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.)





Note: Because most of my clients so far have been Chinese native speakers, I therefore translated their feedback from Chinese into English, while attempting to maintain the fidelity to the original to the best of my abilities.  The original feedback can be easily found here. Some of the testimonials listed here were from my previous employer and instructor.

Don’t just take my word for it.

Check out what people are saying about my services!

Peter Fan

堯舜翻譯推薦函letter of recommendation

Roman R. Yamsuan, Sr.

Senior Lecturer 

(Professor Yamsuan is an American who taught us English at my alma mater)



Dear Sir/Madam:


I am pleased to write a letter of recommendation for Alvis Yu. I highly recommend him to your organization for the position of Associate Linguist. I was his English instructor for 2 semesters at the Graduate School of International Affairs, Ming Chuan University, in the years of 2011 and 2012. His grades are impressive with an average semestral grade of 99.0. As his former teacher, I had an opportunity to observe his participation and interaction in class and to evaluate his knowledge of the subject matter. He was no doubt one of the brightest students I’ve ever taught. I remember him as a diligent student who would carry his English dictionary to class, a monolingual dictionary, no less, which showcased his commitment and earnest desire to master the English language. His hard work did pay off: Not only did he possess impressive vocabulary, he was also articulate in both writing and speaking. His excellent command of formal and colloquial English was especially laudable. As a non-native speaker who had not been exposed to an English-only environment before, he surely pushed the envelope and proved that one can attain a high level of English without living or studying abroad. Therefore, it is with much pleasure that I give Alvis my full and unqualified recommendation. I strongly endorse him to be a member of your linguistic team at confidential. Thank you for your kind understanding and consideration.




Roman R. Yamsuan, Sr.

Senior Lecturer

Graduate School of International Affairs,

Ming Chuan University,

Taipei, Taiwan


Leigh Ann Fall  (American)

I highly recommend Alvis as a translator for any liaison or interpretation work. He has excellent English, both written and verbal, and I know you will not be disappointed with his language skills!


English Editing services

SOP, biography, work experience, thesis

Alvis was a very considerate translator. The caliber of the translators on PTT (read: the largest BBS used in Taiwan) varies greatly, but I eventually decided to choose Alvis after examining his free trial edit.  I recommend Alvis for polishing services, and the reasons are as follows:

  1. Great initiative: Alvis was very quick to reply all my questions regarding polishing and translation. Though I had little time left for my application, his generosity and eagerness to help had made me feel very relieved that things would go well. He always finished and submitted the edits in time without fail, which is very important for people who are applying to schools.
  2. Constructive suggestions: The program I am applying to is International Relations. Alvis could always provide me with ideas when I had trouble thinking of the right words to use, enabling me to finish my writing so that he could polish it later.
  3. Premium quality: I could always see lots of words in red in every edit he did for me, which proves that he is a painstaking, meticulous translator. In addition to correcting punctuation and grammar mistakes, he also transformed my fragmented Chinglish into fluent English.
  4. High caliber: Alvis was once accepted into the graduate program of translation and interpretation studies at Fu Je University (read: It’s one of the leading graduate institutes in the field in Taiwan), which makes him more qualified than people outside the field. I admit that I wasn’t very sure about his capability initially, but his commitment and aggressiveness had soon erased my doubts. He turned out to be perfectly capable of the work he had promised.

(See the original feedback in Chinese here)

 Ms. Wang

(SOP/Master’s thesis, C to E translations)

I just had my native-speaking (read: English) friend check your translation, and then we were like worshiping you. You really nailed it! Flawless! Another friend of mine also said that my original text (in Mandarin) is like an original novel, whereas your translation reads like its movie adaption, and I found the analogy quite appropriate.

(translated feedback)

Ms. Liao

(SOP, C to E translation)

Thank you for the translation! I really like the fact that you chose simple words over verbosity or overly fancy vocabulary. I seem to have picked up some English usage reading your translation. My English is not very good, but I really like how you translated it. Can’t quite explain why I feel this way though lol…
(translated feedback)

Mr. Chao (NTU research assistant)

(SOP/PHS editing)

I was satisfied.

Eric Chang

(translation case)

Exactly how I wanted it to be translated :p …

MiMi W

(translation case)

Thank you! I’ve rarely met a considerate translator like you who would explain his choice of words and  tense to his clients.

Intermediate weekday Volleyball Events

(Edit: I’m sorry to say that I’ve moved to Japan, so this post might not be relevant anymore. That said, I believe this spot is still somewhat popular and remains to be one of the gems in Greater Taipei. Check it out, fellas!)

Howdy, this is Alvis Yu.

I’ve always loved to play volleyball. In fact, when I was still at college, I pretty much played every day. My skills are somewhat upper intermediate. Decent at spiking and setting.

Below are the details of the courts I found in Yonghe (永和) District, New Taipei City:

Location: Yonghe Emerald Park (永和綠寶石公園)

Route 1

Route 2

It can be hard to locate for first-timers, but the pic below should help you get here:

スクリーンショット 2016-04-25 14.44.36

Pros and Cons about the courts:

One of the good things about the place is that it’s relatively under folks’ radar, so we can pretty much keep it to ourselves! (UPDATE: it’s getting more and more crowded, with 20-30 players on average per day. This is good because it used to be fewer than 12 ppl showing up, making a game (which requires 12 people) impossible. At least not a proper game.) The courts include two male-height nets and one female’s, surrounded by net mesh, which means we don’t have to chase after the ball! Better yet, the lights remain on til 10ish in the evening. The more advanced players usually just stick to the right court for some reason. I am one up for challenges, so I tend to stick to the right court as well. For the middle and the left courts, people usually play co-ed volleyball there.

On the flip side, it might prove to be a bit far and inconvenient for peeps who don’t have a vehicle. Also the fact that it’s by the riverside means that it gets windy sometimes! We all know that volleyballs aren’t like basketballs. They are light. As a result, when it is windy, every ball (esp when serving) floats, intentionally or unintentionally lol! However, if you look on the bright side, you can think of it as a chance to improve your coordination.


Before entering the courts, you’ll see a big parking lot.
Fees incurred for car drivers only
No fee for scooter/motorcycle riders whatsoever
There are plenty of parking spaces here. Pretty neat!
The volleyball courts are located at a large public park by the riverside, and there are also other sports courts such as tennis courts and basketball courts.
Front side of the volleyball courts.
The courts are surrounded by wire mesh. No more chasing after volleyballs!
Right court (male height)
Middle (male height)


Left  (female height) Admittedly, the right pole needs fixing. (UPDATE: it’s been fixed!)
Entrance. The net can be pulled so as to keep the entrance closed.
This is the most ideal court. You can see tennis courts further back.
Behind the courts is the eye-pleasing, grassy bank.
The parking lot in front of the courts is called “Emerald Park,” or “綠寶石停車場” in Chinese.

Pinyin with tone markers: lǜ bǎo shí tíng chē chǎng 


For folks who’d like to join my weekly events, please RSVP here (look for “Intermediate Weekday Volleyball!“). Not to be confused with “Play Intermediate Volleyball,” which is another volleyball group on Sundays. I  do go there at times, but lately I’ve found myself quite busy on the weekend, hence the thought of creating a weekday version of the group.

Since these are outdoor courts, when it rains, the event will be cancelled accordingly. I live fairly close to the area, so I’d give you guys a heads-up about the weather conditions.

Admittedly, the location might be a bit inconvenience for peeps who don’t have a vehicle, but you can also ride a YouBike to get here. There are quite a few YouBike stations near the courts. Do check the above-mentioned website for the availability of the bikes first though!

As  I am a freelancer, my schedule is rather flexible. For folks who even want to play in the afternoon, you can simply PM me, and we might just play spontaneously!

Rules for the Taiwanese co-ed volleyball: 

Here are some rules (might seem bizarre for some) for the Taiwanese co-ed volleyball that you might want to know before you play: men cannot block women. Call if a gender inequality if you like (as one American pointed out to me). I can’t quite explain why that is, but it is just what it is….While in the front row, men can only spike provided that they 1) jump before the 3-meter line or 2) hit without jumping if they’re inside the front row area. Nevertheless, men can still block their male opponents (almost always only when the hitter jumps and spikes before the 3 meter line). Enjoy.


Book review: Barbarian at the Gate: From the American Suburbs to the Taiwanese Army

As an R.O.C. citizen who just finished his national service (though it only lasted for a year), I can relate to the stories and tales in this book. I am not sure if I’d do the same if I were in his shoes, i.e., renouncing much-coveted American citizenship in exchange for R.O.C citizenship whose country is not officially recognized by most of the members in the international community. That said, I enjoyed the book from cover to cover, feeling like I was also being yelled at by the master sergeants and given all the raw deal along the way as I flipped through it. Indeed, I did get roughly the same “treatment” as the author did in the army, and that in a way only manifests an important point he’d been seeking :being treated like anyone else, not left alone.

I am glad he found a sense of belonging to the place where I was born and raised, for I feel the same for her.

For foreigners wanting to know more about Taiwan, aka Formosa, you don’t want to miss this book.