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CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005

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

THE

The

Best Best of the

> Photographer of the Year Awards 2005 > The 10th Human Rights Awards


THE

CORRESPONDENT contents

2

Letters

3

From the President

4

FCC Wine

6

Cover Story – The Best of the Best

– Drink Smart

POYA 2005

– The 10th Human Rights Awards – Photographer of the Year Awards 2005

12

Media

– Paying the Price - Arun Subramanian – Max Kolbe’s Stiletto

Laos: Lives in Limbo

Home Sweet Home

16

Region – Laos: Lives in Limbo

19

Watering Holes – Captivating Cape Verde

22

Feature – Life Outside the Goldfish Bowl

25

Music – All That Jazz

31

Obituaries – Lives Remembered

33

Books

– Sex in the (Chinese) City – An African Odyssey – A High Degree of Atrocity

37

Around the Club

40

Out of Context – Julian Walsh

All That Jazz

THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 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: Ilaria Maria Sala First Vice President: Jim Laurie Second Vice President: Kevin Egan Correspondent Member Governors Paul Bayfield, Keith Bradsher, Mike Gonzales, Ernst Herb, Keri Ann Geiger, Ramon Pedrosa-Lopez, Chris Slaughter, Rob Stewart Journalist Member Governor Mark Clifford, Francis Moriarty

From Paul Mounsey, Hong Kong I recently viewed the prize winning Human Rights Press Award photographs in the Main Bar of the FCC, several of which dealt with the policing of local public order events by the Hong Kong Police. I must admit that my immediate thoughts were “is this the best that you can do?” and of pride in the continued restraint displayed by my colleagues.

Associate Member Governors David Garcia, Steve Ushiyama, Andy Chworowsky, Ralph Ybema Hon. Secretary Ramon Pedrosa-Lopez Hon. Treasurer Steve Ushiyama Finance Committee Convener: Steve Ushiyama Professional Committee Conveners: Jim Laurie and Ernst Herb 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

From Matthew Hobbis, Hong Kong

Bringing such disreputable behavior to a place I still regard as my “second home” was clearly never my intention. I would like to take this opportunity to offer my deepest apologies to all persons in the Club on the day in question and those who heard about it second hand. I am still shocked by what happened and am acutely embarrassed my name has been linked to the whole sorry event. I would like to thank the committee for their patience and understanding and look forward to being a worthy member at some time in the future.

On Saturday 25th June an incident occurred in the Main Bar involving guests I had invited for the afternoon. Due to a prior commitment, I had to leave the Club early. I only did this under assurances my guests would be leaving shortly too. As a member, I broke a basic Club rule by leaving unaccompanied guests on the premises. I take full responsibility for everything that subsequently occurred. I have already personally apologised unreservedly to the members immediately involved in the incident. I have assured them that nothing like this will ever happen again.

© 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 and Production Hongkongnow.com ltd Tel: 2521 2814 E-mail: fccmag@hongkongnow.com Printer Hop Sze Printing Company Ltd Advertising Enquiries Sandra Pang Pronto Communications Tel: 2540 6872 Fax: 2116 0189 Mobile: 9077 7001 E-mail: advertising@fcchk.org

Contributions The Correspondent welcomes letters, articles, photographs and art-work (in softcopy form only, please – no faxes or printouts etc). We reserve the right to edit contributions chosen for publication. Anonymous letters will be rejected. For verification purposes only (and not for publication) please include your membership number (if applicable) and a daytime telephone number. Contributions can be e-mailed to fcc@hongkongnow.com. Disks should be dropped off at the Club or posted to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong, 2 Lower Albert Road, Central, Hong Kong and marked to the attention of The Editor, The Correspondent. FTP is also available and is encouraged for large files. Please e-mail us for the settings. The deadline for the next issue is Sept 10, 2005.

Cover picture: Peter Parks

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THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005


Club Activities xxxxx

> FROM THE PRESIDENT N

ormally summer is a slow time at the Foreign Correspondentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Club, as in the rest of Hong Kong. But maybe because this has coincided with the election of the new Board, and the beginning of my presidency, I have had the feeling that it has been busier than ever. After a long time in the making, we have finally published our superb Membership Directory, and I hope all of you are as satisfied with it as I am. The Publication Committee, convened by Paul Bayfield, has truly done a great job, and I am sure we will all keep going back to it time and again. The Club is also hosting its first ever exhibition of Russian photography, with 43 extraordinary pictures of the liberation of Manchuria and the end of World War II as seen by the photographers of RIA Novosti News Agency, 60 years ago. The exhibition, which will remain up until late September, was made possible by the enthusiasm of member Mark Zavadskiy, the Hong Kong correspondent for the Moscow-based news agency, which has given us a unique, not-to-be missed event in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, a new health scare in China has meant that we have had to readjust part of our menu. Following the outbreaks of streptococcus suis in Sichuan and other parts of China, our General Manager, Gilbert Cheng, and I have decided that we should stop importing pork from China altogether. This kind of health scares seems to be an on-again, off-again problem, and while we wait for the relevant authorities to learn their overdue lessons on good animal rearing practices and food handling hygiene, we can only err on the side of caution. Yes, this comes from you vegetarian president, whom, incidentally, as I know some have been wondering, is not considering taking meat off our menus all together!

THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005

Yet, even if pork-meat lovers might be feeling somewhat disappointed these days, I hope they can console themselves with the new wine selection we are putting together. Andy Chowrowsky, our Wine Sub-Committee Convener, has selflessly been working around the clock, both tasting wines himself and encouraging every one he meets to do likewise, and I am confident the results will make us proud. The coming autumn months will be packed, too. There is of course the annual Charity Ball, and a steady stream of interesting speakers and special events, but also, get ready for the new Point of Sale (POS) system that is soon to be installed on our premises. We will all learn more precise details soon, but the technology we have chosen is an Octopus-like system, which will make life easier for our staff, and expedite paying for all of us too. We hope there wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be any teething problems but I thought I may warn you beforehand and take the occasion to ask you to be tolerant while we put the new system in. And do smile for the camera when you replace your membership card with a new electronic one! Ilaria Maria Sala president@fcchk.org

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Club Activities

From the (new) Wine Committee In which we reduce prices and increase revenue... By Andy Chworowsky

I

was sitting at a sidewalk café in Rome sipping a glass of red when the text message came through that I had been “volunteered” as the Convener of the Wine Committee. I asked absent member Sally Brandon, who had flown in from Sardinia to join me, if there even was an FCC wine committee. She said: “I guess there is now, honey. More wine?” Ah, a wine list chosen by committee. I just knew this would be fun. In any case, upon my return 10 days later I began to investigate. My scientific approach consisted of buttonholing six or seven friends at the bar and asking them what I should do. Oddly enough, the most consistent reply was that we need better wine at cheaper prices. Hmm. Given the Club’s business model, it stands to reason that the wines here should be a better deal than in outside bars and restaurants – and indeed, for the most part, they are. The problem, I realised, was that people were doing a sort of arbitrage with other drinks on their bills. “A measure of whisky is $21.00, but this glass of house wine is $38. What gives? Shouldn’t house wine be about the same as any other standard drink?” Well yes, frankly it should. So we almost immediately sourced and implemented a less expensive Chilean house wine that sells for $24.00 a glass. This is about as low as we could go and still offer something that wasn’t sweetened with antifreeze. As most people know, the big problem with wine in Hong Kong is the 80% ad valorem tax. It makes it awfully difficult to get drinkable cheap wines. Anyway, that solved the problem of the too-expensive house wine. Now, how about that better/cheap-

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er request? Here’s where shameless commercialism kicks into the equation. We really do need the revenue that wine sales generate. The Club cannot survive on subscription fees alone. So unless anyone really wants the subs to shoot up, we have to continue to run our F&B on a cash-positive basis. However, we think we have found a way to lower wine prices and increase (or at least maintain) revenue levels. How can this be done? The dark arts? Voodoo economics? No. On August 1 we switched the wine pricing structure to a sliding scale. Traditionally our wines had been priced using a flat percentage of 35% of cost. This meant that a bottle you bought for $100 cost the Club $35. This is a fairly standard method of pricing wines, but it doesn’t really take into account the top end of the scale. In dollar terms, towards the more expensive end of the list, the mark-ups get to be incredibly high – in some cases over $400 per bottle. What we’re doing now is to set a base mark-up of $120 per bottle. To that we add 20% of the value of the wine. So, for a bottle costing $100, the menu price would be $100+$120+20%=$240. Under the old scheme, that bottle would have cost you about $285. The objective here should be clear. We’re encouraging the sale of better wine by offering an increasingly better deal the higher up the list you go. This will also allow us to add better and better wines at less scary prices. (Incidentally, this won’t increase the price of the lower end wines. We

based the formula on the lowest current mark-up.) For this to work, members have to respond to this encouragement and venture up the scale to slightly more expensive wines. If not, our revenue will drop and the experiment will have failed. So, go on. Treat yourself to fine wines. You’ll be getting some of the best deals in town! Finally, upcoming events: We have introduced a series of monthly guided-tasting wine dinners. In August we held the first which focused on US west coast wines. As the writing of this article predates that dinner, I can only hope it was wellattended and well-received. Out of these dinners, we hope to reach some decisions on adding new wines to the list. So come along and enjoy, and get involved. We are also working on holding a mini wine course at the Club. This would probably consist of about four sessions over the course of a month conducted by a wine expert. We are talking to such a person at the moment and we are optimistic that he will agree to run the course for a very favourable fee. And really finally: My gathering of members’ opinions on wine has been a little less than scientific. I would like to hear more from you. We probably can’t put every person’s favourite wine on the list, but it would be helpful to know which other restaurants and Clubs you feel have good lists, and generally what direction you feel we should head as we develop the wine programme. Feel free to e-mail me at Andrew.Chworowsky@gmail.com Cheers!

THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005


Cover Story

1A0NNtUhAL THE 2005 ANNUAL HUMAN RIGHTS AWARDS, AWARDS organised by the FCC, the Hong Kong Journalists Association and Amnesty International Hong Kong, attracted 305 entrants, the greatest number since the event was launched a decade ago.

The winners were announced at a luncheon ceremony held on June 18 in the Main Dining Room. Malaysian publisher and rights activist, Steven Gan, gave the keynote address.

ENGLISH-LANGUAGE CATEGORIES

BROADCAST – RADIO

GENERAL NEWS

PRIZE

PRIZE

China dam protests

For a body of work

MERIT

Sylvia Hui

The Standard

Taiwan child abuse package

MERIT “Gay Activists”

Ravina Shamdasani SCMP

BROADCAST – TELEVISION

“The Children’s Case”

Ravina Shamdasani SCMP

PRIZE

Ah Chi’s misery tip of iceberg

Polly Hui

Denial of rights

SCMP

Luis Ramirez

Voice of America

Chris Hogg

BBC

Joe Kainz

Star TV

NEWSPAPER – FEATURE

MERIT

PRIZE

Insight/ Hmong

Aneesh Raman

CNN

Transsexuals-secret lives

Carmen Ip

ATV (World)

Bad behaviour

Mark Niu

Star TV

For a body of work

Sherry Lee

SCMP

MERIT AIDS in India

Ed Lane

Agence France-Presse

Qian Qian

Peter Wonacott

The Asian Wall Street Journal

Doing the rights thing

Ravina Shamdasani SCMP

For a body of work

Peter Kammerer

SCMP

Deliver them from evil

Amy Kazmin

Financial Times Magazine

Stone age

Andrew Marshall

Time Asia

Andrew Perrin

Time Asia

MAGAZINES PRIZE

MERIT Thailand’s bloody Monday COMMENTARY & ANALYSIS AWSJ editorial team

The Asian Wall Street Journal

Unwritten law of SAR

Michael DeGolyer

The Standard

Lee and Li

AWSJ editorial team

The Asian Wall Street Journal

A right to equality

Stephen Vines

The Standard

MERIT

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GENERAL NEWS PRIZE In remembrance of Zhao Ziyang

China and General Assignment Desk

Apple Daily

July 1st Protest, 530,000 on street

Editorial Department

Apple Daily

Wong Wai-Fun

Sing Tao Daily

MERIT Sing Tao wins court case stopping ICAC search warrant

Record breaking: 170,000 show up to Apple Daily vote – General Assignment Desk

Apple Daily

NEWSPAPER FEATURE

PRIZE Tiananmen series

CHINESE-LANGUAGE CATEGORIES

PRIZE South Asian children’s unachievable dream to learn Chinese

Denise Mui

Sing Tao Daily

Sin Wan-kei

Hong Kong Economic Times

MERIT Illegal mainland immigrants and individual visit scheme

THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005


MAGAZINES

BROADCAST – TELEVISION

PRIZE

PRIZE

China takes first place for detaining writers

Zhao Da-gong

Open Magazine

News Magazine: Chinese petitioners

Kwong Kwok-wai

TVB Jade

China: paradise for the privileged, hell for the weak

Liu Xiao-bo

Open Magazine

News Magazine: Chinese migrant workers’ tragic tales

Hui Siu-fun

TVB Jade

Monday Report: Away from home for 15 years

Lo Yan-wai

TVB Jade

Hong Kong Connection: Freedom from fear

Poon Tat-pui

RTHK

The courage to stand out

Danny Sit

RTHK

Hong Kong Connection: A childhood without seasons

Phoebe Chan

RTHK

Feature of the week: Sex workers

Lo King-wah

Cable TV

Feature of the week: 15th anniversary of June 4, 1989

Wallace So

Cable TV

Li Ka-ho

Apple Daily

Police clear reporters by force

Cheng Ping-hang

Hong Kong Daily News

Police clear demonstrators by force

Cheng Ping-hang

Hong Kong Daily News

Rice with Soy-sauce

Tsang Hing-wai

Sing Tao Daily

I love small classes

Chang Shu-ching

Ming Pao

Elderly restrained in old peoples’ home

Lai Chun-wing

Ming Pao

Ching Ming: in memory of June 4

Lee Shiu-cheong

Ming Pao

530,000 demonstrators show their support for democracy

Lee Shiu-cheong

Ming Pao

3000 meters of blue ribbon to protect Victoria Harbor

Lee Shiu-cheong

Ming Pao

MERIT Tale of a Tibetan dissident writer

Mo Li

Open Magazine

Arrest and release of three Beijing writers

Sha Wen-xi

Open Magazine

Farewell to an unforgettable past

Jin Zhong

Open Magazine

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS PRIZE Aids and China’s credit crisis

Cheung Wah

Apple Daily

Tragic hero - Don Quixote

Cheung Wah

Apple Daily

How to respect press freedom

Human Right Group,

Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese

MERIT

BROADCAST – RADIO PRIZE Controls on short message systems (SMS)

Ho King-man

Radio Free Asia

June 4, 1989 demonstrators abused in prison

Lillian Cheung

Radio Free Asia

MERIT Indigenous children’s difficulties in receiving education

RTHK

MERIT

PHOTOJOURNALISM PRIZE A helping hand MERIT

Learn about Hong Kong’s minority South-Asian community without prejudice

Jace Au

RTHK

Ordinary citizens remember Zhao Ziyang on the internet

Jace Au

RTHK

15th anniversary of June 4: students clash with police

Lee Shiu-cheong

Ming Pao

Stop racial discrimination

Wong Pui-san/ Tam Pui-ching

RTHK

Heard but not seen

Ma Chuen-sung

Apple Daily

Appealing till the end

Ling Shu-fai

Apple Daily

THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005

7


Cover Story

The Canary in the Mineshaft Activist and journalist Steven Gan was the guest speaker at the 10th Human Rights Awards. Gan is the award-winning publisher of Malaysiakini (Malayasia Now), an online newspaper that tests the Malaysian government’s tight limits on press freedom. The following is a transcript of his speech:

W

hen I was in Hong Kong 12 years ago, little did I know that I would be back here today to speak at this prestigious event. I am truly honoured to be with you. I thank the organisers – the Hong Kong Journalists Association, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club and Amnesty International (AI) and key sponsor Mrs Anne Marden – for giving me the opportunity to publicly thank AI for naming me a prisoner of conscience when I was briefly detained in 1996. I understand that AI Hong Kong has done a lot of work on Malaysia, in particular the Irene Fernandez case. Ten years ago, I helped unearth the deaths of 59 detainees in an immigration detention camp. The detainees died of malnutrition and other diseases. I wrote for the newspaper that I was then working for, The Sun, that this was a case of criminal negligence on the part of the police who ran this hell hole. The story was spiked hours before it went to print. So I decided to hand the information to Irene Fernandez, who ran a support group for migrant workers. It wasn’t until Irene exposed the deaths at a press conference – and these deaths were confirmed by the government – that my newspaper had the courage to publish the story, but not without four revisions. That was not the end of the story. Irene was subsequently arrested for spreading “false news” under the Printing Presses and Publications Act – a law originally used to muzzle the press. I was interrogated by the police for over three days. And after seven years of court hearings – which is the longest criminal trial in our history – Irene

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was found guilty and slapped with a one-year jail sentence. She is currently appealing against that decision. Ironically, the death camp story that I wrote won a major journalism prize in 1996, and I received the award from none other than the then prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad. In a weird way, it proved to be a good thing as I gave the prize money to Irene for her legal defence. I am glad that there are people in Hong Kong who are concerned with human rights abuses in my part of the world as we are similarly concerned with human rights abuses in this part of the world. Unfortunately, not enough Hong Kong people are taking an active interest in human rights issues. And if they are, it is mostly confined to the situation in Greater China – Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan. This does not reflect well with Hong Kong’s reputation as an international city. More

work should be, and must be, done to raise awareness on human rights in Hong Kong, both by journalists and the civil society. And this award will definitely help in achieving that. Now, why am I doing what I’m doing today, despite facing government threats and harassment all the time? I am an eternal optimist. I believe that resistance is not futile, and if we put up a good fight, changes will come soon enough. Take a look around us today. The world when I was a student activist 20 years ago was very different. Then there was Suharto in Indonesia, Marcos in the Philippines and Thanom in Thailand. Now they are all gone. We have seen much change in the region. Democracy is slowly taking roots. In the Philippines, the democracy baby is learning to walk, and getting better each time. And with the current political intrigues in Manila, depending on how you look at it, it is nevertheless democracy at work. In Thailand, the democracy baby is still crawling. I saw a cartoon many years ago. It depicted a baby crawling in a circle. Sometimes it attempts to walk, but falls after a few hesitant steps. It appears that the Thai democracy baby, with Thaksin Shinawatra in power, is perhaps faltering again. In Indonesia, the democracy baby has just been born. It is crying and getting all the attention it deserved. In Malaysia, the democracy baby has been conceived, but not born yet. We are undergoing birth pangs, and it looks like a very difficult birth. The doctor is recommending a caesarean, but unfortunately not many trust the doctor. Especially when the father of the child was put away for, of all things, sodomy. Meanwhile, in Singapore, the democracy baby is not even conceived yet and Lee Kuan Yew is working overtime to ensure everyone is taking protection. Video cameras are installed everywhere to keep citizens

THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005


from doing anything naughty. And if all fails, there is always abortion. In the old days, miners used to take canaries with them into the coalmines. If the birds died, the miners knew that the air was turning toxic and they had better get out. The press is like the canary in the mines. When press freedom is being stifled, it is a warning that bad things are about to happen. Ladies and gentlemen, words and images are powerful. They can make or unmake heroes. They can build or destroy democracy. They can promote or smother justice. Which is why journalists often pay a high price for their profession, some with their lives. There are few human undertakings which demand a fiercer commitment to truth as journalism. Not surprisingly, in countries where truth is hounded by those threatened by the power of the written word, journalism has become not only an onerous endeavour but also a perilous task. In many countries, journalists are murdered, assaulted, detained and harassed simply for telling the truth. Newspapers are censored, suspended and closed down for their temerity to express opinions contrary to those of the powers that be. Malaysia is no exception. Much has been said about the assault on press freedom in my country. We have a litany of restrictive laws – the last time I checked, there are 35 laws which directly and indirectly impinge on press freedom. Self-censorship is an obsession. The government even bans the formation of a foreign correspondents’ club. The only democratic space left in Malaysia is cyberspace. Still, despite the government’s pledge not to censor the Internet, my website was raided by the police two years ago and 19 computers were carted away. But I’m not complaining. The situation in Singapore is far worse. The media there is so cowed that its first chief minister (not Lee Kwan Yew) once referred to journalists there as nothing more than ‘’boot-lickers” and ‘’running dogs” of the government. So it is not surprising that the Singaporean government has been rather

THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005

silent over the arrest of Straits Times journalist Ching Cheong. After all, what can Singapore tell Beijing? That you cannot simply lock dissidents up when they themselves do the same in their own country? In Singapore, like in Malaysia, we have the Internal Security Act which allows the government to detain dissidents without trial, without access to

After all, what can Singapore tell Beijing? That you cannot simply lock dissidents up when they themselves do the same in their own country? lawyers, without access to their families for months and sometimes years. I’m happy that the Hong Kong Journalists Association and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club and a number of other organisations are taking up the Ching Cheong issue. But while repressive regimes are an obvious threat to press freedom, commercial interests also encroach on the independence of the media. Indeed, attacks on the press do not only come from the government, or goons hired by drug lords. The threat to press freedom also comes from the men and women in business suits. On this, journalists have been silent for too long. Even in countries where there is some measure of press freedom, where democracy flourishes, there still exists a situation where those who write the cheques, write the laws, and those who own the media, ask the questions. Indeed, the threat to press freedom comes from the likes of Rupert Murdoch, who own the papers we read, the radios we listen to, the television networks we watch, and now the information superhighway we surf. This silence among journalists

regarding the threat to press freedom from the market is not surprising. After all, the investors are the employers of the journalists and the providers of advertising revenue. Moreover, most journalists dream the same dreams as the business elites and espouse the same contempt for the poor, the powerless, the voiceless. In our global marketplace today, increasingly the media is not about delivering information to the people but delivering the people to advertisers. Yet globalisation is being sold by the media as a great model for humankind. And when this doesn’t quite work, journalists write apologetic pieces about there being not enough free market, there being not enough tax breaks, there being not enough consumption, and if all fails, that we have no choice. Yet perhaps the market is a model that works well for a few and not for most people. Perhaps the market can be a great wealth-creating machine but not so great when it comes to building a humane and just society. Perhaps while we speak out against authoritarian regimes, we should also be concerned about the dictatorship of the market. Perhaps we should express the worry that citizens are being replaced by investors, that the government we elect listens to the movers and shakers of capital, not to us. Indeed, those who write – the journalists – must ask the questions. That’s what press freedom is for, to give power to the powerless and a voice to the voiceless. That is why people like you, those who have gone out on a limb to write about such unsexy topics as human rights deserved a pat on the back. And these human rights awards will go some way in recognising your efforts and make it perhaps a little more worthwhile. But let me conclude with this. It doesn’t really matter whether you win an award today. What matters is that the victims of human rights are the ultimate winners.

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Cover Story

Photographer of the Year Awards 2005

A

FP photographer Peter Parks has been named Photographer of the Year for his series of graphic portraits of Tibetan nomads on the high Himalayan plateau entitled “Nomads Land”. Once again, it was a close and difficult decision for requiring extensive debate among the Photographerof the Year Awards (POYA) judges. Chan Wai-hing of Latent Image won the Photograph of the Year Award with his dramatic news photo of a Hong Kong woman plunging to her death from a housing estate rooftop. There were a total of 126 individual entries were submitted over nine categories in both the Professional and Non-Professional Divisions. It has been a long and often rocky road for the FCC Photographer of the Year Awards. We launched POYA in 2000 and enjoyed an overwhelming response, attracting excellent support from sponsors. The next year we struggled to get the sponsorship needed, but still managed to maintain a high standard of entry. These, the third Awards, were delayed because of difficulties in obtaining sponsorship and without the strong backing of SriLankan Airways, we would have been without any support at all. The POYA Travelling Exhibition has still to attract sponsorship. To continue the FCC Photographer of the Year Awards we would like to appeal to the Club membership for support. These are the only non-partisan photographic awards held in Hong Kong or the region and have the potential to become so much more than they are. – Terry Duckham, Chairman, POYA

Photograph of the Year, Chan Wai-hing

Nomads Land, Photographer of the Year, Peter Parks

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THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005


FCC POYA 2005 Winners Category

Awards

Name

Company

Photographer of the Year

Winner

Peter Parks

AFP

Runner-up

Virgile Simon Bertrand

Red Desert Ltd

Photograph of the Year

Winner

Chan Wai-hing

Latent Image

Profesional Divison: Hong Kong, China & Asia News

Winner

Chan Wai-hing

Latent Image

First runner-up

Andrew Moore

Time Asia

Second runner-up

Lee Shiu-Cheong

Ming Pao

Honourable mention

Chan Wai-hing

Latent Image

Honourable mention

Simon Song

The Standard

Honourable mention

Virgile Simon Bertrand

Red Desert Ltd

Honourable mention

Peter Parks

AFP

Honourable mention

Fu Chun-Wai

Next Magazine

Honourable mention

Chua Chin-hon

The Straits Times (Beijing Bureau)

Honourable mention

David Wong Chi-kin

South China Morning Post (SCMP)

Winner

Peter Parks

AFP

First runner-up

Virgile Simon Bertrand

Red Desert Ltd

Second runner-up

Richard Jones

Sinopix

Honourable mention

Graham Uden

Graham Uden Photography

Honourable mention

David Wong Chi-kin

SCMP

Honourable mention

Grischa Ruschendorf

Assignment Photography

Winner

Graham Uden

Graham Uden Photography

Runner-up

Richard Jones

Sinopix

Honourable mention

Garry Chan

Garry Studio

Honourable mention

Virgile Simon Bertrand

Red Desert Ltd

Winner

Chua Chin-hon

The Straits Times (Beijing Bureau)

First runner-up

Chester Ong

Skylight Productions

Second runner-up

Alexander Pendrite

Freelance / Corbis

Third runner-up

Sonia Au Ka-Lai

Freelance

Honourable mention

Peter Parks

AFP

Honourable mention

Andrew Moore

Time Asia

Honourable mention

Virgile Simon Bertrand

Red Desert Ltd

Winner

Anthony Chan

Alliance Capital Management Corp.

Runner-up

Gerard Henry

Paroles Magazine

Honourable mention

Norman William de Brackinghe

Freelance

Honourable mention

Lau Koon-loy

MTR Corporation

Honourable mention

Peter Kan Tse-sum

Visual Impact

Winner

Anthony Chan

Alliance Capital Management Corp.

Runner-up

Remo Carlo Notarianni

Freelance

Honourable mention

Peter Kan Tse-sum

Visual Impact

Honourable mention

Chiu Kai-hing

Environmental Protection Dept

Honourable mention

Alvin Lai

Freelance

Winner

Virgile Simon Bertrand

Red Desert Ltd

First runner-up

Richard Castka

Sportpix Internaltional

Honourable mention

Clement Tang Wai-kin

Ming Pao

Honourable mention

Healthy Tam King-hong

Artcom Computer Project Co Ltd

Honourable mention

Chiu Kai-hing

Environmental Protection Dept

Honourable mention

David Wong Chi-kin

SCMP

Winner

Matthew Leith Trauer

West Island School

Runner-up

Zoe Kwa Joo-inn

West Island School

Honourable mention

Ho Kai-in

Tak Nga Secondary School

Honourable mention

Leung Chin-ya

Mun Sang College

Professional Divison: Hong Kong, China & Asia Magazine Features

Professional Divison: Corporate Professional Divison: Advertising Professional Division: Personal / Non-Commissioned Work

Non-Professional Division: Women of Asia

Non-Professional Division: Reflection of an Urban Landscape

Hong Kong - Live it… Love it… See it

English Street Student Perspective - What’s hot? What’s not?

THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005

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Media

Paying the

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Price

he name Arun Senkuttuvan is so little known to most in the regional media today that though he is still very much alive it was perhaps no surprise that The Correspondent’s story on the recent Far

Eastern Economic Review (FEER) wake muddled him up with another Arun − Arun Subramaniam − who was also at the party, writes Philip Bowring. But there is good reason why I singled him out in my speech at the wake for having suffered more for his journalistic activities than any of other distinguished list of FEER correspondents who did time in jail. Arun not only went through two months at the tender mercies of the Singapore internal security thugs but he was also forced to write a “confession” and appear on television in an episode worthy of a Stalin show trial. He was then stripped of his citizenship and for years deprived of the right to work as he wished as a journalist. That was in 1977. Arun’s career up that point was intertwined with many a famous name in Asian journalism. He was born in India in 1943, his parents migrated to Malaysia and then Singapore but most of his education occurred in India. Arun began his career as cub reporter on the Malayan Times and was an early beneficiary of

a training scheme for young journalists started by Tarzie Vittachi. From the soon-to-fold Malayan Times he went to the Straits Times when former FEER editor Dick Wilson was there, starting its business section. Dick recommended him to his successor at FEER, Derek Davies, and in 1966 Arun began his association with FEER. He started as Singapore stringer at the time when Harvey Stockwin’s coverage of Malaysia – especially during the 1969 riots – was establishing the weekly as the independent source of news. Arun, who became a naturalised Singaporean citizen, then joined the entrepreneurial band who started the Singapore Herald, a paper which took local journalism to a new level. Francis Wong, Ambrose Khaw, Jimmy Hahn, Bob Reece and the then very youthful Morgan Chua and Mary Lee were among those who briefly gave it lustre. But it was too much for a Lee

Kwan Yew besotted with power and growing more authoritarian by the day. He closed it down claiming it was a “black operation”. After a brief stint with The Asian, the short-lived weekly set up by Vittachi to rival FEER, Arun went back to near full-time stringing for FEER and also wrote regularly for the Financial Times. At the time, FEER had no staff correspondents so Arun had a desk in the office in the Reuters building rented by of Tiziano Terzani, the distinguished Italian writer and Der Spiegel journalist who died last year. Arun wrote mainly about economics and business and together with his colleague, the late Andrew Davenport in Hong Kong, was instrumental in exposing an infamous company called Spydar. This was a corporate vehicle set by the Asian operations of British wheeler-dealer Jim Slater to manipulate the profits

Arun himself was released from jail on condition that he did not write for foreign publications or about politics in Singapore. He was encouraged to emigrate but was determined to stay. He ended up working as a lowly editor at the Ministry of Culture!

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THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005


AFP

Lee Kwan Yew closed down the Singapore Herald, claiming it was a ‘black operation.’

of its Singapore and Hong Kong affiliates, respectively Haw Par and Slater Walker Securities (HK). These revelations helped speed the 1975 collapse of the Slater empire and ignite a banking crisis in Britain. Arun was arrested in February 1977 under the Internal Security Act (ISA) and held without trial for two months. He has never revealed his experiences during detention but he was required to sign the “confession” and his release was accompanied by a stage-managed “press conference” at which he admitted portraying the Singapore government as “undemocratic, totalitarian, autocratic oppressive” – words which ring as true today than 28 years ago and of which Arun’s treatment was itself an example. The Singapore government also attempted to smear Arun, Davies and FEER by reference to a tape which Derek Davies had made a year earlier of his recollections of the content of a not-for-publication conversation in March 1976 with Lee Kwan Yew. Arun had made a copy of this tape (seized by the authorities after his 1977 arrest) and played it

THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005

to a few friends. The content was never published by him or FEER but both were accused, along with a Singapore lawyer, G. Raman, also detained under the ISA, of promoting the “Communist cause” and trying to create problems between Singapore and Malaysia. Like a few FEER staffers (I was Business Editor at the time) I heard the tape and am sworn not to divulge its contents. However, Terzani wrote at the time: ”Arun played the tape to me because he was worried about his situation since earlier that day he had been questioned by the Director of Internal Security ... The tape indicated that the Prime Minister had told Mr Davies that Arun Senkuttuvan’s loyalty to Singapore was questionable as he had been born and educated in India and had not done his national service. If he stepped out of line he would be dealt with... Davies had replied that Arun had been too old to do his national service”. Events were to prove that Arun, the Indian immigrant, had good reason to be worried. Not only was he to lose his citizenship but be prevented

from freely practicing journalism for many years. Meanwhile his FEER colleague Ho Kwon Ping, who also had a brief spell in jail, was treated very differently. Lee Kwan Yew was reported by Terzani as expressing confidence in Ho’s loyalty noting he came from a distinguished family – his father was a well-known businessman and long-time ambassador to Thailand. Ho went on to become a pillar of the Singapore establishment, chairman of Singapore Power etc. Arun himself was released from jail on condition that he did not write for foreign publications or about politics in Singapore. He was encouraged to emigrate but was determined to stay. He ended up working as a lowly editor at the Ministry of Culture! He later started and ran a business teaching English to students about to go to overseas universities. He was finally able to return to real journalism when he got his citizenship and passport back in 1995 and moved to Bangkok for the Asia Times – unfortunately shortly before it folded. He stayed on in Bangkok for some time thereafter before returning to Singapore. He is now partly retired but does editing and conference organization work for The Nation in Bangkok. Memories of what the Singapore government did to Arun is particularly poignant at this time when we are appealing for the release by China of colleague Ching Cheong, Hong Kong correspondent for that official Singapore mouthpiece, the Straits Times. Such is the hold that Singapore has over the supposedly free foreign media that cases such as that of Arun receive scant attention in the outside world, particularly after Dow Jones made a deal with the government and FEER was allowed to return to circulation in Singapore in 1993. Arun never got a Human Rights or any other kind of award.

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Media

Of Guns and Coconuts

were arrested on June 28 for allegedly defaming the air force, when they reported that eight pilots on a training programme in Belarus had asked for political asylum. Another five editors were detained for their coverage that allegedly depicted the police as brutal.

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hings haven’t improved for journalists in the Philippines. A radio broadcaster who accused officials of being close to drug dealers has been shot dead, becoming the sixth journalist to be murdered there this year. Rolando Morales of THE DXMD station was ambushed while riding his motorbike in southern Mindanao. Police insist there is no systematic targeting of journalists by anyone in the Philippines. The journalist had accused local government officials of either protecting drug dealers or being involved in the trade themselves. *** In Nepal, fed-up radio reporters are feeding coconuts to monkeys in a bid to lampoon a ban on broadcasting news bulletins in a symbolic but sarcastic protest against the government’s muzzle on FM stations. One hack explained that if a monkey is given a coconut with its shell, it won’t be able to taste the fruit inside because it cannot crack it open. The government, he argues, is in a similar position. How can it can it taste and assess the quality of services provided by FM radio if they cannot broadcast? More than 2,000 reporters have lost their jobs since King Gyanendra’s took power earlier this year. *** Down under, an Australian coroner will reopen an inquest into the death of a journalist killed alongside four others while covering an attack by Indonesian troops on East Timor in 1975. Television cameraman Brian Peters will be the subject of the inquest. He was one of five Australian-based journalists killed during the attack in Balibo. Indonesian official reports

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***

STIL TILEETTO BY MAX KOLBE

maintain the men, Greg Shackleton, Gary Cunningham, Tony Stewart, Malcolm Rennie and Peters, were killed in crossfire. Few believe them. There were two inquiries into the incident, in 1996 and 1999, but no formal inquests have been held. *** Also dead is Dagestani journalist, Magomedzagid Varisov, murdered on June 28 at Makhatchkala, capital of the Caucasus Russian republic. He was gunned down by unknown assailants as he was driving home. According to the International Press Institute, Varisove, who was in regular contact with foreign media, had been threatened after publishing an article about a raid by special forces on a village in neighbouring Chechnya that was extremely critical of the authorities.

Get this: Every journalist working Turkmenistan’s state-controlled media – newspapers, television or radio – has been summoned by his or her editor-in-chief and told to sign a document obliging them not to meet foreigners, not to pass them information, and, except with special authorisation, not to attend meetings organised by foreign organisations. Now that President Saparmurat Niyazov has stamped on the independent media, television channels now show his profile in gold in the corner of the screen. Oh, and in case you wondered about Internet cafes – they don’t exist there. *** On a lighter note, Michael Hayes, owner and publisher of the Phnom Penh Post in Cambodia, and known to many a hack around the region, is threatening Hong Kong with an October visit. Word has it the erstwhile Hayes has picked up a fellowship with a notable university.

***

***

In Addis Ababa, authorities have launched a crackdown on independent media in Ethiopia after deadly post-election violence last month. So far 11 journalists are facing various charges and the credentials of five others have been revoked. All were working for private Amharic-language weeklies but were bailed pending a decision from the prosecutor on whether to charge them with defamation on complaints from the defence ministry.

And finally... who said journalists were often noble victims. In India a crime reporter who allegedly used his contacts to move stolen goods was arrested for car thefts and burglaries himself. Sanjay Kumar Singh, 42, who reports from Bihar state, was held alongside three accomplices for allegedly stealing 56 cars and breaking into about 20 homes. Reports said, the journalist, who also holds a doctorate in child psychology, allegedly used his contacts to then sell the cars and other stolen goods he collected between assignments.

*** The first batch of six editors

THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005


Tokyo’s ADB Institute celebrates exellence in Developing Asia’s print journalists By Graham Dwyer

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he Second Developing Asia Journalism Awards (DAJA), sponsored by the Asian Development Bank Institute, named India’s P.K. Savad Rahman, a reporter at the country’s Madhyamam Daily, as Development Journalist of the Year. The event, in its second year, recognises excellence in print journalistic reporting by those covering development trends and issues in the region. Prizes for 2005 were awarded at the end of March in the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ) with winners and runners up each receiving cash prizes ranging from US$1,500 to $250. In addition, there were four special prizes of $2,000 each plus trophy. China’s Xi Xiumei, a reporter at China Global Business and Finance, was awarded Development Woman Journalist of the Year for her article on the underground money market. Fiji Islands’ Vasiti Valatia Ritova, of Pacnews, won the Island Journalist Award, while Sanjaya Dhakal, of Nepal’s Spotlight magazine, was named Young Development Journalist of the Year for an article on domestic violence against women. Their winning articles were among the almost 140 entries from 58 journalists across ADB’s developing member countries. The winners were selected by a jury of four headed by presiding judge Anthony Rowley, Tokyo Correspondent of the Business Times of Singapore and Field Editor for Oxford Analytica. The other judges were Yoshio Murakami, Adviser on International Affairs to the Asahi Shimbun; Suvendrini Kakuchi, a Sri Lankan journalist reporting for Inter Press Service; and Monzurul Huq, Tokyo correspondent for two Bangladeshi papers, Daily Star and Prothom Alo. The Tokyo-based ADB Institute, established in 1997, works to help build capacity and knowledge related to poverty reduction and other areas that support long-term growth in developing economies in the Asia and Pacific region.

P.K. Savad Rahman, a reporter at India’s Madhyamam Daily, was named Development Journalist of the Year

THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005

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Region

AFP / LUKE FRAZZA

Former Hmong General Vang Pao lays a wreath at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC.

Lives in Limbo The Central Intelligence Agency continues to haunt the communist regime in Laos, and still looms large among the fugitive Hmong mercenaries who obediently killed and died for the spooks, reports Richard S. Ehrlich.

E

nter the latest zealous American:

network” and aided their movements.

Ed Szendrey, who says a former

Szendrey, a former US Navy veteran who

CIA-backed Lao general helped

served in the Gulf of Tonkin at the start of the

finance his brief June trip into Laos,

Vietnam War, says he negotiated the “surrender”

which ended in expulsion because

of 173 ethnic Hmong during his bizarre trip, and

Szendrey bought illegal satellite telephones

hoped to arrange future deals for thousands of

for Hmong rebels, set up a “communications

other Hmong who are led by armed fighters.

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THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005


AFP / PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL

Hmong refugees at the Tham Krabok camp in Saraburi province, northeast of Bangkok

“We have never supported a military solution,” Szendrey, 62, said in an interview. Sympathetic news coverage reported that cruel Lao officials expelled an altruistic Szendrey and his wife, Georgie, after unfairly interrogating the earnest, activist couple who live in Chico, California. But before arriving in Laos, Szendrey met US State Department “Laos Desk” officials in Washington with Vang Pao, a notorious, former CIAbacked Lao general who is still feared and loathed by many people on all sides. Szendrey said he went with Vang Pao to the State Department simply to explain the Hmong’s plight, and to ask for help in getting their story to the United Nations. But Vang Pao is no diplomat. He was named as “a despotic warlord” in Alfred McCoy’s respected book, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, for allegedly smuggling opium on the CIA’s Air America, and operating a heroin factory in Long Tieng, Laos, during the late 1960s and early 1970s – while commanding the CIA’s so-called Secret Army against Lao and Vietnamese communists in Laos. Much of Vang Pao’s heroin was probably “for (American) GI addicts in Vietnam,” McCoy wrote. After years of massive aerial bombardment of landlocked Laos – killing hundreds of thousands of people and devastating the tiny country – America lost the war in 1975, and hardline communist Pathet Lao forces seized power. Many of Vang Pao’s CIA-trained Hmong mercenaries fled into the hills where they dwindled due to injuries, malnutrition, disease and neglect. Laos currently suffers occasional deadly bombings of its markets, buses, bridges, government outposts and other soft targets, which it blames on

THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005

rightwing “bad elements” and “exiled Lao reactionaries” in America, France, Australia, Thailand and elsewhere. Concerned about the alleged “persecution” of Hmong who refuse to surrender, Szendrey created a “Fact Finding Commission” which includes a website, and has visited Laos several times. But he also boosts Vang Pao, who is based in California, as the Hmong’s best leader. “As the one who was involved with the US government, was involved with the development of the CIA army, was

the person who was the go-between, he [Vang Pao] is looked up to by the majority of the Hmong community,” Szendrey said. “He is the individual that should be the one that can represent them, and communicate for them, to the world.” Vang Pao also helped finance Szendrey’s ill-fated June 3-6 trip. “I know that he has helped raise money, for instance, when we take a trip like this, the funding becomes available, and we understand it comes from a variety of Hmong,” Szendrey said. “It’s good. My only hesitancy is that

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Region

AFP / KARL MALAKUNA

when I say that, we have started zeroing in, that’s [people reacting]: ‘oh, this the questions they wanted is a Vang Pao thing.’ No, to know. How these people we do not work for Gengot the phones. eral Vang Pao. “We do have “They wanted to know people who are followers how our communications, of his, and organisations how our satellite phones, who are followers of his, got to them, and how we who have financially suphad our communications ported us,” Szendrey said. system going.” Lao security officials The interrogation ended expelled the Szendreys in havoc. after they deceptively “I kind of almost made entered on tourist visas. a mistake that was turned “We were not there on [around]. I said, ‘Yeah, we vacation,” Szendrey said. encouraged getting the “They charged us with phones in there’...and they having interfered with were turning that into a their rural village relocaserious confession,” Szention programme. That was drey said. “I said, ‘We did the offence they deported not smuggle the phones us on.” in, we have no personal Szendrey said he met knowledge of actually how 173 unarmed Hmong they got from the borders women, children and to these people’.” elderly men on June 4 on Szendrey did not tell his a country road, to ensure interrogators that he paid their “surrender” would be for the satellite phones. peaceful. No Hmong fight“No, no, we ‘encouraged’ ers surrendered at the site getting the phones in in the Xaisomboun “Spe- A member of the Hmong Chao Fa rebel group in Thailand there,” he told Lao officials. cial Zone,” which is off“It finally ended when I limits to foreigners. “Over the last four years, we have demanded to see the [American] Future “surrenders” could include established a communications net- embassy, and refused to sign the up to 17,000 Hmong who are hiding work in which they do have [satellite] paper.” in about 20 scattered clusters, each telephones up in the jungle,” Szendrey The unsigned confession, written led by two or three armed leaders, said. “We helped with the purchase” by Lao authorities, listed Szendrey’s Szendrey said. of the satellite phones. support for the Hmong, and described But those “50 or 60 leaders” will “We don’t know physically how “our contacts with them, that they probably never surrender. had satellite phones and how “They probably have they were used, what were already been tried and conthe goals of our organisation, victed,” in absentia, by the things like this.” Lao government for treason, The story doesn’t end armed rebellion, and related there. crimes, and would likely face Szendrey, Vang Pao, the imprisonment or execution. Hmong fugitives and the Lao officials detained Lao communists appear to the Szendreys on June 4 be gearing up for another and interrogated them after move, which could bring a the Hmong gathering. The peaceful reconciliation or security forces were especially angry those actually got to them,” he said. “I yet more killing, amid mountains about his earlier role in providing think the total we got in was four or still littered with unexploded ordillegal satellite phones to the Hmong five” satellite phones. nance from a war more than 30 fugitives. “When they [Lao interrogators] years ago.

Future ‘surrenders’ could include up to 17,000 Hmong who are hiding in about 20 scattered clusters, each led by two or three armed leaders, Szendrey said.

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THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005


Watering Hole

PHOTOGRAPHS: KEN JACKSON

The city centre café where Ken spent a pleasant afternoon locked up.

Captivating Cape Verde Once again, Ken Jackson winds up in a holiday spot that most people would pay to avoid.

I

’m sitting in an African lunch bar scratching a description of Praia, Cape Verde, into an exercise book and sipping my third plastic cup of passable Portuguese plonk. I don’t know if it was my intense concentration on the composition, or the fact that I’d asked for the third cup of wine after the staff had already switched off the lights and bolted the door, but something clued the owner that I might be a travel journalist, so he has just introduced himself and handed me

THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005

the card of his humble but friendly establishment. I can only conclude that this gentleman has never encountered a real travel journalist because I neither asked the waitress to leave the jug, nor checked their cupboards for extra bottles. The fact that he didn’t refill my cup when he proffered his card leads me to further conclude that he doesn’t know how to get good copy out of a real travel journalist, should he ever encounter one. Anyway, prior to this minor distraction, I was prepar-

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Watering Hole Media

The Santiago desert

ing to report that “de rigueur” rusted harbour-side cannon barrels overlook the listing skeletons of wrecked ships stuck in the oozy sand of Praia’s... umm...praia. And that the beach itself is the colour of brown beer bottles, which is not surprising considering the colossal number of empty Sagres and Super Bocks left there to decompose. The upside to this alarming environmental news is that in this arid town with less grass than a putting green, where the afternoon air

Americas was rendered redundant by the abolition of that activity. Since the appellation “green” has about as much relevance to Cape Verde as it does to Greenland, the prospects for an agricultural society thereafter were hopeless. Deadly drought followed deadly drought. Survivors fled to Massachusetts, Brazil and Lisbon. They left behind a few hearty souls to create a unique music style, to insanely celebrate the football successes of Benfica and Sporting Lisbon and to conduct extensive practical

My guidebook tells me that with the help of the usual suspects – UN, US, EU – Cape Verde has undertaken a massive re-forestation effort using a “species of acacia tree particularly adapted to the area’s conditions.” The day before I got locked in this wine cellar, I took that trip, and all I can say for certain is that this species of acacia tree is particularly adapted to catching and holding the millions of multicoloured plastic bags passing motorists launch across the rubbled roadside. Some particularly

The trip across Santiago to the northern town of Tarrafal took three hours across landscape I would call “lunar” if I weren’t afraid of maligning the moon. approaches the temperature recommended for baking a turkey, where the Sahara’s dust finally settles after its long journey from Mauritania, you are never far from a cold one. As every FCC member with extra voting rights knows, Praia is the capital of a West African archipelago, formerly part of the Portuguese empire, called Cape Verde. It fell into economic obscurity about 150 years ago when its main endeavour as a way station in the slave trade between Africa and the

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research into the biodegradable characteristics of beer bottles. If you ever find yourself in Praia without the good fortune of being confined in a dark bar with a seemingly endless supply of cheap vinho tinto, I recommend a trip across the interior of Praia’s island, Santiago. Santiago is about the size and shape of Barbados, but without grass, palm trees, steel bands, dark rum or powdery white beaches sprawling with topless babes.

well-adapted trees were adorned with as many as ten sacks flapping in the dusty breeze like a Chinese banner ceremony. The trip across Santiago to the northern town of Tarrafal took three hours across landscape I would call “lunar” if I weren’t afraid of maligning the moon. By comparison, the next time you drive out of Peshawar up the Khyber Pass and gaze out over the Afghan plain toward Jalalabad, you will see more natural vegetation than

THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005


Praia Harbour

you will in interior Santiago. goods such as tins of imported olive It is true that the irrepressible oil and chorizos. Where those mounCape Verde people have contrived tain people conjured up the money to summon enough water from the to buy these goodies, though, is anyearth and collect enough rainfall body’s guess. every year or so to cultivate occaWhen we arrived in Tarrafal, I sional patches of mango, banana and learned that the main “tourist attracsugar cane. The sugar cane they dis- tion” is the ruins of Antonio Salazar’s til into a beverage called grogo, which concentration camp for Portuguese will shut down your synapses before and African political prisoners. Anyyou can say, “Damn! This shit tastes one who has ever seen an abandoned strong!” concentration camp would never misBut left to its own devices, the land take this place for anything else. One would yield nothing but dust and cac- wartime writer observed that the only tus. More remarkable than the stark difference between Dachau and Tarralandscape are the pastel stucco dwell- fal was that Dachau was governed by ings that appear to have been airlifted “General Winter” while Tarrafal was from the Algarve and set down on the high slopes of rocky pathless pinnacles. I asked my driver how these people managed to exist up there and he logically pointed out that there was a grocery store only a few miles walk away. We passed this shop on our descent to Tarrafal. While it wasn’t Sainsbury’s it did have sufficient survival rations and even a few luxury The Portuguese-built Government House in Praia

THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005

governed by “General Summer”. Hot, dry, airless, savage fall far short of describing the horror that would have been this prison. Beyond that sobering site, the village has a small clean cove of a beach and a seaside terrace for eating fresh grilled fish and swallowing icy Sagres. Nice as it was, we couldn’t linger over lunch. We had a long drive back to Praia, and Benfica vs. Sporting was kicking off early. As I finish this article, chance has it that the friendly owner is ready to unlock the door to admit the first of the dinner trade while he rushes to the nearest wine shop to replenish supplies. Since he was nice enough to imagine I am a real travel journalist, I am happy to report that the name of the pleasant place that is about to release into the Praia evening is Amelia’s. Amelia’s is on Avenida Amilcar Cabril in the city centre. It serves tasty and abundant Portuguese meals, and sells good red wine for 35 Cape Verde escudos a cup. (No volume discount available).

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Feature

Maybe some text on memories of hk... hey, iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m trying to stretch it out

Reflections on Life Outside the

Goldfish Bowl

Absent member John Miller, who took the plunge and returned to the UK after almost a quarter-century in Hong Kong, has some advice for those dreaming of one day returning triumphant to their homeland. 22

THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005


John Miller

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he book Saint Jack by Paul Theroux (1972), set in Singapore and subsequently made into a film starring Ben Gazara in the title role, has another character: a seedy unfit English accountant based in Hong Kong, who dies in the khazi of the water-

ing hole to which Jack takes him fairly early on. He had bored Jack stiff with his dreams, once he became (improbably) comfortably off, of returning to England, to a country cottage, to middle-class gentility, to an ordinary life. Many expatriates share that dream (more round the Main Bar of the FCC even than might be uneasily imagined), but not many get to the position of the dream becoming reality. Many remain until the climate and alcohol take their toll, wedded to impossible dreams, or kept in the Far East by financial exigencies; business or personal ties (tai-tais); or simply because they lack the will to make the change.

THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005

I had been in Hong Kong amongst those striving to make good for 20 years in a wide variety of legal (and some might say illegal until 1992 when homosexuality was decriminalised) positions when in 1997 a single line letter of rejection rudely awakened me to the fact that I would not be making that seamless transition from legal hack to the Bench made by so many others as mediocre in legal talent as myself. I faced instead perhaps a further 20 years of hauling an ageing, unfit body round the courts, a perpetual voice, despised by those it addressed,

and a dulled intellect for hire, for diminishing financial returns, and as dependent on that unsteady libation “lucozade’” (legal aid) as I was on the heady draughts and brews which, afternoon and evening, imbibed in the FCC Main Bar along with the fantasy gas of unrealised projects that I and everyone else gave voice to when the drink worked strongly, put at one remove for a while the dull inevitability of the unfulfilling working hours of the next day. Could the change be done? My partner and I sought to find out. The move to an England unrecognisable from the one left 24 years earlier was not easy. We were not wealthy Nabobs from the Far East despite being perceived in “multi-cultural England” by those of all races as such. We had limited financial resources, and were not of an age to attract employment. We lost many Hong Kong friends but those who bothered at such a distance to persevere with

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Feature

But most of all one misses the smells and pace of life of Hong Kong itself. And that magic moment on Saturdays and Sundays when dusk so suddenly falls and a cold sun-downer emerges from the fridge and on to the balcony almost of its own volition. us made us recognise their true value. How had we accumulated so many fair weather friends before without realising? The pace of life slowed. Real sleep replaced that uncomfortable, dreadfilled period of dozing for a few hours before dawn that preceded in Hong Kong the battle for public transport, and the desperate fight to make a dollar. New or renewed interests absorbed us: gardening, learning to cook rather than eating out; time to read books; and some inexpensive travel. Voluntary work filled other hours. I became a lay Justice of the Peace and my partner helped with the Portsmouth Chinese Community Association. Four years on from 1997 and an unexpected and unsought opportunity presented itself to rekindle a legal career thought to be long over. Tribunals in the United Kingdom are in expansionary mode. Government likes them. Beginning as a parttimer, I found myself travelling to areas of the United Kingdom north of London that I had only read about – I knew most of Thailand far better. Part-time judging became full time with the chance never offered in Hong Kong, to obtain a government pension in return for between five and 20 years of service. It was just encompassable before hitting the big seven-oh. My Chinese partner managed to re qualify and went into the Inland

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Revenue although irked by the condescension and parochial attitudes to be found amongst the insular staff there (“I suppose we can always put you to answering queries from those who run Chinese takeaways!”). But what after eight years away from Hong Kong does one miss? Toiling up Wyndham Street from Central, and the steps to Ice House Street and the FCC main entrance late in the afternoon in the heat and humidity with the pleasurable anticipation of the first drink of the day (angels peeing on one’s tongue) in the air conditioning of the Main Bar. Interesting conversation with real people leading on perhaps to a good dinner upstairs in the Main Restaurant. The restaurants in Wanchai – Chili Club, Sze Chuan Lau, The American. Indian food – Gunga Din’s, the Gaylord. Swimming in the pool of the United Services Recreation Club. But most of all one misses the smells and pace of life of Hong Kong itself. And that magic moment on Saturdays and Sundays when dusk so suddenly falls and a cold sun-downer emerges from the fridge and on to the balcony almost of its own volition. The call of the Far East cannot be denied. Once it enters the blood stream it never exits. Like any absent member of the FCC, the web site of the Club has an intense fascination for me even as I sit in Chambers with a view of

St Paul’s Cathedral and other Wren spires, from which I turn to look at the computer screen. The irregular posting on the site of the latest edition of The Correspondent is a major event. It transports one 9,000 miles to the top of Ice House Street. For a brief moment one enters the Club, the intervening years fall away. The obituaries – Oh! – not Jerry Richardson. It was only yesterday surely, that he and I launched an initiative (he on the part of the ICAC; I as Secretary General of the Law Society) to root out the “submarines”, those terrible middlemen and triad-run clerks who milk those in trouble of the larger part of any money they have before “introducing” a lawyer. Guy Searls – surely it cannot be 15 years since we had a convivial lunch in the Officer’s Mess in Tamar to discuss a Law Society magazine. Was Cynthia Hydes really 74? – she seemed never to be more than 55. Stuart Wolfendale.... – just joking! But the message I seek to convey, at the risk of being accused of attempting to deplete the Jurassic gene pool that daily surrounds the Main Bar, is not to leave it too late. If as Rudyard Kipling once said there is a little man on the shoulder of every great writer willing him on and dictating the course of the story, so there is in all of us a quiet voice that tells us when enough enough is. And if you dinosaurs will move over and let me have sight of the bar whilst Carson brings me a cold beer when next I visit the FCC towards the end of the year, I’ll tell you how it’s done!

THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005


Music

Jazz Time! By Robin Lynam

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he 2005 FCC Jazz Festival was deemed a resounding success, with healthy crowds of members and non-members alike enjoying live music of a high standard over three welllubricated nights. Thanks to the status of Bertâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s as the only dedicated jazz club in town, we are fortunate to be able to call on the cream of local and locally resident musical talent, and FCC musical director Allen Youngblood assembled a star-studded bill. Rowena Michaels, back from Manila by popular demand, gave us all a tantalising foretaste of what the Puerto Galera Jazz Festival in October has in store, while FCC member Elaine Liu fronted the Saturday Night Jazz Orchestra for some driving sets of big band jazz in the Main Dining Room. It was good to see the players in an altogether more comfortable space than their regular venue in the bar of the Fringe Club next door, not to mention one serving considerably cheaper drinks. Skip Moyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s band featuring Jason Cheng, Red Taurus, the Hong Kong City Jazz Band, pianist YoYong, guitarist Guy Le Claire, and of course Youngblood and Jazbalaya featuring Paul Candelaria and Larry Hammond all played strong sets. This event certainly looks like becoming a welcome annual fixture.

Photography by Terry Duckham

THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005

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Music

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THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005


THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005

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Music

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THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005


Jazz Down Under

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PHOTOGRAPH: ROBIN LYNAM

he 15th Darling Harbour Jazz Festival, Sydney’s biggest celebration of jazz, funk and blues, once again featured the FCC’s musical director and ace jazz pianist, Allen Youngblood. Leading a quintet called the Dreadlock Beebop, Allen performed at the Harbourside Amphitheatre in what he called “a very intimate setting”. This open air jazz festival is a free event held each June on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend. It runs all day from 1 pm to 8 pm, gig after gig after gig in five separate show venues and just packs in the fans and visitors.

Allen also played two nights at Soup Plus, one of the city’s venerable jazz clubs, where he launched his CD Midnight Odyssey, recorded last year when he was here for the 2004 festival. (It is on sale at the FCC office.) For those of you whose history in the FCC goes back far enough, Soup Plus is where Dick Hughes Jr (son of veteran newsman Richard Hughes, whose bust overlooks the Main Bar) played for a couple decades. L-R James Muller (guitar), Andrew Dickeson (drums), Blaine Whittaker (alto and soprano sax), Phil Stack (bass) and Allen Youngblood on keyboard. – Saul Lockhart PHOTOGRAPHS: SAUL LOCKHART

THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005

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Music

The Second Puerto Galera Jazz Festival

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fter a five-year hiatus the FCC Jazz Society, the Puerto Galera Yacht Club (PGYC) and the El Galleon Beach Resort have organised the return of the Puerto Galera Jazz Festival to the white sands and blue waters of the popular Philippine resort. More than 60 members of the FCC Jazz Society are expected to accompany resident FCC musicians to Puerto Galera. There they will join local jazz greats and jazz aficionados from Manila in a weekend of innovative and high-powered music over the All Souls Weekend on October 28-30. The FCC group is the backbone to the event. The Hong Kong musicians, led by FCC Musical Director and pianist, Allen Youngblood, and composed of Blaine Whittaker on saxophone, Guy Le Clair on guitar, Paul Candelaria on bass and Larry Hammond on drums, are all resident musicians at Bert’s. They will accompany the FCC group and perform at the PGYC and El Galleon Beach Resort events. Allen has recently released a new CD in Asia to wide acclaim. One of the most popular tracks is his original

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composition, The Verde Island Passage, inspired and composed during his visit to the Puerto Galera Jazz Festival in 2000. The FCC has also invited several of Manila’s top jazz musicians to perform at the festival. At the time of writing, the shortlist included Tots Tolentino, the Philippines’ renowned jazz saxophonist and sideman to jazz super band, Affinity, and vocalist Rowena Michaels, who performed to popular applause at the FCC Jazz Festival in July. The Puerto Galera Jazz Festival is timed to coincide with the Manila Yacht Club’s The Point Race and the PGYC All Souls Weekend Regatta. The three events are expected to attract over 500 people and 40 yachts to Puerto Galera for the music and the racing.

Cebu Pacific’s Maketing Manager Liza Henzon and RTHK’s Phil Whelan draw the winning ticket during the FCC Jazz Festival on July 23. The winner was Rohit Behl who took home tickets for two to the Puerto Galera Jazz Festival from Cebu Pacific Airways and accommodation provided by the El Galleon Beach Resort.

THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005


Lives Remembered

Winnie Whittaker

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innie Whittaker, bon vivant, sailor, astute businesswoman and friend to many, died following post-operative complications in May. She leaves behind an eclectic group of admirers who will miss her terribly. Among them are the members of the Red Lips Brigade, her yachting buddies and fellow crewmembers, her colleagues in the building and arbitration sectors and those who simply crossed paths with her over the years, Winnie was born in Putney, London, on 21 February, 1948, one of five children – four girls and a boy. She was educated at the Ursuline convent in Wimbledon where she edited the school magazine and, typically Winnie, distinguished herself by starting up the school tiddlywinks team. Upon leaving school she trained to become a quantity surveyor by joining the Greater London Council and undertaking a six-year day-release course at Brixton College of Building. She became an Associate of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in 1972 and a Fellow in 1985. In her spare time, she was active in the London jazz/folk scene performing as an accomplished guitarist and singer. After a two-year stint in Belgium, Winnie made a decision that was to have lasting consequences for her and for her many friends in Hong Kong. She relocated to the then British colony in 1977 and discovered her spiritual home. After working for the Public Works Department of the Hong Kong Government for many years, she established her own company, preferring to rely on her own abilities, a decision she had no cause to regret. Not content with being a highly respected quantity surveyor, Winnie went on to qualify as an Associate of the Institute of Arbitrators in May 1984 and become a Fellow in 1991. In her capacity as an arbitrator, Winnie brought considerable professional knowledge, pragmatism, an unfailing sense of fair play and common sense to bear on the matters upon which she was called to adjudicate. These attributes earned her considerable respect both from the construction industry and from her fellow arbitrators. Winnie was a woman of wide interests. She

THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005

joined the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club in 1985 and served on the Facilities Committee from 1998 and on the Strategic Planning Committee in 2002-03. An avid sailor, she was for many years an active crew member on Sunseeker. In addition to local races, she completed a considerable number of China Sea crossings on Sunseeker and other boats. There are many stories about Winnie on boats, but those who sailed with her remember her focus on the task in hand and her unflappability in the face of adversity. On a trip back from the Philippines, the boat she was on made unfortunate contact with the legendary submerged object. The damage inflicted required bucket bailing, an arduous task in the best of weather, but indescribable in a storm. Winnie simply got on with the job displaying typical stoicism, pausing only to make the odd comment suggesting that a number of younger male members of the crew lacked the wherewithal to be real sailors. In 1985, Winnie also joined the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong. There she became a well-known personality at the bar and cornerstone of the aforementioned Red Lips Brigade. This Brigade comprises a number of ladies, barely past the first flush of youth, who, at regular intervals throughout the year, gather for “lunches” or more accurately, marathon sessions famed for the volume of liquid intake and the fear they instil in the more delicate males caught up in their ambit. Many of the venerable members of the Red Lips Brigade are scattered around the globe. But on hearing the sad news one can be certain that there was many a glass raised, drained and lowered with just the ghost of a smear of red lipstick left around the lip. Winnie was an indefatigable party-giver. All were memorable but one, occasionally referred to as the lost weekend, is worthy of special mention. Approaching the age of 50, Winnie wanted something a little different and so booked the restaurant at the Clube Militar in Macau. Guests arrived piecemeal between Friday and Saturday evening and pre-dinner drinks were taken in a variety of establishments until the appointed hour when

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Lives BooksRemembered

about 50 people sat down for a well-lubricated, long and leisurely dinner of typical Winnie splendour, followed by nightcaps consumed with considerable enthusiasm. This fine example of the Bacchanalian arts was followed on the Sunday by a survivor’s lunch, presided over by Winnie with a huge smile on her face and a glass of wine in her hand, content in the knowledge that her friends surrounded her and that she had given them a party that they would remember forever. Winnie was capable of incredible thoughtfulness

and acts of kindness. It was Winnie who, shortly, after her first bout of surgery, responded to Wendy Richardson’s sorrow at losing her husband by offering her strength and support and, forever practical, driving Wendy to the service. New arrivals in Hong Kong could always rely on Winnie for advice and assistance and an introduction into Winnie’s social circle. Small acts in themselves, but reflective of Winnie’s humanity, generosity and loyalty to her friends. – David Madoc-Jones

Larry Allen

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he news of Larry Allen’s death came as a blow to loyal members of his audience and fellow musicians alike, as the large turnout for a wake held in Bert’s demonstrated. A recording of a vintage Larry Allen show played as old friends and fans reminisced. Fellow musician Nick Demuth was in the Philippines at the time, but sent The Correspondent a note of a few of his memories of a well loved man. “Larry Allen came to Asia with the American Army post-war. He told me he played tenor drum in the US Cavalry Band. It seemed unlikely that the States would have brought the Cavalry to Asia but looking at his waistline I felt a degree of sympathy for the horse. Larry started playing around Manila, got married and had a beautiful daughter. Upon leaving the army he got a gig at the Golden Gate Club in Tokyo. Larry wasn’t the greatest piano player in the world but he was probably the first generation in these parts of a performer who could be termed an entertainer. He became well known throughout the region for his parodies and humour directed at the songs and customs of the customers at the venue. Most of these were American service men and he became one of the best-known club musicians in Asia. Larry stayed in Tokyo for as long as he could by refusing to accept a cut in his salary. Eventually he had to take a couple of weeks off or so between gigs. From Japan, he came to the now long-closed Paramount Night Club in Queen’s Road and Hong Kong became his new base. He also did a season at the original American Club in Central. Wherever he played he would always fall back on his Mushi Mushi, Anone jokes. In Singapore he was a riot with the guys who worked in mining and in between, he did stints on cruise ships. His last gig was at the FCC where he played in the

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PHOTOGRAPH: BOB DAVIS

Dining Room and was the opening pianist in Bert’s. By then Larry was getting on. He suffered from diabetes and finally decided to return to the States for the first time in numerous years. Larry was a fine person and was well liked in Hong Kong and across the region.” Allen Youngblood, who succeeded Larry as the FCC’s house piano man, believes that Larry’s success as an all-round entertainer detracted from the recognition he should have had as a musician. “He had a very good knowledge of Asia from a musical historian’s perspective. It’s too bad he didn’t write a book – he had some good stories. I think a lot of people don’t realise how good a player he was, because he was more of an entertainer. The last time he came back we were playing, and he was very good indeed in that older style. Plus he was a very nice guy – he was always very nice to me. He reminded me of those movies where you see somebody like Cole Porter playing in a New York penthouse. I don’t know what you call that style. There’s a little swing, there’s the blues, a little of that Teddy Wilson touch. It was Larry Allen style.”

THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005


Books

Sex in the (Chinese) City Rachel DeWoskin has a fascinating story. She arrived in Beijing in 1994 to work for an American PR firm. Before long, though, she was starring as a “foreign babe” in a TV drama in which she played Jiexi, a manipulative American woman who seduces a married Chinese man. Jonathan Sharp reports.

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o how did it feel to be an instant star on Chinese television, with a viewing audience reported to total 600 million? Not entirely comfortable, DeWoskin told an FCC dinner to introduce her book Foreign Babes in Beijing, which recounts with fluency, insight and humour her experiences filming the steamy soap opera of the same name. Part of the problem was language: she did not read the script before filming because it was written in the simplified form of Chinese characters, while she had studied the “nerdy, complicated” versions. “So I read as we filmed, and when I watched ‘Foreign Babes in Beijing’ for the first time when it was aired in 1995, I was apoplectic. I hadn’t, during the course of the filming, really stopped to consider the moral messages or the nuances of the show.” Her misgivings notwithstanding, the show was a hit, and she was accorded celebrity status. How did she handle the flood of attention? DeWoskin, who is as colourful a speaker as she is a writer, said that when she felt overwhelmed, she reminded herself that “If you parade on national television dropping your

Foreign Babes in Beijing: Behind the Scenes of a New China By Rachel DeWoskin Granta Books, PB, 304 pages ISBN 1-86207-816-5, HK$195

‘trou’, then you are asking for it.” She felt that that the response to her to be kind, friendly and generous. “People liked Jiexi. They thought she was sassy, they thought she was liberated. Teenage girls bought whatever I bought. They would follow me through markets and buy fake Gucci watches,

fish paste or extension cords whatever I happened to be buying at the time. So my life was kind of like a surreal advertisement.” She said that while the response of her Chinese audience to her was warm, the counterpart to interest in and affection for Western women was a tremendous amount of historical resentment towards foreign men. Illustrating her point she said that after her success as a soap opera star, she received letters from foreign men who wanted to be on Chinese television. “I advised them that if they were to go on Chinese television, I was sure there were parts available where they would definitely get their asses kicked by Chinese guys. Foreign men never fare well on Chinese television shows.” There’s also tremendous resentment of foreign men who date Chinese women – and the opposite is true for foreign women who date Chinese men. “I would get in a cab with a Chinese guy and the cab driver would applaud. Whereas Western guy friends of mine who had Chinese girl friends got bottles broken over their heads in discos.”

‘I would get in a cab with a Chinese guy and the cab driver would applaud. Whereas Western guy friends of mine who had Chinese girl friends got bottles broken over their heads in discos.’

THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005

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Books

An African Odyssey

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bsent member Richard Dobson’s stunning photographs of the wild desert region of central South Africa have been published in a coffee table book, Karoo Moons, A Photographic Journey. The dramatic shots range from close-ups of rusted railway undercarriages, like abstract paintings, to dramatic landscapes and shots of local characters, reports Garry Marchant. Dobson, born in Yorkshire in 1963 and educated in South Africa between 1975 and 1983, developed his interest in photography in London in 1984. After four years assisting London advertising photographers, he began his career as a freelance photographer. Dobson lived in Hong Kong from 1989 to 1996, working for several Emphasis magazines, AsiaInc, the former Business Traveller Asia and a number of other publications. He produced a guidebook to Macau and contributed to Return to the Heart of the Dragon, a

Hong Kong coffee table book. The photographer now divides his time between Cape Town and Paris, shooting advertising and editorial photography. He contributes to major European travel publications, including Condé Naste Traveler, German and French GEO, as well as the New York Times and The Guardian. Commer-

cial clients include Vietnam Airlines, Nokia, Barclays Bank, Honda, Volkswagen and Jeep. Struik Publishers produced the book, with a foreword by South African playwright Athol Fugard and text by short story author and journalist Ruben Mowszowski. However, the comments and captions by the photog-

A High Degree of Atrocity Reviewed by Saul Lockhart

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his book is not Politically Correct, and that’s why I liked it. It is definitely Politically Incorrect. The author, Jay Scott Kanes, has done well for his first try. And innovatively, for offering the book electronically as well as in the traditional print version. Kanes, incidentally, is a pseudonym for a for a well-known Canadian journo, now turned novelist, who

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has done his time in Hong Kong over the past years, writing and editing for all and sundry, including government departments and quasi-government organisations. He enjoys the outlying island life instead of the hurly-burly of Kowloon or Hong Kong. Set in 2009, Kanes pulls no punches when writing about who really rules Hong Kong a dozen years after the handover. His prelude sums up the book’s viewpoint: “The year is 2009. In Hong Kong, seven million

THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005


rapher are more relevant and intriguing than the overwrought prose. Besides comments on the photographs themselves, Dobson includes titbits of information on the history of the Karoo (originally Garoob or dry thirstland) and its wildlife such as ostriches, black eagles, meerkats, rooikats (wild cats), rock scorpions and turtles. He also introduces us to local folk – farmers, eccentric wanderers, karretjie mense (itinerant donkey cart labourers), mystics and artists. He captures the sense of loneliness and emptiness with shots such as tumbleweed rolling across a long, straight road disappearing into the horizon, of a dusty, white abandoned farm labourer’s hut in an immense, flat sandscape, of vast skies and intriguing rock formations. The project started in 2002 when French Geo magazine commissioned Dobson to discover the Great Karoo and produce a road-style photo essay. He took a three-week photo safari, covering 6,000 kilometres in his Toyota Land Cruiser. Dobson worked under harsh conditions of the dry open reaches on the road between Johannesburg and Cape Town, with summer heat exceeding 30 degrees

and winter temperatures dropping to an average of zero. Dobson, who frequently drove through the area on his motorcycle travelling between Johannesburg and the Cape, admits he once thought the Karoo was extremely boring. During his photo safari, he was enchanted by the harsh land, and became a convert to its dusty charms. He returned to the Karoo in 2004 to capture more images for the book. “I now find the Great Karoo an endlessly fascinating place,” he writes in the introduction. “If Karoo Moons - A Photographic Journey is to serve any purpose at all, it is simply to encourage an appreciation of the Great Karoo, to inspire people to drive its dusty roads, to wander its hills and valleys, and to talk to its wonderful inhabitants.” The book certainly inspires a desire to see this wild, little known land.

people endure a cruel charade: the façade of political freedoms where few exist.” Hong Kong does not seem to be moving into this doomsday scenario, it must be said, but that does not stop a good yarn from being spun. Read from afar, it is another thriller which might titillate certain prejudices. Read in Hong Kong – well every so often I had to stop and look around to see if any warning signs pointing to this type of scenario were visible. The novel did activate those long held fears in me that “something like this might happen” – and the 50,000 or so Hong Kongers who emigrated annually to other, more democratic climes, in the lead up to 1997, must have felt this way. (To be fair, the

trend is in the other direction now as Hong Kongers return, albeit with their foreign passports.) And any of those reading this the book that remember or covered the riots of the fifties and sixties, can visualize the chaos on streets that Kane has penned. “One country, two bullets and three eventful days...” Enjoy. Even if it is a little close to the bone at times.

THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005

Karoo Moons – A Photographic Journey By Richard Dobson and Ruben Mowszowski HC. 168 pages. Rand 254.00 ISBN: 1770070125 http://www.struik.co.za

High Degree of Atrocity By Jay Scott Kanes AuthorHouse, PB. 338 pages. US$12.95 ISBN: 1-4184-2650-4 (Electronic version US$4.95) ISBN: 1-4184-2651-2) http://www.jayscottkanes.com

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Around the FCC

FCC staff at the Inter-Club competition. Soccer honours went to the AMC and bowling to the Cricket Club ... but the FCC will prevail next year!

PHOTOGRAPH: HUGH VAN ES

PHOTOGRAPH: HUGH VAN ES

Gavin and Julia Greenwood’s annual Brighton-based party for UK-based exHong Kongers attracted a heavy crop of absent FCC regulars including (L-R): Mike Rothschild, Bill Barker, Gavin Greenwood, Sally Taylor and Steve Fallon. PHOTOGRAPH: TERRY DUCKHAM

Top: Guest speaker Jung Chang signs copies of her latest book, an expose of Mao Tsetung. Bottom: Chang and co-author Jon Halliday with FCC President Ilaria Maria Sala. Left: Heard at Bert’s: Frank Rusco (trombone) and friends from Washington D.C.

THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 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

Royal Asiatic Society The Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society welcomes new members interested in the culture and history of Hong Kong, China and Asia. We arrange monthly talks, local visits and overseas trips to places of historical interest. An annual Journal and a bi-monthly Newsletter are published. For information: Tel/fax 2813 7500, email membership@royalasiaticsociety.org.hk or go to www.royalasiaticsociety.org.hk

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 JULY/AUGUST 2005


Travel

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❖ PROFESSIONAL CONTACTS The Professional Contacts page appears in each issue of The Correspondent and on the FCC website at www.fcchk.org. Let the world know who you are, what you do and how to reach you. There has never been a better time. Listings start at just $100 per issue, with a minimum of a three-issue listing, and are billed painlessly to your FCC account. THE CORRESPONDENT JULY/AUGUST 2005

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Out of Context

What members get up to when away from the Club

Play Golf, Will Travel Jonathan Sharp talks to FCC Golf Society Convener Julian Walsh

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o one can accuse Julian Walsh of lacking a spirit of adventure. Not content with leading a group from the FCC Golf Society on a visit to Burma in January, he has been instrumental in arranging a trip to a nation with even fewer claims to being a golfing powerhouse: North Korea. Until recently Julian, like a lot of people, had no idea that North Korea had a golf course. But there is one, a par-72, 7,700-yard layout that North Korean media tout as in “full line with international standards”. It’s surrounded by a forest and lake, possibly to distance the course from the non-golfing North Korean public, who anyway have more pressing matters on hand than knocking a small ball into a hole in the ground. Julian is not sure where the course is, but he hears that it’s in reasonably good shape, possibly because it’s hardly ever used. “I was just intrigued by the fact that they have a golf course there. It’s not the sort of place where you say ‘I’m just off to play golf tonight, love’.” Anyway, the golf bug appears to be making progress in the reclusive nation, albeit somewhat hesitantly. Last year saw the first Pyongyang Open, with a starting line-up of about nine competitors, one of whom had never played golf before. Julian and 15 other serious or not-so-serious FCC golfers are making the trip, which includes some must-do (literally) visits. These include paying homage to a statue of the late “Great Leader” Kim Il-sung, a visit to the border with South Korea and to the Mass Games, a sort of synchronised gymnastics on a gargantuan scale which the North Koreans are said to be very good at. Julian said he had no trouble find-

PHOTOGRAPH BY KEES METSELAAR

ing recruits for the trip, although not everybody was enthusiastic. “Certain people with a certain mindset found it a curiosity, like me, and want to see it before it changes. Some people felt uncomfortable about going, and other people just can’t see the point.” As well as enjoying golf, the FCC

he’d heard “the locals like a drink and a song”. Julian is always modest about his own golfing ability – “I’m one of the worst players we’ve got. I’m shocking” – and he does not harbour high expectations that the North Korean trip will do much for his game. This is not least because he is leaving his own clubs at home and relying on what he can hire in Pyongyang. However if he is in need of tips he could do worse, it is reported, than turn to North Korea’s “Dear Leader”, Kim Jong-il. According to a report attributed to official North Korean media, Kim is a natural, a dab hand at golf as he is, according to Pyongyang, at just about everything else. Taking time out from formulating his nuclear policy and taking care of his starving people, Kim is reported to have scorched around the Pyongyang course in just 34 strokes – including five holes in one. And this on his first try at golf. Move over Tiger Woods.

“I was just intrigued by the fact that they have a golf course there. It’s not the sort of place where you say ‘I’m just off to play golf tonight, love’.”

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Golf Society is well known for relishing a few beers after a game. Julian has not found out much about the 19th hole facilities in Pyongyang, although his researches have come up with the useful information that two brands of beer are available. He was unsure whether the post-game socialising would include North Korean golfing fans – although he was hopeful as

THE CORRESPONDENT

JULY/AUGUST 2005

The Correspondent, July - August 2005  

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