THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTSâ€™ CLUB
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CONTENTS COVER STORY
HEADING INTO HARM’S WAY What duty of care do news organisations have when they send journalists, photographers, and support staff into danger? We hear lessons learned from people who know.
Message from the President
Signs of the Times
A browse through the Club’s guest book
The Art of Treading a Fine Line
Trials and triumphs of FCC Thailand
A list of new members and some of their profiles
SK Witcher and Florence de Changy’s prestigious gongs
Including Gilbert Cheng’s farewell party
Festival of Words
Two Journalists Honoured for Decades of Service
Hong Kong’s 18th International Literary Festival
Afghan Lives: The Work of Shah Marai; Curtain Call: The Central Police Station Compound; Derek Maitland’s Vietnam
Didier Goes Back to His Roots
On The Wall
Partners In Wine
FCC’s latest Food & Beverage offering
Meet the Club’s new General Manager, Didier Saugy
Johnny Lands his Dream Job
New Executive Chef, Johnny Ma
When It’s a Choice Between Food and School Fees
Who said what when they visited the Club
FCC’s new adopted charity, K3, works to get children of refugees and asylum seekers into kindergarten
How to succeed in the world of self-publishing
Finland’s slip in global press freedom rankings
‘This May Cause Some Discomfort’
Story of a Do-It-Yourself Superstar
One man’s encounter with prostate cancer
New Media Award Aims to Bring Sensitivity to Reporting Suicides
MIND HK on how to destigmatise mental health problems
FROM THE PRESIDENT Dear Fellow Members, Summer for the club was more eventful than usual, as we bid farewell to our veteran General Manager, Gilbert Cheng, with a memorable mid-summer sendoff party on August 4th – and swiftly welcomed our new GM Didier Saugy, who has adapted as if he were born here! I would like to reiterate how happy we are and how lucky we feel to have Didier to steer the club towards new heights in the coming years. I am confident that his management skills will help us turn the club around and continue to improve our facilities in the beautiful building that we have been privileged to call home for the last 36 years. I would like to thank him and congratulate him for such a brilliant start. We also hosted a string of interesting events. The lunch with Hong Kong National Party co-founder Andy Chan, that took place on August 14, attracted a lot of attention – in Hong Kong, in China and abroad. It has been watched online more times than any other club event. The Chinese authorities as well as the Hong Kong government expressed their strong discontent over our hosting of this speaker. The Chinese authorities explicitly asked us to cancel it. There were several direct conversations between Chinese representatives in Hong Kong and both Victor Mallet who, as First VP was the acting president during the whole episode, as well as myself. The point, which was made most strongly to me, was that Mr. Chan’s ideas are in breach of the Chinese constitution. Our lawyers told us adamantly that the event was lawful in Hong Kong, and indeed he has appeared at other forums and in various media, including on RTHK. The FCC has an important, positive and constructive role to play in Hong Kong, contributing to it being an international, open and free city, “not just another Chinese city”, as Chief Executive Carrie Lam likes to put it. I also made clear, during my exchanges with the Chinese authorities, that the club hosts speakers with widely differing views and neither endorses nor opposes those who speak. Just as we hosted pro and anti Trump or Brexit guests, hosting this speaker was part of the same core philosophy. The only reason we initially thought of inviting this 28-year-old interior designer was actually that he was in the news, because the Police had suggested to the government to ban his party, something that has never happened since the handover. As you all know, we stand strongly for freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the rule of law, one feature that sets Hong Kong clearly apart from the mainland. After we published a statement that you all received, explaining our stance, we then imposed a strict “no comment” policy on ourselves (as annoying
as this may be for us journalists), because we felt there was no point in further fuelling the political and media frenzy that the event had provoked. We value the good and open relationships that the club has built over the years with both the Hong Kong government and the Chinese authorities, and we look forward to welcoming high-profile Hong Kong figures from the Establishment in the near future. I cannot reiterate enough how open the FCC stage is to all voices in any debate. Despite some threats and hate-mail, a false fire alarm that triggered an unexpected visit by Hong Kong’s Fire Service, a suspicious attack on our website, some noisy protests in front and around the club, and cash being offered to our staff to join the protest, the talk and the questioning of the speaker finally took place in a normal way that was both peaceful and professional. We are grateful in particular to the Hong Kong Police and to our own staff for their help in keeping the peace and ensuring that all ran smoothly. Though some members wrote to express their opposition to the event, the overwhelming mail received was of support. I’d like to express special thanks to Victor Mallet, who handled the matter calmly and confidently. The club could not have been in better hands. I now look forward to a great autumn season for the club. With two new key staff joining the FCC as I write this message, Marketing and Communications officer Jennie Yang, and Marketing and Events manager Carmen Chan, along with our new Executive Chef Johnny Ma whom some of you will already have met, the team will be complete. We are also progressing well on the master plan that, I hope, will be presented to you in the coming months. Thanks again for your support and your creative suggestions. Sincerely yours, Florence de Changy
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club 2 Lower Albert Road Central, Hong Kong Tel: (852) 2521 1511 Fax: (852) 2868 4092 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.fcchk.org
The Board of Governors 2017-2018 President Florence de Changy
THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS’ CLUB HONG KONG
First Vice President Victor Mallet Second Vice President Christopher Slaughter Correspondent Member Governors Enda Curran, Jennifer Jett, Daniel Ten Kate, Richard John Macauley, Andrew Marszal, George Russell, Alexandra Stevenson, Sarah Stewart Journalist Member Governors Clifford Buddle, Adam White Associate Member Governors Magnus Renfrew, David Philip Roberts, Christopher Slaughter, Douglas Wong Club Treasurer Douglas Wong Club Secretary Edna Curran Professional Committee Co-Conveners: Enda Curran, Alexandra Stevenson, Victor Mallet Sub-committee: Journalism Conference Convenor: Enda Curran Finance Committee Co-Conveners: Douglas Wong (Treasurer), Jennifer Jett, Victor Mallet Constitutional Committee Co-Conveners: Clifford Buddle, David Philip Roberts Membership Committee Co-Conveners: Sarah Stewart, Enda Curran, Magnus Renfrew House/Food and Beverage Committee Co-Conveners: Douglas Wong, Jennifer Jett, George Russell, Richard Macauley Building - Project and Maintenance Committee Co-Conveners: Christopher Slaughter, George Russell, David Philip Roberts Press Freedom Committee Co-Conveners: Clifford Buddle, Andrew Marszal, Sarah Stewart, Daniel Ten Kate Communications Committee Co-Conveners: Adam White, Andrew Marszal, Daniel Ten Kate Wall Committee Co-Conveners: Christopher Slaughter, Adam White, Magnus Renfrew
There’s a fascinating feature in this issue about the visitors who have signed the Club’s guest book over the years (pages 12-13), and there’s nothing like looking back to make you realize how unpredictable life is. Some of the guests have died, or been killed, been jailed, ousted, or hounded, found or lost power or fortune since the day someone asked them to put their signature on the page for posterity. It is that fragility that prompted me to carry a four-pager on Duty of Care (pages 18-21) towards journalists who work at the sharp end of the trade – reporting conflict. The number of journalists who have been killed around the world so far this year already outstrips last year’s sad record, so any debate around how news organisations can better protect their staff in the field feels like a good use of this magazine’s wide reach in the region. People will do almost anything to get themselves and their families away from such conflict zones, and with this in mind FCC has adopted K3 as its charity for the next two years (pages 32-33). K3 helps the children of some of Hong Kong’s 13,000 legal refugees and asylum seekers to get into kindergarten and stay there, which means they don’t need to lag behind when they reach school age. The odds are already stacked against people who have fled their homes and in most cases can never return, so giving children the opportunity to start out with an equal chance of a good education is one way we can all help to balance the scales. As the President has already said in her message, the Club has a new General Manager and a new Executive Chef, so we’ve interviewed them to help you get to know them better (pages 28-29 and 30-31), and will be reporting on their plans for the Club in future issues. In the meantime, if you have any ideas that you’d like to put forward or if you’d like to write for the magazine, get in touch at email@example.com. Sue Brattle
Charity Committee Co-Conveners: Jennifer Jett, George Russell, Daniel Ten Kate General Manager Gilbert Cheng Editor, The Correspondent Sue Brattle Publisher: Artmazing! Tel: 9128 8949 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Printing Elite Printing, Tel: 2558 0119 Advertising Contact FCC Front Office: Tel: 2521 1511
The Correspondent ©2018 The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong The Correspondent is published four times a year. Opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of the club.
MEMBERSHIP Who’s joined the Club, who’s leaving and who’s turned silver! This is the column to read.
Welcome to New Members Correspondents
• Kelly Belknap, Asia TV Newsdesk Team Leader, Bloomberg News • Finbarr Bermingham, Asia Editor, GTR Asia • Russell Goldman, Senior Story Editor, The New York Times • Erin Hale, Correspondent, Deutsche Presse Agentur • Claire Huang Jingyi, Hong Kong Correspondent, Singapore Press Holdings • Jonathan Jensen, Senior Producer, CNN International • Kurt Lin Sung-fat, Researcher/Writer, Monocle • Olivia Parker, Deputy Editor, Haymarket Media • Jerome Taylor, Editor (Asia-Pacific Desk), Agence France Presse Journalists
• Nicolas Atkin, Editorial, South China Morning Post • Ryan Swift, Editor, SCMP • Samantha Wong Kwan-yee, Reporter, The Standard Associates
• Olga Boltenko, Partner, Fangda Partners, Adjunct Lecturer, The University of Hong Kong • Kingsley Bolton, Honorary Professor, The Social Sciences Research Centre • Pakorn Boonyakurkul, CEO, Wealth Management System • Andrew Carpenter, Senior Associate, Stephenson Harwood • Charles Chan Wing-ho, Barrister-at-Law, Courtyard Chambers • Jessica Cheng Jing, Manager, Lui Che Woo Prize • Wendy Cho Yuen-yi, Director - Asia Pacific, Zenith Interiors • Nicholas Cook, Senior Associate, Tiang & Co • Vega Hall-Martin, Ambassador, African Parks Network • Scott Harrison, Managing Director, Aquis Search • Aubrey Ho Lau-fung, Director, Link Asset Management • Sylvia Hoosen, Retired • Dagmar Jurick, Director, Pentland • Olivia Kung Hoi-yan, Partner, Wellington Legal • Josephine Li Yee-wan, Senior Channel Sales Manager, Carlsberg Hong Kong • Gary Liu Songnan, Managing Partner, Ocean Boulevard Holdings • Ken Lui Wah-shing, Proprietor, W S Lui & Co CPA • Emma Macintosh, Managing Director (Asia), Prospect Resourcing Asia • Vinod Mahtani, Honorary Vice Consul General, Consulate of The Republic of Niger • Vesa Makipaa, Chairman of the Board, Lifa Air International • Aaron Pan Jing-dao, Vice President, FWD Group • Sudhir Salian, Director, Head of India, Peak Re • Penelope Siu, Self-Employed • Aidan Slinger, Investor Sales & Research Business Unit Manager, Citibank
• Angus Wai Yuk-chi, Chief Executive Officer, Asia Pacific, Folger Hill Asset Management • Yim Lok-kui, Chief Country Officer, Hong Kong, Deutsche Bank Diplomatic
• Michael Kratzer, Deputy Consul General, Austrian Consulate General Hong Kong Diplomatic – Replacements
• Rogier Hekking, Deputy Consul General, Consulate General of the Netherlands • Ajith Joshua, Consul (Commerce, Political & Media), Consulate General of India • Mok Chak-yong, Vice Consul (Political), Consulate-General of the Republic of Singapore Corporate – Replacements
• Vanita Cheung Suk-yin, Chief of Staff, Pridemax • Janice Ho Chia-yen, Director, ALS International • Li Yee-sing, Licenced Representative, Altus Investment • Fiona Wan Zee-ngan, General Manager, Public Affairs, Pridemax • Genevieve White, Executive Director, Legal, UBS AG
On to Pastures New Au revoir to those members leaving Hong Kong who have become Absent Members: Correspondents
• Paul Armstrong, Digital Director, Asia Pacific, Forbes Media • Ivan Broadhead, Freelancer • Pamela Crouch, Editor Singapore & Philippines, Yahoo Asia Pacific • David Macfarlane, Freelancer • Gina Miller, Freelancer • Anthony Murray, Research Editor, Hong Kong Trade Development Council • Wayne Yiu Pak, Video Journalist, Thomson Reuters Journalists
• Norman Lee, Assistant Editor, South China Morning Post Associates
• Adrian Bradbury, Director, Quam Capital • Kerry Chan, Self-Employed • Chew Moh-jin, Managing Director, Jin Jin Pet • Jeffrey Davis, Managing Director, Maven International • Allister Fowler, Vice President, Corporate Communications, Barclays Capital Asia • Donald Fraser, Senior Captain, Cathay Pacific Airways • Douglas Kerr • Catherine Kirchmann, Divisional Director, Investec Capital Asia
• Kinet Leung, Office Manager, Harry Wright International • Richard McMullen, Captain, Fedex • Dominique Perregaux, Owner & Managing Director, Art Statements • Frederik Pretorius, Associate Professor, Finance, The University of Hong Kong
• Andrew Hall, Investment Analyst, Research Works • Vivian Lee • Ranjan Marwah, Chairman, Executive Access
Honorary Widows Farewell also to: Correspondent
• Judy Chan • Mary Chan • Jay Ma Suk-lin, Barrister, Baskerville Chambers
• Catherine Adams, Deputy Editor, Discovery, Cedar Hong Kong • Paul Beckett, Asia Editor, The Wall Street Journal • Sree Bhaktavatsalam, Team Leader, Investing & Real Estate, Bloomberg News • Jonathan Browning, Reporter, Bloomberg News • Marian Liu Chiaming, Senior Multiplatform Editor, CNN
• Anthony Paul, Former FCC President
• Toby Garrod, Editor, Financial Times
• Kevin Egan, Barrister & FCC 2nd Vice-President, Baskerville Chambers
• Paul Schulte, Chairman, Schulte Research
We are extremely sad to announce the deaths of: Life Correspondent
• Peter Cahill, Barrister, Central Chambers • Michael Dalton • Lawrence Lo, Managing Director, BNP Paribas Asset Management • Victor Sin Wai-hung, Principal Consultant, Affirm Master/Victor Sin & Associates
• Paul Tyson, Editor, Bloomberg • Yuli Yang, Associate Producer, Cable News International Associates
• Sloan Cheung Soon-cheong, Doctor • Lucy Chiu Wai-kuen, Managing Director, Greensward • Jenny May, Managing Director, DMC Hong Kong • Michael Ozorio, Barrister Diplomatic
• Kristin Haworth, Spokesperson/Assistant Public Affairs Officer, US Consulate • Delphine Hournau, Consul (Political/Public Relations), Consulate General of France
Leaving Hong Kong? The question of whether to take out Absent Membership will arise. It’s not expensive at HK$2,000 but it will guarantee you an open door to the club if/when you visit Hong Kong (see conditions) and a super easy return as a full member if/when you come back to live in Hong Kong.
• Graham Corner, Regional Director, Black Mountain • Eslinda Hamzah, Vice President, Turner International • James Molan, Group Manager, Telstra International • Alan Wong Yue-kwan, Assistant, Koffman Financial Group
Welcome Back To Correspondents
• David Watkins, Correspondent, Bloomberg Journalists
• Nicholas Goodyer, Editor, Prestige Hong Kong Associates
• John Appleby, Managing Director, Wood Hamill • Ryder Chau, Managing Director, ReferenceCheck.hk • Eugene Galbraith, Managing Director, Bank Central Asia
Absent Members visiting Hong Kong can use the Club three times per year, up to a maximum of two weeks on each visit, without paying the monthly sub. Plus, if you ever come back to live in Hong Kong, your membership may be reactivated immediately. This scheme is even more beneficial to correspondents and journalists who may leave Hong Kong and choose a different career path before returning to the city as a non-journalist. If you’re eager to re-join the Club then, and have not taken up the Absent Membership option, you will have to apply again as an Associate, pay the joining fee and wait up to four years (the current wait-time for applicants in this membership category) to get full access to the FCC again. Avoid this predicament by becoming an Absent Member so you can rejoin the Club right away. PLEASE NOTE: The Absent Membership scheme applies only to people who actually leave Hong Kong; in other words you cannot reside in Hong Kong and be an Absent Member.
INTRODUCING... NEW MEMBERS The latest group of members to join the FCC is, as always, an interesting bunch. The Membership Committee meets regularly to go through applications and is always impressed by the diversity of people who want to join the Club. Vesa Makipaa Unofficially nominated as the Indoor Air Quality Ambassador from Finland, I have lived in Hong Kong since 2009, where we have an office and warehouse for global online sales. To achieve good Indoor Air Quality is often hard and the topic is the passion of my life. My wife describes it as the most unsexy business in the world – maybe she is right, but anyway I’m the father of eight kids. I like fishing and social life, especially chats in bars and the FCC provides an excellent environment for meeting old and new friends. Emma Dale My name is Emma Macintosh but most people know me by my work name, Emma Dale. I am the co-founder of Prospect, a global recruitment business specialising in PR and Communications. Initially I set up Prospect in London. In 2009 I came to Hong Kong with my husband and two kids to set up Prospect’s Asia operation, here and in Singapore. I am also a certified coach and the founder of Transform Executive Coaching. I also love hiking in Big Wave Bay, practising yoga and drinking red wine or champagne. Cassi Zarzyka I am a new Associate Member and writer/producer in my startup company, ChinaWest Films. After being an Asia specialist for my whole writing career, I am now a content creator for the China market. I started as an allrounder journalist/editor and Hong Kong correspondent in Tokyo working for newspapers and magazines, and also as a scriptwriter for NHK news. The script work always followed me as I grew up in Hollywood. Now as a full-time screenwriter and script developer, I am focused on telling the stories of China. Olga Boltenko I am a disputes partner in the Hong Kong office of a Chinese law firm, Fangda Partners. I also teach a postgraduate degree in dispute resolution at the University of Hong Kong. By virtue of my profession and practice, I am presumed to be disputatious. I have it on record that a number of FCC members would describe me as polite, perhaps with a slight penchant for a friendly debate – especially on a Friday night at Bert’s after a few glasses of wine. I had my first article published when I was 24, about a bar fight in Bangkok. I have written about disputes since then.
John Berry Born and schooled in Ballarat, Australia, I worked as a civil engineer in Melbourne before taking a year off travelling across Asia and Europe, then working in London and Abu Dhabi, and further travelling in and around South America. Work was resumed in Melbourne, only to be sent to Saudi Arabia. The latter experience clearly warranted another year off, mainly spent in sailing around the China Sea/West Philippine Sea. I first encountered FCC member Peter Miles on my boat, and he later introduced me to the Club. Hong Kong beckoned in 1982. I met and married Natalie, and HK is our home. We have two children, Tom and Lizzie. Erin Hale I am the Hong Kong correspondent for Deutsche Presse-Agentur. Prior to moving to Hong Kong last year, for a second time, I was living in Cambodia for three years where I also worked for dpa and freelanced. During that time I learned how to drive a motorcycle through monsoon rain, communicate with Khmer spirits, and where to find the best barbecued rat meat. While I do miss the excitement of Cambodia and the (sometimes) strange efficiency of petty corruption, I now get my kicks from outdoor activities like hiking and running. I am also a wellknown cat enthusiast and fan of all things satirical. Ching Fang Hu My friends call me Lolita – a provocative name I picked up working in magazine media in my 20s. I am a Chineselanguage writer. I was born in Taipei and have lived in Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York, Shanghai, Beijing and Paris. My writings fall into two categories: novels and essays. I was always told that, if you are a writer in Hong Kong, you should join the FCC – so here I am. My day job is head of Taiwan’s cultural office in Hong Kong, known as Kwang Hwa. We organize cultural events like concerts and art exhibitions. Taiwan has a flourishing arts community, which you are invited to share. Kurt Lin Prior to reporting around Asia for Monocle, I was mostly keeping my eyes on stock tickers and the quarter end performance bonus, as most portfolio managers do. Those who have the habit of picking up some local press might have come across my commentary on the topics of affairs, travel stories and book reviews in Chinese — or even, once, my portrait on the cover of the
city’s popular weekend tabloid. Wake boarding in the New Territories is the fun I miss most when I am abroad. Josephine Li I was born, raised and educated in Hong Kong. By chance, I joined the exclusive agent representing Carlsberg Beer as an intern when I left school. Little did I know back then this would lead to fulfilling my dream of a career in the commercial sector. A high point of my career was presenting a bouquet to the Queen of Denmark, Margrethe II, during the opening of our brewery in Tai Po. To complete my story, my husband Alex was the first European-trained Master Brewer who brewed the first batch of Carlsberg beer in Hong Kong. We are still serving the industry together up to this very day. Jerome Taylor This is the second time I’ve been in Hong Kong. When my wife and I moved in 2014 for a posting in Thailand we both felt we were leaving the fragrant harbour too soon. I’ve been a journalist for 15 years, initially blundering my way around India as an enthusiastic but largely clueless post-graduate freelancer, before joining The Independent newspaper for seven years. I moved to Asia in 2012 for AFP, first on the Asia-Pacific desk, then three years as Southeast Asia correspondent in Bangkok, before returning once more to the regional editing hub late last year. I was a board member of the FCC Thailand for two years. Jon Jensen I’m a senior producer for CNN based in Hong Kong. I work mostly on long-form feature stories, covering everything from sports to arts and culture. This is my first stint in Asia. Before moving here, I spent over a decade in the Middle East, first in Cairo and then in Abu Dhabi. Before joining CNN, I covered the Arab uprisings from Tunisia to Libya to Tahrir Square. I was also a producer at National Geographic in Washington, D.C. I received a Master’s degree from the journalism school at the University of Florida. When I’m not on the road for work, my wife and I are either hiking or searching for the best roast goose restaurants in Hong Kong. Vinod Mahtani Born in Hong Kong, I am the third generation of an Indian family that arrived here in 1952. My wife’s family, also Indian, has roots in Canton dating back to 1929. Having left Hong Kong in 1968, I returned back to live here only in 2005. That is my excuse for no longer being totally fluent in Cantonese! Educated in the UK, I joined the family import and export business after having graduated at Manchester University. I set up my own arm of the trading business in 1985 and then spent nine years living in Nigeria, which was a true life lesson in street smart survival. I am currently an Honorary Consul for the Republic of Niger. Scott Harrison I grew up in Sydney and qualified as an organisational psychologist before embarking on a career in recruitment.
My first three years was a steep learning curve in a start-up before I moved overseas. I landed in Hong Kong just after SARS and managed to find a role recruiting lawyers. I developed a network across the city and, in time, the region. With the Lehman collapse, I felt it was the perfect time to begin a recruitment company and, with my business partner, formed Aquis Search 10 years ago. I married a fantastic Hong Kong lady, but I am still learning the language. Finbarr Bermingham I have been in Hong Kong for four years, after moving from London to become Asia Editor of Global Trade Review, a magazine about trade and trade finance. I come from Ireland and have previously lived in South Korea, where I somehow managed to hold down a slot on local radio, despite a strong Irish accent which shows no sign of diminishing. I’m currently training for marathon number five and turn out for the illustrious Hong Kong Dragons Gaelic football team (second string). I love exploring the Hong Kong trails with my fiancée Colleen, and trying out my questionable Cantonese in local restaurants. Vega Hall-Martin I was fortunate to grow up in the famous Kruger National Park of South Africa, so my passion for wildlife conservation began at an early age. After attending university in Stellenbosch, I began a career in investment banking in London. After 12 fabulous years, I followed my soon-to-be husband to Hong Kong where we both began our careers anew. I now work for African Parks where my role is to raise the profile of African conservation in Asia while simultaneously tapping the region’s extraordinary wealth to help sustain the work we do in Africa. My Canadian husband and I have a lovely little boy. Gary Liu Songnan I’m currently running an investment fund covering the Greater China area. The FCC is a place that provides different voices on all topics, so the two years waiting has been worth it for me to get membership. I travel a lot, and run marathons if there is one being hosted in the city that I visit; sometimes I visit because of the marathon. Japan and Italy are among my favorite countries so I have studied Japanese and a little Italian. Learning Italian helped my Italian cooking, as it’s my favorite food. Tamsyn Burgmann An experience isn’t an adventure until you don’t know that you’ll make it out alive. Since leaving Canada for Hong Kong, my journalistic pursuits across Asia have delivered roti snacks with rebel soldiers, shipwrecks to scuba dive and motorbike rides with Muay Thai fighters. In 2016, I departed The Canadian Press after ten years. I have since earned a master’s degree at HKU and joined the International Opinion desk of The New York Times. My survival skills are poised for whatever comes next. n
GILBERT CHENG’S FAREWELL BASH On Saturday, August 4, nearly 300 Club members gathered for a farewell party for retiring General Manager Gilbert Cheng. MC Chris Slaughter kicked off the proceedings by paying tribute to party-goers who had shunned a rival crosstown attraction in the form of a concert given by someone called Zimmerman, aka Bob Dylan. Jonathan Sharp took notes.
in the summer: “I promise I will be back. I will be drinking in the FCC and coming back late. So don’t lock the door.”
“Throughout the more than 40 years of Gilbert’s engagement with the Club, and certainly since his appointment as General Manager following the very unsatisfactory experience with his predecessor, Gilbert has been the human face of the FCC. Well beyond the call of duty, Gilbert has been the Club morning, noon and night.” Angus Forsyth
“I want to thank [Gilbert] for the tremendous work and relentless energy you have brought to the club through the years. It was a privilege to work with you during my years on the Board and in particular during these last very important months.” Club President Florence de Changy Angus
An nie V an Es
“Gilbert to me is a true Hong Kong success story. He is a Hong Kong boy, he came from humble beginnings. But he got to where he did very, very fast through his dogged tenacity, his sheer hard work, dedication, loyalty and a lot of personal touch.” Annie Van Es
Cat herine Yu
Saki Yim, Jan Lo and Angela Cheng
Fran k Chi
ng a Tom G
llag h e
PHOTOS: SARAH GRAHAM
Gilber t Ch en
“This is not my retirement party, more my graduation party because I go from here and start to learn in other places,” Gilbert said. Some weeks before he described himself as “naïve and simple” when he joined the FCC, knowing nothing whatsoever about F&B. “A bloody Mary or a virgin Mary? What is it?” He told The Correspondent earlier
“In honour of Gilbert tonight, I am wearing a shirt with a collar.” Robin Moyer Case Everaert
Chris Sla ughter
Rob M as
Edwin Choy and Victor Malle
“I love this man. He is my brother. That’s all I can say.” Chris Slaughter on an d C
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A huge fa re
Peter Yu ng
“Gilbert is always referred to as ‘Tiger’. But he always seems to me more like a teddy bear, so I have obviously never worked in the bar or the kitchen. But clearly his most memorable skill is not prowling but just knowing who people are, and I think everybody in this room will have experienced that. Gilbert has been the ultimate diplomat.” First Vice-President Victor Mallet Pa ul M urra
M a rk Pin
Juliana Liu and Kei
“I don’t think there is any club in Hong Kong that could be run as efficiently as by Gilbert.” Mark Pinkstone
oon an d Ch
Leong Ka Tai
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Terry Duckha m
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Eminent linguist Marty Merz spoke in Cantonese in his speech. He explained earlier that FCC member Bruce Grill once cautioned about gweilos speaking Cantonese: get the tone wrong and it always means ‘genitals’. So on the night, he simply said: “Faai lohk hahng fuk 快樂幸福, Be happy and good luck!”
he Wall exhibition Afghan Lives: The Work of Shah Marai was unveiled in the main bar on June 26, before a panel talk Reporting Afghanistan took place. Shah Marai was Agence France-Presse chief photographer in Kabul and was killed with eight other journalists in a bombing in the city in April. His photographs show his eye for capturing everyday life in his country. (Left to right): Emal Haidary, AFP correspondent; Wakhil Kohsar, AFP photographer; Wall Convenor Adam White; Philippe Bassonet, AFP; Allison Jackson, AFP Afghanistan Bureau Chief; Robin Moyer
Nation facing a choice
(Left to right): Anna Ria Vallesteros, Dominic Quinnell, John Batten, Nigel Binnersley, David “Willo” Williams, Surjit Mahal, plus quizmaster Chris Slaughter
At the top of their game
t was a win-win for FCC Quiz whizzes Lap Sap Chungs when they won the July quiz and became the 2017-2018 Season Champions. Their smiles tell it all. Proud team captain Nigel Binnersley asked that member Greg Torode should get an honourable mention; he couldn’t attend on the night so isn’t in the picture.
asuki Shastry, author of Resurgent Indonesia: From Crisis to Confidence, told guests at a lunch on the Verandah on July 16 that Indonesia faces critical elections in April 2019. Shastry, global head of public affairs and sustainability at Standard Chartered, said it will be a battle for the heart and soul of SouthEast Asia’s largest nation as it chooses between inclusive politics and religious fundamentalism. Vasuki Shastry speaks at the lunch
hotographer Leong Ka Tai was guest of honour when his Wall exhibition, Curtain Call: Central Police Station Compound, was launched with a cocktail on August 2 (see page 24). The exhibition, with photographs also featured in his book of the same name, lasted until the end of August.
(From left) Roy Lee, Terry Duckham, Chris Slaughter, Leong Ka Tai, Robin Moyer, and Cammy Yiu
well-attended induction ceremony was held on the Verandah on July 27 to welcome new members to the Club.
Basketball on a Tibetan plateau
he Club hosted Oscar-winning director Ruby Yang for a screening of her 57-minute film Ritoma, shot in a Tibetan village of the same name, where basketball has been adopted with a passion. Villagers have built a court and even have their own team. Yangâ€™s film follows the village as it prepares for a regional tournament.
(From left) Tamsyn Burgmann, Nicholas Cook, Sophia Mao, Hoi Pui Man, Christopher Chu and Wyng Chow
(From left) Vega Hall-Martin, Karin Munasinghe, Colin Embree and the FCCâ€™s Enda Curran
Director Ruby Yang at the screening of her film
SIGNS OF THE TIMES Some FCC guests leave barely a mark. Others, it seems, don’t want you to ever forget they were there. After 36 years, the Club’s guest book is full, so George W. Russell flicked through the pages to chronicle the passage of visitors.
Clare Hollingworth Edward Youde
Lord Christopher Patten
Danny La Rue Tsang Yok Sing
rom bureaucrats to burlesque stars, senators to snooker players, the lunch – or dinner, or even breakfast – guests have been a mainstay of the FCC’s activities since it opened its doors. Many visitors, from the exalted to the ordinary, have been invited to sign their names in a brown, leather guestbook embossed with the club’s logo. The first page was turned the same day as the FCC turned over a new leaf in the Lower Albert Road premises back in 1982, with then governor Sir Edward Youde leaving his imprimatur. Now, 36 years later, its pages are full and the club is deciding whether – and how – it should display this unique historical document that chronicles both the club’s life at 2 Lower Albert Road and Hong Kong’s history nearly two decades either side of the handover. Some of our guests had high drama either behind them – the third Baron Lindsay of Birker, visiting in 1989, had been born in a cave while his parents (the second baron and his Chinese wife) were fleeing the Japanese as part of Mao Zedong’s Communist volunteer regiments during the Chinese Civil War – or regrettably, in front of them, such as Philippine Brigadier General Oscar Florendo, who visited in September 1988 and was fatally shot resisting a coup attempt against President Corazon Aquino in 1990. Some guests were less heroic. Australian artist-entertainer Rolf Harris – a visitor in the 1980s who filled an
Jose Ramos Horta
C. Y. Leung
entire page of the guest book with his distinctive sketches – would be later imprisoned on charges of indecent assault of teenage girls. Other jailbirds have included former British MP Jonathan Aitken (sentenced to 18 months for perjury in 1999) and Jeffrey Archer (sentenced to four years for perjury in 2001). Australia’s Alan Bond, an Australian hero for bankrolling the America’s Cup yachting win in 1983 and a visitor to the club afterwards, served four years in prison for deception. For the most part, the 1980s saw a parade of Hong Kong bureaucrats signing in – commissioners of tax and excise and the odd cabinet secretary. But leavening their presence was a horde of sportsmen (and they were mostly men). Australian rugby coach Alan Jones visited in 1984 and cricketer Tony Greig in 1988, while stars of the green baize that visited
the FCC several times included former world snooker number ones Steve Davis and Cliff Thorburn. The early years at Lower Albert Road saw a few, mostly British, celebrities entering the double doors, such as singer Elaine Paige, the original star of Evita. The West End musical’s co-creator, Tim Rice, visited in 1990, while he was head of the Lord’s Taverners charity. Other UK glitterati included actor and writer Michael Palin (now a regular FCC speaker), clarinettist Acker Bilk, actress Prunella Scales (Fawlty Towers) and cross-dressing entertainer Danny La Rue. The United States was barely represented with Jeff Smith (The Frugal Gourmet) making an appearance in 1988. As well as light entertainment, there were political heavyweights. Former British prime minister Edward Heath visited in 1983, and former foreign
Kevin ‘KAL’ Kallaugher
Alexander M. Graham
Mahathir Mohamad Jung Chang
Andy Chan Lord Carrington
Martin Lee Oscar Florendo Alberto Fujimori
secretary Lord Carrington in 1988. Few serving heads of government have had the time to visit the FCC during their term of office, except for Hong Kong governors and chief executives like Youde, Chris Patten (several times), Donald Tsang and CY Leung. Murray MacLehose, governor from 1971 to 1982, signed the guest book in April 1992, well after leaving office. Senior Hong Kong officials have made regular visits to the club over the years, including then chief secretary Philip Haddon-Cave in 1985, chief justice Sir Ti-liang Yang in 1988, executive councillor Lydia (now Baroness) Dunn in 1989, and then chief secretary Anson Chan in 1994. Tsang spoke as chief secretary in 2001. Among international leaders, the club managed to snare Alberto Fujimori while he was president of Peru in 1991, Suleyman Demirel as president of Turkey in 1995 and Mahathir Mohamad
T. L. Yang
as Malaysia’s prime minister in 1992, when he was a youthful 67 years old. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo visited as president of the Philippines in 2001. East Timor leaders Jose Ramos Horta (1997) and Xanana Gusmão (2001) both visited before their country’s independence in 2002. Of course, the club has a history of holding the powerful to account, and a tradition of free speech. Many visitors have been welcomed to the club despite being unpopular with their home governments. Chinese dissident Liu Binyan, who spent more than two decades in Chinese labour camps, visited in 1989. Lau San-ching, the Trotskyist agitator who was both anti-Beijing and anti-British, was a guest in 1992, seemingly without incident. Several other thorns in the side of government followed in the next generation, including Benny Tai in 2014, who added “Occupy Central with love and peace” to his moniker,
Joshua Wong of Demosistō in 2017 and the Hong Kong National Party’s Andy Chan in 2018. International activists and opposition figures to have graced the premises include South Korea’s Kim Dae-jung in 1994 (who would become president four years later), Sam Rainsy of Cambodia in 1996, writer Fatima Bhutto of Pakistan in 2007 and Malaysia’s Lim Guan Eng in 2012, who is now finance minister after the shock election this year. Anwar Ibrahim, Mahathir’s protégé who became his archrival, and is now prime minister in waiting, signed the book in 1994. For an international finance centre, there are surprisingly few business names in the guest book: Richard Branson dropped by in 1994, Body Shop’s Anita Roddick in 2000 and Steve Forbes in 2002. The FCC has long been a supporter of literature and the arts, and the roll of literary talent entering the club has included Han Suyin, Khushwant Singh, Amit Chaudhuri, Elena Poniatowska, Pankaj Mishra and Jung Chang. Photographer Lord Lichfield visited in 1989 and jazz great George Melly left his name in 1997. Some left more than their names. Barrister Henry Litton attached a surprisingly artistic self-portrait. Prodemocracy veteran Martin Lee, on a return visit in May 1998, appended the note “I said I would come back.” Underneath, journalist Christopher Lingle added that Lee was “a hard act to follow”. Kevin Kallaugher, the cartoonist KAL in The Economist, added a caricature of President George W. Bush. While the final signature in the book is that of US Consul-General Kurt Ting, the last word should perhaps go to former second vice-president the late Kevin Egan, who after signing off after an event in 2014, added: “What a splendid club – how does one join?”
The art of treading a fine line Police shut down an event at the FCC Thailand for the sixth time recently. Michael Mackey was there and reports on the Club’s trials and triumphs.
Chaturon Chaisang speaks at the FCCT in 2014 after being ousted from office... and is arrested during his talk and led away.
n Monday, September 10, members of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand turned up at their club in the early evening for a scheduled discussion about a United Nations backed report on alleged war crimes in neighbouring Myanmar. They were met by uniformed and plain-clothes police officers under orders from Thai officials to shut down the event. Inside some people were eating in the dining area as if nothing was happening, and some were at the bar. There were also plain-clothed police and lots of local journalists milling around. Clustered in a corner were, among others, Club president Dominic Faulder in talks with senior officers. Eventually, FCCT First Vice-President Tassanee Vejpongsa, who works for the Associated Press, read out the cancellation order, which arrived just 20 minutes before the programme was due to start. With over 20 Bangkok police in the room, there was no alternative but to comply. Faulder then added a statement. It was polite but firm, sticking to the facts: this was the sixth event the Thai authorities had stepped in to stop. Four of these were not organized by the Club itself but outside groups; two were on Human Rights, and two were on Vietnam. Events on Cambodia, Malaysia, and the Philippines have all gone ahead and criticisms made, but Vietnam lobbies the Thai authorities to prevent certain topics being discussed. “There was not a complaint from the Burmese embassy as far as we are aware,” Faulder said in his brief statement. The incident was reported by hundreds of news organisations around the world, including in the U.S. by both Fox News and The New York Times. The police, some of whom were Special Branch, apparently didn’t know who was responsible – just that the order came from somewhere higher up. The same day, the FCC Hong Kong issued a statement of support for the Bangkok club, including: “In a letter ordering the FCCT to cancel the event, the Thai police stated that the discussion might be used by ‘third parties’
to cause unrest and endanger national security. There are no grounds whatever for such suspicions. The club has regularly held orderly and informative panel discussions on current affairs for over 62 years, and these have never led to any unrest or subversion.” Despite incidents such as this, the FCCT remains a place of open debate – while facing the same problems as many other media clubs. Given the strictures put in place when Thailand’s military took power back in May 2014, which come on top of some already onerous laws about how some topics can be reported, the FCCT has continued to put on good and varied programmes that are frequently topical and challenging. “This is quite a prickly government – particularly at the beginning,” Faulder, the FCCT’s president for the past two years, said in an interview four days before the events of September 10. Things did not get off to a good start four years ago with the military arriving en masse to arrest Chaturon Chaisang, then the just-ousted education minister, technically a fugitive, as he spoke at the FCCT’s central Bangkok premises. However, there was – as Faulder noted – “genuine media interest,” in what Chaisang would say. Although the club has good relations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and problems a few years ago with media visas have largely been resolved, relations with the cabinet have been “close to non-existent”, as Faulder put it. There has been no attempt to close the Club, but the cold
PHOTOS: KIRBY CARDER, NICK NOSTITZ AND JONATHAN HEAD
Dominic Faulder (right) with Club Manager Richard Holt on his left and retired diplomat Kobsak Chutikul negotiate with police.
was interested in having an opportunity to hear what these people have to say,” said Faulder, who works for Nikkei Asian Review. He also organized some crackers: a lengthy and illuminating discussion of the events of October 1976, a crunch time in Thailand’s turbulent history, was one. A fascinating programme on the Chinese in Thailand squeezed in seven speakers, and could have gone on all night. Indeed, the FCCT has not lacked for stimulation during what could have been a very fallow period. So there has been a steady stream of panels and regular documentary nights that deserve honourable mention that have kept debate alive, and on occasion added to it. Some, however, have hit the wall. One of these was about a historic bronze plaque that went missing from Royal Plaza in the old part of town. This small piece of metal, marking the spot where the end of absolute monarchy was announced after a coup in 1932, disappeared under circumstances best described as unusual and still needing proper explanation. Although the programme was ordered off by the police on instructions from much higher up, there was enough warning for an event on press freedom to be substituted.
Michael Mackey is an Absent Member of the FCC Hong Kong
Members and guests at FCCT watch as the planned talk on Myanmar is cancelled 20 minutes before it was due to begin on September 10.
shoulder it gets from the top is obvious. Only two ministers have come to speak in four years – a drought compared to previous years. There has been no prime minister’s dinner, a fixture in most Thai premierships over the past 40 or so years. Former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra came twice, and former PM and Leader of the Democrat Party Abhisit Vejjajiva three times. Of Thai Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Faulder said: “He hasn’t shown the slightest interest in talking to us.” Plenty of other speakers have, though, allowing the FCCT to put on events allowing some serious issues to be discussed. These are usually panel discussions with as many as five members, but usually three or four, allowing different views to be heard and politely probed. They are also firmly moderated, with Faulder, a burly, imposing figure, leading a style of chairing best described as no-nonsense but essentially fair. This also extends to writing the flyers for events. “One of the things I lectured everyone on was not writing inflammatory blurbs. We want balance,” said Faulder. The FCCT, he stressed, is not an activist organization, and does not belong to either the Red or Yellow side of the Thai political spectrum. Neutrality has enabled it to carry on doing events about Thailand and the region. One good example of panel topics is Thailand’s road safety – it’s appalling. One on “Thai-ness” was lighter in tone but swung a light across the issue of Thai identity, what it means and what it implies. Panels have also trodden on serious ground. One of the more recent of these was up-and-coming politicians discussing how they saw future developments. This packed them in; around 260 people attended well ahead of the ban on politics being lifted. “There was no effort to stop that topic. I think everybody
FLAK JACKETS, VISAS AND THE AGE ISSUE Like all press and media clubs, the FCCT has many pressures to contend with. Whilst correspondent numbers at the Club have remained fairly constant at around 85, there has been a major loss in the journalist category, from about 130 to about 70. Freelancers are also noticeably diminished from a decade ago. A reclassification by the Thai authorities of many photographers and videographers hasn’t helped membership. They were no longer accepted for accreditation as journalists, and told to get business visas. Discussions with the FCCT’s professional committee helped sort out some of the problems, and the foreign ministry’s online accreditation system is greatly improved. Problems with regard to the legal importation of flak jackets, however, continue. Within the membership, there has been a slight shift from Western journalists and a rise in Asian journalists. Nikkei and other Japanese news organizations have a growing presence, as increasingly do the Chinese media. Among traditional media, there is also a rebalancing away from youth towards more mature individuals. “We have a problem with an ageing membership demographic,” acknowledged president Dominic Faulder. He is keen to make the club more attractive to younger members. Two years ago it was starting to look a bit tired and weary. Some changes were made – new air-conditioning, new tables, new floor coverings, a spruced-up outdoor terrace, and a revamp of F&B including Thai craft beers, excellent Thai fare, and an all-day cooked breakfast. “It’s a much more pleasant place to visit now,” said Faulder. “Everybody notices. The thing we have to do now is encourage people to make the effort – and not use traffic or heavy rain as excuses to stay at home.”
Two FCC members honoured for their decades of service
PHOTO: CONSULATE GENERAL OF FRANCE
SK Witcher and Florence de Changy receive prestigious honours. Morgan M. Davis tells their stories.
SK Witcher at the 2017 SOPA Awards
K Witcher, a long-time FCC member and veteran journalist, is being awarded the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism on October 16. The honour has been given annually since 1930 by the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism. “I am thrilled to share this honour with legendary journalists like Christiane Amanpour, and past greats including broadcaster Walter Cronkite and even Sir Winston Churchill,” said Witcher. “I am gratified that Asia is firmly on the university’s radar and the faculty recognises the importance of encouraging journalistic excellence in the region.” Witcher, who has been an FCC member since she first arrived in Hong Kong in 1977, has led a prestigious career as a reporter and editor around the world, for The Wall Street Journal, South China Morning Post, and The New York Times, in addition to being a tutor for graduate journalism students at Hong Kong Baptist University. Now Witcher is taking a break from the grind of daily news to set up her own pan-Asian freelance consultancy for editing and journalism training. She also remains active with the Hong Kong-based Society of Publishers in Asia as the immediate past chair of the editorial committee, and will continue to serve as a judge for the group’s annual awards. Witcher is a graduate of the University of Missouri, and attributes her international journalism career to her Missouri start. She chose to attend the university, which has the oldest journalism school in the U.S., in part because of its option for master’s degree candidates to go abroad. The timing was perfect for Witcher, as around the same time The Wall Street Journal made its first move into international publishing with an Asian edition based in Hong Kong. Witcher seized an opportunity to intern at the paper’s Asian start-up, and ended up working for the newspaper for 33 years. Over her four decades working as a global reporter, Witcher covered a variety of stories including the Latin American debt crisis in the 1980s. Witcher, along with a team of reporters, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the crisis and its threat to banking
Eric Berti, Florence de Changy, her husband Philippe Grelon, and their youngest son Côme Grelon after the ceremony
systems around the world. Reporting on a gold rush in the highlands of Papua New Guinea and hitchhiking her way there was a particularly memorable experience for Witcher. “The gold-laced terrain was full of sinkholes that locals could best sense, so I ended up being carried like a notebook-toting Cleopatra across the fields perched on the forearm of a muscular guide, conducting interviews along the way,” she recalled. “There had just been an incident that sparked a tribal war so all the prospectors were armed to the teeth with machetes and bows and arrows and hot tempers. But I got my story.” FCC President Florence de Changy was awarded the honour of Knight of l’Ordre National du Mérite in July by the then consul general of France Eric Berti in recognition of her contributions to the French community and for her work as a journalist. The award is one of the highest French honours, given since 1963 to recognise exceptional contributions in any field. De Changy, who has lived in Hong Kong since 2007 and been an FCC member for nearly as long, has worked as a correspondent at Le Monde for nearly 30 years, in addition to her work for Radio France, RFI, TV5 and France 24, spanning cities in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Taiwan. She has also been an active part of the French community in Hong Kong, working as chair of the executive committee of the French International School. Over the years, de Changy has reported on stories globally, from the first ever political meeting in Antarctica at the ministerial level, and writing about the ghosts there, to covering the 1998 tsunami in a remote part of Papua New Guinea. She witnessed the end of Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest, and got the first-hand tale of 1989’s Yellowbird Operation – which helped Chinese dissidents from Tiananmen Square escape arrest – 25 years later from the former French deputy consul in Hong Kong. “What other jobs in the world give you access to almost anyone, anywhere, and make you learn new things every day?” asked de Changy. She added; “I hope I have not written my best story yet.”
Feeding a hunger for words
here may be some authors wandering around the FCC in a few weeks’ time, taking a break from appearing at this year’s Hong Kong International Literary Festival which has a new permanent home just a stone’s throw from the Club. The 18th festival will run from 2 to 11 November at the recently opened Tai Kwun Centre, the old police and prison compound on Hollywood Road, Central. One of the oldest and largest literary festivals in the Asia-Pacific region, the Festival doubled its programming and audience from 2015 to 2017 and is likely to reach a projected 10,000 people this year. FCC has two talks with visiting authors scheduled at the Club: British author Geoff Dyer will answer questions about his vast experience as a travel writer at “Not a Reporter: A Lunch with Writer Geoff Dyer” on November 1; and British TV Channel 4’s Jonathan Miller will talk about his new book, Duterte: Fire and Fury in the Philippines at a lunch on November 5. At the time of going to press, the Club had also slotted the evening of November 8 for a “meet the authors” event, and was considering again issuing 20 temporary membership cards to authors who want to use the FCC facilities during their stay in Hong Kong, as it did last year. The broad themes of the 2018 Festival are feminism, inspired by the #MeToo movement, LGBTQ+, and travel writing. Memoirist and novelist Cheryl Strayed is headlining this year’s Festival Gala Dinner at the China Club, where she will speak about female voices in literature. Psychotherapist Susie Orbach will speak about her seminal book Fat is a Feminist Issue – which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year – over lunch at Tai Kwun’s Old Bailey restaurant. In “LGBTQ+ and Inclusivity in the Arts”, Australian poet Jesse Oliver and Canadian artist Ivan Coyote will discuss the state of LGBTQ+ representation in today’s international literary scene. Other highlights include Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh discussing Dead Men’s Trousers, his latest addition to the Trainspotting universe, and exiled author Ma Jian speaking about his latest novel, China Dream, a satirical portrait of Xi Jinping’s China. Writers Dung Kai Cheung, Ng Mei Kwan, Tammy Ho Lai Ming and Mithu Storoni, among others, will represent Hong Kong’s literary scene. The city has hundreds of book clubs and many literary
The FCC’s Kate Whitehead mediates a panel of crime writers at last year’s festival
and spoken word groups and the Festival will be partnering with Hong Kong Stories, Women in Publishing and the Peel Street Poets this year. There will also be a series of small workshops to help people who are starting out on writing careers or who want to see where their talents lie. These will include “Start Your Own Podcast Workshop” with Jarrod Watt and Mercedes Hutton of the South China Morning Post, and “Why Editors Don’t Reply: Pitching Workshop” with former CNN Travel editor James Durston. Festival director Philippa Milne said: “Over the last year the festival has undergone some important changes – an expanded board of directors, new branding and a new home. We are delighted to be holding all of our events, excluding the annual gala dinner, under one roof. “Now on my fourth year at the festival’s helm, I’m encouraged by Hong Kong’s hunger for the written word. In these somewhat complicated times literature is more necessary than ever. Not only does it provide a gateway to cultural exchange, but it allows us to absorb the importance of empathy required to build better societies.” Sue Brattle The full schedule is available online at festival.org.hk. For other enquiries, please call the Festival office on (852) 2877 9770 or e-mail them at info@ festival.org.hk.
Jonathan Miller will discuss his new book about President Duterte at the Club
Geoff Dyer is scheduled to talk at the Club during the Festival
DUTY OF CARE
HEADING INTO HARM’S WAY PHOTO: AFP
News organizations are getting better at preparing journalists, photographers and support staff for working in dangerous situations and gone are the days when advice stopped at “Keep clear of windows”. Eric Wishart reports. Life in Kabul is punctuated by bombings, meaning journalists need to be trained for working in hostile environments.
hen ISIS murdered American journalist James Foley in 2014 his death not only triggered revulsion in newsrooms, it also provoked serious soul-searching. The horrific video of his killing showed how the risks faced by journalists had changed and raised the key question: What exactly is the duty of care that a news organization owes to its reporters, including freelance contributors? James Foley was filing for my news agency Agence France-Presse and the online U.S. outlet GlobalPost when he was kidnapped in Syria in November 2012. AFP stopped sending its foreign staff to cover rebel-held areas of Syria the following August, and in the wake of Foley’s death made an important decision – it would no longer accept content from foreign stringers working in areas judged too dangerous for its own staff. It is a rule that is now enshrined in the new AFP ethics code that I drew up in 2016, and we make no exceptions – even if we are offered a world exclusive from a freelance reporter in the field. Not all freelances agreed with the decision, saying that it was not up to AFP to decide where and how they should work. But as a former AFP editor-in-chief who has sent dozens of reporters into dangerous
Eric Wishart was editor-in-chief of Agence FrancePresse from 1999 to 2005 and is now a member of the Agency’s global news management responsible for special projects. He is a former FCC president, teaches journalism parttime at Hong Kong University and Hong Kong Baptist University and is a judge for the Hong Kong News Awards.
situations and seen too many colleagues killed or injured, I believe it was the right decision. If a major news organization like AFP – with all its experience of conflict reporting and all its resources – decides that an area is too dangerous to cover, then you should not be there, and we will not encourage you to take that risk. Freelance journalists, often working on shoestring budgets, are particularly vulnerable in war zones where they often do not have the same safety backup enjoyed by staff employed by the big news outlets. Following the murders of James Foley and Steve Sotloff in Syria, a coalition of news outlets and journalism organisations signed up to a code of safety standards for freelancers under the umbrella of the DART Center for Journalism and Trauma. The Foreign Correspondents’ Club Hong Kong, which has long been a defender of freedom of the press, is one of the signatories. One of the guiding principles is that when it comes to safety, all categories of staff – foreign, local or freelance – should receive the same protection. And above all, there is one basic principle we all must remember – no story is worth dying for. So, what are the responsibilities of news organizations towards staff in hostile environments?
“Freelance journalists, often working on shoestring budgets, are particularly vulnerable in war zones where they often do not have the same safety backup enjoyed by staff employed by the big news outlets.”
PHOTO: NICOLE TUNG / AFP
Dr Courtney C. Radsch, advocacy director for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said that these responsibilities include “ensuring they are properly trained and resourced, have done a risk assessment and planned accordingly, and take precautions to ensure the physical and digital security of their journalists”. In an email reply to questions from The Correspondent, she said that the risks to journalists have evolved. “Given the centrality of the internet and mobile devices to contemporary journalism, journalists need to consider how to protect themselves and their sources on and offline,” she said. “Online harassment has become increasingly common, and many women and minority journalists in particular say that this is now a routine part of their jobs. There is also increasing awareness about trauma and needing to address this as part of a holistic approach to journalist safety.” She added that the vast majority of journalists killed and imprisoned around the world are local journalists. There are of course more local than international journalists, which means inevitably that the statistics will be higher. But autocratic governments and other bad actors also think they can act with impunity when it comes to local journalists, while attacking international staff can provoke a diplomatic backlash that they would rather avoid. The recent jailing of the Burmese Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo for seven years is a case in point, although they have received widespread international support. AFP has seen its local journalists in Afghanistan targeted in the past four years, with reporter Sardar Ahmad
James Foley in Aleppo
and his wife and two of his children killed by the Taliban in April 2014, chief photographer Shah Marai killed along with eight other journalists in a twin bomb attack in Kabul in April 2018, and office driver Mohammad Akhtar killed in a suicide bombing at the entrance to Kabul’s international airport, along with more than 20 other people, on his way to work. AFP’s Asia-Pacific director Philippe Massonnet says that all journalists sent to conflict zones undergo training designed for the kinds of risks they will face. “Local journalists and our regular stringers undergo this training, with photographers and video journalists given priority because they are the most exposed,” he said. “It is also important to underline that hostile environment training should not just be for journalists – in some circumstances drivers and office managers should also be trained.” Protective gear is deployed in all the agency’s bureaux depending on their profiles. All regular stringers are provided with protective gear and covered by insurance. “The main challenge is not so much in providing the equipment but in ensuring that reporters wear their protective vests and helmets – some refuse to wear them or forget to take them with them when they go out on jobs. “Bureau chiefs and news editors have the responsibility of applying the rules and protocols, but unfortunately some journalists are still too imprudent.” For more information: www.dartcenter.org
Killings, imprisonments and physical assaults to mid-September 2018 Deaths of journalists in the field have already surpassed 2017’s “record” figure of 48
60 SOURCE: REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS (RSF)
Journalists Killed Afghanistan, 11; Brazil, 3; Colombia, 2; Ecuador, 2; United States, 6; India,4; Indonesia, 1; Mexico, 9; Nicaragua, 1; Pakistan, 2; Palestine, 3; Philippines, 3; Central African Republic, 3; Slovakia, 1; Somalia, 1; Syria, 2; Yemen, 6
Support staff, including translators and drivers also killed Afghanistan, 1; Ecuador, 1; Syria, 1 Citizen journalists also killed Bangladesh, 1; Mexico, 1; Syria, 6; Yemen, 2
Africa, 30 South America, 2 Bangladesh 1; China, 2; India, 3; Indonesia, 1; Maldives, 2; Pakistan, 3; Vietnam, 11 Europe and Central Asia, 3 Middle East, 17
Africa, 61 Central and South America, 96 United States, 6 Afghanistan, 7; Australia, 1; Bangladesh, 49; India, 40; Indonesia, 3; Japan, 1; Maldives, 25; Nepal, 5; Pakistan, 5; Papua New Guinea, 1; Philippines, 1 Europe and Central Asia, 32 Middle East, 6
Journalists Physically Assaulted
PHOTO: NICOLE TUNG
DUTY OF CARE
Rebel fighters attempt to identify the dead near the frontline between Ajdabiya and Marsa Brega, Libya, on April 1, 2011.
TRYING TO STAY SAFE IN DANGEROUS PLACES However much support journalists are given in conflict zones, they are still the ones who come face-to-face with danger on a daily basis. A freelancer and a bureau chief tell The Correspondent how they live with risk.
I Nicole Tung is a freelance photojournalist born and raised in Hong Kong. She graduated from New York University in 2009 and freelances for international publications and NGOs, primarily covering the Middle East. Her work often explores those most affected by conflict and war. She is based in Istanbul, Turkey.
f anybody has had first-hand experience of the risks involved in working in danger zones it is Hong Kong-born Nicole Tung, the recipient of this year’s James Foley Award for Conflict Reporting. Her first experience of conflict reporting was during the 2011 Libyan revolution that overthrew President Muammar Gaddafi. “I just ran in with a camera and a pen, and I think that is what a lot of freelancers did,” she told The Correspondent. She was in the Libyan town of Misrata when photographers Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros were killed in a mortar strike and “it was from that that people realised we really needed to be better at training journalists with first aid”. The result was the creation of Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues, a nonprofit that offers free medical training to freelance journalists. After Libya, Tung focused on the civil war in Syria, where she went on around a dozen reporting missions with James Foley in 2012. She missed his last, fateful trip into
Syria in November of that year because she stayed back to get her cameras repaired. Foley went into Syria with British photographer James Cantlie and they were kidnapped on the road back to the Turkish border after filing from an internet café. Foley was murdered by ISIS two years later, and Cantlie’s fate is still not known. Like so many things, safety comes down to money, and for Tung, their kidnapping could partly be blamed on a lack of resources. “If they had had the appropriate financial means they would have had a trusted driver, you don’t know who the taxi driver is or if you can trust them.” As a freelance, she said, “we are so at the mercy of these publications who don’t pay or pay late”. She lists three essentials for freelancers in danger zones: 1. Insurance for accidental death or injury; 2. Advance payments for expenses – freelancers often get paid late and are out of pocket;
PHOTO: NICOLE TUNG
‘IF THE THREAT LEVEL IS HIGH, STAFF ARE TOLD TO STAY AT HOME’ Allison Jackson is Afghanistan bureau chief for AFP. She lost her chief photographer and office driver in bomb blasts this year. Here she describes how her staff cope with the dangers of living in Kabul A Rohingya woman collects her belongings before being moved by the Bangladeshi military on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 near the Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh.
After our chief photographer Shah Marai and eight other journalists were killed in a twin bomb attack in Kabul on April 30 that appeared to deliberately target the media, AFP took the decision to stop sending photo and video journalists to the scenes of suicide bombings. For other types of security incidents, we make an assessment on a case-by-case basis. While coordinated double-bomb attacks have not been a feature of the Afghan conflict, they do happen. We saw it again on September 5 when a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a wrestling club in Kabul. After journalists and first responders rushed to the scene, a car bomb exploded. A total of 26 people were killed in the twin blasts, including two Afghan journalists. Kabul is a dangerous city and the constant challenge for us is to minimise the risks we face on a daily basis. We do that by taking precautions, such as not going out at certain times of the day; avoiding locations that are considered high risk; ensuring colleagues know exactly where we are going, who we are planning to see and what time we expect to be back at the office; not creating patterns in our movements; and staying in contact with colleagues on the office WhatsApp group. If we believe the threat level in the city is particularly high, staff are told to stay home. The deaths of Marai and Mohammad Akhtar, our office driver, have been devastating for the bureau. Fortunately, the team has managed to pull together and support one another. It is a sad fact that my Afghan colleagues have experienced painful loss many times in their lives and they have developed a resilience that enables them to carry on. Mental health professionals are scarce in Afghanistan and most people have never consulted one. While AFP has given everyone in the bureau the opportunity to talk to a psychologist, people here are more familiar with faith, family and friends to help them cope with loss.
News organisations that use a particular freelance on a regular basis should provide gear and training, she said. “Having a trusted and knowledgeable fixer/translator is one of the most key aspects of working safely,” Tung said. “Secondary to that is having a good system of communication with people keeping an eye out for your whereabouts and ensuring you do check-ins regularly, and on time. I’ve also made sure that I have the essentials in order, including a flak jacket and helmet if needed, and first aid kit which I take on all assignments whether I expect violence or not. “As a freelancer, the support system I have is certainly not comparable to those who work on staff with big organisations behind them, including security consultants and larger budgets. I create my own system of reporting back when I’m in the field, usually to fellow journalists who are going to be in one place with reliable communications for the duration of my trip and who I give all necessary contacts to. “They also are connected with the editors for whom I’m working on the story in any given country. Most outlets do take work from freelancers, although some have decided to not take work at all from areas of high risk as they do not want to be held accountable in the event something goes wrong. “I’ve had many different experiences that have all changed the way I work, not necessarily near misses (though yes, I have had too many of those, too). I’d say the increased targeting of journalists around the world makes this profession much more difficult, and I have either had to stop working in one place or go about it in a different way – Syria was one example of that.” For details on free medical training for freelance journalists, go to https://risctraining.org/
Allison Jackson joined AFP in 2009 as economics correspondent in China. An Australian who speaks Mandarin, she spent nearly three years in Beijing then left the Agency in 2012 to spend time in Mexico. She rejoined AFP in 2016 as an editor in Hong Kong and became Kabul bureau chief in July 2017.
PHOTO: WAKIL KOHSAR
3. A security consultant who can check in with you at least once a day.
Allison Jackson at her office in Kabul Turn page to see photographer Shah Marai’s work ➙
ON THE WALL
AFGHAN LIVES: THE WORK OF SHAH MARAI Images by Shah Marai
WAKIL KOHSAR / AFP
FP’s chief photographer in Kabul, Shah Marai, was killed along with eight other journalists in a bomb attack on April 30, 2018. Marai had rushed to an explosion near Afghanistan’s intelligence agency in Kabul. He was chatting with his AFP colleagues on the phone and via the office WhatsApp group, sharing what he could see, moments before the second blast that killed him and eight other journalists. Marai, a 22-year veteran of the agency, began taking photographs during the Taliban’s 1996-2001 regime, documenting life under their oppressive rule – often at great risk to himself – and the moment they were finally ousted by the U.S.-led invasion. Taking photos was not only a means to support his growing family – he had two wives and six children, including a newborn daughter – but also to show the world the suffering and splendour that exist side-byside in Afghanistan. Like the families of the other journalists killed that day, they are mourning the loss not only of a loved one but also their breadwinner. Without them, most of these families have little support. AFP and the Club have donated the proceeds from sales of this exhibition to the families of the nine journalists killed that day. Some 18x24 inch photographic prints are still available, priced at HK$2,400, unframed. For orders please contact email@example.com
ON THE WALL
CURTAIN CALL: THE CENTRAL POLICE STATION COMPOUND Images by Leong Ka Tai
he Central Police Station, the Central Magistrates Court, and the Victoria Prison, built in the 19th Century, formed a complete system for law enforcement. The facilities were gradually replaced as the population grew and the buildings in the compound were declared heritage monuments in 1995. After the buildings were decommissioned in 2006, Leong Ka Tai photographed the compound. For his book of the same title as the exhibition, he also interviewed the policemen, correctional officers, and an inmate who spent their years there, thus compiling a record of the collective memory of the compound. The book reflects the feeling of working, living, and being incarcerated there. Leong Ka Tai has been a professional photographer for over 30 years. He has published 11 books of his personal work, and 10 more in collaboration with other photographers. He is a founding member and the chairman of the Hong Kong Institute of Professional Photographers (1992-4), and a founding member and chairman of the Hong Kong Photographic Culture Association. Visit his website at www.camera22.com
ON THE WALL
DEREK MAITLAND’S VIETNAM Images by Derek Maitland
was born in England in 1943—my family emigrated to Australia in 1956 and, at age 18, I entered journalism straight from high school at ATN Channel 7 News in Sydney. Five years later I shipped out to Hong Kong, embarking upon an incredible 50-year global odyssey. I remember the excitement that filled me when I first set eyes on the bustling Kowloon waterfront. “I’m 23 and I can now say with absolute joy that my life has just now truly begun,” I wrote at the time. But the British Crown Colony soon became my jumping off point for where and what I really wanted to be at that time—a war correspondent in Vietnam. I spent nearly two years there as a one-man bureau for the U.S. news feature service, Copley. My role as a journalist became increasingly investigative and in all respects more hazardous as the U.S. military manpower build-up burgeoned through the half-million mark in 1967 and it became more and more apparent how far the Pentagon was willing to go to crush
communism in Asia. Two major military operations that I covered reflected how deeply I was willing to go at that time: on one I tried to track a unit of French, Australian and U.S. mercenaries which was deploying military gas along the Cambodian border north of Tay Ninh. I was detained and held incommunicado by the U.S. Special Forces command, flown to a “Fighting A-Camp” at Prek Lok and put through a week of interrogation and weapon proficiency tests to see if I was an enemy agent. In the second incident, British photographer Nik Wheeler and I found ourselves on the scene of one of the war’s most violent attacks on U.S. military personnel—a nine-hour ambush and fierce overnight battle near Dak To in the Central Highlands in which a hardened regiment of North Vietnamese troops wiped out nearly 80 troops of the 173rd Airborne Battalion, then attacked again as a rescue unit that we accompanied deep into the jungle was working to retrieve the bodies.
In that incident I picked up a discarded M–16 carbine, somehow unlocked it and took my place lying among a perimeter of men facing off the attackers. I then suffered the worst fear I’ve ever in my life experienced— paralysed by gripping terror and PTSD that took me all of 15 years to fully recover from. Two more combat incidents that I covered, one in the massive Tet Offensive of April 1968, convinced me my luck might be running out. I flew to London where I worked with BBCTV News, and wrote The Only War We’ve Got, my first novel and one of the earliest books that portrayed the insanity of the American military mission in Southeast Asia. My war was over until a few years ago when I rediscovered these photos. They speak to my feelings about my time “in country”. I hope they speak to your understanding of the “American War”. – Derek Maitland, September 2018, Canowindra, New South Wales, Australia.
DIDIER GOES BACK
TO HIS ROOTS Swiss-born Didier Saugy is the FCC’s first new General Manager for 18 years. Sue Brattle went to see how he’s settling in.
f a club such as the FCC can be run with military precision, then the new General Manager Didier Saugy is the right man for the job. Didier, who took over from Gilbert Cheng in August, is a Sergeant Major in the Swiss Army when he’s not working in the hospitality industry that he loves. He comes to the Club from the Regal Airport Hotel, at Hong Kong International Airport. There he was director of food and beverage responsible for 170 staff, ballroom banquets for 1,000 diners, six restaurants, two bars and almost 1,200 rooms. So when asked how he feels about his new job so far it’s hardly surprising that he says: “Every time I come to work it is like fresh air to me.” Didier and Gilbert worked together for a month in the transition period before Gilbert’s retirement, and Didier says: “He was very open during the changeover, we always had friendly conversation as if we’d known each other for 10 years. Even now, I just pick up the phone and call him if there’s something I need to ask. He has left the club in good shape, and was a very handson manager.” So far, what challenges has he faced as the new GM? He says: “My challenges are stuff like where to put the speakers in the upstairs dining room! This is an old building and it cannot support some of the equipment we need to install. “ He is also passionate about turning the FCC green. “I want us to make the effort, we are not green at the moment,” he says. “We are consulting organizations for advice, trying to get away from paper. We are talking about designing an app for the committees to use, and then members who are travelling can join in meetings wherever they are. I’d also like a digital wall as you walk into the main bar, but that costs money.” Didier has never worked at a private club before, but he did own and run an auberge in Switzerland for four years near the beginning of his career. “It felt like a club, I built up a group of 300 or more regular
The kitchen team in Jinan Glamming it up at a staff party in Hong Kong
Dragon boating in Hong Kong
Meeting and greeting at the Sofitel Jinan
customers and we were like a big family.” He then spent a very happy six years as a chef in New Zealand, where he took citizenship and cooked for the Rolling Stones when they stayed at The Regent Hotel in Auckland, and for Joan Collins, Buzz Aldrin and The Eagles (“very nice humble men”) at the Centra Hotel in the city. He cooked for the Red Hot Chili Peppers too, even though they flew in their own chef from California. “He cooked one dish then disappeared,” Didier said. The more bizarre period of his career took place when he was Operations Manager for Zoos Victoria, responsible for feeding humans visiting their three establishments in the Australian state. This meant anything from catering a barbecue for 5,000 on the lawns of Melbourne Zoo, organizing a wedding in the seal enclosure, or serving VIP cocktails at the monkey house. Before his zoo adventure, Didier opened the Novotel Glen Waverley in Melbourne as executive chef, and after nine years in Oz left with Australian citizenship. Getting closer to Hong Kong, he worked at the Sofitel Silver Plaza in Jinan, then the Crowne Plaza Ma’anshan before coming here to work for the Novotel Century. Didier and his wife, Summer Wu, have one son, Quentin, who has spent his entire three-and-a-half years living two minutes from the airport while his Dad worked at the Regal. On the day we meet for this interview it is Quentin’s first day at school. “My son was born in Hong Kong and I have lived here for nine years,” Didier says. “We have an apartment in Qingdao, which is a very nice city, and I go home to Switzerland
Didier talks to a class of MBA students in Jinan
Meeting officials at Sofitel Jinan
once a year. But I love living here.” Didier’s 100-day report was due to be presented to the board of governors as this magazine went to press. “It is a summary of what I have seen, who I have met, and what I would like to do,” he says. So what are his first impressions of the FCC? “I find it very enjoyable to work here. In large hotels you become focused on marketing, but coming to this club is like going back to my roots, back to hospitality. I can’t remember the members’ names yet, but I do remember faces. The names will come later.”
A staff training session at Novotel Century
Didier on teamwork and accountability Since arriving at FCC, Didier has appointed Johnny Ma as the new executive chef and is now looking for an assistant banqueting manager to work alongside operations manager Anthony Ong and beverage manager Michael Chan. Of the new executive chef, he says: “He is used to big volume and fine dining. He knows the suppliers in Hong Kong, is flexible, and will bring new ideas to the Club.” There will also be a marketing and communications person joining the Club. Didier says: “The team here is very good and they work well together. I like to empower people at work so they are accountable and have a good understanding of how they all fit together. I like to tell people that experience is the name we give to our mistakes. “We have 100 staff now,” Didier says. “Twenty-seven are in the kitchen, 45 in service, and the rest are housekeeping and admin.” The housekeeping staff are the most difficult to recruit. “We need to be flexible with them,” Didier says. “If they are looking after grandchildren, then we need to make their hours work for them and us. We need them very early in the morning, so if they want to start at 5am, they should be able to; waiters and chefs are different, they need to be on duty when the members are here.”
JOHNNY LANDS HIS DREAM JOB The FCC’s new executive chef arrives bursting with fresh ideas. By Morgan M. Davis
or executive chef Johnny Ma, working at the FCC is a dream come true. “It’s my cup of tea!” laughed Ma at the main bar one recent Saturday morning. For Ma, who seems to have a permanent smile on his face and a ready laugh, the FCC has it all, from a Western kitchen where he can make classic European dishes, to the colonial design of the building itself. As an added benefit, the FCC kitchen work schedule allows Ma his Sundays off, finally giving him time to attend church, as he was so rarely able to do in past jobs. Hong Kong born and bred, Ma began his FCC career this summer, following the retirement of executive chef George Cheng. He has spent his 40-year career around the city, beginning in a Chinese restaurant as a teenager, and later working for some of Hong Kong’s top hotels. “Since I was a child, I liked cooking,” said Ma. At age 12, Ma began preparing meals for his family at home, readily encouraged by his mother to take over in the kitchen. Just about two years later, with only a primary school education, he was in a restaurant, learning under a strict chef who would deliver a swat for any mistake Ma made. “Because they were tough, I learned a lot,” said Ma, who sees himself as a much gentler cooking coach. It’s hard to imagine the 56-year-old Ma as a tough teacher. With a happy laugh and soft features, the bespectacled Ma is truly someone who sees his career as both an art and a lifestyle. He approaches a dish with purpose, curious about its history, conscious of cooking it to perfection, and with an added eye to its presentation. “I’m always interested to know behind the dish, what is the story,” said Ma, before launching into a tale of dried sausages and their historic use by European soldiers. While he lauds the creativity of “New Age” chefs, Ma is often skeptical of their approach to so-called fusion dishes. Often, he said, the chefs don’t understand the base foods they are combining, or why certain flavours should go together. Ma has developed a speciality in, and a preference for, French cuisine. The chef has even – nearly, he may say – perfected lobster bisque, and his recipe is now the standard at his former employer, the Shangri-La Hotel in Hong Kong. Tricky dishes are more fun for Ma, like seafood, which requires an exact approach to cooking time so as not to ruin it. “Cooking is an art,” he said. “You really have to concentrate on each step as you cook it.”
‘If one day I retire, I will die!’ Ma is excited about the opportunities the FCC presents and looks forward to creating some exciting changes in the club’s menus. For instance, Ma envisions more differences between the dining venues at the FCC, and hopes to create more distinction in the type of dining members can enjoy on each floor. “I want each floor to have its own character,” he said. The formality of the upper floor would serve well for more traditional European, for instance, while the main bar is suited for casual pub grub. Additionally, Ma plans to do four or five food promotions during the year, with themes such as Shanghainese food in February, and, his personal favourite, a French May. A Sichuan guest chef will be visiting the FCC kitchen later this year, teaching the staff some new dishes. The FCC menu has seen limited change in recent years, so Ma is ready to spice things up a bit – while, of course, leaving classics like the Indian menu untouched. FCC members should rest assured that as executive chef, Ma will be dedicated to the kitchen. His career demands 95 percent of his concentration, leaving only 5 percent for his wife, he said with a laugh. But he has the energy to keep going, and doesn’t expect to quit the kitchen life any time soon. Even holidays leave him missing the bustle and heat of the kitchen. “If one day I retire, I will die!”
WHEN IT’S A CHOICE BETWEEN FOOD AND SCHOOL FEES The FCC has adopted K3 as its charity for the next two years, helping refugees and asylum-seekers to get their children into kindergarten – and stay there. Joyce Lau reports
Angeline puts the finishing touches to her art
Joyce Lau is a former New York Times writer and editor, now working at the University of Hong Kong. A long-time FCC member, she has served on the press freedom, communications and charity committees, and previously coordinated the Human Rights Press Awards. She is the mother of two girls, and writes book reviews in her spare time.
arly education is tough in Hong Kong, where there are high expectations for children to start formal learning at age two or three, but where mandatory public schooling only begins in primary at around age six. It is even more difficult for the approximately 13,000 refugees and asylumseekers who live legally in the city, but are barred from paid employment. Poverty, plus language and cultural barriers, keep many children out of kindergarten – depriving the city’s most vulnerable youngsters of essential learning opportunities and social interaction. By the time they start formal schooling, they could be years behind their peers in language and other skills. K3 is the only sponsorship programme for refugee and asylum seeker children in Hong Kong. It started in 2014 by helping twin boys whose mother showed up holding a school acceptance letter, but no way to pay the fees. K3 helped 43 children
One of the children’s finished paintings
in 2017, and currently 47 in 2018. It is an initiative of Branches of Hope (formerly The Vine Community Services Ltd), which has been serving marginalised communities since 2005. Aline Ruzzon, a Brazil native and Branches of Hope’s education administrator, described some of the challenges she faces as she works closely with these families. “A single mom came into the office crying because she thought she’d have to take her kids out of school,” Ruzzon said of a typical encouter. “There was a delay in a government payment to her, and she couldn’t afford tuition.” “The first thing I do is calm the mother down. I sort out their paperwork. I figure out who is missing what. Sometimes they need a referral letter or a call to a government department. Sometimes it’s just good to have someone to talk problems with – someone who’s listening, someone who
Alegre’s grin says it all as he tries his hand with a paintbrush
social skills,” she said. “Without a little funding, they would have no access to education, to Chinese- or English-language skills they need to get into primary.” But once they are in school, “they develop a lot”. “It’s beautiful to see children who then turn around to teach their parents to speak or read Chinese or English,” Ruzzon said. “Some of the girls have won Chinesespeaking competitions. They have become completely integrated, but that would have been impossible without early education.” Education administrator Aline Ruzzon
can calm them down. It’s holistic support for the whole family.” As every Hong Kong parent knows, the kindergarten application process involves arduous paperwork, interviews, as well as advance fees for books, uniforms, activities and transportation. Refugees in Hong Kong receive basic financial and educational support from the government, e.g. a rental subsidy of HK$1,500 per adult and HK$750 per child. It is not enough to offset the reality of being unemployed in a very expensive city. “They have no access to cash – the government pays the landlord directly and issues a food card,” Ruzzon explained. “I’ve heard of moms selling food cards to cover urgent bills to keep children in school.” The charity pays HK$800 per child to cover extra educational costs. But K3 does more than hand out funds. Each month, Ruzzon meets personally with scores of families, checking on school attendance, academic performance and domestic situations. “There has been more than one child we’ve referred for special education. We follow them very closely. I know I can make their daily life in Hong Kong a little bit better.” Asylum seekers come from all over the world, particularly from Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and Southeast Asia. Many are fleeing violence or persecution in their homelands, and seek temporary refuge in Hong Kong as they await resettlement in a third nation such as Canada. But this “temporary” situation can drag on for years. For young families, that may mean seeing an infant grow into a toddler, and then a schoolchild. Ruzzon lights up when she talks about the transformation she has seen in K3 children. “Some kids might not be speaking very much when they arrive – and we may be concerned that they have special needs. But in fact, it turns out that it was simply a lack of school – a lack of interaction and
HOW CAN YOU HELP? Forms are available at the FCC Front Desk for those interested in helping a K3 child. A donation of HK$9,600 (HK$800 a month) will keep one student in kindergarten for one year; $28,800 will cover a child’s entire three-year kindergarten schooling. Donors will be given updates and photos of the children they are sponsoring. For further information, go to: branchesofhope. org.hk
The best of friends
Proud winner of Best Camper, Summer Camp 2018
About the Charity Committee The FCC Charity Committee, set up in 2016, sponsors one charity every two years. The chosen organisation must benefit the local community in at least one of three fields: Early education, special needs education or elderly support. The Committee aims to help smaller non-profits which may fall between the cracks in terms of funding. The Committee’s first beneficiary was The China Coast Community, a home for the aged in Kowloon. Funds were raised during the Hong Kong Remembers party in March 2017. Events such as readings and visits continue to take place, including a planned tea at the FCC on Thursday, October 25. The next fundraising party, to benefit K3, is currently scheduled for March 2019.
Concentrating hard brings the best results
PARTNERS IN WINE Winemakers are working with the Club kitchen to create this autumn’s wine dinners, as House/Food and Beverage committee co-convenor Jennifer Jett explains
nsure which wine to order with dinner? Or are you an oenophile looking for a new favourite? No matter your level of expertise, everyone can learn something at the FCC wine dinners this autumn. The dinners are organized together with some of the world’s most distinguished winemakers. They work with the club’s executive chef, Johnny Ma, and the beverage manager, Michael Chan, to choose dishes that best complement the wines’ characteristics. Because after all, no one knows them better than the winemakers themselves. The wine dinners are highly social and educational evenings during which guests can get to know the winemakers and ask questions about their products. And if you like what you’re drinking you can buy it on the spot. Guests can also provide suggestions for future dinners. The first dinner was held on September 17 in conjunction with McWilliam’s, a family-owned winemaker in Australia. Host Scott McWilliam, part of the family’s sixth generation, presided over a fully booked event in the Main Dining Room. “It’s a delight for the senses to be able to have good wine matched with good food in a lovely setting like this,” he said in an interview at the dinner. “And then it’s a little bit of the icing on the cake to have someone talk about the wine, someone who’s made it.” Like any good wine dinner, it began and ended with cheese. In between, guests dined on tuna loin and crab meat timbales, spiced duck breast and charred beef mignon, paired with Sémillon and Shiraz. “I appreciate all the effort that goes
into these dinners,” said Andrea Morrow, comparing it favourably to other wine dinners in Hong Kong. “It’s a rarity to come to such a well-organised event.” But if you missed the first dinner, it’s not too late. The next one, on October 30, will be hosted by Mariano Di Paola of Rutini Wines. Located in Mendoza Province, Argentina, Rutini was founded in 1885 and in 1925 became the first winery to plant vines in the Uco Valley. Di Paola has more than 30 years of experience and is Rutini’s head oenologist. The final dinner will be held a week later on November 6, with Peter Dillon of Handpicked Wines presenting wines from Australia and Italy. Handpicked offers a “global portfolio” of wines from 21 wine regions and five countries. As director of winemaking, Dillon travels frequently for Handpicked, sometimes visiting three or four regions in the same week. “I think it’s pretty enjoyable getting an idea of the reaction of the public to the wines that you make,” Dillon says in a video on the Handpicked website. “As a winemaker, sometimes you can be living in your little bubble, but it’s good to share that with people and see how someone who hasn’t had any contact with that reacts.” “Some of the time it’s the same as what you’re thinking, and other times it’s completely different, so it can be pretty funny,” he adds. The October 30 wine dinner is priced at $588 per person, and the November 6 dinner is $598 per person. To reserve your spot, please call the FCC Concierge at 2521 1511, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In other wine news, five red and five white wines are now available for home delivery in partnership with Watson’s Wine, in a special offer exclusive to FCC members. The three Australian wines – the Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Sémillon 2010, Evans & Tate Metricup Road Cabernet Merlot 2015 and McWilliam’s McW660 Reserve Canberra Syrah 2016 – come from McWilliam’s, the host of the September 17 wine dinner. Others include the Beringer Main & Vine Chardonnay 2017 from California and the Babich East Coast Pinot Noir 2016 from New Zealand. Prices range from $100 to $148 per bottle, and the offer is valid until November 15. The total bill will be charged to the member’s account. The minimum order is 18 bottles, which can be a combination of different wines. To submit your order, call 2151 0754 or email email@example.com (Free delivery within seven working days is available to Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. Orders below the minimum quantity can be picked up at the Main Bar).
STORY OF A DO-IT-YOURSELF SUPERSTAR AUTHOR Johan Nylander
Johan Nylander is an awardwinning author and freelance China and Asia correspondent. He is frequently published by CNN, Forbes and Sweden’s leading business daily, Dagens Industri. He has penned bestseller Shenzhen Superstars – How China’s smartest city is challenging Silicon Valley, and plans to launch several more selfpublished books. johannylander.asia
few weeks ago I gave a talk about my latest book at the Eslite bookstore in Hong Kong. What I found interesting was that during the Q&A session after my speech, many of the questions were actually not about the content of the book but about how to do self-publishing. And I’m more than happy to share my experience about why and how. About a half year ago I launched a short-read titled Shenzhen Superstars – How China’s smartest city is challenging Silicon Valley on Amazon. After just a few days it became the Number 1 bestseller in its China section, and bubbled in the Top 5 in the section for books on innovation. In short, self-publishing is the most fun and challenging thing I’ve done in a long time. And, believe me or not, it has been surprisingly profitable. But hey, I’m a journo and used to being paid as one. Why did I decide to do self-publishing? I’ll give you two explanations. Some 10 years ago I wrote a management book titled Simplify! which was published by one of Sweden’s biggest publishing houses. I was naturally honoured to be published by such a prestigious company, but it turned out to be a quite disappointing experience. In short, I did all the work and they took the money. Although I managed to get really good media coverage and even won an award for it, the publisher didn’t distribute the book to the most important bookstores. I could go on. Secondly, for a long time I’ve been trying to figure out how to make money as a writer
in today’s media industry. If you’re a fellow writer you probably recognize this scenario: You do a feature story for an international media outlet, spending time travelling, researching and writing, and in the end getting paid breadcrumbs. And the day after the story is published online, dozens of other websites might have unlawfully copied it. It’s not the best business model. So I was thinking, what if I write the story longer, and yet a bit longer, and again longer. Instead of 1,000 words I write 10,000 words, or 15,000 words. I write it so long that it suddenly turns in to a short book. And if it’s a short book, I can publish it on Amazon. If it’s published on Amazon, as an e-book and paperback, I can sell it globally to anyone, possibly for years. Amazon gives you 70 per cent commission on the consumer price, which is about 10 times higher than traditional publishing companies. Sounds easy? Well, it is. And fun.
JOHAN’S TOP TIPS ON SELF-PUBLISHING
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Cover design and title are key. To stand out against the competition, the cover and title have to stick out and be search engine friendly. My subtitle is jam-packed with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) boosting keywords: “China”, “smart city”, “Silicon Valley”, and “challenging” to add some drama. Writing and designing is only half the job. The second half is marketing. To successfully launch your book you need to first figure out a plan how to drive traffic to your Amazon page and get people to pay. Try to get buzz on social media before launch and notify friends and colleagues. The first week is crucial. Amazon’s algorithm loves newly-released books that draw attention and if you manage to get good sales and reviews, the system will promote you. There are several tricks and tips, some quite cheeky. One is to set the price at US$0.99 during launch week, and then increase it later. I also printed 2,000 copies at a local printer in Hong Kong, and the book is now for sale in most bookstores here. I’m grateful for all my friends and 11-year-old son who have helped me to carry heavy boxes across town, sometimes with taxi drivers swearing and shouting when we fill the trunk and backseat with books. Selfpublishing is not always glamorous, but it is always fun.
PHOTO: BENNY KUNG AND JOHAN ALLAN NYLANDER
Find a topic that includes these two ingredients: You enjoy writing it and the readers will buy it. Either you have an idea that you believe many people will want to read, or you scan through the categories on Amazon till you find a gap in the market that you think you can fill. I had luck with my book about Shenzhen; high demand (many people searching on Amazon) but limited supply.
‘THIS MAY CAUSE SOME DISCOMFORT’ Prostate cancer is among the most common forms of cancer affecting men. Yet confusion and controversy still reign over how best to diagnose and treat the often fatal disease. Jonathan Sharp recalls his own encounter with this cancer – and the successful outcome
t took just one fairly innocuous word from the kindly, smiling doctor to confirm my worst fear. He was talking me through the battery of tests I had undergone since a routine medical check-up had turned up something suspicious in my prostate gland. Then he said the word: “Unfortunately,” and I knew that yes, I had cancer. That was a major downer, inevitably, but it proved to be the low point. Thereafter came better news: the disease was at an early stage, was a non-aggressive type and had not spread. The doctor made this particular malignancy sound almost wimp-ish.
Moreover, while it was a serious condition, it was eminently treatable. “Don’t worry,” was the phrase I came to hear often during the subsequent treatment. It’s now been 11 years since I was first given that assurance, and indeed I have not had much to worry about. My saga with a happy ending began with a PSA test. PSA stands for prostatespecific antigen, a protein in the prostate. An elevated level can indicate cancer before the appearance of any symptoms, of which I had none. (However in recent years many experts have warned that PSA tests are unreliable and even harmful – see box).
Jonathan Sharp joined Reuters after studying Chinese at university. That degree served him well, leading to two spells in Beijing. And it did not restrict him. A 30-year career also took him to North America, Middle East and South Africa, covering everything from wars to the Olympics. His favourite posting was Hong Kong, where he freelances.
My PSA levels were a bit high, so the next test was an ultrasound, conducted with a probe inserted into the rectum, which is the easiest access to the awkwardly located, walnut-sized prostate. “This may cause some discomfort,” said the doctor. It was the first of many times that I heard this mild-sounding warning, which I came increasingly to regard as euphemistic. The inconclusive ultrasound test was followed by a biopsy – more “discomfort” – and then the diagnosis. Of the various treatments available, the recommended one, which I accepted, was radical prostatectomy: taking the damn thing out. Next decision: shall I go private or public for the operation? To help decide, my wife Betty and I saw a specialist at the private, and expensive, Hong Kong Sanatorium in Happy Valley who was keen to use the latest robotic surgery equipment. Asked how much it would cost, he said that “packages” – making them sound rather like a tourism promotion – for the procedure started at HK$200,000. While I had insurance cover, I opted instead to go public at Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam. There the robot-less operation, lasting from 9am to 3pm (this being Hong Kong, I couldn’t help wondering afterwards whether anybody involved in the surgery had taken a lunch break), was not only successful, but free. Two weeks of hospital treatment, part on a voluntary part-time basis in a semiprivate ward, cost token amounts. While in hospital I became particularly attached, literally, to a bedside painrelieving apparatus with which I could self-dispense morphine into my arm at fiveminute intervals. I made such enthusiastic use of this brilliant machine, not because I was in pain but simply because I could, that nurses took it away well before the usual cut-off time. After the hospital stay, there followed more weeks attached to a catheter, with a tube clamped to my leg with sticking plaster. This bore the rather unnecessary injunction “Do not pull” written in both of Hong Kong’s official languages (although curiously, the Cantonese version added an exclamation mark). I was supremely relieved when the catheter was removed (again, more “discomfort”), above all when I discovered that I had none of the dreaded side-effects that I had been warned about. For follow-up, I go to Queen Mary once a year for a blood test. When I go again for the results I am told that all is good, my PSA levels are at next-to-nothing levels. Come back next year. This annual “consultation” takes about 30 seconds flat. If that seems a bit abrupt, I don’t mind in the slightest. At least nobody asdf “This may cause some discomfort.” says,
Treatments galore - or just watch and wait Prostate cancer has recorded the largest increase in incidence rate among the common male cancers in Hong Kong during the past two decades. In 2015, prostate cancer was the third most common cancer in men, with 1,831 men diagnosed with the disease. Those are the bald figures provided by the Hong Kong Department of Health in July this year. Far less cut and dried, according to headlines appearing around the world in recent months, are the views of experts on how best to diagnose and treat this increasingly prevalent malignancy. The PSA test, once a routine part of male health care and which gave me the first sign that I had something nasty wrong with me, is now widely called into question. “Does as much harm as good”, “imperfect”, “poor”, “fraught with uncertainty” are some of the verdicts commonly seen. Far better screening, according to Prostate Cancer UK, is provided by multiparametric MRI scans. Treatment options are equally plentiful. They include surgery, radiation, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, biological therapy, bisphosphonate therapy and something called watchful waiting. A new technique called a high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) procedure is being used in clinical trials in the U.S. There is a huge difference between aggressive prostate cancer, which British actor Stephen Fry described as “an aggressive little bugger” when he recently announced he had the disease, and the less virulent version. This can remain harmless for decades, and it is often said that men are more likely to die with prostate cancer than of it. The trouble is that the difference between a potentially lethal aggressive prostate cancer and the less harmful version is often unclear. And aggressive treatment, including removal of the prostate gland or radiation treatment, can result in impotence or incontinence. Not surprisingly, an increasing proportion of men, especially ones with low-grade tumours, are choosing watchful waiting – regular monitoring – over radical treatment.
WHAT THEY SAID... Featured highlights of event speakers at FCC
Dr Robert Kelly: Korean Security after the Trump-Kim Summit It’s not every day the Club gets to hear from a geopolitical expert and social media celebrity rolled into one. That was the case on June 21 when Dr Robert Kelly of Pusan National University (Aka BBC Dad) addressed a packed lunchtime gathering. Dr Kelly shot to global prominence in 2017 when his live interview with the BBC was interrupted by his children which subsequently went viral on the internet. This time there was no sign of his children. Instead Dr Kelly was at the FCC to discuss the outcome of the Singapore summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Pusan-based Dr Kelly was downbeat on what that summit achieved and what it means for a durable solution on the Korea peninsula. Aspects of it were a “bizarre moral spectacle” while the signed communique amounted to nothing more that a “vague declaration”, Dr Kelly said. “It wasn’t a catastrophe but in terms of the strategic issues and the political issues, the things that we really care about, nuclear weapons, missiles, gulags, some kind of North Korean liberalization, I don’t see that it did much on
Professional Committee member and Korean national Nan Hie In with Dr Robert Kelly and Enda Curran
that at all,” Dr Kelly said. “It effectively kicks the can down the road,” Dr Kelly said. “It’s not clear that president Trump got much.” After his initial presentation, Dr. Kelly took questions from the audience for almost an hour, which was testament to the level of interest in his topic. Lunch, June 21, Enda Curran
Benny Tai and Kenneth Chan: Hong Kong’s Freedoms Under Threat? Has Hong Kong plumbed the awful depths of oppression portrayed in George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel, 1984? Yes, says Professor Kenneth Chan of Hong Kong Baptist University, who spoke at an FCC lunch with Professor Benny Tai, a prime mover of the 2014 Occupy Central Movement. They were both unrelentingly gloomy about how Beijing is increasingly bending Hong Kong to its autocratic will. They spoke on the question of whether Hong Kong’s freedoms were at risk, and predictably their response was a resounding “yes”. But if anyone thought the occasion was too one-sided, don’t blame the FCC. As Club President Florence de Changy explained, the Club tried to find someone from the proestablishment camp to debate the issue, but came up blank. So how bad is the situation in Hong Kong? “Welcome to 1984, although this is 2018,” declared Prof. Chan. A touch apocalyptic? Perhaps, but the picture he painted of the pressures both on him and his university, where he is Associate Professor of Political Science, was depressing. “I am afraid I have to sound a little pessimistic because of the chilling effects coming down on each one of us.” He says his university “day in day out” faces donors who threaten to halt the flow of much-sought funds because of the university’s so-called “troublemakers” who join prodemocracy campaigns. Prof. Tai is also no stranger to pressure, from Beijing and also from within Hong Kong University, where he is Associate Professor of Law. Chinese authorities have gone to the extent
Benny Tai and Kenneth Chan, moderated by Club President Florence de Changy
of damning him as a national security threat. Indeed the walls have been closing in on Prof. Tai for so long that a joke doing the rounds in the Main Dining Room as he spoke was that police might be outside waiting to nab him. He was as downbeat as Prof. Chan over Hong Kong’s future. He decried what he saw as the increasingly authoritarian nature of Hong Kong’s precious rule of law, thanks to Beijing. His only hope was that enough people would speak up and succeed in at least slowing down this insidious process. In a nice touch, the Club presented the speakers with umbrellas as gifts – one yellow, one blue, the colours representing Hong Kong’s opposing camps. So a balance of sorts was eventually achieved. Lunch, June 12, Jonathan Sharp
See recordings of Speakers’ events in full: www.fcchk.org/events
Freedom of speech, “intimidation” and a quibble over the rent
On August 14 the FCC invited Andy Chan Ho-Tin, convenor of the Hong Kong National Party*, to the Club for a talk entitled Hong Kong Nationalism: A Politically Incorrect Guide to Hong Kong under Chinese Rule. The furore that erupted began a few weeks before the event, continued throughout the day of the event and for a few weeks after. It was arguably extended by Chan later the same week urging the United States to throw China and Hong Kong out of the World Trade Organisation. The FCC routinely invites and hosts speakers with a wide range of views, including supporters and opponents of the Chinese leadership. The Club was roundly criticised by some for hosting the event, and fulsomely supported by others. Some of the criticism focused on the Club’s building on Lower Albert Road, taking the debate away from freedoms and rights. Former chief executive of Hong Kong Leung Chunying alleged the club was only paying a token rent to the government for the premises, a charge the Club denied. CY’s successor Carrie Lam later said the FCC paid rent at a “market rate”. However, she called the decision to host Chan’s talk “regrettable and inappropriate”. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong urged the FCC to cancel the lunch. “We are firmly against the attempt of any external forces to provide (a) venue to the advocates for ‘Hong Kong independence’ to spread their nonsense,” the ministry’s office said in a statement. On the day of the lunch, the office issued a further statement in which it said: “Freedom of expression is fully protected by the Chinese Constitution, the Hong Kong Basic Law and related laws on Hong Kong. Yet there are bottomline and limitations (sic) for such freedom.” Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urged Beijing to respect freedom of the press,
“which is written in the Basic Law signed by China before handover”. “It is a matter of professional responsibility for journalists to hear the views of different sides in any debate,” said Cédric Alviani, the director of RSF’s East Asia bureau. “The Chinese authorities are clearly trying to extend their policy of intimidating foreign journalists to the territory of Hong Kong.” On the day, protestors, supporters, police and firefighters (there was a hoax call to the fire service before the event) gathered outside the club and in a straggle up and down the hill either side of the building. The chant of “FCC, get out of Hong Kong” came and went as the lunch progressed, and Mallet and Chan faced a well-behaved media scrum after Chan’s speech. The FCC website went down during the speech, and stayed down for 24 hours. Otherwise, the lunch went as smoothly as they usually do. As the people at the eye of the storm, the last word should go to the FCC board of governors who issued a statement on the day saying, among other things: “The FCC would like to thank the Hong Kong Police Force for ensuring the safety of all who attended today’s lunchtime event, and for organising the flow of traffic and pedestrians around the club during the street demonstrations for and against the event. The FCC board is also grateful to the operational staff of the club for hosting a successful lunch during sometimes difficult circumstances. The FCC stands for freedom of speech and freedom of the press in Hong Kong and across Asia, and neither endorses nor opposes the views of its various speakers and panellists.” Lunch, August 14, Sue Brattle *Although the Hong Kong National Party was declared illegal in late September, it was not at the time of Chan’s talk.
WHAT THEY SAID... Featured highlights of event speakers at FCC
Abdul Qadir Memon: Imperialism or Economic Co-Operation? Pakistan, China and the BRI Abdul Qadir Memon, Consul General of Pakistan in Hong Kong, put it plainly, very plainly for a diplomat, when he spoke to the Club about the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). This is one of the key parts of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This is the infrastructure, massive amounts of it, China will build to help it trade with the rest of the world. The CPEC is roads and rail links, power and finance, from the Southern Pakistani port city of Gwadar to the border with China in the North. The interest in CPEC lies not so much in what it is, after all there is a certain similarity to roads and railways no matter where they are. Instead the interest, the debate and the controversy lies in what it means, especially for Pakistan. The Consul General, a slender, dapper, man was there to put minds at rest. This he did, by putting the facts before them and, on occasion, adding rather sharp opinion to underline the point. Pakistan is not China’s supplicant but its partner in the BRI/CPEC venture. Islamabad is enthusiastic about it because it gets lots of new, much-needed infrastructure and with it a leg-up into the emerging markets and out of the Those Left Behind group of countries. CPEC will, the Consul General stressed, benefit Pakistan’s economy and trade. Other investors are also welcome, he added several times. China is exporting hardware, not its way of doing things. “They don’t expect us to adopt their political model,” Memon said. “It creates influence; we are used to influence in the past.” This was fresh. It was not a rant about former colonial powers, but instead a calm acknowledgement it happened and created a legacy which does not rankle. The Consul General went further, saying candidly Pakistan doesn’t see any harm in Chinese investments in Pakistan. “We don’t see them interfering,” he said. Part of the explanation, the CG added, was Chinese flexibility – a word he used several times and one borne out by Beijing’s softly, softly approach to Malaysia’s recent rejection of BRI. China is not bringing ready-made projects and a big stick, “It’s the other way round, we went to China,” he said. Also helping are interest rates lower than Pakistan has been paying to multilateral financial institutions. It’s a discomforting thought that he diplomatically sidestepped, despite raising it: The institutions set up by liberal democracies taking more in interest payments. No wonder Pakistan has, as he put it, “no issues” with borrowing Chinese or any foreign money, because it has to tackle the poverty its people are burdened by. “This project will reduce deprivation,” he said. There is also the changing global context. In his
Abdul Qadir Memon, Consul General of Pakistan
presentation he put up a slide detailing the way in which the world, and especially the Americans, have looked away from Pakistan – such as the latter’s ban on travel from Muslim countries. It was a longish list and a reminder, diplomatic but pointed, that America’s retreat has driven its allies towards China. Unlikely to fill the void even regionally is India, which has criticised Pakistan because CPEC’s route is via “its” Kashmir. As Memon pointed out, this is not India’s only objection; Bhutan, the Maldives and Nepal have all been criticized. That pill didn’t get coated. “The problem is their problem with everyone,” he said. Later on, when he compared America to “a bully”: the kind of word you just don’t expect from a diplomat even at an FCC Lunch, you knew what he meant because of what he had said. Perhaps just by putting the facts into the public domain, he showed us an unpleasant truth or two. Lunch, September 3, Michael Mackey
See recordings of Speakers’ events in full: www.fcchk.org/events
Professor Yuen Yuen Ang: The Real China Model: It’s Not What You Think It Is Professor Ang, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan, said everyone has a different idea of what the China Model is. It has almost become a bad thing; it invokes the fear that China will out-perform the western democracies, she said. In the Western media, it’s seen as a combination of autocracy with state ownership and control of the economy – distilled to strong central control. Other definitions stress meritocracy, equality, sustainability; even President Xi Xinping doesn’t tell us what the model is. She said: “These definitions raise the question of who’s right and who’s wrong. My take is this: it’s directed improvisation, top-down direction from Beijing, with bottom-up improvisation from local state actors.” This, she said, results in diverse solutions across the country. This is not usually mentioned in the West because the West sees China as a homogeneous whole. In the same way, China proves even an autocracy also needs democratic characteristics. “We should worry that the Chinese people think it is autocracy that is making China great; we need to educate the Chinese people that it is the democratic apparatus that Deng put in place that makes China great.” Another concern, she said, is that other countries think autocracy is what is working so well in China. Ang spoke in Cambodia the week before visiting the Club and wanted them to understand the part that democracy plays in China’s story. If you are a leader in China, she explained, you have to grant autonomy – but not too much, or there would be chaos. “We all know China is difficult to govern because of its diverse problems, and it is governed in a
Professor Yuen Yuen Ang
much more flexible way than most people think.” Ambiguity of commands allows experimentation, other top-down commands are clear and precise. She said: “In Cambodia I shared three basic lessons, and I want to do that with you: first, learning is not the same as copying. There are many useful lessons to learn from China. But Cambodia needs to do it the Cambodian way. Second, countries should learn from both China’s success and failures. Some countries think everything in China must be great, but their success has come at high social cost. “Third, you must define the role of government, and keep the characteristics that work in your country.” Her example was that Cambodia has elections, and should continue to have them, unlike China. Ang concluded: “The country that most needs to understand the China Model is China itself. There is a real need for public education in China, among the people and the elites.” Lunch, August 27
Professor Kam-Fai Wong: Artificial Intelligence – The New Global Arms Race Professor Kam-Fai Wong, from the Faculty of Engineering, Chinese University of Hong Kong, said that from the 1950s, the target of AI was to replace humans by reproducing what they can do. “The Chinese and U.S. governments are competing, but the U.S. and U.K. are nearest their targets; Hong Kong is nowhere, sorry,” he said. The patenting of AI technology worries people, as it is seen as part of the trade war. However, the practice of engineers and companies in the past five or six years in China is of most concern, because they had promised not to copy technologies from other countries. In fact, they did not follow the rules. “Elsewhere, there are some funny things happening with AI; many of the reports from the Rio Olympics were computer-generated. For the past 10 or so years, many company reports have been created automatically, so you can see that AI is going into journalism. Even a poet has been replicated; a machine that churns out poems. I wasn’t sure about its style, but I asked various Chinese professors and they said it wasn’t that good.” Rumour detection has become very popular in the age of fake news; younger journalists publish news that is based on what they read on Facebook. “There are issues of privacy in this; if I am detected going to buy whisky every Friday for a year, is it correct to call me an alcoholic?” Wong said there are also issues of copyright; some people say the machines that create content should own copyright, others say the people operating the machines
Professor Kam-Fai Wong
should. “But if machines own copyright, how long would that copyright last?” he asked. “I would only say you have to be careful and sensible when you use AI. It will change the way we work; we will have more time to spend doing nice things, like being at this lunch, rather than sitting bored in front of a computer. AI robots will make life easier for older people, but will the human be replaced? I think not and this is where the government has a role, just like any industrial revolution. People have to be retrained, which should be carried out by the government. If not, social problems will arise.” Lunch, August 7
WALKING WITH KINGS, NEVER LOSING THE COMMON TOUCH
PHOTO: TERRY DUCKHAM
Former FCC President, board member for many years and lawyer Kevin Egan died in June aged 70. Here friend and colleague Jane Moir pays tribute.
Kevin (right) with legal chums in Papua New Guinea during his time as Director of Public Prosecutions in the 1970s. Left is fellow PNG prosecutor, FCC member and now Hong Kong barrister, Bernie Ryan.
evin Barry Egan was a late colonialera lawyer, FCC board member and friend who arrived in Hong Kong nearly 40 years ago and made it his own. He loved the territory’s roguish elements, yet as a crown prosecutor also revelled in the professionalism of its due process, which he thought a step-up from his native Australia and certainly Papua New Guinea, where he prosecuted its justice minister. He represented the best traits of the colonial system, even though his view of rights and obligations would ultimately clash with those in charge. In his early years, Egan was the epitome of a confident and unapologetic Australian abroad. A framed photograph in his Baskerville Chambers office shows a young buck in a well-tailored suit and aviator shades leaning against a sports car. He cuts a rakish pose and, though his smile is slightly mischievous, the message seemed to be, “This is my time”. A pivotal point of Egan’s career came in the early 1990s, when an assertive graftbusting agency was focused on taking down crooks within the Hong Kong justice system. Warwick Reid, a public prosecutor who hailed from New Zealand, was in their cross-hairs, but fled Hong Kong allegedly with a passport and gun provided by Egan. Accused of abetting the flight of a criminal – and mate – he batted away charges by the Independent Commission Against Corruption. Thereafter, he became a nemesis of the agency and the go-to counsel for anyone seeking to defend
Kevin with photographer and FCC member Robin Moyer (left) in the FCC Main Bar.
Kevin (far right) at the start of the 1998 100km Oxfam Trailwalker with the FCC dream team, captained by Louis Thomas, 63, (far left) a 10 times Trailwalker veteran at that time. The FCC team raised over HK$100,000 for Oxfam.
themselves against graft charges. Egan loved to be elusive on the subject of Warwick Reid and his flight from Hong Kong. When pushed on the matter, perhaps propping up his favourite corner of the FCC, he would be known to offer a wry: “I couldn’t possibly comment”. In his WhatsApp photo Egan ditched his uniform T-shirt for a tuxedo, with the tagline “Mea maxima culpa”. In the mid-1990s Egan was at the peak of his powers and always a good contact for journalists. He would provide tip-offs on interesting cases and the inside track on legal indiscretions. Most of all, he always returned your call and understood the journalist’s need for a good quote. It was a service that would adversely unravel in 2005 when a briefing of journalists outside a court led to charges against Egan for conspiring to pervert the course of justice. Despite speaking with a dozen reporters that day, just one reporter from the South China Morning Post gave evidence against him. Egan served two months of a two-anda-half year term in Stanley Prison after he was convicted in June 2006. He was freed on bail and fully exonerated by the Court of Final Appeal by June 2010. It is to his credit that he did not acquire an anti-press bias. Egan’s favourite watering hole remained a journalists’ club. He continued to serve on the FCC board. Never one to be idle, Egan had spent much of his time at Stanley Prison drafting appeals for fellow inmates at their request. He did this without access to legal materials
One week Egan would represent a wealthy client, the next would take a Legal Aid brief
PHOTO: ROBIN MOYER
due to his uncanny photographic memory of case law and statute (his name appears on 140 court judgments spanning 38 years, so he helped write plenty of case law). He always maintained a defiant insouciance against his legal-world detractors, yet the experience did chasten him, and the old bullishness never quite returned. Egan seemed to embrace the Kipling entreaty to “walk with kings, nor lose the common touch”. One week he would represent a wealthy client for an eyewatering sum and the next would take a Legal Aid brief to balance the scales of justice. Last year Egan happened to be in the court next door to an Occupy Central defendant and offered to help defend him pro bono. Egan entered the court. The prosecutor dropped the charges. Egan benefited from an enviable ability to swiftly digest and precis information that would put the most accomplished journalist to shame. The only short-cuts Egan took were in his court attire: no fussing with studs or tying bands to a wing collar. He was the master of the Velcro jabot. On his feet, he was methodical and measured.
Most of the time. His hackles would rise when judicial inequity presented itself. Fighting his clients’ corner was occasionally to the chagrin of instructing solicitors. The FCC served as his second home, especially the back Wyndham Street-corner of the Main bar that acquired the sobriquet “lawyers’ corner” largely because of his presence. He was an FCC governor for more than 20 years, starting around the post-1997 funk period when membership fell and finances became stretched. He was a close friend of Gilbert Cheng, who took over as general manager in 2000 after a period of management instability, and acted to steady the ship. Last year, when the board was seeking to effect a management transition, Egan was the old hand who helped smooth an elegant departure for the much-loved GM without rancour or division. It was a great shame that he did not make it to “Tiger Cheng’s” farewell party in August, but in a strange way, perhaps it is appropriate that both exited the stage at around the same time. It is definitely the end of an era that Egan played a big part in defining.
Speaking at the FCC in 2014
SUSUMU AWANOHARA Born Manchuria, China, August 26, 1945; died New York, U.S., June 11, 2018
Susumu with his dog, Delice, at Long Beach Island
usumu Awanohara didn’t fit the image of the impulsive, daredevil foreign correspondent you see in Hollywood movies. Not by a long shot. He was a big-hearted, beautifully rumpled man, who observed the world from behind smudged glasses, his incisive mind working to crack its puzzles with the instincts of a great detective. A respected former denizen of the FCC Hong Kong and the FCC Japan, Susumu spent two decades covering Asia and its role in global affairs for the Hong Kong-based Far Eastern Economic Review, alternating between editing turns in the Hong Kong newsroom and bureau chief postings in Tokyo and Jakarta in the 1970s and Singapore and Washington in the 1980s and 1990s. Armed with a Ph.D. in economics from Yale University (and an undergraduate degree from Tokyo University) Susumu immersed himself in transformative, large-canvas stories. A dogged field reporter with a knack for languages, Susumu loved to repair to a desk strewn with newspapers and reference books to tease out clues as to the shape of things to come. In the mid-1990s, he embarked on a second career as a financial policy expert. After a stint at the Nikko Research Center in Washington, he moved to New York, with a job as analyst of Asian business and
Susumu with the writer of this obituary, Tracy Dahlby, in the 1970s
economic trends for Medley Global Advisors, and lived in Manhattan’s East Village with his wife, Mary-Lea Cox. My own debt to Susumu is profound. In 1976, when he opened the Review’s first stand-alone Tokyo bureau in the Nikkei Shimbun’s infamous “Gaijin Ghetto,” he hired me as his back-up reporter. New to journalism, I neither knew how to do it nor why it was done, and Susumu pulled double-duty teaching me the craft. Susumu was expert in looking out for his friends. “Besides being one of the best-educated journalists I’ve ever met,” said former Review colleague Mike Tharp, “Susumu was one of the nicest … not in a saccharine sense … but in caring about people both individually and in sum.” If Susumu covered Asia at a transformative time, he was born
into a turbulent one – in Japaneseheld Manchuria in August, 1945. His maternal grandfather, Tsutomu Nishiyama, had been serving as president of the Central Bank of Manchou, but with Japan’s defeat, the Russian army swarmed across northern China. In the chaos, Susumu and his twin brother, Shinji, were spirited back to Japan, where Shinji soon died of malnutrition. The dramatic circumstances of Susumu’s birth contributed to his desire to get to know Asia, in all its complexities. Susumu was a man of charming eccentricities who modelled himself after the artfully fumbling 1970s TV detective, Columbo. A Medley Advisors colleague fondly recalls him carrying a hardboiled egg in his suit pocket; he won office prizes for “most bad hair days” for his prodigiously spiky mop. Yet his unflappable, cerebral demeanour also masked a courageous spirit. When right-wing extremists phoned in threats to the Tokyo bureau over a Review cover of Emperor Hirohito, Susumu didn’t flinch. Former Review editor-in-chief Philip Bowring recalls a hard trek through Kalimantan in the early 1980s with Susumu’s “relaxed good humour overcoming innumerable obstacles”. When the pair was ready to fly on to Manado in Sulawesi, Philip said: “The plane we were supposed to take crashed on landing at Balikpapan and after three days waiting in vain for a relief plane we had to return to Jakarta. Susumu kept me sane and smiling.” Susumu had been retired for several years before he died of pancreatic cancer at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx on June 11, aged 72. He is survived by his wife, Mary-Lea, children from a former marriage – son Gen (and wife Meagan) and daughters Mika and Yuri, two grandchildren, Max and Elle Awanohara, an older brother Kan Awanohara, a nephew and two nieces, and many friends across the globe. Tracy Dahlby A longer version of this obituary appeared in the Number 1 Shimbun, the magazine of the FCC of Japan
Tony (second right) and Anne Paul on their wedding day in New York, 1964 Tony Paul (far left in safari suit) with fellow correspondents at Aranyaprathet on the ThaiCambodian border in 1979 after Vietnam invaded Cambodia and overthrew Pol Pot.
ANTHONY PAUL Twice FCC President, his contacts included the real-life James Bond
n 1983, former FCC President Tony Paul hosted Christmas brunch at his book-lined apartment overlooking Happy Valley racecourse. As a distinguished Asian war correspondent, Tony had built an enviable list of military and intelligence contacts. Among his guests that day was one Sir Peter Smithers, a British spy turned politician often said to be the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s fictional James Bond. Perhaps well lubricated by Tony’s legendary hospitality, Smithers, a member of a secretive government defence committee, began talking about terrorism threats Britain most feared. He singled out the so-called “nuclear backpack”, a portable atomic bomb developed by the Americans during the Korean war. “One day, someone will walk into the middle of a large city and detonate such a weapon,” Smithers told Tony. “The bomber will disappear – but so will about 10 city blocks.” Tony, who died in Brisbane on July 14 aged 81, recalled the conversation in his last unpublished article. The 3,000-word piece can’t directly be compared with his great scoops of the 1970s when he covered the fall of Saigon and Phnom Penh, co-wrote a book, Murder of a Gentle Land, that exposed Pol Pot’s genocide in Cambodia, and roamed Asia interviewing presidents and prime ministers seemingly at will. But it is nevertheless a vivid reminder of what made Tony such a great journalist, with a contacts book most reporters would die for.
Titled When Korea Was America’s Nuclear Kindergarten, the story pieces together how close Asia came to Armageddon during the 195053 Korean conflict and identifies weapons, such as the nuclear backpack, the U.S. devised to win it. The article also sheds more light on U.S. General Douglas MacArthur’s madcap scheme to drop at least 30 atom bombs on China, then lay down an eight-kilometre-wide barrier of radioactive cobalt along the entire Sino-North Korean border. Tony was born in Brisbane and began his career on a local daily, the Courier-Mail. After winning a year-long World Press Institute Fellowship to study in the U.S., he joined Reader’s Digest, then the world’s biggest selling magazine. In 1972, the Digest posted him to Hong Kong, where he based himself for much of the next quartercentury. Tony covered the Indochina wars to their bitter ends. Then, as Asia’s battlefields transformed into marketplaces, he reinvented himself as a business journalist, latterly as a columnist for Fortune magazine. He also launched two award-winning business titles, Business Tokyo and Asia Inc., mentoring fine young Asian journalists. Tony served two terms as FCC President, from 1977-79. As one of journalism’s great raconteurs, he was easily persuaded to regale members with anecdotes from a swashbuckling career. But there was one war story he modestly declined to elaborate on – his role in saving a Vietnamese family
amid the mayhem of the fall of Saigon. Ask Tony how he got his interpreter, Son Van Nguyen, Son’s wife and four small children out in the final evacuation and he would tell a selfdeprecating version of events. But as tributes poured in following his death, the full story emerged. Mai-phong Nguyen wrote that Tony had placed his strapping 188-cm (6ft 2in) frame in front of a bus bound for Ton San Nhat airport, refusing to move until the Nguyens were allowed to board. Then, having arrived at the airlift evacuation point, three-year-old Tina Nguyen disappeared under the feet of a stampeding crowd desperate to reach one of the last U.S. transport planes. Tony fought his way back through the mob to scoop Tina up, threw her on board then almost lost his foot as the plane’s hatch door slammed shut behind them. Finally, after being airlifted out of Vietnam, the family was split up in different refugee camps on Guam and Wake Island, 2,400 kilometres apart. Tony promptly flew to Guam and used his correspondent’s clout to ensure they were reunited and resettled in the U.S. “Tony will be remembered as a brilliant foreign correspondent by his colleagues,” Mai-phong writes. “But to this family he will be an icon of grit, courage, sacrifice, grace under fire and love.” Tony is survived by Anne, his wife of 53 years, and sons Brodie and Bruce. William Mellor
Former Bloomberg and Time correspondent Bill Mellor first met Tony in Bangkok in 1987 and later worked for him at Asia Inc. Articles written by Tony and Bill for Asia Inc. won Citibank Pan Asia Journalism awards in 1993 and 1994. Bill’s full obituary of Tony, co-written with Brodie Paul, can be read at www.fcchk.org.
NEW MEDIA AWARD AIMS TO BRING SENSITIVITY TO REPORTING SUICIDES
Mind HK is helping journalists to approach the topic of mental health in a new way. Olivia Parker reports.
n the days following the death of the singer Leslie Cheung, who committed suicide in 2003, researchers were alarmed to notice a sharp rise in the number of people who took their own lives in the same manner. It became clear that coverage of Cheung’s death – front page features with colour photographs and much “sensational and emotional” detail, according to Professor Paul Yip, director of Hong Kong’s Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention (CSRP) – had unintentionally triggered a series of copycat suicides. The CSRP released the city’s first set of recommendations on suicide reporting the following year, and updated them in 2010 to reflect new World Health Organisation guidelines. Now, Mind HK, a charitable initiative launched last year with the aim to ensure “no one in Hong Kong faces a mental health problem alone”, is seeking to bring mental health journalistic best practice further into the open with the first Mind HK Media Awards, taking place next month. “Positive reporting of mental health topics has been shown in other countries to have a powerful role in destigmatising mental health problems,” says Dr Hannah Reidy, CEO of Mind HK. “Normalising conversations about mental health by exposing people to the topic in well-written media articles will allow Hong Kongers to speak about it more,
support one another and realise that they are not alone.” The media’s approach to mental health here is still far from perfect. According to Professor Yip, who will help judge more than 100 pieces of work submitted to the awards, local reporters are typically more “assertive”, even “aggressive”, when covering suicide deaths compared to journalists in the West. In Australia, just 3 percent of suicides are reported; in Hong Kong the figure is 30-40 percent. Publishing fewer stories is not the solution. But they must be written with more sensitivity to their potential impact, says Dr King-wa Fu, associate professor at the University of Hong Kong’s Journalism and Media Studies Centre, who has spent almost two decades researching health and the media. Just as stigma and stereotypes still surround subjects like depression or anxiety in the community, they also abound in the press, he says. Reporters frequently link violent incidents to mental health problems, for example. While there may sometimes be a link between these two factors, in truth mental health patients are rarely violent and overemphasising the connection risks unfairly influencing perceptions. Overgeneralising the factors that lead a person to commit suicide by associating the death with one specific event, such as a failed exam, is another problem. “As we know, mental health or suicide cases are caused by very complex, interrelated factors so usually not one or two simple reasons,” states Fu. Fu and Yip agree that in recent years, mental health reporting has improved in both the Chinese and English language media in Hong Kong. Coverage of suicides will usually be inside papers rather than splashed across the front page; most articles include help-seeking information and the CSRP now receives more calls from journalists seeking a professional viewpoint. The younger generation
Dr Hannah Reidy, CEO of Mind HK
may also bring a fresh outlook: Professor Keith Richburg, director of the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at HKU, says he’s learnt a lot from current students who have been particularly willing to tackle the complexities of mental health in their stories. These developments are encouraging, but challenges remain. High staff turnover in Hong Kong’s media means ongoing attempts to raise awareness are needed. Fu also suggests that stigma around mental health likely still exists in some newsrooms, which may prevent journalists from communicating their own mental health history to supervisors, and he questions whether there is enough psychological support for reporters who have to cover disturbing events. Mind HK’s Reidy hopes the Media Awards will help, and will also bring mental health coverage further in line with the way the media reports on physical health, by ensuring that articles offer context, provide a range of perspectives and capture “the recovery and successes of individuals” as well as stories with negative connotations. “We often see that very victimising, stigmatising language is used alongside mental health in the media, which only serves to perpetuate the narrative that this subject matter is in some way taboo, rather than seeing mental health as something that we all experience.” Entry to the Mind HK Media Awards is now closed but for information about tickets and sponsorship for the event, visit mindhkmediaawards.com Olivia Parker joined the FCC in July. Currently deputy editor of Campaign Asia-Pacific, she moved to Hong Kong in January 2017 from the Telegraph in London. A board member of Mind HK, she feels strongly about improving mental health care and awareness and recently dyed her hair blue for a fundraising event.
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WHEN YOU’RE AT THE TOP, THE ONLY WAY IS DOWN
Two incidents in recent years have seen Finland slip from first to fourth place in the world rankings for freedom of the press. Here FCC member Hannamiina Tanninen takes a look at this “public disgrace”.
Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipilä
or many years, the Republic of Finland was the poster country for press freedom in the world. Every year since 2010 Reporters Without Borders (RFS) ranked Finland as the Number One country in their annual evaluation of press freedom in 180 different countries. However, due to incidents in 2016 involving the Finnish national broadcaster YLE and Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, Finland slipped to third place in the 2017 ranking. The national broadcaster YLE did not report accurately the ownership structure of a company run by the Prime Minister’s relatives – and the PM put pressure on YLE not to report the connection. The editor-in-chief of YLE denied that the integrity of the reporting was compromised due to pressure from the Prime Minister. In the aftermath of the story, three senior journalists from YLE resigned citing differences in opinion regarding freedom of speech as one of their reasons. Interestingly, the main reason that caused the drop in the 2017 press freedom index was the reaction from the national board that evaluates press integrity in Finland, rather than the story itself. A further drop to fourth place followed in the 2018 ranking after police confiscated materials from
Hannamiina Tanninen works as China correspondent for the Finnish business daily Kauppalehti and other publications in the Alma Media portfolio. She mainly covers economics, finance, politics and operations of the Finnish companies in the area. On most days she can be found at the window table of the Bunker with iced lemon tea.
a journalist who was investigating a Finnish military communications centre. The independent national board for press integrity consists of experienced journalists and evaluates the integrity of journalism in the country, not the quality of it. The national board does not monitor the press regularly but if an incident regarding integrity is considered a serious one, the board will discuss it. The board imposed sanctions on YLE for its handling of the incident. Also, the Prime Minister was given a serious warning. This was a very unusual decision, since the board does not give such verdicts lightly, especially when they involve people who are not journalists. For most countries, being ranked as the third of fourth best environment in the world for the press to operate in would be impossible to imagine. In Finland, the drops in the ranking and the incidents leading to them caused a nationwide debate, as press freedom is highly valued in the country. Most media outlets considered the incident a public disgrace, something that would harm the reputation of Finland abroad. So far it seems that not all is lost regarding press freedom in Finland. When compared to Hong Kong, working from our newsroom in Finland is like the difference between night and day. In Finland, civil servants are easy to reach. They mainly understand the importance of, and fulfil the obligation of, providing accurate information to the press. And they usually do so in the most polite and timely manner. In most cases politicans do reply to interview requests, at least from the main media outlets. Even from junior journalists like myself. In Finland, if a politican is “not available for comment” it is not regarded as business as usual, but as something suspicious and worth investigating. It also does not take much effort from the journalists to reach politicians in the first place, as they are usually just a phone call away. Based on the latest polls, the Prime Minister involved in the 2016 incident is set to lose the election and join the ranks of the opposition after the country goes to vote in 2019. It will be interesting to see how many media outlets are willing to report his alternative policy ideas once he no longer hold the office of the number one politician in the country. Number one spot or no, it would seem that the press still holds significant power in Finland.
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The official magazine of the Foreign Correspondents' Club, Hong Kong.