Saturday, June 30, 2007

There are stand-up comedians in HK? Unbelievabuw!

Most bbcs will know that cantopop, TV serials and movies are the staple of the Hong Kong entertainment industry. You might not be so aware of the small number of theatrical performers, though. This guy's name is Jim Chim Sui-man. I first discovered him the last time I was in Hong Kong when I noticed a crowd of people gathered round a plasma screen in a Mong Kok VCD shop. They were watching this performance:

I guess he does what stand-up comedians do the world over: Poke fun at the society around them and make us laugh. A lot of the Cantonese is above my head but I'm sure you'll get the gist of it.

Jim Chin Sui-man on Wikipedia.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

HK billionaire takes control of Premiership club

In the latest high profile takeover of a British football club, Hong Kong billionaire Carson Yeung has bought a controlling stake in recently promoted Birmingham City FC.

Whilst the English Premier League has many followers in Hong Kong, this represents the first serious involvement of Hong Kong business (and Hong Kong money) in the game. Yeung had apparently tried to buy Reading before completing the Birmingham deal.

Little is known at this stage about Yeung's business background, although he is reported to have made his fortune initially through investments in the gas and electronics industries.

He has used Grandtop International Holdings Ltd, a small-scale clothing company with an annual turnover of less than £5m, to buy his shares in Birmingham.

According to reports in Hong Kong, Yeung acquired his 16.67 per cent stake in Grandtop only last Friday in a deal worth £4m. The shares surged by 25 per cent on the back of the purchase, making him an instant £2m profit.

Why he has purchased his stake in Birmingham through the clothing company, which is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, is at this stage unclear.

Yeung, who was previously chairman of Hong Kong Rangers, failed in a previous bid to buy Reading and had shown an interest in acquiring Sheffield Wednesday.

Exactly what role Yeung will play at the club also remains uncertain. A lot will depend on whether he goes through with a full takeover bid.

News report here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Oasis to launch Yorkshire-to-HK direct flights?

As a London-based bbc, it's quite easy top become too London-centric in your view of the world. Where do catch a flight to Hong Kong? Why, Heathrow or Gatwick, of course. But what if you live in Newcastle or Burnley? I don't have any idea what the options are north of Watford.

At least bbcs who live in Yorkshire will find going back to HK a little bit easier in the future. That's if budget airline Oasis are able to start a direct service from Sheffield as planned.

News article here.

Fact for the Day: Yorkshire is the 2nd most affluent county in the UK.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Police appeal after death of Ken Hong

Police have appealed to the public for information after the sad death of Vietnamese charity worker Ken Hong, who died after trying to stop thieves stealing his car.

I hadn't planned on blogging this story as it seemed that the crime was random and not targeted at our community but after reading the police appeal I felt it was appropriate to mention it.

Detective Inspector Tim Lewis, from the Metropolitan Police Homicide and Serious Crime Command, said: "The man who drove away Mr Hong's car is described as black, about 25-years-old, possibly wearing a grey cap. I am appealing for anyone who was in the street around this time, or may have been looking out of their windows and saw the incident, or anyone in the general area who may have seen the car being driven away, to come forward."

It's a tragic and sad story yet unfortunately crimes like this seem to be more and more common in London these days (despite reports that crime figures are meant to be falling). Good people losing their lives in random acts of crime. I'm sure the thought of all readers will be with the Hong family.

Full article here.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Frozen In Time (#2)

Apologies for the blurry pic. I just happened to spot this takeaway while I was sitting in my car waiting at some traffic lights.

It's just off Clapham Common in South London, close Clapham South Tube station. What the photo doesn't show very well is the traditional looking pictures on the wall. I'm guessing the window and door are recent replacements but I did like the vintage-looking shop sign. :)

'Frozen in Time' is the bbc blog's celebration of Chinese establishments that have stood the test of time and kept their original look in an age of constant revamping and updating. Please let me know if you spot any more 'Frozen in Time' Chinese establishments.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Hong Kong - Land of Dragons

As Dragon Boat season draws near, Hong Kong's BC magazine describes the huge number of dragon 'sightings' in Hong Kong.

Not the real, fire-breathing variety but the more poetic, symbolic type. From street names to movie titles, Hong Kong undoubtedly has more dragons per square metre than anywhere else on earth.

For instance, a small island off Clear Water Bay, largely uninhabited these days but whose 300-year-old fort and prehistoric stone carvings attest to long periods of human occupancy, is referred to by Cantonese speakers as Tung Lung Chau or Tung Lung To, both of which translate as Eastern Dragon Island. Or you might know it as Nam Tong Island.

Still, it’s in the hills of Hong Kong that people are most likely to see dragons. On Hong Kong Island, a hilly ridge that runs parallel to Shek O Road above Big Wave Bay (Tai Long Wan) and Shek O village has been named the Dragon’s Back (Lung Chek) because its appearance conjures up visions of a dragon at rest. Yet it would have to be one of the more friendly types of dragon – the ridge is very popular with hikers and hang gliders, the undulating trail along it makes for a scenic walk voted the Best Urban Hike in Asia by TIME magazine a few years ago.

On, and it has a nice explanation of how Kowloon got it's name, too.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Johnny To's 'Exiled' on general release in UK

A film by one of Hong Kong's most innovative directors can be seen on the big screen in the UK. If his past films are anything to go by, expect a crime thriller with a few twists, and some impressively staged action set pieces.

'Exiled' has been described by critics as "a flabbergasting spectacle of kaleidoscopic violence that abstractly appraises codes of masculine honor" and "a moody crime drama that doubles as a revolutionary political allegory - ringing the changes on China's evolving reunification." Should be worth checking out.

Cineworld cinema info here.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hong Kong to stage nude photo exhibition

From June 16th Hong Kongers will be able to experience something quite rare for the SAR: a public exhibition of nudity.

The Body Arts Association (described as a nudist group) is staging a nude photography competition to mark the 10 year anniversary of the handover and to test whether attitudes towards nudity have changed in Hong Kong over that time. "Some of these pictures show sexual organs. If there aren't many complaints about it and the feedback is good, I would consider it a success," said Simon Cheung, chairman of the Association.

I'm quite surprised to hear Hong Kong even has nudist groups. I mean, where do they go?

As this article points out, Hong Kong is now actually a more prudish society than urban China, at least in terms of open and public displays of sexuality.

Nudity is still equated with sex in Hong Kong, which is now in some ways more conservative than mainland China, which has already staged nude photographic exhibitions and also has sex shops.

In 1995, the Hong Kong Obscene Articles Tribunal famously classified a newspaper picture of Michelangelo's statue of David as indecent. The ruling was overturned on appeal.

The organizers say they have had over 300 entries for the competition. Public nudity is currently illegal in Hong Kong, although the Body Arts Association is campaigning for a secluded nudist beach to be created.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Oriental City: Agreement Reached

Just been reported on

Finally, the logistical problems of temporarily re-locating Oriental City have been recognised. A deal has been struck between the OC business owners and the development company which will allow tenants to operate rent free until the centre's closure in June 2008. This would appear to be a financial boost to help soften the blow of closure.

As for the new Oriental City, all we know is that some form of new plaza will be created but there are no firm details as to what form that will take or what businesses will be located there.

The settlement means that Oriental City traders have been allowed free rent and can remain open for business until the development starts June 2008. Julian Barwick, the joint managing director of development Securities said: “We recognise that it is not possible to temporarily relocate tenants during redevelopment and because of this there is a period of uncertainty for the tenants. Therefore, we have agreed a clear timetable for close down of the package of measures including rent free from now until closure to provide assistance to tenants.”

Although when asked if the traders would be allowed to return to the New Oriental City, Dimsum was told that the practicalities of a huge redevelopment such as this means that there was no guarantee that they would all be in a position to return. Nevertheless, we were assured that the concept of Oriental City is protected, for South East Asian businesses to fill the new development.

Hong Kong youths, cultural identity (and us)

As the 10 year anniversary of the handover approaches, a study by Hong Kong University suggests that the percentage of Hong Kong teenagers who identify themselves as dual nationality, specifically 'Chinese, secondarily Hong Kongers' has risen whilst the percentage of those who describe themselves as just 'Hong Kongers' has fallen.

This would seem to be in keeping with the gradual coming together of Hong Kong and China since the handover, and the end of colonial rule.

The survey also found that teenagers' opinions of China have improved over the last ten years, however their opinion of Mainlanders themselves remains negative.

The report ends with the following:

The results of the two surveys urge us to rethink the following questions: How successful is the civic education in Hong Kong after the turnover? What are the possible meanings of Chinese identity? If we want Hong Kong adolescents to construct a Chinese identity, what do we encourage them to explore and identify with?

Is there only one way to be patriotic? If we want Hong Kong young people to be patriotic, what are the different ways of being patriotic we can encourage them to explore? These are the questions we should bear in mind when we design and implement civic education.

The results are probably what you would expect given Hong Kong's SAR status, but it reminded me of what a complex issue 'bbc identity' is.

What do I mean by that? Well, first of all we grow up as 'local foreigners', having to deal with issues of fitting into the society around us whilst belonging to a very different family culture at home. I'm sure many bbcs out there will know that feeling of being 'pulled in two directions'.

As we've grown up, the new challenge is making our way in this society - not as Outsiders like our parents, but Insiders. The issue for the grown-up generation is no so much 'being pulled in different directions' but having to decide on a direction for ourselves and taking it.

Hong Kongers, for me, play a big part in bbc identity because they represent this 'other direction'. Hong Kong culture, society and trends are always in our peripheral vision. How much we invest ourselves in it is a major part of what defines each bbc's sensibilities.

I think this study is a reminder - to me, anyway - that Hong Kong cultural identity is a fluid, changing thing and it would be very easy for bbcs to become disconnected from it, which I think would be a bad thing. The point is that as a bbc, you do have to make an effort if you want to keep up with this rapidly changing culture on the other side of the world - if you want to keep that 'other direction' within sight.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Tong Leung launches website

These days celebrities have a website or myspace page up within nanoseconds of their name becoming known to the general public, so it may surprise you to learn that Tony Leung Chiu Wai has only just got round to setting up a website.

The actor - already known internationally, a household HK name and veteran of numerous successful and critically acclaimed movies - has his new site at And very smart it is too!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

New Liverpool Chinatown crime thriller starring David Yip

I stumbled on this purely by chance on youtube. Haven't heard anything about this movie and it's not even on imdb yet.

The film (which looks quite low budget) seems to be about a love triangle involving two warring Triad families and a westerner, and looks like it is set in Liverpool's Chinatown.

The company behind it is Absolute Imaging.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Yang Lijuan (obsessed Andy Lau fan) update

Some of you may have already read about Yang Lijuan, her obsessive quest to meet Andy Lau and how it led to the tragic death of her father.

So what happened next to Yang Lijuan?

Sadly, things have not really improved for her. In the days after her father's suicide, she and her mother were followed by the Hong Kong media as they wandered from hostel to hostel, looking for a place to stay. Incredibly, despite everything that had happened, Lijuan appeared determined to meet Andy Lau. Her mother also blamed the actor for the death of her husband and suggested he should pay compensation. Meanwhile, there is talk of turning their sad story into a movie.

Now reportedly living in Lanzhou, China, Yang Lijuan is said to be considering moving to a convent and becoming a nun.

It is reported that after her persistent obsession with Andy Lau and the disastrous trip to Hong Kong, the family has just US$200 to their name.

More from Asian Pop News.

There is an in-depth article about this case from EastSouthWestNorth.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Olympics logos: Does anyone like them...ever?

Much furore over the recently unveiled logo for the 2012 London Olympics, with the most common complaint being that "it's rubbish".

China has had its logo for ages now and that, too, was controversial, with some saying that its wood-cut style design is too old fashioned and not appropriate for the dynamic, forward-moving city that is Beijing (unlike the sweeping, ribbon design that was used during the bidding process).

Out of curiosity I thought I'd dig up a few logos from days gone by: Here we have London 1948, Tokyo 1964, and Seoul 1988 (my personal favourite).

Ah well, Sebastian Coe may have said that he doesn't want the logo to end up on t-shirts that people end up doing their gardening in, but I suspect that is the fate that awaits all Olympic clothing merchandise.

Monday, June 04, 2007

It's an anniversary today

It was eighteen years ago - June 6th 1989 - that the world was stunned to witness the events of Tiananmen Square. What appeared to be a bright, new dawn of people power in China turned into a chaotic and bloody military action against unarmed civilians. It also unofficially signaled the birth of New China, where financial freedoms were offered to citizens in return for their tolerance of the political status quo.

Today, China's priorities are managing its ballooning but unsteady economy (a stock market tumble is dominating the financial pages today) and ensuring that the upcoming Olympics - China's golden opportunity to showcase itself to the world - go off without a hitch. Reminders about the events of Tiananmen Square - pivotal though they were - are therefore not particularly welcome.

Indeed there are still reporting restrictions in place forbidding the events of June 6th 1989 from being discussed in the media. These restrictions are the main focus of the Tiananmen-related protests that go on to this day. As reported by Amnesty International:

Concerns over freedom of the press have also been raised recently by the Beijing-based Tiananmen Mothers group which sent an open letter to the National People’s Congress in March 2007, urging the authorities to lift a publishing ban on three books that discuss the events of 4 June 1989, including Searching for the Victims of 4 June, by Ding Zilin, retired university professor who founded the group after her son was killed in the crackdown.

This request was made alongside the Tiananmen Mothers’ traditional call for an official investigation into the events, the prosecution of those responsible as well as public accounting and reparations for the victims or their families. The letter was signed by 128 victims and family members of those killed in the crackdown.

In a rapidly changing country like China, many will say it is better to 'move on' but this glosses over the fact there are parents of those who died who are still seeking answers or public acknowledgment of what happened, and that there are still people in prison today for their involvement in the protests (some even for discussing the protests).

Clearly, there will not be a full and public discussion about Tiananmen until the regime in China changes significantly - until there is some distance between the events and the people in charge - but I hope that does happen. Personally I think facing up to what happened in Tiananmen Square can only benefit China (both the nation and its people) and really allow China to 'move on'.

RTHK: Tens of thousands expected at vigil

Friday, June 01, 2007

HK Movie Star Commercials (1 Old, 1 New)

A couple of amusing videos to help you while away your Friday afternoon. The first is a vintage commercial starring Chow Yun Fat. It's from 1989 - a time when he was apparently hugely popular in South Korea. The ad is for a Korean milk-based drink, as far as I can tell.

Look out for the 'Lost In Translation' style endorsement at the end!

And to follow, a credit card Olympics commercial starring Jackie Chan which I think speaks for itself.

Is it me or is this commercial better than one or two of the films he's been in recently?

Happy Friday! :)