishment and humiliation. He shared his experience:

2004年我從香港電台早上烽煙調到黃昏,類似理由,聽過很多了。香港人收聽台的習慣,晨早上班前是黃金時段,聽眾最多,影響力最大,是兵家必爭之地。調到黃昏,聽眾立刻減少一半,擺明是要削弱你的影響力,如此調動,對節目主持人是懲罰,甚至是悔辱。
我被調到黃昏節目,絕不好過,為了平衡,他們找了幾個極左派來做我的拍檔,每次做完節目,都筋疲力盡 […] 還有向廣管局和電台的投訴攻勢,長官會不時刻意拿給我看,左派報紙一年五、六十篇的大批判文章,卻不聞不問,不發一言,不澄清不辯駁一個字都不回應。這擺明是要羞辱你,等你頂不住而辭職。

Back in 2004, I was switched from the morning to evening phone-in program at RTHK with similar excuses. Hong Kong residents are used to listening to the radio in the morning before they leave home for work. This is the peak hour with the most listeners and thus has the strongest influence [on public opinion]. It is a time slot that everyone wants to compete for. The switch will cut the audience by half and so is a move to reduce your influence. It is a punishment or even a humiliation for the host.

Political Cartoon by Lam Shui-bun.

Political cartoon depicting sacked radio host Lee Wai-ling. By Lam Shui-bun.

After I was moved to the evening, to balance the pro-Beijing voices of my co-host, I was extremely exhausted. […] In addition, I had to face all manners of complaints and attacks. My boss would hand me the articles written by the pro-Beijing newspapers to me. They published 50-60 articles within one year to discredit me. But my boss never spoke up to defend me. All these gestures are to humiliate you and to force you to resign.

Chan King-fai, a current affair commentator, observed that the political tolerance of the Beijing government has continued to shrink to the extent that even moderate critical voices have to be eliminated:

李小姐絕非火爆主持,而是擅長提問、「收風」和拆局,相比10 年前「青筋暴現」的名嘴,溫和太多了吧。同一份落差和驚訝也曾發生在較早之前,即吳志森被港台「封咪」之際:與之前的名嘴相比,「吳志森」猶如謙謙君子。但今天,隨着標準不斷滑落,他也成了必須被拔除的「眼中釘」。

Miss Lee is not radical. Her style is to raise questions, present insider views and analyze the political situation. When compared with the “hot-tempered” host ten years ago, she is too moderate. The same fate happened to Ng Chi-sum, who is like a gentleman. However, the standard [for censorship] keeps lowering and they have to be eliminated as well.

Blogger “hkcritics” asked what society could do to defend itself:

換個角度說,就是我不交代,你能把我怎樣﹖這是一個明確的信號-現時社會所有對政府施加的壓力都不能構成威脅。
被看扁了,但我們還有什麼施壓的板斧﹖包圍政總三百六十五日﹖參與佔中﹖李慧玲事件讓我們看到的香港的絕路,或者是一個溫度計,告訴我們溫水煮蛙的年代完結了,水已到沸點,政府可以對鍋裡的青蛙肆意蹂躪了。

To address the issue from another angle, even if I [the commercial radio] do not give any explanation, what can you do? This is a sign – regardless of the pressure that the public imposes on the government, it doesn't constitute a threat.

We are being looked down, what else can we do? Siege the government building for 356 days? Join the occupy central campaign? What we see here is a dead end. The thermometer tells us that the frog is no longer in warm water, the water is boiling and the government can do whatever it wants to the frog.

Lee Wai-ling talked about the political pressure Hong Kong media organization is facing today.

Lee Wai-ling talked about the political pressure Hong Kong media organizations are facing during a press conference.

Sacked radio host Lee Wai-ling believed that the incident is political in nature in a press conference on February 13. According to inmediahk.net's Facebook live-cast, Lee believes that:

她的事並不是單一事件,從《明報》換總編輯、《信報》,到《AM730》及《蘋果》被抽廣告可見。她期望香港人會醒,看清楚外面發生什麼事。今日還沉默的話,明日便會被集體沉默。

What happened to her is not a single issue. It is related to the replacement of Ming Pao's chief editor and Hong Kong Economic Journal's political reporter team, the withdrawal of commercial ads from AM730 and Apple Daily. She hope that Hong Kong people would wake up and see what's happening to the society. If they choose to remain silent today, tomorrow they have no choice but remain silent.

While some suggested that online new media can be an alternative to mainstream media, as big corporates start to withdraw advertising from independent news organizations, whether or not the commercial model of local new media initiatives can survive is in question. As for the voluntary based citizen media model, so far very few have had the resources and organizational backup to produce original news and investigative reports. Once Hong Kong's mainstream and conventional media organizations have fallen, the online media will be further ghettoized and marginalized.

February 12 2014

Journalists in Hong Kong and Taiwan Battle Beijing's Influence

Committee to Protect Journalist released a report on self-censorship practice in Hong Kong and Taiwan under the increasing influence from Beijing:

Self-censorship–it's like the plague, a cancerous growth, multiplying on a daily basis.

February 04 2014

Hong Kong: Flashmob Action To Free Xu Zhiyong


A group of Hong Kong students who met Chinese citizen right activist Xu Zhiyong in seminars before organized a flashmob action to express their support for Xu and demand his release. Xu Zhiyong was sentenced to four year imprisonment for organizing a small protest in Beijing last month.

January 21 2014

Indonesian Maid Says She Was Beaten, Starved and Burned in Hong Kong

Thousands rallied on January 19, 2014 demanding justice for Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, an Indonesian maid who was allegedly tortured by her employer. Photo from Hong Wong.

Thousands rallied on January 19, 2014 demanding justice for Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, an Indonesian maid who was allegedly tortured by her employer. Photo from Hong Wong.

[The author of this post is a volunteer editor for news site inmediahk.net, which is quoted in this report.]

Another damning case of foreign maid abuse has recently been exposed in Hong Kong. Thousands of Indonesian domestic workers and local residents in the city on January 19, 2014 demanding justice for Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, a domestic worker who was allegedly abused by her employer for months.

The 23-year-old maid arrived in Hong Kong in May 2013 and started working for a family in Tsueng Kwan O, where she says was beaten with sticks and hangers on a daily basis for 8 months for “poor performance” at her job. As a result of the compulsory live-in arrangement, she could not reach out to her fellow maids for help. She could not even escape because her passport was held up by the maid agency, which she says only cared about getting back their service fee from the maid's monthly salary and ignored her desperate call for help.

Local media reported that she was found “covered in cuts and burns” in the Hong Kong Airport on January 10, 2014 and was hospitalized immediately after she arrived back home in Java, Indonesia. Apart from obvious cuts, the initial medical report found small bone fractures in her head. In fact, she was let go by her employer because she could barely walk due to the injuries.

Erwiana Sulistyaningsih was found in the Hong Kong airport on January 10 with obvious physical injuries in her body. Photo from Apple Daily News, non-commercial use.

Erwiana Sulistyaningsih was found in the Hong Kong airport on January 10, 2014 with obvious physical injuries on her body. Photo from Apple Daily News, non-commercial use.

Back home in the hospital, Sulistyaningsih told the media that “she was beaten daily, burned and allowed only two meals of plain bread and rice per day. She was allowed to sleep only between 1 p.m.-5 p.m. but not at night”. In fact, she's not the first maid from this family who has claimed they were abusive; at least two other maids who worked for the same employer have said that they had similar experience.

Activist groups are working together to press for policy solution to end the city's modern-day slave system. Auyang Lunfa from inmediahk.net, a local citizen media site, reported from the rally one of the maid's testimony:

Foreign maid Susie revealed in the rally that she was also starve abused by the same employer between 2011 to 2012. Photo from Tom Grundy's Twitter.

Foreign maid Susie alleged at the rally that she was also starved and abused by the same employer between 2011 to 2012. Photo from Tom Grundy's Twitter.

印傭 Susi 稱,自己在2010年4 月開始為涉案僱主工作至2011年3月,期間11個月,除了被禁足不準出門,而且每天被要求工作20小時,同時亦受到不同程度的虐打。她指「每當做錯野時就會被打」,曾被僱主曾用雞毛掃打,亦試過被猛耳仔。最嚴重一次,僱主曾威脅 Susi 叫她自殺。結果 Susi 苦苦哀求對方說:「自己有一對子女, 唔好要我死。」Susi 又指,中介公司無按合約每月3580付人工,反而在 Susi 終止合約時,只付上約六千元,作為11個月人工。Susi 表示已經到警署提供資料。

Indonesian maid Susi said she was working for the same employer between April 2010 to March 2011. For 11 months, she was forbidden to leave the apartment and was required to work 20 hours a day. She was beaten as well. “Whenever I did something wrong, I would be beaten”, she said. Her former employer would beat her with sticks and twisted her ears, once Law even threatened Susi and asked Susi to kill herself. Susi had to beg her, saying: “I have two kids, don't ask me to die.” Susie says the agency did not pay her the 3,580 Hong Kong dollars [approximately 480 US dollars] monthly salary. She was only given 6,000 Hong Kong dollar [approximately 880 US dollars] by the end of her 11 months of work. Susi had reported her case to the police [after Sulistyaningsih's case was exposed].

外傭組織發言人 Eni Lestari 透露,有另一名叫 Tina 的印傭於2011年間,為涉案僱主短暫工作三個月。Eni 說,Tina 要每日超時工作和沒有足夠食物,並同樣受到虐打。最後 Tina 在朋友幫助下報警,最後成功離職,現身在新加坡。

Eni Lestari, a foreign migrant worker campaigner, revealed that another Indonesian domestic worker named Tina had worked for the Law family for three months in 2011. Tina was also starved, worked overtime and was beaten. She reported the case to the police with her friends’ help and managed to resign from the job. Now Tina is working in Singapore.

Tina's case was never investigated, according to local media's report. The Hong Kong police said that they did not have enough evidence. When Sulistyaningsih's case was exposed by local media, Hong Kong police filed it under “miscellaneous case” because they did not have enough evidence to warrant taking further action.

Local women rallied on January 19, 2014 to show their support for Erwiana Sulistyaningsih. Photo from campaign page: Justice for Erwiana! Justice for Migrant Domestic Workers!

Local women rallied on January 19, 2014 to show their support for Erwiana Sulistyaningsih. Photo from Facebook campaign page Justice for Erwiana! Justice for Migrant Domestic Workers!

Over the past week, migrant organizations and local activist groups, including Mission for Migrant Workers, Amnesty International (Hong Kong), Open Door, Women Worker Association and Hong Kong Coalition of Trade Unions has been campaigning for justice for Sulistyaningsih. The weekend protest attempted reveal the Hong Kong police's long-time negligence of domestic workers’ calls for help as well as other discriminatory and exploitative policies, including the mandatory live-in requirement and the fortnight regulation on their visa, as well as the lack of minimum wage and working hour protection. Similar discussion happened a few months before when the story of Kartika Puspitasari's abuse came to light.

An info-graphic showing exploitative policy concerning foreign domestic worker. Image from campaign page: Justice for Erwiana! Justice for Migrant Domestic Workers!

An infographic explaining the exploitative policy concerning foreign domestic workers. Image from Facebook campaign page Justice for Erwiana! Justice for Migrant Domestic Workers!

It is obvious that the Hong Kong government has to bear responsibility for the vulnerable situation of the foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong. Post 852, a newly established commentary platform, explained the unbalanced power relationship between the employer and maid and made a suggestion:

與大部份香港人不同,外傭在港其實是「叫天不應,叫地不聞」,處境特別危險。[...]外傭在香港根本「冇人冇物」,親友都在遠方的鄉下。所以,一旦受虐,根本不會有人知曉。事實上,即使外傭在港認識了其他同鄉,對方也未必知道自己的住址,只要僱主突然沒收其手提電話,外傭就會立刻與世隔絕。

Different from local residents, foreign domestic workers are isolated from the society and thus in a vulnerable position. [...] foreign maids have very frew friends and their family members are not in Hong Kong. No one knows that she is being abused. Even if foreign maids get to know some of their peers in Hong Kong, they don't have each others’ addresses. When the employer confiscates their mobile phone, she would be cut off from the rest of the world.

Many kids joined the rally to support their nannies. Image from campaign page: Justice for Erwiana!

Many kids joined the rally to support their nannies. Image from Facebook campaign page Justice for Erwiana!

每間公司也會有「售後服務」,例如其公司就會免費為首次來港工作的印傭,提供最多兩次的家訪服務。不過,家訪的出發點並非為了確保印傭安全,而是幫忙解決僱傭雙方的語言障礙或合作問題(其實服務對象是以僱主為主)。更何況,假如僱主簽約時表明不需家訪服務,則公司也不會強求。

[In principle] every agency should provide services such as paying home visits to the maid. However, such visits are not set to ensure the safety of the maids, but to solve communication problems between the employers and the maids (the main purpose is to serve the employers). If the employers choose “no home visits” when they sign the contract, home visits is not mandatory.

其實,政府可立法強制中介公司定期家訪外傭,假如公司不遵守或敷衍了事,可被政府除牌。進一步說,政府更可直接由自己成立「外傭安全小組」作定期抽樣家訪,或要求外傭定期要到政府的辦事處面見職員。

Actually the government can make it mandatory for the agencies to pay home visits to the maid or they cannot obtain the licenses. Or the government can even set up its own team to randomly pay home visits to the maids or require the maids to have a private interview with the officers.

As a result of the pressure from migrant organizations and the Indonesian consulate, Hong Kong police and labor department finally sent an investigative team to Indonesia on January 20 to obtain testimony from Sulistyaningsih, as well as her medical reports from the hospital.

January 18 2014

Hong Kong: An Outraging Elementary School Entry Examination Question

A Christian elementary school entrance examination question has gone viral in Hong Kong social media. Many consider the value embedded in the answer is outraging.

A Christian elementary school entrance examination question has gone viral in Hong Kong social media. Many consider the hidden value of the question and answer unacceptable.


The answer to the question is “nothing”.

January 14 2014

Another Indonesian Maid Tortured in Hong Kong

Erwiana Sulistayaniangsih, a foreign domestic helper from Indonesia, was found severely injured in the Hong Kong airport when she returned home last week on January 10. She told her fellow maid on flight that she was beaten and tortured for months but too scared to report the case to the police. She was hospitalized soon after she arrived and the case was exposed. More from Hong Wrong.

Erwiana Sulistayaniangsih, a foreign domestic helper from Indonesia, was found severely injured in the Hong Kong airport when she returned home last week on January 10. She told her fellow on flight that she was beaten and tortured for months by her employer in Hong Kong but was too scared to report the case to the police. She was hospitalized soon after she arrived and the case was exposed. More from Hong Wrong.

January 13 2014

Hong Kong Media's Credibility Problem

A research center in a local university announced the latest findings of a media credibility survey earlier this month, which shows an overall decrease in the perceived credibility of the city news outlets since the beginning of the study in 1997. The result created a query on public perception on the concept of credibility against the background of the deteriorating press freedom conditions in Hong Kong and the prosumer culture in the new media era.

The article written by Ah Oi was originally published in Chinese on 3 January 2014. This English version was translated and edited by Ronald Yick and republished on Global Voices as part of a content-sharing agreement.

As press freedom continues to deteriorate in Hong Kong, pro-democracy lawmakers put forward a motion debate on the protection of information, press and speech freedom in June last year. Photo from inmediahk.net.

As press freedom continues to deteriorate in Hong Kong, pro-democracy lawmakers put forward a motion debate on the protection of information, press and speech freedom in June 2013. Photo from inmediahk.net.

The Center for Communication and Public Opinion Survey from the Chinese University of Hong Kong has conducted telephone surveys asking respondents to rate the media's credibility since 1997. It announced the results of its latest survey in January 2014. The media ranked at the top appear neutral and “harmonized” [meaning self-censored], with the South China Morning Post among all print media, and Hong Kong Economic Times among Chinese print media. Ming Pao, which ranked first among Chinese print media for more than ten years, has been overtaken and only ranked second. The newspaper even removed its masthead slogan as “the most credible Chinese newspaper”.

Meanwhile, the Apple Daily, one of the most popular newspapers in Hong Kong, which does not hide its pro-democracy stance, has dropped to 17 in the credibility list, followed by two pro-Beijing newspapers.

The result shocked media circles as the most “harmonized” ones has won the top position in the credibility survey. Some criticized the research's methodology, some criticized the public for the wrong judgement.

The research method, indeed, could have been better designed. During the survey, participants were asked to rate the newspapers according to their impression, which translates into extent of preference, and is not directly relevant to the newspaper's credibility. In a Chinese-speaking society, local residents do not regularly read English-language newspapers. It would be easy for an English-language newspaper to obtain an average rank as the respondents may not have read the paper. In fact, the South China Morning Post has been criticized for turning red by laying off or sidelining experienced and outspoken journalists since the new editor-in-chief took office in 2011. Also, Hong Kong Economic Times is considered a pro-government and pro-Beijing Chinese newspaper.

Even though the survey's methodology has its flaws, it has been conducted for more than 10 years. The sudden shift of “public impression” also requires explanation.

The survey reveals an overall decrease in media credibility, compared to 2010. This may be attributed to growing self-censorship, which may in turn come from pressure from the business sector and government. Such public impressions are in alignment with the result of the World Press Freedom Index, in which Hong Kong dropped from 34 in 2011 to 54 in 2012, and further down to 58 in 2013.

Credibility needs to be redefined

While conventional newspapers are subjected to political pressure, the rise of new media has also transformed the relationship between media organizations and readers. More and more people read news online, and they look for news which is of their own interests and preferences, not to mention sharing news among peers. Traditional mass media is slowly evolving into a distributive model, and passive readers become active content producers. Readers can report news themselves or simply become current affair commentators in their own social media circles. They are not passive readers but prosumers, or the so called me-media.

Under the new information prosumer culture, the meaning of credibility is subjected to re-interpretation. Responding to the findings, Shum Yee-lan, the chairperson of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, suggested that media corporations must not “sensationalize and not take sides, but reveal things for the good of society”. Such a statement equates credibility to objectivity. Yet, even in conventional journalistic practice, credibility has to be established by reporting issues concerning public interest, quite often challenging government and corporate interests. In a new media environment, people are looking forward to conversation and exchange of different viewpoints. The notion of credibility is based on fact-based commentary that expresses a stance.

New media has its challenges as well, especially when commercial online media outlets have become more directed to the market depending on number of clicks, which has been criticized as hit-rate journalism. Last year, in Hong Kong, Apple Daily planned to link up hit rates on its website to staff bonuses [zh]. The idea received severe criticism from the media industry, and the newspaper gave up the plan. Its mobile version, however, is set to promote popular posts rather than posts that are of public interest. The worry is that under this policy, editors and reporters would be inclined to reproduce viral Internet content to attract more advertising while undermining news credibility.

The emergence of breaking view platforms

Recently, a number of new online news media initiatives targeting audiences who look for real-time but in-depth news analysis have emerged in Hong Kong. For examples, The House News, which follows the Huffington News model of news curation, and Post 852, which provides news commentary from a business insider viewpoint. Both news organizations position themselves as platforms for breaking views, that is, commentary on breaking news. Indeed, The House News ranks the 10th out of 21 in the media credibility survey, in the middle of the list. The result to a certain extent shows that the breaking views model has its appeal.

Still, it should be reminded that critical and in-depth commentary, or the so-called breaking views, must be supported by breaking news and investigative reporting. Without substantial journalistic work, the views cannot be well-grounded. Worldwide, some institutions are experimenting with the merging of new technology and journalism, such as data journalism, which employs data visualization tools with multimedia design and delivery. Some are promoting solutions journalism, which “investigates and explains credible responses to social problems”.

The seemingly strange credibility research findings should serve as a wake-up call for those who are concerned about the development of journalism in Hong Kong to experiment with new journalistic practices.

No Pants Subway Ride Day in Hong Kong

January 12 was set as the 2014 No Pants Subway Ride Day. The annual fun day originated from New York 13 years ago and entered Hong Kong in 2013. Yesterday was the second annual gathering in this city.

Hong Kong Basic Law as Toilet Paper

Lam Shui Bun

The constitutional document of Hong Kong, the Basic Law which took effect on July 1 1997 upon the handover of the colony from United Kingdom to the People Republic of China (PRC). The Basic Law is designed to ensure the city's economic and political autonomy. However, as the interpretative power is under the control of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of the PRC, the document has failed to serve the interest of Hong Kong people. In the recent debate about the political reform package of the 2017 Chief Executive election, the idea of citizen nomination has been interpreted by some pro-Beijing politicians as against the Basic Law. Lam Shui Bun thus turns the Basic Law into toilet paper in his political cartoon at inmediahk.net.

January 11 2014

Happy Hong Kong

Inspired by American rapper, Pharrell Williams’ viral music video, Happy, Hong Kong based French multimedia journalist Helene Franchineau made a local music video, Happy Hong Kong.

Hong Kong: Seeing Kitsch in Art

Evan Fowler looked into the art history and explained the term

Evan Fowler looked into the art history and explained the term “Kitsch” at the House News.

kitsch presents us with a fantasy, and feelings and emotions that we may wish to have but are not central to our actual experience of self. It trades in models and stereotypes, that at best we may aspire to or wish to believe, but nevertheless tell us nothing about ourselves.

January 05 2014

10 Young Artists from Hong Kong

Tian-Shuai Yang introduced 10 young artists [zh] from Hong Kong in the House News. The writer explained that Hong Kong's artworks are of great potential because for foreign collectors, the water-color and colonial imageries is exotic while for the local collectors, they like the colloquial elements such as the street scene, skylines in the artwork.

December 30 2013

Mandela's lesson for Hong Kong

Sa Law from left21 wrote a piece on Nelson Mandela and his lesson for Hong Kong, a city where migrant workers are living in apartheid.

Due to their long working hours for six days a week, they lack the chance to socialize and mingle with the rest of Hong Kong society as others; they also generally lack ability to speak, read and write Chinese. Thus, they end up spatially and linguistically separated from the majority of Hong Kong people; and despite forming a large community of 320,000 workers, they are never considered part of the greater Hong Kong community, and their demands for equality or better rights are often greeted with deep outrage, as if they do not know their place.

December 27 2013

Hong Kong and China: Political Christmas Card

There are a number of e-Christmas cards that carry political message circulated in social media. Below are two examples:

Written on the Santa Claus' bag:

Written on the Santa Claus’ bag: “Democracy is not a gift but a fight!” Card designed by student activist group, Scholarism.


A card is placed on an empty chair for 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Liu Xiaobo and his wife, Liu Xia. The former is still in prison and the latter under house arrest in China.  The card is designed by Hong Kong Journalist Association.

A card is placed on an empty chair for 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Liu Xiaobo and his wife, Liu Xia. The former is still in prison and the latter under house arrest in China. The card is designed by Hong Kong Journalist Association.

December 16 2013

Video: Hong Kong Intertidal Marine Life

Dickson Wong makes an one min video to record intertidal marine life in Hong Kong.

December 12 2013

IKEA's Toy Wolf Lufsig Becomes a Protest Icon in Hong Kong

[The author of this post is a contributor to citizen media platform inmediahk.net, which is quoted in this post.]

The banner of Facebook page.

The banner of the Facebook page for IKEA's toy wolf Lufsig.

A Hong Kong protester threw a stuffed toy wolf named Lufsig from furniture and home goods giant IKEA at the city's Chief Executive CY Leung during a speech on December 7 in a community consultation meeting, accusing the leader of lacking commitment to the city's democratic reform.

Lufsig wasn't chosen to be the protest prop at random. CY Leung was nicknamed “the wolf” in early 2012 during the election of the chief executive. Furthermore, the Cantonese pronunciation of the mainland Chinese translation of Lufsig into Lo Mo Sai (路姆西) resembles the offensive phrase “mom's c**t”, and the word “throw” in Cantonese resembles the word “f**k”, making the action of throwing Lufsig at the chief executive take on a whole new offensive and vulgar meaning.

While the indecency involved in the symbolic action makes it difficult for the mainstream media to deliver the message, the story has gone viral online in less than two days.  That same evening, a Facebook page for the stuffed toy wolf was created to celebrate the protest and collect spoof pictures.

A political cartoon by keyboard fighter via Lufsig's Facebook page.

A political cartoon by keyboard fighter via Lufsig's Facebook page.

The day after the protest, Lufsig had already become an Internet meme similar to the Grass Mud Horse, which is a symbolic defiance of widespread Internet censorship in China. Fans of Lufsig scrambled to get a hold of the toy from IKEA and from online shopping platforms. A rumor soon spread that IKEA had taken Lufsig off the shelves; a Facebook event page demanding IKEA “release” Lufsig was set up in response on December 9.

Ruby Lai was one of those hunting for Lufsig. She rushed from Shatin IKEA to Kowloon IKEA on December 9 and was lucky to get her hands on four Lufsigs. She described the craze at inmediahk.net, a citizen journalism platform:

約三時終於到達九龍灣Ikea,走了三四樓兩層,連路姆西條尾都見不著,心裏不禁暗暗吃驚,然後好容易的找到了毛公仔部,但整個路姆西貨架都空了!!是四層架都空了!真心崩潰,那感覺就像掏心吮血追求了很久的女生突然告訴我明天要嫁人一樣。在崩潰的時候,幾位年輕男生也來到貨架前,一臉落寞失望,然後我們眼光相接,竟就心領神會:
我:「妖無晒貨!我係沙田趕黎架大佬!」
男生A阿南:「我係上水呀!」
男生B阿北:「我係黃大仙姐…不過佢話遲D有貨喎。」
我等不及,見到一位Ikea派來的店員,衝前就問:
我:「你係唔係專登黎搞個公仔架?」
男店員:「係呀,四點番貨,你地可以係42號貨架等。」

I arrived at IKEA Kowloon bay branch at 3 p.m. and ran up 3-4 stories, didn't see a single Lufsig tail. Eventually, I found the stuffed toy area only to see that Lufsig's shelves were empty! Four whole shelves were empty! I almost collapsed, as if my girlfriend suddenly told me that she would marry another person tomorrow. I saw a few other young men approaching the cart with the same face of disappointment. We exchanged looks and started talking:
Me: “Damn it, all sold out. I rushed here from Shatin!”
Ah Nan: “Me from Sheung Shui!”
Ah Buk: “Me from Wong Ta Sin… But the sales person said they would replace the stock soon.”
I couldn't wait and dashed to an IKEA salesperson, who were walking toward us.
Me: “Are you in charge of the toys?”
Male sales: “Yes, the stock will arrive at 4 p.m., you can wait near cart number 42.”

A design based on a Japanese Cartoon Attack on Titan. Image from Lufsig's Facebook page.

A design based on a Japanese Cartoon Attack on Titan. Image from Lufsig's Facebook page.

Three hundred Lufsig arrived, and Ruby and her new friends were lucky enough to each get hold of five Lufsigs. She is generous to sell one of her Lufsigs to a man who had waited for 30 minutes in vain:

百多人的一條隊,數十人買不到,因為原來很多人都買5隻或以上,許多人都向我們趨前問價,我們說,希望是賣給最少排隊超過三十分鐘的人…… 。後來我把我的路姆西賣給了由沙田趕來排隊超過三十分鐘的M先生,而阿南亦把他其中一隻以原價轉賣給另一位苦候的人。走出Ikea門口,還有一位看似是中學生的男生氣乎乎的衝過來問我能否轉賣給他說:「我岩岩由天水圍趕黎!」

More than 100 people lined up, and a few dozen weren't able to buy the toy because many people in the queue bought more than five Lufsigs. Many approached us and asked if we would sell our Lufsigs to them. We replied that we would sell to those who had lined up for more than 30 minutes.[…] Eventually, I sold one of my Lufsig to a Mr. M who rushed from Shatin and lined up for more than 30 minutes, and Ah Nan also sold one to another person in the queue. When we were about to leave IKEA, a boy who looked high school-aged dashed forward and asked if I could sell him one, he said: “I just rushed here from Tin Shui Wai!” [It takes about an hour and a half to travel from Tin Shui Wei to Kowloon Bay].

Yuen Chan, a journalism lecturer, explained the nature of Lufsig mania in her blog from news website Huffington Post:

Lufsig mania has its critics — those who see a bunch of lemmings blindly following the latest fad or view the mass purchasing of the toy as symptomatic of a collective mental illness. I see it more as a manifestation of a Chinese saying, “to find merriment in bitterness.”

Even as I was relishing the dark humor of Lufsig, I was trying to figure out why I found him subversive. It was only after talking with Ruby that I realized that Lufsig, or Lo Mo Sai, had bypassed the very profanity of the phrase its name resembles. The name no longer seems like an aggressive, misogynist insult — it has become a symbol of solidarity and protest. I can't wait to receive the toy, which has so quickly become an icon in our society.

According to the official explanation from IKEA Sweden, the word Lufsig originates from the Swedish word “lufsa”, which is a verb meaning “lumber” or “shamble”. When turned into an adjective by adding the suffix -ig, it means clumsy, shabby and untidy. The latest reply from IKEA to inmediahk.net expressed regret over the unfortunate Chinese translation of Lufsig in Cantonese, and corrected the translation to Lu Fuk Sai. But judging from the reactions from inmediahk's news thread on Facebook, netizens are not happy about the new name.

In response to the craze, CY Leung posted a photo with Lufsig on the government's website on December 11 and said he had bought one for his daughter as a Christmas present.

Chief Executive CY Leung took photo with Lufsig as a response to the Lufsig Craze.

Chief Executive CY Leung took a photo with Lufsig as a response to the Lufsig craze.

November 26 2013

Wanted Tiananmen Activist Rebuffed in Attempt to Surrender to China Again

@zuola uploaded the photo of Wu'er Kaxi taken from the wanted criminal notice published in major newspapers 24 year-ago by the Chinese government.

@zuola uploaded the photo of Wu'er Kaxi from the wanted criminal notice printed in major newspapers 24 years ago.

Wu'er Kaixi, a wanted student activist from the 1989 Tiananmen democracy protests, turned himself into to the Hong Kong government during a layover there while travelling from Taiwan to Bangkok. He asked to be extradited to mainland China as a fugitive.

He has made several attempts to return to China since 2009 as part of the Tiananmen exiles’ campaign to return home launched by Reverend Chu Yiu Ming in 2007. The “Home Coming” campaign is to support exiled democracy activists to go home and reunite with their families.

In 2009, Wu'er Kaixi was denied entry to Macau; in 2010 he was arrested for attempting to enter the Chinese embassy in Tokyo, and in 2012 he was ignored by the Chinese embassy when he surrendered himself in Washington D.C.

Like his earlier attempts, Wu'er Kaxi failed again this time. The Hong Kong government has also denied his entry, and expelled him back to Taiwan shortly upon his arrival.

At around 1 p.m., Wu’ er Kaixi wrote on his Twitter:

I am at the Hong Kong International Airport. I have turned myself in to the local authorities and told them that I am a fugitive wanted by the Chinese government and want to surrender. Now I am at the immigration control area. I have a full statement here: wuerkaixi.com

This time Wu'er Kaixi was accompanied by Albert Ho, a Hong Kong Democracy Party lawmaker and the head Hong Kong Alliance In Support Of Patriotic Democratic Movements Of China.

@wenyunchao, a mainland Chinese political activist now based in the U.S posted Wu'er Kaxi and Albert Ho's picture taken at the Taipei airport before they departed to Hong Kong with a tag #Homecoming:

Wu'er explained why he wanted to surrender himself in his blog statement:

Since 1989, I have been in exile for 24 years, and have not been able to see my parents and other family members. My parents are old and in ill health. The Chinese government refuses to issue passports for them to travel aboard and visit me. My parents have been told clearly that the reason they will not be issued passports is that their son is a dissident. I would like to ask the Chinese government, is this behavior in keeping with the international treaties it has signed; is it true to the spirit of Chinese traditional values; is it in accordance with PRC law?

I believe the answer to those questions is, no, and that is why I feel I have no alternative but to turn myself in. I miss my parents and my family, and I hope to be able to be reunited with them while they are still alive, even if the reunion would have to take place behind a glass wall.

He also explained the reason for choosing Hong Kong as an entry spot:

Since 2009, I have made similar attempts in Macau, Japan, and the United States to either enter China or Chinese embassies to face the Chinese government’s charges directly, but I have been denied every time. What I’m doing today is a result of the Chinese government’s absurd act of ordering my arrest, while at the same time refusing to allow me to return.

Assuming the Hong Kong government accepts the Chinese official position, which sees my participation in the 1989 student movement as part of a “conspiracy to subvert the government,” making me guilty of “counter revolutionary incitement,” the Hong Kong government should accept my request and help Chinese government to apprehend me. I understand that the transit area of Hong Kong International Airport is an international zone, but it is also an area within the Hong Kong government’s jurisdiction, and the Hong Kong authorities should at least consider my request to turn myself in.

If the Hong Kong government denies my request, and will neither arrest me nor help the Chinese government to apprehend me, I take this to mean that the Hong Kong government does not accept the People’s Republic of China’s official verdict on the Tiananmen student movement. If that is so, I appreciate it, and I then request the Hong Kong government stop denying Chinese dissidents the right to enter Hong Kong, giving me an opportunity to turn myself in to the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong.

Actually, the Hong Kong government does not need to explain its political stand on the 1989 student movement as it has never signed any criminal extradition agreement [zh, pdf] with the mainland Chinese government. However, Hong Kong immigration authorities have denied entry to a number of well-known Chinese dissidents since its handover to China. This time, the Hong Kong government also denied Wu'er Kaxi's entry and he left the Hong Kong airport and returned to Taiwan at around 4 p.m.

Though Wu'er Kaxi's trip to Hong Kong was short, there were quite a number of discussions and comments about the incident in Hong Kong. Francis Chan expressed his warm welcome at the comment thread of the Housenews’ report:

He married to a Taiwanese and has Taiwan passport and should be allowed in as a Taiwanese. He is most welcome. Let him in and let him share his experience with our young. If he kept his mouth shut and laid low in in May-June 1989, he could have been a rich princeling. His dad used to be an important Uighur cadre in Xinjiang.

However, only a few people in Hong Kong appreciated Wu'er Kaxi surrender act. Many instead expressed their disappointment with the dissidents. For example Kelvin Kwok Fung Tang reposted his comments on several public news threads in Facebook:

中共國的滅絶人性是肯定的。但是當初遠走高飛的吳爾開希離國後有想到要改變中國嗎?眾多受香港人協助逃出外國的所謂民運份子有團結起來改變中國嗎?沒有,似乎大都在外國畢業、結婚、離婚、賺錢就算了,如今自己父母老了又不能回國見父母,才知道要懊悔,那為何當初要辜負香港人對你的期望?為何辜負自己的理想?[...] 再三問問吾爾開希,這二十年來你在美國和台灣為華人作過任何貢獻嗎?

Everyone knows that the [Chinese Communist Party] is cold-blooded. But does Wu'er Kaxi really want to change China? Did the mainland Chinese dissidents rescued by the Hong Kong people unite to change China? No. Many of them has just received their university degrees overseas, got married, divorced and made lots of money. Now that their parents are old, they felt regret. They have failed our expectation and their own ideas. […] Here I ask Wu'er Kaxi, in the past 20 years, what has he done in Taiwan and the US for the development of democracy in China?.

November 25 2013

Tiananmen Student Activist Asks Hong Kong Government to Arrest Him

Tiananmen student activist, Wu’er Kaixi, was landed in Hong Kong International airport today (November 25), initially for flight transit. However, he refused to get onto the plane and asked the Hong Kong government to arrest him as he is a most-wanted fugitive since the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown. He explained in his statement to Hong Kong citizens:

As someone who is wanted by the Chinese government, why am I attempting turning myself in to the Chinese government, and why am I doing it in Hong Kong, which has its own laws, according to the constitutional principle of “One Country, Two Systems?” Moreover, why am I doing this in transit at Hong Kong International Airport? The reason is because it is my last resort. Since 2009, I have made similar attempts in Macau, Japan, and the United States to either enter China or Chinese embassies to face the Chinese government’s charges directly, but I have been denied every time. What I’m doing today is a result of the Chinese government’s absurd act of ordering my arrest, while at the same time refusing to allow me to return.

Hong Kong Slutwalk 2013

Women wearing pyjamas rallied in city center for the 2013 Slutwalk. Hong Wrong has taken many photos.

Women wearing pyjamas rallied in city center for the 2013 Slutwalk. Hong Wrong has taken many photos.

Evan Fowler from the Housenews explained the significance of slutwalk in Hong Kong.

The recent comments of Security Chief Lai Tung Kwok, who suggested women should not “drink too much” in order to avoid being raped, and the pro-China Executive Councillor Cheng Yiu Tong who argued that Hong Kong candidates standing for election should be screened by China, as, in his words, “a porn star was elected to parliament in the West without a screening process. Is that what we want to see?”, are clear indications that Hong Kong needs SlutWalk.

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