The Correspondent, Jan - Mar 2019

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REMOTE CONTROL How an editor ran a Maldives news outlet from Sri Lanka after her visa was refused asdf



REPORTING ON A COUNTRY THAT WON’T LET YOU IN When the new Editor-in-Chief of the Maldives Independent had her work visa refused, she ended up working from a hotel room in Sri Lanka guiding a team she rarely got to meet.








How the Media Fared in 2018

A list of new members and some of their profiles

Working On The Blockchain Gang

Message from the President Editorial Membership

Christmas and New Year’s Eve at the FCC A Year of Living Dangerously and Dying Violently


How Blockchain is Going to Change our Lives




One member’s appeal to treasure the FCC archive

Hanoi After the War; This is What We Do: Celebrating Four Decades of FCC Activities; Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s Story, One Sketch at a Time

Club News On The Wall

Recording the History of Those Who Witness It


An artist who recorded the Handover in 1997 returns with her sketchbook



Never Had a Vegan Meal?; The Old Ones are the Best; Guest Chef and Sichuan Menu Proves Good Pairing

How young journalists break into the industry


Hong Kong News-Expo, which opened in Central last month

FCC’s latest Food & Beverage news and offerings


Who said what when they visited the Club


Book Reviews

Dr Feng Chi-shun



Derek Maitland


Last Word

The Ups and Downs of a Hong Kong Trail Runner


Living in a Media Hub Doesn’t Mean It’s Easy to Get into The Media


History of The First Draft


Facebook Page For Writers to Rant in Perfect Grammar

How illness led a member to create virtual community that’s now 1,000 strong and growing


It’s Not Time Travel, But it Took The Terror Out of My Trip Home

The new high-speed rail link to mainland China gets one happy passenger home in half the time



FROM THE PRESIDENT Dear Fellow Members, May I wish each and every one of you a wonderful New Year 2019, the auspicious Year of the Pig! For the Club, the 2018 Year of the Dog has been memorable indeed. The process of finding the best possible new General Manager began more than a year ago and concluded with the successful hiring of Didier Saugy in July. In just six months, Didier has proven beyond expectations that he has all the skills, charisma and energy required to turn the club around whilst improving the overall FCC experience for all members. Didier has already given new impetus to the club’s finances and started to streamline and improve several of our procedures. The Board therefore confirmed him unanimously during its last meeting of 2018. Over the past 12 months, the club has welcomed 162 new members. A special welcome to them! More than 10,000 guests have attended some of the 500 events organised in our beautiful building. The professional committee has organised more than 60 luncheons, on a very wide range of topics. And Bert’s hosted about 90 live music nights, quite a treat for the artistic souls among our members.

“The government of HK SAR is firmly committed to protecting the freedom of expression and the freedom of the press which are fundamental rights guaranteed by the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance” – Government statement to FCC The Andy Chan episode, followed two months later by the likely related refusal by the Hong Kong authorities to renew a work visa to former First Vice-President Victor Mallet, will be remembered as a new regrettable landmark moment in the short history of press freedom in the Hong Kong SAR. Though we never received the reasonable explanation we asked for about Victor’s de facto expulsion from Hong Kong, the government replied to us in November, stating: “We welcome foreign media organisations to operate in Hong Kong. The government of HK SAR is firmly committed to protecting the freedom of expression and the freedom of the press which are fundamental rights guaranteed by the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance.” I would sincerely like to thank Victor Mallet for his hard work for the club in 2017 and 2018 and wish him all the very best in his new posting with the Financial Times in Paris. To replace Victor, Jennifer Jett of The New York Times has now stepped up as First Vice-President and Jodi Schneider from Bloomberg has joined the Board. Thank you, Jennifer and Jodi!



A few weeks ago, the Board adopted an antiharassment policy. The point was to state in the clearest manner possible what is not acceptable by FCC 2019 standards. Its aim is to improve the FCC experience for all members, and in particular for women. Other clubs noted our move and asked us if they could use our wording to follow suit. But some of our own members opposed this policy, for a range of reasons including that it stated the obvious or that it encroached on the members’ freedom of expression. The club’s fabric has changed significantly over the last few years. Efforts have been made to increase its diversity and its gender balance. It is essential that the FCC is a warm, friendly and pleasant place for all, to meet, work, network, relax and chill. Unfortunately, some members still have to endure vulgar attitudes or comments from inebriated members. Such incidents are often perceived as too embarrassing for the victims who, in most cases, are reluctant to report them. It should not be so. I sincerely hope that this policy will send a strong signal of zero tolerance towards old-style and completely passé chauvinistic attitudes. Before you get a chance to elect our new Board in April, the FCC will host two major events in March: The Charity Dinner on March 16 and the Journalism Conference on March 23. Please note and support in any way you can! And feel free to join us for the Lion Dance parade at the Club on Friday, February 8, at 11am. Talking of support, congratulations to all of you who contributed their fair share in consuming some of the 30,000 bottles of wine, and the 24,000 bottles and 750 kegs of beer that we collectively drank at the FCC! Please keep up the hard work and continue to make the most of your club in 2019. Yours sincerely, Florence de Changy


The Foreign Correspondents’ Club 2 Lower Albert Road Central, Hong Kong Tel: (852) 2521 1511 Fax: (852) 2868 4092 Email: Website:


The Board of Governors 2017-2018 President Florence de Changy First Vice-President Jennifer Jett


Second Vice-President Christopher Slaughter Correspondent Member Governors Enda Curran, Daniel Ten Kate, Richard John Macauley, Andrew Marszal, George Russell, Jodi Schneider, Alexandra Stevenson, Sarah Stewart

A great thing about living in Hong Kong is we all get to share two New Years, so Happy New Year for 2019 everyone, and let’s look forward to the Year of the Pig when it arrives in February. In keeping with the time of year, we’re looking at the old and the new in this issue of your magazine. There are features on how young aspiring journalists can break into the media industry (pp33-37), what blockchain is and what it will mean to us in the future (pp20-21), and the new high-speed rail link between Hong Kong and mainland China (pp44-45).

Journalist Member Governors Clifford Buddle, Adam White Associate Member Governors Genavieve Alexander, Magnus Renfrew, David Philip Roberts, Christopher Slaughter, Douglas Wong Club Treasurer Douglas Wong Club Secretary Enda Curran Professional Committee Co-Conveners: Enda Curran, Alexandra Stevenson Sub-committee: Journalism Conference Convenor: Enda Curran

However, New Year is also a time for appraising the past. In this spirit, long-time FCC member and former governor Carsten Schael makes an impassioned appeal to the Club (pp22-23) to value its archive and set up a committee to preserve the precious artefacts in its care. A reminder of how important it is to remember what has gone before is the new Hong Kong News-Expo, opened last month and committed to telling Hong Kong’s unfolding story to future generations. Its custodians have offered FCC members free guided tours (pp38-39 for details).

Finance Committee Co-Conveners: Douglas Wong (Treasurer), Jennifer Jett, Jodi Schneider Constitutional Committee Co-Conveners: Clifford Buddle, David Philip Roberts Membership Committee Co-Conveners: Sarah Stewart, Enda Curran, Magnus Renfrew House/Food and Beverage Committee Co-Conveners: Douglas Wong, Jennifer Jett, George Russell, Richard Macauley, Genavieve Alexander

It’s interesting that the people behind the News-Expo were determined not to call their venture a museum, to emphasise that history never stands still, it just keeps moving on. Two topics in the magazine prove how true that is. Firstly, an artist who visited Hong Kong in 1996 and 1997 to sketch key figures in the story of the Handover, has returned and is busy chronicling the city’s many changes, and the goings-on at the Club (pp34-35). And people going to the Vegan Dinner being held at the FCC this month will hear an urban farmer urge us all to grow our own herbs and veg (pp30-31). If we’re looking at the history of the human race, it doesn’t get much more timeless than that, does it?

Building - Project and Maintenance Committee Co-Conveners: Christopher Slaughter, George Russell, David Philip Roberts Press Freedom Committee Co-Conveners: Clifford Buddle, Andrew Marszal, Sarah Stewart, Daniel Ten Kate Communications Committee Co-Conveners: Genavieve Alexander, Adam White, Andrew Marszal, Daniel Ten Kate Wall Committee Co-Conveners: Christopher Slaughter, Adam White, Magnus Renfrew

Sue Brattle

Charity Committee Co-Conveners: Jennifer Jett, George Russell, Daniel Ten Kate General Manager Didier Saugy Editor, The Correspondent Sue Brattle Publisher: Artmazing! Tel: 9128 8949 Email: Printing Elite Printing, Tel: 2558 0119

The Correspondent ©2019 The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong The Correspondent is published four times a year. Opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of the club.



Advertising Contact FCC Front Office: Tel: 2521 1511




Christmas 2018…


Christmas and New Year is always a special time at the FCC, and thanks to the hard work of all the staff this season has been no exception. From the Kids’ Party on December 9 to the Countdown Party ending with breakfast in the small hours of January 1, the Club celebrated in style. Happy New Year, everyone.




… and Happy New Year 2019









ONE NEW YEAR HAS GONE, NOW IT’S TIME FOR ANOTHER Chinese New Year may be a quiet time in Hong Kong, but the FCC will be bursting with activity. The club’s holiday celebrations are running from January 14 to February 11. They include a lion dance, seasonal decorations and of course food. Special a la carte options for Chinese New Year include fried king prawn, braised abalone and braised e-fu noodles with crabmeat sauce. The club is also trying something new: poon choi, a traditional Hong Kong dish that consists of different meats and vegetables layered in a basin. The FCC’s poon choi includes braised whole abalone, braised goose feet, roasted duck, braised Chinese mushroom, poached Shanghai cabbage, braised turnips and more. A casserole for five people is $888, while a casserole for 10 people is $1,688 (all menus and prices are subject to change). Poon choi should be ordered two days in advance for either takeaway or inside the club. Another traditional holiday dish the club will offer is lo hei, which means “tossing up good fortune”. Lo hei is a salad of shredded vegetables, seasonings and condiments with auspicious meanings that are added one at a time in a specific order. The FCC version features salmon, chicken, roast duck, abalone or prawns. Diners then toss the ingredients while exchanging good wishes – higher tosses are thought to bring better fortune. Bookings for February 9-19 should be made three working days in advance; main courses start at $428. Finally, the Spring Set Menu from Feb. 9-18 includes suckling pig, steamed fresh grouper, FCC fried chicken and more. Tables of 10 are $6,388; please book three working days in advance. In addition to the food, the club will have a lion dance to bring good luck and a peach blossom tree representing romance, prosperity and growth. And be sure to look out for the “God of Wealth”, who will distribute lai see (red envelopes) throughout the club during meal periods. The club will close at 4 pm on February 4, and at midnight on February 5, 6, and 7; normal hours will resume on February 8. Kung Hei Fat Choy and best wishes for the Year of the Pig!




MEMBERSHIP Who’s joined the Club, who’s leaving and who’s turned silver! This is the column to read.


• Moray Taylor-Smith, Regional Head of Major Investigations, HSBC

• Tracy Alloway, Executive Editor, Bloomberg

• Elizabeth Wong Wing-kei, Senior Associate, DLA Piper

• Katharine Forster, Editor, Agence France-Presse • Sean Gleeson, Editor, Agence France-Presse • Mary Hui Kam-man, Freelancer

On to Pastures New

• Gregor Hunter, Cross-Asset Markets Reporter, Bloomberg

• Au revoir to those members leaving Hong Kong who have become

• Tara Loader Wilkinson, Editor in Chief, Billionaire Magazine • Shibani Mahtani, Southeast Asia Correspondent, The Washington Post

Absent Members: Correspondents

• Caroline Malone, Producer, CNN

• Martin Adams, Deputy Managing Editor, The Economist

• Casey Quackenbush, Reporter, Time Asia

• Robert Gerhardt, Freelance Photographer

• Gemma Shaw, Managing Editor, Hong Kong Living

• Dawra Preeti, Columnist, Mintasia

• Justin Solomon, Producer, CNN International

• Kelly Reardon, Publications Director, Sundaram Tagore Gallery

• Matthieu Verrier, Journalist, Urban Utopia

• Riina Yrjölä, Correspondent, Voima



• Marianne Bray, Freelancer

• Shruti Advani, Editor-in-Chief, Asian Private Banker

• Serina Ha Miu-yin, Deputy Head Radio Development & Culture & Education Unit, RTHK

• Mathew Gallagher, Managing Editor, Time Out

• Robyne Nimmo, Freelancer • Vivek Prakash, Freelance Photographer/Photo Editor Associates

• Alberto Aliverti, Director, Sailetto China • Paul Bourieau, Sculptor, Urban Rock • Sherman Chan Kar-nang, Consultant, Seyfarth Shaw • Louis Chan Yik-si, Doctor, Hong Kong Reproductive Medicine Centre • Philip Chau, Barrister-at-law, Central Chambers • Alexander Daniel, Regional Managing Director, DTV Asia • Tariq Dennison, Director, GFM Group

• Georgia McCafferty, Freelancer • Kirti Nandwani, Reporter, TVB • Chloe Street, Freelancer Associates

• Christopher Abbiss, Principal, KPMG • Russell Beardmore, Managing Director, Standard Chartered Bank • Jennifer Donnelly, Senior Consultant, ALS International • David Holloway • William Kerins • Yeung Wing-ming, Dentist

• Fergus Gifford, Shipbroker, Arrow Asia Shipbrokers • Jan Hojgaard, Chief Executive Officer, Anglo-Eastern Univan • Ben Hunt, Owner & CEO, Braiform

Farewell to these members also leaving Hong Kong:

• Dare Koslow, Managing Director, Smartop


• Jonathon Leung Gin-man, Registered Foreign Lawyer, Clifford Chance

• Maya Ando, Freelancer

• Anita Liu Hsiu-chuan, Primary Learning Enhancement Teacher, Chinese International School

• Timothy Lavin, Editor, Bloomberg

• David Hughes, Managing Director, Jade Water Investment

• Eva Liu Huguet, Head of Property Development, Liu Chong Hing Investment • Connie Lo Ngan-ying, Treasury Director, Nan Fung Development

• Phoebe Seers, Reporter, Mlex Associates

• Zhao Tong, Partner, Brunswick Group

• Adrian Lungan, Chairman, Alpha Prime Investments • Laurence McDonald, VP & Group Transformation Officer, Ericsson • Liam McGrath, Director & Technical Representative, INLE Risk Management • Gregory Pearce, Founder & Managing Director, One Space • Peter Phillips, Head of English, Australian International School • Fergus Saurin, Senior Associate, Holman Fenwick Willan







We are extremely sad to announce the death of:

• He Liu, Asia Correspondent, The Wall Street Journal

• Lily Scheng Hsi Feng, Dealing Director, Transpacific Securities

• Hong Xiaoyan, Reporter, Bloomberg • Brent O’Brien, Digital News Editor, Bloomberg • Preetina Rana, Reporter, The Wall Street Journal

Category Changes

• Audrey Yoo, Reporter, Time Asia

From Journalist to Correspondent


• Adam Martin, News Editor, The Wall Street Journal

• Robert Brothers, Chairman, Arbross

From Correspondent to Journalist

• Karen Man, Associate, Baker & McKenzie

• Deborah Price, Senior Editor, South China Morning Post

• Paul Ng Yuk-yeung, Director, South China Brokerage

From Associate to Silver Associate

• Wong Kai-Wing, Director, Fu Fai Enterprises

• William Ho Pui-yuen, Director, Good Luck Investment


• Joshua Lerner, Vice Commercial Consul, US Consulate General Corporate

• Maninder Kohli, Managing Director, Credit Suisse • Lori Lincoln, Director of Corporate Communications, Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts

Welcome Back To Correspondents

• Wayne Ma, Reporter, The Information • Ilaria Maria Sala, Contributor & Journalist, Quartz Journalists

• Deborah Price, Senior Editor, South China Morning Post • Melissa Westcott, Supervising Producer/Host, TVB Pearl • Pamela Williams, Writer/Illustrator, The Pam Williams Studio Associates

• Jyotee Bonomally, Manager, Empower Foundation • Paul Burke • Eric Charrington • Derek De Pellette • Thomas Gallagher • Andrew Hall • John Holmes • Miranda Houng • Margaret Hudel • Monique Lee • Stephen Morgan • James Strang • Gerald Tucker

A huge advantage of being a member of the FCC is being able to use our partner or reciprocal clubs around the world. If you are visiting Australia or New Zealand, there are clubs in most major cities. In North America there are clubs across Canada and the United States. For those of you heading to Europe there are clubs in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Malta, Spain, Switzerland, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Across Asia, there are clubs in China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. In Africa we only have one club so far, The Wanderers Club in Johannesburg. Most of these clubs provide dining, work and recreational facilities, but some offer accommodation too, such as The Colombo Swimming Club in Sri Lanka, the Hollandse Club in Singapore, The Launceston Club in Tasmania, the Terminal City Club in Vancouver, the Bellevue Club in Washington and the Devonshire Club in London. So when you are planning a trip be sure to take a look at the list on our website of partner clubs – under the Membership tab scroll down to Partner Clubs (www. – to see what facilities each club has to offer and take full advantage of your membership whilst you are travelling. PLEASE NOTE: To use our partner/reciprocal clubs many require an introduction card which you can get from the Club’s office, email

• William Tung Chung-yin





INTRODUCING... NEW MEMBERS The latest group of members to join the FCC is, as always, an interesting bunch. The membership committee meets regularly to go through applications and is always impressed by the diversity of people who want to join the Club. Anita Liu I was born and raised in Taiwan, lived and studied in Sydney. As an international school teacher, I’ve had the privilege to live and work in several different countries. Besides Taiwan, I also call Australia and Turkey home, as I have lived and taught in these two amazing countries. I have been living in Hong Kong for 12 years (was planning to be here for two). Lots of life-changing events have happened during that time. I met my American husband, Ryan, and now we are raising our three-year-old daughter. I enjoy hiking, travelling, planning events, cooking and reading. Mary Hui I’m a freelance journalist and writer in this wonderful-but-flawed city that I’ve called home my entire life, minus a few years away for college and a sevenmonth stint last year at the Washington Post in D.C. I’m an avid trail runner and am training to compete in a couple of 50-kilometre trail races this season. If I’m not too tired from all the miles of running up and down mountains, I also like to go climbing and bouldering. (See Last Word, p. 48) Tracy Alloway If I was an animal, I would not choose to be a butterfly, because that would be derivative. These are the kind of terrible and obscure finance jokes you can expect when you meet me at the FCC. I’ve recently moved to Hong Kong to be Head of the Asia News Desk at Bloomberg. In addition to Bloomberg, I’ve worked at the Financial Times, with experience in New York, London, and Abu Dhabi, where I was previously based. I also anchor on TV and co-host a weekly podcast, Odd Lots, where we talk about poker, algorithmic trading and forensic accounting – in addition to butterfly option strategies. Paul-Alexandre Bourieau My name is Paul-Alexandre Michel Albert Bourieau, but they call me POLO. I am French, my son Italian, my wife English and my grandfather was a Spanish refugee. And I am a sculptor here in Hong Kong. I arrived in Hong Kong almost by mistake in 2003. I fell in love with this city “in between two worlds” which inspires me greatly in terms of identity crisis



in the new millennium. Since then, I have been creating sitespecific works for the new “agora” of the 21st century. Fergus Gifford It is an honour to be a member of this wonderful institution. I was born in London, grew up in Tokyo and studied in Edinburgh. I then worked as a teacher in Kobe before beginning my career in shipbroking with Arrow in London, and I’ve now been in Hong Kong since 2015. I love this city. In a day I can cover all of my passions – eating my bodyweight in dim sum at Maxims, hiking up Mt High West to watch the containerships pass and then heading to the bar at the FCC! Marianne Bray After a stint working as a social scientist in Wellington, New Zealand, I left my life at home to study for a masters of journalism at Columbia University in New York. This led to adventures like reporting from the streets of the Bronx, trading on the American stock exchange, having dinner with Walter Cronkite, interviewing a eunuch in the slums of Mumbai and covering 9/11 for in Hong Kong. I now teach at HKU’s journalism school. I also write for the Economist Group, Thomson Reuters Foundation and the South China Morning Post, judge the annual SOPA awards, and am a mother of three kids very interested in pushing the green agenda. Bjorn Hojgaard I am the Danish CEO of ship management company Anglo-Eastern Univan Group. We have more than 600 vessels under full technical management, another 200+ under crew management, and have project managed the building of 450 new ships. I am married to Brenda, a “Hong Kong girl”, and have lived here close to 20 years. Together with our Labrador Retriever, we are avid hikers and Hong Kong is a superb home in this respect. I’ve also climbed Mount Kota Kinabalu and Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peaks in South East Asia and Africa respectively. Apart from that, my favourite pastime is sailing. Alberto Aliverti My name is Alberto Aliverti and I am originally from Como, Italy. I arrived in Hong Kong in 1982, coming from the United States. After assimilating the culture and business climate, I started my own company. Initially I was importing


fabrics, fashion accessories and textile chemicals from Italy, but I also acted as a textile consultant for an Italian Government institution. My fondest memories were being able to travel to unspoiled places in China, especially areas closed to foreigners at the time. I still remember 20 days of negotiations in Hubei, lodging in the summer residence of Mao Tse Tung. Being the dead of winter, there was no heating, and my 1000 sq ft bedroom always remained a cool 2-3C. Sean Gleeson Hello! I moved here in April to work at Agence France-Presse, where I continue to distinguish myself as the tallest person in the office. Before that my partner and I lived in Yangon, where my commanding height was the object of much ridicule. When I wasn’t being chased down the streets by rampaging gaggles of selfie-hungry Burmese teens, I worked for the news magazine Frontier Myanmar. I started my time in Asia at the Phnom Penh Post (RIP), where one of my articles got pulled because I compared the Cambodian information minister’s sartorial tastes to those of Breaking Bad’s Saul Goodman. Gregor Stuart Hunter I’m a cross-asset markets reporter for Bloomberg News, which I joined earlier this year after a four-year stint at The Wall Street Journal and another three years spent in Abu Dhabi covering Middle Eastern banking and finance for The National. I passed the CFA Level 2 exam this summer and will soon curtail my social life to prepare for the next one, so as to not bore people by gabbing away excessively about exotic derivatives. I’m also a marathon runner, a computer programmer, and am often found near fellow FCC member Babette Radclyffe-Thomas (pictured). Alex Daniel Hello. I was born in the UK and have been living in Asia since 2002. I moved to Hong Kong in 2007 and I manage a company focused on raising money for various local and international charities using TV advertising – in Hong Kong, Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand mostly. I met my wife in Hong Kong on Boxing Day 2009 and we married in October 2010. Claire’s parents are from Hong Kong, but she was born and raised by them in Germany so our two daughters are growing up speaking and hilariously mixing up German, English and Chinese. Casey Quackenbush I’m an American reporter for TIME based in Hong Kong. I fell in love with the city’s trails and transience two years ago and have lived here ever since. At TIME, I cover everything from politics to culture across the Asia-Pacific, but my favorite stories are the ones with a


good adventure. Some of the best include chasing Everest climbers in Nepal, cheese-hunting in the Alps, and droving in the Australian Outback. Let’s swap tales over Moscow Mules at the bar sometime. Dr. Serina Ha I am Deputy Head of Radio Development and the Culture and Education Unit of RTHK, and a consultant in the arts at Hang Seng University of Hong Kong. I hold a PhD in Japanese Studies from the School of Modern Languages and Cultures at HKU and graduated with an MA in communication and MSoc in Media Management from HK Baptist University. I am a guest lecturer at universities in Bangkok, Beijing, Chengdu, Hong Kong and Japan. I am also an accomplished Japanese botanic artist and my work has been exhibited in the U.S., Japan and Hong Kong. Caroline Malone I feel lucky as a journalist, currently News Stream Producer at CNN International, to have front row seats to the first draft of history – whether that is reporting on the inaugural cycling ‘Tour de Timor’ as a celebration of what was then the newest country in the world, witnessing protests in Turkey and Syrian refugee resettlement into Lebanon, or violence on the Jordan-Iraq border. I’ve recently returned to the city of my birth, Hong Kong, at a time when technology and tyrannical leadership have become new frontlines. People are a real passion of mine, specifically developing female athletes in Ultimate Frisbee. The sport will one day be in the Olympics. Gemma Shaw As managing editor of Hong Kong Living, I oversee print titles including Southside & The Peak, Sai Kung, Midlevels and Expat Parent magazines as well as content for Originally from the UK, this is the second time I’ve lived in Hong Kong. My (now) husband and I lived here in 2014. We returned to Hong Kong a year ago, after living in Vietnam (too wet) and Singapore (too hot). We now live in Southside with our adopted cat. As an ex-Portobello Road, London, market stallholder, I love a good deal. I also like to start my days early with a hot yoga session and end them with the occasional glass of champagne. Vivek Prakash I’m a photo editor for the New York Times and photographer for AFP. In previous lives I’ve been Chief Photographer, Indian Subcontinent and Staff Photographer, Singapore for Reuters; Before that, I was a staffer at AAP in Sydney. Before that, I was actually a night shift taxi driver for two years while I was getting my career as a photographer off the blocks in Australia. So if you’re looking for a raging debate on the state of modern photojournalism, or pointers on how to fix a Ford Falcon’s radiator hose – come find me at the bar. n




Our new First Vice-President


n November 17, the Board of Governors named Jennifer Jett, a Correspondent Governor, as First Vice-President after the resignation of Victor Mallet. Jett, who grew up in Arizona, has lived in Asia for more than 11 years. After spending three years in Beijing, she came to Hong Kong in 2010 to pursue a master’s degree in journalism at the University of Hong Kong. She is now senior staff editor at The New York Times, which she joined seven years ago as a copy editor for the International Herald Tribune. Jett has been a member of the FCC since 2013 and this is her second year on the Board. “We are all so grateful to Victor for his service to the Club, and I’ll do my best to live up to the high standard he set,” she said. Please say hello if you see her in the Health Club or the Main Bar.

Induction Ceremonies


Jennifer Jett


ively induction ceremonies were held in the Verandah on September 28 and November 16. We wish all our new members a warm welcome to the Club.

(From left) Yang Guofeng, Chen Hongyi, Natalie Tang, Enda Curran, Philip Chau

(From left) Kevin Jennings, Dare Koslow, Ivan Ng, Gregory Pearce

(From left) Jasmine Gregory, Stephen Spratt, Alison Pickett, Paul Bourieau

(From left) Gregor Hunter, Florence de Changy, Russell Goldman

(From left) Matthieu Verrier, Florence de Changy, Aquin Mathew, Rogier Hekking, Tariq Dennison

(From left) Jan Hojgaard, Brenda Hojgaard, Tim Huxley, Fergus Gifford



Bubbling with enthusiasm


here were 25 champagnes to be tested and tasted at the Champagne Social on October 18, a challenge which members and their guests attacked with gusto on a fun and convivial evening in the Hughes Room. Here’s hoping members enjoy the choices the tasters made. Pictured are: Deborah Vivienne McGowan (right) with her friends Maria Kuiper, Thomas Li and Ambrose Li.

Small book with a big message


ormer Undersecretary of State for the Environment, Christine Loh, made two appearances at the Club in October, talking about the short book she has written with friend and academic Richard Cullen, No Third Person: Rewriting the Hong Kong Story. The authors urge Hong Kong to shake off its colonial past, write its own story and look ahead to playing a significant role in China. Christine and Richard spoke at a Club lunch on October 18, Rule Bauhinia: Writing a New Hong Kong Story. Christine also spoke, on October 22, to the Women in Publishing Society in the Burton Room, with editor and publisher Peter Gordon of Abbreviated Press, on Less is More: Telling Hong Kong’s Story with a Short Book.

Deborah McGowan and friends (From left) President Florence de Changy, authors Richard Cullen and Christine Loh, Clifford Buddle and publisher Peter Gordon

China’s women fight back


uthor and academic Leta Hong Fincher was the guest speaker at a lunch entitled Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China on November 8. She argued that a rising feminist consciousness among women in China who are increasingly fed up with the sexism in their daily lives will have far-reaching consequences for their own country and the rest of the world. Peter Gordon and Christine Lo address Women in Publishing

(From left) Genavieve Alexander, speaker Leta Hong Fincher, and Jodi Schneider





Afternoon tea in home-from-home


esidents of China Coast Community (CCC), an Englishspeaking retirement home, visited the FCC on October 25 for an afternoon tea organized by the Charity Committee. As the FCC’s designated charity for 2017, CCC benefited from a fundraising event at the club that paid for specialised beds. The afternoon tea, which was held for the second consecutive year, is one way the FCC is continuing the relationship. “From the very start we were made to feel at home,” Sara Rennison, a resident of CCC, wrote in a letter on behalf of residents and staff members. “We were treated to a delicious tea, and nothing seemed to be too much trouble for your caring and most friendly staff.” Rennison said the residents enjoyed learning about the FCC’s history. “It is such a lovely, welcoming place,” she said, “and the photos around the walls and the lovely décor fascinated us.” If you’d like to get involved in the FCC’s charitable activities, please email And mark your calendars for the Charity Committee’s upcoming fundraiser for the FCC’s current designated nonprofit, Keeping Kids in Kindergarten, which helps refugee children in Hong Kong access early education. The fundraiser is on Saturday, March 16, when every floor of the club will be taken up by an evening of music, nostalgia, good food and prizes. Hope to see you there! Jennifer Jett

Guests from the China Coast Community with Club members

Tireless investigator captivates audience


ulti-award winning journalist Clare Rewcastle Brown enthralled her audience at a Speaker’s Lunch on November 7 entitled The Story Behind the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) Exposé. Clare, founder and editor of The Sarawak Report, talked about her experience as an independent journalist investigating kleptocracy in Malaysia, which culminated in the 1MDB corruption exposé involving the then Prime Minister Najib Razak. Fortune Magazine named Clare Rewcastle Brown one of the World’s 50 Most Influential Figures in 2016.

Clare Rewcastle Brown signs the FCC guest book



(From left) Douglas Wong, Hwang Sok In, Clare Brown, Florence de Changy, Sarah Stewart


Making sense of the Midterms


rank Lavin, Nancy Hernreich Bowen, and Stephen Olson led the discussion at a Club Breakfast on December 4, U.S. Politics Following the Midterm Elections. The panel, all of whom have U.S. government experience, used their varied expertise to unravel the fallout from the Midterms that had taken place a month earlier and speculate on what the results would mean for the next two years and the next presidential race in 2020.

Quiz champions


eptember’s hotly-contested FCC Quiz was won by A Bridge Too Far. Congratulations to the team members, from left, Simon Clennell (captain), Tara Gaughan, Andrew Kinloch, Andrew Crampton and Hugh Tyrwhitt-Drake. The sixth member, Robert Candler, had to dash for his ferry so missed out on the photo!

(From left) Frank Lavin, Nancy Hernreich Bowen, and Stephen Olson





REPORTING ON A COUNTRY THAT WON’T LET YOU IN The Maldives has suffered a turbulent year, with a state of emergency, protests on the streets of the capital, and a hotly-contested presidential election. Riazat Butt, former Editor-in-Chief at the Maldives Independent, spent 11 months working ‘under the radar’ from hotel rooms outside the country after her work visa was refused.

S Riazat Butt has worked at The Guardian, Al Jazeera English and AFP. She has lived in the Gulf, Asia and travelled widely on assignment. She was Editor-in-Chief at the Maldives Independent from September 2017 until October 2018.



ometime in the afternoon of September 24, 2018, I learned that Abdulla Yameen had conceded defeat in the Maldives presidential election. I updated the Maldives Independent live blog. Then I cried. I was in a Sri Lanka hotel room and had been awake for almost two days, working through a cyber-attack lasting almost as long, to keep publishing news about an election that could lead the country towards a dictatorship or return it to democracy. After 12 months, 11 of them not in the Maldives because my visa application was rejected, my time as editor-in-chief was over. The election result indicated a brighter future for press freedom, and gave me a chance to return to the country. But I had little desire to work there again. I had dealt with blackmail, extortion, suspicions of money laundering, a state of emergency, funding crises, cyber-attacks, isolation and insecurity, in addition to my everyday responsibilities. I deserved a cry, I told myself. I initially entered the Maldives on a 30day tourist visa, staying with someone’s relatives to avoid putting my name on a hotel or apartment booking. My SIM was registered to someone else. I met nobody outside the workplace, bar two trusted contacts, while I was in the Maldives. My route to and from work changed every few days because newsrooms were under such scrutiny. I dressed modestly, even slipping

on an abaya to cover my gym kit of t-shirt and leggings. But whatever I did attracted attention because I was female, alone and clearly not Maldivian. The daily street harassment, noise, pollution, heat and crowds of the capital Malé, were so intense I was relieved about heading to Colombo for a short business trip. The visa application was submitted in my absence and authorities had all the documents specified in immigration rules. The rejection came a few weeks later. It shocked me. At no stage of the recruitment process had I been warned that I might be unsuccessful, that I might have to work remotely. No reason was given for the refusal. I had been so sure about getting a visa I had left most of my things in the Maldives. But my name had been flagged, according to a police source, and I risked being deported on arrival if I tried to get in again. I considered marrying a Maldivian to get a visa. A reporter volunteered, but wanted a pay bump to match. I told him we didn’t have that kind of money. I resisted calls to appeal the rejection because there was nothing to be gained by drawing attention to myself or the website. Also, as one senior NGO figure put it, it was the Maldives’ sovereign prerogative to grant or deny visas. I was not entitled to one simply because I was a journalist, I thought. Besides, I didn’t want to become the



Editor-in-Chief Riazat Butt during a rare meeting with her team in Colombo


story and there was work to be done: exposing wrongdoing, holding power to account and tackling under-reported issues. But I didn’t know how to run a newsroom, let alone do it from thousands of miles away, and had no idea where I was supposed to go for the rest of my contract. I flitted around Asia and even Europe, leading the team from different time zones, directing our coverage and setting the agenda. I was pushy, single-minded and vocal as I bashed reporters into shape and sent them out on assignment. Messages pinged back and forth about who was doing what, why, how, where and when. We ran stories on subjects considered taboo in the conservative and autocratic country – the perils of removing the hijab, recreational drug use, mental health, election rigging, unsolved murders, sexual harassment, sexual abuse – and exposed government lies about loans, statistics and development projects. Reporters revealed environmental destruction on islands, and the rifts in the opposition alliance and the trials of being a court reporter in the Maldives. I often worked up to 12 hours a day, six or seven days a week, and kept hearing how brilliantly I was doing and how fantastic the website looked. I was proud we were the only news website in the Maldives to come under attack during the state of emergency, although I hated not being able to publish. I wasn’t just working remotely, I was under the radar. There were no media appearances. There was no byline for me at the Maldives Independent and I never wrote for anyone else. I had no LinkedIn profile. Sure I tweeted about the Maldives, but I also tweeted about puppies and Brexit. But among the successes there was frustration and exhaustion: attempting to explain what needed to be done and why  —

all day, every day, to reporters – or hearing they had no ideas or didn’t know what questions to ask when calling someone on a story. A lot of energy was spent getting the reporters to do the basics. The team was young and mostly inexperienced. I normally thrived in adversity but, at times, the scale of the challenge overwhelmed me. I also felt guilty that I wasn’t in the Maldives with the reporters. I couldn’t mentor them or help them develop. I felt I was letting them down by not being more patient, stronger, more creative and was devastated at my failure to do any of the things I had promised to do when I was hired: build the brand, get more money, hire more people, do video, graphics and interactives. I met the team twice after my visa was rejected, once in December 2017 and then in August 2018. I didn’t see them after that, not even when I returned to the Maldives as a legitimate tourist for a holiday after I left my job and the new president had taken power. The Maldives was a huge part of my life for 12 months. It was my life for 12 months. I knew everything about it, but didn’t share this information with other holidaymakers. They didn’t know about the extremism, the corruption, the backstabbing and cronyism, the pitiful transparency and my role in documenting all of it. I told people I worked in admin or that I sold stationery as I felt this would be more believable than the truth. As the seaplane puttered over the Indian Ocean on my last departure I could name the islands coming into view, the lawmakers who represented them in parliament, the tycoons who owned the swanky resorts fanning across the water. While this job is one of the most rewarding I’ve had in my career, it has also been one of the most bizarre. I had been reporting on a country I wasn’t allowed into and, when I was allowed in, I was no longer reporting on it. n

POLITICS AND A MISSING JOURNALIST Last year the Maldives ranked 120 out of 180 in the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index. Rights groups criticised Abdulla Yameen, who was president from 2013 until 2018, for leading a crackdown on free speech that saw the country slide down the RSF index during his time in office. An anti-defamation law and pro-government media watchdogs engendered a hostile reporting climate. Journalists said they were forced to practise self-censorship to avoid crippling fines and lawsuits. Reporters were also threatened, imprisoned, assaulted, even fleeing the country for their safety while Yameen was in power. Maldives Independent reporter Ahmed Rilwan was abducted in 2014. The two men charged over his disappearance were acquitted last August and Rilwan remains missing. Background checks, introduced in 2016 after an Al Jazeera exposé of massive state corruption, meant foreign journalists had to submit extensive documentation as part of their visa application, including a medical report, police certificate, two-year travel history and bank statements. The Ministry of Home Affairs barred foreigners from being editors of Maldivian news outlets. It also said only degree holders could be editors, but this regulation was later changed after it was pointed out that just several hundred people from the general population were graduates. Yameen lost the September 2018 presidential election. The anti-defamation law was repealed in November.

Supporters of former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed gather for a mass rally







Photo-journalist Lu Guang was arrested in Xinjiang



018 was a grim year for journalists, with 80 killed, 348 in prison and 60 being held hostage at the time of going to press. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) stated that there was “an unprecedented level of hostility towards media personnel”. In its annual round-up of abuses against the media, RSF concluded: “Journalists have never before been subjected to as much violence and abusive treatment as in 2018.” In fact, the FCC has chosen this issue as its theme for 2019’s Journalism Conference on 23 March, entitled Enemy of the People? The Dangers of Being a Journalist in 2019. In December, TIME magazine named their person, or persons, of 2018, under the title The Guardians and the War on Truth. The honoured were: murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, imprisoned Myanmar journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, Rappler founder Maria Ressa of the Philippines, and The Capital newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., where five staff were shot dead in June. Sam Jacobs, executive editor of TIME, said after the announcement on December 12: “We are trying to make a statement, trying to stress the importance of freedom of the press. One of the big themes we have seen this year is the question around truth. What they [the media] are guarding is liberty, democracy and freedom. And they are searching for facts.” More than half of the journalists killed in 2018 were deliberately targeted, according to RSF, whose SecretaryGeneral Christophe Deloire said: “The hatred of journalists that is voiced, and sometimes very openly proclaimed, by

unscrupulous politicians, religious leaders and businessmen has tragic consequences on the ground, and has been reflected in this disturbing increase in violations against journalists.” British human rights organisation Article 19 has concluded in its report spanning 2017-2018 that freedom of expression is at its lowest point for 10 years. Journalism is more dangerous – and more under threat – than at any time in the last decade. The rise of authoritarian governments and the threat of internet censorship has redoubled pressures on reporters globally, the report found. Matthew Bugher, head of Article 19’s Asia Programme, told The Correspondent: “Headline stories concerning attacks on journalists, the prosecution of peaceful protesters and new repressive legislative initiatives paint a grim picture for the right to freedom of expression in Asia. “Over the past year, the Cambodian government has engineered the evisceration of independent media, and Myanmar and the Philippines have persecuted journalists and human rights defenders who are reporting on grave human rights crises. “Thailand’s military government still presides over a rights-restricting legal framework of its own creation and Indonesia’s politicians have shown themselves willing to accommodate religious hardliners by silencing moderate voices. “Meanwhile, China continues to export its authoritarianism, providing technology and training to support censorship and



Reports on how the media fared in 2018 are relentlessly bad news, with killings, imprisonments and hostagetaking of journalists all up. Sue Brattle takes a look at the statistics.

surveillance by regional governments and providing diplomatic cover for the repression of free speech.” Afghanistan holds the tragic record for most journalists killed in 2018, with 15 deaths. Among them was AFP’s chief photographer in Kabul, Shah Marai, whom the FCC commemorated with a Wall exhibition of his pictures. In Syria, 11 were killed, and in Mexico nine journalists were murdered. RSF found that the number of journalists detained worldwide at the end of the year – 348 – was a rise from 326 at the same time last year. As in 2017, more than half of the world’s imprisoned journalists are being held in five countries: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey. China remains the biggest jailer of journalists with 60 being held at the moment, including awardwinning photojournalist Lu Guang who went missing in November. Chinese authorities waited a month before admitting he’d been arrested in Xinjiang. The number of journalists being held hostage – 60 – is 11 percent higher than this time last year, when it was 54. All but one are in three Middle Eastern countries – Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. Phil Robertson, Deputy Director of the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch, said: “This was really the year when the governments struck back against the media. In many countries, reporters determined to ask hard questions and raise uncomfortable issues faced waves of harassment and death threats by government sponsored on-line trolls, surveillance by state agencies, bogus criminal charges and tax assessments, imprisonment, and physical attacks. “Next year promises to be just as bad or worse, as the government assault on the media expands to using overbroad cybercrimes laws to go after free

Members gather on the steps of the FCC to mark the one year anniversary of Wa Lone & Kyaw Soe Oo being jailed in Myanmar

Malaysia’s People’s Justice Party president and leader of the Pakatan Harapan coalition Anwar Ibrahim

Matthew Bugher of Article 19

expression on the Internet.” Vietnam welcomed in 2019 by introducing a new cybersecurity law, which criminalises criticising the government online and requires internet providers to give authorities user data when asked. As the country’s Association of Journalists published a code of conduct banning reporters from posting information that could “run counter” to the state on social media, RSF’s Daniel Bastard called the measures “a totalitarian model of information control”. So are there any bright spots in the gloom? Article 19’s Matthew Bugher thinks there are: “In Malaysia, the Pakatan Harapan [Alliance of Hope] coalition, which ran on a platform that included legislative reform to promote freedom of expression, won a shock election victory in May. Although progress on human rights commitments has been limited to date, hopes remain high that the Government will live up to its reformist credentials. “Moreover, in Hong Kong, Myanmar, the Philippines, and elsewhere throughout the region, journalists and activists are coming up with new, innovative ways to combat propaganda and censorship. “In the coming year, digital spaces will increasingly become the forum for fights over expression and information. Look for governments throughout the region to continue to seek ways to control and surveil online content, while media and civil society will develop new initiatives to enable quality independent journalism and combat hate speech and misinformation. “Peace campaigners in Myanmar, environmental human rights defenders in Cambodia and LGBT activists in Malaysia, among others, will take their activities to social media and develop new tools and technologies to defend marginalised and vulnerable communities.” n



The closing date for submissions to the Human Rights Press Awards 2019 is February 12. The awards, now in their 23rd year, are organised by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club Hong Kong, Amnesty International, and the Hong Kong Journalists’ Association. Showcasing this work has become more important than ever as governments around the region step up threats to basic freedoms, whether it be locking up journalists, carrying out arbitrary detentions or silencing political opponents. Submissions must have been reported from the Asia region, including Central Asia, but excluding the Middle East, Australia, and New Zealand, and been published or broadcast between January 1 and December 31, 2018. Entries must be in either English or Chinese, and there is no entry fee. Categories include Breaking News, Features, Multimedia, Video, Audio, and Photography. This year the Features category will be split into two awards – Investigative Feature Writing and Explanatory Feature Writing. All entries must be related to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Each entry must cite the specific article that the work seeks to address. For further details and to enter, go to





WORKING ON THE BLOCKCHAIN GANG Blockchain is apparently going to change our lives, but most of us don’t have a clue what it is. Colin Simpson tracked down someone who has made it her business to be in the know.

B “The underlying technology of blockchain is going to transform industries” Angie Lau Forkast News



affled by blockchain? If so, you’re not alone – a report by HSBC found that 80 percent of people surveyed did not understand the technology that powers cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. Yet blockchain evangelists say it is about to radically shake up our lives. (See box opposite for explanation of blockchain) So where does this leave the lay person struggling to keep up with it all – or for that matter reporters and editors covering such a hype-ridden and complex subject? Stepping into the knowledge gap is Hong Kong-based Forkast News, a start-up cofounded by former Bloomberg TV anchor Angie Lau. It aims to provide clear and authoritative coverage of blockchain to the general public, techies, investors, companies – and journalists. “The underlying technology of blockchain is going to transform industries,” said Lau, an FCC member. “It will change our world, and yet currently there is a lot of distrust, misunderstanding and confusion amongst the general public. “As journalists we explain very complex

ideas clearly, concisely and simply. I’m applying [this] to a very niche industry that not a lot of people understand and are probably afraid of and suspicious of. “I want to be a bridge of understanding between the average person and the blockchain community.” The view that the technology is about to usher in massive change appears to be shared by business leaders. Deloitte’s 2018 global survey of executives familiar with blockchain found that 74 percent of respondents said their organisations saw a “compelling business case” for its use. Those surveyed came from a range of industries, including the media. Forkast, which is based in Causeway Bay, aims to launch its service in the first quarter of 2019. The exact form it will take is still being finalised, though there will be digital and video elements backed up by social media. A group of specialists, data scientists, legal experts, developers and coders – currently numbering around a dozen but expected to grow – has been assembled to evaluate blockchain ventures.



Lau said they would be able to determine, for example, if a new pitch is in fact a copycat version of a project that had failed previously, or if those behind a plan had been involved in earlier launches that had not come to fruition. “The resources to actually verify [blockchain projects] and do deep dives doesn’t currently exist within the framework of traditional newsrooms,” she said. Lau agreed that blockchain had been tainted by its association with wild cryptocurrency price swings, scams, tax evasion and money laundering. “Those aren’t the only stories that are relevant,” she said. “There are a lot of superficial headlines out there, and that’s great, it’s all part of the same ecosystem, but it is not the only part. I want to elevate understanding.” Lau was a speaker at the Digital Media Asia conference in Hong Kong in November. Reflecting the growing interest in blockchain, the conference featured the technology for the first time and presented a full-day workshop about reporting on the subject. Topics covered included the rise of the blockchain beat and newsdesk, and – underlying the difficulty many have in understanding the subject – there was a session entitled “demystifying blockchain terminology”. Forkast will not be without competition in the blockchain space. Singapore-based Block Asia, which launched in May, describes itself as a “one-stop news, media, and events portal for blockchain and cryptocurrency information in Asia and around the world”. Block Asia journalist Hui Xian said the site received an average of 75,000 views a week, and employed mainly freelancers. Managing director Ken Nizam started the service after seeing a gap in the market for crypto news in the ASEAN region, said Hui.

Angie Lau, co-founder of Forkast News


Another startup, US-based Civil, is aiming to create a blockchain-based registry of newsrooms around the world in an effort to support trust in the age of fake news. The independently owned and run newsrooms are expected to meet Civil’s ethical journalism standards. “Any newsroom found to be violating these standards can be challenged and, if the challenge is upheld by the community, removed from the trusted list of Civil newsrooms,” said Civil co-founder Matt Coolidge. “In this way, we’re seeking to build the anti-Facebook for news.” In Asia, Civil has partnerships with Singapore’s Splice and a startup called Global Ground, and says it is in talks with some larger publishers in the region. Partnerships with AP and Forbes have also been announced. Splice has an ambitious plan to launch 100 media startups in Asia in three years. Both Splice and Global Ground are engaged in a surprisingly low-tech form of journalism – newsletters. Global Ground has journalists in South Korea, Thailand and India, according to its website. Civil suffered a setback in October when it was forced to scrap the initial sale of a cryptocurrency that was to be used by members of the network after failing to achieve the $8 million minimum fundraising target. A new, simpler, sale is due to take place early this year alongside the launch of the registry. Civil’s original wide-ranging and somewhat confusing plans to transform journalism met with scepticism in some quarters. Coolidge, while conceding that blockchain is not a cure-all for the industry, said the transparency it gives “can help repair the considerable trust gap that currently exists between journalists and the public”. n

Matt Coolidge, co-founder of Civil


Blockchain is a public ledger of transactions. It is sometimes referred to as a distributed ledger, meaning that it exists on many computers, rather than being a single record of a transaction on the server of, say, a bank. This means, in the case of payments as an example, they can be made directly without the need for a third party such as a bank or PayPal. Blockchain’s design makes it almost impossible for anyone to change details of completed transactions, and the fact it is public provides transparency. The technology is most closely associated with cryptocurrencies, though technology giants, financial services firms and start-ups are exploring ways of using it in other areas – including journalism. For example, the Civil registry will use blockchain to ensure transparency by providing newsrooms and journalists with proof that they own their material. Readers will be able to check that a particular story was published by its stated author and is not fake news. Blockchain was launched in 2009 by the mysterious and unknown individual or team behind the first cryptocurrency, bitcoin, who used the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto.




RECORDING THE HISTORY OF THOSE WHO WITNESS IT The FCC’s archives may have dropped down the Club’s list of priorities in recent years, but they’re not forgotten. Carsten Schael makes a passionate case for bringing them centre stage again.


Carsten Schael is a photographer and digital archives consultant based in Hong Kong. Since 2009 he has worked on local and international archives related projects. He served on the FCC Board of Governors for six years.



alking into the Club from Ice House Street, many first time visitors may assume that the FCC has occupied the premises since they were built. The building and our storied organisation are that well matched to each other. While the Club’s origin only dates back to 1943 (the building was completed in 1917), it has filled these walls with many great stories of events which have changed the course of humanity. FCC members were active participants in recording history in the making. This has left the Club as one of the custodians of records that bear witness to these events. When I joined the Club as a correspondent (freelance photographer) member in 2006, its history attracted my interest. I became acquainted with many members and started to learn about the great stories behind the photographs on the walls. As I became involved in the Wall and Publications (now Communications) Committees I was dismayed to find that there were no archives for safe-keeping of the Club’s history. After getting elected to the board in 2011, I found initially that very few governors at the time considered the past of the club

as important as present or future issues. It took a good year to find consensus on setting up the Archives Sub-committee, which I then headed. Then it took another year and changes in the board to get agreement on spending money on setting up an archives system and structure. Following over a year of work with expert consultants Simon Chu and Don Brech, the FCC Archives became a reality and the club started to reach out to the membership for contributions. The Club’s 70th anniversary in 2013 was a great opportunity to showcase a visual timeline of its history. And just a couple of months before the celebration we received a letter from an eye witness of the Club’s foundation in Chungking. Mrs Wing Yung Choy-Emery was then a student in a journalism school near to the press club building and knew many of the China correspondents there (The Correspondent, Sept/Oct 2012). Sadly she has since passed away, but she left us with some great firsthand accounts of these early years. With time and witnesses passing, the sub-committee compiled a substantial list of long-standing members to be interviewed for an oral history of the Club.



The view from the terrace of 41A Conduit Road in the mid-Fifties

The Governor Edward Youde, who officially opened the ice House Street premises in November 1982


The Club moved to Conduit Road from Kotewell Road in 1951

But being only a small group of dedicated volunteers (Vaudine England, Annemarie Evans, Cammy Yiu, Terry Duckham, Paul Bayfield, John Batten) and FCC staff, we were reaching the limits of the achievable very quickly. And as time went on, of the three-and-a-half staff members (the “half” refers to a part-timer) that were trained by our archive consultants, only 1.5 remain working for the Club. The last blow to the archives effort was the missing seven votes of my 2017 unsuccessful bid for the FCC presidency, which resulted in me leaving the board and the role as the convenor of the Archives Sub-committee without a successor being appointed. Since then, not much has happened except Club presidents have changed multiple times and the Club’s residence in its Ice House Street building has been threatened following events of recents months. This, of course, is of paramount concern to the board and the membership which might explain why the Archives have been languishing. But I would like to make the case that the Club’s greatest asset is its history. The bits that we have gleaned so far are just the tip of the iceberg. There is the story of FCC Captain Mr. Liao (or “Papa Liao” to many early Hong Kong FCC members) who was a steadfast custodian of the Club’s property through its early turbulent years. And much more … Unfinished research during the anniversary year revealed that there are several overseas archives that contain very interesting contextual information to the Club’s history, as do the personal asdf archives of several elderly members. So


we would not run short of material for some time to come. But first things first, I would like to ask for the current board to appoint a Governor to lead the archives effort. I know our current president is already thinking along those lines, but the day-to-day business is shifting priorities. Please imagine all the amazing stories that are waiting to be rediscovered and the ones that we can preserve for the future of this great institution. I would also appeal to our friends and supporters outside the Club to consider that this Club is a tremendous asset to the historic centre of this amazing city which has started to treat its tangible heritage with a bit more respect and consideration in recent years, because recognising where we came from is as important as where we will be going. And as a final request, I would like the board to consider raising the importance of the archives to a full committee level, not just sub-committee. Of course this will require a constitutional change and is not done overnight. Please consider this, because without its history the Club is just another inexpensive bar/restaurant with interesting patrons. n

It can look as if the FCC has always been at Ice House Street

The send-off for Mr Liao in 1977, with from left, Club president Bert Okuley, Liao Chien-ping, Richard Hughes in full swing and Mrs Li




HANOI AFTER THE WAR Images and words by John Ramsden, London


anoi 1980: Five years after the war but on the home front, little had changed. The country was isolated as never before. Decades of war, new military commitments (in Cambodia and on the Chinese border) and hard-line Marxist policies left an economy in ruins. Life was a constant struggle for the basics of survival – food, fuel or a bit of cloth. Few westerners had visited Hanoi since the French left in 1954. There were a handful of us: diplomats (like me), a few aid workers and the AFP correspondent. No meaningful contact with foreigners was permitted. I was expecting a sort of Asian Sparta, perhaps akin to North Korea. To my surprise, I found a city of great character. It was a quiet, subdued place. The occasional lorry or tram, but no cars. People went by foot – or bicycle, if they had one. In the evening they sat around tiny paraffin lamps, drinking tea and talking. Loudspeakers poured out propaganda and stirring music but otherwise there was barely a sound. Despite the poverty and general neglect, there were moments of wistful beauty. Life took place against the backdrop of an ancient culture that seemed to have survived war and revolution surprisingly intact. I used to go out early in the morning and in the evenings, when the light was best. As a resident of Hanoi, I could wander freely. I gradually got to know the villages around Hanoi and along the West Lake. At weekends, armed with a permit, we would take the embassy car to visit one of the many fine temples in the Red River delta. An excuse to look at life in the countryside. I was interested in daily life, the markets, the workshops, the way people survived in practice. And in the temples and popular festivals: although discouraged, traditional beliefs were clearly flourishing. Though I was unable to exchange more than basic courtesies with local people, the camera gave me some connection to their lives, however inadequate. No one tried to stop me taking photographs. Perhaps the authorities realised I was harmless. As a foreigner, I must have stood out a mile but I did my best to go unseen. I carried my camera in a straw shoulder bag, taking it out at the last moment. No question of flash or artificial lighting. Images of the period are rare. Film was beyond the reach of local photographers (mine came from Bangkok). When my photographs were exhibited in Hanoi in 2013 there was huge interest. That exhibition has led to a book, Hanoi After the War (Skira). It sets 100 of my photographs alongside the memories of Vietnamese writers who lived through the period. My book is a small tribute to the remarkable generation who fought through the war, endured the hardships that followed and laid the ground for the more prosperous times which their children now enjoy.

4 On A Bike

Bamboo Poles




Only room for “4 tons/55 people”

Hair Salon, Saigon

Ngoc Son Temple and Bridge


Dong Ky Festival


Hanoi Tram

Tô Tich Street






ugust was a complex time for the FCC, which found itself at the centre of a media storm after inviting Hong Kong Independence Party founder Andy Chan to speak. The talk went off just fine; the party has since been banned and certain members of the club appear to have paid a price. But the talk was at the core of what the FCC has always done: it’s been a proud voice for discussion and debate in Hong Kong. It has invited speakers from across the world and across the political spectrum, and asked them to talk. And it has kept an increasingly wary eye on the state of


press freedom in Asia – partly in the pages of this very magazine. This is what we do. The Club’s October Wall exhibition was a totem of just that. Photos of past speakers at the club, from C Y Leung to Zhu Rongji. Covers of past issues of The Correspondent. On and within the walls of the FCC, we continue to discuss, debate, document. This is what we do. Adam White, Wall Committee Convenor

Jimmy Lai Chairman, NEXT media

Audrey Eu Civic Party

Ronald Arculli HK Exchanges and Clearing Ltd.

George H. W. Bush US Ambassador, China

Sir Freddie Laker Laker Airlines

Michael Palin Actor, Broadcaster, Writer

Hu Shuli Caijing Magazine

Jing Ulrich J.P. Morgan

Norman Pearlstine Bloomberg

Lord Peter Mandelson UK Secretary of State

John Bolton UN

Dr. Yang Jiemian Academic

Jerome Cohen US-Asia Law Institute, NYU

Albert Ho HK Democratic Party

Dr. Ezra Vogel Harvard University

Dr. Mark Mobius Templeton Emerging Markets Group

Chen Jian UN Under Secretary-General

Anson Chan HKSAR Chief Secretary

Jonathan Dimbleby BBC

Campbell Brown Facebook

Hakan Samuelsson Volvo Cars Corporation AB

Henry Litton HK Court of Final Appeal

Mei Fong Author

Adil Zainulbhai McKinsey & Co

Anna Pao Sohmen Shanghai Jiaotong University

Sir David Tang Founder, Shanghai Tang

C.Y. Leung HKSAR Government

He Hui Opera Singer

Li Chunhong, Development and Reform Commission, Guangdong

Philip Dykes HK Bar Association



Allan Zeman Lan Kwai Fong

Ng Hiu-long FactWire

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee New People’s Party

Ronnie Chen Hang Lung Properties

Xo Silao Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu

Gough Whitlam Australia

Bill English New Zealand Deputy PM

Dr. Willy Wo-Lap Lam Chinese University of HK

Zhu Rongji Shanghai Mayor

Dr. Michael DeGolyer Baptist University

Nicola Sturgeon Scotland

Richard Todd Actor

Joseph Ze-Kuin Zen Catholic Church HK

Les Dawson Comedian

Willy Purves HSBC

P.J. O’Rourke Author

Alberto Fujimori President of Peru

Lee Kuan Yew Singapore PM

Peter Ustinov Actor

Mary Robinson President, Republic of Ireland

Sir Edward Heath UK Prime Minister

Chinese dissidents Press conference

Dave Allen Comedian

Sir Richard Branson Virgin Group

Gareth Evans Australian Foreign Minister

Sir David Wilson Hong Kong Governor

John Grace, Canada Steve Vines, FCC

David Hume Kennerly, Garry Trudeau, John Giannini

Gough Whitlam, Australian PM Paul Bayfield, FCC President

Simon Murray Deutsche Bank Group

Hu Genkang, Xinhua Dr. Jonathan Mirsky, The Times

Han Suyin Author

Katharine Graham The Washington Post

Sir David Wilson, HK Governor Heinz Grabner, FCC

Hugh Van Es, Photographer Eddie Adams, Photographer

Philip Bowring, FEER Chris Patten, HK Governor

Kirill Ivanov

Earl of Lichfield Photographer

Han Dongfang China Labour Advocate

Sir Edward Heath UK Prime Minister

Barry Humphries Comedian

Y. K Pao, Bert Okuley Carlos Romulo

Russia asdf





HONG KONG Images and words by Wing Liu


y name is Wing Liu, a Hong Kong photographer with over 32 years of photographic experience. When I was young, I studied photographic art at Bournemouth & Poole College of Art & Design in the United Kingdom (now Arts University Bournemouth). Over the years, I have accumulated a wealth of photographic experience and creative ideas into my photographic images. Currently I am living in Hong Kong with my wife Jo and son Mac. Having lived in Europe for over half of my life so far, this particular exhibition consists of a small selection of my personal images from the last few years. Perhaps having lived abroad for a long time made me feel very homesick. Beneath the beautiful images, there are also some underlying concerns about social issues such as the use of country parks for public housing, the construction of new infrastructure, weather conditions, etc. I hope these images can show you my views of Hong Kong!

Tai Sang Wai

Yuen Long



Cheung Chau


Tai Mo Shan

Shing Mun Reservoir asdf







With the number of vegetarians and vegans growing across the world, the Club is bringing some changes to its menus and hosting a vegan dinner. Sue Brattle went digging for details.

Urban farmers are showing the way in producing vegetables in the heart of the city


n a city where space is at a premium, it’s easy to forget where our food comes from. Very few of us nurture anything bigger than a balcony herb pot, and it’s unlikely that you dig up your own veg when preparing a meal. However, city dwellers all over the world are turning to sourcing their food locally, asking hard questions about animal welfare, and facing up to real concerns around food safety in places where chemicals and pollution create a toxic mix in the soil where

Vegan Menu THREE COLORED CAULIFLOWER SALAD ON A TOMATO MOSAIQUE Tossed in a hazelnut and calamansi vinaigrette **** ROASTED YELLOW AND RED CAPSICUM SOUP Glazed chestnuts and egg plant bacon **** WHOLEWHEAT SPAGHETTI WITH BEETROOT PESTO Pureed avocado and baked Kalamata olives **** CHILI CHOCOLATE MOUSSE WITH OLIVE OIL

Vegan Drinks Butterfly Coco, Pina Colada, Barberani Castagnolo, Orvieto, Italy 2017 (Vegan logo certificated on bottle), Barberani Foresco, Umbria, Italy 2015 (Vegan logo certificated on bottle)



Michelle Hong

food is grown. “Veganuary” is a chance every year for people to consider their diet, and even celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, who owns restaurants in Hong Kong, has been dabbling with vegan recipes recently. He once said he was allergic to vegans, and would “electrocute” any of his children if they went vegetarian! The Vegan Dinner being held at the Club on January 25 should spark a lively discussion when members can quiz vegan chef Heinz Egli and co-founder of urban farmers Rooftop Republic, Michelle Hong. The dinner, along with innovations such as Green Mondays, is part of a movement at the FCC to look at what food is served in our extensive menus, and where that food comes from. For the dinner, all the vegetables will be sourced from organic farms in Hong Kong. FCC general manager Didier Saugy explained: “It is very clear there are benefits in cutting down the consumption of meat and replacing it with vegetables. However, chefs – including myself – have been reluctant to do so or support the movement for a long time, thinking vegetarian/vegan food is boring. Things have changed and now the new generation of chefs is more knowledgeable about nutrition and how to be creative with these cuisines.




Heinz Egli will show diners how to cook vegan

“This is why I believe it is my duty as a former chef to put things right and to promote a more healthy lifestyle through food for two reasons – good health and sustainability of our planet for future generations.” Urban farmer Michelle visits schools and offices to show people how easy it is to create little gardens that will bring fresh produce to the table. She said: “I’d like to share more about how the growing trend of urban farming is making a positive impact towards the environment, our cities and our health, and is also a catalyst to connect and build stronger and more cohesive communities.” Michelle describes the dinner as a “call to action”. “Ninety per cent of our vegetables come from outside Hong Kong,” she said. “I don’t know who grows my food, so I can’t know what their ethics are. We can’t give over huge spaces to full-scale production of food in Hong Kong, because we don’t have the space. But we can show that you can live in a skyscraper and still contribute towards the food you eat by growing vegetables and herbs on a smaller scale.” Chef/instructor Heinz, founding president of the Hong Kong Chef’s Association, will prepare a European vegan dinner for the evening (see menu) and enlighten members with his experience of living as a vegan on a plant-based diet for the past 16 months. He said: “Living vegan provides numerous benefits to both the environment and to our own health through a balanced diet and lifestyle.” Heinz reckons that a person who eats a vegan diet saves a daily average of 1,100 gallons of water, 45lbs of grain, 30 square feet of forested land, 20lbs of carbon dioxide equivalent and one animal’s life. n

My journey as a vegetarian began from a place of compassion when I was eight years old and had gone to the wet market with my Mom in Hong Kong. I saw the carcasses of pigs hanging in the meat shops and I didn’t eat any meat for the next four years. My parents are pure vegetarian and our meals were meatless at home unless I asked for a chicken dish occasionally. When I started eating meat again, I didn’t eat a lot of it and I was fussy about what I ate. I generally avoided meat with bones. As the years passed and the more I cooked for my family, the less I would desire meat and would have my own veggie meal at home. I would eat a few dishes in restaurants, such as kebabs and prawns. In 2010, when I was initiated by my guru (teacher) I stopped eating meat because I just didn’t have a taste for it at all and I am a vegetarian today by choice. I believe animals have the right to be treated with dignity; they have emotions of fear and feel pain as well. Consuming meat, especially beef, also has a huge impact on the environment and global warming. Being vegetarian in today’s world is a lot easier than a decade ago. Countries like the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia have a lot of vegetarian and vegan options on their menus. Having a vegetarian meal in Asian countries can be a bit challenging sometimes, as they tend to add chicken oil, fish sauce or shrimp paste even though the dish is meatless. India is the best place to be a vegetarian as they have a lot of options. However, being a vegan in India is a challenge as they commonly use dairy products in their cooking. The FCC is a really great place for me to have a meal; the Indian food is fabulous, although for vegans it is more restrictive as Indian food uses a lot of milk products. The Chinese dishes are a better option for vegans as the Club serves a delicious selection of Asian food. The FCC has introduced plant-based protein, such as the Beyond Burger, and it would be nice to see the Impossible Burger along with other plant-based dishes on the menu.

* Tickets for the FCC’s Vegan Dinner on January 25 are $488 for members, $528 for guests. Please RSVP on 2521 1511 or by asdf to by January 23. email





Above: Thibaut Mathieu, Corney & Barrow’s Asia manager Left: The tasting was a huge success


ines from around the world were presented at a tasting at the Club on November 22 featuring bottles provided by a merchant that has been trading since before the French Revolution. Corney & Barrow was established in London in 1780, and today has offices in Hong Kong and Singapore. It supplies Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and the Prince of Wales and is famous for selling some of the world’s greatest and costliest wines. It is the exclusive UK distributor of the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti stable from Burgundy, and also handles Petrus from Bordeaux. A bottle of the flagship Romanée-Conti wine from the 1976 vintage sold for HK$148,800 in September at a Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong, while Petrus 1989 fetched the equivalent of HK$31,000 per bottle. The 70 wines on offer at the FCC were less exalted, though there were plenty of stand-out bottles. The tasting in the Dining Room was divided into categories such as Burgundy, Bordeaux, Italy, Rhone and the New World, plus the merchant’s own-label offerings. Many wines were from older vintages, giving visitors a chance to taste mature wines that were drinking at their best. Canapes were served in the Verandah. The Bordeaux line-up was particularly strong, with wines from Chateau Leoville



Some of the 70 wines on offer

Restaurant manager Paola Farizo

Canapés were served in the Verandah

Las Cases, Chateau Cos d’Estournel and Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou. Thibaut Mathieu, Corney & Barrow’s general manager for Asia, explained why the company was keen to showcase its wines to FCC members: “We’ve always found that in clubs we have access to knowledgeable people who like their wine and are eager to learn and discover new things.” Hong Kong’s prominence in the wine trade is, of course, partly due to its proximity to mainland China. “There was a misunderstanding with the China market a few years ago when, between the financial crisis and the government crackdown on conspicuous consumption, it all collapsed,” said Mathieu. “What has disappeared is the speculative market. The collectors have always been buying wine, they never really stopped. So if you’re talking about that market, people who collect, it’s on the rise.” As well as members and their guests, the event attracted F&B professionals. “I’m here to try what’s out in the market, there’s a wide selection of wines,” said Paola Farizo, manager of Hong Kong’s 121BC restaurant. “At the end of the day it’s not only about the wine. It’s also about networking, meeting people, and getting to know more about the distributor.” n



Wine merchant Corney & Barrow brought 70 wines to the Club for a tasting that attracted members, guests and trade professionals. Colin Simpson went along for a sip.

GUEST CHEF AND SICHUAN MENU PROVES GOOD PAIRING When a Master Chef renowned for his Sichuan cooking brought a special menu to the FCC for two weeks, the result was hundreds of happy diners.



he Sichuan Promotion swept through the FCC from November 26 till December 8 and proved that members have a real appetite for this bold cuisine. Master Chef Gu Xiao Rong knows a thing or two about Sichuan cooking; he has led his kitchen at the Golden Valley Restaurant in The Emperor Hotel, Wanchai, to retaining a Michelin star for five consecutive years. So it was exciting for the FCC to welcome him into our kitchen. He first arrived one month before the promotion to train our staff. During that time the FCC arranged several food tastings for staff and also invited our Board members to sample his work. Chef Gu, who has been cooking professionally in China and Hong Kong for 30 years, then stayed with our kitchen team and worked with them for a week during the promotion. In the second week our chefs

took over. The menu included staples such as Stir-Fried Prawn with Sichuan Sauce and Traditional Braised Deluxe Seafood, as well as Tea Smoked Duck in Old Sichuan Capital Style and Sichuan Pepper Crab. The dessert on offer was Poached Yam with Blueberry Sauce, and the food was paired with wines from Argentina and France, along with an 8-year and 10-year Hua Diao traditional Chinese wine. The promotion was available in the Lounge, Hughes Room and Verandah, and during the two weeks 869 dishes were sold, bringing HK$110,000 revenue to the Club. So which cuisine will our next guest chef offer? A French chef will be coming for French May, but other than that no one is telling‌ n Sue Brattle

asdf Master Chef Gu spent time in the FCC’s kitchen sharing his Sichuan expertise with our chefs





HONG KONG’S STORY, ONE SKETCH AT A TIME When artist Pam Williams first came to Hong Kong in 1996, she was armed with a sketchbook and a fax machine to record the build-up to the handover. Now she’s back, and drawing daily life around the city and at the Club. Here she tells her story.


Pam Williams comes from a family of artists including Hugh Lofting, author and illustrator of the Doctor Dolittle children’s books, and Morris Meredith Williams, World War One artist. She is a commercial and fine artist. Her passion to observe and sketch people and architecture has spanned more than 40 years. Her permanent studio is in London.



chance to visit Hong Kong from the London studio sounded ideal. The timing was perfect. It was 1996 and I needed somewhere away from England to sit and think what my next path in life would be. Apparently, Hong Kong was the leading light of computer technology. So, as a professional illustrator, on holiday or not I had to be prepared. The latest telephone/ fax machine was packed ready to plug in on arrival. Remember, there was no Internet. Fax was the email of the time. I bought a mobile phone as well, a Nokia, and learned how to use it on the plane. Text messages – how did that work? Someone was sure to show me. On arrival in Hong Kong, the site of hundreds of narrow high-rise tenements cascading down from the peak was astounding. Lazing in sunny Victoria Harbour, a sampan drifted while giant container barges were pulled past by tiny determined tugs. After 20 years, honing the personal passion of sketching on location, I was in heaven, watching and documenting this feast fresh to the eyes.

Tsing Ma Bridge under construction, 1997

An American English teacher at the YMCA saw the results. “Go downstairs and call the Governor’s press office first thing tomorrow morning. Say you have come to sketch the handover.” So I did. Being an army brat, or “an officer’s daughter”, is life’s training ground, if you like. Unexpectedly, it was the fast-track ticket to move with and among handover organisers. Once introduced to the British Forces by Governor Chris Patten I was sent press releases so that I could follow activities. Francis Moriarty, on RTHK, told me: “Contact David Tang, ask for a commission or retainer.” He was too busy to help, but said: “I’m curious to see what you do.”At the last minute, David Tang did give me a commission to fly me back to Hong Kong to continue my work. Clare Hollingworth, the late doyen of the FCC, commandeered my assistance at the Ghurka’s disbandment parade. “Call me at 7am tomorrow, I may need you to come and read the papers to me.’” This extraordinary woman, then aged 82, became my anchor and guide. She was



The Hong Kong Harbour

indeed a consistent challenge. “When I was in China, I had a room with a bed and a wooden chair, and I thought how lucky I was,” she told me one day. At the end of 1997, a grand exhibition was held at the FCC and the Fringe Club. The work got a lot of people talking. Sketches can catch the depth of fleeting moments and moods that photographs can only scan. Perhaps it’s the passion and emphasis of immediate marks on paper. Many, many people who had helped me had left and missed seeing the collection. Fast forward to the last three years, and a sketchbook has been in the making. But how could I bring some meaningful depth to it all? Those who know Hong Kong well, from diverse communities, contribute towards tracking Hong Kong’s development – back to the 1950s, bizarre events before and after the handover. Far East correspondent Jim Laurie was on Skype to London from the U.S. and told me: “1997 is passé Pam, you have to go out there to gather current material today. It is a Chinese Hong Kong now. That is controversial.” I arrived in September, gathering clips of conversations with residents. There are different concerns, unsettling facts as well as encouraging foresights. Fears of the past loom heavily overhead. It is time to take a

pause, as Christine Loh and Richard Cullen prescribe in their book, No Third Person. To read a book without pictures is not easy for everyone. This has been a colourful and extraordinary journey for me to learn and understand Hong Kong in more depth. The full collection of my 60-100 sketches and paintings will be published for the first time. There will be sketches of today, as well as those I did back in 1997. I hope the journey is as engaging for others as it has been and is for me. Remember, it does not compete with thorough studies of history at any point. It is a sketchbook with contributions from behind the scenes; the essence of Hong Kong’s journey. Also, it is personal and I hope it will be a valuable journey to share with you. I bought a smartphone on the second day of my arrival in September. I looked at my old friend, the Nokia phone from my first visit here, on the shelf. Technology has surpassed even construction and it is a reminder that we are in a new era today. n * Pam will be here until March 14. To receive a monthly link to track the progress and release of the book, send an email to Pam at and see her work at hongkongbook

Ghurka wives at the ceremony for the regiment moving out of HK

The last Governor, Chris Patten

Bert’s Bar at the FCC, 2018 The old Police Station HQ entrance in Central – now better known as the recently-opened Tai Kwun heritage and arts centre

Weekend reading, 2018


Roger Goodwin helped Pam meet contacts in 1996

Digging up the harbour front, 1996-7




LIVING IN A MEDIA HUB DOESN’T MEAN IT’S EASY TO GET INTO THE MEDIA Many young journalists accept that unpaid internships or post-graduate courses are the only way into a job, but say that in an ideal world editors would have more time and money to train them. Morgan M. Davis reports.

L Morgan M. Davis is a finance reporter at Euromoney’s GlobalCapital. The Illinoistransplant moved to Hong Kong two years ago by way of New York City, 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.



iving in a media hub, Hong Kong’s aspiring young journalists have a world of options. But even as they have access to international publications, many new reporters are baffled as to how to break into the market and get a paying job. For Heidi Yeung, web editor for South China Morning Post’s Young Post, the path to a career in journalism was a roundabout one. After receiving a degree in literature, Yeung worked in “journalism-adjacent” jobs before deciding to attend the University of Hong Kong’s journalism master’s programme. “There are opportunities for young journalists in Hong Kong, if the editors are open to hiring new talent,” said Yeung. She feels that publications often lack the willingness to spend the time and money to train up young reporters. For young people like Yeung, graduate school seems like the best replacement, as a place to

both fine tune reporting skills and make the connections necessary to be employed in the industry. “[Grad school] is the last place you can safely fail,” said Yeung. One of the major attractions of HKU’s master’s programme is its access to internships, said Keith Richburg, director of the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at HKU. Some expatriots even opt for the HKU programme as a way to break into Hong Kong journalism, he said. Indeed, HKU’s numbers are impressive. For the 2017-2018 term, 53 HKU graduate students worked in 81 internships in Hong Kong and abroad. While internships can become fulltime positions, unpaid internships are a prohibitive reality for many young journalists. Journalists seem to recognise that only certain people can afford to take unpaid work. Yet the internships also seem necessary, as a way to eventually get hired or to make the connections to get other



Heidi Yeung took a ‘roundabout path’ into journalism

jobs down the road. Andrea Lo took unpaid writing positions, beginning in the UK when she was studying at Oxford Brookes University. “I just really wanted to get my name out there,” said Lo, who now works as a freelance journalist locally. When Lo returned to Hong Kong after graduating, she took an unpaid internship, which eventually turned into a job at HK Magazine. “With zero experience with media in Hong Kong, I knew that was going to be the best way to get into the industry,” she said of her internship. For Lo, the focus was on getting into the best publication she could find in order to get experience, regardless of the pay. There are some paid options, as SCMP and a few other publications offer graduate trainee programmes and other paid positions. Mary Hui was lucky enough to find a paying internship in the US at the Washington Post after her 2017 graduation from Princeton University. But when a full time position didn’t become available, Hui opted to move back to Hong Kong. Now, she’s working as a freelance reporter, pitching stories to US publications and writing for the SCMP. Hui says her experience at the Washington Post gave her the exposure to reporters and editors that she wanted, but she feels that she still needs to build up more experience. “I try to sell myself as someone who knows Hong Kong…as well as tying it back to the bigger issues that readers care about in the US,” said Hui of her freelance work. Hui believes that her experience at the Washington Post positions her well for work at other international publications. “I understand what they want and how they angle their stories, and even the culture of the newsroom,” she said. For young Hong Kongers, a lot of job asdf prospects ride on language skills. Hong


Kong used to offer Western publications a rare cross of English and Mandarin fluency. But now, many mainland students are coming to Hong Kong and competing for jobs, offering the same, if not better, fluency. “The ability to write, speak and read Chinese often comes up,” said Hui. For some Hong Kongers, speaking Mandarin isn’t an issue, but writing is. “If I could write professionally in Chinese, it would be even more helpful to me,” said Lo. But Lo feels that Cantonese fluency is just as important as Mandarin, and can set Hong Kongers apart from their mainland counterparts. “A lot of publications are really in need of young graduates who can write in English and communicate in Cantonese,” she said. “In Hong Kong, despite rising levels of people using Mandarin, Cantonese is still dominant.” Journalists from Guangdong often have the biggest advantage in Hong Kong as they grew up with Cantonese, Mandarin and English, said Richburg. “The niche that the Hong Kongers used to have was their English speaking,” said Richburg, explaining the growth in English fluency in his Chinese students. “But they can’t rest on their laurels.” n

Keith Richburg

While internships can become full-time positions, unpaid internships are a prohibitive reality for many young journalists

Written Chinese would be helpful, says Andrea Lo






Last month Chief Executive Carrie Lam opened an expo tracing the story of Hong Kong’s media in what used to be a wet market in Central. Colin Simpson was given a guided tour.

Carrie Lam takes a walk down memory lane after opening the expo


Lau Chi-Kuen, one of NewsExpo’s directors



n an age when fake news has dented the reputation of journalism, the launch of an institution that aims to foster public appreciation of the industry is timely and welcome. Hong Kong News-Expo, which opened in Central last month, traces the history of the city’s media from the launch of the first paper in 1841, through the development of radio and TV to the emergence of digital platforms. “We want it to showcase the contribution of the press in Hong Kong, to mark the diversity of the media, and to be an icon of media freedom,” said Lau Chi-kuen, a director of the expo. “We want it to help people to understand how the media industry operates.” The expo is housed in the former Bridges Street Market, a grade 3 historic Bauhaus-style 1950s building. It is described as Asia’s “first news-themed exhibition-cum-education facility”. The word “museum” was avoided in the name to emphasise that the project is concerned with the future as well as the past, said Lau. The idea arose from a study tour to the U.S. arranged by Hong Kong’s Journalism Education Foundation in 2008. The group visited Washington’s Newseum, a large

institution set up to celebrate the freedom of the press. “It tells the history of the American media,” said Lau, a former editor-in-chief of the South China Morning Post who is now an associate dean and principal journalism lecturer at the Hong Kong Baptist University. “The delegation was very impressed, and when they came out they said, ‘Why can’t we do something like that in Hong Kong? We should do something like that’.” In 2013 the foundation was selected to redevelop the former market, a governmentowned building, and three years later the Legislative Council awarded $85.3 million to pay for the renovation work. Going forward, the expo has to pay its way without further government funding. The Jockey Club is giving some support, and donations and the sale of T-shirts, books and other items will help to cover operating costs. Admission is free, though Lau said groups of tourists may be asked to pay, and there could be a token charge for guided tours. “We always make sure that donations come with no strings attached,” said Lau. “We’ll have to introduce some programmes to make some money, we’ll probably organise talks about the media and other



educational events, and that will hopefully give us some surplus that we can use to pay the staff. Over time we’ll implement our business plan.” The displays are bright, modern and informative – who knew that in 1972 there were 101 newspapers registered in Hong Kong? Written material is given in Chinese and English and is clear and concise. There are lots of video screens and interactive features. It’s worth taking a guided tour rather than making your own way round, particularly if you can’t read Chinese, otherwise you won’t realise the significance of what you’re looking at. A large newspaper page recreated on the floor near the entrance records a significant development in the prehandover negotiations, and you’ll learn which newspapers decided not to splash on the creation of the People’s Republic of China in October 1949. A display of front pages about the 2008 Sichuan earthquake demonstrates how papers with widely divergent political stances sometimes approach news stories in the same way – two demand there should be no more “tofuconstruction” classrooms after schools disintegrated in the disaster. Items on display include TV cameras, recording equipment and other broadcasting equipment, objects brought back by reporters who covered the earthquake, and an old-time newspaper stall. Booths where visitors can present a TV report or have their photo printed on a front page are fun. An exhibition recalls how 10 major events in Hong Kong’s history were covered by the news media as they happened. The subjects, which members of the public helped to choose, include the Occupy Central protests in 2014 and the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989. Lau said there was no need to shy away from such potentially tricky subjects. “What we’re trying to tell people is

The newly-opened Hong Kong News-Expo used to asdf Bridges Street Market house


Interactive wall: Press on a familiar figure, and they will tell you their story

history as it unfolded, as it was covered by the press at the time. We’re not adding personal comments, you can interpret it yourself.” The stories featured also include the handover, the 1967 riots and SARS. The contents of the exhibition will be changed from time to time. The expo stands in an area where most of Hong Kong’s earliest newspapers were based, and Sun Yat-sen lived for a spell and was baptised in a building that previously stood on the site. Sun, China’s first president, launched a Hong Kong newspaper called the China Daily in 1900 – no relation to today’s paper of the same name. A poultry scalding room has been preserved as a reminder of the building’s days as a market – chickens were slaughtered and plunged into hot water to make the removal of feathers easier. The expo was opened by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam at a ceremony attended by more than 200 guests. They were told that the aim was to establish a “landmark that is imbued with the collective memories and future vision of Hong Kong people”. The initiative was welcomed by Christine Loh, an FCC member who has served on the Legislative Council and is a strategist at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. She believes that Hong Kong must create its own story rather than accepting narratives put forward by others – the British in the past, and Beijing today. “A permanent site for the history of local news is great,” she said. “Hong Kong’s memories are often dramatically captured through the news.” n Sichuan earthquake: Reporters covering the 2008 Sichuan earthquake brought sad memorabilia home to Hong Kong

* FCC members wishing to visit the NewsExpo can call 2205 2235 to arrange a free guided tour.




WHAT THEY SAID... Featured highlights of event speakers at FCC

Zak Dychtwald: Young China: How the Restless Generation Will Change Their Country and the World

Zak Dychtwald

China is home to 400+ million millennials (aka the 80’s generation) – five times more than in author and researcher Zak Dychtwald’s native country, the U.S.. The degree of change this young set have witnessed is unsurpassed. So how does this modern generation of young Chinese grapple with culture and society in their dramatically new world? What are they thinking and driving for? And how is this impacting on the world around them? Prompted by an article I skimmed over ahead of the talk, I had been wondering how China is going to lure millennials to stay to benefit and balance a growing concern, ageing China. Or is it of no concern for its supersized population? Here in Hong Kong arrivals from China are decreasing and the number of 20-somethings exiting the city is increasing. In contrast with what their parents class as “success”, they want a “quality life” and see that in the West, not the East. I was intrigued by this upcoming talk. Dychtwald landed in China at 20, a millennial himself, curious to discover those that make up contemporary China. He went east to follow his childhood dream of being transported into the future. When faced with where to study, he recalled: “In the past (Europe) or in the future (China); so off I went to China, starting at HKU as an exchange student.” A Mandarin-speaking research trailblazer, Dychwald took us on an adventure through the “restless” Chinese. His philosophy – “that good relationships are based on understanding; by bringing China up-close we can all develop better relationships between China and the West”.



Through four years of research, curated from his day-today living in China, he observed and absorbed Young v. Old, Chinese v. Western, both socially and seriously, with passion and panache. Curious to know how the “little emperors” cope with the friction of their roots versus their future ideals, he charted his personal encounters hanging out in the eastern second tier city of Suzhou and the buzzing metropolis of Chengdu. Untangling the barrier of anxiety amongst the young Chinese, he was able to share their feelings about and experiences of everything, from sex to shopping, and was uplifted by his discoveries. Somewhat strangled by their home life, he captured how this restless generation are breaking free, newly empowered with optimism and opportunity. The opposite of his native U.S. millennials drawn to “becoming great again”, China’s young are “becoming great now” with personal pride. His style, substance and abundance of energy in sharing this first-hand experiences was surprisingly enlightening; namely the positive reflections in comparing his Western millennial friends to his friends in the future – whom he described as aspiring, achieving and hard-working China Millennials who are “going places”. Dychtwald left us all wanting more on his up-close and personal adventures with China’s young – and curious about their future effect on the world stage. Lunch, September 12, Genavieve Alexander


See recordings of Speakers’ events in full:

A. G. Sulzberger: How Technology Disrupted the Truth The fully-booked lunchtime talk by A.G. Sulzberger, sixth member of the Ochs/Sulzberger family to serve as publisher of the New York Times, was billed as A Fireside Chat, and the format, an armchair conversation with the FCC’s Eric Wishart, was more informal than usual. But there was nothing cosy about the topic, How Technology Disrupted the Truth. Neither was the chilling message that Sulzberger conveyed: that journalists and journalism today face an unprecedented array of threats. The good news is that his newspaper, far from “failing” as President Trump routinely claims, is in fact doing nicely for readership. Sulzberger said the print edition circulation is stable at about one million, and on the digital side the audience has shot up from 30 million to about 150 million, even with the addition of a paywall. Some have attributed this spike to the “Trump bump” – more people wish to be better informed about the Trump presidency or simply want to support the newspaper that robustly covers him. The bad news for journalism as a whole is that “a confluence of trends is badly undermining society’s shared ability to get to a common truth,” Sulzberger said, calling it a “slow-motion crisis”. Technology has made it far easier to create and disseminate false information. There is also

a cynical and dangerous attempt by political forces all over the world to discredit journalism and journalists. Naturally enough, the FCC conversation turned to an Oval Office meeting, held in July at Trump’s behest, between him and New York Times representatives including Sulzberger. It was supposed to be an off-the-record back-and-forth, but Trump couldn’t resist a tweet: “Spent much time talking about the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase, ‘Enemy of the People’.” True? “No. That obviously was not what our conversation was,” Sulzberger told us. What he stressed to Trump was his profound concern that the President’s rhetoric was not only divisive but dangerous, directly contributing to the rise of threats, verbal and physical, to journalists everywhere. Any sign that Trump has heeded anything told him by the scion of one of the world’s last remaining great newspaper dynasties? Not so far. Lunch, November 13, Jonathan Sharp

Fabrice Fries: The Role of a Global News Agency In the Era of Big Tech and Fake News In an era of fake news, honest information has become a luxury good. That was the positive message of Fabrice Fries, CEO of Agence France-Presse, the world’s oldest news agency, speaking to a packed FCC lunch. Why a positive message? Because media organisations are needed more than ever to produce and verify reliable news in a murky world of search engine clickbait, social networks and news aggregators. “A news agency’s DNA is the process by which we verify the news,” said Fries. “Because fake news is so destructive – and we have probably seen only the tip of the iceberg – AFP has made the fight against fake news a core component of its mission.” Of course, back in 1835, when AFP was founded as Agence Havas, and journalists’ dispatches would be flown across the English Channel clipped to the foot of a carrier pigeon, the job was a little simpler. Journalists would report on actual facts, never on rumours. “Now this is no longer sufficient,” said Fries. “We also have an obligation to debunk and knock down false and manipulated stories, to write about the false. This is a big shift, a new mindset.” One of the most striking examples of that change is AFP’s “Fact Check” partnership with Facebook. Fries fielded a series of questions from the FCC audience, with many evidently wary of the tech giant platform’s well-documented role in spreading rumours and falsehoods, and swaying voters. But under the partnership, Fries explained, AFP journalists have total independence in choosing which viral content to fact check. When a story flagged by AFP as false is shared, explanatory articles and notifications written by the agency’s journalists flash up on Facebook users’ screens. Stories tagged as false become significantly less visible via Facebook’s algorithm, and websites that churn out fake news are delisted altogether. “The scale of the challenge is so huge, that this is a case when big


Fabrice Fries, Chairman, Agence France-Presse

tech needs us,” said Fries. Which brought Fries on to the negative part of his message – news aggregators like Google News, and social media platforms like Facebook, use huge chunks of content produced by media and agencies to attract audiences and advertising, freely and without permission. They swallow up 90 percent of digital advertising revenues, meaning the media companies which actually spend their shrinking resources to keep journalists on the ground are not properly remunerated. There are hopeful signs this could be about to change. A European Union ruling is expected by mid-January on new rules that would force Facebook and Google to share a small part of the value they extract from news creators’ content. But a fierce lobbying battle is ongoing, and victory would only be a small step in the right direction. “Information has a cost, it should also have a price,” said Fries. “We are being robbed twice for our content and our revenues.” Lunch, December 10, Andrew Marszal




‘WILD IMAGINATION’ LEADS TO AWARD FOR AUTHOR’S FIRST NOVEL Dr Feng Chi-shun’s good friend and fellow FCC member Dr Paul Murray wrote an open letter on the occasion of the International Proverse Prize awards ceremony:


ong-time FCC member, pathologist and writer Dr Feng Chi-shun has won the International Proverse Prize 2017 for his first novel, Three Wishes in Bardo. Known more commonly as Dr Chi, the author has three other non-fiction books to his name which will be familiar to Hong Kong book lovers – Diamond Hill: Memories of Growing Up in a Hong Kong Squatter Village; Hong Kong Noir: Fifteen True Tales from the Dark Side of the City; and Kitchen Tiles: A Collection of Salty, Wet Stories from the Bar-Rooms of Hong Kong. Supported by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, the latest book was written before the author was taken ill last year. He was unable to attend the award ceremony at the Helena May Institute in November, so his wife Cathy Hilborn Feng and daughter Angel accepted the award on his behalf. Mrs Feng said: “This is my husband’s first-ever novel. There are many things about this book that are almost prescient; he is in hospital right now in one of the hospitals mentioned in this book. He wrote this before we knew he was unwell. You need a wild imagination to write this book; this is a step outside for him.” Dr Chi is a graduate of the Class of 1971 University of Hong Kong medical school. He worked as a pathologist until he retired recently, and has employed his writing skills by publishing around 100 scientific articles as well as being a newspaper columnist for the South China Morning Post. He is a naturalised U.S. citizen, but considers Hong Kong his home. He has been a well-known figure in Bert’s Bar at the FCC for more than 10 years. His book Kitchen Tiles was launched at the Club. n



Congratulations, Chi!

Your friend, Paul Murray

Dr Chi with the late Walter Kent at the FCC in 2015, launching Dr Chi’s book, Kitchen Tiles

Wife Cathy Hilborn Feng and daughter Angel with Gillian and Verner Bickley, co-founders of the International Proverse Prize



Dr Feng Chi-shun

“This is a happy but poignantly sad occasion. The launch and recognition of Chi’s engrossing, in many ways beautiful, book countered by the fact that, stricken in recent months by a very serious and deeply debilitating illness, he couldn’t receive his award in person. Bardo, from the title of his novel, is described in his introduction – an old Tibetan word implying a state after death when the conscious mind persists and is still active after leaving and disconnecting with the physical. Jason Lee, the main character, lonely, shy, asexual but highly intelligent and honourable, has his loving dead mother’s three Bardo wishes (unknown to him) as a guiding light, a subtext, throughout. Jason’s journey takes us from his early years in Hong Kong to California, to New York, then Texas and back. He graduates in medicine in California and pursues a career in neuroscience confronting many obstacles en route – walls of malice and professional envy that often confront gifted but naive people. Chi’s description of the complexities and variables of Jason’s ground-breaking Memory Fingerprinting is masterly and concise – not easy to write and requiring considerable research. On many levels Chi’s work succeeds. Human qualities such as honesty, kindness, loyalty, integrity, tenacity and the determination to pursue the truth shine through in this dramatic tale. An extremely wellwritten, enjoyable and enriching saga. Chi, you are a talented, intelligent and accomplished man. A witty and elegant man about town, too. Growing up in Diamond Hill, studying medicine in Hong Kong, specialising in pathology in the U.S., you diversified your talents in recent years to write some excellent novels and I feel this is the pick of the bunch. Such a pity you couldn’t be there to enjoy your moment and your triumph but the result of your work will endure and will intrigue, entertain and inspire for many years to come.


FACEBOOK PAGE FOR WRITERS TO RANT IN PERFECT GRAMMAR When illness confined FCC member Jo Bunker to bed two years ago, she built a virtual world for journalists and bookworms. A thousand members later and she has discovered the joy a dysfunctional bunch of people can bring to each other.


EWSworthy HK is a Facebook site I created and host and is aimed at writers, journalists, authors, publishers, artists, photographers, editors, film makers, bookstore owners and bookworms who love the written word, books, popular culture & language. I started NEWSworthy HK when I was an Honorary Lecturer at Hong Kong University Journalism & Media Studies Centre. I was lecturing MA students on how to write, meet deadlines and stay employed in the media. NEWSworthy was a way to send my students extra info, news updates and jokes between classes. Lecturing was my hands-down favourite job, but was cut short following major surgery and being hit by Fibromyalgia (go Google: chronic pain. Yep,


Jo Bunker was a daily news journalist in the UK (Mercury Press, national newspapers) and HK (SCMP) and exPresident of WiPS HK (Women in Publishing Society). She spent 15 years in corporate communications in banking and finance (JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse) and now works in a PR office she co-founded, RTG Communications.

Every Single Day). One morning two years ago, I woke up and tried to swing my legs out of bed but they wouldn’t follow orders. They’d turned into weights attached to me and my muscles were screaming, as if I’d just stumbled out of a burning car crash. It was the start of a frustrating journey that saw me – for the first year – mainly housebound, with my social life replaced by visits to Pain Clinics, hospitals, doctors, physiotherapists & blatant quacks. I was quaffing more drugs than the Rolling Stones in their heyday. Two years on, and hundreds of thousands of dollars “donated” to doctors’ fantasy cars, I am much better and am happily out and about again. To cut a long and dull story short, on my cabin fever days NEWSworthy became my default. I posted up less mainstream stories from Hong Kong, China and – gradually – from around the world. Jokes, cartoons, comments on the news of the day, posting job opportunities for writers. I acted as a cupid between employers who were looking for journalists, photographers etc, and hooked them up; no charge. I chatted to bookstore owners, publishers, librarians and slowly the numbers who joined the site grew. During this time I also founded another Facebook site, a support group called Fighting Fibromyalgia HK. From my bed it was a great way to keep my brain working when other parts of me wouldn’t. Now we’re 1,000+ strong and a dysfunctional bunch of people in the communications game who comment, rant and rave about the world, books, Trump, Brexit, China, Asian quirks and life’s unfairness. But it’s not all angst: it’s made less depressing by political memes, job postings, satirical cartoons and plenty of irreverent doses of dark humour and insults. Since I’ve become mobile again I’ve loved meeting some of the people from NEWSworthy, visited the bookshops I only wrote about previously and have made a few real life non-virtual friends. I’ve also just begun doing interviews and writing news articles to add to the NEWSworthy mix. I’ve discovered that when life gives you lemons, you throw ice and gin over them and all seems better in the world. n




IT’S NOT TIME TRAVEL, BUT IT TOOK THE TERROR OUT OF MY TRIP HOME Stephanie Lin knows feelings run high about the new high-speed rail link between Hong Kong and mainland China, but at least it has cut her journey home in half.


Stephanie Lin is a business consultant who also freelances on the side for enjoyment. Prior to her relocation to Hong Kong, Stephanie lived on both the west and east coasts in the United States where she had several stints in the public sector, including the United Nations and the White House.



day before the official opening of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, I coincidentally had to make a trip back to my hometown, Shantou, for mid-autumn festival. As much as I love going home for comfort and mom’s delicious food, I loathed the journey back. There were several ways to get home – flying, train or bus. Before the only direct flight to Chaoshan (approximately 45 minutes ride from home) by China Southern Airline was discontinued in early 2018, I would always choose to fly, even though it cost me four to five times more than taking the train or direct bus. But as someone who attaches great importance to convenience and efficiency (and avoiding parallel traders and the crowds during peak seasons), I was more than willing to pay a bit extra to save myself a day of hassle. When flying was no longer an option, I was left with either the train from Shenzhen North Station or the six-hour direct bus

from Hong Kong. As sitting in the bus for six hours napping was too much of a waste of time, I preferred the train. The train ride from Shenzhen North to my hometown itself is fairly speedy and comfortable, but to travel from Hong Kong to Shenzhen North without getting the limousine service has always been a terror. It is a seemingly short journey that requires much “blood, sweat and tears” behind the scenes. An approximately one hour bus ride from Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal usually stops first at Shenzhen Bay port. There, all the passengers need to get out all their belongings, go through immigration, then wait at some unknown location nearby. Then they get into a designated minivan where the driver and passengers sometimes have very heated discussions, or borderline arguments, over where and when to be dropped off. It always left me wondering whether I would arrive at Shenzhen North in one piece.



The West Kowloon Terminus


Or, such as I did on the morning in question, I hopped on the MTR at Central Station around 11 am, made three MTR transfers to get off at the wrong side of the entrance at Lo Wu Station, queued for the made-especially-slow-for-foreigners immigration line and finally got a taxi at 2.30 pm to catch my train at Shenzhen North. I got home in Shantou around 7.45pm, exhausted but just in time for dinner. For frequent travellers such as myself, either to attend a weekday event in Shenzhen, or to journey back to Shantou, I was delighted to hear about the launch of the high-speed rail, while well-aware of all of its controversies. As politically and socially apathetic as it may sound, all I wanted from the highspeed rail was for it to be a replacement of the direct flight. Or, if possible, the Dokodemo Door from the TV series and video game Doraemon that would get me home in seconds! After some unravelling of the 12306 App for railway tickets in mainland China on my smart phone, I registered an account using my dad’s mainland cell phone number and purchased a first-class return train ticket for Hong Kong for a total of RMB 291, approximately RMB 120 more expensive than a ticket from Chaoshan to Shenzhen (not including taxi and MTR fees). I was excited to be one of the very first passengers on the high-speed rail during the first week of its launch. I left my house in Shantou around 4.45pm to go to Chaoshan station for my train at 5.35pm. Much to my dismay, I did have to pick up my ticket prior to my departure as foreign passport holders have to manually get their ticket from the counters instead of simply from the ticket machine. The train ride itself and immigration process are not much more convenient than taking the train from Shenzhen North, though the jointcheckpoint arrangement did save me from dragging my luggage around, waiting in the taxi line and taking another bus from Shenzhen North to Hong Kong (or spending

over HKD300 for a cab directly from Shenzhen Huanggang port to Hong Kong). That night, I arrived at my apartment slightly past 9.15pm. The 26km high-speed rail is by no means a Dokodemo Door that can allow me to make a same-day return trip home, but I did manage to have the energy to go out for a relaxing drink after I arrived in Hong Kong that night. With the Shantou station within the city center expected to be in full operation in January 2019, my Doraemon dream might just become a bit closer to reality. n

Inside the high speed rail

The new link to the mainland


VIEW FROM BOTH SIDES OF THE TRACKS On September 23 last year, the 26km high-speed rail that aims to connect Hong Kong with 44 cities in mainland China – including Beijing, Shanghai, Harbin, Kunming and Urumqi – was launched. Since its announcement in 2000, the project has been a subject of heated debate. Opponents raised issues such as the cost, its location, patronage rates and – most controversially – the joint-checkpoint arrangement at West Kowloon station. While the Hong Kong government said the arrangement was for passengers’ convenience and efficiency, critics said the stationing of 800 mainland immigration officers was another encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy. Local Hong Kong newspapers widely reported the low patronage rate, below-standard speed of the rail, and the disorder of the ticket centre at the West Kowloon Terminus during the first week it opened. While Mingpao took a more neutral tone, stressing the convenience it had brought to shoppers from Shenzhen, local commentary writer Poon Siu-to wrote in the traditionally more liberal newspaper, Apple Daily, challenging its necessity, stating the cost of the joint-checkpoint arrangement had far exceeded the benefits of the convenience it would achieve, and questioning its real intention. When the project was first announced, the cost was estimated at HKD66.9 billion. After much delay on the construction and over budget, the final cost to the HK government was HKD84.42 billion. According to the official government website, the estimated daily use was about 80,000 passengers, with an increase to 95,000 projected for 2021. For the first month of its operation between September 23 and October 22, though, MTR Corporation recorded 1.6 million passengers, only 63 per cent of the government’s target of 2.4 million. It is unclear whether the Hong Kong government will ever recover the construction cost and the likely financial returns of the high-speed rail are also debatable.




DEREK MAITLAND Born April 17, 1943; died January 7, 2019




Derek Maitland was the cover story of The Correspondent in 1992

Obviously terrified hamlet girl has her hands tied behind her

news crew to film the immediate aftermath of the IRA bombing on Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s hotel in Brighton in 1984. In 1985, he travelled China and once again returned to Hong Kong with his second wife, New Zealander Jan O’Neill. launching the China Traveller magazine. This later became the Pacific Traveller. Together, the husband-and-wife team produced corporate videos. After a stint in Sydney in 2000, Derek and Jan moved to Orange, and later further west to the heritage town of Canowindra in New South Wales, where they bought a house. Gregarious, articulate, intelligent, wry and witty, Derek also wrote four novels and five non-fiction books. When he passed away in Canowindra on a summer’s day after a battle with cancer diagnosed in 2016, he was working on a book of his life and another, poignantly titled Coming Home To Die. Derek was part of the Vietnam Hacks email group, along with FCC member Robin Moyer, who said: “Derek and I spent some time together in Vietnam after the war. He had a keen sense of humour, especially when observing the cultural collision of East and West. [Fellow FCC member] Mark Erder coaxed Derek to send me his Vietnam photos from his year–long sojourn at the height of the fighting there in 1968–69 and we carried on a stimulating email conversation, in between bouts of chemo, as we put the pictures and captions together for his last hurrah on the Van Es Wall in September.” n Robby Nimmo


he bio for the exhibition on the Van Es wall of 34 Vietnam photos last September and early October revealed a clue to how Derek Maitland’s career path was set. “My life really began the day I saw Kowloon Docks in 1966.” He expanded on this thought for my piece in SCMP Sunday Post Magazine piece last September (which was to be his last interview) “I was 23; Hong Kong was all the things one would like at that age. It was the jumping off point to where I passionately wanted to be at that time, a war correspondent in Vietnam.” Derek left Vietnam after two years: “After three major combat incidents that I covered – one in the massive Tet Offensive – convinced me my luck might be running out,” he told The SCMP. Twenty-six years earlier, in The Correspondent of January 1992, he’d written: “I was convinced that after nearly two years of my own madness that the next bullet would be for me. That and an even bleaker fear that in the inexorable deterioration of my youth and spirit, furiously burning up on a napalm blast of drink, adrenalin, danger, terror and depravity to which the war had sunk, I might lose touch with the real world altogether.” He was open about his battles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He suffered it for 15 years after the Vietnam War, until he met a psychologist whose expertise was Vietnam Vets. “It was not just the vets who went off the rails after the war. Saigon … made much of life thereafter seem meaningless and mundane, requiring tremendous effort to restore everyday faith and excitement. And that against the backdrop of abiding melancholy and occasional hallucinations in the dead of night,” he wrote of PTSD in The Correspondent in January, 1992. From Vietnam, Derek flew to London and worked with BBC-TV News and wrote his first novel, The Only War We’ve Got. From London he moved to Beirut and covered the Middle East. It was there that he met his first wife, Therese Herbert, a French Canadian, with whom he had two sons, Nick and Luke, who are in their early forties and who celebrated their father’s 75th birthday in Australia last year. Derek came back to Hong Kong in the mid-1970s and worked as a freelance feature writer and humourist. He returned to television news in Toronto and went back to asdf London with the BBC, where he led the first

“I was convinced that after nearly two years of my own madness that the next bullet would be for me”

ARVN troops and their US advisors on a typical Mekong operation



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Mary below Dragon’s Back


wasn’t sure what to expect when I moved back to Hong Kong a year ago. One thing was for certain, though: I would be running on the city’s miles and miles of trails. A lot. After a few years away, where my access to trails was mostly confined to the flat fields and even flatter towpath of Princeton, New Jersey, and the gentle rolling hills of Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C., I could not wait to once again go up and down Hong Kong’s soaring peaks, to run along its ridges while looking down at the jampacked sprawl of Kowloon, and to course through its densely forested hillsides to the city’s soundtrack of honks and rumbles playing in the background. Hong Kong’s trails welcomed me with a hearty embrace, along with a (slightly painful) side dose of lactic acid through the legs, which had by then grown unaccustomed to the brutally steep and technical ascents and descents that the city is infamous for. The local trail running scene has also matured considerably compared to even just half a decade ago. The racing calendar then already presented a rich menu of events to choose from, but in the years since, race directors have significantly upped their game, packing weekends with more and largerscale competitions than ever before. Between 2010 and 2017, the number of permits issued for races held in Hong Kong’s country parks nearly doubled, according to government statistics.



Mary Hui is a freelance journalist and writer. She likes to use the urban world as a lens through which to explore political, socioeconomic, and cultural issues. She also writes about adventures in the great outdoors, including trail running.

And increasingly, local races are attracting elite talents from further afield, like the Chinese phenomenon Yao Miao and the Nepalese legend Mira Rai. With its highly accessible trails and dramatic views, there’s a very real possibility that Hong Kong can become an Asian hub for trail running. Hong Kong runners also go abroad in hordes for overseas races. As a sign of just how popular trail running has become, at this year’s Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, considered to be one of the sport’s premier events, competitors from Hong Kong were overrepresented in terms of runners per capita, sending more participants per million people than powerhouses like Italy, Japan, and the United States. Over the past few months, I’ve slowly eased myself into the trail running world. I signed up for a 30-kilometre race over Chinese New Year, then a 40-kilometre race in March. Then came the summer months, which consisted of slow, drenched plods during which I learned (the hard way) just how much more I needed to drink to replenish the litres of liquids I was losing in sweat. Around May and June, as the temperatures were ticking up, a friend took me along for a couple of runs on the MacLehose. She knew exactly what she was doing: gels, sports drinks, snacks, the whole package. Meanwhile, I naively thought that I would make do with just water. Twenty kilometres in, I had been left in the dust as my body crashed under the rapid loss of electrolytes. I walked dejectedly down into town to catch the train home, where I would spend the next few hours lying on the floor, while my friend continued full steam ahead to complete her 50-kilometre training run. It was quite the crash course in trail running, to say the least. But it didn’t put me off; in fact, I’m in the HK Fast 50 race next month. By now, I’ve spent a full year running on the city’s mountains, rediscovering old haunts out the backdoor on Hong Kong Island, and exploring new trails across the harbour. I’ve seen some very Hong Kong-specific sites (a wild pig and her five piglets just up the hill from Causeway Bay), been on the receiving end of Hong Kong-style catcalls, and continue to relish the luxury of being able to hop on a minibus or tram and sit down at a cha chaan teng within half an hour of finishing a rugged trail run. Hong Kong has always been home, and trail running has made it even more so. n



When trail runner Mary Hui left home to work in the U.S., it was Hong Kong’s peaks and ridges that she missed. While many of us struggle to honour our gym memberships, new FCC member Mary is whizzing through the city’s open spaces – 50 kilometres at a time.

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