Monthly Archives: July 2014

POLITICS – Exclusive: ‘A Storm is Coming’ – What Really Happened to House News

Little Eye on Big Media, Hong KongGuest Post: House News, a leading ‘Huffington Post-style’ pro-democracy news site disappeared from the internet suddenly last weekend. Its archives were also deleted – but was it really about money? Ex-columnist Evan Fowler reveals the truth about its demise, in what is yet another blow for press freedom in Hong Kong.

The House News shut suddenly last Saturday. At lunch I was online checking news. Then came a cryptic message from an editor at House. It read, “Storm has arrived. Your writing must not stop”. I immediately checked online. Instead of a news page there was only a written statement from Tony Tsoi Ho Tung saying that House News has closed.Making allowances for translation, Tony began by stating his “fear”. He wrote of Hong Kong having changed; of pressure and surveillance; and of a wave or atmosphere of “white terror”.

He also stated his need to travel to the Mainland for business, and the deepening sense of fear he felt each time he crosses the border. It is a feeling he “can’t articulate to those not in his position”. Unusually, he chose to mention his family within this context of fear. He writes of their fears for him and of an increasing hostile atmosphere. It was a fear felt not by his person alone, but by his family.

ACTIVISM – Record Turnout for Gaza Protest as 500 Rally Against Israeli Actions

There have been many protests against Israeli in Hong Kong in recent years. Whether it be the attack on the aid flotilla, the bombing of Gaza or other human rights abuses, most protests attract a hard core of about 20-50 protesters.

Gaza hong kong protest

However, on Sunday around 500 people took to the streets in sweltering heat and rain to protest the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza strip. The demonstration was organised by two activists on social media with just 48 hours notice.

POLITICS – How Robert Chow’s Pro-Gov’t ‘Silent Majority’ Groups Lost the Plot

Guest Post: Last week, adopting the language of the left, the pro-Beijing ‘Silent Majority’ group founded the ‘Alliance for Peace & Democracy’ in a response to the peaceful July 1st march. In this essay, Evan Fowler recalls his meeting last year with convenor Robert Chow, and says that the choice is not between radical protest and constructive engagement, but between believing Hong Kong people deserve a say in their future and believing they do not.

Last year I was at a gathering at which Robert Chow, founder of Silent Majority and the recently convened Alliance for Peace and Democracy, outlined his case against the Occupy Central Movement. He began by stressing that he agreed with the democrats wish for political reform, but that he believed that the threat of Occupy Central was confrontational and would only antagonise Beijing. However, from this point on he lost the plot.

Faulty maths.
First there were repeated attempts to misuse data. He claimed that Silent Majority represented 75% of Hong Kong people. He quoted this figure from a HKU poll that concluded only 25% of people at the time believed Occupy Central would “succeed”. From this, Robert read this as meaning 75% of Hong Kong people are not only against the movement, but support Silent Majority. These figures were challenged, including by members of the survey team. Yet Robert continues to publicly and deliberately misrepresent these figures.

Second, there was the fear-mongering. 10,000 people occupying Central, he claimed, would destroy the city. He claimed businesses would relocate and that we would see a mass flight of capital. Only then did he turn his eloquence to portraying the horrific social affects: a city brought to a standstill as roads are closed; our transport networks overloaded; rioting, looting and anarchy as our police and public services are overwhelmed. Images of pregnant mothers unable to be served at hospitals and children unable to attend school – all calculated to hit an emotional chord.

Tom Holland, the former SCMP economics columnist who was present at the gathering (and who has since left the Post), addressed the business case brilliantly when he pointed out that not only Central but the whole city completely shuts down during a typhoon, and yet, a point he stressed any economists will know, it has no effect on our economy as extra demand is generated immediately prior or immediately after such events. Capital, he reminded us, was drawn to a balance between opportunity and risk. Hong Kong’s advantages, from our Rule of Law to Freedom of Expression, are in fact what Occupy protesters are seeking to defend.

Silent Majority for Hong Kong,

Robert Chow (right) with a member of the Silent Majority for Hong Kong.

HISTORY – Evolution of the Hong Kong Skyline – a Visual History

Below is a brief visual history of how the Hong Kong skyline developed over the decades.

Pre-1869 painting of Hong Kong harbour

Pre-1869 painting via RGS-IBG image / E. L. Watling

1880s – Beginning with a rare shot of the harbour from the 19th century – the same decade in which the Star Ferry became operational.

 Hong Kong harbour

via New York Times

 Hong Kong harbour

1890, click to enlarge

1900s – Next, a quaint postcard from 1906 (via…

 Hong Kong harbour


1910s – The CBD, gradually creeping up The Peak, was then named Victoria City. There was no light show back then (but click here for a photo of the harbour at night, some 106 years ago!)…

NEWS – HSBC Warns Investors Off HK Over Occupy Central as Bishop Mocks Protesters

After boycotting the city’s pro-democracy media, HSBC has warned investors to sell stock in Hong Kong in light of the hypothetical ‘Occupy Central’ sit-in.

HSBC Hong Kong

Yesterday, the British bank, which has extensive interests in the mainland, downgraded Hong Kong in its “Global Equity Insights Quarterly” to ‘underweight’.

There remains no evidence the economy would be affected by the, as yet unconfirmed, pro-democracy protest. During the July 1st rally, the Hang Seng index rose 1.6%, its biggest jump since early May. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange stated earlier this year that it expects any acts of civil disobedience to have a minimal impact on trade.

NEWS – HK Journalists Association Forms ‘Name & Shame’ Self-Censorship Watchdog

Little Eye on Big Media, Hong Kong

A multi-part series

‘Little Eye on Big Media’ Special Series: The Hong Kong Journalists Association has declared the past year in Hong Kong to be the “darkest for press freedom for several decades“. Their 2014 annual report, entitled ‘Press Freedom Under Siege’, was released today. It laments the deteriorating situation in Hong Kong as political tension increases between Beijing and the territory.

It also announced the formation of a ‘Self-censorship Monitoring Committee’ to act as a watchdog and investigate complaints of editorial interference by local media managers. The panel, composed of journalists, academics and lawyers, will name-and-shame outlets where incidents have been confirmed in order to increase public awareness of such cases.

Complaints may be submitted by reporters, editors, photographers, commentators or columnists within 12 months of an incident arising.

The report notes the brutal attack on ex-Ming Pao editor Kevin Lau, the sacking of an outspoken talk-show cost Li Wei-Ling, advertising boycotts of pro-democracy titles and the government’s refusal to issue HKTV with a free-to-air licence.

It also notes how Beijing has lectured media representatives on the need to increase their coverage of the anti-Occupy Central movement.

Hong Kong Journalists Association

NEWS – Canada’s Consulate Hits Back at Business Chamber Over Anti-Democracy Movement Ad

The Consulate General of Canada has issued a strong statement distancing itself from the actions of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong after it published an anti-democracy movement advert in the South China Morning Post.

john wit, hong kong

Mr John Witt, of Hong Kong Land; chairman of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the statement from the Canadian Consulate.

The original advert appeared in the SCMP two weeks ago, taking aim at the Occupy Central movement.

VIDEO – ‘Hong Kong Rising’ A New Interactive Video Explainer: Part 1/2

Video journalist Guy Gunaratne has created an interactive explainer on Hong Kong’s political turbulence using a new, rich ‘layered’ video news format called Storygami. Parts 1 and 2 about the NENT protests and PopVote are below.

Hong Wrong’s ‘Fortress LegCo‘ post is embedded in part 1.

VIDEO – The Gendercide Crisis Sci-fi Web Series Shot in Post-Apocalyptic HK

00c6‘ is a social sci-fi transmedia and webseries project about China’s gendercide crisis. The first five episodes, below, depict a post-apocalyptic Hong Kong where male tourists flock to what remains of the city…

It puts the spotlight on one of China’s most hidden social crises, the female gendercide.