Umbrella Revolution Wall 2014

Umbrella Revolution Wall 2014
Admiralty, Umbrella Revolution 2014

Saturday, June 27, 2009

South China Morning Post Thursday June 25, 2009

The letter posted below is in the Talkback section of the SCMP Thursday June 25, 2009.
Should the drug rehab school get the Mui Wo premises?

The Christian Zheng Sheng drug rehabilitation centre should not occupy the Mui Wo Heung Yee Kuk Southern District Secondary School for the simple reason that this school is needed by Mui Wo residents for their own children.

South Lantau’s rapidly growing population has already put enormous pressure on the local nursery and primary school age children who are residents of this island. Currently, secondary students must travel two hours each way via the ferry to attend school. This type of commute leaves little time for young people to engage in any type of family or village life. Sending children away from their own community has the potential and probable reality of creating a sense of displacement. Estrangement and distance from community, family, and friends may lead to drug abuse.

A good community school is the backbone of village life. It is a place where children learn together and foster friendships; it has the power to unite families from all walks of life. The failure of the government to thoroughly examine the needs of the community, and its inability to seriously consider or solicit interest from any number of schools and organisations that expressed interest in these facilities is highly questionable. While the Christian Zheng Sheng College may have noble intentions, one would have to question an organization that paraded and made vulnerable to public scrutiny, the very young people it claims it wants to protect, educate, and shelter from the traumas of drug use.

Recent press coverage of the event and yes, silly celebrities, have failed to truly examine the real needs of the local population. There is a perception that Mui Wo residents feel that a rehab center would affect waterfront tourism, or that they are acting as NIMBYs (Not In My Backyard) but these are arguments that do not address the true issue: a local school should be used for local students.


Stephanie Han
Mui Wo, Lantau




More people should write to talkback@scmp.com as they respond the number of letters written.I had posted mine to the section a few weeks ago, so they are not immediately published.

More effective would be letters written to the local Chinese press. I invite any Cantonese speakers and readers to discuss this with the letters page of the local press. I would strongly advise those who have not yet visited, to please see the site of the Mui Wo school before coming to any strong opinions about this issue. Talk to local community members. Visit the site of the primary school by Tai Tei Tong and the local nursery at the edge of San Long Wai and Tai Tei Tong. Note the number of young families in this area.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

South China Morning Post Talkback Section

I am submitting the following to the local paper in response to the question below:

Should the drug rehab school get the Mui Wo premises?

The Christian Zheng Sheng drug rehabilitation centre should not occupy the Mui Wo Heung Yee Kuk Southern District Secondary School for the simple reason that this school is needed by Mui Wo residents for their own children.

South Lantau’s rapidly growing population has already put enormous pressure on the local nursery and primary school age children who are residents of this island. Currently, secondary students must travel two hours each way via the ferry to attend school. This type of commute leaves little time for young people to engage in any type of family or village life. Sending children away from their own community has the potential and probable reality of creating a sense of displacement. Estrangement and distance from community, family, and friends may lead to drug abuse.

A good community school is the backbone of village life. It is a place where children learn together and foster friendships; it has the power to unite families from all walks of life. The failure of the government to thoroughly examine the needs of the community, and its inability to seriously consider or solicit interest from any number of schools and organisations that expressed interest in these facilities is highly questionable. While the Christian Zheng Sheng College may have noble intentions, one would have to question an organization that paraded and made vulnerable to public scrutiny, the very young people it claims it wants to protect, educate, and shelter from the traumas of drug use.

Recent press coverage of the event and yes, silly celebrities, have failed to truly examine the real needs of the local population. There is a perception that Mui Wo residents feel that a rehab center would affect waterfront tourism, or that they are acting as NIMBYs (Not In My Backyard) but these are arguments that do not address the true issue: a local school should be used for local students.


Stephanie Han
Mui Wo, Lantau

Monday, June 15, 2009

This is Democracy

Sunday at 10AM was the protest in the Mui Wo rec of residents against the Christian Zheng Sheng Association's bid to take over the only school in South Lantau and turn it into a drug rehab center. They shut the secondary school down in 2007 and now local kids must travel 2 hours one way to get to school. It's a failure of the authorities to understand the needs of the locals again and look at the numbers of families on this island.

So far it's been a media frenzy with reports mostly focusing on how unsympathetic the locals are to drug abusers cleaning up ... but the larger issue is one of local rights and needs over outsider needs. The young rehab kids remain outside of the village, they're from other parts of HK, so the big concern is this: local school for local needs and the disruption of a community by outside legislators. 8 out of 10 council members are against the center taking over the school. But the two who support this center don't seem to understand their constituents. Unfortunately, it seemed to be presented as a done deal. The Christian drug abuse center people got to have a forum and Mui Wo people could ask questions, but the MW people didn't get a chance to present their side. Today there will be a large march. This is Hong Kong. Someone is making money from this. Someone is getting paid off. How else would an outside private sector organisation get to move into the site of a public school needed by the local community and against the wishes of the local community?

Everyone was out. An old local lady in the flowered shirt black pants outfit that all of the senior women in rural areas seem to wear, stormed the speaker's table and had to be hauled off. Expats and local villagers were there. It was a good turnout.

Loudspeaker, translation services (great-headsets and onsite real time translation provided), signs, banners, shouts and calls. Keohi and his gang of 2 year old pals were there with parents in tow. A few of his friends will be attending this local school, and it is an issue even for those who won't send their kids, but who want to see the community services remain as part of a community.

I was glad I took Keohi to the Tiananmen vigil. He remembered. He studied the sign waving and the crowds, looked up at Stephen and I and said: "This is democracy."

We laughed. Public outcry and gathering, a chance for your voice to be heard without fear of imprisonment or worse, a belief that your voice is significant, and that you have a right to govern how public institutions and land will be used within your community. I was glad that Keohi could see this and hope that a secondary school will remain for local use. This is not really like the rest of China. This is like Hong Kong. They have protests in China and serious social unrest. But they also have gulags and ways of silencing the greater population.

My final thought for the evening however, was that I wish that people would gather like this for what could possibly be a larger issue affecting the quality of life for people here--the environmental impact due to the destruction of the mangrove. But this would involve a substantially smaller proportion of the local population. It seems clear that they can understand the importance of educational needs but completely lack any awareness of basic ecology. People can understand the absence of a school. They can't comprehend the absence of clean air and water until there is none left.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Keohi the Asocial Beast

"I don't want to play with my friends."

"I want to sit on the bench."

"I want to go home."

Uttered while whacking a badminton racquet on the gym floor clutching the pink Princess Disney ball. Words from my 2 year old social butterfly as he looks on at his two friends...sigh...

This and "No Mother, go away" and trying to usher me out the door when he is reading have led me to think that social behavior may be inherited...but from me? Or Stephen?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Words from a Small Boy

Walking on through the corridors of the Prince's Building in Central, surrounded by glass, Armani advertisements and thousands of people, Keohi stops and looks up at me and says:

"I feel nervous. So many people. Carry you (me)?"

Hong Kong can make anyone feel nervous and like they want to be carried. And you don't have to be 2 years old, or from a village of several thousand people.

I came off the ferry today and realized I never take a deep breath in the city. You can't get enough oxygen. When I land in Lantau (after I cycle past the bus terminal) I get a good whiff of the air skipping off the bay. What a relief. Oxygen. Air. It's nice to be able to breathe some of it...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Ikea, Freshness Burger, and Victoria Park-June 4 Tiananmen Square Anniversary

June 4. Tiananmen Square Anniversary 20 years on –

Keohi and I and C, went to the candlelight vigil last night in Victoria Park.

We arrived very early so enroute we briefly stop in Ikea. In general, I try to avoid going to malls in HK with Keohi, which are essentially the only areas period on HK Island you can take a kid, if you don’t want to breathe exhaust the whole time. Malls make me feel weird and hyperventilate. I get overwhelmed by products and find myself thinking, gee, I really need that pale pink sequined purse in the shape of a toenail, and then thinking, why do I feel this? And then it comes to me--it’s because I’m in a mall and malls make me feel this way. Anyway, I find them rather oppressive, if not depressing. So why subject him to that and make him a rabid consumer? So we try to avoid malls. This does limit our destinations in HK. He’s hardly been out of Mui Wo. But he seems happy enough.

But starting in early 2009, I dragged him to Ikea about three times for some bed shopping excursions. This was to get him used to sleeping on a bed. So we’d go to Ikea and he’d spend about an hour jumping on the beds and I’d say “Hey isn’t that great, maybe Keohi wants his own bed! Hooray!” It ended with the purchase of white Lambey bed this white woodchip number with little sheep at the headboard. So now the smallest mention of Ikea brings out a joyful ‘hooray IKEA IKEA’ which is equally disturbing. Do I really want him to like faux wood chip Swedish disposable furniture? Ikea is his idea of a grand time as he gets to a) jump on the beds and b) hang out on the sofas. We don’t really have a sofa. I don’t count the uncomfortable vinyl thing that came with our rented apartment a sofa. It’s more of a big grayish brown blob…but back to Victoria Park. Or rather Freshness Burger…

Post Ikea, we swung by Freshness Burger. This is a Japanese chain, which, except for the Teriyaki burger flavor, has a vague resemblance to California’s In and Out Burger, although Freshness Burger is a little more fresh…service is terrible but the cheeseburger is good. I also ate all of Keohi’s Teriyaki Burger which was excellent, though a little heavy on the mayo which I wiped away with my napkin. Still, it’s good bang for your buck. We get it to take-out and head to Victoria Park. They forgot to give us C’s bacon and cheese potato skins we discover later, but I can’t make my way through 150,000 people to recover $19HKD. I recommend Freshness Burger to anyone who likes a decent burger who is terrified of fast food chains.

We hit Victoria Park—wow, lots of people. I was last at a Tiananmen memorial event in 2003, and it was MUCH smaller. I had also participated that July in the March for democracy with thousands of HK people. That 2003 event really shaped and changed how I viewed the population. They were and are decent people who work hard—who want the right to be governed by leadership that reflects their interests. And they do not have this. They can’t pick their leader—Beijing picks the leader…So HK remains this bastion of independent thinking and freedom within China. It is the only place where there was a gathering that was legal in China for Tiananmen. Days before—facebook, twitter and the like were shut down. Authorities wanted to discourage discussion about what they call The June 4 Incident…Victoria Park was mobbed. Lots of young people. Lots of old people. Everyone turned out. I got a rainbow rubber bracelet after dropping some money into an acrylic box for LGBT folks in HK, and then a white carnation for the event that Keohi held in the stroller. We ate our Freshness Burgers and hung back. The crowd was orderly as these protests usually are. They must apply for permits and the HK people are patient in such affairs—the usual crowding pushing stuff I find is oddly absent during the times when you’d think people would be pushing and crowding and shoving.

There were many booths and then a group of people wearing T-shirts that read “Donald Tsang You Do Not Represent Me.” Old Donald is HK’s CEO, or leader who stated something to the effect of Tiananmen needed to be looked at objectively (hello, I love Beijing, I want more power, I am greedy so I will say whatever you want me to say, Donald was really saying…) and looked at in light of China’s economic prosperity. As if thousands of people in Beijing getting mowed down by tanks – students, union leaders, workers, and everyday folks, was worth economic prosperity that is frankly, enjoyed by only a rather small segment of the Chinese population. Sure the folks in the cities are better off. But there are over a billion people here! Most are still impoverished, as they have been for centuries, living miserable lives. Official figures for the dead in Tiananmen Square are in the hundreds, tops, but unofficial figures put the death toll in the thousands. DONALD WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT WE DO NOT AGREE AND DO NOT LIKE YOU is what these people were saying. I’m no fan of Don either…It was great to see this. And I thought to myself, this could only happen in HK as June 4 Tiananmen events are forbidden in the rest of China. Keohi looked at the crowd and said “Dance I want to dance” but there wasn’t any dancing. I guess it looked like there might be, but the feeling wasn’t that, it was strangely calm, I felt. Moving, but in its silence and in its certitude, its defiance—the people saying “WE ARE HERE. WE WILL NOT FORGET. WE REMEMBER. WE KNOW WHAT HAPPENED.”

A Side Note About Numbers

Now before I forget—I also want to say that while the unofficial count for this event was 150,000, the official count for this Victoria Park event was probably half that. But I notice that official counts for these things are always much lower than the unofficial ones. And the unofficial counts are usually lower than the real numbers. When I marched in 2003 in July, the unofficial count was 500,000, but they did not count anyone who did not touch the edges of Victoria Park and many old people could only walk a block, and some folks just waved signs from their building workplaces, or marched part of the way. So I know that the count of people who supported that event was MUCH higher than the unofficial count. I couldn’t even make it into the Park that day as it was so blocked and I was walking with someone for hours…

Anyway, so we were there. It was crowded. We did not hold a candlelight in the park area but stepped up on the little stones surrounding trees to look in. I was thinking I might get trapped in the front with Keohi and not be able to get out in time to get the ferry home. So we hung back and then made our way around the event. We spent a good chunk of time on the empty playground. (I think this, and the crowds of people are what he will remember) But there were so many people that the football court area was mobbed and so other supporters of the event were told to spill out onto the lawn in the middle. I got a Tiananmen Mothers pin and we moved against the tide of 150,000 people the opposite way to take the ferry back to Mui Wo. The pin reads this:

Remember Tiananmen Massacre
Support Tiananmen Mothers

Speak the truth
Seek justice
Call on conscience
Never forget

Support The Tiananmen Mothers Demand Accountability

1. The right to mourn peacefully and in public;
2. The right to accept humanitarian aid from organizations and individuals inside and outside of China;
3. No more persecution of June Fourth victims, including those injured in the massacre and the families of the dead;
4. The release of all people still suffering in prison for their role in the 1989 protests;
5. A full, public accounting for the June Fourth Massacre, ending the impunity for the perpetrators of this crime.

www.tiananmenmother.org

I’m sure most know what has happened to most of those involved in Tianamen who remained in China. Misery, torture, poverty, and jail.

HK activists were the ones responsible for Operation Yellow Bird –this operation arranged for many of the student leaders to leave the country. Expats often say that HK people just care about money—and for sure, the southern Chinese culture is business oriented, but there remains a segment of this society that is fierce and determined in its beliefs. It takes courage and resilience to stand up to a government that oversees 1 billion people. It takes a lot to come out to Victoria Park when you work 60 plus hours a week, like many HK people do, to stand in this heat merely to be counted, or to have your presence felt, to align yourself with those who want a better future for China and who want to keep the memory of what happened alive. This event, as did the others I attended in 2003 offer a good picture of what HK people are really about. I saw some expats at the event. I wish that some had come with me.

I’m glad that I brought Keohi. As we made our way backwards through the throng (my lousy mistake to navigate a stroller going the opposite direction of 150,000 people!) I got to thinking about that too in terms of how we are here in HK. We are a part of this society, but yet outside, on the periphery, going sometimes in the opposite direction. But we're still a part of this crowd. This city. This rhythm and air and life and everything else this place is. Our Victoria Park participation was brief and crowded and sure, most of his time was on the playground, but while he may live here in the relative confines of expat HK in a life of sheltered comfort, it is important for him to know that there are people who gave their lives to an idea of something else for China. And it will be his responsibility having grown up here to support those people too. Because those people, ultimately, I hope will be HIS people too, in the sense of belonging to a greater world and community of people who support human rights and tolerance.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Ronald Takaki Scholar, Historian, and Revolutionary dies

Ronald Takaki, Cal ethnic studies pioneer, dies

Monday, June 1, 2009

Ronald Takaki didn't just teach about race and ethnicity. He helped redefine it.

When students in the 1960s demanded that universities start teaching American history that went beyond the lives of white people, Professor Takaki was one of the first to offer courses.

As courses about race and ethnicity began to take shape, Professor Takaki elevated them to another level, creating the nation's first doctoral-level ethnic studies department at UC Berkeley.

When he died Tuesday at his home in Berkeley, Professor Takaki had created a legacy as one of the most influential scholars on race and ethnicity in the nation. He was 70.

Professor Takaki wrote more than 20 books, including "Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans," "Iron Cages: Race and Culture in 19th-century America," "Ethnic Islands: The Emergence of Urban Chinese America," and "Double Victory: A Multicultural History of America in World War II."

Professor Takaki grew up among Japanese plantation workers in Hawaii, and went to the College of Wooster in Ohio. He came to UC Berkeley in the 1960s to study history.

He told The Chronicle in 2003 that it altered him profoundly.

"I was born intellectually and politically in Berkeley in the 1960s," Professor Takaki said.

He was moved by the moral vision of Martin Luther King Jr. to join the Free Speech Movement. The slaying of student activists registering voters in Mississippi inspired Professor Takaki to do a study of slavery for his doctoral dissertation.

The Watts Riots in 1965 helped push UCLA to develop the first course in black history a year later, Professor Takaki told The Chronicle. He was asked to teach it.

When Professor Takaki walked into the classroom for the first time, students grew silent until one of them chirped, "Well, Professor Takaki, what revolutionary tools are we going to learn in this course?" Professor Takaki recounted in 2003.

"I said, 'We're going to study the history of the U.S. as it relates to African Americans. We're going to strengthen our critical-thinking skills and our writing skills. These can be revolutionary tools if we make them so.' "

After five years at UCLA, Professor Takaki returned to UC Berkeley and became the first full-time professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies. In the 1980s, Professor Takaki had established the first doctoral program in Ethnic Studies.

His book "Iron Cages" launched him into intellectual view - and drew a scathing review from the New York Review of Books. Professor Takaki said the reaction was to be expected.

"It challenged the master narrative of American history," Professor Takaki said in 2003. "I was saying, 'Many of us didn't come from Europe. Some were already here, some came up from Latin America or from Asia.' "

When family members in Hawaii asked why he didn't write their history - that of plantation workers - Professor Takaki knew that was another history that needed to be recorded. That became "Pau Hana: Plantation Life and Labor in Hawaii, 1835-1920."

Professor Takaki attracted and inspired a legion of students, earning him the campus' Distinguished Teaching Award in 1981. Among his students was Michael Omi.

Omi, himself now a professor of ethnic studies at UC Berkeley, said Professor Takaki set himself apart by always looking to tell history to popular audiences and not just limit himself to academics.

"He thought it was very important to chronicle the experience of these groups in a way that would captivate a broader audience," said Omi.

Omi said Professor Takaki was also distinctive in emphasizing the interplay between ethnic groups, rather than looking at one group in isolation.

Professor Takaki was an avid surfer since childhood, earning the name "10 toes" for being able to surf with all 10 toes hanging over the front edge of the board. Until his last years, Professor Takaki was boogie boarding and jogging. He even snorkeled just over a year ago.

But multiple sclerosis was draining him of energy and rendering him physically unable to do the things he loved, said his son, Troy Takaki. He said it was the reason Professor Takaki took his own life on Tuesday.

"He was a very energetic person, just not physically, but emotionally," said Troy Takaki. "Not having that energy was extremely hard on him."

Troy Takaki said his father would light up a room with his laughter and was playful, reading books like "Walter the Farting Dog" with his grandchildren.

"He and the 4-year-old would laugh and laugh and laugh as they read these books," Troy Takaki said.

Professor Takaki is survived by his wife, Carol; and his three children, Todd of El Cerrito, Troy of Los Angeles and Dana of Chester, Conn. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Professor Takaki's name to the Asian Law Caucus, 55 Columbus Ave., San Francisco, CA 94111. Plans for a campus memorial service are pending.