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TRAVEL WHY KASHGAR IS NO LONGER A SILK ROAD JEWEL

FEATURE FINDING THE PLASTIC PILE IN THE PACIFIC GYRE

BI-MONTHLY • SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2009

HATS OFF

IN REVIEW NEED A DIY DEATH FOR A PAINLESS EXIT STRATEGY ?

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

TO THE FCC BALL

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THE CORRESPONDENT

SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2009 THE BI-MONTHLY MAGAZINE PUBLISHED BY THE FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS’ CLUB, HONG KONG

special: charity ball 2009

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ANNUAL FCC BALL

This year’s Annual FCC Ball was, yet again, a roaring success. Country legend Charlie Daniels brought the house down, the crowd ate, drank and danced way too much and a great amount of money was raised for charity. Mathew Scott was there

obituary

5

BRIAN BARRON

club news

7

FCC PROTESTS JOURNO BEATING

travel

36

GOODBYE KASHGAR

in review

40

NEED AN EXIT STRATEGY?

the wall

42

HARRY HARRISON UNCENSORED

44

THE CHAIRMAN AND I

feature

50

PROBING THE PLASTIC VORTEX

media

56

NO HOLIDAY IN CAMBODIA

62

INTERVIEWING JOAN KENNEDY

in review

64

BOOK REVIEWS

press freedom

61

STILETTO examines the on-going dangers faced by journalists

bitch

71

DEAR DICK...

This most respected war reporter has died, aged 69, of cancer Club and HK Journalists’ Association organise a protest march Stunningly beautiful medieval Kashgar is in ruins and there’s a gaggle of soldiers on every corner, writes Cecilie Gamst Berg Dr. Philip Nitschke, founder and director of pro-euthanasia advocacy group Exit International, talks DIY death at a Club lunch Some of this wickedly witty cartoonist’s finest unpublished work Photographer André Eichman and his quirky little Mao statue Karin Malmstrom joins a scientific mission that is studying a mass of floating debris trapped in the middle of the Pacific Ocean Luke Hunt meets Phnom Penh Post publisher Ross Dunkley Isabel Taylor Escoda remembers interviewing Teddy’s wife in 1963 We review The Peace Correspondent and The Karma Killers

A letter to Dick Hughes

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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Club News

From the Club President Dear Members, There has been but one topic of conversation around the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of late. And no, I do not mean whether to broadcast or not to broadcast “the sweet sound of leather on willow”, as one petitioner so eloquently put it. (For the uninitiated, that’s shorthand for the sound of a cricket ball cracking off the bat.) A lifelong Boston Red Sox fan, I have recently received an intensive education in The Ashes and all things related to that inferior version of baseball spread by English colonialists. The sun may have set on the British Empire but it still shines on cricket pitches across the Commonwealth. The topic I have in mind is the not so sweet sound of Chinese police truncheons coming down on our Hong Kong and overseas colleagues. For mainland cops have been roughing up journalists faster than we can write letters in protest. It is not a funny subject. I was sitting in the Main Bar on September 4, enjoying a Friday night beer with a Financial Times colleague and contact when Francis Moriarty rang. The tireless Chairman of our Press Freedom Committee wanted to know if I had heard the news about the Hong Kong journalists covering the ethnic unrest in Urumqi. I had not, but soon saw the images on the club’s Cable News screen – three Hong Kong journalists surrounded by Urumqi’s finest, at least two of them with their hands tied behind their backs. Reports spoke of guns pointed, reporters roughed up and equipment damaged. It was appalling. I’m a bit old-school in believing that all reporters should be able to give and 2

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take a punch, and in certain chaotic situations blows may be landed. But here a line had been crossed. Surely the Urumqi police had more pressing matters to attend to that afternoon, what with all the alleged syringe stabbings and retaliatory mob violence on the streets of Xinjiang’s capital. Francis sprang into action. A statement was quickly drafted, signed and posted. We sometimes tend to dither with these things, losing a day or two as versions circulate amongst Board members. But here was a matter that warranted immediate comment and was therefore expedited. As a result the Club was where it should always be when Saturday’s newspaper stories about the incident came out – in the thick of the media freedom debate. Less than a week later Urumqi officials decided to add insult to injury, saying our colleagues were to blame as they had been “inciting” unrest. It was this tosh that motivated the Hong Kong Journalists’ Association to organise, on Sunday September 13, a protest march on the Chinese central government’s Liaison Office.

The HKJA’s chairperson, Mak Yin-ting, and her executive board graciously invited us to “co-host” their protest, even though they had already done most of the hard organisational work. As with our initial reaction on September 4, this was another no-brainer. Francis worked late into Saturday night drafting an updated letter to be sent to Urumqi’s party secretary. We also arranged to have both our original statement and the protest letter translated in Chinese – something we intend to do more frequently in future. I would like to thank all the governors and members who joined us on that sweltering afternoon, joining an impressive crowd of 700 protesters. They included Francis, Steve Vines, John Batten, Ben Kwok (also with the HKJA), Hugo Cox and Erik Floyd. Carsten Schael documented the march. Kees Metselaar, Vaudine England and Polly Hui were there as working journalists. (My apologies to those I am sure I have overlooked.) Standing up when media freedoms are threatened is one of two things that the FCC cannot and will not compromise on. The other is insisting on a respectful attitude towards our staff, without whom the Club could not function, at all times. (That hoary old excuse – “t’was not me your honour, t’was the drink” – will not wash.) Everything else that comes up in the course of running the world’s greatest press club should be handled in a spirit of common sense, good humour and compromise. Let’s please remember that over the coming months and years. Peace out… Tom Mitchell Club President THE CORRESPONDENT

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Obituary

Brian Barron

28 April 1940 – 16 September 2009

One of the most respected war reporters of his generation, Brian Barron has died, aged 69, after suffering from cancer. By Vaudine England Brian Barron was a gent - an oldschool, proper journalist, kind and courtly to colleagues, and renowned across generations for helping out newer, younger hacks in his patch. In our fevered, competitive, grabbing business, rightly derided by many as a tawdry trade, it is the correspondents such as Brian Barron who remind us of what it should be about. After joining the BBC in 1965 he became the Aden correspondent two years later. In the 1970s, he reported from Africa - on the war in Rhodesia, and on the fall of Idi Amin in Uganda. He made his name in Saigon in 1975. In 1980, he tracked down the ousted Ugandan dictator in Saudi Arabia. Over five decades, he covered most of the world’s major conflicts. In 1991, he helped to lead the BBC’s coverage of the first Gulf War... And he went back to the Middle East for the Iraq War six years ago. After retirement, Brian continued a working partnership with his long time cameraman, Eric Thirer. The BBC’s foreign news editor, Jon Williams, noted that Brian served as the BBC’s man in some of the world’s greatest cities - Cairo, Hong Kong, Washington, New York, and Rome - as well as working as Ireland correspondent at the height of the Troubles in the early 1980s. Along the way, he was the RTS Reporter of the Year and won the International Reporting Prize for his coverage of Latin America. “Two years ago, in what would be his final report for the BBC,” said Williams, “Brian returned to Aden, 40 years after the end of empire: he told the story of how he had watched as the Union Flag 4

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was lowered, as a British Military Band played ‘Things Ain’t What They Used to Be’. It was vintage Brian,” said Williams. “Funny, poignant, but with a message. He was an inspiration to more than one generation of reporters, producers and editors - including this one.” Mark Byford, deputy directorgeneral and head of BBC journalism, remembered how kind Brian was, and what a good journalist: “Brian Barron was one of the BBC’s greatest ever correspondents - a brilliant communicator, courageous, passionate about the truth and eyewitness authenticity, with a unique gift to communicate the most complex and sensitive stories in a clear, engaging and memorable way. We all looked to Brian as the foreign correspondent - a beautiful writer, a brilliant user of pictures, a craftsman with an unmatched portfolio of work.” From around Asia, the memories are more personal.

Jim Laurie remembers coming out to Asia in flairs, long hair and gawpish grin, and realising that Brian Barron’s polished prose, neat clothes and clean good looks were how it should be. “Brian seemed everywhere at once. Never seemed to miss the big stories in Cambodia and Vietnam. The B-52 bombing in Neak Luong, battles in the Mekong Delta. He and the incomparable Eric Thirer covered Indochina like no other broadcasters,” remembered Laurie. “Brian was what I thought a TV correspondent should be.” Being in the right place at the right time - that elusive journalistic trait - was part of Barron’s skill. Photographer Robin Moyer remembered: “When I was on a good story, Brian was often there, or had been there already and gone and when he wasn’t there I often wondered why I was.” Barron’s coolness under pressure was also legendary - able to count seconds to the top of the hour without raising a sweat while finalising a script, laying down pictures and batting off London editors with a usually superb – and brutally polite – choice of words. This was his technique with the Chinese government too. Steve Vines recalled when, shortly after the Tiananmen Square massacre, Brian went to Xinhua which was then responsible for issuing journalist visas to apply for one. The Chinese authorities were unhappy about the BBC’s coverage of the’ 89 events and he was told he could not have a visa at this time. Quick as a flash Brian asked: “No chance of making that a lifetime ban is there?” THE CORRESPONDENT

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Club News

Club News

Journalism matters

News Pool

At Kau Sai Chau: Jeremy Bolland, Connie Bolland, Sabrina Wong and Russ Julseth.

Teeing up for ‘Bad Pants’? Golf, gambling and gallons of beer highlighted the FCC Golf Society’s Macau outing this past August. It was hot. Damn hot. But that didn’t stop the FCC linksters from racking up good scores and brilliant shots at the Macau Golf and Country Club. We were back at Kau Sai Chau’s south course in September where typhoon Koppu blessed us with slightly cooler temperatures and softer greens. The low number of putts champion was Steven VanEtzdorf and the overall net

medallist was Jeremy Bolland with an overall net 71. On October 18 we will hold Hong Kong’s first annual “Bad Pants” golf tournament. Prizes will be awarded for the worst, loudest golf pants worn on the course. So, dig into your closet and dig out those wild ‘70s striped and checked polyesters now popularized by John Daly. We will play the East Course at KSC for an added challenge. Contact Russ Julseth at russjulseth@netvigator.com for details.

The FCC Pool Society’s annual Merv Hayworth 8-ball tournament saw Jason Furness beat Paul McConomy in the final, held at the Club on September 12th. Both Jason and Paul are past winners of the tournament and both have also won the Society’s 9-ball tournament, held annually in December. The Pool Society is always keen to welcome new members – be they journalists, correspondents or associates. Under the tenure of long-time Pool Convener, Anthony Wong, the FCC has grown to become a respected and formidable team within the highly competitive Hong Kong Pool League. Although the Society is taking a break from the League this year, there will be plenty of social matches in the coming months. To find out more, contact Anthony on awong@asbroadcast.com.

Want to play cricket? The FCC is forming a social cricket team to play occasional games (with an initial target of four games per season) against social sides in Hong Kong. There will also be some net practice sessions. Novices and rusty players are welcome to join

as the emphasis is on fun. The joining sub is $250 to enable the team to start getting kitted up for our first net, hopefully next month. Anyone interested in joining should drop a note to Neil Western: neil_western@yahoo. co.uk AFP

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Images by Carsten Schael

FCC protests journo beating A copy of the letter to Central Government authorities regarding the beating and detention of Hong Kong journalists: “The FCC Hong Kong wishes to convey its deep disgust and anger regarding the manhandling of Hong Kong journalists at the hands of security officers in Urumqi, and at the subsequent effort by some officials there to shift blame onto the reporters. We condemn such crude treatment in no uncertain terms. Our feelings are clearly spelled out in the public statement (attached) issued by the FCCHK, to which we draw your attention. A public apology from local and provincial officials should be forthcoming. The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong, urges the Central Government to conduct a full and impartial investigation in the affair, and to publish a complete and uncensored report of its findings.

Veteran BBC correspondent Anthony Lawrence celebrated his 97th birthday at the FCC, saying journalism still matters, writes Vaudine England. Mr Lawrence worked for the BBC from 1945 until the 1970s, almost entirely in East Asia. He has often been listed in the group of pioneering BBC correspondents including Charles Wheeler, John Osman and Gerald Priestland. He chose to retire in Hong Kong where he has outlived his German wife Irmgard and son, Alex. He is active in the charitable International Social Service, which has named a refuge after him, and is a former FCC President. “I want to take tonight as a sort of acknowledgement that the journalist has a quite important role to play, that he can ... reveal crimes that have been hidden and congratulate the deserving,” the still wide-eyed veteran told a party of well-wishers at the FCC on Thursday, August 13th. He received greetings from both the last Governor Chris Patten and current Chief Executive Donald Tsang, perhaps indicative of that old BBC idea of balance.

While we appreciate the responsibility of the police to maintain order, there is simply no justification for beating and detaining reporters who are covering the news; indeed, it is the responsibility of security forces to protect them, in line with China’s constitutional guarantee of press freedom.” For the full story, read the President’s Report on Page 5. Image: Bob Davis THE CORRESPONDENT

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SPECIAL: CHARITY BALL 2009

SPECIAL: CHARITY BALL 2009

The 8th Annual Charity Ball This year’s Annual FCC Ball was, yet again, a roaring success. Country legend Charlie Daniels brought the house down, the crowd ate, drank and danced way too much and a great deal of money was raised for charity. Mathew Scott was there

A Special Thanks To…

All images: Terry Duckham, Asiapix

K

arl Chan Ka-ying steps towards a quiet corner just outside the entrance to the Convention Hall at the HKCEC and looks back briefly over his shoulder to take in the scene. What Chan wants to talk about is how it is exactly that he has come to be here tonight at the FCC’s 8th Annual Charity Ball but it’s impossible not to be distracted by the sight of youngsters from the Po Leung Kuk, dressed as cowboys and girls and screaming with delight as guests make their way up the escalators and enter the pre-party fray. The idea is that by getting Chan to tell his own story, we can gain an insight into what this night really means. A little way beyond the champagne and celebrations, people’s lives are actually changed by the funds raised and the scholarships that result from the ball. And Chan was among those awarded a PLK-FCC scholarship back in 2003. So we take in what is going on around us first, the drinks being served, the smiles, the glamour as it gathers. And then Chan begins. 8

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“Not only did the scholarship I received help me financially – because I come from a single parent family – the support and advice I got gave me confidence in myself and my studies,’’ says the 25-year-old. “We are helped with learning people skills, like interview techniques, table manners, things that really help outside the studies and give you confidence.’’ Chan’s scholarship assisted in steering him through a Bachelor of Actuarial Science course at Hong Kong University and – upon graduation – on to a job as a management trainee with ABN AMRO (the bank now under the umbrella of RBS). Chan has already spent time working in Hong Kong, Indonesia, India and Singapore and says the experience has been invaluable both career-wise and – again – as far as his development goes as a human being. “I have joined different departments and learn different aspects of the bank and I have been able to travel to new places,’’ he says.

Agitator Fine Art Anita Chan Bob Youill Café Deco Group David Ko Dim Sum & Then Some Dorothy Lau Douglas Whyte El Grande Holdings Ltd INDIGO InterContinental Hong Kong Jeremy Woolf Joey Lo K L Cheng Ken Davey Kenth Karhoeg Kowloon Shangri-la Hong Kong La Dynasty Group M at the Fringe Manassas Limited/Ms Beatriz Tancock Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong Marc Jacobs Int’l LLC Mes Amis Mimosa Holdings Limited Mrs Sally Leung Philip George Richemont Luxury Asia Pacific Ltd Robert McBride Santa Fe SEVVA HONG KONG Shun Tak Holdings Steelcase Asia Pacific The Hong Kong Jockey Club The Langham Yangtze boutique, Shanghai The Peninsula Hong Kong The Regal Kowloon Hotel The Royal Garden, Kowloon, Hong Kong

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Chan Ka-ying, PLK-FCC scholar 2003: “Not only did the scholarship I received help me financially – because I come from a single parent family – the support and advice I got gave me confidence in myself and my studies, at University and – upon graduation – on to a job as a management trainee with ABN AMRO.” Photo by Bob Davis

“Management is what I am interested in but I have maintained the connections I made through the FCC and through the ball – this is important too, to keep up connections outside of work. So I come back here every year – we all do.’’ And while Chan is obviously happy with how far he has come in the past six years – from student to successful young businessman – he beams brightly when recalling how his mother reacted when he gave her the news that the scholarship had come through. “It meant a lot to her,’’ he says. “It just freed her from the financial burden and a lot of worry. When she heard I had the scholarship, she was very happy.’’ The night before the ball over a quiet beer in the Main Bar of the FCC, the ball’s funding chairman David Garcia and current co-chair Andy Chworowsky had run through the history of the event itself and, more’s the point, the motivation behind it. The FCC Charity Fund’s focus is on education, foremost, and it was set up determined that all funds raised would be channelled almost exclusively to the people it was designed to benefit. Part of its success over the years has been ensured too by the fact that there are a lot of people around who want to give something back into the society that supports them, they say. And, following that script almost to the letter, the event’s guest artist, the veteran American country and western king Charlie Daniels seemed caught up by the good will from the very moment he touched down in Hong Kong. The 72-year-old made a cameo appearance on the Friday night beside the FCC’s Main Bar (and for no doubt one of the 10

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few times in his storied career had to remove his trademark 10-gallon hat, in keeping with the rules). And the next day, Daniels made an impromptu visit to Po Leung Kuk. Word has it, the man also made a sizeable donation of his own – and on the night itself had his sights set on picking up the guitar signed by members of Irish rockers U2, only to be outbid in the auction. Before coming to town, Daniels had told the South China Morning Post: “My place is not in a recording studio - it is onstage. My heart is in playing for people live. My whole thing really is entertaining people.’’ Little wonder then that Daniels had to be nearly dragged off the stage on the big night itself, after churning out almost two hours of hits – showing his expertise on the fiddle and lead guitar along the way - and leaving a sweat-soaked dance floor baying for more after a blistering version of his 1979 hit The Devil Went Down to Georgia to bring the curtain down. By that stage the night had already run into overtime – due in no small part to simple generosity. Two items up for auction – that U2 guitar and a signed All Blacks rugby jersey – had been re-donated by their successful bidders and thus put on the block again. Meanwhile, the fact that more than one FCC member could be seen “dancing’’ with the cardboard cactus plants as the night wore on says all you need to know about the atmosphere in the room – and outside in the reception area where the cocktails had been flowing for hours on end. And the turnout, the response to the auction and the raffle belied 12

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fears that the world’s current muddy financial mood would have a major impact on how the night panned out. A few days later, once heads had cleared, the ball’s cochairman Thomas Crampton explained that there were some worries going in to this year’s event, what with purse-string tightening around the world. “We were coming off a record year into a financial crisis that has hit charities hard worldwide,’’ he says. “But we’ve been fortunate in that our partners really believe in what we are doing and have made a long-term commitment.’’ On the night itself, FCC staffers and scores of volunteers could be seen gently leaning on guests to dig a little deeper when it came to the raffles – but no one needed much convincing. “The committee and the FCC staff made a concerted effort to sell raffle tickets at the event – and we sold more than we have ever sold at the event before,’’ explained Crampton. “Basically everybody redoubled their effort.’’ And he was able to reflect once again on what is actually behind the FCC’s big night out. “A lot of it is about raising awareness,’’ he says. “It’s about getting people involved. The success really is about engaging people in it and making them aware of what we are doing and then involving them, beyond the money. “What we are doing is building an infrastructure that is helping some of Hong Kong’s neediest children and to do that it’s going to take as many people as we can get to rally around.’’ ■ 14

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Auction fever strikes again

The Ball auction pulled in a fantasttic HK$1,220,000, while the silent auction collected an extra HK$227,400, writes Mathew Scott

M

ark Richards was back on stage this year performing what has now become his traditional role: making sure the annual FCC Charity Ball auction runs smoothly. And the well-travelled ex-hoop – these days manager of the Hong Kong Jockey’s Club’s Racing Club - was just as surprised as anyone at the money being offered, considering the current financial climate. “It’s one of those few occasions people get a chance to do something for charity,’’ says Richards. “And it’s a chance for many people to do things you wouldn’t normally do.’’ Two of the biggest cheers of the night went up around the hall when the signed All Blacks jersey was snapped up for HK$30,000 – and then returned for another go-around, where it fell for HK$50,000. Similarly, the classic Les Paul guitar, signed by rockers U2, went for HK$200,000, then was returned – and fell for HK$200,000 once again. A signed copy of the Rolling Stones’ Beggars Banquet seemed a steal at HK$100,000 considering it featured all members of the band and it was the line-up that included the illfated Brian Jones. All up the auction dragged in HK$1,220,000, while the silent auction collected an extra HK$227,400 – and brought a top bid of HK$60,000 for a Chopard ‘’Happy Black’’ diamond ladies’ watch. Richards has been part of the auction team for the past five years - and one of the first people organizers go to when putting the event together. He says the attraction is mutual. “Everyone knows what it’s for and this event has always been one people have got behind. My time is easily spent doing stuff like this, it’s just a pleasure,’’ says Richards. “The great thing is they always get some fantastic things to auction off. As long as you make it fun, people go with it. In my case I think if you try to make people think you know what you’re doing, they will get bored.’’ 16

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Travel

Goodbye Kashgar

Stunningly beautiful medieval Kashgar is in ruins as its labyrinthine Silk Road bazaars are replaced with wide roadways, skyscrapers and tourist malls. And there’s a gaggle of soldiers on every corner, writes Cecilie Gamst Berg

W

hen I came back to Hung Hom station after two weeks in Xinjiang, my Hong Kong Permanent Resident ID card didn’t work. There I stood in front of the little machine with a long queue forming behind me, with the card being spat back out again and again. I was aghast. I’ve had my fingerprints not working before but never the actual card. The immigration geezers came bustling over, saying they’d never seen anything like it but I knew exactly what was wrong. The magnetic field had been grubbed down by 1,000 police fingers in the hundreds of Xinjiang checkpoints dotting the province like flies on a turd. It’s not much fun travelling in Xinjiang these days. Every little nap on the interminable overnight bus journeys is disturbed by card-checking policemen, who look like extras in “hilarious comedies from banana republics”: too-small hat perched on top of greasy longish hair, three-day stubble and a too-tight uniform with beer-gut and other assorted fat forcing its way out between the gun-and shoulder belt, deeply ingrained sweat-rings under the armpits and the kind of after-whiff, as they sullenly stomp past, that shows that their relationship with water is cordial but by no means intimate. To further ensure the safety of all the inhabitants of Xinjiang after the fights between various groups of thugs this July, the Chinese government has sealed off the province hermetically from the outside world. That is to say, you can get in and out of the province physically and possibly send a postcard, but you can’t get online or make phone calls. I only realised this when I got to Urumqi and went to a cyber cafe thinking that my hotel internet access was down. Eight or nine young men sat glued to the keyboards, their faces lit up eerily by the screens. So few people? Normally cyber cafes are packed around the clock. “Yes, you can’t get online here.” “So where can I get online?” “Nowhere. Not in Xinjiang.” “WHAT?” The cyber cafe owner shrugged semi-apologetically. 36

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Then he said, perhaps because his business was now in shreds: “But wait a while.” Those are ominous words I have heard before. So I asked suspiciously: “Wait how long exactly?” “Until the end of October.” Ah. No online games for three months – yes that should take care of those young men’s urge to fight. No texting, no phones, what better way to turn the people’s thoughts away from revolt, put there by evil forces outside Xinjiang? With all communication closed off it will be easier to forget about insurgencymaking and rather concentrate on having no money because much commerce in the province is grinding to a halt. Before I left Hong Kong, I had read about Xinjiang’s tourism board panicking at the loss of 300,000 tourists a month, and coming up with all sorts of incentives to lure people back to the province. Was that why so many hotels calling themselves tourist hotels – in English – were closed to foreigners? After a, say, 32-hour bus journey incessantly woken up by ID card checks as well as the buses veering all over the road as the drivers kept nodding off, it felt really welcoming to be turned away from one hotel after another at four in the morning, being told it was “for my own safety”. Not even my trusty “Hong Kong compatriot” ID card, normally a magic wand on the mainland, worked this time. “It’s not like our ID card, this is too sensitive, goodbye,” they said, giving the magnetic field a last little grub-down before handing it back. “Oh, but the Lido ($900 a night) is open for tourism,” they shouted helpfully after me as I stomped off. But if the Chinese aren’t very good at the ins and outs of ID cards or making the outlying provinces’ policemen spruce up a little, they are excellent at making places formerly crawling with tourists “more suitable” for tourism. Take the old city of Kashgar, that perennial cash cow for the Chinese government and the goal of my journey. Here the government is in full swing, tearing down the parts of the city that attract so many tourists – to attract tourists.

Down by Law: The PRC government’s widescale reconstruction programme for the city’s ancient medieval heart is systematically destroying the amazing labyrinth of lanes, courtyards and bazaars that gave Kashgar its charm and fame.

Travel

Travel

PEOPLE STILL LIVING AMONG THE RUINS PICK THEIR WAY CAREFULLY AROUND THE HEAPS OF BRICKS, PAST DOORS ALL DAUBED WITH THE SINGLE CHARACTER “拆”. IT MEANS DESTROY. SOME STAND STARING WISTFULLY AT THE HUGE CRATERS WHERE BULLDOZERS AND CRANES GO BUSILY ABOUT THEIR WORK IN CLOUDS OF DUST

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like living in a war zone without the danger of being bombed, you should go to Kashgar. Here are all the images we have seen on grainy documentaries from WWII: The half walls gaping naked against the sky, the single doorframe left standing in a heap of rubble as an afterthought; the beams sticking out supporting nothing, scraps of wallpaper, pieces of ornately decorated skirting boards and a lonely sink balancing desolately on the four remaining floor tiles. People still living among the ruins pick their way carefully around the heaps of bricks, past doors all daubed with the single character “拆” . It means destroy. Some stand staring wistfully at the huge craters where bulldozers and cranes go busily about their work in clouds of dust. Nobody wants to talk to me, not even when I ask if they live here or how they feel about being moved into a spanking new 45th floor apartment which they can’t afford. Only a Chinese worker on his way down into a crater doesn’t mind chatting: ”Yes we had to tear down these awful old things to build new ones.” He points proudly to a monster highrise in the background: “We’re helping the minority people get a new place to live.” And have you asked them what they want? “Asked them? Everybody wants to live in new houses!” Really? That’s not what I’ve heard. “We Uyghurs feel most comfortable living with only the sky above us and only the earth below,” is what I’ve read Uyghurs saying in interviews earlier this year. All right, so they said Allah says they should live like that. But that’s the way they want to live, and I, for one, can’t blame them. This is my first trip to Kashgar so I never got to see 38

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Left: Some traditional Uighur dwellings still remain but stand as exceptions amongst vast vistas of rubble. Above: Today, the once ubiquitous camel is rarer than the now ubiquitous soldier. Modern Kashgar folklore says there are seven soldiers for every local.

the reason for its popularity: a medieval city largely unchanged since Mohammed wore short trousers; a warren of back alleys, buzzing bazaars bursting with home-grown produce; camels, donkeys and flowing robes. All, in short, images from One Thousand and One Nights that people are drawn to simply because it feels good to walk down some street imagining that you’re in a streetscape of hundreds of years ago, on the same stones upon which mysterious ancestors’ sandalclad feet walked, your eyes seeing what theirs saw. But you can’t call the Chinese insensitive to tourists’ needs. Where before lay the above mentioned bustling markets, hub of the Silk Road trade, there are now gleaming new shopping malls with “arabesque” features like mosaics as a nod to days of yore, but with green windows in aluminium frames – we can’t go completely overboard with the romanticism. The impractically narrow alleys have been replaced by wide, open streets which can easily accommodate for example four tanks driving side by side. To help tourists, known to be stupid and not particularly favoured with the gift of sight, new, garish signs are everywhere, proclaiming things like: “Folk Speciality Andarts Craf Works For Tourist,” “Street Display for sale to tourist items as civil Hall” and “Panoramic View Tourist Map of Eidgah Folk Custom & Cultural Scenic Spot.” Just a pity there are no tourists. For unfortunately, as a result of the sealing-off of the province communication-wise and also because everywhere you go there are soldiers in full combat gear, the river of tourism dollars has dried up. The shops stand with metal grilles rolled down, the “Cultural Scenic Spot” – formerly the plaza outside Eidgah, (Id Kah) the heart of Kashgar and the biggest mosque in China – now only sports two bored camels standing touristless between a gigantic TV screen showing adverts for Nokia 3G, and an empty shopping mall. Oh, and dozens and dozens of soldiers who have set up camp under the trees outside the mosque. There must have been particularly hard fighting going on here during the “uprising” I presume, because this is the biggest military congregation I’ve seen in the whole province, where road blocks and checkpoints normally don’t have more than five to ten soldiers. On the steps of the Eidgah mosque, recently dolled up in eye-watering yellow, is an old geezer feeding doves with breadcrumbs. I sidle up, and the irony isn’t lost on the non-Mandarin Uyghur when the soldiers get visibly uncomfortable and start rattling their weapons at the sight of a lone foreigner taking photos of white doves. He raises his eyebrows wordlessly in a world-weary expression that can only mean one thing: “Idiots.” THE CORRESPONDENT

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In Review

Media

Need an Exit Strategy? At an unusual Club lunch, FCC members were urged to stock up on a drug that will enable them to die peacefully and quickly – if and when they so wish, of course. Jonathan Sharp reports

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he drug, since you ask, is a barbiturate called Nembutal and it is recommended as the premier means of DIY death by Dr. Philip Nitschke, founder and director of Exit International, the pro-euthanasia advocacy group. As can be imagined, Dr. Nitschke is nothing if not controversial, and while euthanasia is banned in Hong Kong, talking about it isn’t. (However that bastion of free speech, Singapore, has not been so amenable in allowing Dr. Nitschke to air his views publicly.) This tireless campaigner for people to make their own endof-life choices – and to persuade governments to give them the information and means to make such choices – is disarmingly down-to-earth, and at times even humorous, about such a dark and contentious subject. A physics PhD and a medical doctor, Dr. Nitschke came to prominence in his native Australia in 1996 when he helped bring about the enactment of legislation in the Northern Territory allowing assisted suicide, the first place in the world to do so. “I worked hard on that vote. And then crunch time for me: I had to see it into effect.” The first person to take advantage of the legislation was carpenter Bob Dent, a man dying of agonizing prostate cancer, who successfully passed the exhaustive assessment procedures. “Then he said, ‘Come round on Sunday, I’ll die at two o’clock’. 40

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Brewhaha:

Dr. Philip Nitschke displays a modified coffee pot that allows the terminally ill to concoct a suicide drug in their own kitchens.

“It’s a hard ask,” Dr. Nitschke continued. “Believing passionately in his right to make such a request, it now fell upon me to make sure his request was complied with. I worried a lot about this. You don’t lightly go round to someone’s place you know and like and give them a lethal injection.” Conversation at lunch beforehand was “very difficult”, Dr. Nitschke recalled. “Then he lay down and said ‘Let’s do it’,” and he died in his wife’s arms, the world’s first person to lawfully end his life by means of euthanasia. Dr. Nitschke assisted three other persons to end their days as they wished before the Federal Government overturned the legislation,“and Australia went back to the Dark Ages legislatively.” As a footnote to that particular episode, a Sydney museum offered

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to display the now redundant machine used to administer the lethal dosage. But the museum got cold feet after an argument broke out in the federal Senate in which one senator said he didn’t want the children of the nation traumatised by that “obscenity”. However the British Museum in London had no such qualms and Dr. Nitschke proudly reports that the machine is prominently displayed there and he has watched thousands of schoolchildren file past it, seemingly untraumatised by this obscenity. A key theme of Dr. Nitschke’s presentation was that while suicide is not a crime in Hong Kong and many other places, assisting people in any way is outlawed and the maximum theoretical sentence is 10 years’ jail, the same as in UK (although none of the relatives of

the more than 100 Britons who have gone abroad to end their lives at clinics run by the Swiss assisted suicide organisation Dignitas has been prosecuted). Dr. Nitschke said that because of the risk of exposing loved ones to prosecution, “you all need to know is how to kill yourself, you all need to know is how to do it effectively and you should take steps not only to learn the process but to acquire the things you might need to take that course.” That’s where Nembutal comes in. “You may never want that drug. But if you’ve got it in place, it’s an immensely comforting feeling, an insurance policy...” However Nembutal is banned in much of the world, outside Central and South America. The nearest place to Hong Kong where it is available legally is Thailand, and Dr. Nitschke’s publication The Peaceful Pill (which is banned in Australia) gives the address of the shop in Bangkok where you can buy it, and the price (but you cannot of course legally bring it into Hong Kong). Nembutal – a barbiturate of the kind that Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland among others took to kill themselves – was used for sleeping pills in the 1950s but fell out of favour when safer, nonlethal drugs arrived such as Valium. Dr. Nitschke said he was told at medical school that you can take a bucketful of Valium without killing yourself. Nembutal has a shelf-life of 15 years. “So if you are thinking that some time between now and 15 years’ time you might want to die, I’d make the trip and make sure the pill is kept in a nice, safe, cool, dark place.”

I’VE SEEN A LOT OF PEOPLE TAKE NEMBUTAL AND I’VE NEVER SEEN THEM FINISH THEIR WHISKEY. IT’S FAST. YOU DON’T WANT TO MAKE AN ELOQUENT LAST SPEECH AFTER DRINKING YOUR NEMBUTAL – MAKE IT BEFORE

Euthanasia is permitted in Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland and the U.S. states of Oregon and Washington. Montana is set to follow. All require strict residential qualifications except Switzerland, which should be applauded, Dr. Nitschke says, because it permits foreigners to use its facilities. The Dignitas clinic, which The Spectator magazine has described as “sinister” and “tawdry” without saying why, charges 10,000 Swiss francs for its services, with the proceeds going to charity. There are of course all manner of arguments against euthanasia, on ethical, medical, legal and religious grounds. One recent correspondent to the South China Morning Post went so far as to say that euthanasia should never be allowed because suffering was “part of God’s loving plan”. This prompted a retort from a subsequent letter writer who said that if this was God’s Plan A, might there not conceivably be a higher entity who had a Plan B? Others opponents of assisted suicide charge that permitting

euthanasia may tempt people to pressure unwanted relatives to volunteer for early death. It might be possible, Dr. Nitschke acknowledges. “But…are we going to use the fact that that might happen as a way of disenfranchising the people who want that option and clearly benefit from it?” One perceived danger is that access to drugs like Nembutal may facilitate murder. It’s not that easy, it seems. “This drug may look like water but it sure as hell doesn’t taste like water. It’s excessively bitter. You can’t slip it into your grandmother’s tea and expect her to just drink it down and die peacefully. She’ll spit it right out again.” But Nembutal is fast acting. “I’ve seen a lot of people take Nembutal and I’ve never seen them finish their whiskey. It’s fast. You don’t want to make an eloquent last speech after drinking your Nembutal – make it before.” Australian general practitioners don’t have access to Nembutal, but vets do – a fact that gave rise to one of Dr. Nitschke’s more colourful experiences. He was advising a male cancer victim who wanted to die when the man’s wife, hearing that vets had access to Nembutal, summoned Dr. Nitschke into a room out of her husband’s hearing. “She said, ‘I don’t want my husband to know anything about this, but I had an affair with a vet, he owes me some bloody big favours, and I’m going to call them in’. She had a grim and rather determined look, and got the drug.” The husband was immensely comforted by the fact that he had control over his life and death. In the end he didn’t take the drug and died of his cancer. “And that is what this drug does, it extends life.” THE CORRESPONDENT

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The Wall

The Wall

The Wall: Harry Harrison Uncensored

Harry Harrison’s exhibition, which ran in the FCC in September, showed some of this wickedly witty cartoonist’s finest unpublished work

Harry, got his first real break in political cartooning in the mid-1990s, when he freelanced for The Asian Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Page, going on in 2001 to produce a daily cartoon for the South China Morning Post. Today, Harry’s work also appears in the Far Eastern Economic Review, the International Financing Review as well as in The Guardian and of course, The Correspondent. Harry says the most difficult aspect of his job is generating concepts. On any given day, he might need to produce five or more ideas and most of them never make it to print. This FCC exhibition showcased some of Harry’s most memorable unpublished illustrations.

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The Wall

The Wall

November 2004 Chengdu, Sichuan Province: The Chairman takes in the view from a room in the Railway Hotel

The Wall: The Chairman and I

For six years, whenever photographer André Eichman travelled in China, he took a kitsch little Chairman Mao statue with him. The resulting exhibition, which premiered in the FCC in October, is both intriguing and revealing Travelling throughout China with a “kitch yet cute” little Chairman Mao statue, André Eichman photographed and interviewed local people from all walks of life. This simple, light-hearted yet evocative device gave Eichman a unique insight into the lives of the Chinese people and allowed his subjects an opportunity to speak about a figure that has been so seminal to modern China. “Talking to the Chinese people about the Chairman and listening to their views on where the country was heading gave me a unique window into modern China,” says Eichman. “It started out as a light-hearted project that suddenly changed direction one night when I sat in

on a leacture by Zhou Enlai’s wife’s bodyguard named General Goh. He spoke about his hardships on the Long March during the long and arduous journey and I sat there transfixed by the General’s every word. “Wandering around China for so many years with the Chairman statue at my side led me down roads I would never have taken, and allowed me the privilege to meet so many different people along the way.” All photographs are limited editions and are for sale. Mr Eichman will also be launching a limited edition book with quotes and images from his journey. Please refer to www.thechairmanandi.com for further information. June 2007 Beijing: A boy stands in front of the unfinshed Birds Nest Stadium and proudly holds the Chairman

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Above – June 2007 Qingdao, Shandong: The Chairman gets his photo taken with some kids playing on the beach Right – July 2009 Chengyang, Guangxi: A Dong woman grins to camera whilst having her photo taken with the Chairman Below – March 2004 Songpan, Sichuan: A man in a Mao hat poses in front of a roadside mural with the Chairman

March 2009 Dandong, Liaoning: A man and his donkey stand in the road to pose with the Chairman 46

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The Wall

July 2005 Xiaohuang, Guizhou: A Miso rice farmer pose with the Chairman in this off-the-beaten-track village 48

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The Wall

March 2009 Dandong Liaoning: A farmer pauses briey from his work to pose for a phot with the Chairman THE CORRESPONDENT

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Feature

Probing the Plastic Vortex Project Kaisei is a scientific mission to study the Plastic Vortex, a vast mass of floating debris trapped in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Karin Malmstrom found her sea legs to join the exhibition’s maiden voyage

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t’s a zoo down there. Do you want to see them before I kill‘em?”, Miriam, Chief Scientist aboard the Scripps Institution science vessel New Horizon, inquires as we recover the “manta” net from its 15-minute tow along the starboard side on the Pacific Ocean’s surface. It was the first day of my 21-day expedition to what seemed like a catapult into outer space. Each of these environments does not welcome air-breathing humans and if anything went wrong, we could not simply walk out of the jungle into civilization. At least the space shuttle has regular communication channels with earth. We are to be out of range for most of the trip. And now, here I am, deploying and retrieving tailor-made scientific equipment and logging tow data among other duties while mingling with the crew of 29 – that includes world-class oceanographers – as we steam toward the open sea. Just weeks prior to setting sail, I had submitted my video application to Doug Woodring, co-founder of Hong Kong-based Project Kaisei, to be considered for participation in what promised to be an oceanic Star Trek-meets-eco-Mystery Tour voyage to gather data in the Plastic Vortex between San Francisco and Hawaii. “We may have room for one, possibly two, volunteers on one of two ships going,” Doug advised. “Show up in San Diego a few days before we depart and we’ll take it from there.” During the press event announcing our voyage, one visiting oceanographer commented, “Hmm, a pretty small ship to be going out there.” The vessel does look vaguely like part of a fishing fleet but still seems a respectable size at 172 ft. Nevertheless, this observation did not overwhelm me with confidence as we gently slipped from the moorings at the Scripps Institution Nimitz Marine Facility at 0800 hours on a grey, non-brass band morning. A TV crew was feeding our departure live to a local station, some family, friends and Casey the Scripps dog had gathered to witness our escape to charted yet unexplored territory. The digs are from student dorm days reminiscent of university. My roommate Lara is a high school science teacher with the mission to use the tiny 50

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bandwidth quota on the ship (4 MB a day) to write the daily Scripps blog for their SEAPLEX site. She’ll also collect information to formulate educational modules upon return. The plan is for these modules to be standardized and distributed to schools far and wide so kids can learn about marine life and the effect on them by man as it relates to the garbage and plastic debris that ends up in the oceans. Looking at the whiteboard work roster in the main lab, I notice I’m on the night Science Watch. For three weeks, I will assist with anything that needs to be done between 2000 hours and 0800 hours. Somehow, it all seems to work with precision and efficiency yet has a zen flow to it, a balance of exacting and organic. You just need to be careful not to trip over people dozing off in between tows and trawls in one of the cosy beanbags thrown in any available corner of the lab. “Lots happens at night, usually more than in the day,” Jesse, a zooplankton scientist enthuses. Guess I’ll need to morph into a nocturnal animal and hope to stay awake so I don’t drop expensive one-off equipment of sizeable proportion and weight, or spill precious deepsea specimens onto the heaving deck. I comment to Lara, since she is joining me for the night shift, that she may not need the 100 spf sunscreen she has so diligently brought to keep out the laser rays of high noon. We won’t be seeing noon, or much daylight at all. Just moonbeams and ship work lights. The first day – or night in our case – heralds tow after tow and lastly a trawl. Rope handling, positioning equipment for deployment and retrieval, tow meter reading, latitude longitude recording and hosing down netting to get those last salty samples into the lab basket are all part of a new routine. First a manta net (resembling a manta ray) tow, followed by a bongo net (guess...), then the CTD (Continuity Temperature Depth complex – a rosette of 24 containers looking suspiciously like a cluster of nuclear material tubes), another manta, then the big one – the Oozeki Dawn brings an albatross soaring across our stern as we ready the deepwater Oozeki trawl for deployment. This net will descend up to 700 metres and be towed in over a period of three hours. Pete, the assembler

Project Kaisei Mission Statement: Project Kaisei consists of a team of innovators, scientists, environmentalists, ocean lovers, sailors, and sports enthusiasts who have come together with a common purpose: to study the North Pacific Gyre and the marine debris that has collected in this oceanic region, to determine how to capture the debris and to study the possible retrieval and processing techniques that could be potentially employed to detoxify and recycle these materials into fuel. Project Kaisei’s recently concluded first scientific research expedition will be critical to understanding the logistics that would be needed to launch potential future clean-up efforts. Initial findings indicate that the problem in the gyre is pervasive, and was created within the last 50 years with plastic proliferating in our daily lives. 1,000 miles offshore, in more then 1,200 miles of ocean travelled within the gyre, with regular sampling along the way, we found plastic consistently in 100 surface samples taken. Human impact has reached one of the largest and most remote ecosystems on our planet. This is only the tip of the iceberg. Estimates show that 50 per cent of the plastic created in the world is for disposable, single-use products.That price is a growing environmental deficit that will continue to swell without a broad and fresh look at the way we do things. The changes we need to make do not need to be painful to our daily lives and convenience, just logical, real and significant.

Feature of the system, explains. “Day and night trawls capture different animals. At night animals migrate from the deep, those at one kilometre will move up to 700600 metres and critters at that level will move higher toward the surface. ” The first few trawls produce some prizes: a bejewelled light-reflecting lantern fish, scaly dragonfish, vampire squid, rattail and a deep-sea scyphomedusa vermilion jellyfish of the Family Periphyllidae. The lantern fish is of particular interest as they and other small fish are a primary food source for numerous sea mammals around the planet – including seals in the Antarctic found with plastic in their stomachs. It’s all about the food chain. And each of these scientists is studying a particular area where plastics interact with this web. “You look tired,” I say to Chelsea, a first-year toxicologist. “I’m on the day shift,” she replies. “But it’s so interesting I want to be here. Maybe I’ll take a nap.” She emerges eight hours later to her shift where she will collect specimens to take back to test for pollutants. Some creatures such as salps (clear gelatinous globules known as filter-feeders) are more susceptible to retaining toxin traces. Squid are also excellent toxins indicators as they are higher up the food chain so have eaten a variety of lower chain food. It’s only day three into three weeks and we’re beginning to groove into a rhythm. Today is the start of transit time from the California area to the first station on the North Pacific Tropical Gyre, or Plastic Vortex. It will be five days of light towing and will be days that “Whaleman” Josh sets up his research area. “I love being out here. The farther I get, the weirder – more normal – I feel. Look at those velella. I love them, they’re right up there with whales, “ Josh passionately imparts as we congregate on the bridge bow. We sweep through nautical mile minefields full of delicate blue-based jellyfish known as “by-the-wind sailor” serenely drifting along with the ocean breezes. Josh and other scientists aboard are fascinated by these whimsical yet complex sea floaters for their structure - complete with “sail” that either steers them right or left when the winds blows. Suddenly Second Mate Kent yells from the control room, “Whoa, there’s something big out there – check it out...think it’s a squid.” All personnel to starboard and sure enough, a ruddy brownish elongated blob is floating by, distinctly of squid appearance. It’s huge. The squid is decidedly deceased and a decision is taken to recover it. Captain Wes manoeuvres the ship so that nets and a hookpole can secure it alongside. It breaks apart as it is being hauled aboard. The stench makes me dry retch. Josh, clearly familiar with slimy sea smell, enthusiastically pieces it together to resemble its original construction and shape. Miriam thinks it’s a colossus (later confirmed as a giant 52

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Feature

Net results: The daily routine of sea trawls brings in a plethora of sea creatures – as well as an everincreasing amount of plastic debris.

squid). Everyone on board muscles in to ogle Ships in the night: Halfway through the journey, the it. Matt kisses its beak as “Ocean” Annie, the Horizon meets the Kaisei – two vessels on twin missions. videographer, records the predictable “gross, disgusting” groans and giggles from onlookers. Chelsea is visibly excited and reaches deep into the squid’s eye socket to pull out her trophy for tissue sampling. It goes straight into the freezer. It’s the day’s science catch. A 3:00 am manta tow on day five signals a change. We net three pieces of plastic along with the usual small fish and juvenile salps. Each subsequent tow brings more plastic samples as we travel westward. During a tow Doug dips a net off the side and dishes up more than expected – a floating “fouling community” ecosystem. Two crabs on a large-ish piece of plastic have created their own mobile Sea World - there’s algae to eat, a barnacle and flying fish eggs. Because more plastic is being documented both in our nets and sighted floating in the water, I have been given another task – the Plastic Patrol. Which means sleep will occur as if I’m a firefighter or emergency room intern. Who needs booze when you have a sleepdeprivation buzz going and perma-adrenalin rush from deck duties and exotic Petri dish discoveries. We see a pattern of patchy swaths with a beginning, middle and end of a “river” of debris flow. The decision has been taken to go on full intensive deployment schedule. Each shift has at least ten deployments THE CORRESPONDENT

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For more information: www.projectkaisei.org (with blog and further links); www.ucsd.edu and the Scripps’ voyage blog: www.seaplexscience.com

round the clock. Pete’s monster Oozeki is especially intimidating, requiring hydraulic equipment, winches, precision coordination and some six people to deploy and retrieve it. I’m in charge of the life lines – the three steel cables separating the ship’s stern from the sea. The net safely stowed, its briny contents are emptied into a bucket. A “splash plop” indicates we’ve got something big and gelatinous. This time it’s a pyrosome. Halfway through the cruise and we have convergence in the vortex! We are able to meet up with The Kaisei. Two vessels on twin missions, we schedule a sunset rendezvous on a calm evening in the gyre. It is a good omen for things to come. The flying fish and flying squid dart and kamikaze the gently rolling sea surface in the plastic gyre. The sunrise-sunset-moonrise modern art skies and cosmodome shooting star heavenly gallery provide powerful visual soul elixir between night tows. We’ve completed a transect grid of 16 tows and are moving on to another intensive 24-hour station. The plastic is obvious and insidious – huge tangles of nets, buckets, construction helmets, buoys and plastic confetti – the lurking sub-surface soup that we catch in every manta net. We have even rescued a catatonic-mugged 100 per cent polyester puppy, now named Lucky. The scientific consensus on this vessel: we have a serious, unsustainable, man-made debris problem. This ancient ecosystem is a place most humans have neither seen nor heard about, yet whose garbage is strewn in great swaths. How big and how to fix it will be tackled in the next stages. 54

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Science aboard the New Horizon is a living, breathing thinking-on-feet experience. It’s raw, creative, ingenious - sexy even. Jim the faculty advisor sees our ship as a probe sent to study something too big to measure – like Space. We’ve collected “moonrock” samples and now the hard part starts – processing and analysing the data so as to arrive at hypotheses and models that generate further research probes and, ultimately, answers and solutions. “Science and exploration and this little boat are on the edge of what humans can do,” philosophizes Jesse. “We want to key into people’s natural curiosity about their world, and come up with something sustainable. Putting things in the ocean is like sweeping trash under the rug. Given enough time it will accumulate and reach a point of saturation. We may need to hit rock bottom. Our society is based on perpetual growth – this can’t continue.” As we roll landward on eight-foot swells and bridgecrashing black and white-capped bioluminescent dinoflagellate waves stretching to the horizon, now that the manta has been carefully ratchet-strapped away, I’m headed for that beanbag in the corner. THE CORRESPONDENT

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Media

Media

No holiday in Cambodia

In these dark days of global newspaper closures, publisher Ross Dunkley has changed The Phnom Penh Post from a twice-weekly English-language title into a daily edition and is now busy rolling out a sister Khmer title. Luke Hunt talks to this enigmatic Australian to learn more

All images: Luke Hunt

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oss Dunkley is alarmingly brash. Up close and personal, the Australian publisher prides himself as a straight talker who readily indulges his critics. It’s an attitude he took to The Phnom Penh Post just over a year ago. Then the newspaper was published once every two weeks. Now it’s a daily and a separate 44-page edition published in Khmer was launched in mid-September. “In just over four months our staff numbers went from 12 to over 100, we found and renovated state-ofthe-art offices, found and fitted out our factory, and we were ready to go in less than six months. “It’s a great achievement and proves that in Cambodia you can get things done,” said Dunkley. And of the Khmer edition he is as equally gushing. “We’ll spread it around for free for four weeks, I think, and the comments out on the street this morning are ‘wow!’. We’ve never seen anything like this before. It’s beautiful.” 56

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However, it’s not an achievement that’s likely to be repeated in Thailand where Dunkley scotched months of rumours that his Post Media Company was looking to buy The Nation. “We are not particularly interested,” he said bluntly. “How could we be when foreign ownership is capped at 30 percent and at the board level 25 percent, which is strange in itself? Navigating the minefield of politics would also be quite a task. ” His comments are something of a cringing indictment given that Dunkley has made a career out of building newspapers in countries that are widely regarded as being far more difficult than Thailand and are openly hostile to the press. Burma and Vietnam are the most notable while Cambodia, where Post Media hopes to expand into radio and television, had for decades been typecast as the region’s political and economic basket case. Dunkley grew up a lifetime away, in Perth, Western Australia.

“After boarding school I jackarood in the Riverina of New South Wales and then studied agricultural economics at university. I wanted to go home to the farm, but kept fighting with my father in the cattle yards.” Instead, he took a cadetship at The Stock and Land newspaper in Melbourne and two years later won a prestigious Walkley Award for the paper’s coverage of Australia’s notorious waterfront strikes. But he remained restless, headed back to Perth and worked as an editor before venturing into specialty publishing – with uninspiring results. “I got screwed by the cartel of big publishers, Murdoch, Fairfax and Rural Press, and I learned a big lesson: you don’t threaten the big boys.” He left Australia for Vietnam and became a partner in the Vietnam Investment Review (VIR) in 1991, which was just setting up shop. In those years VIR was a watershed for the press in Vietnam. Physically and politically, the country was still struggling to rebuild itself after decades of conflict and the Cold War had just ended. The heydays of Hanoi’s relationship with Russia were over and the Vietnamese politburo was beginning to experiment with a new era of openness and economic policies known as Doi Moi. Despite the political mind games – which Vietnamese communists are famous for – VIR stuck with its economic remit and was well regarded for its financial reporting. “Our timing was impeccable and we rode the wave upwards, selling to James Packer in 1994 and I stayed on as a manager until my contract ran out in ’97, which coincided with the Asian financial big bang.” Dunkley divided his time between Europe and Perth, swapped roles with his wife and became a house dad for his two children and established a business relationship with Bill Clough, who heads a network of family companies principally involved with mining. “In between I travelled to Myanmar every month negotiating with the military. Myself and my partner Bill Clough founded The Myanmar Times at the dawn of the new millennium and here I am at the end of 10 years in Yangon.” It has been far from carefree. The authorities jailed Dunkley’s Burmese business partner and the newspaper’s co-founder Sonny Swe, ostensibly for censorship violations. He was given 14 years: seven years for English violations and seven years for Myanmar ones. “Actually he didn’t really do anything wrong. It was just plain politics and he was caught in the crossfire,” Dunkley said. “We were ‘given’ a new partner and I was given an assurance from the government that I was free to run the company and the newspapers.” The Myanmar Times is published in both languages. The stable includes NOW! Magazine and a crime tabloid which is staffed by 400 people with bureaus in Mandalay and the capital Nay Pyi Taw.

“I GOT SCREWED BY THE CARTEL OF BIG PUBLISHERS... AND I LEARNED A BIG LESSON: YOU DON’T THREATEN THE BIG BOYS.” The plan in Myanmar is not unlike the strategy for Cambodia: to take The Myanmar Times daily and break an almost 50-year state monopoly on newspaper publishing. But doing deals with a military junta is unlikely to win over too many friends and Dunkley doesn’t seemed too fazed. “I’m on the playing field, engaged in the game. I’m not shrieking from the sidelines, hysterical, because I cannot influence the result. “When I met (UN Secretary-General) Ban Ki Moon in Yangon he congratulated me, encouraged me, and urged me to continue on with our good work. We have trained more than 100 journalists over a decade. “I call that capacity building. And, there are a large group of publishers, editors and journalists in Myanmar who have similar views to myself. We see light at the end of the tunnel.” In Cambodia, the sale of The Phnom Penh Post – a much different beast to VIR or The Myanmar Times – marked the end of an era. Legendary correspondent Jim Pringle once called it the greatest little newspaper on Earth. And, despite the industry being savaged by the digital age and cheap Internet content Dunkley’s optimism is unflinching. “The Post is not profitable and even less so this week as we pushed out our second daily in 12 months,” he said as 10,000 copies of the Khmer edition ran off the presses. “We’ve invested millions of dollars... It will take time to bring this all back into the black. But, our fundamentals are correct. “We will see this project be commercially viable in a short amount of time. We have made the correct decision to invest here.” THE CORRESPONDENT

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Press Freedom

Stiletto By Max Kolbe

Counting the Cost of Freedom Two American journalists, one British reporter and an Afghan journalist have defied recent trends and were released from detention. But not all the releases were causes for celebration. Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who were held for nearly five months in a North Korean prison, have told how they did not see any border markers that would indicate they had crossed into the hermit state. They described in the US media their attempt to cross the frozen Tuman River in order to document the route used by traffickers who smuggle North Koreans over the border to China. “We didn’t spend more than a minute on North Korean soil before turning back, but it is a minute we deeply regret,” they wrote. “To this day, we still don’t know if we were lured into a trap.” Ling and Lee were released in August but not until former President Bill Clinton met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. Also released was an Afghan journalist imprisoned for 20 years for blasphemy after he downloaded an Internet article about women’s rights and Islam. Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, 24, was freed early by President Hamid Karzai, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reported. Kambakhsh, a reporter for the Jahan-e-Naw newspaper, was sentenced to death in January 2008. This was changed to 20 years’ imprisonment by a Kabul appeals court in October 2008. So far this year, RSF has counted 174 journalists and media assistants imprisoned, and another 82 cyber dissidents

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AFP

behind bars. A further 32 journalists have been killed, the latest victims slain in Afghanistan, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo and El Salvador. It was the death of Sultan Munadi (pictured), a father of two, that raised most eyebrows. Munadi worked as a journalist and translator for correspondent Stephen Farrell of The New York Times. The pair were kidnapped by Taliban militia on September 5 while reporting on a possible botched NATO airstrike that left 90 people dead. Farrell, a Brit with dual Irish citizenship, had apparently ignored warnings not to travel into the area. NYT then carried out what was reported as a quiet but intense campaign to keep the story out of the news so as not to be seen as “raising the temperature”. A British commando raid followed. Farrell, 46, was rescued but Munadi, 32, along with a British commando and at least three other people, said to be a Taliban commander and two

local villagers, died. NYT Executive Editor Bill Keller told US National Public Radio that coverage of the case might have put the captured reporter and his Afghan assistant in even greater danger. “In this case, we had some early word through intermediaries that this might be resolvable and that we could persuade the captors that these guys were legitimate journalists, doing important work, and that they should be released,” he said. Munadi’s brother described the operation as thoughtless. “There was no need for this operation at all,” Mohammad Osman told AFP. “The ICRC, the United Nations, tribal elders were all involved in optimistic release negotiations, when all of a sudden this raid took place. “I cannot blame one particular person for this, it is everyone – the government, The New York Times, Taliban and finally the main responsibility for his death lies with British forces who launched this unnecessary operation.” THE CORRESPONDENT

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Media

Media

Interviewing Joan Kennedy

The August funeral of Teddy Kennedy brought back some poignant memories for Isabel Taylor Escoda who interviewed the Senator’s wife when the couple visited Malaysia in 1963

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he BBC’s live telecast of the funeral of Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy on August 29th was quite a moving experience for me. I found the pomp and solemnity involved in the ceremony impressive. Particularly interesting was the presence of so many former American presidents and present officials. It showed that Teddy Kennedy was admired, even loved, not for belonging to a famous clan but for his work and achievements in government. President Barack Obama’s eulogy called him “the greatest legislator of our time” who had penned more than 300 statutes and whose name is connected with nearly a thousand laws in the U.S. Senate. Watching the extended TV relay made me think of the time I’d seen the late senator and met his first wife, briefly, many years ago. It was a fleeting, not particularly memorable, moment, but it reminded me that I had an old photograph somewhere of Joan Bennett Kennedy with me in Kuala Lumpur. And so I wondered, while watching the funeral ceremonies, why I could not see Teddy’s ex-wife among the crowds gathered in Boston’s Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica. As the TV cameras panned around the various dignitaries during the extended relay of the processional and mass, it was mainly the senator’s second wife, Victoria, who was very visible, as were his three children by Joan and various grandchildren and other relatives. But I couldn’t find the striking blonde I’d once met whom JFK reportedly described as “a dish” and that American president, a connoisseur of women, obviously knew whereof he spoke. My late husband Tony was the Associated Press correspondent in Malaysia at the time, so he and other KL-based journalists went to interview the youngest Kennedy brother on his arrival at Subang Airport. I don’t know why I tagged along but think perhaps that Tony suggested I interview Joan to get the “woman’s angle” – which made me nervous, never having interviewed a VIP before. I surmise that as a newly elected senator, Teddy was sent by his brother on an Asian trip early in 1963 when Indonesia and Malaysia were embroiled in Confrontation and the Vietnam war was escalating. By 1962 JFK had been continuing the military buildup in Vietnam, so perhaps he thought that after his younger brother became a senator the following year, he was ready for a familiarisation tour of Southeast 62

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Asia, KL being his first stop. Not many months later, Teddy’s brother was assassinated. Like JFK who took along his glamorous wife Jackie on his state visit to France (“I’m the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris,” he famously said), Teddy took along his own beautiful wife on his trip, similarly to charm his hosts at the various capitals they visited. What did I ask Joan Kennedy at Subang Airport? Frankly it’s all lost in the mists of time. My old photograph, taken by the AP photographer, shows her wearing a simple sleeveless frock and long thin necklace. Her thick blonde mane was held back by a slim hairband, and her hands were on the low table between us, with one hand apparently toying with her wedding ring. Smiling tentatively across at me as I grinned at her and held a notebook on my lap, she was probably telling herself to reply politely if the rumpled-looking woman “reporter” with a Burmese Shan bag slung over one shoulder asked any silly questions. I’m almost sure I asked her if it was her first trip to Asia but can’t remember her reply nor the rest of our conversation. What I know is that I took some shorthand notes (my secretarial training came in handy) which I later typed out for Tony – who probably wrote that the young senator was accompanied by his stylish wife on their stopover in Malaysia. After surfing the Web to find out if Joan had indeed attended her ex-husband’s funeral, I did find a couple of pictures – one of her wearing white and large

MY LATE HUSBAND TONY WAS THE AP CORRESPONDENT IN MALAYSIA… HE WENT TO INTERVIEW TEDDY ON HIS ARRIVAL. I DON’T KNOW WHY I TAGGED ALONG BUT THINK PERHAPS THAT TONY SUGGESTED I INTERVIEW JOAN TO GET THE “WOMAN’S ANGLE” – WHICH MADE ME NERVOUS, NEVER HAVING INTERVIEWED A VIP BEFORE

Past notes: “She was probably telling herself to reply politely if the rumpled-looking woman ‘reporter’, with a Burmese Shan bag slung over one shoulder, asked any silly questions. Image: AP

sunglasses, walking ahead of a stern-looking Victoria. One report said Joan had remained on friendly terms with Teddy, but that relations with Vicky were frosty. I found the other write-ups about Joan quite poignant. She apparently came from a comfortable background, though one story mentions both her parents were alcoholics. She went to the same elite Catholic academy as Ethel Skakel, who later married Robert Kennedy and who introduced her to his younger brother Teddy. Marriage into that famous clan must have been intimidating, as well as difficult. Teddy’s memoir, published posthumously shows he acknowledges having caused Joan to drive “deeper into her anguish”. Indeed Joan herself attributes her alcohol addiction to the Kennedys, particularly the notorious Chappaquiddick incident in 1969 in which Teddy left a young woman to drown in his car when they met an accident. In subsequent years Joan was arrested a few times for drunken driving. One report that called her a “casualty of Camelot” said she tried to mask her drinking with mouthwash and vanilla extract. Though the couple separated in 1978, Joan helped Teddy campaign in the 1980 presidential campaign, in which he lost the Democratic Party nomination to Jimmy Carter. They divorced in 1983. Today psychotropic drugs are what weak, beleaguered persons turn to for relief, but Joan used alcohol to dim her woes which included three miscarriages, one son’s lingering asthma, two of her

children’s cancer scares and her husband’s occasional carousing. She also coped with the assassinations of Teddy’s two brothers and the deaths of his three nephews – which drove him to drink sporadically. Such tumultuous events would shake an ordinary person’s life, and Joan was particularly fragile. In 2005 she was briefly in the news when she was hospitalized with a concussion and broken shoulder after being found lying drunk in a Boston street near her home. This resulted in her eldest son Edward being appointed as her legal guardian. Not long afterwards, she underwent surgery for breast cancer. The litany of woes seemed endless. Joan reportedly had a brief love affair earlier but now lives alone in her homes in Boston and Cape Cod, with her estate placed in a trust overseen, not by her children, but by two court-appointed trustees. President Obama’s eulogy of Teddy said: “We weep because we loved this kind and tender hero who persevered through pain and tragedy – not for the sake of ambition or vanity, not for wealth or power; but only for the people and the country he loved.” Having been married for 25 years to that illfated “kind and tender” man, perhaps the fragile young woman I met in Kuala Lumpur long ago finds solace today in the piano, at which she’s said to be accomplished. She did, after all, write a book in 1992 called The Joy of Classical Music. So maybe there is some joy in her life today. THE CORRESPONDENT

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In Review

Garry’s Gentle Jaunts

The Karma Killers

Those of us who over the years have enjoyed the charming, quirky travel stories penned by longtime FCC member and current Paris resident Garry Marchant now have a special treat: a collection of 40-odd pieces Garry has written with grace, insight and humour about his journeys, mostly off but also on the beaten track, in Asia over the past three decades. Jonathan Sharp reports

Hong Kong-based journalist Angelo Paratico, who is a Correspondent member of the FCC, has just had his ‘mystic thriller’ published in English. Originally penned in Paratico’s native Italian, it is a Dan Brownesque tale of religious intrigue set in China and Tibet. It includes a few scenes from our very own Main Bar and, writes Mathew Scott, it is a very good read indeed

T

he idea for this anthology was conceived in the FCC during a conversation between Garry and old friend and Shanghai-based publisher Graham Earnshaw. And unlike many other schemes dreamed up at the Main Bar, this one thankfully came to fruition. The book is entitled The Peace Correspondent because, as Garry explains in his preface, unlike glamorous war correspondents he prefers untroubled areas to write about. So don’t expect high-octane tales of journalistic derring-do. Garry is more into what one might term derring-don’t. And there are no interviews with world leaders. Instead he meets and talks to interesting locals, witnesses their festivals, and partakes with gusto of their food and drink delicacies (and some not-so-delicacies). Garry was born smack in the middle of Canada, where life is said to be not exactly on the edge, and so perhaps understandably, he became obsessed with travel. He has peered into every continent but he says Asia provided the best stories. He has developed a deep love for this part of the world and anyone who has a similar affection for Asia will relish this book. Garry also specializes in seeking out the more exotic locales that often take some effort to reach. So in Hong Kong he visits a Wong 64

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Tai Sin soothsayer who tells him, with that disconcerting directness that is so characteristic of Hong Kongers, that he has a big nose. (“And I am paying to hear all this,” comments Garry). In South Korea, he picks out remote Hongdo island, the farthest southwest piece of the country that can be reached by public transport. In Tibet, he takes a three-day journey to the spot where in 1904 an invading force led by Major Francis Younghusband defeated the Tibetans. In the Philippines Garry observes the bizarre AtiAtihan Festival in Kalibo, Atlan district, where he is greeted by “sooty-faced natives in pseudoZulu outfits bearing a sign ‘Black Beauty Boys’.” He also writes about the Bangladesh capital Dhaka which, as he tactfully puts it, is not the most beloved of Asian capitals for visitors but nonetheless has “definite, although sometimes elusive, attractions”. But the book also covers more familiar territory. Garry writes with awe about a voyage through the Yangtze gorges before the dam. (During the trip the passengers are horrified to see a corpse floating by, which “doesn’t even attract a glance from the crew”.). He climbs, gaspingly, Mount Kinabalu, ponders the fabled attractions of the Taj Mahal, goes trekking in Nepal, and takes a press trip to Japan

I The Peace Correspondent Garry Marchant Earnshaw Books ISBN 978-988-18154-6-0

where he admires “what has been designated as one of the country’s 10 best toilets. It is closed for the winter so we do not experience it.” And there is a graphic description of the Macau Grand Prix weekend when as Garry says wisely, “races are best watched from the hospitality suites in the Mandarin.” He witnesses a slight fracas at the award stand where photographers are struggling for the best vantage point. “The scene gets nasty, with one tough old Dutch Vietnam vet raging at anyone who gets in front of him.” I wonder who that could be?

t’s impossible not to bracket veteran journalist Angelo Paratico in with the Dan Browns of the literary world. Same genre on show here, you see, a thriller twisted around religious intrigue and the massive gaps to be explored between what we know about Catholicism, what we don’t know, and what many people have imagined might have happened over the centuries. Paratico – like Brown – waltzes right into those gaps, framing his extremely readable tale around the mystery surrounding the missing years in the life of Jesus Christ. According to the versions of the man’s life that were written down at least, Jesus dropped off the face of the earth between the ages of 12 and 30 and there’s long been rumours about what exactly went on. Paratico attaches the narrative to the one that says Jesus ended up hitting the road – and he suggests those travels might have taken the man all the way to Tibet. At the heart of this story also sits an Italian couple travelling through the Himalayas – he’s looking into that particular religious mystery, she’s more concerned with simple escape – while there’s also the little matter of the looming threat of a nuclear war that our main protagonist, the husband Giacomo, must contend with as he makes his wary way.

The pleasure in Paratico’s writing – and this English translation comes five years after the Italian original first hit the shelves – is that he dispenses with much of the nonsense that thrillers often involve. Or as much as you can when you’re mixing up the life of the Son of God up with shadier dealings of modern-day China. You’re not often left scratching your head or snickering, an easier way of putting it, as you are when Brown tangles himself up or tries a little too hard to be clever. It’s the relaxed style that carries you along and travellers will enjoy Paratico’s feel for the lay of the land, and for the atmosphere to be found in the back alleys of tourist grottos of Asia. There’s also a few nods to our own Club, a touch of its history and a whisper from the author himself – through the lips of one character – who says walking into the FCC is a “bit like coming home’’. It all combines to give The Karma Killers a grounding in something that is tangible at the very least, recognizable characters and settings that balance out all the mysticism and supposition that surrounds the story. Most of all though, Paratico is simply a very good story-teller – he’s on to something interesting here and that alone keeps the pages turning.

The Karma Killers Angelo Paratico iUniverse Books ISBN 978-1-4401-4263-5

THERE’S ALSO A FEW NODS TO OUR OWN CLUB, A TOUCH OF ITS HISTORY AND A WHISPER FROM THE AUTHOR HIMSELF – THROUGH THE LIPS OF ONE CHARACTER – WHO SAYS WALKING INTO THE FCC IS A “BIT LIKE COMING HOME’’ THE CORRESPONDENT

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Then and Now

HSBC Headquarters and Beaconsfield House. Images by Bob Davis

1978:

An unfinished HSBC headquarters faces Beaconsfield House, home to the Government Information Service. In the background is the Hilton Hotel. The hotel’s top floor housed the FCC from 1963 to 1967.

2009: The Hilton and Beaconsfield House went in 1995 to make way for the Cheung Kong Center. The HSBC buillding (back, left) was finished in 1985 and at the time was the world’s most expensive building. © Bob Davis. www.bobdavisphotographer.com

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Meanwhile in the Main Bar

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Back Page Bitch

Confess to the Bitch: backpagebitch@yahoo.com

October, 2009

Dear Dick, The Review, at last, is dead. Yes, Dear Dick, after 63-years it will publish its final issue in December. A round-robin email is currently bouncing between a long list of current and former FEER staffers asking whether the demise of the Review matters. But it’s irrelevant really. The magazine today is nothing like the crusading independent weekly that unearthed so many scandals and stood up to numerous big boy bullies. As former editor Philip Bowring so wisely, said, it’s a funeral that is happening five years after the actual death – when the paper got bought out by Dow Jones, went monthly and started it’s farright editorial rants that talked for corporate Republican America far more than they talked for Asia. The staffers should be retained and will continue to suckle on the huge Dow Jones corporate teat, including editor Hugo Restall who will be whisked back to the US. Restall will be remembered among the Main Bar gossips as the editor who suddenly saw the need to spike a book review he had commissioned – it had nothing to do with the fact it talked about Dow Jones owner Rupert Murdoch – and for allegedly referring to George Bush as a “pinko”. Farewell Hugo. You will be missed. Talking of the Main Bar, there is trouble brewing in your favourite watering hole. The Bar is split over a gargantuan question: should the sound on the telly be on or off when there’s sport on. Tricky. What would you say, Dear Dick? Would you have needed to

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hear the sound of a car running round in circles? Or the grunts of an Australian footballer? Do you think you would have still have been immortalised in John Le Carre’s Honourable Schoolboy as the enigmatic “Old Craw” if, instead of engaging the bar-flies with insight, repartee and mystery, you would have been sat looking at the small screen watching a rerun of United versus Fulham? And so from the small screen to the silver screen. Graham Uden, one of the (self-proclaimed) Asian Paparazzi Kings, employed an intern this summer. She was a confident yet quiet British Chinese girl who worked for him for three months and then went back to London. He thought nothing more of it until a client who met the girl on a shoot later asked if Graham knew who she was. He didn’t and more fool him. She was Katie Leung, star of three Harry Potter movies. She appears as the young Potter’s girlfriend and is a real front-page star in her own right. Perhaps the biggest tabloid story of the summer was sitting, quite literally, at the end of his well-used wide angle and Mister Uden was oblivious. Uden is not one to normally miss his man – or girl. SCMP Post Magazine staffers will know him for the many “assignments”, always with the ever-smiling writer, Tom Hilditch, that in the late ‘90s, exposed many Asian sex industry hot spots. The pair’s editorial dedication was extraordinary. Even Editor-inChief Jonathan Fenby was known

to take an interest in Uden’s investigative work, regularly making his way to the magazine office to check the snapper’s “BRoll”. And during his seven-figure tenure at the Post, Fenby was not known to pick up a loop – or indeed anything – without much deliberation. Talking of the Post, this bastion of English language journalism has left Quarry Bay. The lucky few will remain on Hong Kong Island, in a small metro news office in Causeway Bay, while the rest will have to make the daily schlep to the paper’s printing complex in Tai Po. Please, no jokes about spelling mistakes. The paper’s management have put on a staff bus to carry the many staffers that live on the outlying islands from the Central ferry piers to the New Territories – one wag has already dubbed it the “feral wagon” – and it is very easy to spot. It is the only bus leaving the ferry pier stand that is filled with enthusiastic, beaming hacks eager to start work and unearth the scoop of the day. And it is also marked. In the front window is a small sign that reads, simply, “SCMP”. And in the back window is a huge sign that boldly announces, “Caution, Children.” Dear Dick, is this a mistake?

Respectfully,

Bitch THE CORRESPONDENT

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Photographers RICHARD JONES – Editorial, industrial and corporate photography: China, Hong Kong and Japan. Tel: (852) 9525 9049 Email: richard@sinopix.com Website: www.richardjones.com.hk RAY CRANBOURNE – Editorial, Corporate and Industrial. Tel/Fax: (852) 2525 7553 Email: ray_cranbourne@hotmail.com BOB DAVIS – Corporate/Advertising/Editorial Tel: (852) 9460 1718 Website: www.BOBDAVISphotographer.com

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The Correspondent, September-October 2009