Umbrella Revolution Wall 2014

Umbrella Revolution Wall 2014
Admiralty, Umbrella Revolution 2014

Friday, October 30, 2009

Insects and bravery

There is a large hornet, bee-like, wasp-y, ugly thing flying around by the light. Under normal circumstances I would run like hell out of the room. It's flitting by the ceiling light. I hope that it will kill itself, as moths do, by going into the light. I have never seen this kind of prehistoric mothlike huge flying creature.

Keohi: I'm scared, Mommy. I'm scared! (starts to cry)

The thing is batting around the room...furiously, nervously. I don't like the looks of it. It probably has some venomous sting. My HK insect book is nowhere in sight. Besides, it looks now like a dark blob against the light.

Me: Don't worry. Don't be scared.

I grab him and his entire bedsheet and plunk him down in the next room. Look for my insect killer racquet.

Me: Mommy will kill it!

I wave the racquet. I'm feeling brave. Sort of. The last time I tried to kill some flying thing near the light last year, I whacked and smashed the entire light. Glass all over the floor. It's never been replaced. Bare bulb in the living room...

Keohi: I'm scared!

Me: Don't be scared. It's a small bug. Mommy will get it.

I am suddenly omnipotent. Able to KILL. BIG BUGS. BIG FLYING BUGS. Mom power. I don't see it. Relief. It fried itself. I carry Keohi and bedsheet back into bed. Resume reading "A Mama for Owen."

Keohi: What's that up there?

He points with bottle to the light. A dark spot near the light. In the fixture.

Keohi: What's THAT? I'm SCARED.

Me: Don't worry, Mommy will kill it.

I grab racquet.

Keohi: No, don't kill it.

Me: OK, Mommy won't kill it.

I try to push it into the ceiling light. Yep. It's half-fried.

Me: All gone.

Keohi: All gone.

Me: Don't worry. Mommy got it. It disappeared.

I am so relieved. It is dead. Light is still intact. Yeah, I'm acclimatized and adjusted to living near an insect infested swamp....OBGB--our beloved green bog, and all of the creepy crawly flying things that it spawns...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Truth About Living in a place with pythons...

Keohi: Are there polar bears in the bog?

Me: No. Only snakes. So don't jump in the bog. There are snakes in the bog. And snakes will eat you. And then mommy and daddy will be sad because we won't see you anymore.

Keohi: There are polar bears in the bog!

Me: There are snakes in the bog. BIG SNAKES. (My nightmare. Keohi jumps in the snake infested bog.)

Keohi: Are there polar bears in the bog?

Me: I don't see any. I don't think so. Just snakes. Do you like snakes?

Keohi: No, I don't like snakes.

Me: Mommy doesn't like snakes either.

And to anyone who wants to chastise me for being an amphibian hater, go ahead. Try living in a place where a python has been spotted slithering around the playground...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Home Renovation in Hong Kong

BOO to Year in Provence and A Year in Tuscany book. I met Peter Mayle, interviewed him for the Oakland Tribune, found him as witty as his book, but I will say that home renovation in Provence sounds amusing and entertaining. At least he could speak some French. Try home renovation without Chinese (yes, my own monolingual existence is really a pain now). Home renovation in France, or Italy, or Arizona (my only past real life experience) is NOT like home renovation in Hong Kong.

These days I find myself having fantasies about big box stores like Home DeSpot...(as we called the place in AZ). There I found 15 sizes of light sconces, I picked the cheapest one, at US $10 and got it installed by Home Repair Handyman Husband and it is done. Period.

Home renovation in Hong Kong means everyone says they know what you are talking about, agrees to what you say, and then says 24 hours later that they don't know what you are talking about and don't know what you are saying. And the quotation is yes, valid. Until the person forgets what the quotation was, at which point it goes up, or the job is deemed impossible. Usually 14 days after it is given. What do you mean you are waiting for the quotation? Oh yeah. Everyone very very busy. Very busy. OK. No problem. No problem. Yes, you pick wrong tile. Not working. Why didn't you tell me that tile wouldn't work? Shrug shoulders. Haha. Yes. Tile not working. Not good for bathroom. Yes, I do granite. Yes. No problem. Really, we can do it. Well, small problem. But I see...ask boss. I want this black granite. I can't do the granite. No. No, can't. Sure. Fill in the door. No problem. OK, fill it in. No, we can't fill it in. Well, we can but this charge is too low. Maybe 1/3 more. You didn't say you wanted it filled in like that. If I make it look like outside, I charge more.

You are also female. Who listens to women discussing walls and electric sockets in Hong Kong? Tsk. Tsk...

There are a few heroes here: Mr. M of the local electrical supply store who sells everything from DVD players to washing machines and lights. But Mr. M cannot, unfortunately, do the renovations.

Signing off from Home Reno Hell

Burmese Pythons in Lantau

Apparently a man's dog was barking like crazy and he went into the garden and found his toddler near a snake. But the python is an endangered species. So he was fined.

I am all for protecting endangered species but if one was slithering near Keohi I think my natural instinct would be to kill it and scream YOU ARE A HANDBAG! Or YOU'RE NOTHING BUT A PAIR OF SHOES!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fall is Here and Foreigners Abound

I am so glad. The heat is unbearable in Hong Kong. The sounds of the diggers and trucks, the dust flying, even on sleepy Lantau feels worse when the temperature is high and your clothes are sticking to your body, and your AC is busted and smells like mold.

Rereading The Namesake by Lahiri as I will be leading a discussion on this book for the Lantau Book Club. Being "foreign" has always been a subject of interest to me and here in HK takes on multiple layers.

What does it mean to be a Westerner?

What is a foreigner?

How does one belong?

This city is about foreigners of some kind--whether they be from Shanghai or Sydney. The one thing that all of the foreigners share is a desire for financial security or wealth--this is what brings them to Hong Kong. Most people who are interested in Chinese culture or language or history head up north--we are in the south--this is the land of commerce, trade, and money. Marble floors and mirrored glass. Shoes that pinch. Dark suits worn in a place where thin cottons would be more appropriate.

And then there is the rustle of pink against the green leaves of our bog. The silky gray of the water buffalo. The wind that hits your knees when you hug the curve on the bike path by the beach. This too is Hong Kong, but when I described this to someone who had lived here for several years she said: "You sound like you're describing a foreign country."

Signing off...

Monday, October 5, 2009

So much for 60th anniversaries...

Chinese authorities have increased surveillance, harassment and imprisonment of activists ahead of the country's 60th anniversary on October 1 to prevent them from raising human rights concerns that challenge the authorities' image of social harmony, Amnesty International said today.

Amnesty International estimates that several hundred activists and dissidents are under various kinds of surveillance or house arrest and thousands of petitioners are being swept out of Beijing. The organization continues to receive reports that petitioners are being kept in "black jails" and other informal detention facilities outside Beijing.

"The Chinese government wants to celebrate the country's success while ensuring that no dissenting view or complaint is heard," said Roseann Rife, Amnesty International Asia Pacific deputy director. "As a result, what the Chinese government is highlighting is its own fear of giving the Chinese people a real voice to talk about the reality of their lives, good and bad."

In the past few weeks, the authorities have increased their surveillance of petitioners, human rights activists, religious practitioners and ethnic minorities to ensure that they do not raise human rights issues and complaints in any forums during the National Day celebrations.

Petitioners seek justice directly by presenting their cases to central authorities in Beijing after failing to redress their grievances locally.

On Friday, September 25, Chinese media reported that local authorities were told by the central government departments that manage petitioners - the State Bureau for Letters and Visits and the Public Security Bureau - that they should review their records and keep anyone who has filed a petition under local surveillance during this time period.

Beijing authorities regularly forcibly return petitioners to their hometowns before major events or celebrations as they believe petitioners would reflect badly on the country's international public image.

"We call on the authorities to immediately and unconditionally lift all restrictions on human rights activists and release all prisoners of conscience across the country," said Roseann Rife.

Amnesty International has recently recorded the following incidents:

* Zeng Jinyan, wife of imprisoned human rights activists Hu Jia, was asked by authorities to leave Beijing on September 25 and not to return until after October 10. Zeng Jinyan has been under tight surveillance since her husband was imprisoned in April 2008, effectively halting much of the couple's human rights work.

* On September 23, police informed the lawyer of detained human rights activist Liu Xiaobo that his client had to remain in detention for further investigation of suspicion of "inciting subversion of state power". Liu Xiaobo was seized from his home in Beijing by the police on December 8, 2008, two days before he was due to launch Charter 08, a blueprint for legal and political reform in China.

* In mid September, several Beijing activists were forced to leave the city. Those included former political prisoner and China Democratic Party member Gao Hongming, housing rights activist Wang Ling, who was sent to Re-education Through Labour during the 2008 Olympics, and pro-democracy activist Qi Zhiyong who was left disabled from a gunshot injury during the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.

* Since September 22, Tian Qizhuang, a director of the Open Constitution Initiative (OCI), has not been seen by his family. On September 24, he called his son explaining he is under police surveillance and asking him to prepare some clothes for him. OCI Founder Xu Zhiyong remains under surveillance and the organization's finance secretary Zhuang Lu has had only limited contact with her immediate family since her release on August 23.

* Two dozen plain-clothed security forces have been stationed outside the home of Yuan Weijing, wife of imprisoned activist Chen Guangcheng. Her phone is also intermittently cut off. Together with Chen Guangcheng, Yuan Weijing defended the rights of people with disabilities and women affected by abuses of enforcement of family planning policies in Linyi city, Shandong province.

* In Zhejiang province, several members of the banned China Democratic Party, including Zhu Zhengming, Zhu Yufu, Mao Qingxiang, and Hu Xiaoling have had police stationed in front of their homes to prevent them leaving.

* Earlier in September, China Democratic Party member Xie Changfa was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment on "subversion" charges in Hunan province. This is one of the longest sentences given to human rights or political activists in recent years.

* Four female petitioners, Yang Xinmei, Li Suping, Wang Lina and Sun Li from the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region were detained in Beijing in late August. They were originally placed under 15 days' administrative detention and now have been sent to 2 years of Re-education Through Labour to prevent them from further petitioning over the National Day holiday. The women were petitioning about several issues including land confiscation and miscarriage of justice.

國際特赦組織聲稱 ,臨近十‧一60週年國慶之際,中國當局加強對人權活躍人士之監視、騷擾,甚至監禁他們,以阻止他們提出關注人權的議題,威脅當局致力維持的 「社會和諧」形象。

國際特赦組織估計有數以百計活躍人士及異見份子被監視或軟禁,而數千請願人士被拚諸北京城外。 組織繼續收到消息,請願人士被囚在北京外圍 的「黑獄」或被非正式的拘留設施內。

國際特赦組織亞太區項目 副主管阮柔安說:「中國政府希望確保國慶不會被反對聲音或投訴影響, 這更表現了中國政府害怕給予人民表達他們生活真實的一面──不論是正面或負面的表達。」

尋求公義的請願者,往往在地區申訴失敗後,直接到北京中央再次提出其個案。

9月25日,中國傳媒報導,地方當局收到負責管理請願者的中央部門 –國家信訪和公安局的通告,地方部門須這段時間審查記錄,監視任何提交了請願書的人士。

北京當局認為請願者對國家的國際形象有負面影響,因此經常在大型活動前強行遣返請願者回鄉。

阮柔安聲言:「當局必須立即及無條件取消所有對人權活躍人士的限制以及釋放所有良心犯。」

國際特赦組織近期記錄到以下個案:

* 被囚人權積極分子胡佳的妻子,曾金燕,公安加派人手注守在其居住的大廈,不准她離開寓所。9月25日當天,當局要求她離開北京城,10月10日前都不可以回來。自從胡佳在2008年4月被監禁,當局嚴密監視曾金燕,阻止他們進行人權工作。

* 2009年9月23日,公安對劉曉波的律師表示,他會繼續被拘留,就其「煽動顛覆國家政權」罪作進一步調查。2008年12月8日,在世界人權宣言60週 年的前兩天,劉曉波在家中被公安強行帶走,當天也是「08 憲章」原定的發報日,「08 憲章」乃是一份民間社會要求根本法律及政治改革的藍圖─ 。

* 自9月中起,多名北京的活躍分子被逼離開該市,包括前政治犯及中國民主黨成員高洪明,在2008年北京奧運期間被遣勞動教養的住房權活躍人士王玲,以及在89天安門事件被槍擊而成為殘疾人士的民主積極分子齊志勇。

* 自9月22日,法律緩助及調查組織公盟的行政署長田奇莊已失去聯繫。9月24日,他致電兒子告知他被公安監視,吩咐他準備一些衣服。公盟創辦人許志永繼續被監視,而公盟的財政部長莊路自從8月23日被釋放,只能 跟家人作有限聯絡。

* 在囚法律權益積極份子陳光誠之妻子袁偉靜家外就有24名便衣公安注守,袁偉靜的電話間歇性中斷;陳光誠跟袁偉靜曾為殘疾人士爭取人權,與及幫助在山東省臨沂市因當局濫用劃生育政策而受影響的婦女。

* 在浙江省,數名中國民主黨成員的家亦被公安看守,阻止他們離開。當中包括祝正明、朱虞夫,毛慶祥,和胡曉玲。

* 9月初,另一名中國民主黨成員謝長發在湖南因顛覆罪被判監禁13年。此監禁是近年來人權及政治積極份子最長的判決。

* 8月下旬, 4名來自新疆維吾爾自治區的請願者已被拘留在北京。她們原本只被拘留在行政拘留所15天。然為阻止她們在國慶期間發起請願行動,卻最終被遣送到 「勞動教養」兩年。當時,這些女士正在就有關土地徵用和誤判作請願。