The Demise of Freedom of Speech in HK?

I found another piece that eerily resembles my earlier commentary about the abrupt disappearance of 5 Hong Kong booksellers:
Yet another relevant note that directly involves a magazine based in mainland China:

It turns out that some of the abducted HK booksellers are of non-Chinese nationalities, just like the one in the above-mentioned news article (the first one), which calls for an international outcry over the blatant breach of freedom of speech in an otherwise autonomous Hong Kong.

This is truly saddening.

I realize that I might have charged too much of a pessimistic note in my headline, but I hope I am just overreacting.

If only.







Black Lives Matter; All Lives Matter

Seems like the OP of a Facebook message I shared the other day about Black Lives Matter deleted her post, causing my post to disappear as a result. I wonder what happened to her. Anyway, in all seriousness, I’d like to recap on the message I said in that deleted post:

Black Lives Matter; and, for that matter, every single life matters, regardless of what race they’re told they belong to by the so-called conventional wisdom.
Yet, with a backdrop of the current disproportionate discrimination against blacks, I feel compelled to emphasize once again that Black Lives Matter.
However, that is not to say that the discriminated ought to resort to violence. Force is never the answer; it would only backfire, as can be observed in America proper recently. Their frustration is palpable; it has been so. But only through meaningful, genuine discourse can we solve the deep-rooted issue.
I am for one against all forms of discrimination, which, categorically, includes reverse discrimination, in which the initial discriminator is now being discriminated against.
Black Lives Matter; All Lives Matter.
That’s all that matters.

RE:Hong Kong Bookseller Finds Associates Challenging His Account of Detention

This post is in response to a news article here.

Image credit: Vincent Yu/Associated Press


Alas; it saddened me when I read this piece during my daily reading of the NYT articles.

First things first, I’d like to give kudos to Lam Wing-kee, who, despite knowing his doing so would put himself under immense danger from the mainland, still chose to stand up for himself — and by extension for the justice Hong Kong people righteously deserve — and tell the truth about what exactly had happened during his abrupt disappearance from Hong Kong.

While I understand why Mr. Lam’s colleagues and girlfriend decided to refute his whistle-blowing — that was nothing but a well-calculated move under the great pressure from the powers-that-be — it is nevertheless painful to see that they cannot — or perhaps dare not — tell the truth to the public. The fact that they are booksellers, be it regular books or materials deemed sensitive for the mainland, makes this case all the more relevant and significant. I believe it is part of booksellers’ responsibility to spread knowledge to the masses without fearing sabotage.  With a bullying, all-mighty China, however, that mission seems to be nothing but a tall order. I wonder what will befall Mr. Lam afterwards, but I certainly hope he’ll remain safe and free to speak up; more importantly, I hope this will serve as a wake-up call to all Hong Kongers. Without sticking to their guns, they’d run the risk of losing the very last vestiges of their autonomy altogether soon. Now, exactly how they can do that without putting their own lives and the lives of their loved ones in peril, that’s the question. Nevertheless, they should by no means do nothing and simply see their once-touted freedom be completely ripped off by the Big Brother.

For us Taiwanese, this is an equally worrisome episode. Though being granted a special administrative region status in 1997 by China, Hong Kong, as we’ve observed, has been on a trajectory of going downwards in terms of freedom and democracy. The so-called “one country, two systems,” under which Hong Kong was allowed to retain a large degree of political autonomy, simply doesn’t hold water. The international community has witnessed the Umbrella Revolution, yet little if nothing at all seems to have come of it.

It is well known to all Taiwanese that China has relentlessly been trying to apply the same “one country, two systems” formula  to Taiwan. If they’ve been trying to use the Hong Kong experience to win our hearts, they’ve been doing it all wrong. Considering the Taiwan’s proximity to Hong Kong, little wonder why we Taiwanese remain wary of the political development over there. There’s a popular saying in Taiwan that sums up the mentality and the sympathy we have for Hong Kong, which goes “今日香港,明日台灣,” which literally means “Today Hong Kong, tomorrow Taiwan,” or “what happens in Hong Kong will happen  in Taiwan tomorrow” in natural English. However, the reverse can also be true: One can argue that the Umbrella Revolution might have been partly inspired by a similar movement known as the Sunflower Movement in Taiwan that took place about 6 months earlier. With Cai Ying-wen becoming our new president, I am cautiously optimistic about the cross-strait development.

For the time being, let’s just hope that Mr. Lam will somehow manage to come out of it unharmed.

God bless Lam Wing-kee; God bless Hong Kong.


(EDIT: A similar thread I’ve posted on Forumosa has also received some response from a few netizens.  For those interested, you can find it here.)



Cross-strait chill: Taiwan’s elections

From The Economist Espresso: Cross-strait chill: Taiwan’s elections


Whether or not China will treat Tsai Ing-wen frostily, if she does win in today’s presidential election, remains to be seen. Ms. Tsai, the favorite to get the helm of the leadership on this island, along with other presidential hopefuls, will surely remain restless throughout today as the ballots are being counted.

I missed my chance to cast the ballot, due to a conflict between the election date and my personal schedule. That was indeed a shame. This year, four years later, I made sure I had my voice heard and “felt” by commuting back home to vote. The moment of my casting the votes (presidential, parliamentary, and legislative votes) felt solemn and electrifying, not least because it was the first time I voted in a presidential race.

I’ll be watching the news closely tonight to witness a new chapter in Taiwan’s history. It’s about time.

Stay tuned.







What’s in a name: women’s rights in Japan

“Today the Supreme Court rules on an archaic law—unique among developed countries—which bars married couples from keeping separate surnames. Almost all married women take their husband’s name, not vice versa. Five women have sued the state, saying that this violates constitutional guarantees of sexual equality. Yet many people (including many politicians of the conservative ruling party of Shinzo Abe, the prime minister) insist that letting women keep their names would weaken family ties.”

From The Economist Espresso: What’s in a name: women’s rights in Japan

Unfortunately, Taiwan, evidently a developed country,  also joins the club. This sort of practice is indeed anachronistic to today’s equal rights standards, not least because women do and should also have a say in important issues such as this. Considering the fact that my girlfriend also happens to be a Japanese, I can particularly relate to this news article. We actually talked about this topic before, albeit briefly and casually.  That being said, I’d certainly respect her decision as to keep her surname or not, if we do marry in the near future, which I think is very likely. In fact, I joked about letting our “kids” take our surnames altogether, which would be rather long.

In all seriousness, I am hoping to see a gradual, if not inconceivable, change in both Japan and Taiwan regarding sexual equality. I must add, though, that Japan has come a long way to where is it now, given that it used to be a male chauvinist society where women had no rights whatsoever.


Online in China: censors of the world, unite!

From The Economist Espresso: Online in China: censors of the world, unite!

“United we stand, divided we fall.” Though this is a succinct, powerful motto, it might not exactly apply to the case in this article.

“The bosses of top Chinese internet firms such as Alibaba and Baidu, who have already accepted self-censorship as the price of doing business, are on show.” I am not surprised that the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba will make an appearance, but what’s bothering me is that Alibaba has just recently acquired Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, a long-standing Hong Kong newspaper known for its independent and respected news reporting.  Its editorial independence will surely be compromised to some extent, make no mistake about it. With other international papers jumping on the bandwagon, this is truly upsetting. I am glad the New York Times still sticks to its guns. Keep up the good work and may you always have the grit to carry on in the face of a rising China in the international community.