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CORRESPONDENT JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2005

THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS’ CLUB, HONG KONG

THE

FA R E A S T E R N ECONOMIC RE VIE W

LOOKING

BACK WITH PRIDE Former editor Philip Bowring pays tribute to the men and women behind the success of the magazine

■ Tsunami: dealing with disaster ■ Collecting countries


THE

CORRESPONDENT contents

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Letters

5

From the President

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Cover Story – The Far Eastern Economic Review: Looking back with pride

A fond farewell

12

Region – North Korea: Not so hermetically sealed

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Region – The Tsunami: Dealing with disaster Fighting infection Coping with death

Pringle on North Korea

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Feature – Confessions of a Country Collector

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Region – Cambodia: Forensic science versus the Khmer Rouge

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Region – Burma: Casinos: replacing or aiding the opium trade?

Tsunami: Dealing with Disaster

Of Buffers and Buffoons

31

Books – Gavin Coates’s One Hand, Two Fingers

33

Around the Club in Pictures

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Professional Contacts

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Out of Context – Gregory Deéb

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005

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Letters

THE FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS’ CLUB, HONG KONG 2 Lower Albert Road, Central, Hong Kong Tel: (852) 2521 1511 Fax: (852) 2868 4092 E-mail: <fcc@fcchk.org> Website: <www.fcchk.org> President: Matthew Driskill First Vice President: Ilaria Maria Sala Second Vice President: Kevin Egan Correspondent Member Governors Paul Bayfield, Keith Bradsher, Mike Gonzales, Ernst Herb, Barry Kalb, Jim Laurie, John Ryan, Hubert van Es Journalist Member Governor Francis Moriarty Associate Member Governors Nicholas Fulcher, David Garcia, Anthony Nedderman, Steve Ushiyama Finance Committee Convener: Anthony Nedderman Professional Committee Convener: Keith Bradsher House/Future Premises/Food and Beverage Committee Convener: Dave Garcia Membership Committee Convener: Steve Ushiyama Constitution Committee Convener: Kevin Egan House/F&B Committee Convener: David Garcia Freedom of the Press Committee Convener: Francis Moriarty Wall Committee Convener: Ilaria Maria Sala General Manager Gilbert Cheng

The Correspondent © The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong The Correspondent is published six times a year. Opinions expressed by writers in the magazine are not necessarily those of the Club. Publications Committee Convener: Paul Bayfield Editor: Diane Stormont Editorial Hongkongnow.com ltd Tel: 2521 2814 E-mail: fccmag@hongkongnow.com Production Patrick Dunne Magazine Design Tel: 9520 6558 Fax: 2719 4006 E-mail: patrick.dunne@gmail.com Printer Hop Sze Printing Company Ltd Advertising Enquiries Sandra Pang Pronto Communications Tel: 2540 6872 Fax: 2116 0189 Mobile: 9077 7001 Email: advertising@fcchk.org Website <www.fcchk.org>

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005

From Carl Kuntze What happened to further instalments of Marvin Farkas’s memoirs? I’ve been looking forward to reading them. I started in photography in Hong Kong in 1959, shooting ads soliciting donations for charitable institutions caring for refugees. His experiences parallel mine. Hope you publish some more excerpts. Thanks. We will, space permitting. – Editor

From Nick Demuth in Manila Referring to the Prisoner at the Bar article by Ted Thomas (The Correspondent, August-September 2004 / http://www.fcchk.org/correspondent/corro-aug-sep04/prisoner.htm) I am one of the people who has happy memories of the Hilton and Ken Moss. I was not a member of the FCC during the Hilton era as I was too busy trying to get Commercial Radio through the Cultural Revolution but I remember that thanks to Ken, the Hilton was one of the first hotels

that made us not-so-well-off Hong Kongers welcome! The Hilton associated itself with the FCC by displaying the bust of “Barefoot Reporter” Richard Hughes in the dining room and allowing us to have a weekly Richard Hughes Lunch. This reminded me of the classic Richard Hughes joke that circulated at the time. Having dined and drunk his fill, Richard dropped off to sleep. He suddenly woke up. Confused he asked: “Where am I?” A fellow guest answered: “You are in the Hilton, Richard.” “I know that, you mug, but which country?” shot back Richard. I still miss the Hilton and Ken and Dick Hughes.

Letters welcome The Correspondent welcomes letters (by e-mail please to fcc@hongkongnow.com or fcc@fchk.com). It reserves the right to edit letters chosen for publication. Anonymous missives will be rejected. For verification purposes only, and not for publication, please include your membership number (if applicable) and a daytime telephone number.

Corrections and clarifications Sorry Charles! In the last edition of The Correspondent (October-November 2004) Charles Weatherill’s surname was spelled incorrectly. We apologise and hope you had a happy 80th birthday nonetheless.

We’re on the map The FCC's well-deserved fame as a cultural icon and beacon of good taste has been long recognised by Hong Kong-side taxi drivers. Well, at least the majority know where it is. We're honoured that the MTR has also now recognised the Club as a significant landmark in Central.

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Club Activities

> FROM THE PRESIDENT I

n today’s journalistic world, adjectives such as “biblical”, “epic” and “once-in-alifetime” are, more often than not, overused and thus have lost their ability to truly convey the sense of proportion and gravity they are meant to describe. Those words however, in the case of the December 26 tsunami that killed so many and wounded so many others, do not adequately, at least in my opinion, convey the sense of loss and profound despair that still afflict the millions throughout South and Southeast Asia who are suffering through the after-effects of the disaster. I know the Membership joins me in conveying to all of those affected, here in Hong Kong and in the countries themselves, our best hopes and wishes for the future. Along with those hopes, I am privileged to inform the membership that through the good efforts of the staff-led fund-raising drive, staff and members of the FCC raised approximately HK$70,000 which went to the Hong Kong chapter of the International Red Cross to assist in the relief efforts. Please know that your kind donations will go a long way toward helping those who need it most. As you will may well know, many of the FCC’s own has contributed to relief efforts. Some donated funds, others their time locally in Hong Kong and still others bought vaccines and travelled to Sri Lanka to help combat the diseases that often arise following such disasters. The next time you see a fellow FCC member or staff member who pitched in to help, give them a pat on the back and tell them “well done.” Meanwhile, back at the ranch, you will notice in the coming months some work being done to various parts of the infrastructure of the Club. As I mentioned in my first correspondence, most of the changes in the past year are changes that the membership may not “see,” but that will go a long way toward improving the service and the ability of the staff to better perform their duties. The board has approved upgrades to various

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005

computer systems such as the point-of-sales system, PCs for the front office and other similar systems. The Club will also be replacing tables and chairs in the main dining room and repainting various areas such as the lobby and the functions rooms. While I’m on the subject of functions, the board looks forward to April when we have tentatively scheduled the inauguration of the Sandra Burton Room (now the Albert Room) in honour of Sandra. It’s also incumbent upon me to inform you that the Board is studying the unfortunate possibility that some prices on various food and beverage items may need to be increased in order to maintain the financial health of the Club. I can assure each and every one of you that the Board wants to hold off for as long as possible on ANY price increases, but due to inflationary pressures, our hand may be forced in order to keep all other fees at their present level. It is also incumbent upon me to remind members of bylaw #10 section B which states “members of staff should be treated with respect at all times”. There have been a couple of incidents in the recent months wherein this rule was violated by a couple of members. For all that the staff does for the membership, I don’t think it’s asking too much to treat them with the respect that they so richly deserve. Finally, 2005 is shaping up to be a good year for the Club. The Human Rights Awards are coming up soon, as is the Literary Festival. The Professional Committee has scheduled some great speakers and of course, in October we will hold our annual Charity Ball. Please make time to participate in as many events as possible and, as always, drop me a line at president@fcchk.org should you have any questions. Matthew C. Driskill

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Cover Story

Looking back

WITH PRIDE

Former Far Eastern Economic Review editor Philip Bowring pays tribute to the men and women behind the success of the magazine

N

ow one can only look back. But nostalgia is no vice, at least under the circumstances of the FEER’s demise. For me, the story started nearly 33 years ago. I was working in Sydney for Finance Week, a joint venture start-up owned by the unlikely combination of Rupert Murdoch and the Financial Times. The latter owned a stake in the Review. In Hong Kong, FEER business editor Stewart Dalby was conjuring up what was to prove a prophetic cover story headlined: Jim Slater: Asia’s Worried Welcome, about the arrival of then famous British financier and asset-stripper Jim Slater. Through the FT connection and because I had written about Slater in London I was asked to contribute a short piece on his Australian operations. This was fortuitous. Not long afterwards Finance Week folded and as an enforced freelancer I started writing regularly for FEER, taking over from Bob Hawkins who had been on the desk in Hong Kong in the late sixties. Again fortuitously, early in 1973 the FT sold its stake in FEER, and with Stewart Dalby itching to go to Vietnam I was offered his job as business editor

and FT stringer. (After years covering small wars for the FT Stewart now runs the website www.oilbarrel.com). When I got to Hong Kong in April, the Hang Seng index was in the early part of a collapse which would take it from a bubble peak of 1,770 to 150 at the end of 1974. The FEER was thriving in a modest way with a circulation of around 17,000. There were

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005

no overseas staff correspondents, only a small editing, writing and support staff consisting of Editor Derek Davies, Leo Goodstadt (to become head of the Central Policy Unit), TJS George (founding editor of Asiaweek and now in Bangalore), the late Denzil Peiris (first editor of South), the late Mike O’Neill (Asiaweek founder), Barry Wain (now based in Singapore and author last year of FEER’s last memorable story on Stanley Ho), Rodney Shaw, Bill Kraitzer and Minette Marrin, now a writer in London. Then there was the inimitable cartoonist Morgan Chua, a refugee from Singapore who was to be with FEER for 20 years and now lives in Batam. Also present in 1973 was a young typist by the name of Lily Kan who was to become the magazine’s longest serving, most loyal and devoted employee. The business side was headed by the very large, very persuasive and very English Freddie Wadsworth who did rather more for FEER than most of his successors with the possible

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Cover Story

head of advertising sales for most of the 1980s. Freddie now lives at the suitably named town of Condom in France and Elaine divides her time between Hong Kong and Australia. Circulation in 1973 was in the hands of Graham Wilde till he was ousted to make room for “ayatollah” Chuck Stolbach, a Dow Jones appointee with a penchant for gold rings and chains, who was to be with the magazine on and off till 1988. By 1973 FEER was rapidly on the way up thanks to the efforts of the first editor Dick Wilson and his successor Derek Davies. They had expanded the geographical coverage and nurtured such writers as David Bonavia, who was to become the finest China correspondent of his generation, and had the support of a bevy of stringers, mostly nationals, such as Koji Nakamura in Tokyo, A. Hariharan in Delhi, James Morgan in Singapore and Chit Tun in Rangoon. But it still had no staff correspondents. Even the vastly knowledgeable Harvey Stockwin, who is still writing and broadcasting in Hong Kong today, was just a stringer. But the magazine was growing. I was soon allowed to hire a deputy – Tony Patrick, a colleague from Finance

Week who was later to play a big role in Dow Jones newswires in Asia. Mike Westlake joined the desk around that time. So did Chris Lewis, now in Perth, and Mike Lynch, later editor of the Hongkong Standard. Despite oil and economic crises, by the end of 1973 the first staff correspondents were hired. Susumu Awanohara, a U.S.educated Japanese, went to Tokyo. He is now with an investment advisory firm in New York. Future editor Nayan Chanda, who had covered the Paris

peace talks and before that the Bangladesh war, was posted to Saigon where he made his name with coverage of its 1975 fall. By then, FEER was also making waves on the financial reporting front. Coverage by Singapore stringer Arun Senkuttuvan – working out of the late Tiziano Terzani’s office – on the activities of Slater’s Haw Par affiliates in Singapore and Hong Kong helped lead to the flight of key executives which in turn contributed to the collapse of Slater’s empire. Arun was later jailed by the Singapore authorities and then forced to quit journalism. Another jailed sufferer from Singapore intolerance was Ho Kwon Ping who later became head of his family company and established the now well-known Banyan Tree resort group. Foreigners whose Singapore sojourns for FEER were cut short by the authorities included the late Anthony Polski, Patrick Smith (about to return to Hong Kong for the International Herald Tribune), Mike Morrow (now a publisher in Hong Kong), VG Kulkarni (freelancing in Hong Kong) and Nigel Holloway (in New York). FEER’s reputation for exposing financial misdeeds was given a huge boost in the mid-1970s by Andrew Davenport, a young reporter who not

A walk through FEER’s history No. 1 - 1946

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1950

1957

1962

1964

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005


only had a nose for scandals but a remarkable ability to charm people into revealing corporate secrets. His coverage helped the demise of Kang Kock Seng’s Malaysian empire and was directly responsible for Hong Kong’s (ill-enforced) ban on insider trading. Andrew died in a water skiing accident in 1977. The 1980s saw the development of strong financial coverage with a succession of talented writers including Gary Coull, long-time head of Credit Lyonnais Securities Asia, Hugh Peyman, who now has his own investment research company, James Bartholemew (who instituted the popular Shroff column), Chris Wood (also now with CLSA) and Robert Cottrell, who married then Hong Kong correspondent Teresa Ma. Teresa is now a high-powered corporate lawyer in Hong Kong and Robert is with The Economist in Eastern Europe). There was John Mulcahy (now retired to Ireland after a successful career in investment banking), Michael Taylor, now a financial guru in London, and Jonathan Friedland who should have become editor. On leaving Dow Jones, he helped found and run a group of Spanish-language papers in Texas. All worked successively for business editors Anthony Rowley, now president of the FCC Japan, Ron Richardson (Asia Pacific Foundation in Vancouver) and Nigel Holloway (now in New York). Political coverage meanwhile flour-

ished thanks to a long list of fine journalists. Rodney Tasker, who joined in 1973, was based in Hong Kong, Manila and Bangkok and filed from just about everywhere, was still contributing at the end. John McBeth, who was with the magazine from 1979 till the close, reported from Bangkok, Seoul, Manila and Jakarta. Hamish McDonald, the most versatile of writers, served in Jakarta, Hong Kong and Delhi, and is now back with the Sydney Morning Herald as Beijing correspondent. David Jenkins, who was regional editor after

1966

1968

cession of first class correspondents including Susumu Awanohara, Adam Schwarz, now with McKinsey in Singapore, future editor Michael Vatikiotis and Margot Cohen who went on to become an ever-adventurous contributor from the Philippines before moving to Jakarta and then to Hanoi (with new husband George Russell from the Hong Kong desk). Other contributions from Jakarta came from Manggi Habir, now a financial analyst, and Vaudine England, now filing from Bangkok.

FEER’s reputation for exposing financial misdeeds was given a huge boost in the mid-1970s by Andrew Davenport years in Jakarta, is now in Sydney and is still writing his opus on Suharto. Guy Sacerdoti, who went from the Peace Corps to journalism in Jakarta, worked in K.L. and Manila, covered the fall of Marcos and has been in the Philippines ever since. He had taken over from Sheilah Ocampo, former wife of Communist leader Satur Ocampo. Her problems with the Marcos regime ended only when she married a Swedish diplomat and left the country. She is now in Stockholm but a son works in Hong Kong. Meanwhile Bobby Tiglao, a thorn in the side of successive Manila governments in the 1990s, now works for President Arroyo! Jakarta continued to see a suc-

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005

Richard Nations, who started contributing from Bangladesh before moving to Bangkok, became FEER’s first staffer in Washington D.C. He is now back in Bangkok. John McBeth took over from Nations in Bangkok and spotted Paisal Sricharatchanya who became bureau chief when John moved to Seoul. When Paisal was lured away to become editor of the Bangkok Post, he was replaced by Paul Handley who relocated to Thailand from Jakarta. Handley left in the mid1990s and his long promised book on the Thai monarchy still awaits a publisher who will risk lèse-majesté. When I arrived at FEER in 1973, coverage of Malaysia, the magazine’s largest market, was in the hands

1970

1972

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Cover Story

PHOTOGRAPH: BOB DAVIS

of MGG Pillai, still a noted figure in Malaysian journalism. He followed the first staffer there, K. Das, who crossed swords with Mahathir Mohamad on many occasions, particularly during his assault on judicial independence. Das is dead but one of his talented daughters married Bangkok-based correspondent Nick Cumming-Bruce. Murray Hiebert, who opened the Hanoi bureau, moved to K.L. and ended up in jail. He has been in Washington since getting out. Others to make a mark in K.L. were Suhaini Aznam, now a columnist for The Star, Nick Seaward, now a broker in London and S. Jayasankaran, who carried the FEER flag of independent journalism in Malaysia till the end. China coverage was long in the hands of David Bonavia, who also filed for the The Times of London. By June 1989, however, Robert Delfs was in charge and he and Tai Ming Cheung were in Tiananmen Square bearing witness to the killings. Robert went on to run the Tokyo bureau, taking over from Charles Smith when he became regional editor in Hong Kong. Smith, long with the FT, followed Mike Tharp, Tracy Dahlby and Susumu Awanohara in the Tokyo bureau. He remains in Japan. The others are in the United States. With Delfs in the Tokyo bureau were Louise do Rosario from Hong Kong who is now in Shanghai with journalist husband Mark Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Neill, and Bob Johnstone who was hired away

1974

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1975

Derek Davies: editor from 1964 to 1989 from the New Scientist to become FEERâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first and best Technology Correspondent. He is now based in Melbourne. Still active despite official retirement is Shim Jae Hoon who succeeded Ron Richardson in Seoul in 1980 and provided distinguished coverage through the difficult days of the Chung and Roh regimes. He served in Jakarta and Taipei before returning to Seoul. Mark Clifford, now editor-publisher of The Standard in Hong Kong, and Ed Paisley, founding editor of The Daily Deal in New York, also made their mark from the Seoul bureau. Taipei was also first stop on successful careers for Melinda Liu, Andrew Tanzer, Carl Goldstein and

1976

1977

Jonathan Moore. It was long served by the ever-courteous Julian Baum and more briefly by the multi-talented, multi-lingual Lincoln Kaye. On the subcontinent, the brieflyjailed Salamat Ali had the unusual distinction of moving from Pakistan to India to run the Delhi bureau and was succeeded in Pakistan by Hussain Haqqani (now in Washington) and Ahmed Rashid whose coverage of Afghanistan was to become worldrenowned. Ahmed Rashid was never on staff but was surpassed in the stringers league only by Bertil Linter. Now based in Chiang Mai, Bertil is the very model of the self-starting, adventurous, independent journalist who found a natural home at FEER in the days before journalism degrees replaced street-wise, entrepreneurial instincts and writing ability as the chief qualifications for jobs. Hong Kong was distinguished by its female contributors. Mary Lee, who joined from London, later became Editorial Manager before moving back to Singapore where she continued to speak freely and fearlessly though she was not allowed to write. Pauline Loong (till recently editor of Asiamoney) and Liz Cheng (now with The Economist) played key roles in China business coverage. Teresa Ma was succeeded as Hong Kong correspondent by Emily Lau who left journalism for a successful and committed career as a pro-democracy legislator. Lau in turn was succeeded

1979

1980

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005


by Stacy Mosher who married Kam Chung, founder of Hong Kong’s Open magazine. She now campaigns for human rights in China from New York. Another former staffer who is now in New York is Margaret Scott who took over from Ian Buruma as Arts and Society editor. Ian was the first to hold this post, a stepping-stone to a very distinguished writing career. Lynn Pan, meanwhile, was already an acclaimed writer when she joined to take charge of books. She now lives in Shanghai. The desks in Hong Kong were staffed by a long and illustrious list of distinguished journalists. Those still resident in the territory include former deputy editor Kayser Sung, M.P. Gopalan (now editor of Hong Kong Business) and Humphrey Jones, who all joined and left before my time. Subsequent deskers who made a particular mark were the late Russell Spurr, the large and jolly chief correspondent who was deputy editor for a while, and the late Donald Wise, the tall, distinguished ex-Daily Mirror war correspondent who survived the brutality of being held a prisoner of war of the Japanese in Thailand. Dead too are “the butcher” Richard Breeze and Mike Malik, both formidable ex-wire service editors. Malik was a key figure in FEER’s legal battle with Lee Kuan Yew which also featured formidable British barrister Geoffrey Robertson, and Geoff Miles, FEER’s fearless legal adviser for many years who is very

1984

much alive and living in London. Also working now in the UK are Paul Sillitoe, Gavin Greenwood, Rodney Hobson, Michael Lynch, Howard Coats, Keith Colquhoun, and Mike Maclachlan. Ashley Wright is in the U.S., Tony Dyson in Perth, Peter Fish in Sydney and David Porter is in New Zealand. Still in Hong Kong are Nadarajah Kanagaratnam, Jonathan Sharp, Steve Proctor, Paul Bayfield and Dave Smith. Also still in Hong Kong are contribut-

tion to FEER are too numerous to list. However, Murray Sayle, Han Suyin and Simon Leys all deserve a mention as do numerous stringers such as the late Leo Gonzaga of Manila, Bryan Frith (Sydney), George Lauriat (the shipping writer who now runs the American Journal of Transportation) Ken Randall (Canberra), Colin James (New Zealand), Rowan Callick (then Papua New Guinea and now with the Financial Review in Melbourne), Jim Laurie (back in Hong Kong after

The desks in Hong Kong were staffed by a long and illustrious list of distinguished journalists ing cartoonists Chris Young and Gavin Coates and graphic designer Pat Elliott Shircore. The once fine FEER library was destroyed by Dow Jones a few years ago but the contributions of librarians Roger Tam and Jan Bradley (who married John Mulcahy) have not been forgotten. Production was for years in the hands of the late Hiro Punwani, who was succeeded by Edgar Chiu, then Paul Lee and then Edgar’s brother, Henry, who remained till the end. Bureaus could not function without secretaries. Ever cheerful and fearless Celine Fernandez in K.L. gave especially outstanding help to all correspondents for nearly three decades. Contributors who added distinc-

1989

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005

1993

1994

a spell in India), Manik da Silva (Sri Lanka), Norman Peagam (Vientiane and Bangkok), Paul Quinn-Judge (Bangkok then Moscow), Marites Vitug (who now runs Newsbreak in Manila), Jayanta Sarkar (Calcutta) and S.Kamaluddin who contributed from Dhaka on and off for 30 years. Apologies to all those who joined after my time and made significant positive contributions. And to all those who do not get a mention here but who are on the list of invitees to the April 24, 2005, gathering at the FCC or who have otherwise been a part of the FEER as contributors, salespeople or administrators. So many contributed to its life. One caused its decline and death: Karen House.

1995

1996

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Region

HERMIT

KINGDOM Not so hermetically sealed BY JAMES PRINGLE PANMUNJOM: I’m standing at the DMZ engaged in that time-honoured routine – watching a North Korean soldier with binoculars watching me watch him through my own binoculars. I feel like calling: “Hey, don’t be so suspicious. The last time I was here, I was on your side looking south.” But you’re not allowed to call out, or gesture. It could cause a “provocation”, so the United Nations command says. There’s a tour group at the North Korean viewing point, and what one notices nowadays is that they are indistinguishable from the tourist groups on the southern side, except they are less sloppily dressed. The only people who don’t often get to come here are ordinary Koreans, Northerners or Southeners. We all know by now, or at least we should, just how weird North Korea is, a sinister kind of Mad Hatter’s Teaparty. After all, enough correspondents have managed to get into the Hermit Kingdom, by hook or by crook, though many still tend to write Gee Whiz pieces about it. We know that Kim Jong-il, the Dear Leader, is a heavy drinker and womaniser. Or he was, until his doctors told him to cut back on the

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booze. And these days you are not very likely to meet a Brazilian exotic dancer lining up for her transit visa at China Travel in Hong Kong, off via Beijing to the Bacchanalia in Pyongyang. After all, the Dear Guide is now a grandfatherly 63. I first went to North Korea in 1981, as guest of then ousted Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia, who stayed at a 56-room palace near Pyongyang, courtesy of Great Leader Kim Il-sung. The train from Beijing was occupied by members of the Khmer Rouge from Cambodia’s jungles on their way to – well, to what, I wonder? Certainly not to see Sihanouk. One of them scared the hell out of me by addressing me by name, saying she had seen me in that self-same jungle. She had prepared our food when I went on a scary trip with three other correspondents. I had a long lunch with Prince Sihanouk, still the most entertaining man on the planet, his consort, Princess Monique, and their son, Prince Norodom Sihamoni, a shy lad, who was recently crowned Cambodia’s new king. Then I toured Pyongyang for the first story of the Gee Whiz variety. Still, it’s good that correspondents

North Korean border guards keep their eyes on the competition still struggle to get into this hereditary dictatorship, because of its nuclear bomb programme and chronic human rights abuses. It’s one of the twin menaces facing Asia. The other in my opinion is bird flu, which could wipe out even more people than nuclear bombs. There have been changes at Panmunjom. The two sides have stopped exchanging insults by loudspeaker, so it’s quiet. On the western side, a road is being built to Kaesong, North Korea, where huge North-South joint ventures are planned.

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005


JUNG YEON-JE/AFP

Tourists are crossing the eastern DMZ to the spectacular Diamond Mountains, and this allows some limited human contact. Stories about a complete lack of contact with North Koreans were always flaky. There were even romantic interludes. One correspondent, not this one, made a date with a Koryo Hotel waitress in a Pyongyang park after nightfall. Nothing outrageous, just a bit of hand-holding. (My own sense is that one has to protect locals in totalitarian societies, although, at the same time, the locals certainly know the rules.) In parts of North Korea, nowadays,

anything goes. A colleague recently at the Emperor Hotel-Casino in a free trade zone bordering China had a bet on a Millwall-Sunderland match. A visiting Chinese official told him North Korean girls were “thinner and prettier than Chinese”. Well, after the famine, they certainly would be thinner. Six girls left the karaoke bar for “beauty parades” in private suites, and only five returned ... the oldest profession meets Kafka. It’s a tyranny, complete with gulags, and life is hard. But the North Koreans were never automatons. From a train window, I once saw a soldier dancing on a flatbed railway truck as

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005

two girls watched. Kim Jong-il was not the only person in the Democratic People’s Republic who frolicked. It’s a shock in Seoul this time to find that the short of stature Dear Leader made a positive impression on South Koreans when he met President Kim Dae Jung in 2000. He does have a quirky sense of humour, even laughing at himself. “Don’t you think I look like a midget’s turd?” he asked a South Korean actress he had kidnapped. When people were frantically cheering him, he told a foreign guest: “It’s all fake.” Not everyone in North Korea swallows the myths. A German doctor, Norbert Vollertsen, who lived there and now campaigns for human rights, told me he was close to a general’s daughter there. “She did not have Kim Jong-il’s portrait in her room because she didn’t like him,” he said. “She watched Titanic on VCD, had a Gucci bag, a fur coat and foreign magazines.” Of course, the Dear Leader has engaged in terrorism, and kidnapped innocents from Japanese beaches. Horrible, whatever you think of the bestialities of the long Japanese occupation, or the “back to the Stone Age” bombing that the Americans inflicted during the Korean War, half a century before the North became one leg of George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil”. These days Panmunjom is not quite the Cold War time-warp it once was with its “battles of the bladder”, with each side trying to out-sit the other, until someone had to rush for the rest-room. When the North Koreans and Americans sit down here to formally discuss local problems along the DMZ, they usually get nowhere. So they adjourn to an ante-room for informal talks. A political commissar hands out North Korean cigarettes, and the U.N. side serves up gin and tonic – it seems the North Koreans have a passion for gin. After a few convivial glasses, the matter on hand is usually resolved.

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Tsunami

When disaster

STRIKES

Vaudine England was among the corps of Bangkok-based journalists who scrambled to cover the Boxing Day tsunami and its aftermath. She looks at the practical business of coping with a story like this. Photographs by Kees Metselaar.

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hat every journalist is agreed on, as they ponder coverage of the tsunami, is that this story kept growing. It was unlike many other natural disasters, not just for the scale of the tragedy, but for the difficulty of making news judgements and deciding where to go, when, and how. For some, the story literally came to them. John Irvine, Bangkok-based Asia correspondent for ITN Television, with his family on a southern island for the holidays, was caught by the waves. Luckily they all survived. Equally fortunate was The Australian correspondent Kimina Lyall and her partner who were swept by the seas

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off Koh Pra Thong and only narrowly escaped with their lives. Ginny Stein, SBS TV journalist, was saved by a story. She had left the Sri Lankan beach resort of Unawatuna for a chat with Tamil Tigers in the north. By so doing she probably saved her life. For the leading AsiaWorks Television production house, first hint of the disaster came from Asiaworks’ managing director Marc Laban’s mother. From her home on a cliff above Patong Beach on Phuket Island, Marc’s observant mother made one of the first calls about the strange waves. For AsiaWorks, mass mobilisation ensued, with company director Heather Kelly displaying her fantas-

tic logistical grip alongside former Hong Kong resident and cameraman extraordinaire, Derek Williams. The first charter flight down to Phuket was booked by Fuji TV and carried ABC Australia’s Peter Lloyd, and AsiaWorks journalists Ratchada Chitrada and David Leland. James Hutchison, also of AsiaWorks, flew down to run the feed point from which was relayed almost every live spot and often continuous coverage from Phuket. Journalists from Israeli TV to the Saudis, Portuguese, Russians, British, Americans and more, have filed through that point. The second charter plane carried the hundreds of kilos of gear needed

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005


to run the three-spot live feed point, which ran around the clock for weeks. Based at the open air Fisherman’s Restaurant at the Novotel, on a cliff top overlooking Phuket’s main beach, it rapidly became the media hangout of choice, with food and drink on demand (and at a price). AsiaWorks had to send a truck from Bangkok to Phuket to carry the extra generators which the planes refused to take on board. “The coverage goes in phases. There are the first people in to the disaster zone, quick off the mark. Then the celebrities start coming in, and now we’re starting to handle the NGOs’ requests,” said Kelly. When overseas journalists visit the Thai capital, their starting point is usually the top floor of the Maneeya Centre in central Bangkok, which houses AsiaWorks, the BBC, ITN, ABC and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand. Dan Rather used the place to host reports before heading to the southeastern military base of Uttapao for a flight to Aceh. When the BBC’s Lyse Doucet ran live programming from the

Left: Seeking the missing. City Hall, Phuket. Top: Clearing up, Khao Lak. Below: The first tourists return to Patong Beach. All photos were taken on December 31.

Jakarta donors meeting on January 6, she did so through an AsiaWorks feed point on the roof of the Deutsche Bank Building in Jakarta. Meanwhile, ABC America’s Diane Sawyer was doing live shots from Aceh from another AsiaWorks feed. Many hacks admitted they expected the story, as natural disaster, to last only a few days or a week at most. But the scale and the time lag for

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005

other parts of the world to catch on to the story kept it going much longer. Because the tsunami hit on Boxing Day, news organisations (and embassies and governments) scrambled to find people in the right place. It took three days before relatives in Europe caught on to the news and started calling with concern. A number of weekly news magazines took longer as some had already

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Tsunami

closed their New Year editions. While some thought it was too late to move after 36 hours had passed, many soon realised that it was still not too late to find something new in the story. Once a disaster becomes a worldwide aid story, it acquires a new momentum. The politics of aid, the diplomatic jockeying and the competitive compassion add up to a story that continues to run long after every breaking-news crew has trudged through the dirt of towns such as Meulaboh, which most of the world had never heard of before. Then the criticism begins, of course: that journalists just exploit other peoples’ tragedies, or are only showing disaster and ignoring the “good news”. To those gripers we say, after you have donned your protective gear and trudged through piles of bloated corpses, hundreds and hundreds of them in neat rows made by local and foreign volunteers, only then can you judge whether the media have been too negative. Each town, each island, each province and state affected by this tsunami will be feeling the effects for years to come, in personal human tragedy, lost business, or even in new opportunities. Journalists bust their guts to

Patong, Phuket

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SRI LANKA:

Fighting Infection FCC member and GP Sue Jamieson travelled to southern Sri Lanka to vaccinate tsunami victims against waterborne diseases. Extracts from her e-journal: JANUARY 3, 2005: En route to Hong Kong after my holiday in Europe, I check my e-mail at Madrid airport and find one from a friend and neighbour of mine on Lantau. Kate Evans, who survived the tsunami in Sri Lanka, planned to send vaccines to the stricken area. She’d been told that was an urgent need for them that was not being met. But she had also heard that supplies were Sue administers the first of two inoculations not all getting through. Could I help? I certainly could! Vaccinations take weeks to work. will deliver the vaccines and return At the time of writing, the relief agen- straight home. I will stay on and cies simply weren’t doing any. administer them. They are destined During a stop-over in London, I for selected groups of homeless in contact my surgery in Hong Kong to areas without clean water south of order vaccines for hepatitis A and Galle. typhoid and arrange shipment to Sri We’re being met at the airport by Lanka. Cathay Pacific’s David Turnbull lawyers to ensure the goods don’t get comes through and waives air trans- “impounded” or have duty imposed, port costs. as has been happening. A British executive with the Tesco supermarJANUARY 4: A hectic day. The flight to ket chain was charged more than Colombo is due to leave at 6.30 pm. £500 to bring in cartons of first aid We’ve been told to load our supplies equipment. We paid for these vacci– all 200 kg of chilled and insulated nations and drugs ourselves. Our bill vaccines – by 5.45 pm at the latest. is HK$220,000. But we have to collect the supplies Kate, Billie and I disembark at ourselves and we’re running late. My Colombo airport around midnight clinic nurse has done a sterling job and collect the vaccines. The airport picking up huge boxes from distribu- is filled with rather desperate groups tors around Hong Kong. The supplies of anxious people with supplies. Safarrive at the airport at 5.55 pm. Luck- fron-robed Buddhist monks mingle ily, Cathay staff rally round. with assorted westerners like ourI join Kate and her friend, Billy selves, all picking up cardboard boxes Gladwyn, on the flight. Kate and Billy full of aid supplies from the baggage

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005


How you can help If anyone would like to make a financial donation towards the cost of the vaccines, we would be very grateful. Please either send a cheque made out to Susan Jamieson or deposit the sum directly into the following designated trust account DR. SUSAN JAMIESON AND ASSOCIATES – HSBC Account Number – 083 537894 833. The money will go to Thalpe Rehabilitation 16/F, Hing Wai Building Trust, a local organisation that is rebuilding 36 Queen’s Road Central homes. All the proceeds go directly to the local Hong Kong people: there are no costs for salaries or adminTel: 2523-8044 Fax: 2521-3365 istration. – S.J. Email: drsjasso@netvigator.com

carousel. Luckily, friends of Kate’s, the Harrison family, arranged for their lawyer to greet us and smooth out any problems with customs. We get all our goods through intact. The Harrisons’ villa is about 7 km from Galle and they are using it as a base to organise relief efforts. JANUARY 5: Arrive at the Harrisons’ villa in Illuketia at 4 am. We are due to start vaccinating people at 10 am! The day gets off to a bad start. We’re told by a Sri Lankan health official, who says he is a “WHO consultant”, that the Government Health Authority does not approve of anyone on the island being given hepatitis or typhoid vaccines. We are dispirited and confused (this had all been organised and approved over the previous week). So our group, consisting of Nikki and Bob Harrison, their student daughter Jennie (who’d just flown in from university in England), Bindu, a charming Sri Lankan lawyer, and me, move on to a neighbouring village where to our delight and because of our local contacts, the health officer there was actually personally willing to assist us in administering the vaccines. At lunchtime, we meet up with an expatriate group, Project Galle, led by Alex, a resident, and Maze, an Irish lady who had been on holiday. They are trying to set up a database in Galle through which relief groups can co-ordinate their efforts. This is becoming increasingly nec-

essary. We hear there is a Japanese team doing something in one area, a Danish group dropping off machinery for pumping wells in another, a roving Hungarian medical team and some French policemen wandering about! We take this opportunity to vaccinate this group of about 30 spontaneously formed aid workers. We then moved to the trendy but particularly hard-hit beach resort of Unawatuna, just south of Galle. The Harrisons’ lawyer, Bindu, had targeted this area because victims were unable to leave for fear of looters pillaging their few remaining possessions and what was left of their homes. They no longer have running water and the wells are contaminated so an outbreak of disease appears to be only a matter of time. JANUARY 6: Still in Unawatuna. We come across a small clearing in the rubble where a motley group of Sri Lankan and expatriate owners of newly devastated hotels and bars are discussing priorities and action to be taken. Grubby and with assorted bruises and cuts on their feet and legs from clearing debris, they rally round and find us a table on which to work. It’s placed on the edge of the dirty road but we soon get an efficient (and clean) vaccination processing line going. Nikki removes the packaging; Jennie removes any air in the syringe and halves the dose for children and Bob passes the filled syringes along with cotton wool and alcohol swabs to me.

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005

Nikki receives good news. JP Morgan is sending a team of men with equipment to clean wells! With 500 people lined up waiting to receive two vaccinations each, I need assistance. I ask the assembled group if anyone has had any experience of giving intramuscular injections. A young Sri Lankan claimed he had done it in the army but then got scared and ran off. People are very traumatised. I was rescued by a lovely but rather tired-looking man called Reto Cloetta, owner of the newly nonexistent Neptune Bay Hotel. We had almost finished when night fell. Exhausted but wired, I stay up till midnight, chatting to assorted guests staying at the very glamorous and beautiful Villa Illuketia run by the Harrisons. Located well back from the beach, the villa has become a temporary refuge for numerous tsunami victims, including Kate and her family before they were evacuated to Hong Kong. This was where a grateful Kate had learned that desperately needed vaccines were not available. A few temporary residents remained, including opera singer Barbara Segal and Fortune magazine journalist Eric Ellis. They owned property in the area and were motivated to help in any way possible. JANUARY 7: The next morning the team finishes inoculating the residents of the Unawatuna village and we travel 30 km south to an area near Martara. The talk in the Land Rover is of

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Tsunami

new building or rebuilding works can take place within 350 metres of the beach. How extraordinary! How were people going to rebuild their homes? To make matters worse, planning permission had been switched from local to Central government, a move that might cost people, who had already lost everything, even more, not to mention the delays involved. An hour and a half later we reach our destination: Medihah Temple Village. People here had fled in panic

COPING WITH

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take vaccinations out of the boxes. Struggle to get the Land Rover up a boulder-strewn path leading to a couple of “temple villages” in Roomasala. Luckily, Bob had done a 4-wheel drive course! A lot of people had headed for this hill when the waves hit, so there were many displaced families here. The hill is famous for its wonderfully healing Ayurvedic herbs which can’t be found anywhere else in Sri Lanka. According to myth, when one of the Gods needed special

DEATH

uddhist monks have not only rallied to the aid of tsunami survivors in many of the worst-hit areas but they have also ministered to the dead. Richard S. Erhlich asked one Thai monk how he coped. Cremating thousands of victims at Buddhist temples has become a grim task but Thailand’s monks say their “corpse meditation” training helps them deal with the transitory nature of life. “I was actually talking to volunteers who were helping shifting bodies in a very badly hit area, Khao Lak, into the temple,” said Siripanyo Bhikkhu, a Buddhist monk who travelled to Phuket from his monastery, Wat Pah Nanachat, in eastern Thailand’s Ubon Ratchathani. “It’s just way too much for people to handle. People are, within one or two days, becoming basically traumatised, operating very much on adrenaline, getting hardly any sleep,” the shaven-headed monk said. Many of those killed in southern Thailand were swiftly cremated according to traditional Buddhist

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from the coast into the hills. Wellorganised “camps” have been established in and around the temples by the Buddhist monks. Every 20 minutes or so, I am approached by someone wanting medical advice, mostly for foot injuries from clearing rubble, and requiring antibiotic treatment. Members of the JVP, the local communist coalition party, assist us. I persuade a young, tall JVP officer, affecting a Che Guevara look, to help

rites, sometimes without identification. The thousands of international tourists who perished had to have their identities confirmed before their bodies were cremated, buried, or shipped home, adding to the burden on the monks responsible for the rites and cremations and the afterdeath chants to chase away lingering ghosts. Years of special “corpse meditation” enabled each monk, or bhikkhu, to deal with the nightmarish tasks. “Corpse contemplation, or corpse meditation, would be just literally [meditating on] a picture of a dead body, or a body at one of the actual stages of decomposition,” Siripanyo Bhikkhu, 34, said. The macabre photographs, which many Thai monks keep in their personal possession and are publicly sold in religious shops throughout the country, include news photos of people killed in accidents, suicides, fires, and also medical autopsy pictures. The purpose of this common traditional form of meditation is “simply to hold in your mind, very clearly,

that when you look at a [living] person, you’re seeing only the external aspect of that physical person. We just sort of live in denial of the fact that we have all these organs and bones and liquids and fluids,” he said. “We say, ‘everyone has a human heart’, but what does it look like? We forget. We are obsessed with the externals. No one wants to see the internals. But we try to see them in

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005


plants in a hurry, he simply scooped up the earth and placed it in a different country. The incredibly sweet, very ascetic-looking monks insist on serving me tea with Jacob’s Cream Crackers. We’ve been on such a tight schedule that we haven’t had a tea or lunch break in three days, but it means so much to them that I decide to make the time. Interestingly, in all the time I was in Sri Lanka, I never saw one medi-

cal aid worker from any group. I couldn’t understand this. I decided that perhaps they were at local hospitals. By midday, it’s time to leave. Bindu has rushed off, expecting a large shipment of paint and building materials to come in from the UK. He’d just heard that the government had placed an embargo on any foreign aid goods entering Colombo airport, unless accompanied by official letter from at least two Sri Lankan authori-

ties. He is trying to get an audience with an official in order to get one signed quickly. The traffic is terrible. It takes four hours to get to Colombo. Time, however, to absorb the coastal damage, the most surreal being rows of ships stranded inland beside the road and railway. Galle cricket ground is covered in rubbish. There is a small yacht marooned in the middle. Over ten thousand people were killed within a two-mile radius of Galle.

A Thai monk examines photographs of missing people outside a hospital in Phuket 10 days after the tsunami

PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP

an equal light, neither delighting nor being repelled by the attractive or the unattractive signs of the external or the internal,” he said. “It is very common with us to have [corpse meditation] pictures with us, to use them, or just to have in your hut, or have with you when you are eating, or just to look at and to contemplate,” he said. As he spoke, the monk sat cross-legged and wrapped in his gown, on the grass at Phuket’s

City Hall, the main volunteer emergency centre for Thais and foreigners searching for missing people or helping with the recovery. Siripanyo Bhikkhu has two specific photographs that he uses when he practises corpse meditation. “I have a picture of a cremation with a body very visibly burning on a pyre,” he said. “I have another picture of a skeleton, a human skeleton. Just as a reminder that everyone you are talking to, or yourself, is this bone structure supporting the whole thing. Sometimes, just that can be a very powerful reminder of what we call the true nature of life. “I have quite a few [corpse photos] actually. Say, about half a dozen. Some monks like to have a lot, to have a variety. Some monks don’t have any because they have them in the monastery. “We have a skeleton hanging in a closet, in a glass case, actually in our hall. And a baby, a little newborn baby which died in birth, in a jar. We also have the feet of this skeleton. And that’s on public display, so when people come in our monastery they are reminded of the transitory nature of life. “It’s very common. It sounds incredibly gruesome and almost

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005

bizarre. But it is totally, totally normal and understood in Thailand. “That’s what monasteries are for. They remind us of the true nature of life, which is this impermanence and transitory nature,” he said. While the daily cremations of tsunami victims at Buddhist temples along the west coast are scenes of misery and despair for many witnesses, this Buddhist-majority society has a tradition that centres on the concept of impermanence. “Your life and your body are like a leaking boat which you take across the river,” the caption on one corpse photograph read. “The boat does not belong to you, and when you take the boat, you try to cover the leak. You do this until you get across the river, and when you get there, then you leave the boat without a care. And you do not carry the boat with you. So you do not suffer because of the boat.” Materialism was a trap, another caption noted. “Usually, all people want valuable things. But when you die, those valuable things cannot help you, and they can’t prevent you from your final death. So it is useless for people to try to collect things, or cheat others or desire things.”

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Feature

Confessions OF A

Country Collector Absent member Garry Marchant looks back over his 30-plus year career as a travel writer

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cious, and didn’t start until I was 20. On their European coming-of-age jaunt, most young Canadians visited the British Isles, France, Italy and Germany. When I finally got to Europe, I saw those countries, then continued on to Spain, then Gibraltar. So close to Africa, I had to go on to cross the Straits to Morocco and set foot on the “dark continent.” (I’ve been on all I’m a collector. I collect countries. Many of my friends did the of them, now, including Antarctica). I don’t just go to new places to “Grand tour of Europe” (backpack- In fact, Africa wasn’t at all dark, but add them to the list, though, despite ing, not staying in grand hotels) bright, mesmerizing, with brilliant accusations of some friends. I am in their late teens. I was postco- colours and dazzling music. genuinely interested in every Instead of returning the country, curious about the way I had come, I hitchhiked most remote, unlikely places. across Algeria to Tunisia. But I didn’t start out this way. I was running short of funds, I grew up in Winnipeg, in the so instead of crossing Libya heart of Canada. The only “forto Egypt, I took a ferry back eign” parts I saw until I was 20 to Europe, and added Sicily, years old were Grand Forks, the Vatican, Austria, and othNorth Dakota, and Minneapoers to my list. It is one of my lis, Minnesota. But I did find great regrets, because Libya those Midwest American cities became off-limits to normal exotic, intriguing. And like the travellers, and I still have not lyrics in the old song, Faraway been there. Places (with strange sounding That first trip infected me names), did call me. Marchant gets another stamp in his passport in St Michael with permanent travel fever.

was returning home to Paris after completing a writing assignment on St Moritz, Switzerland, for an Asian magazine. Checking the map, I saw that the train passed through Sargans, just a few miles from Liechtenstein. So I got off, took a bus to that mini-state, and had a leisurely afternoon visit. Chalk up country 242.

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THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005


I’d discovered the gypsy in my genes, the nomad in my soul. A few short trips followed – to Mexico and the Caribbean. When the chance came to live in Japan, I abandoned university forever and headed for the exotic East – the long way. I returned to Europe, saw a few more countries, and went to Japan via the trans-Siberian railway, crossing Russia, the world’s largest country. Japan was the first foreign country I lived in. I taught English, worked as an extra in movies and did freelance editing. From Japan, I travelled to Taiwan, then Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, overland through Malaysia to Singapore, then to Australia. That started my lifelong love affair with the Orient. A year in Australia (mainly doing manual labour), then a year in Papua New Guinea as a malaria control officer for the health department followed. There, I cheated a bit. I was based on the Irian Jaya border, so on one of my patrols, I wandered a few miles into that Indonesian-controlled territory (formerly Dutch New Guinea). I didn’t go through customs or immigration, but did enter the country – illegally. Although no longer a member, I follow the criteria and the official list of the California-based Travelers’ Century Club (TCC), which requires that applicants have visited 100 countries to join. I do not count countries twice, just because they change their name. Haute Volta became Burkina Faso, but I still only count it is as one country. However, the former Czechoslovakia, now the Czech Republic and Slovakia, counts as two. That’s fair, as I’ve been to both parts. Other lengthy trips followed. On a year-long Africa adventure, I drove a Land Rover across the Sahara desert, with its Beau Geste sand dunes. I stayed in a brothel for several nights while waiting for a riverboat down the Zaire (it was the only place in town with beds available). And I saw elephant, lion, rhinoceros and other

DERRICK CEYRAC/AFP

St Pierre and Miquelon – the last of the five North American countries GEORGES GOBET/AFP

I've walked the dusty streets of Ouagadougou but have yet to see Timbouctou big game for the first time. When I finally reached South Africa, I got a job as a deckhand on a Norwegian freighter, working my way back to Europe. Later, on an overland trip from Canada to South America, I added more than a dozen new countries, crossed the Andes several times and took six weeks to float down the length of the Amazon by banana and timber boats. I ended up in Rio de

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005

Janeiro where I became editor of the Brazil Herald. Back in Canada in the 1980s, I finally discovered I could get paid to travel. (I said I was a slow learner.) Print publishing was thriving then, and the monthly lifestyle Vancouver Magazine was at its peak. The editor gave me a regular column which changed my travel life. (I’ve always suspected that it was partly to

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Feature

OLGA NEDBAYEVA/AFP

protect himself from constant requests from freelance writers.) So I started travelling first (or business) class, on press trips, or preferably on my own, staying at the world’s top hotels. Instead of following most other travel journalists to the same places, though, I looked beyond cruise ships and resorts. On a trip to Sweden and Finland, when the other ladies and gentlemen of the press returned home, I stayed on to visit Latvia. I still Mysterious Samarkand ... still some "stans" to go have Estonia and Lithuania on my “to see” list. East business magazine, but dramatic In that decade, I visited places that I events prevented that. In South Amercould not afford to see on my own. The ica, I have yet to visit Venezuela and Galapagos, the Antarctic, Stewart Island, British, French and Dutch Guiana (now Norfolk Island, Tibet, the Falklands. And Guyana, French Guiana and SurinaI saw lesser-known places such as St me). I’m curious to see how the three Pierre and Miquelon - the last of the five North American countries. Based in Paris now, I am visiting offbeat spots in Europe. An assignment took me to tiny Andorra last year, but I still haven’t seen San Marino (the last of what I call the Grand Duchies of Europe). The International Herald Tribune supplements department sent me to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on assignment several years ago. That was an unusual destination, and took advantage of my visit there to take a day trip to mysterious Samarkand. I have a few “stans” (Kyrgyztan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan) to visit. Political events have changed travel since I first hit the road. China was off-limits then. Now the World Tourism Organisation predicts it will be the world’s most popular tourist destination in a few years. The Middle East, however, has become more difficult with its political turmoil. The break-up of Yugoslavia and the unification of Germany has complicated country counting. Despite a life-long devotion to my “collection,” there are still big gaps. I almost got to Saudi Arabia in the fall of 2001, to do reports for a Middle

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former colonial masters left their mark. If I could only find and editor to take the story, I would love to visit Easter Island, to see those mysterious giant statues, faced resolutely inland. Although I’ve walked the dusty streets of such African towns as Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dialassou, I’ve yet to see Timbouctou – a major gap for a traveller. My collection includes a number of South Pacific Islands (Tonga, Samoa, Saipan, Tinian, Palau, Yap, Truk and many others), but I would gladly take the cruise from Tahiti to the Marquesas. It is a big, wonderful world out there, so many places, so many countries – 317 according to the TCC. Like all collectors, I want the full set.

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005


Region

FRIEND DEAD OF THE

The Cambodian government has finally passed legislation allowing a UN-sponsored trial of surviving Khmer Rouge leaders to proceed. In the case for the prosecution, a special friend is waiting in the wings, writes Luke Hunt.

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n late 1979 Craig Etcheson was an impressionable 23-year-old who divided his time between rock concerts and first year PhD studies in mathematical models of war at the University of Southern California School for International Relations. The Blue Oyster Cult, Deep Purple and The Grateful Dead were his bands of choice. Then Vietnam invaded Cambodia and lifted the veil on the true scale of carnage committed by Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge. Images from the Killing Fields shocked the affable Etcheson. The slaughter of about onethird of Cambodia’s population in the previous three-and-a-half years was something the young mathematician found incomprehensible. ”My response to those feelings was to begin studying it in detail,” he said. After digging through records and recent histories, he wrote his first book: The Rise and Demise of Democratic Kampuchea. That was in 1984. Field work followed in the years ahead and again he divided his time – this time between family duties in Washington DC and crawling through mud and bones with a shovel as a forensic scientist in Cambodia. A quarter of a century on and Etcheson, now affiliated with Johns Hopkins University, has become a conduit for the dead. He is using his forensic science skills to demonstrate beyond legal doubt that surviving leaders of the ultra-Maoist movement

committed one of the greatest crimes of the 20th century. “After you have seen hundreds and then thousands of mass graves you gradually find a certain kind of peace with the dead, and then eventually one forms a curious social alliance with them,” Etcheson said. That alliance is deeply personal and the stocky 49-year-old, who has four books slated for release over the next two years, is bracing himself for the long-delayed Khmer Rouge tribunal where his work will be scrutinised and attacked by those prepared to defend what’s left of Pol Pot’s hierarchy.

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005

Potential defence lawyers, seeking to make a name for themselves, are already conducting forays into Cambodia and preparing an initial strategy based on attacking the validity of the evidence and the legality of the court itself as well as seeking to throw doubt on reports that genocide occurred. Etcheson is unruffled. “For me it’s always been about the victims,” he said. “For other people who have worked on this it’s about abstractions like establishing legal precedents and defining terms like genocide instead of addressing issues like these were once actual living human beings.” Unlike the physical evidence produced at the Rwanda, Sierra Leone and the former Yugoslavia war crimes tribunals, the remains that lie in the 20,000 uncovered mass graves that dot Cambodia’s picturesque landscape have been exposed to decades of human intervention and erosion PHOTOGRAPH: PATRICK DUNNE

Silent voices

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Region

Etcheson holds one trump card up his sleeve. He is the keeper of the coordinates, the secret location of untouched mass graves in Cambodia’s remote eastern provinces by violent tropical storms. Grave robbers seeking gold teeth and valuables stashed in body parts and clothes of the dead have also taken a toll. The pillaging has not helped a potential case for the prosecution. This contamination of evidence is expected to underpin the defence case and could prove pivotal as to whether the defiant Khieu Samphan, Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary and his wife, Ieng Thirith, see out their twilight years as free citizens or as felons behind bars. But Etcheson does hold one trump card up his sleeve. He is the keeper of the coordinates, the secret location of untouched mass graves in Cambodia’s remote eastern provinces, where thousands of men, women and children – those he now calls friends – were battered to death, dumped and buried. “There could be hundreds or 10,000 there, or more, or less,” he said. Known as the Primary Site, these mass graves are untainted by human hands and weather patterns. They will provide the stuff forensic scientists dream of: hard evidence that has the potential to withstand the rigid tests of international law. “This is a nice little chunk of evidence that provides a snapshot of what happened in the east during the first and second quarters of 1978 when Ta Mok and (his deputy) Ke Pauk came in and killed everybody,” he said. Primary Site, the size of three to four football pitches, is where Etcheson and a small team of forensic scientists from Canada have painstakingly unearthed initial samples they say justify an excavation on a grand scale. The findings, which Etcheson

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believes will directly link Pol Pot’s government with the belligerent and deliberate murder of thousands, will be offered to the tribunal’s prosecution as prima facie evidence. “What they did was pretty simple,” Etcheson said. He chuckles, not out of mirth but out of a sense of irony over the abstractions of Western justice versus the simplicity of the brutality exercised by the Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge. “A Khmer Rouge sense of justice is much easier to understand. Just bring in the trucks, get ‘em on, truck ‘em off, then whack ‘em. And that’s what they did in village after village after village.” Pol Pot and Ke Pauk escaped their day in the dock through death. But their surviving colleagues, Ta Mok, the ruthless military commander, and Kang Kek Ieu – or Comrade Duch – who ran the notorious S21 torture camp, are both in jail awaiting trial after being charged with genocide and crimes against humanity. “Technically it might be difficult to directly prove that genocide occurred here but it is definitely a great crime against humanity – and that will suffice in court,” Etcheson said. If convicted, Pol Pot’s surviving henchmen and women will probably go to jail, a comfortable existence in comparison with conditions during Brother Number One’s regime. But comfortable or not, such a result will mean Etcheson’s efforts, made for his friends, will have proved pivotal in finding justice for all Cambodians, dead or alive. “Maybe then I can find a job that actually comes with a pay cheque,” he said with a grin. “But more than likely I’ll find another country where similar work needs to be done.”

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005


Region

MINGLING IN

MONGLA

With pressure mounting on Myanmar to put paid to the United Wa State Army-controlled drug trade in its Special Region Number 2, Tom Fawcett visits nearby Region Number 4 to look at its claims to have successfully eradicated the opium crop.

ILLUSTRATION BY PATRICK DUNNE

W

e travelled past hilltribe villages in the dirt poor Shan State in north-eastern Myanmar (Burma) where opium warlords once ruled the roost and development was frozen for decades by a combination of insurgency and repression. In the distance near the Chinese border, a strange spectre of multi-storeyed concrete buildings looms. We are approaching Mongla, a garish town of bright lights, casinos and night clubs, the capital of Myanmar’s Special Region Number 4. Indeed Mongla is quite special. It has electricity for 24 hours a day, a rarity in these parts. Formerly an obscure outpost of the Burmese Communist Party, Mongla today has been transformed into a tourist boom town, catering to about 350,000 Chinese visitors a year, mostly from neighbouring Yunnan province. It is a place where Thai transvestite performers, Chinese businessmen, Russian prostitutes, drug traffickers, and even UN drug control officials from the UNODC, mingle. Special Region Number 4 and Mongla, the capital, fall under the control of one Sai Leun, a.k.a. Lin Mingxian, a Chinese Shan and leader of a warlord army that battled the central government until a ceasefire agreement was signed in 1989 with Myanmar’s head of military intelligence, General Khin Nyunt. Khin Nyunt, who ranked number three in the military junta, was kicked out of the government last October and placed under house

arrest, allegedly for corruption. Opium poppies used to flourish in the hills around Mongla but in 1997 Sai Leun declared his fiefdom an “opiumfree zone”. Chinese advisers were brought in to develop alternative crops and Sai Leun, who until 2000 was on the U.S. government’s most-wanted list of top drug traffickers, re-invented himself as an anti-drugs Czar. He is chairman of the Mongla Action Committee on Narcotics and opened an Opium Museum to educate inhabitants about the evils of drugs. News of Khin Nyunt’s disgrace doesn’t appear to have percolated through to Mongla. The museum contains quite a few pictures of the deposed intelligence chief posing with Sai Leun. Yangon and some U.S. narcotics agents swear Sai Leun is a totally reformed man who has wiped out cultivation of the opium poppy in his domain and is committed to encouraging the cultivation of alternative crops. Others, including the Shan News Agency based in Chiang Mai, are not convinced. They argue that the opium fields have not been abandoned, merely better hidden, and the former Red Guard has not entirely abandoned his interest in the Golden Triangle’s most lucrative trade. Casinos and clubs, they suggest, are useful money laundries.

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005

There is no room for doubt in Special Region Number 2, just to the north, where the much-feared United Wa State Army (UWSA) holds sway. The UWSA, according to the Thai military and the U.S. government, is the major manufacturer of the heroin and the methamphetamine yaba that flows across porous borders into China and Thailand. Sai Leun, a Chinese Shan, knows the Wa leaders well from their days together in the former Burmese Communist Party. The leadership in Pangshan, capital of Region Number 2, has been subjected to considerable pressure from China and the West over the UWSA’s drug trafficking activities and has pledged to eradicate opium cultivation by the end of 2005. However, it faces a problem. Development agencies in Yangon warn that few cash crop alternatives are available and the elimination of opium without alternative development is a recipe for humanitarian disaster. Kern Sai, a Shan journalist who supports the pro-democracy movement, argues that the substitution of cash crops alone is not enough. “Without democratic change there is no solution to the drug problem. Democracy, development and an end to the flow of narcotics are all linked,” he argues. Is the Mongla tourism route an answer? There is a major downside. In Mongla, street and shop signs are nearly all in Chinese. Shopkeepers scornfully dismiss payment in kyats and want yuan. True, the ambitious redevelopment included the erection of a brand new Burmese temple but that was an afterthought, coming long after the casinos, a small zoo and other attractions were built. In this town, all things appear to be Chinese. Even Mongla time is the same as Chinese time. Visitors are hard pressed to find much evidence that they are in Myanmar.

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Charity Ball

THE FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTSâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; CLUB

HONG KONG CHARITY BALL

Statement of Income and Expenditure Account for Fund-raising Activities held on September 25, 2004

INCOME Donations Ball ticket income

Hong Kong Dollars

$ 1,584,298 1,210,056

Auction

665,750

Raffle ticket income

454,808

Other income

76,092 $ 3,991,004

EXPENDITURE Banquet expenses

518,880

Performers

425,477

Sound and lighting

174,112

Printing and stationery

148,999

Auction costs

115,816

Entertainment

61,814

Event organiser

59,603

Decoration

30,583

Food and beverages

25,409

Sundry expenses

22,455

Travelling

13,509

Advertising

10,000

Uniforms

7,096

Lottery license fee for raffle draw

3,165 (1,616,918)

NET FUNDS GENERATED

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$ 2,374,086

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005


FCC Collection Check out the wide range of FCC products

Fiction Cleaning House Barry Kalb . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$150

Evergreen Tea House David T.K. Wong . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$250

Computer bag . . . . . . . . . . . .$165 Blue ball pen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $15

Non-fiction

Plastic ball pen . . . . . . . . . . . $1.50 Silver ball pen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $68 Document case . . . . . . . . . . .$110 FCC Card with greeting. . . . $35

ABC of Dogs

Cap $40

Bars of Steel Brandon Royal & Paul Strahan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $60

Fleece smock. . . . . . . . . . . . . .$280

Building Democracy

Keyholder & ring . . . . . . . . . . . $30

Christine Loh & Civic Exchange . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $95

Captain if Captured

Plated keyholder . . . . . . . . . . . $30

Clare Hollingworth – Biography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$299

Gold Zippo lighter . . . . . . . .$150

City Voices Xu Xi & Mike Ingham . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$195

Luggage tag . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $60

Reporter’s notebook . . . . . . . $10

Arthur Hacker – Cartoons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $45 Kevin Sinclair & Nelson Cheung . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$200

Disposable lighter . . . . . . . . . . $5

FCC pin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $75

ABC of Hong Kong Asia’s Finest Marchs On

FCC Card blank . . . . . . . . . . . . $35

Name card holder . . . . . . . . . $65

Arthur Hacker – Cartoons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $45

Silver ball pen with box: $78

Polo shirt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$140

Cooking up a Dragon Sharon Leece – Cookery book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$250

Custom Maid for New World Disorder Peter de Krassel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$135

Getting Heard Christine Loh & Civic Exchange . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $90

Stonewashed shirt . . . . . . . .$115

Hong Kong: China’s New Colony

Stonewashed shorts . . . . . .$110

Stephen Vines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $75

T-shirt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$110

Edith Terry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$200

How Asia Got Rich Market Panic

FCC tie (B&R) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $80

Stephen Vines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$230

Umbrella (folding) . . . . . . . .$100

Impossible Dreams

Umbrella (golf ) . . . . . . . . . . .$200

Sandra Burton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$150.00

I was Misquoted

New Umbrella (regular) . . . $68

Ted Thomas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $99.00

New Umbrella (golf ) . . . . . .$165

Living with it

Wallet – hot stamped . . . . .$125

Marcus Oleniuk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$350

New windbreaker . . . . . . . . .$195

Polar Power - Bilingual version

Windbreaker . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$250

The Poles Declaration - Bilingual Version

Pierre Quioc Stole . . . . . . . .$280

Rebecca Lee – Photography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$170

Pierre Quioc Scarf. . . . . . . . . . $95 FCC Video – NTSC. . . . . . . . .$310 FCC Video – PAL . . . . . . . . . .$280

Rebecca Lee – Photography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$150

The Quest of Noel Croucher

Wallet – gold printed: $125

Vaudine England – Biography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$185

The Years of Living Dangerously Stephen Vines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$135

FCC lithograph . . . . . . . . . . . .$800

CDs

FCC postcard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $3

Allen Youngblood CD

I Love HK postcard . . . . . .$13.50 I Love HK poster . . . . . . . . . .$250

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005

Allen Youngblood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$110

Digital Cutup Lounge vs Allen Youngblood Allen Youngblood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$110

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Lives Remembered

Cynthia Nalbone (formerly Hydes)

I

f you dropped into the FCC any time from the 1970s through the 1990s, the American blonde at the bar with the marvellous, violet blue eyes was, more probably than not, Cynthia. The drawl, fetching laugh and engaging personality were as part of the furniture as the late Bert Okuley’s pinched and ironic asides or the late Charlie Smith’s tantalising but lethal cocktails. Forget the barfly, Cynthia was no mean musician. Called on to perform on the FCC’s mouldering and half-abandoned piano, she’d cut it with classical music – but also with Scott Joplin or the Beatles, and mostly there was no need for sheet music. It’s all in the ear, you see, she said. The “original Cyn” was, indeed, part performer, part humourist and tattletale, part person-youwanted-to-cuddle. She also complained about her lot from time to time, but when the wide smile and quick riposte were suddenly there, she was huge fun to be with. Cynthia promoted and wrote about the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra for 17 years, but that was just part of the backdrop in a whirl of a life spent mainly in Hong Kong and filled with marriage, friendships, incidents and a passion for musical expression of all kinds. She had a way with musicians and understood the fleeting nature of their art. Russian maestro Maxim Shostakovitch was a friend as well as a guest performer at the Hong Kong Philharmonic, and she managed to connect the dots with a wildly varied group of musicians and managers, writing about many in the orchestra’s Upbeat magazine. John Duffus, former general manager of the Philharmonic, tells how Cynthia was looking forward to meeting distinguished British conductor Sir Charles Groves and escorted an elderly, distinguished gentleman to a waiting limousine at the airport. When would Lady Groves be joining him, Cynthia asked. Joining him? Lady Groves? She had corralled the wrong knight, finally tracking down the lost-looking conductor, who was amused rather than annoyed when he learned of a mistaken identity with another “Sir Charles”. Her eye for a story was sometimes wicked. She was author of a wire service piece that went global, detailing how the Hong Kong Inland Revenue had sent demands to taxpayers Messrs Mozart and

30

Beethoven (among other In Memoriam “artists”) who officers figured owed substantial James Edward Sweeney sums. December 29, 2004 John Duffus speaks of Kevin Cooney how Cynthia was a big reaNovember 26, 2004 son for why major names in Phuket, Thailand agreed to play with the James J.S. Wong Philharmonic, which was November 24, 2004 partly because they had heard how well artists were Robert B. Klaverkamp November 18, 2004 looked after in Hong Kong. The FCC was often where Jim Walker November 8, 2004 she entertained, with wine on the Australian Gold Coast and conversation flowing freely. Cynthia Nalbone (formerly Hydes) RTHK Radio 4 was a October 18, 2004 favourite on Cynthia’s in Jamestown, New York musical mission. A stuIan McCrone dent at New York’s Juilliard October 17, 2004 School, she brought a culin Wanaka, New Zealand tured voice to a huge numJan Eriksson ber of programmes, spanSeptember 4, 2004 ning 20 years and more. in Stockholm, Sweden Cynthia’s people were also part of what might be called her symphony of life. She was married four times. In Hong Kong she was with the late Frank Hydes, a former RAF flyer, aeronautics executive and yacht broker. In a colourful life together, the two spent some time in Cyprus where their charter boat was seized by occupying Turkish forces in the north of the country – unbeknown to them, the charterer turned out to be a drug running syndicate, and the Hydes returned to Hong Kong sans boat or business. From the mid-1990s and by herself in Hong Kong, Cynthia decided it was time to go home to New York where she met Sam Nalbone, a former hairdresser who married her in 2002. She had by no means retired from music, Sam explains. She often sang in the choir at St Luke’s Church in the district where they lived. Cynthia died in October aged about 74 from viral complications following a heart attack, at WCA Hospital, Jamestown, leaving Sam. She’ll certainly still be one of the FCC’s indestructible characters in many memories around the bar and far beyond. – Martin Evan-Jones

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005


Books

Of buffers & buffoons Satirical cartoonist, landscape architect, author of children’s books, environmental activist and Lantau Man extraordinaire, Gavin Coates was typically both funny and thought-provoking at the launch of his book, a compilation of more than 200 of his hardhitting cartoons published in iMail, its successor The Standard and Asia Times Online. Jonathan Sharp reports

A

capacity audience at the FCC book-launch dinner included one member of the Hong Kong establishment who has been mercilessly skewered by Gavin Coates over the years and figures prominently in his new book, One Hand Two Fingers, which is published by Christine Loh’s Civic Exchange think tank. The book’s blurb says it “takes a fascinating and wry review of the last four years’ political buffoonery in Hong Kong and China, not to mention the antics of the United States of America.” Yet the skeweree in question at the dinner, Mike Rowse, appeared not just to accept being a figure of fun, he seemed positively to revel in featuring in the book so frequently. However

one can hardly expect that this relish on Rowse’s part has been shared by many of the targets in Coates’ book, who include Tung Chee-hwa, Regina Ip (wonderfully caricatured toting two hair dryers instead of six-guns), Uncle Sam, the Goddess of Democracy, Jiang Zemin, George Bush, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden and, of course, the Yuen Long crocodile. “Gavin is not delicate, he is not subtle: he is bold and resolute,” writes art critic John Russell Taylor in Coates’ book. “His weapon of choice is not exactly a rapier, but then it is not exactly a bludgeon either. It is rather, perhaps, an arrow. It may look delicate, but when properly aimed it goes straight, and fatally, to the heart.”

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005

Whether Coates’ targets welcome or wince at his irreverent rendering of their behaviour, in his presentation at the dinner he made the following point that is pertinent to the issue of press freedom in the SAR. “I think it is quite interesting that I can do this kind of thing here in the English-language press as a foreigner. I can’t imagine that that would be possible anywhere else in this region.” Quite so. But as a questioner noted, not everyone in the satire business has managed to find a permanent publishing outlet in the SAR. Coates, asked how he lived with the worry of making himself unpopular to the rich and the powerful figures he jabs at, responded: “The first thing you have to do is live on Lantau.” More seriously, he said that as far as feeling secure physically, he had never suffered any threats. or insinuations against him. However he added: “I suspect that the English-language press is not as fraught with this kind of thing as the Chinese press, I would guess because of the fact that the English-language press doesn’t have the kind of reach into the main mass of the community.” By way of introducing his cartoons, Coates read his story “The Crystal City”, which rails against the “allmine philosophy” prevalent in a certain territory. The original version was broadcast on RTHK in May, 2000, and

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Books

“Sometimes it is quite difficult to keep up with this level of buffoonery” was heard by Andrew Lynch, then editor of the about-to-be-launched iMail, who had previously ignored Coates’ attempts to pitch his cartoon portfolio. “It was this story that prompted him to call me and convince me to do my first iMail cartoons, and I’ve been doing them ever since.” By no means all the comments published in the book alongside the cartoons are reverential to the artist. Mark Clifford, The Standard’s current Editorin-Chief, says he disagrees with quite a few of the cartoons in the book’s section titled “An American Dream?” which

32

attacks, among many other acts of the Bush Administration, the invasion of Iraq. In an introduction to the section, Clifford writes: “It’s moral equivalence of a very dangerous sort to compare Saddam and Bush (as Coates does in his cartoon ‘Spot the Difference’). But it does make me think. Just how far down the wrong path has the U.S. gone when its soldiers are torturing and humiliating Iraqi prisoners?” Coates’ editors may have disagreed with the line taken in his work, but he says none of them has censored him on political grounds.

While allowing his cartoons to do most of the talking during the presentation (because, as he said, otherwise he could be rambling on until breakfast), Coates fielded questions, during which he made an innovative alternative suggestion for the canopy planned for the contentious West Kowloon Cultural Zone. Coates said he thought a small rain forest would be appropriate. “If they want a canopy, I could plant them a self-sustaining canopy for about 200 dollars.” Noting that absurdity was a big part of Coates’ business, Steve Vines asked whether the absurdity going on in Hong Kong now was undermining his ability to carry on his work. Coates seemed to agree, saying “sometimes it is quite difficult to keep up with this level of buffoonery.” In an introduction to the book’s section called “Flagrant Harbour”, Vines writes: “Gavin could easily be dismissed as a Hong Kong hater, but only by those who fail to understand that his criticisms of the SAR are based on a true affection for the place that has been his home for so many years. His sense of irritation is towards those who show contempt for the people of Hong Kong and try to make the SAR into little more than a second-rate Chinese city.” To find out more about Coates’ work, go to www.earthycartoons.com One Hand Two Fingers is published by Civic Exchange, ISBN 988-98192-1-X

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005


Around the FCC

NEW YEAR 2005 Revellers saw the New Year in to the rousing strains of a police piper as the clock struck midnight and later chilled out into the wee hours to the distinctly mellower sounds of Mikole E Kaar and Carrie Landsgaard

North Korean border guards keep their eyes on the competition

PHOTOGRAPHY BY HUGH van ES

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005

33


Around the FCC

Prisoner at the Bar

From left: Michael Lintern-Smith, Kathleen Sweeney, Kim Lintern-Smith and Adrian McCarol

T

he local arm of Britain’s legendary Wig & Pen Club celebrated its tenth anniversary in Hong Kong at the FCC in late November. The concept of the Wig & Pen Club follows that of London’s Wig & Pen, a home away from home at the top of Fleet Street. Lawyers and journalists met there in the cosy atmosphere of a centuries-old building to exchange gossip, pass on useful tips and indulge in the club atmosphere for which the British capital is justly famous. The atmosphere of the Wig & Pen gatherings in the FCC is informal. To add a focus to the evening, distinguished speakers from each of the two professions are invited to comment humorously upon topics of mutual interest. The co-chairmen for these events are Michael Lintern-Smith and yours truly. The November gathering was a successful and enjoyable evening with over 80 guests filling the venue to capacity and spilling out on to the stairs. The speeches were the highlight of the night. Steve Vines gave a humorous and anecdotal summation of “why journalists should be judges” (they

Watch out Schumacher!

F

CC members Tim Huxley and Matthew Marsh chalked up some impressive results in the 51st Macau Grand Prix. Independent racing team GR Asia, owned and managed by Tim and a prominent player in touring car racing throughout the world for the past five years, fielded three cars in the Guia race in Macau. Lead driver Simon Harrison’s Honda Civic came home a respectable sixth. Matthew, who has participated in the region’s premier sports car series, the Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia, achieved a fighting second place to Rizal Ramli in the final round in Macau which was enough to win the closely fought championship.

34

Gareth Lugar-Mawson speaks at the Wig & Pen Club gathering

From left: Steve Vickers, Martin Lee and David M Hodson

have comparable qualities, especially regarding the consumption of alcohol). Gareth Lugar-Mawson countered with a hilarious account of “why judges

should be journalists”, starting with a comparison of the types of notebooks used by each profession. Ted Thomas. E-mail: ted@corpcom.com.hk

enter the 2004 Porsche series to promote their A-Ha ready-to-drink coffee brand in China.” Matthew, 36, a contributor to the South China Morning Post, took four victories during the year to seal the title in his most successful racing season to date. He now has his eyes on progressing further on the world L-R: Matthew, Rizal Ramli and Charles Kwan stage. He aims to get on to the Hong Kong team for the Le Mans ”Things took off when Tim offered me 24-hour race. He shared a Ferrari with the chance to drive with GR Asia at Macau Hong Kong’s most established driver, in 2003,” said Matthew, who beat former Charles Kwan, at an international race F1 driver Alex Yoong to pole position in in Zhuhai in November and the duo’s the race that weekend. “‘That one-off success enabled them to put together a outing at Macau in 2003 meant that I was deal to take part in four 1,000 kilometre able to impress the senior management endurance races in Europe in 2005 as a from Uni-President who decided to prelude to an assault on Le Mans in 2006.

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005


SANTA GETS AROUND F

Left: Absent members Mike Throssell (left) and Saul Lockhart (right) donned their beards and red suits to play Santa at a Sydney department store this past Christmas while Desmond Coway (below) thrilled youngsters at the Po Leung Kuk.

CC volunteers who visit the Po Leung Kuk on alternate Tuesday evenings to play with the children, held a Christmas party for the 3- to 6-year-olds in residence. Dave Garcia and Andy Chworowsky performed wonderfully as bad clown and good clown. Desmond Conway appeared as a young Santa Claus, Kitty Yam, Director of Fund Raising for the Kuk, posed as an elegant Mrs Claus while Hugh Van Es who, in his words was “press-ganged to take happy snaps”, served as official photographer. Dave and Andy’s performance was a great success as demonstrated by the sheer volume of noise generated by 40 children screaming their heads off in delight as they scolded Dave, the bad clown, and sought balloon animals from Andy, the good clown. Santa handed out donated toys and gifts obtained by Celia Garcia, Mei-Han Wong and Marilyn Hood and beautifully wrapped by the Kuk staff. Particularly poignant was the response of one little boy who, upon opening a parcel with a Lissi doll inside, and wide-eyed with delight, exclaimed in English: “A baby!” A tea party followed and quiet descended as the kids tucked into yummy snacks. If you wish to join the volunteer group please contact Celia Garcia at hkzeltex@biznetvigator.com or 9091 4732 for more information.

Well oiled

F

ormer iMail editor Andrew Lynch, now living in Britain, paid a flying visit to Hong Kong over Christmas and met up with the FCC contingent in Sai Kung for an afternoon of high culture. L-R: Bobie Kang, Angelica Cheung, Chris Davis, Howard Winn Mark Graham, Andrew Lynch and Jon Marsh.

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005

35


Around the FCC

HEARD AT THE FCC

Eberhard Schoneburg sent pulses racing with desciptions of his Virtual Girlfriend - a "chat bot" capable of conducting cyber-affairs over a 3G phone.

Dr Shigeru Omi, Regional Director, Western Pacific, WHO, gave a chilling insight into the threat posed by avian flu.

Nicholas Becquelin, research director, Human Rights in China, spoke on State Secrets and the Information Age in China.

36

Former iMail journalist Ben Rogers delivered a damning indictment of government brutality in Burma.

Dr Rowan Gillies of MSF described the difficulties facing aid workers in this age of the War on Terror.

Leo Goodstadt discussed his new book: Low Taxes for the Rich, Little Welfare for the Poor: A Colonial Tradition Continued.

Dr Sarah Liao, Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works, chats to Board Members Keith Bradsher (left) and Steve Ushiyama before her address on the pollution problem.

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005


Pool: ‘Pocket Power Paul’ Prevails

“P

ocket Power Paul” McConerry emerged victorious in the 2004 Rocky Lane 9-Ball Cup tournament, defeating Nadarajah Kanagaratna in the final on December 1 to win the HK$5,000 first prize. Nadarajah took home $3,000 in prize money. Stephen Li and Anthony Wong were 3rd and 4th runners-up respectively. Thirty-two FCC members participated in the tournament which is sponsored by Rocky Lane, now based in New Zealand. Rocky paid a flying visit, stopping over for just one night and entertained competitors and spectators with a jump shot exhibition. The FCC Pool Player’s Society (FPS) would like to thank the Rocky Lane

From Left: ‘Pocket Power Paul’, Stephen, Nadarajah and Anthony . Foundation Trust of India for its kind donations of crystal trophies for the annual event which is due to run for 10 years until 2014. Meanwhile, the FPS is now in the

process of selecting the FCC Pool Squad to compete in the new Hong Kong National Pool League. – Anthony Wong, FPS Convener. E-mail: awong@asbroadcast.com

Happy Birthday, Allen! The FCC's evergreen musical director, Allen Youngblood, celebrates his 51st birthday in fitting and fattening style.

Out to Lunch It's a tough job being a member of the FCC Board of Governors. Especially at Christmas.

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005

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Professional Contacts FREELANCE PHOTOGRAPHERS BERTRAND VIRGILE SIMON — Editorials and corporate brochures Tel: 2526 4465 E-mail: info@red-desert.com.hk Website: WWW.RED-DESERT.COM.HK RAY CRANBOURNE — Editorial, Corporate and Industrial Tel/Fax: 2525 7553 E-mail: ray_cran bourne@hotmail.com BOB DAVIS — Corporate/Advertising/Editorial Tel: 9460 1718 Website: www.BOBDAVIS-photographer.com HUBERT VAN ES — News, people, travel, commercial and movie stills Tel: 2559 3504 Fax: 2858 1721 E-mail: vanes@netvigator.com

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ENGLISH TEACHER AND FREELANCE WRITER MARK REGAN — English tuition for speaking, writing, educational, business or life skills. Also freelance writing – people, education, places, entertainment. Tel/Fax: 2146 9841 E-mail: mark@markregan.com Website: www.markregan.com FREELANCE ARTISTS “SAY IT WITH A CARTOON!!!” Political cartoons, children’s books and FREE e-cards by Gavin Coates are available at <http://wwwearthycartoons.com > Tel: 2984 2783 Mobile: 9671 3057 E-mail: gavin@earthycartoons.com FREELANCE EDITOR/WRITER CHARLES WEATHERILL — Writing, editing, speeches, voiceovers and research by long-time resident Mobile: (852) 9023 5121 Tel: (852) 2524 1901 Fax: (852) 2537 2774. E-mail: charlesw@netvigator.com PAUL BAYFIELD — Financial editor and writer and editorial consultant. Tel: 9097 8503 Email: bayfieldhk@hotmail.com STUART WOLFENDALE — Columnist, features and travel writer, public speaker and compere. Tel: (852) 2241 4141 Mobile: (852) 9048 1806 Email: wolfthale@netvigator.com SAUL LOCKHART — All your editorial needs packed neatly into one avuncular body. Projects (reports, brochures, newsletters, magazines et al) conceived and produced. Articles features devised, researched and written. E-mail: saulinoz@hotmail.com MARKETING AND MANAGEMENT SERVICES MARILYN HOOD — Write and edit correspondence, design database and powerpoints, report proofing and layout, sales and marketing, event and business promotions. Tel: (852) 9408 1636 Email: mhood@netfront.net SERVICES MEDIA TRAINING — How to deal professionally with intrusive reporters. Tutors are HKs top professional broadcasters and journalists. English and/or Chinese. Ted Thomas 2527 7077.

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THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005


H E A LY & B A I L L I E

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39


Out of Context

What members get up to when away from the Club

A Bunker Mentality Jonathan Sharp talks to Gregory Deéb

G

regory Deéb has not been putting in many appearances at the FCC recently. Number one reason: he has become a father, an experience he describes as “absolutely brilliant.” Number two reason: Deéb, formerly a high-flying diplomat representing his native South Africa, has been toiling an average of 14 hours a day, seven days a week at Crown Wine Cellars, the novel wine storage centre that he and Jim Thompson, head of Crown Worldwide Group relocation company, have created in ammunition bunkers built in 1937 by the British in Shouson Hill. The bunker-for-your-bottles idea dreamed up by Thompson and Deéb was one of those splendid schemes that take shape at three in the morning over possibly too many glasses of wine. But unlike many grandiose projects hatched in hazy circumstances – the ones that seem utterly compelling at the time but are then mercifully forgotten – this idea got off the mental drawing board and Crown Wine Cellars, complete with a new conservatory and masses of expensive security equipment, computer systems and air conditioning packed into the eight bunkers, opened in February 2004. “Initially it was damn hard work,” says Deéb, not least because a total of 22 Hong Kong government departments had to be involved in order to transform the historical site, a row of grim-looking bunkers carved 20 metres deep into a hillside and lined with two-metre thick concrete walls. The timing of the venture seemed disastrous – it was set up during the SARS outbreak. In addition, sceptics queried the viability of a sophisticated wine storage centre in Hong Kong, which has the lowest per capita wine consumption of any city in the developed world, at 1.8 litres per person per year. There was also a huge amount of

PHOTOGRAPH BY BOB DAVIS

Gregory Deéb: “Initially it was damn hard work” prejudice from a number of the old fine wine storage establishments who argued it was impossible to properly store wines in Hong Kong. But attitudes changed after positive media coverage and visits by top wine merchants. “Slowly but surely everyone has walked away and said, ‘We hate to admit this but, yes, it is the finest in world.’ And now we have

probably pay $400 for in Lan Kwai Fong, you would pay, say, $88 or here.” It’s also a bonded facility so customers don’t pay duty on wines they have imported until they withdraw them for drinking. What about the site’s grim history during the Japanese invasion of December 1941? Has that deterred would-be clients? Deéb, as much a historian as a wine buff, says a number of people visiting Crown Wine Cellars have expected it to be reeking with tragedy. But he says the site did not see the ferocious fighting and brutality that occurred elsewhere in the territory. Moreover the Japanese commander, “a highly intelligent chap”, negotiated a peaceful surrender of the troops manning the bunkers on December 27, two days after the main British-led forces had given up. Troops at the Shouson Hill site were treated with considerably more respect then their comrades. “That’s why good fortune surrounds this place.”

Customers don’t pay duty on wines they have imported until they withdraw them for drinking

40

grown in the credibility aspect, our membership is exploding.” At the time of writing Crown Wine Cellars had 4,000 cases stored in the cellars, about 3,000 owned by members and 1,000 on consignment from wine merchants. Members can, of course, drink their own wines or select from those supplied by the trade – and pay normal retail prices. “Wine that you would

THE CORRESPONDENT JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2005

The Correspondent, January - February 2005  

The Official On-line Publication of the Foreign Correspondents' Club, Hong Kong

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