EDITOR’S LETTER March is always a bit of a paradox. The seemingly impenetrable greyness, the unexpected sunshine; the dreading of exams and at the same time, the excitement of planning your summer trips. Well, it is that time of the year again, and it is with pride and a bit of sadness that I present to you the 2010/2011 HKPASS committee’s last issue of Bling. It suddenly seems that Thanksgiving has come early. I have to thank all the writers and photographers who contributed to this issue, it is a pleasure to see such a range of opinions and photographic talent in our society. For the first time this year, we recruited a a hardworking and vocal editorial team to whom I owe maybe a coffee... or three! David Chan, Myra Leung, Simon Lam and Nicole Tsui- thank you so much for all the work done behind the scenes, the mundane editing to the more exciting chasing after late submissions. And once again, an huge thank you to our very talented Pamela Tam for another absolutely stunning design despite extremely tight deadlines. You are about to enjoy a special feature on solid waste management, a
deceptively dull title for one of the most pressing issues on the Hong Kong government’s agenda. A recap of a very busy and productive term follows, especially for our Social Service arm. The opinion articles this issue focus largely on China, its education, economy and its record on human rights. Side B is a delightful mix of Europe’s best destinations, the highlight being a report on the HKPASS annual cultural trip to Brussels this January. Finally, a very fond farewell from the committee, and myself. I cannot begin to tell you how much I have learnt from this half a year. I wish the next committee all the best, and hopefully Bling will come back even stronger next year. Editor-in-Chief, Carmen Luk March 2011
CONTENTS FEATURE 01 What a Load of Rubbish -
Solid Waste Management Conference, Dec 2010
09 How Close Are We to Wall-E? On the Solid Waste Problem
EVENTS 13 Merry Christmas -
Chungking Mansion Service Center Christmas Party for Refugees
Hiking for Charity
21 Chinese Migrant Network English
23 Lali Gurans -
Fundraising Charity Fair for the Esther Benjamins Trust
OPINION 27 If China were a Man -
He would just be growing in size imperiously, but not his wisdom.
29 Chinese Higher Education: At the Crossroads
Candle in the Wind:
The Golden Age
In Memory of Mr.Szeto Wah
SIDE B 46
Bestinations 47 Amsterdam 51 Brussels 65 Hvar
70 Committee Farewell
What a Load of
Solid Waste Management Conference, Dec 2010
F E AT U R E
hotel made entirely of rubbish was erected in the middle of Madrid, Spain, at the beginning of 2011. The German sculptor behind the project, H.A. Shult, said the rubbish hotel was his way of saying enough is enough. People are producing too much rubbish and that must stop.
That is the sort of publicity stunt that Hong Kong desperately needs. For a city as small as ours, Hong Kong produces a phenomenal amount of rubbish. We produce 9000 tonnes of solid waste daily (excluding industrial and commercial waste), that is 1.18 kilograms per person, per day. Out of the Four Asian Dragons, Singapore ranks second in per capita waste production,
and we outstrip them by 1.4 times. These statistics are definitely not something to be proud of. With our landfills due to be saturated by 2018, the issue of solid waste management quite literally exploded in the last quarter of 2010. The Hong Kong Public Affairs and Social Service Society (LSE HKPASS), together with the Kingâ€™s College London Public Awareness and Social Service Society (KCL PASS), hosted a well-timed Solid Waste Management Conference in December 2010 at the University of Hong Kong. Professor Jonathan Wong of the Biology faculty at the Hong Kong Baptist University and the Sino-Forest Applied Research Centre for Pearl River Delta Environment, and Tanya Chan, Legislative Councillor from
the Civic Party delivered enlightening presentations on the pressing issue. The debate essentially centred on the two issues of waste reduction and recycling, as well as alternate waste management solutions. Professor Wong began with a positive picture. From 2000 to 2009, the amount of solid waste disposed of at landfills actually declined, though at a much slower rate in the last four years of the period. At the same time, solid waste that went into recycling increased. However, the fall in solid waste disposal was largely a direct effect of the rise in recycling. Waste production as a whole has not gone down, and most of the governmentâ€™s efforts have been directed at recycling, not reducing waste. About half of Hong Kong people eat out regularly, and the culture of disposable goods is particularly strong in our fast-paced city. Both speakers consider legislation as the way forward for reducing waste. The absence of a â€˜rubbish taxâ€™ in Hong Kong is particularly glaring, when compared to cities like Taipei. Legislative Councillor Chan pointed to the success of the plastic
bag tax to bolster the argument for a tax on waste disposal. Within a year of implementation, the tax, which charges HK$0.1 for each plastic bag, has cut usage by a staggering 90%. Creating a legal incentive is definitely a viable means to reduce waste. The responsibility of the polluter was also stressed throughout the evening, raising suggestions to regulate packaging for manufacturers, and the issue of construction waste was also flagged. The thread of legislated regulation continued in the discussion of recycling. Again, Professor Wong highlighted the commendable progress that has been made in this area. The target of recycling 40% of solid waste, set by the government in 2005, has been exceeded to reach 49%. However, Hong Kong still lags behind other Asian regions, such as Taiwan, which has an 80% recycle rate. Professor Wong speculates that 65% will be the optimum for our city, and considering that we have achieved a 49% recycling rate on a voluntary basis, legislation could be realistically expected to push the rate up. The focus then turned to the very interesting issue of catering
waste. Noting that food wastage make up about 40% of the total solid waste tonnage, Tanya Chan put forward the possibility of installing machines that process food waste in such a way that turns it into fertilisers, or even just water. While Professor Wong questions the efficiency of these machines, it is interesting to see that the Hong Kong government has taken up this idea with vigour. The Environment Bureau recently announced that a subsidy of HK$150 million has been set aside to furnish schools with these machines, which cost about $300,000 each.
As the discussion turned towards the actual waste management process, both speakers agreed that the development of a new landfill is inevitable, considering the current pace of waste production. What matters, however, is maximising utility from solid waste, and treating disposal at the landfill to be the ultimate, last resort. Urban mining, a process by which precious metals from discarded electronic devices are dug up from landfills and recycled, can significantly reduce the volume of landfill waste and maximise space for other solid waste that cannot be broken down
further. Converting organic waste into energy is another practical solution. Japan, for example, is known for using biomass in powering greenhouses and swimming pools. There is in fact a plan for a biomass recycling centre in the pipelines. It is estimated the centre will be able to process about 200 tonnes of organic waste daily. It is estimated that 7000 tonnes of organic fertilisers and biogas will be produced, which can provide electricity for 2000 families and reduce emission of greenhouse gases by 50,000 tonnes when compared to disposal at landfills. The main problem
with such a project, other than high costs, is the lack of space in our tiny city with big - excuse the pun - rubbish habits. Time is another thing that is running out. Whatever measure the government chooses to pursue, it has to act quick. It can no longer afford to dither, fiddling with its fingers while our landfills, currently the only way of processing solid waste, fill up quickly to the brim. n Carmen Luk
BSc Government & History , 2nd Year 8
HOW CLOSE ARE WE TO
WALL-E? On the Solid Waste Problem
Who are we waiting for to clean up the mess for us, so that we can sit back and relax while all problems will be solved for us? The major contributing factor to the waste problem is not the lack of regulation on part of the government, or the lack of organisations championing the problem. I t is us, humans living on earth. Hong Kong is a city that prides itself in efficiency, convenience and material enjoyment. Consider the amount of takeaways and delivery boxes, all the wrappings and unwanted clothing we produce, Just how much are we contributing to filling up the landfills, how much are we contributing to turning our world into the one Wall-E lives in? Most of us do not intend to actively vandalise our future. If we know that we are the ones who has to clean up spilt orange juice on the white carpet, we would be careful not to spill it. So why do we continue to produce landfill waste at such unsustainable levels? It is because we are blinkered from the imminent threat of solid waste increase. Advanced technology has come to change human
behaviour by providing convenience that ultimately changes the way we think. The 21st century is the Internet age; we are ‘online’ so much that we live in virtual reality where there is no waste. We are so used to the convenient concept of ‘deleting’; a button that incinerates waste for us so completely and effortlessly. Habits centred around ‘Facebooking’ and ‘YouTubing’ block our senses by creating distance away from waste problems. We don’t see it, we don’t smell it, we don’t live with it. Fastpaced working environment and ‘time is money’ mentalities cultivate us to live in front of computers, encouraging us to eat packaged sandwiches on the go, takeaways at home (alone) and delivery pizzas. Convenience is so important that we even have ‘convenient wastes’. We are too eager to evolve and grow both in technology and economy, but perhaps there are benefits to slow down. Think about what we have changed into. Let me be nostalgic and look back into the times when people lived together in big families and dined together at home, when they bought buckets to markets
instead of buying packaged food from supermarkets. These are the times when people lived both economically a n d s u s t a i n a b l y, w h e r e c o m m u n i ties shared responsibility to make the world a better place to live in. If we want to avoid Wall-E from becoming a reality, we must start by doing something today. If we rely on governments and regulators then we forget our part in the world that we are responsible for. If a robot cares so much about earth, we should be ashamed that we care so little. Let us take a lesson from Wall-E, and clean up our own mess in order to protect the earth and most importantly, life on earth. Unless we do that, we really should start figuring out how to build spaceships. n Tina Tsang
Msc in Management
Chungking Mansion Service Center Christmas Party fo
v e r the Christmas o f 2 0 1 0 , HKPASS organised a simple Christmas party for refugees in Hong Kong together with the char-ity Christian Action at Chungking M a n s i o n S e r v i c e Ce n t re. Twe l ve o f our HKPASS members k indly voluteered to help out at the actual event and we helped manage a party which catered for over 100 participants. We put in plenty of hard work to ensure that the atmosphere was as lively as possible so that the refugees could enjoy themselves to the fullest.
At first the refugees were unwilling to step outide of their rather enclosed groups and thus it proved to be rather difficult for them to open up to us. Nevertheless, after having played a few ice-breaking games and sung several hymns, we were finally met with a smile. They began to share with us
many of their life experiences and we discovered that the majority of the refugees originated from Africa, with a small minority coming from the Middle East. We heard many moving stories, mainly about how they made their long journey from their home town to Hong Kong. Many of us were truely touched by their determination even in the hasrh circumstances that they faced, but at the same time we felt utterly helpless on hearing such stories.
Despite our desire to hear more about their fascinating experiences, we had nonetheless had to follow the previously planned agenda for the party and w e pressed on for we were running
out of time. We became the caterers for the meal that we had prepared for them and many of the refugees were very grateful and continued to welcome us as newly met friends. Furthermore, to being their caterers, we also took on the role of Santa Clause and we participated in giving away presents to the refugees. As well as being a truly enjoyable afternoon, it was an eye-opening experience and we hope that we can come back again the following year.
n Carlo Mut
BSc Management, 2nd Year
egardless of the joyful celebrations for Christmas with our loved ones, we as the committee of HKPASS did not once forget about our aim to help those who are in need. Therefore on the cold day of 27th December, a team of 9 members took on the challenge of completing a 17-kilometre hike on Lantau Island in support of S.K.H St.Christopher â€™s Home, a charity based in Hong Kong which aims to brighten up the lives of less fortunate children.
After a quick 30-minute ferry ride, we arrived at our destination with the glaring sun burning above us. We finished the first part of the walk with ease as the altitude increased gradually, but that did not last long at all. After taking off from our first resting point, we almost felt as if we have completely left the city and entered a deserted mountain. Each of our steps seemed
to take up more effort than the last, as we dragged our feet up the winding pathway made up of an endless flight of steps. Nevertheless, we carried on with a strong determination to accomplish our task. With the support of each other, we continued our journey towards the peak of the first mountain in our route. As soon as we arrived, we dropped our bags and had lunch to regain our energy. However, we did not dare to have too long a break since after sunset, darkness would have made it impossible for us to continue our journey. Though the walk down seemed a lot faster, we all suffered from excruciating pain as a result of excessive pressure being forced onto our knees. To make matters even worse, we saw three further peaks in front of us which we had to climb, one of which being the second highest peak in Hong Kong - the
Peak. However we carried on without the slightest thought of giving up. We clenched our teeth and made our way up those extraordinarily narrow and steep steps - slowly, but with a newfound determination and confidence. Hang in there! We just have a few more steps to go! Finishing that final step towards the peak gave us a feeling that can hardly be described by words. At the altitude of 934 metres, we could feel the gentle warmth of the sun whilst the light breeze gently cooled us down, and as we turned to admire the stunning view of the Southern side of Hong Kong, all our exhaustion and pain simply evaporated. With a sense of unwillingness, we turned our back on the beautiful scenery and made our way to our final destination - the Big Buddha. Fortunately we
managed to make it just before sunset and as we spotted a food store that was about close, we ignored the screaming pain in our legs and sprinted towards it with astonishing aggression. We almost bought all the food they had in there and we still managed to finish a big dinner. The day was drawn to a perfect close as we enjoyed the delicious seafood whilst admiring the sunset by the pier. It was a most memorable and enjoyable experience, despite the muscle pain that we all suffered from the day after. We were all very proud to have embarked on such a challenge and we sincerely hope that the 11,700 Hong Kong Dollars that we raised would be put into good use, so that the children who are most in need can enjoy a more comfortable life that they deserve. n Jacqueline Kwan
BSc Management, 1st Year
â€œ Learn a new language and get a new soul. â€? -Czech Proverb
t would s e e m unimaginable to m a ny o f u s to l i ve i n a foreign country without knowing the language at all. How does one find a job, or know what they are buying in the supermarket, or even meet a new friend? Unfortunately, there are many Chinese migrant workers who are in that exact position, and find themselves unable to enjoy a new life in a foreign environment.
This was what we had tried to help with through our two -hour week ly
sessions on Sunday afternoons this Lent term. We taught English to Chinese migrant workers who are struggling to settle in the UK due to the inabilit y and the lack of oppor tunity to speak and learn the language. In collaboration with the Chinese Migrant Network, HKPASS offered its members a great opportunity to meet people from diverse backgrounds and life experiences, and a chance for us to give back to the wider community. We have covered topics including s e l f -introduction - describing their work and living environments, public transport in London, and other basic everyday conversational vocabulary. A teacher leads the weekly English lessons, with quite a few more teaching assistants who work with the migrant students on a more personal level â€“ usually one teaching assistant to two students. This allows for more effective conversational practice, as well as
Chinese Migrant Network English Teaching Programme
ensuring better overall understanding of language use. For example, the assistants would clarify the context in which a certain phrase is used. Though officially, the teaching programme expects us to teach the migrants English, I have found that, at the same time, my Mandarin was also put to the test as I struggled to find the right phrase to explain its English counterpart. In many instances, I even had to
ask them how exactly to pronounce a word or how to more succinc tly explain something in Chinese! The CMN teaching programme was a truly rewarding experience in improving both par tiesâ€™ language skills. n Lisa Lee
History, 1st Year
LaliGurans n 9th February, the Social Services team hosted a fundraising event for the Esther Benjamins Trust in the form of a charity fair. Preparations began at three o’clock in the afternoon as models busied themselves with make-up and performers sang through their pieces for one last time. The air was filled with excitement and anticipation as we pressed on with our delegated tasks with a sense of anxiety – one single thought preoccupied our minds: ‘this is it’.
We breathed a sigh of relief as people began to pour into the Quad and the show began with a lively opening speech by our two hosts of the event, Carlo Mut and Catherine Hui, followed by a speech given by a representative from the Trust. The audience’s attention was then immediately captured by the mysterious opening to our fashion show, as four masked models with elegant shawls draped around their shoulders gradually walked onto the stage in accordance with the music. Evenly spaced in a line, our models walked with poise and their expressions revealed the vulnerability of Nepalese Women
The Nepalese-style part of t h e f a shion show fo l l owe d, w h i c h be- gan with our four models taking off their shawls and masks in a defiant manner as they walked along the runway with confidence, symbolising the inner-strength and independence of Nepalese women. Spring fashion came next and every model had on green, blue or beige-coloured outfits. The second part of the fashion show began with street fashion. With rhythmic Korean music as their background, every model was given the freedom to determine their individual styles and postures: some male models decided the surprise the audience by unbuttoning their shirts and the Quad filled with screams and shrieks as female members of the audience stared at them with admiration. The intermission delivered the last theme of the night which was the Valentinesâ€™ session. Five pairs of lovers took turns to walk along the runway in their matching outfits, displaying their love and affection for each other which filled the Quad with warmth. The most remarkable pair of lovers was without a doubt Ruby Ma and Issac Cheung, who surprised the audience with their flamboyant dance moves as they moved along the aisle. Their creativity left the audience thoroughly amused and brought our show to a perfect close. Having organised the show from scratch, every single member of the committee and subcommittee of the HKPASS put in 25
tremendous efforts to make this ambitious idea come true. We raised in total over ÂŁ1000 for the Esther Benjamins Trust, a result that we are very grateful for and proud of. Although it undeniably involved a lot of preparatory work which left us perhaps a little sleepdeprived, our fatigue and stress evaporated instantly as our efforts were rewarded by the audienceâ€™s applause. We were also greatly pleased to have received some very positive feedback from the Esther Benjamins Trust. On a more personal level, involvement in the organisation of the show has allowed me to challenge myself. It took a lot of courage for me to have nominated myself for the responsibility of organising the fashion show, as I did
not have any previous experience in organising a show of such a big scale. David and I worked extremely hard throughout the preparatory stage to ensure that it was as good as we could make it. Furthermore I would also like to take the opportunity to thank all our helpers, especially Kristel Wong and Bernard Ng, who have kindly shared with us their expertise in styling and fashion and have provided us with some very valuable advice. Our delight at the success of the show can hardly be described in words and we sincerely hope that we have helped the victims in Nepal by raising public awareness on the issue of human trafficking. n Simon Lam BSc Economics, 1st Year
Myra Leung LLB Law, 1st Year
If China were a Man He would just be growing in size imperiously, but not his wisdom.
.5 years imprisonment, surely, is something we do not hope for ourselves for posting on an online blog about how we feel. Yet, in mainland China, a doting father whose 5-year old son was made ill after drinking the melamine-tainted milk formula wanted to defend the rights of the “Kidney Stone babies” was convicted for “inciting social disorder”. He was then sent to prison for two and a half years, where authorities refused his right to legal representation and pressured him to stop seeking for an appeal.
Melamine is normally used to make concrete, plastics and fertilizers. Creatively, however, Chinese dairy companies added melamine to milk in order to boost its protein levels. Causing kidney stones and kidney failure, 300,000 children were affected by this tainted milk and led to the death of 6 babies in China in 2010. As one of the fathers, Zhao Lianhai created a website to encourage other parents of these children to file lawsuits against these Chinese diary companies. Unsurprisingly, this website was blocked shortly after it was launched. Zhao was detained for provoking social order, and only had an opportunity of meeting with his lawyer 3 months after. Whilst detained, he was questioned by 6 different officers, sometimes in the middle of the night and was also refused visits from his family. Convicted of “provoking an incident” (Criminal Law article 293), claiming he “used the incident of the tainted milk issue to mobilise people to protest... causing disturbance of social order”, Zhao was then sent to 2.5 years of imprisonment. Zhao wanted an appeal. However, his lawyer was also detained personally for 48 hours by the police and was urged to drop Zhao’s appeal. Abruptly and suspiciously, Zhao dropped his appeal, unable to explain as to the reasons for this decision. Prison officials then told Zhao’s legal representation he no longer needed legal advice. This not only raised tremendous concerns over the Chinese government’s efforts to secure food safety but most importantly, is the way 27
China attempts to silent Zhao’s legal and personal rights. It is particularly important that we are aware of human rights issues such as these in China. For many of us living in Hong Kong, it is easy to take for granted the freedom of speech and association we possess. It is tempting for us to block out what is happening in China and say “...we live in Hong Kong and it is fine. We are so lucky”. The reality, however, is that Hong Kong is a part of China. Our principles of the rule of law, freedom and human rights are merely upheld by ‘One Country, Two Systems’. The status quo will not last forever as Legislative Councilor Margaret Ng says, “... if there is no rule of law in China, there will eventually be none in Hong Kong”. It is sad, but inevitable. The truth is, the systems in Hong Kong and China will perhaps be inseparable at some point and it is simply a matter of time. Therefore, what happened to Zhao Lianhai is not simply an issue in mainland China, but is something that will affect us. The rule of law and human rights are not principles that can be upheld by simply writing it on paper- they must be actively protected. How we protect our rights is the key – and we are only able to ensure these principles continue if we have universal suffrage in Hong Kong.
China is now the second largest economy in the world. The Chinese are becoming more privileged, richer than ever, with higher living standards. But in terms of democracy, the rule of law, rights and freedom of the citizens, the growth has been stagnant. The conviction of Zhao Lianhai is just one of the many examples of appalling conditions in the lack of human rights in China. The Chinese authorities’ treatment of Zhao is evidence of citizens in China being treated as objects for the state to oppress at any time it wishes. As Hong Kong citizens, we need to be cautious and aware, because even with a burgeoning economy, a country without the respect for human dignity is nothing. n Kirsty Chow
LLB Law, 2nd Year
he Chinese gaok ao, or the National H igher Education Entrance Examination, is a yearly countr ywide ritual. Over the three days in early June, roads near examination centres are closed, use of vehicle horns are banned, so that the ten million eighteen-year- olds may take the ver y examination that changes their fates without being disturbed. Universities were generally required to admit students on merit of gaokao results.
Such is the common impression on Chinese education system: descending from the old Imperial Examinations; harsh, examination-based, and much emphasis put on rote l e a r n i n g ; y e t fo r a l l i t s v i c e s, i t i s broadly fair and meritocratic, relatively free from corruption. But this is no longer true. Just as 1992 Further and Higher Education Act marks expansion of higher education in the UK, 1999 saw 29
the beginning of proliferation of degree holders in China. Between 1998 and 2000, China’s undergraduate entrants doubled to 2.2 million, and the figure has been growing at a miraculous rate of 12.5% p.a. on average for a decade, beating the country ’s GDP growth. In 2009 6.4 million Chinese school leavers went to university. As the one -child policy ’s effect is gradually kicking in, the percentage of school leavers going into some sort of undergrauate studies is expected to hit 50% by 2013, achieving what the Labour government failed to attain for thirteen years. After all, in China, everything is faster. But the expansion of higher education does not necessarily make a level playing field more likely for young people in the Middle Kingdom. Contrar y to common perception of a ‘unitary ’ state, education system in China is far from uniform. More than 70% of students attend institutions
Chinese Higher Education: AT THE CROSSROADS
In 1977, the gaokao was restored as the major means to select university entrants.
purely run by provincial or local authorities, wh ile another fifth end up at a private school. Quality varies greatly, and poorer provinces often could not afford first class teaching. The we s te r n p rov i n ce o f Q i n ghai, one of the poorest in China, resorted to shifting teachers daily between three universities in Xining, its capital. As a result, graduate unemployment once became the norm in Qinghai, hitting 54.1%(!) in 2003 before more graduates learnt to accept lowerpaid jobs. For tunately, the figure descended to around 25% in more recent years. Free university education had gone with the old socialist economy. Since 2000, students have been required to pay an annual tuition fee of four to five thousand yuan (£390-490). A small amount it may seem, compared to the home/EU fees in England, it has presented a huge burden to rural students, where the average family annual disposable income is merely 31
5153 yuan (£503) in 2009, with many earning lower than that. The total cost of a four-year undergraduate degree, standing at around thir ty thousand yuan (£2900), could repre sent 35 years’ disposable income of a family living in the poorest county (China is divided into 2862 counties, each of which is a second- or thirdlevel division) in 2004. This has left many graduates in western China deep in debt, without any hope to repay them in full. Only 7.2% of undergraduate students could enter the top-tier universities that are directly administered by the Central G over nment, which clust e r m a i n l y in B eijing a n d Shanghai, while most of the rest scatter over the richer East. Around a fifth of such students are studying in universities that are not supervised by the Ministry of Education, but by various other arms of the government, such as the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. A significant
par t of these institutions’ funding still comes from their respec tive home provinces, and subsequently, ‘home’ students are given preference in admission, in effect discriminating against the students from poorer, yet more populous provinces such as Henan and Sichuan. For example, in 2009 the prestigious Tsinghua University admitted as many students from Beijing as the total of from the provinces of Fujian, Zhejiang, Jiangxi and Anhui, while the combined population of the four provinces is 13 times that of Beijing. These top-tier universities hold an unspoken rationale: students from richer provinces are, in general, better educated. Despite its name, the gao k a o i s a ny t h i n g b u t n at i onal. Six te e n p rov i n ce s, e n co m p a s sing two-thirds of Chinese population, set their own syllabuses and gaok ao papers at least for some subjects; another two sets of the ‘national’
Campus of Huazhong Universit y of S cience and Technolo gy in Wuhan, one of the universities directly run by the Ministry of Education, PRC 32
Jianghan Universit y, run by the Hubei provincial government.
papers are drafted for the other fifteen provinces. This ac tually reflec ts the imbalanced distribution of educational resources across re gions: richer provinces, being able to afford better teaching, would like to set a higher and more internation a l s t a n da rd fo r t h e i r s t u d ents. Therefore, the delegation of education responsibilities to the provincial authorities has, to a large extent, exacerbated inter-regional inequity. It has been a decade since China began its expansion of higher education, characterized by fee -paying stu d e nt s, n e a r l y- u n i ve r s a l co llege education, and the involvement of private sectors. From 1997, the nonstate sector has moved from a virtually n o n - ex i s te nt ro l e i n h i gher education to now providing more tha n o n e - f i f t h o f u n d e rgra duate places, and university admission has increased sixfold. However, the original aspiration of training a cohort of more educated young people for 33
the 21st Centur y is challenged by the hard fac t of widespread grad uate unemployment, and many of those who did find a job do not earn significantly more than an unskilled labourer. Chinaâ€™s manufacturng- based economy could not absorb all graduates that it nurtures, while there is an acute shortage in skilled industrial technicians. Higher education in China is now at the crossroads. Rapid proliferation of universities have done much more in devaluing degrees than forging a more educated workforce. However, once established, universities are difficult to close down, and Mainland China may soon find herself on track of becoming like Taiwan â€“ where there are more university places than school leavers and some universities spend most of the time re -teaching high school materials, draining Chinaâ€™s fiscal re sources. Such is the choice: either China star ts stabilizing her univer-
sity system, and emphasise improve ment in quality rather than quantity, or she may find her eduction budget greatly inefficient, her degrees inflated, and some of her universities not much more than a debt trap for students from poorer backgrounds. n Edmond Lee
BSc Econometrics and Mathematical Economics, 2nd Year
Note: I am a complete outsider to Chinese education. Before I came to the LSE, I spent all 19 years of my life in Hong Kong, which has its own educational system, loosely modelled after the British one. All analyses, opinions, comments in this article are purely drawn from secondary sources. I feel much indebted to Natalie Wong and Serinna Chau, who proofread, polished and provided valuable comments on this article. I would also like to thank the Cultural Division of LSESU CSSA, which first inspired me to write on this theme. 34
規劃之交接時期，不僅對十一五規劃作 出回顧，更勾勒出中國未來五年的發展 藍圖。會議提出十二五的具體目標包 括：經濟平穩較快發展，經濟結構戰略 性調整取得重大進展，城鄉居民收入普 遍較快增加，社會建設明顯加強，改革 開放不斷深化，使我國轉變經濟發展方 式取得實質性進展，綜合國力、國際 競爭力、抵禦風險能力顯著提高，人民 物質文化生活明顯改善，全面建成小 康社會的基礎更加牢固。自鄧小平提出 「小康社會」的目標以降，中國領導層 均以此為改革開放的目標，透過經濟發
展提高國民物質生活水平，而經濟結構 貫穿經濟運作，故此，推動中國經濟結 構轉型便成為歷次規劃的重要一環。而 自2003年，國家主席胡錦濤提出科學發 展觀，強調以人為本，全面、協調、及 可持續發展，此思想更於十七大寫於中 共黨章，故科學發展觀便成為近年十一 五及十二五規劃的重要指導。本文將闡 釋十一五規劃中經濟增長結構轉型的進 程，並展望十二五規劃將遇見的機遇及 挑戰。 中國經濟增長自八十年代始平均達9.4% ，而於十一五規劃的首三年，亦承接 以往升勢，經濟出現過熱危機，令社 會普遍形成通脹預期，令2007的中央 經濟工作會議將財政政策和貨幣政 策基調由上一年的「雙穩健」調整為 「一穩一緊」，以在保全經濟發展的 同時，防止通脹問題惡化。然而，經 濟環境瞬息萬變，十一五後期，中國面 對國際金融危機及國內天災影響，但經 濟增長所受的影響卻有限，不但超額完 成「保八」目標，《經濟學人》雜誌亦 持續對中國整體增長持樂觀態度，預測 未來五年增幅達8.2%。的確，雖然中國 政府的目標為GDP年均增長7.5%，但截 至去年底，於十一五期間，中國GDP年 均實質增長已達11.4%，比十五平均增 速9.8%增加1.6%，亦比世界同期水平快 8.2%；同時，去年中國超越日本成為世 界第二大經濟體，中國增長對環球經濟 更顯重要，根據聯合國發表的2009年世 界經濟報告預測，若中國在2009年實現 37
升，自2006年起，中國免收農業稅，結 束了中國歷史上二千多年的田賦，加上 近年來對農民不斷增加各種財政補貼， 而城市經濟亦保持對農村勞動力的吸 納，使農民收入錄得較快增長，人均純 收入年均實際增長達8.3%，比十五的平 均增速加快3%。農村收入增加有助中 國擴大內需，從早年「家電下鄉」計劃 改善農民生活，並增加其實質財富從而 直接刺激消費，至今年一號文件大力發 展水利建設，目標希望今后10年中國水 利年平均投入比2010年高出一倍，增加 政府對農村資源投放，支持地方經濟。 的確，三農問題已自2004年起成為一號 文件的主題，增加農村對經濟發展的貢 獻亦持續成為十一五規劃期間的重點政 39
Candle in the Wind:
in memory of Mr. Szeto Wah Your candleâ€™s burned out long before your legend ever did
voice will be sorely missed in this year ’s memorial service fo r t h e Ti a n a n m e n S quare Protests – an annual gathering held at the Victoria Park in remembrance of the innocent lives lost on the crackdown on 4th June 1989 – as the Chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic M o v e m e n t i n C h i n a , S z e t o Wa h , passed away after a long battle with cancer.
While some may recall him as an influential campaigner for the rights of school teachers in Hong Kong, or as a strong advocate of the so-called ‘Chinese language movement ’, M r. Szeto would cer tainly be rememb e r e d fo n d l y by m e m b e r s of the public as a staunch defender of civil rights as well as an audacious political activist: urging the PRC government to vindicate the bloodshed in Beijing and implement liberal democ r a t i c r e fo r m s i n m a i n l a n d C h i n a .
This is by no means an easy task , and the PRC government has defnitely put up a good fight to resist it. On the issue of civil liberties, their well-rehearsed rhetoric is that these activists, and the concept of democracy at large, are detrimental to the peace and order in China. To a certain extent, their fear is not unwarranted, because were individuals allowed to exercise their civil rights, they would take matters onto the street; and discontent could turn into aggress i o n , j u s t l i k e t h e re c e n t a n t i - fe e s hike protests in London. It is therefore unsurprising that despite being an official signator y of the International Covenant on Civil a n d Po l i t i c a l R i g h t s , t h e C h i n e s e authority has been harshly referring activists pursuing the same demands made by Mr. Szeto ‘traitors’ and ‘criminals’. As the influence of China in the global system grows, it becomes more asser tive on issues of human
rights and civil liberties, and its official line is showing signs of hardening. As recent as last December, in the instance of the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony, China refused to back down and chose to endure a diplomatic fiasco in complete disregard of international pressure. As long as the PRC government adheres adamantly to the notion of peace as only an absence of opposition and conflicts, it is hard to imagine the Tiananmen Square massacre will be vindicated, because the s t u d e nt s i n p ro te s t w i l l s t ill be see n a s a t h re at to o rd e r i n s o ciet y. M o re ove r, s i n ce D e n g X i a o p i ng, a wel l - re s p e c te d f i g u re i n t h e mainlan d, to o k t h e d e c i sion to resort to militar y force in 1989, authorities would be hesitant to vindicate the incident by putting a black mark on Dengâ€™s administration. To realise the death wish of Mr. Szeto, it would probably require an enlightened leader to see that peace should not be defined negatively as an absence of opposition and conflicts.
Indeed, one could hardly agree that Myanmar under the military junta, C h i l e u n d e r Pi n o c h e t , n o r, t o g o back further in time, Germany under Hitler have been in a state of peace where citizens live under oppression and the perpetual fear of being prosecuted, even though there have been no recorded uprisings. In order to achieve true peace, individual liberties must be granted to citizens so that they do not feel being threatened in any ways. Furthermore, by allowing freedom to flourish, the level of trust among citizens, otherwise k nown as â€˜social capitalâ€™, will be thickened, which is conducive to social order. Nevertheless, this kind of people is lacking because of pervasive censorship on one hand, and a general lack of interest in civil liberties and justice for the victims of the Tiananmen incident on the other. Money and wealth become the grand prix of our time and has successfully captured the hearts and minds of the Chinese. The predominant concern is to catch up with the phenomenal economic
growth the countr y is experiencing at the m o m e nt ; political rights are some sor t of residue that could be dealt with later. True that the odds are stacked heavily against Mr. Szeto, but there is no reason to be overly pessimistic about the prospects of political reform in China. No one is in a position to speculate the future. After all, back in the mid-1980s, the last thing on historians’ mind was a radical political libe ra l i s at i o n i n S ov i e t U n i o n . Alas, Mikhail Gorbachev, someone who was brought up in an oppressive system similar to that in China nowadays, initiated perestroika which helped restore civil rights to citizens of the republic. By the same token, somewhere in the background, a budding Chinese politician might be prepared to d e f y ex p e c t at i o n s o f many and follow Gorbachev ’s footsteps. Who knows?
Hong Kong, who have enjoyed various kinds of freedom and rights since birth. There is evidence that in Hong Kong, the base camp of this struggle if you will, this spirit is well alive. Judging from the crowd attending M r. Szeto’s memorial ser vice and the attention it has received on the internet, it seems that many Chinese have taken the message on board by heart. Pan-democrats have continued to campaign hard for the release of Liu Xiaobo – the recent Nobel peace laureate, and the vindication of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. Amidst the flickering candlelight in the Victoria Park this year, one out of the thousands of candles might have been gone; but the zeal for justice and liber ty is ver y much ablaze. n Henr y Li
International Relations, 3rd Yea r
Per h a p s t h e gre ate s t l e g a c y that Uncle Wah has left us is that civil liberties and justice are worth fighting for, especially for us, citizens of
The Golden Age ur generation has been through its fair share of asset bubbles and their consequential bursts – from the savvy tech bubble to the more recent real estate bubble – then the ongoing credit crunch that follows. Lately, in the dooming midst of Europe and U.S. debt spiraling out of control, what catches my eyes is the – to quote from Fortune – the “gold fever” that everyone seems to be catching.
Indeed, gold prices have been arguably soaring fasting than the sovereign debt. Peaking at USD$1400 per ounce just a few days ago, which more than tripled in the past five years, it would seem irrational not to join the fever especially when gold – and gold-mining stocks – are the top asset in everybody’s investment por tfolio. We q u e s t i o n whether this behaviour is truly rational. The enthusiasm from investors and extraordinarily positive outlook re- sembles asset bubbles too much to our liking. As Soros offers, “the ultimate asset bubble is gold”; I do not think anyone denies this notion, but it seems the fundamental problem is not whether gold is an asset bubble, but when it will burst. If we have learnt anything from the past decade of risky investments, complex hedging and complex structuring of products, it would that such a 45
bubble can burst tomorrow, or a few years later (the day after you put all the money you have in it). This being said, there is something about investing in gold that feels different from investing in, say, equities derivatives or the debt market. Some say this stems from the persistent rise in gold prices over the decades; I believe gold is a good investment because of the state of the world we are in now. Consider this: the sovereign debt is spiraling out of control and the U.S. cannot pay half of what it owes; we have witnessed quantitative easing 1 and quantitative easing 2 – whether 3 and 4 would follow is still uncertain; not to mention the fluctuation of currencies which nobody can catch up with anymore. In this sense then, gold is our safe haven, allowing us to hedge against the “doomsday” state of our economy. The seemingly irrational craze is then rationalised. And I guess it is rightfully justified as well. Consider this: if you had bought in, say, 100 ounces at USD 1330 at the start of this month and sold them at just over USD 1400 today, how much would you have pocketed already?
n Eva Leung
Philosophy and Economics, 2nd Year
Being the capital of the Netherlands and the sixth-largest metropolitan area in Europe, Amsterdam is composed of a blend of historical and modern architecture, as well as tranquil and beautiful canals towards the inner part of the city. Since major attractions such as museums and windmill areas are well described in a number of travel guides, I will mention some minor tourist spots.
Start your journey in Amsterdam with the I amsterdam Card package, available in forms of 24, 48 or 72 hours, from the tourist office outside the Centraal Station. The package consists of a smart card granting you access to numerous museums in Amsterdam, a public transport card, a free cruise trip and discount coupons for other attractions.
utting chocolates and beer aside, Brussels is also endowed with diverse architectural attractions. Built for Expo ’58, the Atomium leaves an unforgettable impression to all its visitors with its nine steel spheres designed to present a unit cell magnified 165 billion times, and the panoramic view of Brussels from its top sphere. Other famous sites include the Grand Place, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Surrounded by guildhalls and shops, the medieval beauty of this landmark is truly breath-taking. Not far from it rests the Manneken Pis, otherwise known as the “Pissing Boy”. The name of the statute says it all – as unconventional an “attraction” as it can be. It is also deemed a cultural symbol of Brussels and known for its sense of humour. Florence Cheng BSc Government and Economics, 2nd Year
here are more shops for chocolate in Brussels than there are 7-11s in Hong Kong. Collectively, that may b e a n e x a g g e r a tion but for the small town of Brussels, the variety and quantity of chocolate shops offered are, literally, mouthwatering. Stroll down Rue Royale and you’ll find yourself submerged in the fantastic display of Wittamer, Mary Chocolatier and Pierre L e d e n t , s o m e l o c a l brands which actually provide their famous chocolate to the roy-
al family. While their pralines and truffles are praised, what must be mentioned are the macarons they offer – simply divine and no less delicious than their Parisian equivalent Ladurée or Pierre Hermé. Or enjoy a cup of chocolat chaud at the household names of Neuhaus and Godiva – the latter of which even has an outlet which offers chocolates at as much as 90% off. Eva Leung BSc Philosophy and Economics, 2nd Year
ne of the defining cultures in Belgium is the pride in their beer. Their range of beer varies from pale lager to lambic beer and Flemish Red. With such a wide range, one should not forget their world renounced exports such as Stella, Hoegaarden, Leffe, and Duvel. But when you are in Belgium, each restaurant, each bar will have their own brew so be sure to try them out. Never miss out on the chance of trying local beer. The Delirium Cafe, holding over 2004 types of beer should not be missed along with the different beer festivals. Carlo Mut BSc Management, 2nd Year 58
Its elevator was the fastest in Europe at the time it was built in 1958.
Photography: Jessica Lee Mathew Leung Matthew Choi
Hvar was first inhabited by the Neolithic people, who colonised the island as far back as 3500 BC. The Pjaca is testimony to the cityâ€™s wealth of history. The piazza houses Hvarâ€™s Theatre, one of the oldest in Europe. Wander around the back alleys for modern day baked treats and delicious gelato.
Hvar is made up of a string of beautiful, and often uninhabited islands. Tear yourself from Hvar city for a day and hire a speedboat. For under 2000 kunas, your driver will sail you round to gorgeous seaside towns and secluded beaches. The Blue Cave is an unmissable sight. Speeding across an endless horizon, where water and sky are one, is, for a lack of a expression, unreal. For the best bargain, avoid the tourist agencies near the Piazza. Head down the road winding around the seaboard, past the sports bar, and walk all the way to the kiosk just past Bonj les Bains for a deal.
Sundrunk One of the most enlightening discoveries you will .
make in Hvar is that lying on rock all day is just as (un)comfortable as on sand. If you are picky, you will have no problem finding cushioned sunloungers near bars and cafes on the beach. But speaking from experience, all you need is a towel, a book, sunscreen, sunglasses, water, a bit of food, and you will have the time of your life staring out at the bluest waters you have ever seen. You will also become exceptionally skilled in avoiding spiky sea urchins.
City on a Hill
Hvar is nestled in a shallow valley. Orange rooftops and whitewashed walls fill the landscape, set against thick woods and a blue sky. Take a trek up to the Castle, the highest point in Hvar town, to watch a spectacular sunset. Stroll down to the piazza in the fading dusk for a slow and leisurely dinner of freshly grilled seafood, then have a drink on the waterfront. For the nocturnal animals, head towards Kiva Bar, tucked away in a narrow alley, popular with both tourists and locals.
Richard Ko President
Florence Cheng Vice-President
It seems not too long ago when I had to write something about HKPASS’ summer events; it feels a bit ironic to write my farewell to this society only a few months later. Not until recently when I was doing my job applications did I realise that I have been working for HKPASS for the last two years of my life; if my life ends tomorrow, that would mean 10% of it gone. I don’t think any words can express how much HKPASS has meant to me personally. Though I know it is about time to pass it on to the more able hands of the freshers, it is hard for me not to miss the job. Good luck HKPASS, and so long…
From organising the interview with Mr Albert Ho to the AGM, it seems impossible to come to realisation that my tenure is about to end. I may not have left HKPASS with a dazzling personal legacy as VP, but I shall leave with pride – proud of how much we have managed to accomplish. Truly grateful I am to all my fellow committee members, and especially to Richard, to whom we all owe massive thanks for his dedication. With hindsight, I can comfortably say that I have definitely made the most of my past year regardless, and can never imagine anything more rewarding!
Jesslyn Leung Internal Secretary
Eva Leung External Secretary
Despite joining the HKPASS committee late, I am still surprised at how fast the year has gone by and how soon we are to hand over to the year below. From seeing the success of all HKPASS events to working with committee members and going on the oveseas Brussels trip, I can genuinely say I enjoyed every moment of it and that it was an unforgettable learning experience. I owe a big thank you to all the HKPASS committee and society members for a great year. I am sure the memories will stay with me and I wish this year’s committee every success!
I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to my committee – the six people who gave me much more than happy memories. We have had our fair share of problems – may it be serious or small – but the most significant experience which you guys taught me is persistence. I wish the very best to the next executive committee to take our society to the next level, and with this I will say my farewell to a wonderfully memorial year!
Carmen Luk Treasurer
Karen Lee Public Affairs Officer
If you told me this time last year that I would be Treasurer of HKPASS and Editor-in-Chief of Bling, I would have laughed at you and walked away. I went into the AGM last year intending to run for Internal Secretary, but came out writing budgets instead of minutes, and very luckily this year managed two editions of Bling as well. I can’t begin to recount all the hard work, the hilarious times (both good and bad) and the things that I learned. Thank you guys for being the best committee ever, I’ll miss this!
Now that the HKPASS AGM is drawing near, it’s time for the HKPASS executive committee 2010-2011 to step down and pass the spirit and mission of the society to other able hands. It has been an enjoyable year and it’s my pleasure working with the other committee members. I would also like to express my special thanks to the PA sub-committee for their hard work throughout the year, with the highlight of the LSE HKPASS Forum where they took care of everything from brainstorming the motions to preparing the rundown for the day. Farewell HKPASS! I look forward to more exciting events next year!
Carlo Mut Social Service Officer I have to thank HKPASS for the opportunities it has given me and what it has made me. However, my departure is filled with regrets as the Translation Program for Migrants, Party with Handicapped Children, Santa Run, Teach- ing Program for Refugees and the Tree Planting Day were attempted and will now be forgotten. Despite the achievements with my perfect team, one would wonder how much more could have been done? What if all these events did happen? What if events were bigger? What would our society would be like? It is what I have made of it?
This publication is for commercial use. The whole or any part of this publication may not be reproduced without written consent by the Editors or the independent authors. Disclaimer: The majority of content published on Bling is created by indivudual authors. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the HKPASS or the HKPASS committee members. Neither the HKPASS nor HKPASS committee members are liable to any opinion expressed by contributors.