Canto-pop – Wedding Invitation Street

Canto-pop back in the 80s was so much more diverse than nowadays. Songwriters and lyric writers used to incorporate their political stand and observation of the social issues in their work. Beyond and Tak Ming Pair are two bands that are renown for such work. Sam Hui is another significant figure in this as well, just like the song I posted before.

Double Happiness, as many of you know, is a symbol in Chinese language that represents marriage. There was a small area in Wan Chai that was famous for the trade of printing wedding invitation, hence, it’s nickname Double Happiness Invitation Street. Unfortunately, in the name of urban renewal, this area was torn down and a number of lifeless skyscrapers were built and the area was turned into a Soho style zone. I can’t even imagine how difficult it is for the shop owners who practically raised their families by running a joyful business in the area, as for the couples who went to the area to make part of their lifelong memories together this is another loss of “collective memories”.

Double Happiness Invitation Street”, a more recent Canto-pop sung by Kay Tse is supposedly a love song, but a netizen did some magic by using some footages and created a new video, which remarkably made the lyrics resembles some of the local Hong Kongers’ feelings for the British rule and their discontent about the China governance. Instead of taking the face value of the lyrics, one can see the metaphors.

The netizen who created this video did a fantastic job on translating the lyrics, but I think a few tweaks would, perhaps, help translate the meanings better. Below is my translation, hope you’d enjoy before I go on further about my thoughts:

Double Happiness Invitation Street

Let go of the flowers you’ve planted, takeoff again and forget about your dreams

Don’t look back at the dusty wedding invitation, you’re about to move

If one manages to build, one must accept that it will fall eventually

In reality, there is not a type of stability or happiness that last for eternity

Same as this area, which was seen as the best in the world

But, out of the blue, all the units in the area are vacant and almost taken over by crows

The good times don’t last forever, whatever goes up must come down

The one you love, probably won’t be with you for the rest of your life

Perhaps, there is nothing to be afraid of.

Forget about the one you loved, the one whose name was hot-stamped in gold on the wedding invitation

The wall where the framed weeding picture was hung and the beautiful era will be torn down tomorrow

Forget about the home you once had, the little dining table, the sofa, the fridge and the two cups of breakfast tea

The sweet time was on lease, when the time is up it would have to be returned, correct?

It could not be delayed until the next generation, right?

Forget about the sand castle you built, the castle in memory will collapse in an instant

When facing the deserted land, you ought to learn to let go and move on

Tiles cannot resist abrasion, window frame cannot imprison the sunset

Is love enough to bound two forever?

Would another sigh of sorrow help?

Forget about the one you loved, the one whose name was hot-stamped in gold on the wedding invitation

The wall where the framed weeding picture was hung and the beautiful era will be torn down tomorrow

Forget about the home you once had, the little dining table, the sofa, the fridge and the two cups of breakfast tea

The sweet time was on lease, when the time is up it would have to be returned, correct?

The time will surely come. Please don’t be afraid.

Please let go of the keys (this line was not translated in the video clip, no reason was given by the creator of this clip)

Interesting to listen to the song with this video.

Many called the Hong Kongers, who miss the good old days when Hong Kong was under British rule, the British running dogs. They claim that Hong Kong is enjoying more freedom and democracy than when we were under the British rule. They even said “the Brits treated the Hong Kong people like dogs. What have they ever done to you that makes you so grateful for them?”

Before I say anymore, here’s a little clip I’d like to watch.

I am not saying that the Brits did nothing wrong, and frankly speaking Hong Kongers were always inferior to the Brits in Hong Kong. However, are things really that different nowadays? The Chinese are treating Hong Kongrs as some sort of debtors who must repay their debt. The debt we have to repay is the prosperity and freedom we enjoyed during British rule. Why is that our fault for China to suffer from Mao’s dictatorship? Why is it our responsibility to support China for eternity? As if the people of Hong Kong had not helped China enjoy – the amount of money and supplies we provided to our so-called relatives from 50s to 70s, and the investments Hong Kongers have made in China throughout the entire time.

The British government was trying to prepare the Hong Kongers for democracy, it was China who banned this and made sure that it would not happen even after the sovereignty was handed over. China has denied Hong Kong’s promised fully democratic election for both the governor/chief executive as well as the legislature.

The people of Hong Kong did not know better about democracy during the British rule, but now many have understood more and more about it. Another important thing is, Hong Kongers finally understand that a totalitarian communist country would never ever “give” us freedom and democracy. That’s why many of us do different things to try wake up the others. What is wrong to fight for democracy? What is wrong for even fighting for independence? Isn’t that human rights to choose what government they should have? The UN wants to decolonise the world, and ensures colonies to have self-determination. What about Hong Kong? What did the world do? What did the Brits do? What did the Chinese do?

Hong Kongers also are guilty. If we had fought for democracy instead of “accepting our fate”, none of China’s colonisation could have happened.

Margaret Thatcher’s Death

(source: TheJakartaGlobe.com & Reuters)

Margaret Thatcher, Former Prime Minister of the UK, died on 8th April. This news has been covered by every newspaper, forum, discussion board and Facebook page in Hong Kong. Although the world (and the majority of the people of Hong Kong) are evaluating what she’s done when she was in office, people in Hong Kong, especially the local, began to look at what has she done during the Sino-British negotiation back in the late 70s and 80s. Did the Iron Lady actually fight for Hong Kong? Or was she not really that tough a Prime Minister after all when she faced the Commies?

(source: Bloomberg)

Perhaps she did not fight, perhaps she did. Some said that the UK government never had the best interest of the people of Hong Kong in their heart. After all, not many people knew about Hong Kong then (in fact, many still don’t know Hong Kong was a British colony before it was handed to the Communists in 1997). People in the UK were extremely worried that 3 million** of Hong Kong people were going to flee to the UK and would collapse the country – the fact is, people of Hong Kong did not want to move to the UK, they only wanted some sort of security if the Communist ever crosses the line they have something to fall back to. People of Hong Kong are grateful for what the British government has done (e.g. nine years of free education for children, rule of law, clean government [at least cleaner than many other governments including China’s for years and for now], basic national health care provided by public hospital, public housing for the poor and the grass root, etc), yet disgusted by the fact that the British government essentially betrayed the people of Hong Kong as the British government kept their subjects in Hong Kong in the dark until it was the point of no return.

** The total population in Hong Kong was no more than 5 million, and no more than 3 million were British nations, i.e. either born in Hong Kong, a British colony, or have British citizenship via different means

I found a short post on the most popular discussion forum in Hong Kong, Golden Forum, and below is the translation (not word for word as I felt it is important to elaborate to give more details to the context):

一般香港人對英國的誤解
近日,有部份團體/個人提出一些意見,指”英國真的有那麼好嗎?”、”英國出賣香港,為何還要懷緬殖民地時代,何必呢?”云云。英國和中共相比, 大家都有眼睇;”英國出賣香港”實際上是某些人士借題發揮、大眾以訛傳訛的後果。筆者認為香港人有必要知道當年究竟發生甚麼事,而有之後的”香港成為英國 殖民地”、”香港忽然要被回歸”,因為香港赤化愈來愈嚴重,而且教科書亦非全面講解,只有短短數行字,電視亦為免”得罪大陸,打爛飯碗”,也不會道出全部 事實。

大家都知當年,滿清戰敗,先後割讓香港島、九龍半島,並讓英國租借新界。但為何要選擇香港這個地方呢?其實與清英戰爭有關。其實當年英軍久攻不破 林則除的防線,而艦上的淡水又接近用完,當時的澳門政府又拒絕為英軍補給,但為何最後又可以戰勝滿清?因為當時的香港人為英軍補給,致令英國戰勝滿清(有 部份歷史資料認為是基於反清心理,促使香港人協助英軍)。當時的英國主帥查理‧義律爵士雖然以英國利益為先,但亦深知滿清不會放過出於香港人,故冒上被撤 職的風險,都要出於道義和利益提出佔領香港、保護香港人,而非中史書所言的”不滿穿鼻草約利益過少而把義律撤職”。(詳情可以上網搜尋義律上書印度總督信 件,而信件內容已被香港浸會大學及樹仁大學引用為史實;亦可以翻閱” 改變香港歷史的60篇文獻”)

香港就此逐步成為英國的殖民地。

那麼,明明香港人生活安定,為何忽然要”被回歸”?很多人都以為是”租約到期”, 但明顯地是錯誤的,大家想一想割讓出去的香港島、九龍就會知道?

要理解這個問題,大家應先了解一些國際的決議。

聯合國1516號決議案訂明殖民地自決的權利,即是殖民地有權決定是否獨立、維持原狀等。

而在1946年12月14日,經聯合國大會決議,香港還在”尚未自治殖民地”名單內,要注意是整個香港(包括香港島、九龍、新界、離島及相關水域)。

聯合國憲章第73條b亦規定:尚未自治的殖民地,必須依照各地的情況,逐步協助使其自治。

看到這裡,大家都會有疑問:照常理,香港就算不獨立,也應該逐步取得全面自治,究竟”被回歸”原因何在?

原因就在於大陸的”奸招”(可能有人覺得冇問題,”奸”純粹是筆者對此事的觀感)。1972年,在聯合國準備通過2908號決議(內容是令使殖民 地都能儘快自決獨立)前,大陸以某種方式作要脅,提出將香港、澳門剔除出殖民地名單。當時,斐濟、瑞典、委內瑞拉等3國持不同意見,而英國亦依據香港主流民意(維持現況)致函聯合國秘書長,抗議聯合國大會把香港決議為中國領土,但大家都知大陸在聯合國內有幾多”朋友”。因此,英國唯有無奈接受,盡量為香港爭取”被回歸”後的利益。

香港就此被”老屈”收回,而近日不少示威中有人高呼”香港獨立”亦可算是合情、合理,而且並無違法。

The misunderstandings average Hong Kongers have against the UK:

Recently, some organisations and individuals have started to ask “was Britain that good?” “Britain betrayed Hong Kong, why would Hong Kongers still miss the colonial days?”.  I believe that Hong Kongers must learn about what actually happened back then before the phrases “Hong Kong became a British colony” and “Hong Kong was suddenly being returned”. Text books nor the media would not reveal all the facts as they need to make a living (note: given that they need to have the business from pro-China or China-backed organisations, individuals, etc)

As all should know (note: evidentially not known to many Brits), when Qin government lost in wars, Hong Kong Island and Kowloon were ceded to Britain perpetually, whilst the New Territories were leased to Britain (note: for 99 years, which in Chinese language it is equivalent to eternity). Why did Britain pick Hong Kong (a small fish village back then)? The British army had been fighting the Qin government’s troop (led by Lin Tse-Hsu) but could not defeat them, to make the situation more difficult, they were running out of fresh water, but the Macau government then refused provide supply to the British army. Fortunately, people in Hong Kong provided supply to the British troop which eventually helped them beat Qin. Although Admiral Sir Charles Elliot, who led the army, put England’s interest first, he understood that Qin government would not let the people of Hong Kong off. He risked his career and proposed to take over Hong Kong in order to protect the people of Hong Kong, purely because of his morality. This is completely different from the Chinese history books which say “the British government was not pleased about the benefits they could get from the Convention of Chuenpee” (this can be referenced to the letter Charles Elliot sent to the governor of India, which has been categorised as historical fact).

This is when Hong Kong began to turn into a British colony.

The people of Hong Kong had been doing just fine, why was there a sudden “being returned to China”? Many thought that it was because of the lease (note: New Territories) was up, but there is a fundamental fault in this theory.

To understand this, one must understand some international resolutions:

According to United Nations Security Council resolution 1516 (noted: a feedback suggests that this should be General Assembly resolution 1514), colonies have right for self determination, meaning colonies can determine whether to go independent, remain status quo, etc.

As of 14th December 1946, United Nations General Assembly still recognised Hong Kong as one of the non-self-governing colonies. It is important to note that the definition of Hong Kong included Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, New Territories, outer islands and relevant territorial water (New Territories and outer islands in Hong Kong were “leased to the British for 99 years” in the Treaty of Nanking – please also note in Chinese language, 99 is a symbol representing “forever” and “eternity”).

As stated in the Article 73 (b) of the Charter of the United Nations: Members of the United Nations which have or assume responsibilities for the administration of territories whose peoples have not yet attained a full measure of self-government recognize the principle that the interests of the inhabitants of these territories are paramount, and accept as a sacred trust the obligation to promote to the utmost, within the system of international peace and security established by the present Charter, the well-being of the inhabitants of these territories, and, to this end:

  1. to ensure, with due respect for the culture of the peoples concerned, their political, economic, social, and educational advancement, their just treatment, and their protection against abuses;
  2. to develop self-government, to take due account of the political aspirations of the peoples, and to assist them in the progressive development of their free political institutions, according to the particular circumstances of each territory and its peoples and their varying stages of advancement;
  3. to further international peace and security;
  4. to promote constructive measures of development, to encourage research, and to co-operate with one another and, when and where appropriate, with specialized international bodies with a view to the practical achievement of the social, economic, and scientific purposes set forth in this Article; and
  5. to transmit regularly to the Secretary-General for information purposes, subject to such limitation as security and constitutional considerations may require, statistical and other information of a technical nature relating to economic, social, and educational conditions in the territories for which they are respectively responsible other than those territories to which Chapters XII and XIII apply.

According to this Article, Hong Kong should have gone self-governing even if it had not gone independent. What is the reason for “being returned to China”? (note: “being returned to China” here consist the fact that people of Hong Kong were NOT informed nor consulted about this “decision” and were left with no choice but to “be returned to China”)

This is all because of the trickery China played. In 1972, just before the United Nations was going to pass Resolution 2908 (Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples), China threatened the members that they have to agree on taking Hong Kong and Macau off the list of colonies in the EU. At that time, Fiji, Sweden and Venezuela objected this notion. The UK, based on the mainstream public opinion (which was remain to be a British colony, a status quo), wrote to the Secretary-General of the UN, objecting the General Assembly’s resolution that Hong Kong is China’s territory. Given that China had (and still has) a lot of “friends” in the UN, the UK had no choice but to accept the resolution and to focus on getting the the best for Hong Kong in preparation of it “being returned to China”.

This is how Hong Kong ended up having to be handed over to China. The noise calling for Hong Kong independence that recently surfaced is reasonable and legitimate.

Queen’s Road East – 90’s Canto-Pop

Queen’s Road East is a Canto-pop written in 1991, when Hong Kong’s future was determined by the British government and PRC government where Hong Kong people had absolutely no say. This song reflects the confusion of Hong Kongers and our fear for the Communist and PRC. If you watch the MTV carefully, you’d notice there are scenes of people and cars moving backward, a metaphor to symbolism that Hong Kong will go backward after the handover of sovereignty.

The lyrics is full of metaphor. Strongly illustrating Hong Kongers desperation and helplessness about our future.

Hope you’d enjoy the MTV and the lyrics translated below:

Queen’s Road West and Queen’s Road East
Queen’s Road East turns into Queen’s Road Central
Queen’s Road Central is crowded with people

Our royal friend is on the back of coins
Forever young and named the Queen
Follows me everywhere to do all sorts of trade
With an expressionless face that represents success

A dear friend leaves this big city and says goodbye
Have to rely on the comrades to create new ideas
Where properties are available everywhere, people carry on buying and selling
But Mong Kok* may have to change its name

This rightful friend is familiar and friendly
Hence, allowing horses to race only twice a week
People, therefore, naturally compete to cross the finishing line
If you wish to be a citizens of the great nation, all it requires is money

Our dear friend leaves this big city and says goodbye
Have to rely on the comrades to create new ideas
The hot and cold weather still affects this city
But we may have to seek help from people with supernatural power for a change of weather

Emptiness is form, form is emptiness**
Emptiness is form, form is emptiness…

This beautiful friend says goodbye in class
The same picture shown on TV every night
When the day of celebration comes, everyone has to applause
The respectable face on the back of coins turns into statues of martyrs

Our dear friend leaves this big city and says goodbye
Have to rely on the comrades to create new ideas
The railways, buses and taxis will run all the same
But one may not know the routes anymore

* Mong Kok is a famous district with lots of hawker stalls, but have changed massively because of the influx of PRC Chinese tourists

** A famous Buddhist quote

Hong Kong is still a Colony

Hong Kong is still a colony

This video was first uploaded on Youtube few weeks ago in Cantonese. English subtitle version is now available to help the fellow Hong Kongers who don’t speak Cantonese and the rest of the world understand what’s the CCP government doing to Hong Kong.

This bloke in the video is quite famous to netizens in Hog Kong. He’s famous for mocking the CCP-HKSAR government and producing clips that take the mickey out of politicians and has never been seen serious in front of camera.

Freedoms erode – a blatant violation of the Basic Law and Sino-British Joint Declaration

In light of recent rapid decline in freedoms in Hong Kong, the people of Hong Kong must not stand and watch Hong Kong burn. That’s why Hong Kongers took it to the street and the demonstration on 1st January 2013 opened a new chapter of Hong Kong’s continuous battle for freedom and universal suffrage.

I believe that every human being is born free. Before I go into the details of the demonstration, it’s important for me to talk about how freedoms in Hong Kong erode after the handover of sovereignty in 1997.

In the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law stated clearly that Hong Kongers’ freedoms are protected:

Sino-British Joint Declaration

(5) The current social and economic systems in Hong Kong will remain unchanged, and so will the life-style. Rights and freedoms, including those of the person, of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of travel, of movement, of correspondence, of strike, of choice of occupation, of academic research and of religious belief will be ensured by law in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Private property, ownership of enterprises, legitimate right of inheritance and foreign investment will be protected by law.

The Basic Law

Article 27
Hong Kong residents shall have freedom of speech, of the press and of publication; freedom of association, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration; and the right and freedom to form and join trade unions, and to strike.

Article 28
The freedom of the person of Hong Kong residents shall be inviolable.

No Hong Kong resident shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful arrest, detention or imprisonment. Arbitrary or unlawful search of the body of any resident or deprivation or restriction of the freedom of the person shall be prohibited. Torture of any resident or arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of the life of any resident shall be prohibited.

The truth is, the freedoms we enjoy in Hong Kong is gradually being taken away. Not ripped from us all at the same time, but bit by bit…

News reports (over the past years) are clear evidence of these. A few recent news reports are used below to outline what’s been going on in Hong Kong. You’d notice that only one publication is quoted – this is another evidence of the self-censorship amongst the Hong Kong media. Note: some other publications follow up with these reports, and a number of them are relatively unbiased whilst some completely ignore any of the above and continue supporting the Hong Kong SAR government and the China government.

Apple Daily (8th Jan, 2013) “Limiting access to records of registered companies, stops media from investigating and confirming identities – harms public interest”

Investigative journalism is important to a free nation, where people are informed the stories that matter to their livelihood.

Apple Daily (1st Aug, 2012) – Mr Paul CHAN Mo-po, Secretary for Development, was found to own sub-division flats under a company (sub-division flats are illegal in Hong Kong). In light of this scandal, the government stopped the public, including journalists, from obtaining drivers’ identity via going through records of licence plate number. (Mr. CHAN, who’s also recorded in camera for drink driving, is free from any prosecution and charges Apple Daily (4th Oct, 2012))

Apple Daily (13th Dec 2012) – End of 2012, Apple Daily also exposed a massive scandal about “ditch oil” (basically “processed” used oil that’s dumped by restaurants (some even “collect” it from the drains, hence the name), it’s proven to be cancer causing and China has been producing and selling within China for years). The story revealed that a China company has been selling ditch oil to at least one Hong Kong distributor and many restaurant chains have been using such oil. This China company is owned by a State-Owned-Enterprise, which emerged in recent years and already became one of the largest (cooking) oil companies in the PRC.

When the newspaper further investigated the matter in China, the journalists were taken to the police in China and threatened they will not be welcome to China if they report the story. One of the China journalists who first uncovered the ditch oil in the first place was found dead with multiple stab wounds soon after the news was published. The ditch oil business is believed to be owned by the powerful.

Censorship in Hong Kong is not done by the government nor in the form of active involvement. With the number of newspaper in Hong Kong, only one or maybe two would report government’s inadequacy or scandals related to local government officials as well as the government in China.

I’ll follow with another piece about the 1st Jan 2013 demonstration, and media in Hong Kong once again were clearly categorised into two groups: pro-China (the majority) and pro-democracy (minority).

Please leave your comments.

Hong Kong’s unique history (and a bit of China)

To talk about Hong Kong history, we need to trace it quite a while back. Below is my attempt to make it as short and simple as possible…

China has always been a “multi-ethnicity country”. Han has traditionally be the ruler of China (of course the other “countries” in China are ruled by various ethnic leaders) – this is a very complicated subject, and this English website and this Chinese page show the map of China in all dynasty in history.

Now let’s look Ming and Qing.

Wu San-kuei (or Wu Sangui), a military general of the Ming empire was the direct cause of the fall of the Ming dynasty. Based on history, his obsession over his concubine, Chen YuanYuan, was the fundamental reason that he betrayed the Ming emperor.

Long story short, Wu opened the gate for the Qing army, resulting the end of Ming. Great Qing (大清), the last imperial dynasty of China, was established in 1644 by Manchu people.

Qing enjoyed a long period of prosperity, and the reigns of the Yongzheng Emperor (r. 1723–1735) and his son, the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1735–1796), marked the height of the Qing Dynasty’s power. During this period, the Qing Empire ruled over 13 million square kilometres of territory. However, towards the end of the Qing dynasty, the corruption and general addiction to opium caused enormous problem to China. The long-term weakness led Qing dynasty to an end.

During the Opium Wars, the Qing government signed multiple treaties with the western world – China calls these treaties “unequal treaties” till this very day (a personal note: I agree that there’s nothing for the western world to be proud of, but I cannot agree that these treaties are unfair. Let me quote a Chinese saying 勝者為王,敗者為寇 – basically it means: the winner is the champion and the loser only has oneself to blame.)

The Treaty of Nanking, signed on 29 August 1842, The Qing government agreed to make Hong Kong Island a crown colony, ceding it to the British Queen “in perpetuity”. In 1860, the colony was extended with the Kowloon peninsula. In 1898, the Second Convention of Peking further expanded the colony with the 99 year lease of the New Territories.

A couple interesting facts:

  • When the western army went to China, people in Hong Kong provided food, water and many other supplies to the westerners
  • Many Han Chinese, according to other materials, supported the western troops

More to follow, this is only to explain the colony status of Hong Kong, and I’ll write more about what happened in more recent history…

Thanks for reading. Please leave comments.