Category Archives: Hong Kong

History in the streets

Recently, in Hong Kong, there has been much heated debate over “decolonisation” as one of the former Chinese central government officials commented on Hong Kong’s failure to implement a process of decolonisation, which was believed to have caused severe problems in the society and in constructing a healthy national identity. A few weeks later, Hongkong Post announced that they would start covering up the colonial era insignias on the remaining 59 historic post-boxes, which feature the British royal crowns (King George V, King George VI, and Queen Elizabeth II), to “avoid confusion” (read more from the Guardian and Hong Kong Free Press).

After such controversial announcement made by Hongkong Post, journalists and activists have started listing out what colonial symbols might be the next “victims”. In fact, there still exist countless colonial traces in Hong Kong. For example, the statue of Queen Victoria in Victoria Park, names of numerous streets and hiking trails (e.g. Nathan Road, Pottinger Street, MacLehose Trail), names of schools (e.g. Queen’s College, King George V School), names of hospitals (e.g. Queen Mary Hospital, Prince of Wales Hospital), and coins featuring Queen Elizabeth’s head1, etc.

Could decolonisation really make Hongkongers loyal to the Beijing government or to the mainland China? Is removing these tangible and historical assets really worth it?

This reminded me of Madrid’s latest historical movement – removal of all 167 street names related to the former dictator Francisco Franco regime, for example, Avenida Comandante Franco and Calle del General Yagüe. Mayor Manuela Carmena (left-wing Ahora Madrid Party) pledged to remove all remaining public symbols (e.g. names of schools, public squares, etc.) of the former dictatorship in the capital city in order to compile with the Historical Memory Law (La Ley por la que se reconocen y amplían derechos y se establecen medidas en favor de quienes padecieron persecución o violencia durante la Guerra Civil y la Dictadura) passed by the then-Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero in 2007.

The Historical Memory Law recognises the victims on both sides of the Spanish Civil War, gives rights to the victims and the descendants of victims of the Spanish Civil War and the subsequent dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, and formally condemns the Franco Regime. However, the Rodríguez Zapatero government was accused of weakening the political consensus of the transition to democracy and using the Spanish Civil War as an argument for political propaganda.

“We are still evaluating how to apply the Historical Memory Law, which we believe is not being used 100 percent,” Rita Maestre, city council spokeswoman, said, adding that city officials would welcome suggestions from the public for new names to replace those on the streets and squares affected.

“In any case, we will change the names that are not in line with the state law on Historical Memory. We want a coordinated effort between neighbourhoods and social entities,” she added.

(Translated by Martin Delfin, El País)

The Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (Asociación para la Recuperación de la Memoria Histórica), an organisation that collects oral and written testimonies about the victims of the regime of Francisco Franco, and excavates and identifies their bodies that were often dumped in mass graves, welcomed such act but requested that the government should not do it secretly, as they once removed a statue of Franco from Nuevos Ministerios area without prior notice in 2005, and that they should provide concrete reasons for changing certain street names.

It seems obvious that the change was initiated to erase the distressing memories related to the Franco regime though there are still monuments honouring it. However, is this yet another propaganda in nature, as commented by the Popular Party (Partido Popular)? Is this of similar nature in Hong Kong as well?

History is an intangible communal possession, however, we can now alter historical events by technology, hide historical truth away from books, or destroy historical assets with violence or laws. We might not be able to find history in the streets anymore because we fear. Perhaps it is time for us to ask ourselves: What are we scared of? Who do we fear for?

Note:

  1. The Monetary Authority has already taken thousands of such coins out of circulation since Queen Elizabeth’s head was replaced with a bauhinia flower in 1993. However, such “colonial” coins are still legal tender.

Cover photo: Green pillar post-box (Source: SCMP)

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New Year’s Eve

Happy New Year my friends!!!

How’re you all doing? I’m sure you’ve had a fantastic first day of 2014 and perhaps you’re still enjoying the last day of your holiday. What a shock that my brother had to go to school today and he’ll sit for his exams tomorrow! (Luckily, my second semester will only commence until next week… :p)

I’m curious to know the different ways to celebrate New Year around the world (: In Hong Kong, almost every New Year’s Eve, we’ll gather along Victoria Harbour or go up to Victoria Peak to see the fireworks after having dinner with our families (at home or in a restaurant). After that, we’ll go to bars and have fun or go right back home.

In Spain, Spanish also have dinner with their families before going out. However, there’re two traditions that are very interesting about New Year’s Eve. They’ll wear new, red underwear because it will bring them good luck. This is the same when it comes to Lunar New Year, Chinese also put up such underwear for luck.

Besides, there’s a Spanish tradition called The Twelve Grapes. People will eat them one by one with each ring of the bell at midnight. This tradition started in The Gate of the Sun in Madrid (right image) where we can see the government clock tower of the Casa de Correos. Usually, these people will go for parties afterwards till the next morning. That’s why it’s a norm that they’ll have breakfast of hot chocolate and fried pastry (left image) together.

Photo: Victoria Harbour (1 Jan 2014)

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The Mountains

I love the end of autumn, simply because the weather is always lovely. And since my university is very close to the mountains in Northeastern Hong Kong, my best mate and I always went hiking almost every weekend.

Actually, mountains in Hong Kong are pretty well-known in Asia. A lot of Japanese tourists enjoy hiking here because the landscape a long hiking trails is just swell, for example, MacLehose and Wilson trails (they are named after the last names of the two governors during the British colonial era).

Here are some photos I’ve taken. Enjoy!

Shum Chung – overlooking Ma On Shan
Pat Sin Leng – overlooking Shenzhen, China
Pat Sin Leng – the view of the ridge
Tai Po Kau – overlooking Ma On Shan and my university

Quality of Life

Oops! Apologies that I haven’t written for a long time… :-/ This is university life – there’re many assignments, lots of meetings and loads of projects… I DON’T HAVE SPARE TIME!!!

Wait! Would you mind repeating what you’ve just said? You don’t have free time? How come? Why?

As always, students in Hong Kong tell there parents, teachers and friends that they don’t have much time to do something that they were supposed to complete. However, it’s possible that they are all living under great pressure that they just don’t have the energy and mood to do so. In my university life, it’s true that I have loads and loads of projects, meetings and exams. I must work very very hard everyday in order to put a little tick on my to-do list. Pressure? Yes, much pressure! Therefore, I think that it’s necessary to do something different from what we’ve been doing. For example, I love playing music and I like listening to operas when I study. Also, I would like to go swimming every weekend, but the pool in my university will be closed soon in December… I need to look for something else that is relaxing to replace swimming.

Anyway, it’s important that you guys search for some activities that you think it’s interesting and you can enjoy while doing so. I’m sure that your quality of life will balloon and after a while, you’ll be enjoying a healthy and happy life. Remember, it’s super-important that you don’t put much pressure in your work, otherwise, I don’t think you could complete a single task.

Photo: La Barceloneta, Barcelona

A rainbow

In Hong Kong, it’s very common for families to live in public housing estates. Simply because the private apartments are very expensive.

There are eighteen districts in Hong Kong and almost all of them have an area for these public housing estates. These are the shelters for the people who can’t afford the private ones. Moreover, since there’s a huge wealth gap between the rich and the poor, the government is going to continue with the construction work of these estates in order to bridge the gap and provide homes for all these people. It’s indeed a rainbow of a beautiful and completed life for all the needy.

Photo: Choi Hung, Hong Kong

Happy October!

Hooray! It’s a public holiday in Hong Kong today for celebrating the National Day of China. At last, we don’t have to work… Hip, hip…! :D

Recently, Hongkongers love to go for a boat trip during weekends or whenever there’s a holiday. They need to go to a pier in Sai Kung (east of HK) or Tsim Sha Tsui (south of Kowloon) in the morning. After having breakfast, they will queue up there in order to go on board. (There’re LOTS of people… It’s very busy and noisy… Oh dear!)

Normally, they will go to some places near by a beach on an island. The boat will stay there and those guys can go play on the deck and, of course, go swimming. Also, they could go to the beach and do barbeque there. Surely they would enjoy very much… (:

I think that it’s a very popular and wonderful activity to spend a day with our family and friends in such a beautiful sea. What do you think? :p

(P.S. Apologies… I was very, very busy these days and I didn’t have much time updating my blog…)

Photo: Sai Kung, Hong Kong

Super typhoon

The super typhoon Usagi is approaching… It’s very powerful and it damaged Taiwan and the Philippines some days ago. Now, there are very big waves in Western Pacific and the wind is pretty strong in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Observatory will enforce the number eight typhoon signal in the evening or at night today. I wish it wouldn’t damage us too severely and, please, folks, do take care…

By the way, every time a typhoon is coming closer, we can always see a very beautiful view, for example, in this photo, there weren’t many clouds in the pink and purple sky yesterday… It’s gorgeous, isn’t it? (:

Photo: Sai Kung, Hong Kong

A family activity

Happy weekend, folks!!!! ((((:

It always makes me feel good when I do something interesting with my family during weekends. My family and I love hiking very much, particularly in Autumn. Frequently, there were not many people in Hong Kong who knew about the advantages of hiking. But, there are many more of them who would like to hike recently because they know they can relax peacefully after a busy week.

For me, I totally agree that hiking is the best family activity. I believe that we can spend a good day with our family and, at the same time, to know more about Hong Kong’s nature. Also, what the most important point is that hiking is free of charge… Haha… :D

Photo: Sai Kung

Mid-Autumn Festival

Today is Mid-Autumn Festival, a Chinese festival traditionally when people celebrate the harvest and reunite with their families. It’s also known as the Moon Festival since we can see a full moon according to Chinese (Lunar) calendar. It’s very beautiful!

Nowadays in Hong Kong, the Festival represents a day when all family members reunite. Usually, after dinner, people would love to go to an open-area or a park to eat mooncakes and to see the moon. Normally, a mooncake is made of lotus seed paste and preserved salted eggs, which is very tasty. Moreover, kids loves traditional lanterns or the cartoon ones. Also, there are a lot of giant lanterns exhibited in some parks. We can always take a lot of photos and spend a night with our families happily and peacefully.

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

Culture?

Hong Kong is always said to be culture desert because the quality of the local art production is not desirable. Surely, there are countless museums, galleries, concerts, movies, plays, musicals, ballets and art festivals in Hong Kong, however, there is not much locally produced.

This place is the Hong Kong Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui, at the south of Kowloon peninsula. The Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Hong Kong Ballet, the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra and Zuni Icosahedron are the venue partners. The four are the most famous ones and they perform frequently.

I think that we need to allow the art organisations more time to improve. Also, I can see that they are making efforts to produce some good performances. Let’s show them some support, shall we? (: