Monday, July 30, 2007

Miss Hong Kong 'from the projects' crowned to a chorus of boos

The 2007 Miss Hong Kong has been criticized for not being beautiful enough.

Kayi Cheung, a Hong Kong born, Vancouver-based student whose family is described in the press as being "from the housing projects" won the coveted award but she was apparently booed during the ceremony.

Commentators have harshly criticized her looks whilst admitting her character and personality were more appealing than those of some of the other contestants.

National beauty pageants still take place here the UK but they are seen as out-dated and demeaning to women and have a much lower media profile than they used to. In Hong Kong, however, they are still prime-time entertainment and the subject of heated debate. reports:

Netizens even criticized that Kayi Cheung was the worst Miss Hong winner from the last 20 years! According to an online poll conducted by Netease, 89% (7632 votes) of survey participants agreed that Kayi Cheung was the worst Miss Hong Kong!

After winning the crown, Kayi attended the post celebration event and press conference. Afterwards, she went to a relative's home to continue celebrating with her family. Kayi's mother prepared fried rice and rice-bean congee for her beloved daughter.

Returning home, Kayi's neighbors congratulated her and said, "We also have a Miss Hong Kong from the housing projects!"

... One netizen said, "This is a disgrace to Hong Kong! She is considered Miss Hong material?" Another netizen said, "It's been a long time since there was a pretty Miss Hong Kong."

... In reaction to the harsh public reaction, Kayi said, "People have a different perspective on beauty. There will always be supporters versus dissenters towards various participants in a beauty pageant. The winner is selected by the judges. It is most important that I am the judges' winner." (Some people criticize that you are from the housing projects?) "I don't mind as long as it is comfortable to live in."

Full article here.

British Chinese Society 'Hawaiian Night' Party

Here's a event coming up in August that you might be interested in. Entry is £10 (or £5 is you're a member of the 'BCS'). The party is in St Pauls on Saturday August 4th.

Contact details here.

Friday, July 27, 2007

At last... 'The Simpsons' in Cantonese!

Here's a Hong Kong TV trailer for The Simpsons Movie which is out here in the UK this weekend.

It's funny seeing your favourite characters from 'The Simpsons' speaking in Canto. They may be the world's most famous yellow family but this is the first time I've heard them dubbed with Cantonese voices. The humour translates quite well, don't you think? :)

Now, what's Cantonese for 'Doh!'

Sunday, July 22, 2007

HK's MTR gets wi-fi

Hong Kong's modern, gleaming, air-conditioned, punctual underground rail network, the MTR, is now even further advanced than its London counterpart thanks to the introduction of a pay wi-fi service for passengers. Cost is rumoured to be HK$20 (or roughly GBP1.40) per day for access.

Article from

Meanwhile, if you travel on London's tube network your options for passing the time are :

- trying to find a discarded free newspaper that looks reasonably free of disease and/or footprints.
- finding new ways to breathe without inhaling the body odour of the person next to you.
- staring at people/avoiding eye contact with person staring at you.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Jackie Chan to tackle non-action role as new Rush Hour 3 trailer released

Cultural misunderstandings, martial arts and guns: It can only be the new Rush Hour movie!

Whilst the film promises to be the usual Rush Hour fun, Jackie Chan is possibly looking to scale down his action movie work and attempt more 'serious' projects.

It's reported that Chan will be starring in a film about Chinese immigrants in Japan's Shinjuku district - possibly opposite Ken Watanabe (Batman Begins, The Last Samurai).

Article from 'Asian Pop News' here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

bbc novel 'Sweet Mandarin' reaches Hong Kong

In a sense, the bbc story as told in Helen Tse's book 'Sweet Mandarin has come full circle, since readers in Hong Kong will now be able to read about the bbc experience.

For Eric and Mabel Tse, seeing their three ambitious, aspirational and professional daughters being drawn back to the very trade they had worked so hard to escape was a recipe for disaster. But for 29-year-old tax lawyer Helen, this was not just a business enterprise. It was a gesture of gratitude to an extraordinary family history that included brutal murder, ruinous gambling, triads and 70 years of devotion to cooking.

Her extraordinary memoir, Sweet Mandarin, stretches across four generations and encompasses a journey from rural Guangdong to 1920s Hong Kong, on to 1950s Britain and beyond.

But it was so nearly never written.

Article in the Hong Kong Standard

Perhaps this will provide a rare insight for Hong Kongers into life as a bbc?

Helen Tse talks about her bbc-themed book, 'Sweet Mandarin'

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Giles Wemmbley-Hogg (spoof of a young, British backpacker)

You may have come across a Giles Wemmbley-Hogg yourself; He is a middle-class, white, English undergraduate taking a 'gap year' during his studies to travel the world.

I hope that some young backpackers genuinely do have their minds broadened when they travel to Asia, but for the types of people being spoofed here the journey is little more than a ritual.

This is Giles (the creation of UK comedian Marcus Brigstocke) presenting a slide show of his recent travels through Asia:

I've always been skeptical about the young backbacking movement. It may be intended to teach young people something through seeing and living amongst cultures different to their own (which is great) but in practice, is there really much respect for that culture from the travellers?

Do they, for example, go to Thailand to experience Thai culture and meet Thai people, or merely to party with other Giles Wemmbley-Hoggs in some foreigner-friendly, English speaking bar with a nice beach to sunbathe on the following morning?

With backbacking, I feel there is an element of treating the world as a theme park for westerners and rather than 'broadening the mind', I think some backbackers (at least the ones being parodied above) return home with no more than a sense of 'been there, done that.'

Footnote: How, I wonder, would the UK feel about an annual influx of, say, Vietnamese youths coming here to 'do' England, making their way en masse through Oxford, Cambridge and the country's best beauty spots to set up camps and party into the night at Vietnamese travellers' bars? Somehow I don't think that even backbackers would welcome this on their own doorstep.

Friday, July 06, 2007

BBC website uses the word 'chink' on its front page

Classic bbc (British-born Chinese) uncomfortable moment.

I don't know about you but when I see the word chink used in this way, my reaction is anger, followed by a self-censoring 'don't make a big deal out of it', followed by 'why the hell do they still do that?'

I have never understood why, in this day and age, the word 'chink' is so freely used. Yes, the word has two meanings. It has a legitimate meaning as a noun, and it is also a racial slur.

But unlike other words which are both nouns and racial slurs such as 'spade' or 'frog' (boy, the English really do excel at racial insults), the noun chink is pretty much used exclusively in a metaphorical sense where a variety of other words could easily be used in its place. It is not what I would call a 'real world', must-be-used-to-be-understood kind of word.

There's just no need for it and if you know that using that word will offend a particular ethnic group, why not just swap it for another? It's not that hard, is it? Would that BBC front page have suffered had the headline been 'ray of hope' or 'glimpse of light' instead?

Is it really too much to ask for people to not to use a racial slur when there are other words available? Perhaps it is... when Chinese people are concerned.

Let's consign this phrase to the dustbin of abandoned, out-dated language.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

What would the 'Dragons Den' lot have made of this?

Things are never quite the same in China. That goes for eccentric inventors who hit the big time too. Britain has Reggae Reggae Sauce, China has 'The Highly Effective Fly Slaying Machine.'

Like a kung fu master with lightning reflexes, Mr Hu could literally pluck flies out of the air with his hands - sometimes five at a time. But Mr Hu decided that his war against the flies should go high-tech.

At the drawing board, he worked over a design for the ultimate weapon - a fly slaying machine. Six months later it was on the production line.

It is a curious contraption - a slowly revolving circular drum containing sugar and water attracts the flies and deposits them in a clear plastic tank.

"It's like a nightclub for flies," said Mr Hu. "They just party themselves to death."

Predictably, perhaps, Mr Hu called it The Highly Effective Fly Slaying Machine.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Handover 10 Year Anniversary: The Song

Hong Kong's great and good are brought together to record a track celebrating the Handover anniversary. This is a rough translation ofthe lyrics, as supplied by a Youtube user:

Whoever leaves a trail deserves to be respected
Just because you are here in Hong Kong
Just because you are here in Hong Kong

Let the roar of applause resound for more than a century
Just because I'm here in Hong Kong
Just because I'm here in Hong Kong

Let the 10 million surprises last for more than a century
Thanks for your help in creating this little world
No matter what the season, we will never give up
Just because you are here in Hong Kong"

Sprinkle of lights flowing to light up all the people
Enabling this little island to become a super star
When the East meets West, everything becomes energetic and full of life
Making this place a prosperous and secure home
Competing among the beautiful Bauhinia, searching for the right path
The graceful petals in full bloom.

A very noble concept but I think the song is too safe and hardly encapsulates the dynamic, modern Hong Kong I know!

Meanwhile, America's ABC news has a photo gallery showing the many different aspects of the 10 Year anniversary.