T H E O F F I C I A L P U B L I C AT I O N O F T H E F O R E I G N C O R R E S P O N D E N T S ’ C L U B
Era of Uncertainty
A new law and escalating geopolitical tensions threaten Hong Kong’s press freedom
What can we learn from journalist visa rejections on the Mainland? pg. 20
0 Cover 13.indd 1
Press freedom hits a new low in Kashmir, pg. 24
Meet our new Clare Hollingworth Fellows, pg. 28
18/9/2020 4:38 PM
Hurry Up! Order your Thanksgiving Takeaway dinner before theyâ€™re all gobbled up
Enjoy 15% off when you place an order between 1 and 19 November. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 2592-1515 to place your order.
01 Contents 8.indd 2
21/9/2020 3:55 PM
CONTENTS COVER STORY
A NEW REALITY
Journalism and legal experts discuss the potential implications of the national security law. Cover Illustration: Harry Harrison
From the President
‘Tis The Season Fill your autumn with festive events at the FCC
On the Wall Gerry Yin finds connections in Wuhan during lockdown, while Xu An Rong captures his grandfather’s last years
Speakers Noam Chomsky says deteriorating US–China relations could spell trouble for Hong Kong
Wine & Dine A delicious Thanksgiving feast, wines to go, and a chat with FCC Bar Manager John Ma
Member Insights In this new section, we invite FCC members to share their expertise – starting with AFP Fact Check’s Cat Barton
Member Movements Who’s joined, relocated or resigned? FCC members have been busy New Members Get to know our latest crop of FCC members
Obituaries We pay our respects to FCC members Noel Parrott and Graham Peter Mead
Speaking Up for Press Freedom FCC First Vice President Eric Wishart revisits the club’s core mission: safeguarding press freedom
Caught in the Middle As journalists in Hong Kong face potential visa issues, Morgan M. Davis looks across the border for insights Surviving the Night In his dispatch from Kashmir, Sharafat Ali says the territory’s press freedoms have hit a new low
Member Perks An inside look at The Oriental Club London, one of the FCC’s 96 partner clubs around the world Reading List New books, documentaries, and podcasts to inform and entertain you this autumn
Last Laugh Would you take a flight to nowhere? David Cain buckles up for a big letdown
Meet Our New Fellows We catch up with this year’s Clare Hollingworth Fellows, Jennifer Creery and Tiffany Liang
01 Contents 8.indd 3
21/9/2020 3:55 PM
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club 2 Lower Albert Road Central, Hong Kong Tel: (852) 2521 1511 Fax: (852) 2868 4092 Email: email@example.com Website: www.fcchk.org
THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS’ CLUB HONG KONG
EDITOR’S LETTER Dear FCC Members, I’m delighted to join the FCC as the editor of The Correspondent. It’s a challenging time, to say the least. Press freedom in Hong Kong faces threats on several fronts, from the national security law to US– China relations. In these pages, we explore the situation as it unfolds, alongside member profiles, club news, and regional dispatches. In our cover story on page 12, we sit down with experts, including Correspondent Governor Keith Richburg, to discuss the future of journalism in Hong Kong under the national security law. On page 16, FCC First Vice President Eric Wishart highlights the club’s long-standing dedication to press freedom and the Press Freedom Committee’s statement-approval process. Given ongoing concerns about journalist visa renewals in Hong Kong, we explore the weaponisation of journalist visas by the US and mainland China (pg. 20). Elsewhere in the region, we turn our attention to conflict-torn Kashmir (pg. 24) where journalists regularly face harassment, censorship, and imprisonment. But it’s not all bad news. There’s much to celebrate this autumn, including upcoming festivities (pg. 5), exciting dining promotions (pg. 6), our new Clare Hollingworth Fellows (pg. 28), illuminating speakers (pg. 36), and fascinating books by FCC members (pg. 46). For more inspiration, turn to page 9 to spend a few minutes with resident Bar Manager John Ma, who has worked at the FCC since 1992. And on page 10, learn how Cat Barton and her team at AFP Fact Check combat unprecedented volumes of misinformation. Before leaving you to it, I’d like to extend my gratitude to everyone who helped bring this issue to life, from our talented designer Noel de Guzman to our contributors, editorial consultants, illustrators, AFP’s photo desk, and proofreaders. I’m also grateful to former editor Sue Brattle, who generously showed me the ropes before moving on. Have feedback, questions or concerns? Please don’t hesitate to drop me a line. Enjoy, Kate Springer Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Board of Governors 2020-2021 President Jodi Schneider First Vice-President Eric Wishart Second Vice-President Tim Huxley Correspondent Member Governors Katie Forster, Jennifer Hughes, Tripti Lahiri, Shibani Mahtani, Keith Richburg, Kristine Servando, Kristie Lu Stout, Dan Strumpf Journalist Member Governors Clifford Buddle, Adam White Associate Member Governors Genavieve Alexander, Andy Chworowsky, Liu Kin-ming, Christopher Slaughter Club Treasurer Tim Huxley Club Secretary Jennifer Hughes Professional Committee Conveners: Eric Wishart, Keith Richburg Finance Committee Conveners: Tim Huxley (Treasurer), Jennifer Hughes Constitutional Committee Conveners: Liu Kin-ming, Keith Richburg Membership Committee Conveners: Jennifer Hughes, Clifford Buddle, Kristine Servando, Katie Forster House/Food and Beverage Committee Conveners: Adam White, Andy Chworowsky, Genavieve Alexander Building - Project and Maintenance Committee Conveners: Christopher Slaughter, Liu Kin-ming Press Freedom Committee Conveners: Eric Wishart, Dan Strumpf, Tripti Lahiri, Shibani Mahtani Communications Committee Conveners: Genavieve Alexander, Kristine Servando Wall Committee Conveners: Adam White, Shibani Mahtani, Christopher Slaughter, Kristie Lu Stout General Manager Didier Saugy Editor, The Correspondent Kate Springer, Springer Creative Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org Publisher: Artmazing! Tel: 9128 8949 Email: email@example.com Printing Elite Printing, Tel: 2558 0119 Advertising Contact FCC Front Office: Tel: 2521 1511 The Correspondent ©2020 The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong The Correspondent is published four times a year. Opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of the club.
02 Pres Letter 6.indd 2
21/9/2020 3:58 PM
FROM THE PRESIDENT
Dear FCC members: As I write this in mid-September, things are starting to look up after several challenging months in Hong Kong. Amid a third wave of the coronavirus outbreak from mid-July through August, we had the toughest restrictions yet, with the required 6 p.m. closing of all outlets and only two people to a table. While at this time we still can’t hold in-person events and our capacity remains restricted, we are hopeful that the club will be back to regular business as the number of virus cases has declined.
On a personal note, I’m gratified that we’ve been able to keep the club open throughout the pandemic. And it has continually struck me how members and the staff, every day, have helped support each other through a tough time. The FCC has remained a safe haven in a turbulent world. Even though it’s been a difficult period, we at the FCC are resilient and adaptable – and we’ve found some so-called silver linings. One has been our events. We have had terrific success in hosting world-class speakers to join our exclusive FCC Zoom events. In the past few months, we’ve been fortunate to host global thinkers including John Bolton, Noam Chomsky, Garry Kasparov, Joseph Stiglitz, Maria Ressa, Suzanne Nossel, Brian Stelter, and Admiral William Owens. Not only do our events offer a unique chance for members to hear from these august speakers in real-time, but they also highlight the FCC as a forum for wide-ranging debate on ideas. After our events, we post a summary online and a recording on YouTube, where our channel recently surpassed 1 million hits – our Zoom conversation with Professor Chomsky alone garnered 100,000. With this issue of the magazine, you’ll notice a refreshed style and a journalistic urgency to the content. We welcome Kate Springer as the editor, who takes over from Sue Brattle who is heading back to the UK. While clubfocused features remain core to the magazine, we plan to also discuss press issues in Hong Kong and the region. And there’s plenty to discuss, given the changing political and press freedom landscape in Hong Kong after the imposition of the national security law on 30 June. The FCC’s Press Freedom Committee continues to speak out about the growing risks to press freedom in Hong Kong in statements and open letters. On page 16, First Vice President Eric Wishart discusses the club’s core mission of press freedom and explains the process for determining the club’s statements. His piece ends with these important words: Silence is not an option. We are the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, and we must raise our voice when the free press is threatened, especially on our own turf.
We are the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, and we must raise our voice when the free press is threatened, especially on our own turf.
In closing, I’d like to answer a question that I have received many times since becoming the FCC President in May 2019. What can we do to make sure the FCC stays alive? It’s a simple answer: Support the club as much as you can. Come often, bring your friends, host business lunches, suggest speakers, and book future events. Bring in new members and get involved – let me know if you’d like to join a committee or be involved in a club initiative. Take out an ad in this publication. Yet most important, show up and support each other. The world is an unstable place these days and we need to do all we can to ensure the FCC remains a port in the storm. Jodi Schneider Hong Kong September 2020
02 Pres Letter 6.indd 3
21/9/2020 3:58 PM
BEHIND THE SCENES The pandemic has complicated operations this year, but the FCC’s dedicated staff continues to work behind the scenes to improve the club and the community.
l Fighting Hunger In collaboration with Foodlink Foundation, a local NGO dedicated to fighting hunger, the FCC has been donating safe-to-eat surplus food every week. In the first half of 2020, we donated 91 kilogrammes of food to be redistributed to those in need. This programme not only helps alleviate hunger but also diverts waste from Hong Kong’s landfills.
l Essential Updates
PHOTOS: FCC & LAKSHMI HARILEL A
Ongoing maintenance is essential when caring for a heritage property, which is why we’ve ramped up painting, cleaning, and water-proofing efforts across every corner of the club.
l Closing the Loop Back in 2018, the FCC kicked off a cooking oil recycling programme, which donates used cooking oil so it can be repurposed as bio-diesel, feedstock, fertiliser, cosmetics or soap. As of August, the Club recycled 1,240 litres of oil.
04 Club News 12.indd 4
The FCC is preparing to launch a new website and app to improve your member experience. Stay tuned for more updates later this year.
18/9/2020 4:41 PM
‘TIS THE SEASON
Every holiday season, the Club comes alive with festive dinners, markets, and soirées. Things might be a little different this year, but we’re optimistic that the show will go on.
l Shop ‘Til You Drop This December, we plan to once again transform the Burton Room into a bustling Christmas Bazaar, brimming with handpicked wines, gourmet food, and FCC-inspired gift ideas (including our signature wine glasses) – all at special holiday prices. l Santa’s Little Helpers Magic is in the air at our annual children’s holiday party, which includes everything from a special gift giveaway to a chocolate fountain, handicraft workshops, face-painting, and a visit from Santa himself. l Hit the High Notes As Christmas draws near, the FCC plans to turn up the holiday spirit with an uplifting “Concert of Carols” event by a local a cappella choir.
l 3, 2, 1... Happy New Year! Ready for 2021 yet? Every New Year’s Eve, we host a blowout event: delicious dinner buffets at Bert’s Bar or the Main Bar, a black-tie set menu in the Dining Room, live music, and DJ beats, plus all-you-can-drink packages ‘til the ball drops. Holiday events will depend on COVID-19 restrictions. Check online for further details.
04 Club News 12.indd 5
l Sweet Surprises Stop by our Goodies House throughout December to load up on pastries, cakes and cookies. Try our popular gingerbread “Love” House, made with pink macarons, or take home a few adorable reindeer cookies for the family.
Clockwise from top: Santa’s little helpers; Concert of Carols; New Year’s Countdown Party
DID YOU KNOW?
You can buy a Christmas tree at the FCC, starting this November. Call 2521-1708 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
18/9/2020 4:41 PM
WINE & DINE
MARK YOUR CALENDAR All autumn long, we will be offering drink deals and feasts at the FCC. Bring your family and friends to spend quality time together or order takeaway and enjoy our world-class cuisine at home.
To celebrate International Vodka Day on 4 October, the FCC will be offering 10 per cent off all vodka-based drinks every Saturday and Sunday throughout the month. Swing by the bar to enjoy a chilled martini, cosmopolitan, Moscow Mule, screwdriver – or your favourite vodka tipple.
LET’S TALK TURKEY
Psst... Enjoy 15% off when you order between 1 and 19 November
PHOTOS: L AKSHMI HARILELA
For the perfect Thanksgiving feast, don’t miss the FCC’s takeaway menu. The set stars a 6kg roasted US turkey, bread and chestnut stuffing, honey-glazed bone-in ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and your choice of apple or pumpkin pie. With any luck, you can also enjoy a bountiful Thanksgiving dinner at the club, pending COVID-19 restrictions.
05 F&B 12.indd 6
18/9/2020 4:42 PM
Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is one of the most important Hindu festivals of the year. Available from 12 to 14 November, our celebratory Diwali dinner features a slew of vegetarian offerings, as well as crowd-pleasers like coconut chicken, lamb kebabs, fish curry, and tandoori canai roti.
Perfect Pairings FCC F&B Manager Michael Chan recommends the best wine pairings for Thanksgiving dinner. Best part? They’re all available for takeaway.
Philippe Prié Brut Champagne
“The holidays are a time for celebration, so you need Champagne! Our House Champagne, Philippe Prié, is perfectly balanced with fine bubbles, low acidity and nice toasty flavours, which pair well with turkey and stuffing.”
J. Lohr Estates Riverstone Chardonnay
FREE MULLED WINE
Yes, that’s right: Throughout December, the FCC will be serving up complimentary welcome mugs of hot and steamy mulled wine to get you in the holiday spirit. Dine-in events will depend on COVID-19 restrictions. Check online for more details.
“For those who love white meat, this Chardonnay is perfect. This wine is full-bodied, with high acidity, notes of honey, and a pear and apple nose, which goes well with lean meat.”
Hunter’s Pinot Noir
PHOTOS: FCC & LAKSHMI HARILEL A
“For dark meat, I’d recommend Hunter’s Pinot Noir. It’s smooth, with gentle tannins that won’t overpower the meat. And the plum, cherry and earthy notes go great with the sides.”
AROUND THE WORLD IN FLAVOURS The FCC continues to take us around the world in flavours. Don’t miss our upcoming Irish and Greek promotions. Stay tuned!
05 F&B 12.indd 7
18/9/2020 4:42 PM
WINE & DINE
MAKING HEADLINES Amid the many challenges the club faced last year, one stood out: Choosing the FCC’s new signature beer, Headline Pilsner. Richard Macauley, who was instrumental in bringing the beer to life, spills the story.
Q1 The first Pilsner was brewed in what year? Q2 Who invented it? Q3 What city is it named after?
05 F&B 12.indd 8
Test your Pilsner proficiency
from spicy Indian curries to salads, Asian noodles or simply some peanuts and crisps. If you haven’t tried a pint of Headline yet, there’s plenty of time to change that. Next time you’re at the Club, sip a draught with your favourite meal or just savour it solo. And take pleasure, if you like, that you’ll not only enjoy a great pint but that you’ll also be supporting one of Hong Kong’s best young businesses.
A1 1842 A2 Bavarian brewer Josef Groll A3 Plzen (or Pilsen),
Mini Pub Quiz
PHOTO: L AKSHMI HARILELA
eer is the single-most popular drink at the FCC’s Main Bar – which sold upwards of 4,000 draughts and bottles a month pre-pandemic – so it felt only natural to introduce an exclusive FCC beer. Early last year, the F&B Committee set to work, pouring ourselves into Hong Kong’s craft brew scene to find the perfect beer for FCC members. We quickly identified its ideal brewing partner: Young Master Brewery. Founded in 2013, Young Master is one of Hong Kong’s most successful craft breweries, standing out from the pack with its creativity, consistency and commitment to the city. We knew the FCC’s signature beer had to be refreshing, flavourful and versatile, plus pair well with the club’s food. And as tempting as it was to experiment with more avant-garde brews, we ultimately selected a beer that would speak to the majority of FCC members. After tasting dozens of beers, we narrowed it down to a pale ale or a Pilsner, essentially a classic Czech style of pale lager. During one of the tasting sessions, Young Master introduced us to a contemporary take on a Pilsner that ticked all of our boxes: a bold yet approachable flavour, crisp and clean finish, mild and tangy hops, and an all-weather quality that stands up in winter and summer. As a final touch, we needed a catchy name fitting of a correspondents’ club. Enter Headline Pilsner – a beer so good, you’ll never need to read the full beer menu again. Since its launch, Headline has been one of the club’s top-selling draught beers, which is a testament to its easy-drinking style and compatibility with everything
18/9/2020 4:42 PM
Meet John Ma, FCC Bar Manager With more than 30 years of bartending experience, John Ma makes you feel right at home at the FCC. Tell us about your career! John Ma: My first bartending job was about 30 years ago. I worked at a really local bar in Tsim Sha Tsui, where I learned how to make classic cocktails like gin and tonics, martinis, Negronis, and boulevardiers. When did you join the FCC? JM: A long time ago, in 1992. I almost always work the late shift – and I love it. I actually left the FCC for about two years to go work at a yacht club, but it wasn’t for me. It was too quiet, too calm, too empty... I really missed the FCC atmosphere and all of the members. How has the FCC changed over time? JM: We have seen many members come and go. Staff, too. It changes all the time, but I love meeting and talking with our new members. Often, we become very good friends. Of course, when members move away, it can be hard – I really miss them. What do you love so much about the FCC bar? JM: The bar is an important place for the community, for friends, for relaxing. I love the energy here – it is a special place. What’s new at the bar? JM: We are always working on new cocktails, experimenting with techniques, and adding wines and beers to the menu. We just bought a smoking machine, which we’re using to create new cocktails downstairs at Bert’s. We also introduced beautiful rocks to serve with our premium Scotch and whisky.
So which drinks should we try on our next visit? JM: Our new smoky cocktails downstairs! For wine drinkers, our House Champagne is well-balanced and delicious. I would also suggest our Headline beer, an FCC signature. And for a cocktail, I’d say our espresso martini. That’s a good choice if you need extra energy after a long week. What’s your go-to drink on a night off? JM: A classic gin martini with a lemon twist – it is very elegant and refreshing. In general, I am obsessed with gin. My favourite type is Bombay, because it has a distinct aroma of spice and citrus.
PHOTOS: L AKSHMI HARILELA
What’s a fun fact about you? JM: My first job was as a barber. I still have all of my tools. But don’t ask me for a haircut now! It has been way too long... I really loved working with hair, but it was too hard on my hands. That’s when I became a bartender. It was a perfect fit: Just like being a barber, I get to make new friends, create new things, and make people happy.
DID YOU KNOW? At a wine social last October, FCC members sampled 30 different Champagnes before choosing Philippe Prié Champagne Brut as the House Champagne.
05 F&B 12.indd 9
18/9/2020 4:42 PM
FACING THE FACTS
PHOTO: CAT BARTON
With misinformation on the rise, AFP Fact Check’s Cat Barton says fact-checking is fast becoming an essential public service. By Marianna Cerini
Cat Barton reporting in Bangladesh in 2009.
at Barton has been with Agence France-Presse (AFP) for more than a decade. Her career has taken her across Asia, from Dhaka to Hanoi to Hong Kong, where she now heads up AFP Fact Check, the international news agency’s content verification operation. Fact-checking is more crucial than ever. Not only has the pandemic fuelled an ‘infodemic’ of fake news, but social media companies are also struggling to vet an onslaught of deceptive and divisive content from politicians and hate groups. It’s an uphill battle, but Barton and her team are working hard to combat deliberately incorrect, doctored, or otherwise misleading information. How did you get into fact-checking? Cat Barton: I moved to Hong Kong to work on the Asia-Pacific editing desk, when AFP started this new programme called AFP Fact Check, back in 2018. Interested, I got involved early on. We started fact-checking reports from four countries: India, Pakistan, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Every day, a handful of reporters would look for
06 The Beat 6.indd 10
deliberately misleading online information and find ways to debunk it. The department has grown rapidly since then. Today, we cover 12 countries in Asia, have more than a dozen reporters on the fact-checking team, and publish in multiple languages. AFP sees fact-checking as a key pillar of a news agency’s role in the 21st century, because misinformation is pervasive in the digital media landscape. What surprised you the most about misinformation? CB: At first, I was really surprised by how misinformation is exactly the same in different languages. The same message just crops up across local markets with a few clever tweaks – maybe the name of a city has been changed, or the name of the health minister – but it’s still shared with the same images, the same claims, the same editing, and wording taken out of context, the same memes, and graphics. We often have situations where our fact-checker in Jakarta, for instance, would say, ‘Hey, you know that misinformation from Buenos Aires? We just found it here too.’
18/9/2020 4:42 PM
What’s one of your top fake news-busting moments? CB: One of my all-time favourites was during the 2019 Indian general election. Rahul Gandhi, an Indian politician who was the opposition leader at the time, gave a funny speech about how Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been promising to gift farmers fields on the moon. However, online purveyors of misinformation edited the video of Gandhi’s speech to make it look like he was the one who was making those promises. It was such a simple, clever piece of misinformation because they made it seem so plausible. It would have fooled most people. That was very satisfying to unpick and debunk. What’s been your focus so far this year? CB: My team has done some amazing work debunking coronavirus misinformation. As an example: Early on in Hong Kong, when people were panicking about face mask shortages, a suggestion began circulating online that, if you steamed your face mask, you could reuse it up to five times. We did a deep dive into the subject. We broke down the videos making that claim, talked to experts and Hong Kong health authorities, and discovered where the original message originated. We demonstrated with real forensic accuracy that the whole thing was misconstrued on Weibo, then amplified by a Hong Kong politician on Facebook. Why is fact-checking so important right now? CB: The media industry has been upended over the last decade or so. We’re no longer the gatekeepers of information – anyone with an internet connection and a Facebook account can freely publish whatever they please. As a consequence, misinformation has swelled. Across
the countries we work in, we see different motivations – political or financial – and it’s so important that we push back. Otherwise, it can be hard for the general public to discern the truth. That’s all the more important in places like India, for instance, where the literacy rate is quite low. It’s a lot of responsibility. Does it take a toll on you? CB: Fact-checking is obviously a difficult task. It can feel dispiriting when you’re fact-checking pernicious misinformation that’s designed to confuse or mislead people, or that could have real, serious repercussions. But AFP sees it as an important public service, so we are very proud of the work we do. Looking ahead, how do you expect the role of factcheckers to evolve? CB: As an organisation, we have always ensured that the information we publish is correct. But that’s no longer enough. Now, it’s part of our mission to actively find inaccurate misinformation and correct it. We’re now using a good chunk of our journalistic resources to debunk misinformation, and I think that’s going to become even more essential as the media landscape evolves. Looking forward, I also think traditional and legacy media will work more closely with tech companies to combat misinformation. We anticipate misinformation to continue to proliferate online and become more sophisticated and hard to detect, for example, the use of ‘deep fakes’ [sophisticated fake videos or audio that replicate a person’s likeness using special effects and artificial intelligence]. n Learn more about AFP Fact Check: factcheck.afp.com
CAT’S TOOLKIT Stockpile your fact-checking arsenal with these free online resources:
Helpful for reverse-image searches. Also a great way for photographers and creatives to catch copyright infringement. bit.ly/3kZkmbu
06 The Beat 6.indd 11
Verifies videos. Can breakdown videos into keyframes for reverseimage search. Also useful for checking metadata. bit.ly/319trXj
Carbon Dating The Web
Used to verify the date a webpage was created to confirm or debunk the legitimacy of a source. carbondate.cs.odu.edu
A weather-checking resource. You can prove a video wasn’t taken at the time it claims if the weather doesn’t match. wolframalpha.com
Provides the upload time of a YouTube video. Used to verify if an incident happened at the time or place claimed. citizenevidence. amnestyusa.org
18/9/2020 4:42 PM
A NEW REALITY
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam discusses the national security law at a press conference on 7 July, 2020.
07 Feature NSL 10.indd 12
PHOTO: ISA AC LAWRENCE / AFP
As soon as the government enacted the national security law on 30 June, the rules changed for Hong Kong journalists. Kate Springer discusses the potential implications with legal and journalism experts.
18/9/2020 4:49 PM
PHOTO: VERNON YUEN / AFP
Pro-democracy media mogul Jimmy Lai (centre), 72, in police custody on 10 August, 2020.
hen the Chinese Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress enacted the Hong Kong national security law on 30 June, the city changed overnight. The far-reaching law criminalises “terrorist activities”, “secession”, “subversion”, “collusion” with foreign entities and inciting “hatred among Hong Kong residents” towards the local or central government – not just in Hong Kong, but anywhere in the world. The law, however, does not define these crimes, leaving room for interpretation by authorities and the courts. Despite assurances in Article 4 that “freedoms of speech, of the press, of publication” will be safeguarded, many journalists and news agencies remain concerned. There is good reason to worry: For starters, the law states that the government will take greater measures to regulate and manage the media, as well as “promote national security education” in the media. In addition, the government could require journalists to relinquish sensitive material, if it relates to an investigation under the new law. It remains unclear if journalists can interview pro-democracy voices, criticise the law or print offending slogans. On 7 July, the FCC hosted a panel with veteran journalists and legal experts to hear their thoughts on the national security law (NSL). From the high-profile arrest of Jimmy Lai to mass disqualification of pro-democracy lawmakers and unexplained delays in granting journalist visas, a lot has changed since then. In mid-August, we invited the panelists to revisit the conversation at the FCC. Before we kick this off, can you introduce yourselves? Sharron Fast: I’m a lecturer in media law and the deputy director of the Master of Journalism programme at the Journalism and Media Studies Centre (JMSC) at The
07 Feature NSL 10.indd 13
University of Hong Kong (HKU). I also teach in the Faculty of Law at HKU.
Keith Richburg: I’m the director of the JMSC, HKU’s school of journalism. I’m also a longtime FCC member and a board member. Antony Dapiran: I’m a writer and lawyer. I’ve also written two books on Hong Kong’s protest movements, including City on Fire, about last year’s events. What does the NSL say about journalism? SF: If we look at Articles 9 and 10, the law says the Hong Kong government has a duty to ensure that mechanisms are put in place to promote the national security law through the media. That is sounding dangerously like propaganda. It doesn’t mean a free press – it means that the government will ensure that the media gets the coverage ‘right’.
AD: I’d also highlight Article 54, which has caused grave concern. The article says the government will ‘strengthen the management’ of foreign media, international organisations and NGOs. There’s a great deal of uncertainty over what that will mean. But it is certainly ominous. How are you feeling about the law at the moment? KR: Some [decisions] have given me more optimism. For example, the law didn’t provide any presumption of bail, but Jimmy Lai was released on bail. Others have made me more pessimistic. Sending about 200 police officers into the Apple Daily newsroom [on 10 August] was a shocking trampling on press freedom. I’ve covered the Middle East and authoritarian governments in Africa, and I don’t recall seeing police search a critical newsroom like that. AD: And then lying about it after the fact. They claimed
18/9/2020 4:49 PM
PHOTO: BEN MAR ANS
Antony Dapiran (left) and Keith Richburg (right) discuss the implications of the national security law at the FCC on 15 August, 2020.
not to have searched news materials when there’s footage of police rifling through journalists’ desks. That’s troubling.
intention is to conduct mass arrests in Hong Kong. With these targeted arrests, they can scare a lot more people. You know, the old Chinese saying, sha ji xia hou (殺雞儆猴), which means, ‘You kill the chicken to scare the monkey’. That raid on Apple Daily, disqualifying candidates and picking up young students... that’s just killing a few chickens. But all of us monkeys are thinking, ‘Wow, I don’t want to be like that chicken. Maybe I better fall in line.’
August 10 was a sad day for the Hong Kong press. What stood out to you?
How could the law pose problems for journalists?
KR: When the FCC put out a statement criticising the raid at Apple Daily and the arrest of Jimmy Lai, they accused us of ‘smearing’ the national security law. They’re implying that even being critical of the law could itself be a violation. That tramples on free speech. I may have to obey the law, but it is still my right to criticise it.
SF: We had many sharp shocks that Monday. Around 7 a.m., Jimmy Lai is being arrested. By 10 a.m., the police are entering Next Digital [the publisher of Apple Daily]. Then quietly, news breaks about the immigration situation – people start noticing changes to foreign visa applications. Then we hear about changes to directorships of broadcast news. It was just layer after layer. These weren’t coincidences – every single thing that happened that day is part of creating an atmosphere of fear. KR: Let’s not forget, the week before, it seemed like politicians had their day. The government disqualified [a dozen] politicians and cancelled the elections entirely.
SF: We have everyone from politicians to video journalists to media executives being targeted... If I look at someone like [freelance journalist and activist] Wilson Li versus [media mogul] Jimmy Lai, it’s clear that this law is an ‘all creatures great and small’ kind of instrument.
AD: It has a calculated chilling effect. I think you’re right – the point they want to make is that anyone is at risk. KR: I’m speculating a little bit here, but I don’t think their
07 Feature NSL 10.indd 14
KR: Personally, I write a lot of op-eds these days. I think it’s still okay to address what’s happening here and offer my interpretations, but I am going to be more cautious about calling on world powers to do anything. That could be interpreted as ‘inciting foreign intervention’. SF: Anything is possible with this law. Let’s talk about Article 20 on secession, which includes participation as part of the offence. But what is participating in secession? It’s undefined, unclear. Does this include interviewing [a pro-democracy or pro-independence activist]? Are you an accessory if you give them a platform? KR: We have already seen an increase in self-censorship across some media outlets. And here at the FCC, we do a lot of events and Zoom panels. We have a lot of debates about who to have on, as we have gotten in trouble in the past. SF: Yes, and the law is unclear [about what it means to advocate secession]. Normally, under Common Law, you would need to prove intent. But the national security law is crafted to be very purposive, meaning that the purpose of the accused individual is presumed. For example, a person will be assumed to have the
18/9/2020 4:49 PM
intention to advocate secession by displaying a flag imprinted with the phrase ‘HK Independence’. What if a reporter obtains documents that could be considered ‘state secrets’? KR: Let’s hypothesise: A police officer is upset about police brutality and has some internal documents to prove that the department buried an investigation. The whistleblower passes the documents to a reporter who writes a story. Now, I would imagine the top brass might accuse that reporter of possessing ‘national security documents’ and ‘fomenting unlawful hatred’. What liability would that journalist have?
AD: There would also be pressure on the media to reveal the identity of the leaker. Just saying, ‘I can’t reveal my sources’ is going to be a difficult argument. How might the government punish ‘rogue’ media?
PHOTO: BEN MAR ANS
SF: I think direct [liability]. You might have to publish it overseas. There are no sunshine laws [freedom of information laws in the US that require federal bodies to disclose information]. And, whereas in the US, you can go after the leaker but not the reporter, that won’t stand here.
Sharron Fast unpacks the law’s vague language at the FCC.
Could entrapment become more common?
KR: I worked in mainland China as a correspondent for SF: The lengths to which authorities will go to in order to The Washington Post [from 2009 to 2013]. They had this idea ensnare journalists are still unknown. Right now, everyone’s of collective punishment. For example, I was invited on a thinking about legal advice, encryption, using Signal – government-sponsored trip to Tibet. At the last minute, doing everything possible to keep the forensics clean. they said there was no space for me because The Post had KR: Journalists will figure it out. They have to learn how to written an editorial criticising what was navigate the new rules, protect their sources, happening in Xinjiang. Even though I had data and notebooks. We can’t just pretend nothing to do with it, they said: ‘Yes, but you “That shows how things are the way they were before. You are The Washington Post’s person in China. may have to use burner cell phones, VPNs, important press So you are responsible.’ remember your interviews instead of taking So what happens if Nathan Law or Jimmy freedom is to notes, and assume you’re being surveilled. Lai writes an op-ed that appears in The New the people of AD: That is a good point. The law has a York Times or The Washington Post in the US? whole raft of mechanisms that can compel Since they can’t get to the reporter overseas, Hong Kong.” people to provide documents and answer would they punish the bureaus here? All we questions. So the way journalists record and have to go on is how they do it in China. safeguard their data is going to be important. AD: True, but even though it is hard to report in China, we still see excellent journalism coming out of the country. Do you think press freedom is dead in Hong Kong? KR: Absolutely. China is one of the most restrictive place for KR: Press freedom is dead, in terms of being protected by journalists in the world. It ranks 177 out of 180 countries, law. That said, I believe press freedom will survive because according to Reporters Without Borders. But there’s good of the bravery of journalists, who get out there and report. journalism being done if you look at Caixin, Southern SF: There is definitely still a pulse. We have a great new Weekend, Sixth Tone, The New York Times’ Xinjiang papers... cohort at HKU this year. Our students are extremely AD: In Hong Kong, journalists will need to be more interested in reporting here; this attempt to extinguish careful. They will need to learn from how journalists press freedom and free expression is the biggest story in the operate in other countries, like in Thailand, where you can’t world right now. It is the story of their generation. criticise the military or the monarchy. AD: And certainly, I was heartened by the public’s reaction KR: Even in Myanmar, there’s good reporting. It takes to Apple Daily and all the outpouring of support they’ve brave journalists, brave editors, brave websites that are still seen since the arrests and newsroom raid. That shows how going to print this stuff. At the same time, we need to pay important press freedom is to the people of Hong Kong. n attention and start to learn where the red lines are – and Read the law in full here: bit.ly/2EWPec9 know that they will always be shifting.
07 Feature NSL 10.indd 15
18/9/2020 4:49 PM
SPEAKING UP FOR
FCC First Vice President and Press Freedom Committee coconvener Eric Wishart revisits the club’s core mission – and the many ways in which it has fought for unfettered, independent journalism since its founding.
– journalists and non-journalists alike – understand that the defence of press freedom is fundamental to the club’s existence. As the FCC site asserts: “The club’s core mission is to promote and facilitate journalism of the highest standard, and to promote press freedom across the region.” Our press freedom actions take a number of forms. For two decades, we have jointly organised and sponsored the Human Rights Press Awards, recognising journalists in Hong Kong and throughout the region for fearless and distinguished reporting. Often focusing on press freedom or human rights themes, our Wall exhibits in the Main Bar showcase the best in photojournalism. Our speaker events often involve press freedom issues. Last year we held a series of briefings, which we opened up to the
PHOTO: NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP
ong Kong has been through turbulent times over the past year with the protests and unrest, the COVID-19 pandemic, and most recently, the imposition of the national security law. The club has witnessed many seismic events since it was founded in China in 1943 and subsequently moved to Hong Kong after the establishment of the PRC in 1949. From a handful of foreign correspondents that established our foothold in Hong Kong, the FCC has evolved to become one of the most famous and prestigious press clubs in the world, with a large and diverse membership. The FCC is a vibrant place to meet, share views and bring guests. As we have seen over the past year, it serves as a welcoming oasis in troubled times. It is also important that all members
The FCC takes a stand for press freedom on 18 September, 2019.
08 Press Freedom 16.indd 16
18/9/2020 4:49 PM
PHOTO: DALE DE LA REY / AFP
Riot police pepper spray a group of journalists on 1 July, 2020.
08 Press Freedom 16.indd 17
18/9/2020 4:50 PM
PHOTO: ANTHONY WALL ACE / AFP
The FCC hosted a lunch panel on the protests and press freedom on 8 August, 2019.
community, to help journalists deal with the multiple challenges of covering the protests. When the government adopted the national security law, we held a panel discussion with experts on the potential implications of the law for journalists and press freedom. We mark World Press Freedom Day and hold shows of solidarity after attacks on journalistic freedom, such as the terrorist attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris in 2015. Engagement is important, and over the past year, we have met representatives of the Hong Kong government, the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Hong Kong Police Force. Dialogue remains essential. A large number of journalists at the club and in Hong Kong have confronted risks to press freedom, from facing physical threats to vicious online trolling. They have faced up to dictators and authoritarianism and seen colleagues imprisoned, kidnapped and killed. The most powerful weapon journalists and defenders of press freedom have at their disposal is the power to shine a light on abuses and threats to the unfettered reporting of the news, which should be conducted without fear or favour. Silence only encourages those who would turn the free press into a compliant tool and create an environment where journalists work in fear of losing their accreditation, work visas, freedom of movement, or in extreme cases, their lives. Keeping your head down, not “rocking the boat” and hoping things will get better never works when faced with enemies of press freedom.
At the FCC, the Press Freedom Committee is responsible for dealing with the club’s response to threats against journalists and the media, which includes our public statements and letters to the appropriate authorities. It comprises about a dozen members – all working journalists – with a wide range of experience. It represents members of the local and international media and includes journalists at the start of their careers as well as experienced correspondents who have faced a range of press freedom challenges, including in war zones and dealing with dictatorial regimes. The committee focuses on challenges to press freedom in Hong Kong, although it will occasionally take up highprofile cases such as the jailing of two Reuters journalists in Myanmar, expulsions of journalists from China, and the jail sentence against Rappler executive editor Maria Ressa in the Philippines. When it comes to cases outside of Hong Kong taken up by the committee, there is often an FCC connection. The Press Freedom Committee responds to sudden events such as physical assaults or arrests of journalists in Hong Kong, as well as broader issues, such as the cumulative effect of delays in granting visas to correspondents. In practical terms, once the committee has decided to act on an issue, a member is designated to write a draft that is then circulated for discussion to the rest of the committee. The process can take a few hours or longer, depending on its complexity. Once the conveners and president sign off on the final version, it is posted on the site, shared on social
“Silence is not an option.”
08 Press Freedom 16.indd 18
18/9/2020 4:50 PM
Ming Pao’s Lai Chun Kit won the People’s Choice Photo Award at the Human Rights Press Awards 2020 for his shot, “Mattress Shield”, which was taken during clashes with police at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in November 2019.
media and sent to the Board of Governors. It is important that the club speaks with its own voice – we post statements from other press freedom groups on the FCC site, such as the Hong Kong Journalists Association, Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Press Institute. However, we limit our social media posts to our own statements, and we avoid taking
part in joint statements. We believe that the club should maintain its independence and be answerable solely for its own actions. Why should the FCC speak up? The best defence of press freedom is to expose abuses and threats, engage with the relevant authorities when necessary, and respect the core mission that was entrusted to us by the founders of the club. Silence is not an option. n
PROFESSIONAL CONTACTS PHOTOGRAPHERS CARSTENSCHAEL.COM – Award winning Photographer. People - Corporate - Stills - Food Architecture - Transport. Tel: (852) 2565 6349 Email: email@example.com JAYNE RUSSELL PHOTOGRAPHY – Editorial People - Food. 18 years Fleet St London experience. Tel: (852) 9757 8607 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.jaynerussellphotography.com
DESIGN ARTMAZING! – Award winning print art director Noel de Guzman Tel: (852) 9128 8949 Email: email@example.com COMPANY INCORPORATION AND TAX MATTERS Visit our website www.hkwj-taxlaw.hk Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org Call us at (852) 2804 0889
VERÓNICA SANCHIS BENCOMO – Lifestyle, editorial and portrait photographer based in Hong Kong. Available for assignments in S.A.R and the wider region. Tel: (852) 9841 9742 | email@example.com | @VeronicaSanchis | www.veronicasanchis.com EDITOR/ WRITER MARK REGAN – Experienced editor and writer. Tel: (852) 6108 1747 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.markregan.com
08 Press Freedom 16.indd 19
18/9/2020 4:50 PM
CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE As the visa situation for foreign journalists in Hong Kong grows murkier, Morgan M. Davis looks for precedents across the border.
ong Kong has long been viewed as a welcoming place for foreign journalists and news agencies. Visa rejections are rare, so long as the applicant in question has the skills and experience to do the job. But Article 54 in the new national security law, which seeks to manage “organs of foreign countries and international organisations”, has raised concerns about potential visa restrictions. Simultaneously, both the US and China have weaponised journalist visas amid souring relations. On 6 August, the FCC released a statement on the issue. “The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong is aware of recent examples of delays involving the
09 Visas 13.indd 20
issuing of visas to foreign journalists in Hong Kong, as well as suggestions by the Chinese government that more foreign journalists could face repercussions in response to US actions,” wrote the FCC. “The FCC calls on the Trump administration to lift its restrictions on Chinese media working in the US, and on Hong Kong and China’s governments to refrain from retribution in targeting US media and journalists working in Hong Kong.” This “downward spiral of retaliatory actions” not only puts journalists at risk yet also fails the public “that needs accurate, professionally produced information now more than ever,” the statement continued. In response to the FCC’s statement, the Commissioner’s Office of the Ministry of
18/9/2020 4:50 PM
Insights from the Mainland Many foreign journalists working in China have been directly impacted by rising US–China tensions. In March, the central government effectively expelled 13 foreign journalists – all of whom worked for American publications. In most cases, the government abruptly rescinded the journalists’ press accreditations and instructed them to leave the country within as little as five days. According to statements by the Chinese government, the move was a direct response to US restrictions on Chinese journalists. Just days earlier, the US had forced 60 Chinese nationals who worked at state media outlets to vacate the US or secure an appropriate visa to stay. In early September, Chinese authorities informed several journalists at American news outlets that their press credential applications were being processed, rather than automatically renewed, as is routine. The visas of foreign journalists are tied to their press accreditation, and both are usually renewed on an annual basis. This time, journalists received temporary extensions of just two months, with a clear warning that they may be revoked any time. Within the same week, two Australian correspondents – Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Bill Birtles and Australian Financial Review’s Michael Smith – rushed to leave the country after Chinese police visited their homes about a national security
These [expelled] diplomats and journalists are pawns in the bigger struggle. – Gerry Shih
PHOTO: AFP PHOTO / TARYN SOUTHCOMBE / ABC NEWS
Foreign Affairs issued a statement, saying “if the US is bent on going down the wrong path, China will be compelled to take necessary and just reactions to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests. It is the US that has caused the situation and should be solely responsible for it.” Later that month, the Immigration Department rejected a visa transfer for Aaron Mc Nicholas – an incoming editor of Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) – after a six-month wait, despite the Irish journalist having been granted prior visas to work in Hong Kong for Bloomberg and Storyful. The department did not provide an explanation to HKFP. When The Correspondent inquired, the department declined to comment on specifics. A spokesperson responded: “Hong Kong has always adopted a pragmatic and open policy on the employment of professionals… including journalistic work.” In the absence of further information, such developments are troubling. “It’s an evolving situation and it involves a maddening degree of uncertainty for everybody,” says Steven Butler, Asia programme coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). “You have to assume it’s because [the government doesn’t] like what HKFP is doing, and honestly, why would they?” says Butler of Mc Nicholas’s visa rejection. “There’s a lot of coverage that is critical of the Hong Kong government and China.”
Lingling Wei at a press conference during the 2018 National People’s Congress.
09 Visas 13.indd 21
On 8 September, 2020 Bill Birtles arrives in Sydney after rushing out of China.
18/9/2020 4:50 PM
Gerry Shih discusses his departure from China at The SOPA 2020 Awards on 26 August.
We were experiencing many more challenges getting access to people. – Lingling Wei
investigation. Their departures came just days after the central government confirmed the arrest of Cheng Lei, an Australian working for China’s state media. In the case of Australian journalists, the turmoil can be attributed to fragile relations between the two countries and critical China coverage by Australian media over the past two years. According to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China, this year’s series of forced departures of foreign journalists from China are thought to be the first outright expulsions since 1998. ‘Pawns in the bigger struggle’ Lingling Wei, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, was among those forced to leave China this year. Born in China, Wei moved to the US as a young adult and became an American citizen in 2010. The journalist returned to China in 2011 to write for The Wall Street Journal in Beijing. “For me, going back to China to practice independent reporting was the kind of career I [had always] wanted,” says Wei,
calling the experience a “dream come true”. Over the past nine years, Wei focused on the internationalisation of China’s renminbi and the US–China trade war. But in March, she became collateral damage in the economic battle she was reporting on. The government rescinded Wei’s press credentials, effectively banning her from working as a journalist in China, Hong Kong or Macao. “We were experiencing many more challenges getting access to people, be it business [executives] or officials,” Wei says of the reporting situation in China prior to her forced departure. Even so, Wei never expected to leave this way. “It broke my heart,” she says. Gerry Shih, a China correspondent for The Washington Post who had worked in Beijing for five years, including at The Associated Press, was expelled around the same time. He called the experience “surreal” when he spoke at the Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) 2020 awards on 26 August. Though disappointed by the decision, Shih says the “writing was on the wall” for some time. “These [expelled] diplomats and journalists are pawns in the bigger struggle,” he said of the US–China fight. Many in the cull were journalists who had lived and worked in China for more than a decade. They love China and their lives there, adds Wei. Among them, Australian Chris Buckley, who had been based in mainland China for The New York Times and Reuters since 1998, was expelled in May. Likewise, Canadian Ian Johnson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for The New York Times, lived in China for more than 20 years before the government stripped his press credentials in March. Johnson, who learned of his expulsion via email while in London, wrote about the consequences of fraying China–US relations
“The national security law works as it was intended. It creates a lot of uncertainty and sometimes fear ... Nevertheless, I haven’t even considered moving to another city in Asia. Hong Kong has been my home for more than 10 years. Leaving that behind would feel like the easy way out and a decision I would immediately regret.”
“Like a lot of people, I think a wait-and-see approach is best as we just don’t know how the landscape will change for journalists in the long run. Being unable to work in Hong Kong isn’t something I’ve considered, although it’s a possibility for anyone on a temporary working visa. I can certainly see the appeal of living and working somewhere like Seoul, but to be frank, I’d much rather stay in Hong Kong.”
— Hannamiina Tanninen, Kauppalehti correspondent
— James Legge, Agence France-Presse Asia-Pacific editor
09 Visas 13.indd 22
18/9/2020 4:50 PM
PRESS FREEDOM: ASIA IN FOCUS Every year, Reporters Without Borders ranks 180 destinations in its World Press Freedom Index. Here’s how countries across the region stack up:
SOURCE: REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS
in an opinion piece for The New York Times: “Taken individually, stories of severed friendships and strained family ties seem insignificant – certainly they do when you talk to a true believer who thinks that the US policy toward China is necessary to make the world safe for democracy.” “Yet cumulatively these small wounds change how all of us experience the world, forming a collective trauma over the loss of an optimistic era dating back several decades, when the world seemed to be opening up, however imperfectly.” Finding a future in journalism For Wei, the last six months have felt more like a decade. She moved back to New York City in May at the height of the pandemic, with her husband and seven-year-old following later. She says The Wall Street Journal has been supportive, giving her the option to move anywhere. The Chinese government also allowed her to stay two extra months in China to be with her sick mother and pack up her life, she notes. “I will always be grateful for those officials who helped me,” she says. “I really have no complaints. It is what it is.” Meanwhile, Shih has relocated to Seoul where he continues to cover China. In May, he won the 2020 Osborn Elliott Prize for
09 Visas 13.indd 23
Excellence in Journalism on Asia for his extensive China reporting. Buckley is also reporting on China, though his location is unclear, and he did not respond to our interview request. Unfortunately, journalists have few options if a government chooses to quash press freedoms, says Wei. If media suppression escalates in Hong Kong, she says journalists may face difficult decisions. “In my situation, I still believe in what I’m doing,” says Wei, who continues to report on China from New York City. If journalists are concerned about their visas or safety, she says, they should consider their priorities and mental well-being. There is no shame in leaving the industry if that is what’s right for you, she says. It’s something she contemplated doing herself, in order to stay in China. In the end, Wei’s passion for journalism overcame her doubts. “When things like this happen, it really makes you question whether [journalism] is something you should keep doing,” she says. Wei’s mother also encouraged her daughter to persevere, since Wei has a wealth of China expertise that is valuable, regardless of where she is based. “That kind of knowledge and insight cannot be easily taken away,” says Wei. n
Morgan M. Davis is a finance reporter at Euromoney’s GlobalCapital. The Illinois transplant moved to Hong Kong in 2016, accompanied by her trusty sidekick Gizmo the Yorkie. Morgan has reported on multiple sectors of finance, and holds a Master’s degree from Columbia University.
18/9/2020 4:50 PM
It’s never been easy to report in conflict-torn Kashmir. But the past year has seen more press suppression and interference than ever. Words and photos by Sharafat Ali, in Kashmir
O Sharafat Ali is an award-winning independent photojournalist based in Kashmir, who believes in preserving truth through photography.
10 Feature Kashmir 9.indd 24
n a Monday morning in midApril, Masrat Zahra was scrolling through Twitter during a COVID-19 lockdown in Kashmir when she came across multiple tweets about a female Kashmiri photojournalist who had been charged for terror-related activities. Scanning the platform for more details, Zahra was shocked to discover that she was the journalist in question. The police accused the 26-year-old freelance photojournalist, who has worked with The Washington Post and Al Jazeera, of uploading “anti-national posts [on Facebook] with criminal intentions to induce the youth to promote offences
against public tranquility” – a crime that carries a seven-year prison sentence. The grounds were unprecedented. In 2018, Zahra had shared a photo of children holding the banner of a slain militant commander. The banner – and subsequently Zahra’s photo caption – read “Shaheed,” the Urdu word for martyr. Under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act [UAPA], amended in 2019 to include special terrorism-related procedures, such language is considered grounds for treason when used to describe insurgents and armed rebels. Two days later, the police summoned Zahra to a station in Srinagar, the largest city in India-administered Jammu and
18/9/2020 4:52 PM
PHOTOS: SHARAFAT ALI
Kashmir (J&K). They released her after questioning but the charges remained. A chill lingered in the air, particularly since Zahraâ€™s case is far from unique in Kashmir, where India and Pakistan have vied for control for decades. My own experiences with harassment include an incident in March of last year. While on assignment in Kupwara, a northern district in J&K, near the de facto border separating India from Pakistan, my local guide and I were detained without explanation for several hours. I had pulled out my camera to capture a beautiful scene of horses running through the villageâ€™s deserted streets when several
10 Feature Kashmir 9.indd 25
armoured vehicles pulled up. Army personnel surrounded us, guns pointed at our heads, as I struggled to comprehend what was happening. I complied when asked for ID, explaining that we were on assignment for a freelance project. They took us to a police station, where an officer slapped me across the face and hurled abusive remarks at us. I pleaded with them to check my work online and contact my senior colleagues to verify my identity. The situation only improved once they learned that my friend was the son of the village head. After almost seven hours, they let us go.
ABOVE: Relatives mourn the death of 18-year-old rebel Shahid Ahmad, who was killed in a gunfight with Indian forces. TOP LEFT: A security officer walks past protesters in Srinagar, Kashmir.
18/9/2020 4:52 PM
CHINA PAKISTAN CONTROLLED
‘LINE OF CONTROL’
I have covered Kashmir for the last seven years and, like almost every journalist in the region, I’ve faced harassment many times. But the situation has worsened in the past year – harassment, suppression and surveillance have grown increasingly common as the conflict between India and Pakistan escalates. Often called the most militarised zone on Earth, Kashmir has been hotly contested since India’s independence in 1947. At that time, the British partitioned the region into predominantly Muslim Pakistan and Hindu-majority India, leaving the princely state of J&K independent. A tribal insurgency, however, pushed J&K to ask India for help. India agreed, so long as J&K joined the country in exchange. Conflicts between India and Pakistan
PHOTO: SHARAFAT ALI
Often called the most militarised zone on Earth, Kashmir has been hotly contested since India’s independence.
SOURCE: THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE
CLAIMED BY CHINA
While covering a 2016 protest in Srinagar, Kashmir-based photojournalist Xuhaib Maqbool Humza lost vision in his left eye after a J&K police officer fired a pellet gun at his face.
10 Feature Kashmir 9.indd 26
continued, leading to increased terrorist activity by militant groups who oppose Indian rule, as well as civilian calls for self-determination. Today, hostilities could potentially escalate into nuclear war. The region has long held a special semiautonomous status within India, based on Article 370 of the Indian constitution. This included its own constitution, flag, and independence over all matters except foreign affairs, defense, and communications. But on 5 August 2019, the Indian government revoked Article 370 and permanently incorporated the territory into the rest of India. In the lead up to the announcement, the J&K administration cut off telephone networks and internet services, banned public gatherings, and deployed thousands of Indian troops to thwart protests and enforce a curfew. The government-imposed curfew lasted almost four months. Then came a selfimposed public shutdown to protest the presence of thousands of military personnel, followed by a countrywide lockdown due to COVID-19. Amid the crises, journalists scrambled to share the news with the world. But without stable internet connections, news agencies could not print daily papers, live stream broadcasts nor disseminate dispatches to their international desks. Farooq Javed Khan, a veteran photojournalist and president of the Kashmir Press Photographers Association, calls last year’s restrictions unprecedented. “Without communication [during the lockdown], it was difficult to work and get around,” he says. “We could not report a lot of stories.” A government-run kiosk in Srinagar offered more than 100 journalists just four computers and a painfully slow internet connection. This chokehold on the flow of information effectively ensured sensitive photos and videos would not leave Kashmir. In June, the new administration released a new “Media Policy” and introduced an Information Department. As a de facto watchdog, the department has the right to “examine the content of the print, electronic, and other media for fake news, plagiarism and unethical or anti-national activities”, and may also take legal action should they deem any reports detrimental to national interest. In addition, “there shall be no release of advertisements to any media which
18/9/2020 4:52 PM
Key Events August 1947 India gains independence, partition creates India and Pakistan October 1947 J&K joins India to combat Pakistansupported insurgency 1949 First Kashmir War ends after two years, India holds 65% of Kashmir, Pakistan holds remainder 1950 Article 370 in India’s Constitution secures “special status” of J&K 1965 India and Pakistan fight second Kashmir war, which ends in stalemate 1971 Third war begins 1972 India and Pakistan formalise ceasefire lines 1980s Rise in militant groups, deaths 1990s Discontent over Indian rule incurs protests, separatists, terrorism, nuclear weapons testing
PHOTOS: SHARAFAT ALI
2000s Terrorist activity, militant attacks continue, thousands more die 2010 Anti-India protests erupt in Kashmir, following death of a young militant Clockwise, from top left: Residents wander through the rubble in Srinagar; Paramilitary forces deployed at the birthplace of young rebel Sajad Gilkar, who was killed in a gunfight with Indian forces; Relatives mourn the death of a rebel commander, who was killed in a gunfight with Indian forces.
incite or tend to incite violence, question sovereignty and integrity of India or violate the accepted norms of public decency and behaviour.” Under these conditions, the territory’s already precarious press freedoms have hit a new low, with reports of journalist detainments and arrests on the rise. In April this year, police booked senior journalist Gowhar Geelani for “unlawful” and “anti-national activities” on social media. Similarly, police summoned Peerzada Ashiq, a journalist with The Hindu, over a story about an armed conflict between militants and security forces which contradicted police statements. In July 2019, police detained Qazi Shibli, the editor of Kashmir-based news
10 Feature Kashmir 9.indd 27
website The Kashmiriyat, for nine months for reporting on the military presence in the Kashmir Valley. They arrested Shibli again on 31 July this year without any charges; he was released after 18 days. In another high-profile case, police arrested Asif Sultan in 2018 for writing a profile of a rebel commander whose death inspired several youths to pick up arms. Charged with aiding insurgents and terrorism-related activities, the journalist has been in jail for more than two years. Kashmir is rich with stories – of tragedies, shattered dreams, resilience and, just as importantly, hope. And despite the persecution and danger that journalists regularly face, I hope one day, we can share all of these stories without fear. n
2016 More protests erupt over youth deaths 2018 India declares central rule in Kashmir, terrorism continues 2019 India deploys troops to Kashmir, blocks internet, revokes “special status” 2020 Government increases media controls, military and civilian killings continue
18/9/2020 4:52 PM
The FCC is delighted to introduce this year’s Clare Hollingworth Fellows, Tiffany Liang and Jennifer Creery. Marianna Cerini caught up with these ambitious young journalists to learn more about their accomplishments and aspirations.
PHOTO: TIFFANY LIANG
he late Clare Hollingworth had the scoop of the century. At 27 years old, the intrepid journalist broke the story of Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939 while working for British newspaper The Daily Telegraph. A remarkable career unfolded from there, taking her from Eastern Europe during World War II to the Balkans and North Africa, the battlefields of the Greek and Algerian civil wars to the Vietnam War. In the early 1980s, she retired to Hong Kong, where she lived for the next few decades. Hollingworth, who was a club member for more than 40 years, died in 2017 at 105 years old. In honour of her legacy, in 2019 the FCC established the annual Clare Hollingworth Fellowship, which aims to cultivate the talents of early career journalists and current journalism students in Hong Kong. This August, the FCC announced the second pair of fellows: Tiffany Liang and Jennifer Creery. Both young journalists, who share a strong interest in social issues and political reporting, have made impressive strides since they began their careers, at The Washington Post and Hong Kong Free Press, respectively. Here, they share their personal stories, proudest moments and plans for the future.
Tiffany Liang covered the Hong Kong protest movement throughout 2019.
11 New Fellows 10.indd 28
Tiffany Liang: ‘I love how journalism challenges you’ Born and bred in Guangzhou, Tiffany Liang took an interest in journalism from a young age. As a child, she recalls pretending to be a news broadcaster in her living room, using a remote control as a microphone and role-playing scenes. As an undergraduate at Guangzhou University, she studied broadcasting and TV, spending a semester in Taipei. She pursued trainee programmes at every
18/9/2020 4:52 PM
PHOTOS: TIFFANY LIANG
Above: Tiffany Liang, one of the FCC’s new Clare Hollingworth Fellows; Right: Liang interviews a magician for a journalism school project in February 2018.
opportunity, and honed her writing and reporting skills at news organisations like Southern Metropolis Daily and RTHK Putonghua Radio. In 2018, Liang relocated to Hong Kong where she earned a Master of Arts in International Journalism Studies at Hong Kong Baptist University. Fresh out of university, she landed a junior reporter role on the investigative reporting team at online news portal HK01. “As cliché as it sounds, I’d always wanted to be a journalist,” says the 25-year-old. “Coming to Hong Kong was an obvious decision to ensure I could really achieve that, given the press freedom constraints we have in mainland China.” Keen to learn more about Hong Kong, Liang turned her focus to government policy to better familiarise herself with the inner workings of the city. “I love a challenge and learning new things,” she explains, “so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to me.” In June 2019, she left HK01 and soon landed a translation gig at The Washington Post. “I guess Shibani Mahtani [The Post’s Southeast Asia and Hong Kong bureau chief] had noticed my name in the past. One day, she got in touch to ask if I could help with a translation. I did, and well, here I am today.” Now a freelance reporter for The Post, Liang attends press conferences, monitors live stream events, conducts interviews, writes articles and translates – the job
11 New Fellows 10.indd 29
provides a lot of variety, she says. During last year’s protests, Liang covered the turmoil engulfing the city with longer feature writing. “The switch has been nothing short of amazing in terms of my professional growth,” she says. “I am thrilled to be working on longer, in-depth human-interest stories that shine light on people and social issues. The Post has offered me immense mentorship in that sense.” Among the features she’s most proud of, Liang names an investigative reporting piece on police brutality, which won the award for investigative feature writing at the 24th Human Rights Press Awards 2020. The feature exposed leaked law enforcement manuals containing guidelines that had been ignored by police during confrontations with protesters. “I spent a lot of time on [this story], and was particularly proud of the impact it had – not just among our [international] readers but Hong Kong society at large.” “Both the award and the Clare Hollingworth Fellowship still seem so surreal to me,” Liang says. “To have my work recognised this way – I would have never dreamed of it.” Looking ahead, Liang hopes to continue uncovering important social issues, but she’s also exploring other areas of specialisation. “I’ve started taking a course on financial journalism,” she says. “It’s good to keep options open, especially as things are changing so fast here.”
About the Fellowship
The Clare Hollingworth Fellowship supports Hong Kong-based journalists and journalism students who display great potential. Fellows enjoy: • Complimentary access to the FCC’s talks and conferences • Unlimited use of FCC facilities • A fee waiver for the fellowship period • Mentorship from an FCC Board or Committee member The fellowship runs from 1 September, 2020 to 31 August, 2021. Learn more here: fcchk.org/clarehollingworth
18/9/2020 4:52 PM
ABOVE: Jennifer Creery, one of the FCC’s new Clare Hollingworth Fellows. BOTTOM RIGHT: Creery files a story amid clashes outside LegCo in 2019.
Jennifer Creery: ‘I am extremely proud of the work we do’ Born in Hong Kong and raised in the UK, Jennifer Creery started her journalistic career in Taiwan – her first stop after graduating with a degree in English literature from King’s College London. “I initially went to Taiwan to study Mandarin at National Taiwan University on a Huayu Enrichment Scholarship,” she recalls, “but my end goal was always to become a journalist in Asia.” Upon completing her language course, she set out to do just that. Creery started freelancing in Taipei and soon connected
with Tom Grundy, the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He hired her as a production editor, bringing Creery back to Hong Kong in 2018. “I’d always been interested in the geopolitics of the region, and Hong Kong in particular,” says the 25-year-old. “The move felt like the next natural step in my career.” About a year later, in December 2019, Grundy promoted her to managing editor. “It’s been a truly formative journey,” she says. “And I’ve been lucky in that I was provided with a lot of support and training from the start. The team showed me the ropes, which has helped me grow as a reporter and editor. I’m grateful for that.” Since joining Hong Kong Free Press, Creery has reported on the city’s anti-extradition law protests, the coronavirus outbreak and ongoing political developments. “I’ve also had the opportunity to cover local issues and minority rights, which are [two things] I’m very passionate about,” she says. In her new role, Creery writes, assigns and edits articles, as well as manages the site’s daily operations. “We’re a small media room, so everyone handles different things at once,” she explains. “That makes the job all the more varied and interesting.” Creery points to Hong Kong Free Press’s coverage of the 2019 protests as an example. “We took shifts on the ground, particularly during the Polytechnic University siege, producing videos, investigative work and multimedia features. I’m in awe of what we achieved considering the size of the team.” A deep-rooted desire to report on social issues and verify stories, particularly in the
11 New Fellows 10.indd 30
PHOTOS: JENNIIFER CREERY/HKFP
I strongly believe in freedom of information, and the public’s right to know.
18/9/2020 4:52 PM
PHOTOS: JENNIIFER CREERY/HKFP
Left: Police at an anti-extradition-law protest on 12 June, 2019; Right: Protesters at the same rally.
age of rampant fake news, drives Creery every day. “I strongly believe in freedom of information, and the public’s right to know. [Quality journalism] enables people to make informed decisions on how they wish to run society and their government, and hold those in power accountable,” she says. “When [society] can’t change policies through civic action, our reporting can at the very least act as a historical record of those efforts. Through my work, I hope to do my part in that.” n
A Fond Farewell We wish last year’s Clare Hollingworth Fellows, Mary Hui and Jessie Pang, the best of luck in their future endeavours. As the inaugural fellows, both proved to be keen mentees, passionate journalists and excellent additions to the FCC community. We can’t wait to see what they do next.
Fabrics, Curtains & Sofas Custom-made Specialists
Premium Quality Fabrics Animalia collection - An exciting collaboration with artist Emma J Shipley presents a menagerie of coordinating fabric and wallpaper, incorporating rich velvets, luxurious satins and shimmering effects. Mystic, magical and exotic, “Animalia” features tropical parrots, swinging lemurs, fierce tigers and delicately hand drawn giraffes.
Fabrics etc. www.fabricsetc.com.hk Tel: 28107360 90809403 (Andy)
11 New Fellows 10.indd 31
18/9/2020 4:52 PM
ON THE WALL
Life Goes On
PHOTO: GERRY YIN
When he arrived in Wuhan in February, photojournalist Gerry Yin found a city divided by barricades. Yet life continued between the cracks.
he whole world watched as the novel coronavirus waged war on Wuhan earlier this year. Scrambling to contain the outbreak, Chinese authorities imposed a citywide lockdown and erected labyrinths of yellow barricades, effectively separating housing compounds and keeping residents off the streets. The bright blockades immediately caught the attention of photojournalist Gerry Yin, who arrived in the city in February and stayed for seven weeks to
report on the situation. His resulting photo series, “Life Between Wuhan’s Thin Yellow Lines”, showcased at the FCC in July, explores a paradox: the barriers seem to symbolise a city under siege, disconnection and containment, yet life continues on either side. “Even in a pandemic, life goes on, and walls can’t keep people apart indefinitely,” Yin wrote in a personal essay for online publication Sixth Tone. “As the city brought the outbreak under control, residents started to break through the barriers
that separated them – sometimes literally using drills.” Across the series, Yin contrasts apocalyptic cityscapes with touching scenes, from older patients waiting for medicine to delivery drivers passing out orders, grocery stores hawking goods, and friends chatting through holes in the barricades. When depicted this way, the yellow barriers become less about fear, and more about resilience, connection and community. n
“Even in a pandemic, life goes on, and walls can’t keep people apart indefinitely.”
12 On the Wall 5.indd 32
18/9/2020 4:54 PM
PHOTOS: GERRY YIN
12 On the Wall 5.indd 33
18/9/2020 4:54 PM
ON THE WALL
A Family Portrait In a moving visual retrospective, photographer Xu An Rong captures his grandfather’s last years.
12 On the Wall 5.indd 34
PHOTOS: XU AN RONG
xperienced photographer and director Xu An Rong, who splits his time between New York City and Taipei, has a rare ability to capture raw, emotional moments in his work. And his latest photography series is no exception. “Grandpa: Xu Guang Yao”, which the FCC exhibited in August, is a deeply personal homage to Xu’s late grandfather, Guang Yao Xu, who died at the age of 91. The photographer started documenting his grandfather in 2008 following a throat cancer diagnosis. “[At first] I began photographing him out of fear, afraid of what the future may hold and what my life would be like without him,” recalls Xu. But as the years went by, the project turned into an intimate way to connect with his grandfather and “see him for his strengths and his flaws, appreciating every moment I could spend with him.” The cinematic body of black-andwhite work is a tender family journey, a visual eulogy to one of the most influential people in Xu’s life. Alone, each image – snippets of daily chores, close-ups of Guang Yao Xu and his personal objects and, ultimately, his last days and funeral – speaks to this intimacy. Together, they are “the living memory of a man whose journey has shaped my own,” says Xu. “These are the quiet moments that have taught me revelation, love, and loyalty in the midst of fear and unrest. Through the good, the bad, the indifferent – these photographs are the bridge that connects two generations of family, and subsequently what has led me on my journey in this world.” n
18/9/2020 4:55 PM
PHOTOS: XU AN RONG
12 On the Wall 5.indd 35
18/9/2020 4:55 PM
100 SECONDS TO MIDNIGHT
Celebrated thought leader Noam Chomsky takes aim at pressing global issues: US–China relations, Trump’s handling of COVID-19, fake news, and the erosion of democracy. By Rhea Mogul
Noam Chomsky discussed global crises with the FCC on 7 August, 2020.
ne of the greatest minds of our time, Noam World Health Organization, Democrats... anyone.” Chomsky joined FCC President Jodi Schneider for Future pandemics, he warned, could be even more a webinar on 7 August. During the discussion, the deadly, due to global warming and habitat destruction. 91-year-old professor, philosopher, and author of more than “We can be very confident that another pandemic is 100 books covered everything from COVID-19 to US– coming,” he said. “We might be facing something like the China relations, the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Black Death.” Nagasaki, unrest in Hong Kong, and growing inequality. The pandemic has led to rampant fake news and Early in the conversation, Chomsky accused US misinformation, which he said has been amplified by President Donald Trump of mishandling media organisations and the Trump the pandemic, which has resulted in nearly “When the elephants administration’s anti-media rhetoric. “With 200,000 deaths as of mid-September, the media now it’s very scary. When half of fight, the grass gets according to Johns Hopkins University. Republicans think the government should trampled. Hong Kong have the right to close down media it “The United States is basically a wreck,” is the grass.” said Chomsky. When President Trump doesn’t like, then that’s dangerous,” he said. took office, he dismantled former US As the conversation turned to President Barack Obama’s pandemic preparations and geopolitics, Chomsky took a moment to remember the terminated US–Chinese scientific research on potential atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which took coronaviruses, leaving the country “singularly unprepared” place 75 years ago on 6 and 9 August, 1945, respectively. for an outbreak. “I’m old enough to remember [the bombings] very well,” “Trump has been flailing around desperately to said Chomsky. “We have been living under that shadow find some scapegoat to cover up for the fact that he ever since.” is responsible for killing [hundreds of thousands] of Concerned about global security, Chomsky noted the Americans,” said Chomsky. “So [he has blamed] China, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’s Doomsday Clock.
13 Speakers 6.indd 36
18/9/2020 5:02 PM
Introduced in 1947, the clock has become a universally recognised indicator of how close we are to midnight, with 12 a.m. representing the collapse of civilisation. In January 2020, the Bulletin reset the clock to 100 seconds to midnight – the closest it’s been since the Cold War. The analysts gave three reasons: the growing threat of nuclear war; a failure to deal with the threat of environmental catastrophe; and the deterioration of democracy. “Every year that Trump has been in office, it’s moved closer to midnight,” said Chomsky. The only way to address global crises is through vibrant democracies, an “informed, engaged public” and global collaboration, which brings us to Hong Kong, where “democracy is being undermined by the regional power: China,” he said. “It’s always worth remembering the old saying that when the elephants fight, the grass gets trampled. Hong Kong is the grass. If the elephants start fighting, Hong Kong is lost. Hong Kong, Taiwan and other countries in the Chinese periphery [including] Vietnam, have much to lose if the confrontation continues.” The only way to ease pressure would be a “reduction of international tensions”. “If we’re going back to a Cold War between China and the US, that’s a disaster for the world,” he said. “This is a moment, more than ever, where we have to have international cooperation. The crises that we face are all international.”
Get Inspired At our request, Chomsky recommended two of his books for your autumn reading list:
Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of Mass Media In this groundbreaking 1988 book, co-authors Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky examine a series of case studies, concluding that US mass media serves elite interests.
Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies Published in 1989, Chomsky’s Necessary Illusions further explains how elites maintain power by distorting issues through propaganda.
Watch the full conversation here: bit.ly/2EBguww
In Case You Missed It
Check out a few of our recent webinars:
Protecting Free Speech Amid Global Reckoning on Race
Fox News, Trump, and the “Dangerous Distortion of Truth”
With Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America
With Brian Stelter, CNN
In her book, Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech for All, Suzanne Nossel addresses issues such as cancel culture, cultural appropriation and hate speech. Drawing on her work at PEN America, she argues that we can further diversity without resorting to curbs on free speech. Watch the conversation here: bit.ly/3gyXX10
13 Speakers 6.indd 37
During a two-year investigation, CNN anchor and chief media correspondent Brian Stelter spoke to more than 250 insiders at Fox News. His resulting book, Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth, explores conflicts between Trump loyalists and the network’s remaining independent journalists. Watch the conversation here: bit.ly/2ZqvhSp
18/9/2020 5:02 PM
Who’s joined the club, who’s leaving, and who’s changed categories.
We’re thrilled to introduce a cohort of new members. Welcome!
We’ve had a few nominee transfers this quarter. Please welcome:
• Vincent Pierre François Marie Amalvy, Asia/Pacific Photo Director, Head of Special Operations, Agence France-Presse
• Kam Man Kui, Head of Corporate Communications Asia-Pacific, Barclays Capital Asia Limited
• David Matthew Fox, Correspondent, Agence France-Presse
• Pierre Mario Widmer, Executive Director, UBS AG
• Tiffany Liang, Reporter, The Washington Post
• Yee Sin Wong, Chief of Staff, The University of Hong Kong
• Bill Rigby, Spot Enterprise Editor, Reuters Journalists • Billie Lau, Deputy News Editor (Business), Apple Daily
It’s see you later, not goodbye, to these members
Associates • Peter Michael Budd, Commercial Manager, Orient Overseas Container Line
• Howard Chang, Head of Tax, Block.one
• Jeffrey Ian Goldfarb, Asia Editor, Thomson Reuters
• Neoton Francis Cheung, Chairman & Convenor, Doctoral Exchange
• Amy Allison Har-Even, Freelancer
• Yoon Kueen Chong, Managing Director, Artana Asia Limited
• Richard Blake Schmidt, Reporter, Bloomberg News
• Calvin Cheuk Yin Chow, Partner, P.C. WOO & CO
• Jean-Charles Viens, Managing Editor, Grande Passione
• Kevin Ding, Senior Manager, Hang Lung Properties Limited • Peter Paul De Groote, Director, The Kadoorie Charitable Foundation • Kelvin Sing Kon Inge, Doctor • Goran Kostic, Head of Integration Product Management, Swift SCRL • Susan Latimer, Director, Jetfresh Foods Hong Kong • Bik Yun Vanessa Lau, Group Chief Financial Officer, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing • Fran Lebowitz, Self-employed • Natasha Louise Marks, Architect, Aedas Architects • William John Mayhew, Associate, MUFG Bank • Rahul Mehta, Solicitor, Slaughter & May
• Pia Elers Caspersen, Asia Correspondent, Danish Christian Daily
Journalists • Katherine Jane Farr, Co-founder, Editors’ Ink • Monica Aswani Nari, Journalist, South China Morning Post • Robyne Annette Nimmo, Freelancer Associates • Shauna Jayne Alexander, Director, Alexander Turner Associate • Alistair Tremayne Angus, CEO, SI Partners Asia • Mark Philip Baughan, Director, Lloyd Baughan • Peter Robert Fisher-Jones, General Counsel Litigation, Citigroup
• Win Pang, Director, UBS AG
• Douglas Esse Glen, Chief Strategy Officer and Director, Hanson Robotics Limited
• Lai King Jannie Poon, SVP, Corporate Communications and Affairs, The Walt Disney Company
• Lynn D. Grebstad, Consultant Director, GHC Asia
• Benjamin Qiu, Partner, Loeb & Loeb LLP • Neville Sarony, Queen Counsel Diplomatic • Liam O’Donovan Toomey, Consul, US Consulate General
• Douglas Kane, IB DP Coordinator, Victoria Shanghai Academy • Theodore Kavowras, General Manager, Panoramic Consulting • Emma Juliette Macintosh, Managing Director (Asia), Prospect Resourcing Asia • Robert Rae McGhie, Director, Prime Spot Investment • Yuk Wah Jason Ng, Self-employed • Xiao Dong Pan, Retired
14 Membership 11.indd 38
18/9/2020 5:03 PM
• Alessandro Paparelli, Global Human Resources Director, Brioni • Simon David Powell, Partner, Powell Arbitration Limited • Jose Maria D’Almada Remedios, Barrister-At-Law, Parkside Chambers • Raymond Thomas Warhola, Executive Director, International Care Ministries
Some familiar faces rejoined the Club. Great to have them back! Associates • Nicholas Kitto, Photographing Heritage • Robin Neill Lambert, CEO, Independent Investment Partners
Au revoir to our former members. We wish you well! Correspondents • Anjali Cordeiro, Editor, Bloomberg • Anne Anthony Pallivathuckal, Deputy Editor, Real-Time News, The Wall Street Journal
• Philip Simon Rupert Skevington, Managing Director, Kinvara Capital • Jeremy Stewardson, Chief Executive, ANREV • Meiling Tsang, Teacher of Economics and IA Coordinator, Dulwich International High School Suzhou •
• Pok Hei Sin, HK Markets Correspondent, Reuters
For these members, it was time for a status update.
Associate to Journalist
• Lucy Rebecca Rose Jenkins, Internal Communications Editor, Cathay Pacific Airways
• Melissa Gecolea, Supervising Producer, Television Broadcasts Limited
Correspondent to Associate
• Kenneth Y. Choy, Consultant, Nixon Peabody CWL
• Man Chun Kung, Policy Officer, European Union Office to Hong Kong and Macao
• Rodney Darren Dingwell, Captain, Cathay Pacific Airways • Peter Gordon Hirst, Senior Equity Partner, Clyde & Co • Peter Kwong Kong-kit, Bishop, Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (The Hong Kong Anglican Church)
Honorary Widows and Widowers
• Wing Kei Kung, Project Manager, Civic Exchange
• Elaine Howlett
• Stephen J. S. Payne, Director, JT International (Asia Pacific)
• Barbara Y. C. Pau
• Ho Man Poon, Managing Director, Friedmann Pacific Financial Services Limited
• Paul Anthony Yao, Director, Brand Harmonics
• Yong Sheng Tan, Director, Barclays Capital • David R. Tully, Chairman and Director, Tully & Co.
We are extremely sad to announce the deaths of:
Diplomatic • Mehdi Fakheri, Consul General, Consulate General of Iran in Hong Kong and Macao
• CT Hew, Hew & Associates • Graham Peter Mead • Noel Parrott
Calling All Members As we all know, the club is overflowing with talent, and we would love to feature more work by FCC members in The Correspondent. Do you have a great story idea? Shoot photography? Keen to proofread? Or simply want to share your feedback over a Headline beer at the bar? Please don’t hesitate to reach out! We would love to hear from you. Send an email to our editor at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
14 Membership 11.indd 39
18/9/2020 5:03 PM
Welcome, New Members The Membership Committee is always impressed by the diversity, experience and talents of FCC applicants. Join us in welcoming our latest batch of new members.
I am a Hong Kong native currently working as a tax director at a technology firm. Most people think taxes are painful, but I actually find the topic very enjoyable, especially when it comes to participating in policy work, such as representing industry groups in front of LegCo, or OECD tax policy working groups. Recently, I have taken the opportunity to try new indoor activities, like online learning and some serious cooking – well beyond mere sustenance! I look forward to being part of the FCC community and meeting new people! DR. FRANCIS NEOTON CHEUNG
I am an urban designer and development consultant by profession, a property developer in my own time, the convenor of urban development think tank Doctoral Exchange, and a champion of the Marine Enclave developments. Born and bred in Hong Kong, I studied at Queen’s College, then graduated with distinctions from the University of Hong Kong. I have served on the HKSAR’s first Election Committee, as well as the Land and Building Advisory Committee and the Town Planning Appeal Board. In my free time, I am a contemporary porcelain artist and I like hiking, reading and playing mahjong. YOON KUEEN CHONG
Apa khabar? That’s “How are you?” in Bahasa. I am Y. K., a Malaysian with two lovely daughters who has lived in Hong Kong for over a decade. I work in international real estate and am now the Managing Director of Artana Asia Limited. Besides work, I enjoy reading, bowling, golfing, boating, and travelling – my ability to speak and write in five languages has made many journeys extra memorable. The FCC was the first club I visited when I landed in Hong Kong, and I’m grateful to become a member today. KEVIN DING
I was born in Wuhan, but I grew up in Shenzhen where my height and exceptionally large feet drew the attention of national swimming coaches. I almost made a career of it, but I prefer drinking red wine to spending hours underwater. After moving to Hong Kong 15 years ago, I earned a finance degree and two master’s degrees in economics and international relations. I’m now working for Hang Lung Properties Limited. But the truth is, I still prefer the wine. I’m happy to discuss/ debate the latest seasonal Beaujolais, or maybe even some politics. PETER PAUL DE GROOTE
I arrived in Hong Kong last May, and to say that it has been interesting so far would be an understatement. Before Hong Kong, I spent 26 years with Médecins Sans Frontières and have lived and worked in many places, from Zaire and Ethiopia to Myanmar, South Sudan, Nepal, India, and a few more. Currently, I’m the director of the Kadoorie Charitable Foundation. The combination of dynamic city life and the outdoors makes Hong Kong ideal for me. Mingling with the wonderful (and sometimes eccentric) FCC crowd only adds to the experience.
15 New Members 9.indd 40
18/9/2020 5:09 PM
I was born in South Africa and moved to Hong Kong in 2001. I derive enormous pleasure from running my business, Jetfresh Foods. We import and distribute microgreens and edible flowers to restaurants and hotels in Hong Kong and Macao. I like to keep busy and have a broad range of interests and creative pursuits. In the summer, I enjoy travelling to new places and always go back to visit my daughters in South Africa. I love to soak up the rural, untamed beauty of the Eastern Cape coastline, where we have a family home. BILLIE LAU
I’ve covered banking and finance for more than 25 years, and I am currently working as the deputy news editor of the Business section at Apple Daily. Amid Hong Kong’s darkest hour, I am honoured to be a member of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club.
I’m Fran Lebowitz – no, not that Fran Lebowitz! Funnily enough, however, I too, was in the book business in New York City, where I once worked as a literary agent and editor at Writers House and William Morris Agency. I’ve lived in Asia for years but there was a time at the start of 2020, a time of ﬂying, of congregation, when I thought I would resume life in New York. Alas, that has not been the case. After a stint in Singapore, I am now in Hong Kong, and keen to be part of the conversation at the FCC. TIFFANY LIANG
I am a freelance reporter at The Washington Post, focusing on social issues in Hong Kong. Born and raised in mainland China, I came to Hong Kong three years ago to pursue a master’s degree in international journalism. I cover public affairs and international insights, as well as human-interest stories in mainland China and Hong Kong. Currently, I am also exploring financial journalism. Outside of work, I love hiking, art exhibitions and trying new restaurants. I am really excited to become an FCC member! NATASHA MARKS
I’m an architect at Aedas Architects, and I moved to Hong Kong in September 2019 with my husband Richard. I am British but I lived in Kuwait for a couple of years when I was young and spent a year in Hong Kong during university. I recently started my own practice here called NK3 Ltd, which specialises in commercial architecture. I’ve travelled extensively in Africa and the Middle East both for work and pleasure, and when not at my desk, I can usually be found hiking or paddleboarding in Stanley with my dogs.
15 New Members 9.indd 41
18/9/2020 5:09 PM
I am a solicitor at Slaughter and May. I came to Hong Kong in 2016, supposedly on a two-year secondment from the corporate law firm I was working for in London at the time. But, as is tradition, I am still here almost five years on! Off-duty, I’m partial to a game of squash or golf, a hike, a beer or a decent bottle of wine, and wish I understood the intricacies of mahjong. As amusing exploits go, I once accidentally won a Russian verse-speaking competition. Do ask me about it at the bar sometime... WIN PANG
Hello! I was born and raised in Hong Kong, though my family is Indonesian-Chinese, from an island named Belitung. I love my job in equity sales at UBS AG, because it allows me to meet great people and stay up-to-date with global news. Aside from work, I liked to travel and hang out with friends pre-pandemic. Now I enjoy reading, meditation, jogging, yoga, watching NBA games and the occasional Zoom chat. I am also taking psychotherapy classes and a children’s coding course, taught by my 8-year-old niece, who taught herself to code during the lockdown. BENJAMIN QIU
As a capital market and intellectual property lawyer, I often split my time working and travelling between Asian cities. In my free time, I also volunteer on the Board of the Shanghai FCC. I studied and worked in Silicon Valley prior to returning to Asia, and I grew up in Beijing where, to my knowledge, I was the first kid to have a skateboard!
I’m the Spot Enterprise Editor at Reuters. I moved to Hong Kong last December to edit some of the longer-form stories Reuters produces in the Asia region, ranging from local unrest to street protests in Thailand. I grew up in Manchester, England, went to university in London and started my career at Reuters there in the late 1990s. I spent the last 20 years working for the agency in New York and Seattle, writing and editing news about finance, markets, aerospace and technology. When I’m not working, I like to ride my bicycle up and down the Peak. NEVILLE SARONY
I’m an Anglo-Irish, ex-Gurkha, ex-Foreign Service member who has been a practicing barrister in Hong Kong since 1986. Before that, in the 1960s, I practiced in London and Kathmandu. A Queen’s Counsel, I’m a specialist in professional negligence and complex crime, author of the Max Devlin novels (including the forthcoming The Chakrata Incident), and a contributor to online news platforms EJ Insight and Asia Times. Besides that, I am also a political satirist, jazz pianist and singer, an after-dinner speaker, and sometimes an actor. Joining the FCC is a high quantum of solace for me.
15 New Members 9.indd 42
18/9/2020 5:09 PM
ONE OF A KIND:
REMEMBERING NOEL PARROTT
By Pat Malone
Left: Noel Parrott (16 March, 1942–23 August, 2020); Right: Parrott and friend Pat Malone at the FCC.
entertained. Following the topping-out ceremony for n one of the last messages Noel sent to me, just two Exchange Square in 1985, someone brought a construction days before he died, he wrote: “Before they made me, helmet back to the office. Without a moment’s hesitation, they broke the mould and tossed it.” Noel put it on and burst into the YMCA dance routine. No one who knew Noel Parrott would argue with that. When Aussie John Cardenzana set up Gavin Anderson’s Kind, funny, warm and original, Noel was his own man. Hong Kong PR office, Noel left H&K to join him, and I He preferred harmony but was no push-over, and woe soon followed. After all, Gavin Anderson’s office on Ice betide the writer of a sloppy story or purple press release. House Street was much nearer to the FCC. At Friday lunch Noel graduated with a journalism degree from hour, we were a fixture at the bar for years. Melbourne University in 1969. Right out of school, In 2001, Noel moved to Chiang Mai, where he indulged The Herald Sun threw him into the deep end. Noel in interests like physics – he once tried to cut his teeth doing police rounds, court explain a “quark” to me – gardening and work, and theatre and film reviews. “Kind, funny warm In 1971, Noel moved to Hong Kong and original, Noel was antiques. In typical Noel fashion, he built a beautiful home with a guest wing so friends to work for the territory’s first tabloid, his own man.” could stay. Last February, when I visited The Star, founded by fellow Australian him, Noel told me that he still listened for the Noonday Graham Jenkins. After his three-year contract expired, Gun every day, remembering our office ritual. Noel joined the South China Morning Post. He lived in At the time of his death from throat cancer, he had just a house in Shek O, where he hosted legendary Sunday finished building an antique shop and a few flats to let. He Scrabblethons. He freelanced under eccentric names and had also completed a draft of what would have been his once acted in a Tiger beer ad, both testaments to his great debut science-fiction novel, The Inventor of Impossible Things. sense of humour. Flamboyant and sensitive, Noel was one of a kind and Later, he shifted into public relations – and that is how we all miss him desperately. we met. I worked with him at Hill+Knowlton PR company in the World Trade Centre, opposite the Noonday Gun in Causeway Bay. The firing of the gun signaled it was time Noel Parrott is survived by his sister Denise, who requests any for the first beer of the day. donations in his memory be made to the Hong Kong Cancer Fund At Hill+Knowlton, Noel managed an international (www.cancer-fund.org). team of disparate talents, keeping them motivated and WE ALSO REMEMBER
Graham Peter Mead A note from Kate Mead: “Graham Peter Mead, my husband and a long-term FCC member, died on 27 September, 2019 after a lengthy illness. Graham first came to Hong Kong in 1974 to set up the Computing Department at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (formerly Hong Kong Polytechnic). After leaving the university, he started his own computer training and market research consultancy. He is dearly missed.”
15 New Members 9.indd 43
18/9/2020 5:09 PM
THE ORIENTAL CLUB LONDON
Travel may be on hold for now, but we haven’t lost our wanderlust. FCC Board Member Genavieve Alexander recalls a trip to The Oriental Club London, which may inspire your own adventure when the time is right.
t feels like a lifetime ago when we could hop on a plane to Vietnam, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Japan or the UK. With travel on hold, I have been replaying a trip to London in my mind. In my home city, I stayed at one of our 96 reciprocal clubs: The Oriental Club London, which is conveniently located off Bond Street in Central London (a quick ride in on the Heathrow Express). From the moment I passed through the club’s grand doorways, I thoroughly enjoyed the east-meets-west atmosphere, warm staff and, naturally, the quintessentially British flair. The house has many spaces in which to work and relax, from the all-weather terrace known as The Hill Station Bar & Grill to The Library, Drawing Room and Smoking Rooms. For a fine-dining experience, The Dining Room delivers delicious seasonal cuisine – not to mention more than 120,000 bottles of wine in the club cellar. Swing by The Members’ Bar and the Calcutta Light Horse Bar pre- and post-dinner to enjoy the atmosphere and conversations with members. As you’d hope, prices are reasonable: I arrived on a Thursday evening to the warmth of an open fireplace and cocktails at just 6 GBP (HK$60). During my stay, I sat down with Sophie Lang, the Oriental Club London’s head of marketing and
16 Partner Club 9.indd 44
communications, to chat about the club’s history, signature dishes, art and accommodations. How did The Oriental Club London come to be? Sophie Lang: The club was founded in 1824 by returning officers and officials from India and the East. Major General Sir John Malcolm coordinated the Founding Committee, advertising a club that would draw its members from ‘Noblemen and gentlemen associated with the administration of our Eastern empire, or who have travelled or resided in Asia, at St. Helena, in Egypt, at the Cape of Good Hope, at Mauritius, or at Constantinople.’ It quickly became a haven in London, with the Duke of Wellington appointed as the club’s first and only president. The club’s original home was on Grosvenor Street, then it moved to Hanover Square. In 1962, the club settled in its current location in the Grade I-listed Stratford House. What’s an unmissable dish or drink at the club? SL: The club curries! Richard Terry, the club’s chef in the 19th century, wrote one of Britain’s first Indian cookery books, aptly named Indian Cookery, which continues to influence our menus. On our Eastern menu, I would highly
18/9/2020 5:16 PM
Clockwise from top left: The Oriental Club London’s grand facade; Curry dinner at The Hill Station Bar & Grill; Dinner in The Dining Room; Historic interiors.
recommend our prawn achaari, seafood Penang, Thai duck jungle curry and beef short ribs. I also love our Roast of the Day trolley and the crêpes Suzettes, prepared tableside. As for signature cocktails, savour The Duke, featuring London’s Beefeater gin, or the Oriental Spritz for a perfect London aperitif! The club’s art and photography really captured my attention. Who curated it? SL: Our Honorary Librarian, Laurence Singlehurst, has curated the most recent additions to the club’s art collection. You’ll notice that the paintings and prints have a strong link to Asia. The Oriental Club is proud of its rich heritage, some of which is also catalogued among the significant collection of books in the Library. How do Hong Kong FCC members set up a stay? SL: We have 40 en-suite bedrooms, ranging from single rooms to suites. Simply ask the Hong Kong FCC to send a letter of introduction to our reservations team (email@example.com). Our room rates vary, starting at 115 GBP (HK$1,170), including breakfast. Can visiting guests attend events and panels? SL: We open up select events to reciprocal club members. You can ask our reservations team to see what’s on. How would you describe the club in three words? SL: Hospitable, international, and traditional yet innovative. Not quite three, but that sums it up! n
16 Partner Club 9.indd 45
Around the World in 96 Clubs
When travel restrictions ease, explore the world with the FCC’s reciprocal clubs. Over the past few decades, the FCC has been strengthening its international partnerships so members can travel, work and play around the world. We have a reciprocal club on every continent, from the Press Club de France to The National Press Club Australia, the Colombo Swimming Club in Sri Lanka, and the Frontline Club in London. Recreational clubs are in abundance, too. Head to the Explorers Club in New York, the historic National Liberal Club and the Singapore Cricket Club, just to name a few. Each club has been selected based on shared values, location, facilities, events and, of course, a great bar. Many reciprocal clubs also offer accommodations, so keep that in mind when travel plans resume. Planning Tips: • Find a club here: fcchk.org/partner-clubs-3 • Ask firstname.lastname@example.org for a letter of introduction • Book accommodations, dining reservations and events before you go Please note: Your membership card can’t be used to settle your bill at reciprocal clubs.
18/9/2020 5:16 PM
High Dudgeon in High Places Jonathan Sharp dives into ‘A Stormy Petrel: The Life and Times of John Pope Hennessy,’ by FCC member P. Kevin MacKeown.
was widely accused of inefficiency. Still, he had ideas and policies ahead of his time, including the advancement of the local populations he governed. He inevitably ran up against conservative vested interests among his fellow colonials and his reform record is short. A particularly hostile adversary in Hong Kong was Jardine’s William Keswick (another family name inseparable from the city’s history), who opposed most of his lenient policies. Especially egregious, according to his detractors, was Pope Hennessy’s efforts to install – perish the thought! – a Chinese representative, Ng Choy, in the Legislative Council. An incident perhaps most remembered about Pope Hennessy’s tenure had a whiff of scandal about it. Suspecting that lawyer Thomas Hayllar was having an affair with his wife Kitty, Pope Hennessy struck Hayllar with an umbrella near Mountain Lodge, the governor’s Peak summer home. Hayllar had the weapon mounted with a plaque inscribed “A Memento of the Battle of Mountain Lodge.” As the author concedes, readers may be baffled by the myriad emotions aroused by Pope Hennessy, and MacKeown lists no fewer than 236 adjectives, for and against, to describe him. One that is missing could perhaps apply to both Hennessy, as well as the present resident of Government House. That word is “polarising”. Pick up a copy at the FCC.
nyone wishing to divert their attention away from the actions of the Government House incumbent would do well to dip into a fascinating new book about a past – and equally controversial – holder of the city’s highest office. A Stormy Petrel: The Life and Times of John Pope Hennessy chronicles the remarkable life of Hong Kong’s eighth governor who, as author P. Kevin MacKeown puts it, “seldom evoked indifference.” That’s putting it mildly. An Irish Catholic born in 1834, Pope Hennessy courted controversy almost everywhere he went throughout his career, which was mostly spent running Britain’s smaller colonies. Initially, the need to shore up shaky finances (a suggested alternative title to MacKeown’s book was A Mick on the Make, an informal way of saying “an Irishman intent on personal gain”) drove his career choice, because he could earn more overseas than at home. On the personal front, he also raised eyebrows by marrying a Eurasian, Kitty, in a match almost unheard of among UK’s colonial administrators. He made a veritable Cook’s tour of the more far-flung of Britain’s colonies, starting as governor of Labuan, off Borneo, then taking in West Africa, the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean as well as Hong Kong, where he served as Governor from 1877 to 1882. Though he was liberal-leaning man of considerable charm, Pope Hennessy had a volatile temperament and
From left to right: John Pope Hennessy; A statue of Hennessy in Mauritius; Kitty Pope Hennessy in Hong Kong.
17 Book Review 5.indd 46
18/9/2020 5:22 PM
Filipinos in Focus FCC member Noel de Guzman’s new book celebrates illustrious Filipinos, from Jollibee’s founder to fashion moguls and tech wunderkinds.
n 2018, graphic designer and illustrator Noel de Guzman stumbled upon a Google doodle of Fe del Mundo, the first Filipino woman admitted to Harvard Medical School and the first person to establish a paediatric hospital in the Philippines. But this was the first time de Guzman, a native Filipino, had heard of her. “When I learned about del Mundo, I was in awe. At the same time, I felt a little ashamed for not knowing who she was, so that inspired me to research more notable people from the Philippines,” says de Guzman. Determined to learn more about his country’s history, de Guzman began compiling information on a Google spreadsheet, amassing research on more than 500 notable personalities. Fast forward two years later, and de Guzman has transformed that research into a new book, 100 Filipinos: A Collection of Biographies of Remarkable Men and Women of the Philippines. The 212-page compilation highlights inspiring success stories, from the inventor of banana ketchup to a “computer genius who rocked Silicon Valley” and the first Filipino fashion mogul. An accomplished illustrator, de Guzman pairs each profile with colourful portraits, making this book a joy to read. “We should learn from the people who really matter – people who are leaders, pioneers, and mavericks,” says de Guzman. “This book is my contribution to the country. It aims to inspire and educate. I hope one day, the book will be in every Filipino home.” Order your copy here: 100filipinos.com
DID YOU KNOW? Noel de Guzman is the designer of The Correspondent!
Fe del Mundo, the mother of Philippine pediatrics
Tony Tan Caktiong, the face of Jollibee
Dado Banatao, the rock star of Silicon Valley
WATCH & LISTEN Podcasts, documentaries and shows that inform and entertain.
Covering “stories that matter,” Hong Kong-based podcast #Impact talks with NGOs who are tackling homelessness, sustainability, education and gender equality. The founder, Regina Larko, also offers podcast classes for audiophiles and aspiring hosts. hashtagimpact.com
17 Book Review 5.indd 47
In this new drama, Johnny Depp plays W. Eugene Smith, a Life photojournalist who sounded the alarm about devastating mercury poisonings in the Japanese coastal town of Minamata. Published in 1972, Smith’s resulting photo essay, “Death-Flow from a Pipe”, ultimately cost Smith his life.
Trial By Media
Netflix documentary, “Trial by Media”, turns the camera on the news cycle. Produced by George Clooney, this docuseries explores the US media’s influence on high-profile murder cases, political scandals, police shootings – and what it means for society.
18/9/2020 5:22 PM
ILLUSTR ATION: PEARL LAW
ike many other business travellers, I recently swapped my frequent flyer programme for a Zoom account and am enjoying the break from international work commutes. So it came as a surprise to read that Taipei Songshan Airport recently offered a two-hour fake flight experience – and more than 7,000 people applied to take part. Essentially, you check in for a flight bound for nowhere, clear immigration, then board a plane that just sits at the gate. Shortly after boarding, guests stow their overhead luggage, belt up, and listen to a fake cabin crew member deliver a fake safety announcement. Then the “passengers” disembark to once again clear customs and immigration before heading home. Although the whole experience sounds pretty lame, I had to assume that it would only be a matter of time before Hong Kong International Airport started offering the same fake flight experience. So I set about packing a small carry-on bag, only to discover I had forgotten all my suitcase lock codes after months of disuse, rendering them as useless as a gym membership in a pandemic. While picking the locks, I had plenty of time to contemplate how to make the fake flight experience more realistic. I’m sure Cathay Pacific will be delighted to receive my suggestions: Why not offer passengers three hours’ worth of free espresso martinis in the airport lounge before an abrupt, five-minute warning to find their gate, then change the gate to the 200s, so everyone has to take a bus across the runway and climb up the stairs in 34-degree heat? Upon boarding, the captain could announce a two-hour delay due to “military air traffic in Chinese airspace” and ask everyone to remain seated
18 Last Laugh 6.indd 48
indefinitely, making it impossible for passengers to return to that half-finished martini in The Bridge lounge. They could also provide other hassles and disappointments, such as disconnecting the inflight entertainment system, running out of alcohol – or worse, serving only vegan meals. Generally, any flight, and its many inevitable inconveniences, is just a means to an end: the destination. With no destination, the fake flight experience would be like waking up in the wrong apartment with a massive hangover, but without the fun of a night out in Wan Chai after the Hong Kong Sevens. While grounded in Hong Kong, I have been discovering the many financial and health benefits of my new travel-free lifestyle. I’m feeling both physically and mentally healthier, using the extra time to exercise in isolation via a make-shift gym on the roof of my apartment building. Mentally, I’m keeping fit with some online anger management classes, although this didn’t start off too well. The instructor required me to purchase an extensive reading list, which can be problematic for the serenity-challenged, especially if your online account freezes for no apparent reason. The penny dropped for the help operator when she learned I was purchasing Anger Management for Dummies. Thereafter, I progressed quickly through the queue. Problem solved. My rooftop gym idea didn’t go entirely to plan, either, even though it had a lot of potential. I was really enjoying the uniqueness of working out in the sun – and where else can you lift weights outdoors without first being convicted of a serious crime? The prison yard theme continued when the security guards-cum-wardens shut down my activities. I’m still trying to figure out why. Despite having lived in Hong Kong for some time, I am none the wiser as to their intentions. I can only assume that if “gweilo lifting weights on the roof ” is not on the list of approved building activities, it must be outlawed by default. Never mind, I’ll find a workaround for my workout woes, but rest assured my forthcoming Year of the Ox lai see packets for the prison guards will be as thin as the immigration queues at Hong Kong International Airport. n
New Zealand-born David Cain is a freelance project management consultant and has lived around Asia for 18 years – always coming back to Hong Kong “like a missing sock in a clothes dryer”.
18/9/2020 5:28 PM
24-HOUR EMERGENCY CARE
NORTH POINT 28118907 G/F, 66 Java Road & 1/F, Yan Wo Building, 70 Java Road, North Point
Consultation by Appointment. SAI KUNG 8AM-9PM 27920833
24-HOUR NURSING CARE & CAT & DOG BOARDING
MONG KOK 8AM-11PM 23092139
24-HOUR NURSING CARE
TSEUNG KWAN O 9AM-10PM 22446684
PARK ISLAND MOBILE CLINIC 11AM-7PM WED & 10AM-7PM SUN 62230903
FAIRVIEW PARK MOBILE CLINIC 10AM-6PM SAT 62230903
18 Last Laugh 6.indd 1
18/9/2020 5:28 PM
18 Last Laugh 6.indd 1
18/9/2020 5:28 PM
The official publication of the Foreign Correspondents' Club, Hong Kong.