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TRAVEL BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE MASS GAMES

CLUB TIE FCC MEMBERS RACE HARD AT THE MACAU GP

BI-MONTHLY • NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2009

ALIVE OR DEAD?

THE FUTURE OF PHOTO-JOURNALISM

IN REVIEW DIAMOND HILL BY FENG CHI-SHUN

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong 香港外國記者會


THE BI-MONTHLY MAGAZINE PUBLISHED BY THE FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS’ CLUB, HONG KONG

feature

NOV–DEC 2009

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WAVING OR DROWNING?

Many have sounded the death knell of photo-journalism but is it true? Is reportage photography really dead? The FCC has always had impeccable photographic credentials and so The Correspondent spoke to five photographers with close connections to the Club, to find out what the future there is for photography

Robin Moyer

news

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the wall

14

PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE WAR IN THE CONGO

18

HONG KONG IN THE 1970s

in review

22

DIAMOND HILL BY FENG CHI-SHUN

extract

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DIAMOND HILL – AN EXTRACT

travel

28

DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME

press freedom

34

STILETTO: Max Kolbe on the global repression of journalists

then and now

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THEN AND NOW: Bob Davis looks at Graham Street in ‘72 and ’09

club tie

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YOU’RE BEHIND ME: Tim Huxley takes his racing team to Macau

meanwhile

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CARTOONS: From Harry Harrison and Arthur Hacker

bitch

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DEAR DICK...This issue’s letter to Dick Hughes

CHRISTMAS IS COMING AND THE CLUB IS GETTING HOT

Book now for your Club Christmas dinner and New Year party In November, locally-raised photographer, Dominic Nahr, exhibited his powerful collection of images. His work is unforgettable December’s poignant FCC Wall Exhibition, by Bob Davis, showed a now vanished Hong Kong, as the city starts to undergo one of the most rapid urban transformations seen in modern times A superbly honest and very readable account of a Kowloon childhood Chapter One: The Neighbors and the Neighborhood Gary Jones finds out how the North Koreans put on the Mass Games

Cover: Harry Harrison

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

President: Tom Mitchell 1st Vice President: Keith Bradsher 2nd Vice President: Francis Moriarty Correspondent Governors: Thomas William Easton, Anna Healy Fenton, Jim Laurie, Kees Metselaar, Colum Murphy, Christopher Slaughter, Stephen Vines, Douglas Wong Journalist Governors: Barclay Crawford, Jake Van Der Kamp Associate Governors: John Batten, Andrew Paul Chworowsky, Thomas Crampton, Steve Ushiyama Club Secretary: Douglas Wong Finance Convener: Jake Van Der Kamp Membership Convener: Steve Ushiyama Professional Conveners: Keith Bradsher, Colum Murphy Publications Convener: Kees Metselaar, Anna Healy Fenton House Food and Beverage Convener: Stephen Vines Wine Sub-committee Co-chairperson: Anna Healy Fenton, Stephen Vines FCC Charity Fund Co-chairman: Andrew Paul Chworowsky, Thomas Crampton Press Freedom Conveners: Francis Moriarty, Barclay Crawford Constitutional Convener: Christopher Slaughter Wall Convener: Christopher Slaughter Goodwill Ambassadors: Clare Hollingworth, Anthony Lawrence General Manager: Gilbert Cheng The Correspondent © The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong FCC MAGAZINE The Correspondent is published six times a year. Opinions expressed in the magazine are not necessarily those of the Club. Publications Committee Conveners: Anna Healy Fenton, Kees Metselaar Editor: Richard Cook Produced by WordAsia Limited, Tel: 2805 1422, Email: fcc@wordasia.com www.wordasia.com

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Feature

Club News

From the Club President

Mindanao massacre kills 22 journalists

Dear Members, Even by the standards of the world’s greatest foreign correspondents’ club, the first week of October was an unusually eclectic one. On three days that week we hosted Bill English, New Zealand’s deputy prime minister and finance minister, who tried to talk the kiwi dollar down; Tom Curley, President and CEO of the Associated Press, who tried to talk up the future of our beleaguered industry; and CME Group Chairman Terry Duffy, head of the world’s largest derivatives exchange. When I walked into the Burton room on Thursday October 8th, where Mr Duffy and his party were waiting prior to his lunch talk, my attention was drawn not to our guest speaker but instead to a slightly rumpled, bespectacled man standing beside him. Surely I knew this older gentleman, but couldn’t quite place him. He reminded me of what David Letterman might look like in another 10 years’ time. My mid-western themed hunch was right. Mr Letterman hails from Indiana. Mr Duffy’s mystery wingman turned out to be Dennis Hastert, the former Illinois Republican congressman and speaker of the House of Representatives. Mr Hastert, the longest serving Republican speaker in congressional history, sits on CME’s board. A former high school teacher, the speaker once famously observed that teenagers were better students of economics than the adult congressmen and women he worked with on Capitol Hill. As one policymaker would 2

THE CORRESPONDENT

later tell an alarmed Mr Duffy: “good economics is bad politics”. Now Mr Duffy is a good Irish boy from Chicago’s South Side and his grandfather was John J. Duffy, who rose to become Democratic president of the powerful Cook County Board. What he is doing consorting with known Republicans is a cause for concern, but I guess self-made businessmen are easily lured out of the Democratic camp. Mr Duffy also owes Mr Hastert a great debt – the speaker once talked him out of a foray into politics, telling him he could make a bigger difference in the private sector. And so it has proved. We were able to entice Mr Duffy and Mr Hastert back to the FCC the following evening for a pre-dinner drink or two. But this was the same Friday that the club was holding a small celebration to mark the 98th birthday of Clare Hollingworth, God Bless Her. So

after a few drinks I had to make my apologies to Mr Duffy and repaired to the celebrations in Clare’s bunker. There I discovered I was being out-politicked by a seasoned pro. Mr Hastert had beaten me to the party and was already busy charming the birthday girl. Only at the FCC… While we are on the subject of Clare, can I please urge all members to follow her example and live long and strong. There have been too many wakes, memorials and funerals at the Club this year. We were most recently sorry to lose Nigel de Boinville, who passed away in October. My condolences to his family – and thanks to all Governors and Board members who were able to represent the Club at Nigel’s impressive funeral service at St John’s Cathedral on November 3. On a happier note, Arthur Hacker is recuperating well after suffering a bad fall and Allen Youngblood, our music director, is back on his feet after a worrying two weeks in hospital. Suffice it to say, however, that Allen probably won’t be playing any wind instruments any time soon and has sworn never to smoke another cigarette. But just in case, if anyone sees him trying to sneak a puff at the outside smoking table please give him a swift kick in the ass. And any Club member caught lending Allen a fag will be summarily expelled. Tom Mitchell Club President

AFP

P

rotestors light candles during a rally in Manila to denounce the massacre in Mindanao, southern Philippines, on Monday 22nd November that left 57 people dead, 22 of them believed to be journalists. The Manila-based Centre for Media Freedom and Responsibility said a total of 34 journalists are believed to have been part of a convoy that was ambushed by over 100 gunmen at a police checkpoint. The convoy was travelling to file candidacy papers for gubernatorial candidate and local mayor Esmael Mangudadatu. He was not on board the convoy. Police found the bodies of the 57 buried in shallow graves close to the checkpoint and Philippine President Gloria Arroyo has vowed to hunt down the perpetrators of this political massacre. Among the dead were the following journalists:

Ian Subang (Dadiangas Times), Leah Dalmacio (Forum), Gina dela Cruz (Today), Marites Cablitas (Today), Joy Duhay (UNTV), Henry Araneta (DZRH), Andy Teodoro (Mindanao Inquirer), Neneng Montaño (formerly of RGMA), Bong Reblando (Manila Bulletin), Victor Nuñez (UNTV), Macmac Ariola (UNTV), Jimmy Cabillo (UNTV), Bart Maravilla (Bombo Radyo, Koronadal), Rey Merisco (MindaNews), Bienvenido Lagarte (Sierra News). In addition to the journalists killed in the Maguindanao massacre, the International Press Institute has counted 58 journalists killed in the Philippines in the past 10 years in connection with their profession. The Correspondent sends its thoughts to all the families of those killed or injured in this atrocity.

THE CORRESPONDENT

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Club News

Club News

FCC Golf Society

Christmas at the FCC

Happy Birthday Clare!

Bob Davis

Clare Hollingworth, legendary foreign correspondent, Club doyenne and honorary FCC goodwill ambassador celebrated her 98th year in fitting style on Friday, 9th October, where she was joined by friends in the Main Bar for drinks and birthday cake. Many Happy Returns, Clare!

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Monday Bridge nights

The FCC Quiz is back

The Monday Bridge game at the FCC has been running for 15 years, with highs of 8 tables (32 bods) and lows of one (table that is). But the greatest card game in the world lives on in the FCC and if you wish to hone your skills, or if you wish to learn this amazing game, call the Bridge Convenor to book your place. It starts at 09:30AM and finishes with luck, a following wind and no post mortems by 12:30. In the good old days it ran until 17:30 but that is another story. For more details contact Bridge Convenor, Wendy Richardson, at home (2574 9039) or on her mobile (9039 4087).

The quiz is back. It stopped because I couldn’t smoke (is the FCC a nanny club?) but now, having been nagged for over two years, the toughest quiz in HK is rampaging again. You need a team of six (HK$1,200 for 6 includes a 3-course meal – the booze you have to buy – but still a deal dontcha think. You can heckle but don’t think it will get you anywhere, I’m the one with the mic. It’s fun, it’s fast and it’s furious and starts at 18:30 and (hopefully) ends at 22:30. All you have to do is think of a team name and bring your trash bin memories along with you. By Wendy Richardson

THE CORRESPONDENT

The Club’s Holiday Programme is as busy as ever this year with: Christmas Set Menus served in the Main Dining room up until the 25th (between $270 and $348); a celebratory 5-Course Set Dinner Christmas dinner served on Christmas Eve and Christmas Night ($380) also in the Main Dining Room; and a special $298 Festive Christmas Day lunch buffet served in the Main Bar from noon until 3PM. There are carols in the Main Dining Room on the 17th from 7PM until 8PM, with the Hong Kong Treble Choir, as well as an accompanying $178 Mulled Wine Set Dinner that includes all the old-time festive favourites. On New Year’s Eve the FCC will become ticket-only for a host of parties that stretch across the Club. This includes a six-course dinner and, much later, breakfast, with music by Zach Prather and Allen Youngblood and his Jazbalaya combo (Main Dining Room - $1,288); a more sedate buffet in the Main Bar ($565) and a Disco Boogie In Bert’s – with six course dinner ($783). And for late-comers – or for first-footers – a buffet breakfast will be served in the Main Bar from 13 onwards for $125.

Blood, sweat and beers The FCC social cricket team, most of whom hadn’t played for years and in some cases decades, put in a battling display in their opening match at the Kowloon Cricket Club on November 13. They lost by 61 runs to the experienced Shek-O Strollers, who boasted a few “ringer” league players in their ranks, a few of whom were actually FCC members. Great opening spells from Alastair Bruce and Darren Boey, who got a wicket first ball, restricted their score to 80-2 after 16 overs, aided by some excellent support from Richard Cook, Hari Kumar and Paul Christensen. Some big-hitting by their Lamma league team duo of Ian Beck and Brad Tarr lifted the Strollers to 206-4 by the end of the 28 overs, as more than 40 extras and 10 dropped catches cost the FCC heavily. In reply, FCC struggled to 325 before staging a recovery, with Richard Frost (21) hitting three

fours in his first four balls and Tim Pratt smashing 25 before being out to an excellent diving catch at gully for 25. Agile wicket-keeper John Snelgrove retired hurt after getting a bloodied thumb but returned to the crease to provide the backbone of the innings. A flurry of runs from Christensen, Boey and Barclay Crawford saw the FCC to a respectable 144 before curry and beers were served in the pavilion. The team aims to play a few games a year and the next match is against Hong Kong University’s social side on Sunday, December, 20th at Sandy Bay, Pokfulam. Supporters are very welcome. Practice nets will be held on a regular basis and a suitable venue and time – probably mid-week, in the early evening – will be announced soon. Anyone who wishes to join the social team, please contact Neil Western at neil_western@yahoo. co.uk or call: 6126 7111.

The first annual FCC Golf Society Bad Pants Open was held October 16 at the Kau Sai Chau East course. Golfers around the world are known for wearing loud, ugly pants on the course. The FCC linksters did their best, sporting an array of polyester paisley prints, stripes and checks worthy of the occasion. Mike Tinworth was the consensus winner wearing floral print pants perfectly matched with an iridescent pink shirt. In November, we challenged the KSC North course. The Gary Player-designed 6,800 yard course is arguably the best in southern China. A cool northern monsoon breeze made playing conditions perfect for the event. The team of Steve Rowlinson, Paul Nazer, Michael Sanders and Steven Von Etzdorf won the Texas Scramble event with a scorching 69 gross score. The next event is scheduled for December 11th at the south course and will close out a great year of golf. Contact Russ Julseth at russjulseth@ netvigator.com for details.

FCC Golf Society members pose proudly in their “bad pants”: from left - Andrew Eden, Chris Simpson, overall “bad pants” winner Mike Tinworth and Norm Janelle.

THE CORRESPONDENT

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Club News

Club News

Asia News Network forum

The pressures and challenges that newspapers face from the Internet were the focus of the annual Asia News Network’s Asian-European Editors’ Forum. This year the Forum, held in Seoul in October, was titled “The Way out of the Crisis” and about 40 journalists, including the FCC’s Francis Moriarty, Douglas Wong and Hugo Restall, attended. News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch, Associated Press head Tom Curley and Reuters EditorIn-Chief David Schlesinger made the headlines in the same week as the Forum with their attacks on ``content kleptomaniacs’’ at the ``World Media Summit’’ in Beijing, but the mood of the editors in Seoul was not entirely downbeat. Paul-Josef Raue, the Editor of the Braunschweiger Zeitung, a regional newspaper with a 200,000 circulation, declared that professional journalists have nothing to learn from bloggers and citizen journalists except shedding

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THE CORRESPONDENT

their arrogance and preference for the corridors of power. ``Those who sit in the front row don’t understand what is said in the back, they don’t hear the whispers,’’ he said. By engaging with readers, arranging for them to interview newsmakers for example, his newspaper has maintained credibility in the community and kept circulation. Choi Nam-hyun, Editor-InChief of the Korea Herald said that to help Korean newspapers, the law was changed in July to allow them to apply for broadcasting licences, with other measures such as tax credits for newspaper subscriptions being considered. Public support, deeppocketed philanthropists, the Kindle and News Corp.’s planned online payment approach, were among the hoped-for cures to the industry’s woes of participants, but no one disagreed that change was necessary. DPA’s Foreign Editor Heinz-

Youngblood is back at the piano in Bert’s

Rudolf Othmerding told us how the German press agency has spent months finding out what it can avoid writing, such as weather forecasts, that others do better. The focus has to be on what we do best, he said. And Felix Soh of Singapore Press Holdings, which publishes 14 newspapers in the press freedom-unfriendly city state, said newspaper companies have to recognize the dominance of digital delivery and reinvent themselves. ``Quit if you can’t change,’’ he concluded. The annual Asia News Network Forum is organized and sponsored by Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Foundation’s Asian media development programme. The Konrad Adenauer Foundation (Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung or KAS) is a research foundation associated with the German Christian Democratic Union political party. By Doug Wong

If the pain had been on the other side of his chest FCC member and Musical Director Allen Youngblood would have assumed he was having a heart attack. In fact what he had was a problem called Spontaneous Pneumothorax leading to a collapsed lung, for which he was rushed by ambulance to the Ruttonjee Hospital. After a few days under observation the doctors didn’t think he was recovering fast enough and decided to send him to the Queen Mary hospital for surgery. To Allen’s and everybody else’s great relief, the operation was successful, and after almost a month out of circulation he was back at his piano in Bert’s and playing as if he’d never been away. He is still recovering, however, and currently forbidden to fly, which means missing some planned overseas engagements. There is nothing like a few

Image by Terry Duckham, Asiapix

|nights listening to your fellow patients in a pulmonary ward to put you off smoking, and Allen says he hasn’t had a cigarette since he was admitted and does not intend to smoke again. He was, however, greatly

touched by the number of FCC staff, members and Board members who visited him. “Gilbert and Alex were the first people I saw when I came round from the operation and a lot of people visited me or called,” Allen recalls “I’ve been the Club’s Musical Director for a long time, but I’ve also been a member for almost the same amount of time, which is easy to forget, but that made me really feel like a member, which was nice.” This being Hong Kong, visitors arrived bearing food – the club sent a large basket – and Allen recalls having enough “to start a convenience store”. He was in for three and a half weeks though, and most of it got eaten. He also had plenty of opportunity to catch up on his reading, and devoured books. Well on the road to recovery he is enjoying being back in the Club, having an occasional glass of red wine, and reminding his baby daughter what he looks like.

Red Lips Return:

The FCC’s famed and perhaps feared all-women Red Lips Brigade had a reunion lunch on Saturday 14th November in honour of visiting Red Lip, Margaret Sullivan, who was in town from Sydney. Attending were (back row from left): Wendy Richardson, Fed Geldart, Wendy McTavish, Kate Kelly, Laurie Dillon, Bonnie Angus and (front row, from left): Marilyn Hood, Margaret Sullivan and Mary Connell. Image by Bob Davis

THE CORRESPONDENT

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Feature

Feature

Waving or drowning?

Is photo-journalism really dead? The FCC has always had impeccable photographic credentials and so The Correspondent asked five photographers close to the Club what their future may bring

By our five photographers (from left): Robin Moyer, Kees Metselaar, Richard Jones, Graham Uden and Dominic Nahr.

I

s photo-journalism dead? This was the simple question The Correspondent asked five photographers who have close connections with the FCC. Four are Club members while one, the brilliant young war photographer Dominic Nahr, the son of long-time member Walter Nahr, who was recently back in town to show his work from global trouble spots – that include Gaza, Timor and the Congo – on the FCC’s Wall Exhibition space. The five are different in age, experience and speciality and the commonality in the group is that all have worked or did work at some point in their careers as photo-journalists. American Robin Moyer has been a professional photographer for nearly 40 years and was a contract photographer for Time Magazine for 16 years in Asia, Middle East and USA. Now, he is also a publisher of coffee table books while also spending much of his time on assignment for corporate clients. Kees Metselaar, originally from Holland, has lived and worked as a freelance reportage photographer in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand for more than 20 years. He now also teaches photojournalism at Hong Kong University. Graham Uden, originally from England, was initially a graphic designer who turned to photography 15 years ago. He has covered wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but, as he readily admits, does 95% corporate work these days. Welshman Richard Jones has, for more than 15 years, made his living as a freelance photo-journalist in and around China and his work is regularly seen in the world’s leading newspapers and magazines. 8

THE CORRESPONDENT

Last but not least is young Swiss photographer Dominic Nahr who was raised in Hong Kong and had his first photographic assignments, albeit fleetingly, with the South China Morning Post (to read and see more of Dominic’s work, see page 14). The FCC has had a long and fine association with great photo-journalists – a line that reaches back before the 1960s and Larry Burrows and Hugh van Es and now this stretches into the future with the work of Dominic Nahr and hopefully, many more like him. Nahr is supremely optimistic about the future but this confidence is not shared by all in the group. The concerns are familiar: times, the media and technology have changed. And money remains very tight. However, Nahr’s youthful enthusiasm is infectious. To hear him talk about why he does what he does and how he makes it work – and of course to see his work – is nothing but uplifting. It is also good to hear Nahr so quick to recognise the importance that his father’s FCC photographer friends had on his early career, especially from the typically frank Hugh van Es. “Hugh gave me a nice push and some F this and F that advice and boom, I was in the world of photo-journalism. Lucky for me he knew what he was talking about and I am grateful for his intuition and stubbornness, giving me a future I could have never even foreseen. Once I saw what there was in terms of historical images from Hugh van Es and Larry Burrows and so many others, I felt they knew something that I didn’t and I wanted to find it for myself.” Photo-journalism, like the world that it sets out to document, has changed immeasurably in the last decade. But dead? That’s a different thing entirely.

A worker takes a break from pulling iron from within crushed cassiterite in the Congo, 2009 By Dominic Nahr, pictured below, on assignment in the Congo.

Dominic Nahr Photo-journalism is not at all dead, it is just in a transitional phase, which is actually very exciting. Photographers who wanted more out of the still image have moved to making videos, while I think other photographers want to really push the single frame to something with more substance and intelligence than your average news photograph. I love watching video documentaries but for me it was always about the single frame, that one shot that will stay with you for life. The problem right now is that the work is not getting out, which is why it may seem that the actual reportage photography is dying. But as I said, I think

it is just progress. Do we ask if journalism is dead? That would be unthinkable. What are becoming more and more scarce are the publications that run work done by photo-journalists. The new generation of photographer, which I proudly am a part of, grew up in the recession of print, and thus doesn’t know any better. For us this is how it has always been. Because of this shift from the old way of doing to the unknown, we are seeing a lot more creative work done by photo-journalists, which is very exciting. For the time being however, most of this work is not being seen by the public and this is leaving a lot of photographers broke. That’s where the problem lies: how do we bring the stories to the public, because I know they want to know. I see it when I speak and show my photographs. We have the public who is itching to find out more about the world, you have a generation of young creative news photographers, but there is no link between – that link is currently dead. I think there is enough money, not a lot, but it can be done. You have to be one of the best. And by the best, I do not just mean being a shooter, but a photographer who pitches stories to magazines, a photographer who moves close to the source of many assignments, has strong relations with editors and staff journalists, good contacts in the regions being covered and so on. The trick is to be fully integrated in stories and the news and that takes a lot of time and effort.

THE CORRESPONDENT

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Feature

A monkey entertains migrant workers in Guangzhou, southern China

A boy uses a donkey to bring water to Northern Alliance troops in Afghanistan in 2001

By Richard Jones, pictured below after Grace Mugabe punched him whilst on assignment for the UK Sunday Times.

By Graham Uden, pictured below on assignment with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan.

Richard Jones Is photo-journalism dead? Probably not but certainly the goalposts have changed. Nowadays, so many people have sophisticated cameras that can take competent photographs that can be uploaded onto all sorts of websites. So the market is swamped. Yes, you can still earn well with the right story but there is nowhere near as much money as there was. Ten years ago, you could make US$10,000 or more with a good news story. That’s still possible but it is much tougher. But it never was easy. When I started, in the early 1990s, it was very tough to break in, you had to really work hard. But then there were

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THE CORRESPONDENT

a lot of newspapers and magazines buying from freelancers. Now, nearly all have gone. There were a lot of freelancers too, in Hong Kong, surviving from just reportage. Now there is almost nobody left. I still make 90% of my income through editorial work but most of the others have turned to corporate work, to publishing or to giving photography classes. Yes, of course I also do corporate work. I just did some for a hedge fund in HK and an engineering firm. Both worked well – the money is good and you get a level of artistic freedom, so I can’t complain. But I could never do cocktail party events. I would rather go and make pizzas than do that. There’s a whole convergence going on with video, photography, journalism and documentary. The industry has changed and so I have to as well. Maybe that is the answer – in the future there will be just journalists who shoot, take video and write. But a team – a journo and photographer – will always work so much better. You get a much stronger overall story, not just better pictures. One of the few that still publishes real reportage stories is the SCMP’s Post Magazine. They don’t pay much but they will publish hard China stories, which means my work can be entered for awards and this means exposure. It’s crucial to have that channel. Documentary interests me a lot. That seems a natural progression. And I’ve started writing more too. If journos are now carrying cameras what’s to stop me writing stories?

Graham Uden Reportage is really interesting. It is without a doubt the most enjoyable part of photography. You have to live on your wits, it’s challenging and it’s real. But you just can’t make a living from it. Magazines have kept the fees low – the rates have not really gone up in 15 years – and there is an endless pool of rookies eager to make a name for themselves and the publishers know this. It’s one of the main reasons why the industry is in a bad state. The market has shrunk so much, the rates will not now go back up and there’s also this “citizen journalist” idea with people like CNN asking viewers

to send in their stuff. They are happy to run it but they will not pay for it. At the WTO event in Hong Kong, I found it really hard to get shots because there were so many members of the public standing in front of me holding up camera phones. A few years’ back, there were a lot of magazines that carried real, hard-hitting, four-to-six page feature stories that would be 2,300 words long with lots of images. Now it’s a 400-word story and one picture. Has attention span really shrunk? Do people really not want to read real stories any more? If you do corporate work, you get well paid, you stay in the best hotels, you fly business class and you get paid 50% up front. But with editorial, they don’t pay much, they pay late and you don’t really get treated with respect. More and more rights have been taken away from the photographer while more is expected of you. What would I say to someone starting out in the industry? Go for it and enjoy it, while you can. When you’re young, it doesn’t really matter as money is not such an issue but if you want to do certain things in life, like buying a house and bringing up children, you won’t get that working as a reportage photographer. Yes I still do the work because I enjoy it but it’s becoming less and less. Ten years ago, my work was maybe 50/50 editorial/corporate. Now it’s 95/5 and these days I do it for pocket money, for fun, if the story interests me. Sometimes the fees are so low it is not even worth billing.

THE CORRESPONDENT

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Feature

Soldiers look pensive on the Manila streets during the Philippines’ 1986 “People Power Revolution”

An Islamic school in Logar Province, Afghanistan, in 1984

By Kees Metselaar, pictured below in Sudan.

By Robin Moyer, pictured below with an orangutan on his back.

Kees Metselaar It’s not dead but it has gone through a massive change. Many say this is because of digital camera but this is not really true. It is the internet that has changed the business completely. When I started in the 1980s, it was all about having a relationship with a photo editor and personal contact was all important. When I used to go into my old photo agency in Holland there were couriers, noise, phones ringing all the time and the place was busy with photographers hanging around waiting for their next assignment. Now, if I pop in to say hi when I am back in Holland there is silence. It’s

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people sitting at desks and on the internet. They are actually very pleased to see me because nobody goes there any more. At its fastest, it was an “overnight” process but that of course is not true any more. Now, things happen almost immediately and it is all done in the public domain. Anyone, as long as they have a computer and an internet connection, can search millions of images any place, any time, anywhere. Yes, it’s a very useful sales platform – at least 80% of my sales now come through the internet – but it has, of course, had a big effect on prices, especially as it has combined with the decline of traditional print media. Recently I was asked by a publication to do a story in Thailand on five years after the tsunami. They said the pay was US$100. I thought they were talking per picture which was low but okay. But they meant the whole job. It is of course just not sustainable to live on that sort of fee. There are few clients who are still commissioning large projects. NGOs are one – for reports or campaigns – but it has to fit in some way with their image, so in some ways it becomes like PR. It’s not really reportage any more. Now, when I am teaching at HKU, we teach a little bit of everything because that is what you need. It’s not one thing or the other. It is easy to forget what it was once like. Once, writing really was for the elite and to be a photographer was very specialised. Nowadays this has changed. It is open to so many more people and that is not such a bad thing.

Robin Moyer Photo-journalism is absolutely not dead. It is alive and very well. This not a debate about magazine closures. That’s something different. This is about the persistence of photographers who are driven to tell a story through pictures. If you have that, which I firmly believe we do, the means of communications will take care of themselves. Photography will always be used to commemorate and there will always be books but today the channel that really matters is new media. It’s liberated a lot of people. People who couldn’t deal with chemicals and all that, they can now succeed with photography.

You only have to look at the hundreds of truly excellent photo blogs out there – take the New York Times for example – to see that there are plenty of people with pictures to take and stories to tell. What has not changed, since the earliest days, is the need to really work hard and the need to produce regularly. You have to produce to succeed. If the guys are clever, they will always find a way to work. The idea that you have to take on corporate work to supplement your income is not new. I did it... we all did it. I was a freelancer all my life – from when I started out, working as a soundman for Marvin Farkas in Cambodia in the 1970s all the way through to when I worked for Time Magazine. The reason we get chosen is because we are reliable. I never missed a deadline and I never missed an airplane. Also, it’s important to note that some of the very best photographers from the past had alternative incomes. Henri CartierBresson, at the start of it all, was independently wealthy. Marc Riboud, in the ‘50s, was independently wealthy. Jill Friedman, in the ‘70s, the same. Of course there are exceptions – the London war photographer Don McCullin was successful and not middle class but it certainly helps if you have money. We have had a lot of change quickly. The web has been around for 15 years or less but just think how much it has changed already. I don’t know what will happen with print but the web is the future and actually I feel more confident about the future of photo-journalism now than I did 30 years ago.

THE CORRESPONDENT

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The Wall

Dominic Nahr: The Road to Nowhere, Photographs of the war in the Congo

In November, the twenty-six-year-old locally-raised photographer, Dominic Nahr, came to the FCC to show his powerful collection of images from the war in the Congo and across eastern Africa. His work is unforgettable “At first you feel like a scavenger because you are hanging over these bodies, but you have to document it. This had to be remembered. Laws were broken... I’d love to work on different narratives, to get to the subtlety beyond just refugees and the war. Many stories stereotype Africa, but there are so many stories there.” - Dominic Nahr after seeing a massacre of innocent civilians in the Congo. Close, dangerously close; in fact, the photographer is so close that he – nearly – is a (uninvolved) participant within the mad, desperate, uncompromising scenes in which he works. Nahr is amongst despairing women, shell-shooting tanks and mortar-armed soldiers; and, in his “quieter” photographs of the aftermath of these incidents, the documentary images are so recent, so at-the-time, that the viewer knows that the photographer has lingered a moment after witnessing the event or is a mere footstep behind the perpetrators of these mess-laden tableaux of unquiet violence. 14

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Dominic Nahr has photographed the sad uneconomic remnants of post-industrial Detroit, USA; the brutal first days of the new nation of East Timor; family conflict in Gaza; secular and Islamic politics in Egypt and refugees on the Somalia-Kenya border. This award-winning photograph essay of the current on-going war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) captures a distant war largely unreported by the mass media, but with over 5 million dead the most deadly conflict since World War II. Dominic currently lives in Nairobi, Kenya, and recently received the prestigious Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award for The Road to Nowhere. Born in Switzerland and raised in Hong Kong, Dominic started his career as a staff photographer for the South China Morning Post. www. dominicnahr.com

Above: A young girl who stayed with her family in her home town stands next to a Congolese military Soviet-made T55 tank. Below: Refugees gather for food distribution while intense fighting continues between the rebels and the Congolese military.


Above: Some of the 25 000 people who arrived at the improvised Internally Displaced People camp in Kibati after walking more then a day without food or water to ee fresh ďŹ ghting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo as Tutsi rebels advanced towards the regional capital Goma.


The Wall

1972: Man and Rickshaws, the Macau Ferry Pier Sheung Wan.

Hong Kong in 1970s by Bob Davis

December’s poignant FCC Wall Exhibition, by photographer Bob Davis, shows a now vanished Hong Kong, as the city starts to undergo one of the most rapid urban transformations seen in modern times Photographers thrive on happenstance. Bob Davis was based in London when he first visited Hong Kong in 1970, and had never even seen a postcard of the place. When he got here, he was awestruck. He came for Christmas and took nine months to leave. After that, throughout years of constant travel before settling in Hong Kong in 1978, he returned frequently, and every time he did he took pictures. The Hong Kong he shot was being torn down before his lens, and a new one built up to replace it, but consciousness of that dawned at a relatively late stage. At the time he simply captured images of what he saw around him, as he did wherever he went, and over time his Hong Kong pictures collectively became a peerless visual record of a city undergoing one of the most rapid and dramatic transformations of modern times. These are images of a vanished world – vanished buildings, vanished trades, vanished ways of life. This is Hong Kong with a British garrison, four Union Jacks flying from the old Hong Kong Club, rickshaw pullers who really were part of the public transport system, and a cricket pitch in the middle of Central. But Davis also captured the Hong Kong of the future, looming over the soon-to-be-demolished landmarks 18

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of the past. Here, under construction, we have Jardine House – or the Connaught Centre which was the official name for the building at the time, although not the one by which it was irreverently and widely known – Central’s first “skyscraper”, already a visible threat to buildings like the 1911 Post Office across the road. It all comes round again. Jardine House already looks antiquated and not nearly tall enough compared to Two IFC. There are images, though, that could almost have been shot yesterday - if not in those exact places. Hawkers, junks and street markets look much the same in the first decade of the 21st century as they did in the 1970s. Today Davis continues to shoot Hong Kong, and to revisit sites now all but unrecognisable as those he saw with a fresh eye 40 years ago. Many of the locations pictured here have been captured again, from the same angle, and published as “then and now” diptychs. This exhibition, though, is concerned solely with the past, and brings it vividly to life. 1973 (Facing Page): Connaught Road Central and the foundations of Jardine House, from the Macau Ferry Pier.


The Wall

The Wall

1973: View from a MacDonnell Road apartment into Central.

1972: Hong Kong Cricket Club (now Chater Garden) and the old Bank of China and HSBC buildings.

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1972: A boy guides a blind man through Mid Levels.

1975: The Hong Kong Club ready for a royal visit.

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In Review

Extract

Book Review: Diamond Hill by Feng Chi-shun Longtime Club member Feng Chi-shun – or simply “Chi” to his many FCC friends – has written a superbly honest and very readable account of his childhood in impoverished 1950s Kowloon, writes Stephanie Han Yoo

F

eng Chi-shun’s “Diamond Hill: Memories of growing up in a Hong Kong squatter village” (Blacksmith Books; 195 pages) is an excellent and fast read for those who want an honest depiction of life for a majority of Hong Kong denizens in the 1950-60s. With the constant barrage of hyperbole surrounding Hong Kong as Asia’s world city, it is easy to forget or ignore the sacrifice and struggles of the immigrants and residents that have allowed this city to prosper and take its place as an international destination. As Feng points out, it was not and is not the fat cats and movie stars, or the glimmering skyscrapers that make this city, but the sweat and struggle of the impoverished and the ordinary working people who toil long hours for low wages and who dream the big dream of the next opportunity. The Diamond Hill of Feng’s day was a ghetto, “one of the poorest and most backward of villages in Hong Kong, when Hong Kong was poor and backward”. Feng, the mischievous son of a schoolteacher, was born in Hankow. His family was “middle class in a poor neighborhood”.Their small two-bedroom bungalow housed a family of six plus loyal helper (whose grandchildren also lived there periodically). Feng was a daydreamer with no interest in scholarly pursuits 22

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until the appearance of a snugfitting cheongsam clad beauty of a schoolteacher, his beloved Miss Yau. “What a difference a pretty teacher made,” says Feng, and indeed, during his 5th year of school at Tsung Tsin, he ascended from the bottom to the top of his class. From that point on, he was “addicted to academic success and the prestige that came with it”. Much to the reader’s relief, Feng does not ramble on about the necessity of perseverance or study, but instead recounts the episodes of a colourful village childhood. He loved fighting insects, making weapons from his father’s cast-off razors, swiping fishballs from the stand, and kiteflying. “Even today, when I see a kite up in the sky, my heart skips a beat. I liked the colour and design on kites, and nothing could make my day like a brightly coloured kite up in the air against a clear blue sky, and the sun so bright, it traced the white thread, all the way up from the reel to the kite a thousand feet more in the sky.” Feng attended the prestigious La Salle College, the top secondary Catholic school in Kowloon. In terms of the elite Kowloon boys’ schools, “the general opinion was that La Salle boys were thuggish, Wah Yan boys gentlemanly, and Diocesan boys debonair. That sort of explained why so many La Salle boys came from Diamond Hill.” Feng was not a thug, but enjoyed

adventure and got into plenty of scrapes. He played basketball, football, longed to be in a band, if only to meet girls, and continued to run around Diamond Hill and its environs. His adolescence was punctuated by espisodes of gambling, beer drinking – “a big bottle of beer on a hot day was like heaven on earth”– snooker and billiards halls, and illicit trips to the Walled City where he witnessed heroin addiction and sex shows. In 1966, at the age of 19, Feng left Diamond Hill for the University of Hong Kong. The book’s chapters are arranged according to subject matter, as opposed to strict chronology – with headings such as gambling, thugs and gangsters, and fires. The book is a personal memoir, but also introduces the Hong Kong’s 1950-60s working class culture to outsiders. The prose is straightforward and without the ornamentation and tropes of a other literary works, yet holds its own due to the strong content and the writer’s voice. For the purposes of narrative structure, memoirs often collapse multiple characters and edit current ideas of the author. In this way, Diamond Hill may have benefited from some editing, but this does not detract from the overall quality of the work due to the strength of the tale. The book finishes only to leave the reader wanting more – it’s a good read.

Chapter One: The Neighbors and the Neighborhood

“Diamond Hill was one of the poorest and most backward of villages at a time when Hong Kong was poor and backward. We moved there in ‘56 when I was almost 10. I left when I was 19. It’s a time I cherish.”

Author Feng Chi-shun book-signing after he spoke about his work at an FCC speaker-dinner in October.

Nobody knew why it was called Diamond Hill. There were certainly no diamond mines, nor diamonds on anyone’s fingers. “Diamond” in Chinese can also mean excavation of stones or slate. It felt like a sick joke on the thousands of people there struggling to survive in poverty. Diamond Hill proper was not that big, but its boundaries were not well-defined, so one could keep walking in any direction for hours and could still find village life. My roaming grounds included Diamond Hill proper and numerous small nearby villages, namely,

Sheung Yuen Ling towards the north, Ha Yuen Ling towards the south, Tai Hom Village and Chuk Yuen towards the west, Ngau Chi Wan towards the east, and Tai Koon Yuen towards the northwest. And the surrounding country parks had interesting flora and fauna, hills with narrow trails and streams with water clean enough to drink. The whole area was considered Diamond Hill – a narrow cement thoroughfare which barely allowed one-way traffic for small trucks. There was a bus stop at the entrance to this main road. On the right side was a bicycle rental shop. I wrecked one of the rental bikes when I first moved there, and hadn’t had the guts to face the owner until a couple of years later, when I had a growth spurt and became taller than he was. The first store on the left was a shoe shop. They specialized in hand-made leather dress shoes for men. Not surprisingly, their patrons were mostly from outside the area. Those shoes were not meant for the dusty roads of Diamond Hill. Not far away on the same side of the shoe store was the famous Wing Lai Yuen Sichuan restaurant with its renowned dan dan noodles, the cheapest item on the menu, but still the main draw for people from all over Hong Kong. Legend had it the restaurant didn’t cater for take-outs, except for one person alone – Sir Run Run Shaw, who sometimes bestowed the honor of his presence on us in his chauffeured Rolls-Royce on his way to his Clearwater Bay film studio. The rest of the road was lined with shops of all kinds and packed with hawkers of all trades. There was a Chinese medical practitioner who used to be a barber but hung up his scissors after he claimed to have discovered an ancestral medicine book. He had snakes and baby mice in Chinese wine on exhibit in his shop window. A stationery store was close by. A boy my age looked after the store sometimes. We used to collude on deals in which he sold me stationery with minor defects cheaply so I could pocket the money saved. All the shops were small and single-story. Narrow lanes separating them led to clusters of bungalows and

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Extract

Extract

THE HAWKERS GUARDED THEIR TERRITORIES WITH THEIR LIVES. IF A NEW HAWKER TRIED TO OCCUPY AN EARMARKED SPOT, ALL HELL WOULD BREAK LOOSE, AND THERE WOULD BE BLOOD shacks, vegetable fields, and small factories producing handmade goods such as straw hats, cooking utensils, batteries and Buddhist religious paraphernalia. Further up was the wet market, occupying the whole road. When a car drove through, all the hawkers would pick up their merchandise and scoot to the side to let the car by. Then all would fall back into their original spots when the car passed. The hawkers guarded their territories with their lives. If a new hawker tried to occupy an earmarked spot, all hell would break loose, and there would be blood. In the middle of the wet market, the road forked. Bearing left the road led to the Tai Koon Yuen area via a dead-end street called Tai Koon Road with a Baptist church in a wooded area at the very end. Bearing right was a mud road that led to a square. At one corner of the square was a small footpath that turned downhill through vegetable fields and small huts and was an alternative and longer way to the bus stop. Turning further uphill would be the continuation of the Diamond Hill Road. This road ended when it reached a bridge which led to the Chi Lin nunnery and the Sheung Yuen Ling area where there were rows of upscale apartment blocks, three or four stories high. The one-way road then turned downhill and connected to Hammer Hill Road exiting in the Ngau Chi Wan bus terminal. Underneath the bridge was a wide stream lined with boulders of various sizes and shapes, but all with smooth surfaces. Households nearby did laundry and washed dishes in the stream, hence the water was not always pristine. But upstream the water was so clear you could count the number of pebbles at the bottom. The shortcut to reach the upstream area was to jump from one boulder to another for half a mile or so uphill, and only the young could manage such a feat. The stream narrowed quite a bit upstream and the boulders were smaller. At one spot, there was a waterfall and the water was deep. That became the swimming pool for boys from all over the area. We lived in a two-bedroom bungalow half-way up the section of Diamond Hill Road past the square. It took about twenty minutes to walk home from the bus stop – an inconvenience by today’s standards, but we didn’t have a choice. There were many who had to walk further and longer. It turned out to be a

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blessing in disguise. My father lived to be over ninety even though I had never seen him do any other exercise than this mandatory daily walk. My father paid for quite a bit of renovations on the house: a Western toilet, a front yard covered by cement, and sides cleared of bushes and dead trees. There was a small back yard which we used as a chicken farm. We reared chickens for their eggs, but they were more trouble than they were worth. Apart from the constant stream of chicken droppings and the smell, the chickens were also susceptible to “chicken plague,” which would be today’s bird flu. We were soon down to just one chicken, a hardy one which had survived numerous bouts that had killed all her contemporaries. She continued to give us one egg a day for years and years, until she died of old age. We even had a well in the back, which supplied us with all the water we needed. We fetched the water with a bucket tied to a rope which we tugged while standing astride over the well. After a heavy rainfall, the well would be filled with muddy water almost to the top, and we could scoop water up by bending over and reaching down with an outstretched arm. The house was small for seven people, the original five plus our new mom and an amah. There was a partition in the kitchen big enough for a small bed for the amah, who stuffed all her earthly possessions under the bed. And I had to make my bed nightly in the living room. There was only one bathroom for all of us to share, and for showers, we used a bucket and a scoop. In winter, we had to wait for boiled water before a shower. All that would seem like unbelievable hardship for people who take modern conveniences for granted, but it was actually an improvement on our accommodation in Sham Shui Po. There was always some kind of odor. Not far from the house was a wine distillery. The sweet smell of rice wine hung in the air all year round. In the back and to one side was a vegetable field. In late afternoon the farmer irrigated the field with sewage from our septic tank. Luckily, unlike the aroma of wine, the sewage smell didn’t linger long enough to ruin our dinner. We regularly bought the vegetables harvested by the farmer and sold by his hawker wife in the wet market. Recycling is not a new concept. On summer nights, it was the scent of anti-mosquito incense burning

and the mixture of odors from fauna and flora of the countryside after a hot day. My family was far from well-to-do, but not in the indigent category. We were “middle-class” in a poor neighborhood. There were many wealthier families living in bigger and better flats or village houses, including some British and Portuguese families. Our next-door neighbor had the biggest and nicest house on the block, with a large landscaped garden and a tall metal front gate. The patriarch of the family was a hoity-toity intellectual. He had two sons, one we nicknamed Chubby because he was slightly overweight, and the other Skinny because he was not. They were a bit stuck up like the father. Even at that young age, they already had their career paths mapped out, and told us one of them would become a doctor, the other a lawyer. I was caught gambling in the street by the father, and he told his two sons not to go near me, ever. I didn’t blame the father for the ban because I wasn’t exactly a model youth. For example, I picked up the smoking habit in my mid-teens. Smoking was widespread and permissible anywhere anytime, including on buses. By then, I was already taller than the average Hong Kong person by a couple of inches, and when I smoked standing up, other people could see what I was doing from the other end of the bus. Who but the father of Skinny and Chubby spotted my transgression and before I reached the stretch of mud path leading back home, my father had already had from him a full account of my misconduct on the bus, plus, I was sure, a recount of my past conduct unbecoming of a school boy. There was no use lying about it, because as luck would have it, just as I was stepping inside the house, I inadvertently dropped the packet of cigarettes from my coat pocket in front of the whole family. Lucky for me, this happened a few days after the final school examination, in which I performed exceptionally well that year. All was forgiven. Across the street from us was a row of small two-story shophouses (downstairs a shop, upstairs a residence). At the corner house upstairs lived an older man we nicknamed “the Coughing Man”, because he woke up early every morning and spent an hour or so coughing and producing enough phlegm to fill a beer jug. Downstairs was a grocery store owned by a mild-

mannered man who never hit me or any other kids when we shoplifted. Next to the Coughing Man lived a widow and her son, Ah Siu. He pretty much kept to himself. His late father had worked for the Hong Kong Cable & Wireless Company (the predecessor of Hong Kong Telephone Company and PCCW) for years before his death and he might have died while on duty. The company bosses promised the mother that as soon as her son could attain a passing grade in English in the Secondary School Certificate, he would be guaranteed a job. Years later, I went to Cable & Wireless’s main office in Tsim Sha Tsui to send a telegraph to the USA, and lo and behold, Ah Siu was behind the counter to attend to my needs. Another shophouse further down was the home of a drunk, who would send his boy to buy him twenty cents worth of double-distilled rice wine and five cents worth of peanuts just about every evening. When he got drunk, he would prattle on and on until late at night. Further down the road, there were a few more bungalows. My father’s friend Mrs. Chan lived in one of them. Her husband lived in Taiwan and had a prestigious job as a judge. She moved to live in Hong Kong with her two sons and a daughter, so that the two sons could dodge mandatory military service after reaching the age of majority. She brought along a daughter, the least attractive of her three, to serve as a maid to the two boys. We knew all this because she came over to our house often and entertained my father with gossip involving the whole neighborhood and their circle of friends. Apart from the main road, all access roads in Diamond Hill were narrow lanes or paths crisscrossing all over the place. Houses were built in a random fashion, and were of two types: legal ones built of bricks and mortar, and illegal shanty huts built in whatever space was left. Because I was forbidden to play with the boys next door, I ventured into the next lane down the road. A boy named Tai Lin was the closest. His father died of tuberculosis when he was eight or nine and his mother, suffering from the disease as well, was unfit to work. They begged from relatives and friends to survive. His mother would bring him along for the begging expeditions. He had occasional meals at a relative’s

EVEN THOUGH I WAS NOT AWARE OF IT THEN, THERE WAS LITTLE COMMUNITY SPIRIT. IT WAS... TO MOST A TEMPORARY HOME, A STEPPING STONE UNTIL SOMETHING BETTER CAME ALONG

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Extract

Extract

AH BOK’S BUILDING WAS FULL OF SUCH “SINGLE” WOMEN. THEY DIDN’T WORK. A FEW TIMES A YEAR, EACH WOMAN WOULD GET ALL DOLLED UP FOR A MALE VISITOR, WHO WOULD STAY FOR THE NIGHT AND HAD HIS OWN SLIPPERS AND PAJAMAS READY FOR HIM home, where he would be hit on the knuckles with chopsticks by the older sons of the family for going after food without prior permission. He was made to go through numerous humiliations at a young age, such as kneeling in front of people, often to no avail. He ended up being a nervous wreck of a young man with little self esteem. But I admire him for his fortitude; he was never broken. He survived, with a vengeance, in spite of being everyone’s punching bag. He was devoted to his two younger brothers, and had often made sacrifices for them. For example, even though he could have strived for better for himself after secondary school, given that he was college material, he took up a training post at one of the education colleges because they paid a better salary than most other jobs. He needed the extra money to support the two brothers. He sent them to the US for higher education, and subsequently, one became a doctor, the other a successful businessman. But life wasn’t so rosy for him. His home was a tin shack shared with an old couple. The front door was so flimsy it could be kicked open by a child. There was no privacy to speak of: people walked in and out while they were changing clothes. His mother was a loud-mouthed ill-tempered bitter woman whose idea of motherhood was to constantly criticize her children. Tai Lin put up with all that without a fight, and his escape was to grab one of his favorite books and read it aloud, especially during mother’s long-winded tirades about his inadequacies. I went to his house often just to hang out. But if I heard Tai Lin reading aloud inside when I approached the hut, I would avoid the place like the plague. In the nearby brick house, there was another fatherless boy named Ah Bok. He spoke Cantonese with a Fujian accent, and that immediately got him branded as retarded. I liked him because he was a friendly and kind boy who had a perpetual smile, and he laughed loudly at my lame jokes. He was so even-tempered no one could get a rise out of him, except a boy called Umbrella, so named because his real name was similar to an umbrella company. For a while, Umbrella made Ah Bok’s life miserable by constant bullying and harassing. Instead of fighting back, which would be futile because Ah Bok was half

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his tormentor’s size, he asked his mother to befriend Umbrella’s mother, and the two families had meals together a few times. The rule was that if the parents were friends, the children were as well. Umbrella had no choice but to stop bothering Ah Bok. Umbrella was one of the few boys around with both parents, but that did not render him well adjusted. He was restless and reckless, making him both exciting and dangerous to be with. He led me astray many times, by committing the usual teenage pranks and petty crimes. He went to school at La Salle College, and attained his biggest claim to fame during that water rationing period in 1963. It was serious rationing, something like four hours of water supply every fourth day, and it was so tight housewives stopped buying food items that required water to prepare and cook, such as vegetables. People would book trips to Macau to have showers there. Umbrella had the balls to sneak into the formidable headmaster’s private quarters in La Salle to take a bath, using the headmaster’s clean towels to dry off afterwards. He was caught, but became a legend. Further down the lane was a boy named Ah Noun, which means “girly” in the Chiu Chow dialect. A lot of Chiu Chow families named their sons Ah Noun because they believed girls were hardier, and would have a better chance of surviving childhood diseases. Ah Noun was no girly; he was the village bully. Although fatherless, Ah Noun had numerous Chiu Chow “uncles” visiting him regularly. We could always tell there had been such a visit because Ag Noun would don a slick haircut, have some money in his pocket, and walk around with an attitude and a swagger. Years later, Tai Lin told me that he had to pay Ah Noun fifty cents a week for protection while living in Diamond Hill. Ah Noun became a policeman later in life. There was a small movie studio at the end of the lane. The owner’s son was quite a bit older than we were and we thought he was the coolest dude on the planet. He never said much but always had a cigarette dangling from the side of his mouth. He was always unshaven, disheveled and his eyes were always halfclosed. Rumors had it he never slept because of the numerous work orders for film editing which frequently

required him to pull an all-nighter. Once in a while, he would dump some discarded films at our feet, and told us how difficult his job was. We used the films to make wallets and other useless artifacts. Or we set them on fire for fun because they were inflammable. The cool movie guy had a thing going with that woman who occupied a room next to Ah Bok’s. He was her frequent visitor when her “husband” wasn’t around. She had her window curtain drawn all year round, and Ah Bok claimed to hear moans coming from her room lasting for hours whenever she was visited by Mr. Cool. Ah Bok’s building was full of such “single” women. They didn’t work. A few times a year, each woman would get all dolled up for a male visitor, who would stay for the night and had his own slippers and pajamas ready for him. All the men seemed to have the same occupation – working on a ship, and that conveniently explained their long spells of absence. That was just the first lane down the road, and there were scores of other lanes down the stretch, and I had been to most of them. Those lanes branched out into other lanes, but you could count on one or two of them leading to the next village and beyond. There were countless boys there that I got to know and play with occasionally, but Tai Lin, Ah Bok, Umbrella, and Ah Noun were the boys I ran into all the time, because they were close neighbors. Even though I was not aware of it then, there was little community spirit in Diamond Hill. It was partly Chinese pathos, and partly refugee mentality. Diamond Hill to most was a temporary home, a stepping stone until something better came along. One of our neighbors went into the garment business and as soon as he had it made, he and his family moved to Hong Kong Island, without even saying goodbye. Ah Bok’s mother inherited some money from a relative, and they moved to North Point. Even Tai Lin moved away after working as a teacher for a few years and having saved enough money for the down payment for a small flat in one of the MTR developments. Umbrella and his family migrated to the United Kingdom to start up a restaurant business, as soon as their papers were ready. Ah Noun moved away too; well, he went to jail.

My family moved to Ho Man Tin when my father got a higher-paying job with the American Consulate, without compunction. I moved away even earlier, to a hostel of Hong Kong University in my freshman year, and never looked back. I was the only boy and the lowest in the totem pole in our household. Naturally, I was the designated errand boy. I did not like the chores and the best way to avoid them was not to be around. I was seldom home. If I thought I had worn out my welcome in the company of Tai Lin or Ah Bok or Umbrella or anyone else, I would go up the hills to find a trail for a walk and a daydreaming session. In the hot summer days there were the streams along the trails, where we boys could frolic and do what boys do when there is plenty of water around. There was always some kind of action in the square down the road, and the Chi Lin Nunnery in Sheung Yuen Ling, the Catholic church around the corner and the Baptist church up in Tai Koon Road, were all open to the public for free. There were even movie studios in Diamond Hill. Then there were games to play; and the gambling. So much to do, so little time.

Diamond Hill: Memories of growing up in a Hong Kong squatter village By Feng Chi-shun Published by Blacksmith Books ISBN 978-988-914-17742-4-8 From good bookshops and the FCC

I WAS THE ONLY BOY AND THE LOWEST IN THE TOTEM POLE IN OUR HOUSEHOLD. NATURALLY, I WAS THE DESIGNATED ERRAND BOY. I DID NOT LIKE THE CHORES AND THE BEST WAY TO AVOID THEM WAS NOT TO BE AROUND

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Travel

Don’t try this at home

North Korea’s Mass Games, with its multitude of synchronised performers – all marching, jumping and writhing to the exact same Marxist beat – might be weird but it is amazing. But how is it done? Gary Jones finds out

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hen Zhang Yimou, director of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, needed inspiration for what proved to be an awe-inspiring spectacle, the veteran Chinese filmmaker plundered China’s history, its cultural and technological achievements, even his homeland’s recent forays into space. To realise the vastness of his Olympian vision, however (and without Chinese armies amassed via CGI, but with 15,000 flesh-and-blood performers working together in real time), Zhang ventured beyond China’s borders for his muse. The director – creative force behind ravishing cinematic epics like Hero and Curse Of The Golden Flower – looked to neighbouring North Korea and its Mass Games. As well as being described as that enigmatic communist state’s overtly nationalistic ideology set to music, and reminiscent of Soviet-era displays of regimentation and might, the annual Games has also been dubbed “Cirque du Soleil on steroids”. Just over a year after Beijing’s Olympics, and communal spaces in Pyongyang, capital of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, have been commandeered by Mass Games officials, and youngsters are skipping through hula-hoops and being drilled through their paces within ordered grids. The 90-minute Mass Games draws upon the hard graft not of thousands of Chinese, but of an astonishing 100,000 Korean gymnasts, dancers, acrobats and trapeze artists, all acting together with robot-like precision. As we approach by car, Pyongyang’s impressive Rungrado May Day Stadium, the 150,000-seater home of the Games, glows an inviting and burnished gold. Senior figures in the state-operated Mass Games Organizing Committee (MGOC), after months of request, have agreed to discuss the spectacle’s creation with an outsider. The artistic brains behind North Korea’s Mass Games have never before shared their secrets with a journalist from overseas. We park under the stadium’s parachute-like canopy, where batteries of black-clad young women twirl and practise sword dancing in the shade. Inside the stadium, hundreds of red flag-waving dancers and drum majorettes mill about the pitch. All are covered head to toe, white silk scarves and pulled-low baseball caps hiding every face. With little heavy industry and relatively few motor vehicles in Pyongyang, 28

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there is little pollution. The late-summer sun can be blistering. “We are in your Guinness World Records, you know,” bespectacled Games Choreographer Kim Mok Ryong, who leads the way up through the stands, states with pride. Clearly, Kim has no worries about the sun: the 60-year-old’s face and arms are tanned copper, and he is dressed in an open-collared, short-sleeved and charcoal suit of the casual style sometimes favoured by totalitarian North Korea’s domestically revered leader Kim Jong Il. “Ours is the largest gymnastic and artistic performance in the world.” Games Director Kim Gun Ryong and MGOC officer Sin Sung Chol have also joined our small party. Both are kitted out Western style in white shirts and grey slacks. All three men sport badges, pinned over their hearts, depicting the face of Kim Jong Il’s father Kim Il Sung, founder of the DPRK, who is worshipped by North Koreans, and who was declared “Eternal President” of the nation after his death from a heart attack in 1994. Sin holds open a door and we are ushered into a large meeting room, three walls of which are lined with rows of velveteen-upholstered armchairs and rosewood tea tables. In the centre of the room, six men and women kneel and debate around a colourful pencil sketch featuring a rainbow, doves in flight and matrices of equally sized and spaced dots, each presumably symbolizing a single human being to perform in perfect mechanical lockstep with his or her compatriots. Chonji brand cigarettes – a telltale sign of status in the DPRK – are distributed by Sin, and the allotted hour begins. Director Kim, who has worked on theatrical productions in Pyongyang for 24 years, is keen to shed light on why, he believes, the Games resonates with his communist brothers and sisters. Though the first Games was held in 1961 under the rather dour title The Era Of The Workers’ Party, and its content and scale changed with the years, in 2002 the theme became Arirang, a Korean folk tale that tells of two separated young lovers and their quest to be reunited. It is something of an Asian Romeo & Juliet yarn and a tidy metaphor for the divided Korean peninsula. The theme has remained the same ever since. “It is a sad and moving story,” says the 47-yearold director. “Though every province in our country

Altogether now: Incorporating the efforts of 100,000 Korean gymnasts, dancers, acrobats, singers, soldiers, trapeze artists and taekwondo experts, North Korea’s Mass Games has been called the greatest show on earth. All images by Gary Jones


Travel

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Travel

“TO BE A FULLY DEVELOPED COMMUNIST MAN, ONE MUST ACQUIRE A REVOLUTIONARY IDEOLOGY, THE KNOWLEDGE OF MANY FIELDS, RICH CULTURAL ATTAINMENTS AND A HEALTHY AND STRONG PHYSIQUE”

PYONGYANG’S POPULATION OF 2.8 MILLION SUGGESTS THAT AT LEAST ONE IN 30 OF THE CITY’S YOUNG AND OLD MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN HAVE ROLES IN THE MASS GAMES

has variations on the tale, and different songs to accompany it, all Koreans adore Arirang, even those born or living overseas. It’s in our blood. Essentially, we use Arirang to condense the last 100 years or so of Korean history into a single artistic performance. Though the traditional Arirang story was extremely popular in Korea during the time of Japanese colonial rule [1910-1945], since liberation, and under the excellent leadership of President Kim Il Sung and Comrade Kim Jong Il, the lives of Koreans have improved greatly, and we include that to make the performance a happier experience. “So Arirang has become a story of the past, the present and the future of the Korean nation, containing scenes of occupation, revolutionary struggle, liberation, division of our country and reunification [of North and South Korea], which is the goal of all Koreans. Arirang will remain the theme as long as people, from home and overseas, want to see it. But even if the theme of Mass Games is modified in the future, reunification will always be included. That can never change.” All three men, however, concur that the Games, while being an eye-popping visual display, also serves a profound (many others would say sinister) political purpose: by cultivating a group mentality among participants, the Games encourages the suppression of individual desire for the supposed benefit of the mass. Kim Jong Il himself, in a 1987 speech to Games organisers, allegedly decreed, “Developing mass gymnastics is important in training children to be fully developed communist people. To be a fully developed communist man, one must acquire a revolutionary ideology, the knowledge of many fields, rich cultural attainments and a healthy and strong physique. These are the basic qualities required of a man of the communist type. Mass gymnastics play an important role in training schoolchildren to acquire these communist qualities. Mass gymnastics foster particularly healthy and strong physiques, a high degree of organization, discipline and collectivism in schoolchildren, The schoolchildren, conscious that a single slip in their action may spoil their mass gymnastic performance, make every effort to subordinate all their thoughts and actions to the collective.” Sin, whose two teenage sons have each twice taken part in the Games, echoes his leader’s suggestion that the Games might be a microcosm of his

hardline communist state. “[The Games] drills into the performers the importance of teamwork,” Sin says, waving his Chonji in the smoke-filled air like a magician’s wand. “It teaches them that any small mistake affects all society, and that they are not alone in their efforts. Everyone is working together.” Pyongyang’s population of 2.8 million suggests that at least one in 30 of the city’s young and old men, women and children have roles in the Mass Games. The youngest performers are five years old, and the oldest might be in their early 30s. Procuring willing participants, however, is never a dilemma. “We simply go to [Pyongyang] schools and ask the children who wants to take part,” says Director Kim. “They all raise their hands, but some must be disappointed. We can’t take everyone. That’s life.” Though overseas travel is heavily restricted for the majority of North Koreans, choreographer Kim has recently returned from a trip to Nigeria, where he instructed dancers coming together for an athletics meeting. “There were dancers from Africa, from Europe, and they asked how we make the Arirang performance so perfect. I told them, it is down to the quality of Korean youth. Our youngsters are hard working, disciplined, organised and educated, and that is down to the guidance and care of President Kim Il Sung and Comrade Kim Jong Il. When I instruct [Mass Games participants] to do something, they do it. No questions. No complaints.” While accepting that he can be an uncompromising taskmaster, Kim insists that overseas reports that the DPRK appropriates hundreds of millions of its citizens’ man-hours each year in the Games are grossly exaggerated. “When we first started training for Arirang [in 2001], six months was needed, but we don’t require so much time these days. This year, about 60 percent of the performers have performed before, so they only practise hard for a month or so. Those taking part for the first time need three months.” “After many years of Arirang, they only need to train for two hours a day, two or three times a week, to become ready,” says Sin, admitting, however, that subtle changes are made to the Arirang performance each year. “Comrade Kim Jong Il loves and understands art,” the MGOC official insists, “and he has told us that repetition leads to decay, so scenes are adapted every year to keep things fresh.”

THE CORRESPONDENT

Main: Training for the Mass Games outside the Rungrado May Day Stadium, Pyongyang. Above: Mass Games Customer-Relations Officer Sin Sung Chol (left) who is responsible for foreign tour groups to the Games, and Games Choreographer Kim Mok Ryong (right) inside the Rungrado Stadium. Right: Textile-factory worker and Mass Games sword dancer Kim Mi Gyong.

THE CORRESPONDENT

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Travel

Travel

“OUR YOUNGSTERS ARE HARD WORKING, DISCIPLINED, ORGANISED AND EDUCATED, AND THAT IS DOWN TO THE GUIDANCE AND CARE OF PRESIDENT KIM IL SUNG AND COMRADE KIM JONG IL”

Variety, it might be argued, is not a familiar concept for the choreographer and the director. When not working on Arirang, the men have full-time jobs producing Sea of Blood, one of only five stateapproved revolutionary operas that may be performed at the Pyongyang Grand Theatre. According to the state-produced media, Sea of Blood “reflects the burning hatred of the Korean people against Japanese imperialists which turned the country into the sea of blood, their firm determination to [exact] revenge upon their enemies a hundred and thousand fold, their confidence in the revolutionary victory and their ardent aspiration after building a new society”. Since its debut in 1971, Sea of Blood has been performed around 2,000 times in the capital alone. Despite being at the age when most North Koreans retire, however, choreographer Kim has no plans to hang up his baton. “I have been given a huge responsibility, and my position is important for my nation,” he snaps back at such a suggestion, eyes flashing behind his glasses. “I’m not so fit these days, but I bet my mind is younger than yours. The days fly by quickly now, but I only remembered my age when you asked how old I was. I work with youngsters all the time, and they keep me young.” Having led us back to the stadium car park, the choreographer introduces one performer who does expect to “retire” after the 2009 Games. Sword dancer Kim Mi Gyong is 21 years old and a veteran of six Arirang performances, including two – in 2002 and 2005 – attended by Kim Jong Il. “I’d like to perform as many times as possible,” the textile factory worker says with a smile, “but there are many other youngsters coming up, so I think this might be my last time.” Perhaps surprisingly, in a year of North Korean missile tests, international outcry and the jailing – and subsequent release – of two American journalists, the DPRK has actively been trying to attract more overseas visitors to see Arirang in 2009. “As part of a 150-day campaign that finished on September 16, the KITC [Korea International Travel Company, the DPRK’s de facto state-run tourism board] was required to increase the numbers of tourists visiting the Mass Games,” says Koryo Tours’ General Manager Simon Cockerell, whose British32

THE CORRESPONDENT

JOIN THE PARTY: Only a handful of

travel companies worldwide are approved to take foreign visitors into North Korea. Access is generally from Beijing via the DPRK carrier Air Koryo, with return to the Chinese capital by overnight train. US citizens, however, are required to return to the Chinese capital by air, and may only visit the DPRK during the period of the Mass Games (August-October in most years). Other nationalities may join tours throughout the year.

run, Beijing-based company is one of just a handful of operations worldwide with the ability to gain foreigners access to the DPRK. Cockerell has visited the DPRK more than 80 times since 2002. “Basically all sectors of DPRK society (industry, agriculture, white-collar sectors, etc) were subject to requirements to increase production.” Koryo took around 600 foreign visitors to the Games in 2009. Each was charged between 80 and 300 euros (US$116-436) to witness the spectacle, depending on seating position (the euro, alongside the Chinese yuan, being the DPRK’s preferred currency for foreign transactions). North Korean citizens, meanwhile, pay just 100 North Korean won (by the official exchange rate, 100 won is equivalent to 70 US cents; according to purchasing power, 100 won is only worth about three cents). Cockerell believes, however, that the push is not about bringing in foreign currency, but about official desire for more outsiders to see what the North Koreans are capable of when they all pull together. As Zhang Yimou told Chinese newspaper Southern

Weekend after the Beijing Olympics, when it comes to synchronised artistic performances held on a gargantuan scale, “Number one is North Korea. Their performances are totally uniform, and this type of uniformity results in beauty.” With the morning sun still blazing overhead, the choreographer abruptly points out that the interview is now over. He must get back to work, so handshakes and goodbyes are made, and we are waved away. The Rungrado May Day Stadium is located on an island in the middle of the wide and sluggish Taedong River, which bisects the North Korean capital, and walkways on both sides of the bridge leading back into the city are crammed tight with teenage girls heading home after their Arirang practice sessions. Some of the youngsters appear exhausted. They hunch forward, sweating under cumbersome backpacks. Some make the trek alone, while others smile and monkey around with their friends. There are carefree faces, troubled faces, pretty faces, and less-pretty faces. All are different. All belong to individuals. All are heading in the same direction.

Beijing-based, British-run Koryo Tours (www. koryotours.com) is the most experienced of such companies. The majority of its tours are between four and eight days in duration. Tour prices for 2010 range in price between 990 and 2,390 euros, and are inclusive of round-trip transportation, sightseeing tours, accommodation and all meals. Discounts are available for students and groups. Attractions taken in by such tours might include the Mass Games, the Demilitarized Zone between the two Koreas, scenic Mount Paektu at the border with China, the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum, the ornate Pyongyang Metro, Kim Il Sung’s Mausoleum and a hot-spring resort. Individual and customized itineraries can be arranged on request. Tour prices do not include transportation to or from China, DPRK visa (30 euros, available in Beijing via Koryo Tours) or China visa. A double or multiple-entry visa for China is essential to facilitate return to Beijing after visiting the DPRK. Gary Jones

THE CORRESPONDENT

33


Press Freedom

Then and Now

Graham Street Market, Central. Images by Bob Davis

Stiletto By Max Kolbe

Killed for shining the light of truth “Most journalists are killed not in war zones but in their own countries as they try to shine the light of the truth into the darkest recesses of their societies,” read a delegate declaration at the United Nations-backed World Electronic Media Forum in Mexico City. The two-day meeting unanimously passed the declaration, which will now be sent to the UN SecretaryGeneral, the President of the UN Security Council, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNESCO. The Forum’s location was apt. According to a tally by El Universal, Mexico’s top-selling newspaper, 12 reporters, photographers, editors and radio hosts have been slain during 2009, mostly for reporting on drug trafficking and the corruption that accompanies the trade. It’s not all bad news, however. While this column too often has to detail the death or incarceration of journalists, occasionally there are pleasant surprises. In Afghanistan 46-year-old Norwegian journalist Paal Refsdal (pictured) and his Afghan interpreter were released after a week in captivity. Refsdal was taken near the border with Pakistan and information about the kidnapping had circulated among Norwegian media outlets but they chose not to publish after calls from the foreign ministry in order not to jeopardize the pair’s safety. Authorities in Tehran have released Farhad Pouladi, an Iranian journalist who works for AFP. Pouladi was among more than 100 people arrested during pro-government and opposition street demonstrations. Iranian security forces beat anti-government protesters with

AFP

batons on the sidelines of statesanctioned rallies held to mark the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Embassy takeover. Also on the pleasant side of the ledger is a pardon by Saudi Arabia’s king of a female journalist, Rosana Al-Yami. She was sentenced to 60 lashes for her role in a television show in which a Saudi man detailed his sexual exploits. She worked as a co-ordinator for the popular show Bold Red Lines. In one episode, Mazen Abdul-Jawad spoke from his bed on how he picked up girls in Jeddah and had sex with them. He was sentenced to five years in jail and 1,000 lashes. FIFA has also done the media a favour by banning Argentina manager Diego Maradona from football for two months as punishment for his rant at journalists who covered his team during Argentina’s qualification for the World Cup finals. It was not Maradona’s first altercation with the press. In 1994 he shot at journalists with an air rifle outside his home in Buenos Aires. Four people were injured and the footballer was given a

suspended jail sentence. In Phnom Penh, the Overseas Press Club of Cambodia has found some traction and is about to elect a new president after being put on hold for more than two years due to differences among previous board members. Canadian Pat Falby of AFP is tipped to become president in a move that most foreign correspondents hope will reestablish the club in the country’s sometimes troubled media circles. His election could not have come sooner. Press freedoms have been curtailed over recent years with local reporters bearing the brunt of information laws that carry hefty fines and jail terms. Publisher Hang Chakra, a well regarded figure among local hands, was jailed after a series of articles were published in May and June accusing officials working under Deputy Prime Minister Sok An of corruption. Chakra, who was jailed for one year in June for “spreading disinformation”, now has support from King Norodom Sihamoni who has asked Prime Minister Hun Sen to grant him amnesty. Also jailed for spreading disinformation is freelance journalist Ros Sokhet after he sent text messages to Soy Sopheap, news anchor with the Cambodian Television Network. He received a two year sentence after being charged under a strict penal code introduced by the UN Transitional Authority of Cambodia. “There are appropriate civil laws in place to resolve media-related complaints and Cambodian press laws should be applied to assist in their resolution,” the International Federation of Journalists said after the sentence was imposed.

1972:

The lower, Queen’s Road Central-end of Graham Street market and a scene still instantly recognisable today

2009: Today there are new buildings either side and bollards that have been added at the front but the market – with its bustling sites, sounds and smells – is still very much the same as it was three decades ago © Bob Davis. www.bobdavisphotographer.com

34

THE CORRESPONDENT

THE CORRESPONDENT

35


Club Tie

Club Tie

You’re behind me… FCC member Tim Huxley’s four racing cars had a successful weekend in Macau, with the words of Hugh van Es spurring them on. Anna Healy Fenton was there

I

t was into the wars and into the wall for many an expensive dream car which fell foul of Macau’s unforgiving twists and hairpin bends in November. FCC members were out in force, with the lofty form of Team GR Asia manager Tim Huxley (pictured, above left) bounding around the paddock with Hong Kong’s uncrowned king of spanners, Isle of Man native Barry Forth and his 22 mechanics making sure the four GR Asia cars were in top racing form. 36

THE CORRESPONDENT

“Describe me however you like,” said Tim in cavalier fashion, when asked if “shipping magnate” was the appropriate term, before changing his mind. “No no, babe magnet, tyre kicker, Hong Kong businessman....” Porsche GT3 driver and fellow FCC member Richard Meins (pictured, above right) protested that this failed to sum Tim up. “It should be ‘Icon of Hong Kong shipping and master of Macau motorsport – all managed from the FCC’.”

Eagle-eyed fans spotted the tributes to legendary photographer, FCC member and Macau devotee Hugh van Es, painted on the back of the GR Asia cars in Dutch: “Je haalt me nooit in, lul de behanger.” Hugh van Es, 1941-2009,” it read, with a camera alongside. Which translates, in inimitable van Es style as: “You’re behind me, dumbass” (“i.e. directed at the guys following our boys,” said Tim). This was the first Macau Grand Prix weekend without Hugh – who died in May – for nearly a decade.

“We thought this a fitting tribute. Hugh covered Macau for me for nine years and loved coming here. I still can’t believe he’s not here. We really miss him,” said Tim. Tim’s GR Asia team included four drivers. Hong Kong resident, FCC member and shipbroker Richard Meins, drove a Porsche 997 GT3 Cup in Saturday’s Macau GT Cup with an impossibly large field of 36 starters. Richard admitted he “cocked it up by getting blocked on the first corner” and then couldn’t catch up. But he was happy enough, adding: “My car is in one piece, unlike many of the others, I think we lost about half the grid.” Nevertheless he was one of the top non-professional drivers in the race and his sixth place in qualifying was a huge achievement, said Tim. In the same GT race driving for GR Asia was fellow Briton Danny Watts, an eight year Macau veteran, driving another Porsche 997 GT3 Cup. Danny was up against longterm rival Darryl O’Young driving a Porsche Cup S for LM Team Jebsen. Darryl pipped third-placed Danny this time, coming second in the race, which was won by Japanese driver Keito Sawa in a Lamborghini. “A lot of it’s down to the size of your wallet,” sighed Tim. “‘But Macau is a track where driver skill really counts.” Next GR Asia car on the track was Dutch driver Tom Coronel in a SEAT Leon 2.0 TFSI. He emerged triumphant in his section with victory in the World Touring Car Championship Independents Class, thus securing the Independents World Championship title.

THERE WAS A TRIBUTE, PAINTED IN DUTCH, ON THE BACK OF THE GR ASIA CARS: “JE HAALT ME NOOIT IN, LUL DE BEHANGER.” HUGH VAN ES, 19412009,” IT READ, WITH A CAMERA ALONGSIDE. WHICH TRANSLATES, IN TRUE INIMITABLE VAN ES STYLE AS: “YOU’RE BEHIND ME, DUMBASS”

Known as the Jeremy Clarkson of Dutch TV, it was Tom who verified FCC Board member Kees Metselaar’s translation of the tribute to Hugh into Dutch. Saturday night saw the unforgettable sight of Tim, flanked by a bevy of beauties, in a tight white driver’s suit, with “Eat My Dust” emblazoned across his rear view. The occasion was his party at the Grand Lapa Hotel, as the Mandarin Oriental Macau is now called, with the FCC’s Allen Youngblood and colleagues providing the music. Sunday saw excitement reach fever pitch with GR Asia’s Formula 3 driver, 22-year-old Briton Sam Bird, starting in fifth position on the grid and managing to overtake in impressive style to finish third.

This meant dodging a pile-up in the first lap which took nine cars out of the race. “I only came third but this is still a fantastic result for me. I was heartbroken last year when I failed to finish the race after being taken out. But to grab a podium place today is just brilliant,” said an excited Sam afterwards. With 16 of the current crop of Formula 1 drivers having competed at Macau, Sam is one to watch for future F1 glory. FCC member and former Macau driver Matthew March was also buoyed up by his first Macau Grand Prix as manager of the City of Dreams Raikkonen Robertson Formula 3 team, with his Dutch driver Renger Van der Zande finishing the Grand Prix in seventh place. “The Macau Grand Prix is a very important event globally for motorsport and it’s a blessing it sits on Hong Kong’s doorstep,” he said. In his experience, which includes racing for Hong Kong at the legendary Le Mans circuit, Macau allows spectators and guests unrivalled access to both the action and the paddock. “So many people get to see the cars close up and meet the drivers – some of whom will be the stars of Formula 1 in two years’ time.” Drivers often acknowledge Macau as the biggest step on their way to F1, he added. The GR Asia team were all happy after a hectic weekend, but Tim admitted to a sense of deflation when it was all over. “Danny Watts says he gets really miserable at the end and I know what he means, it’s an anti-climax,” he said. “But it was very successful, we’re all in one piece and now it’s time to start thinking about next year.” THE CORRESPONDENT

37


Meanwhile in the Main Bar

Back Page Bitch

Send all supplications, confessions and adulations to the Bitch. Don’t hold back: backpagebitch@yahoo.com

December, 2009

Dear Dick,

Arthur Hacker was unable to do his regular cartoon this issue. This was not because he has been riding the globe on a sleigh delivering presents. He has been in hospital but will be back home soon. You get well, Arthur.

38

THE CORRESPONDENT

Let us start with the intriguing story of Gabriel Ricardo DiasAzedo, once a pillar of Hong Kong’s Portuguese community and a former global partner of blue ribbon accountancy firm Grant Thornton. Azedo is being pursued through the Hong Kong courts for more than HK$91 million. But he has skipped town and nobody, at the moment, knows where he is. A cracker of a story, you would think, and one that would raise considerable interest in this town’s goldfish bowl business community. Alas, the story was broken internationally, by The Financial Times on the 9th of November and then spread quickly, as you would assume it would, across the internet and across the world. Were The Post hot in pursuit? A day late? Two? Well no. They first ran it 20 days after the FT, on 29th of November. Why so? Were the paper’s owners, who are so famously close to the corporate pulse of this nakedly nepotistic city, keeping their loyal readership away from the truth? Sadly not. A Post staffer close to the story said, with a giggle, that they “missed it”. Oh well, fret not that it was on CNN. There will be other stories. They may be luckier with another homegrown yarn, the ongoing saga of the FCC’s own Clare Hollingworth and one Thomas Edward Juson. As many at the FCC will know well, Mr Juson “assisted” nonagenarian Clare with her financial affairs. He was given control over her bank account, cheque book and ATM card and large sums were soon

being removed from her account. In 2006 Miss Hollingworth filed a writ against Juson, asking him to account for the whereabouts of the money. The case was settled in 2007 and although the terms of the agreement are confidential the UK Daily Telegraph says that Mr. Juson agreed to repay more than HK$1 million. Two years on, he has not done so and now, according The Telegraph, Miss Hollingworth’s family are preparing to apply to have Thomas Edward Juson declared bankrupt. When challenged by the British magazine Private Eye about the use to which the money was put, Mr. Juson said it was spent on “wet fish and taxi fares”. Perhaps The Post could run a competition that works out how many fish needed to go in how many taxis before the million target was reached. It must be quite a lot. A magazine that, in its independent heyday, picked up quite a reputation for not missing stories, The Far Eastern Economic Review, bowed out with a final issue that included a big roll-ofhonour thank you from Editor Hugo Restall plus a provocative take on the significance of The Review by Contributing Editor Bruce Gilley. But perhaps the most fitting swansong for this once crusading title was the farewell gift from Singapore and those titans of democracy, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his dad Lee Kuan Yew. The pair were awarded US$290,000 after the Singaporean Court of Appeal upheld an earlier High Court

decision that FEER had defamed both leaders in a 2006 article. FEER may have changed but it will still be missed. Finally to a story that not just the dear old Post missed out on: Sarah Palin’s visit to Hong Kong to address the 16th annual CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets Investors forum in September. When CLSA first announced it, many thought it a hoax. Past CLSA keynote speakers have been Al Gore, Bill Clinton and Alan Greenspan. And now the bear-shooting hockey Mom from Alaska? Really? Well yes: she addressed the global throng of executives and fund managers for ninety minutes – but on the insistence of “her people” would not let a single member of the press in to hear her pearls of Republican wisdom. But in this world of tweets and bleets, word got out and both Bloomberg and AP started filing stories on the content of Palin’s speech (standard low-brow Palin fare, apparently), only to be warned off by CLSA. “Basically we were told that if we reported what she said, we would be persona non grata for a long time,” said one bemused agency staffer. CLSA must have been so happy they invited her. Just who will they get next year? Gabriel Ricardo Dias-Azedo?

Respectfully,

Bitch THE CORRESPONDENT

39


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OTHER WAYS YOU CAN HELP… • Foster a dog until it can find a permanent home. – Email (Bilingual): foster_hkdr@yahoo.com • Join our enthusiastic team of Kennel Volunteers. – Email (Bilingual): volunteer_hkdr@yahoo.com • Help out at our fundraising events and spread information about HKDR. • Donating dog food (Hill’s® Science Diet® preferred). • Donating bedding like old sheets, towels; – Dog equipment such as collars, leads, beds, dog shampoo. – Frontline, Heartgard, Preventic® collars, worming pills. – Household and cleaning products such as detergent, bleach, liquid soap, garbage bags.

You can make a tax deductible (over HK$200) donation Direct Deposit: HSBC 502-423825-001 Or Mail your cheque in favour of “Hong Kong Dog Rescue” To: Unit 6, G/F, Aberdeen Marina Tower, 8 Shum Wan Road, Aberdeen, HK For receipts please email details of your donation to: admin.hkdr@gmail.com Just $500 per month will keep one of our kennel dogs healthy until they have found a home. Registered Charity number 91/7544

40

THE CORRESPONDENT

HKDR is a No Kill organisation, meaning that no dog or puppy is destroyed for any reason other than when it is the only humane option.


The Correspondent, November-December 2009  

The Foreign Correspondents' Club (FCC) in Hong Kong is a members-only club and meeting place for the media, business and diplomatic communit...

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