SCMP  'Lust, Caution' and the HKU connection  By Liz Gooch, October 20, 2007.

A 1941 University of Hong Kong transcript portrays a student who was undoubtedly talented but gave little indication of what lay in store for the woman who would become one of the more controversial figures in Chinese literature.  Eileen Chang Ai-ling's student records show she scored 92 per cent in Chinese literature, 89 per cent in English and 90 per cent in history.  They could hardly predict that she would go on to create works as contentious as Lust, Caution, recently brought to the big screen by director Ang Lee.

With the movie adaptation putting Chang back in the spotlight, her alma mater is holding an exhibition to honour the woman who spent two years at its campus.  The exhibition, organised by HKU's Project for Public Culture, includes some of her original manuscripts, photographs and documents, including a personal notebook never before seen.  Many of the documents have been provided by Roland Soong Yee-long, the administrator of Chang's estate.

Photo: Steve Cray

Chang left her native Shanghai in 1939 to study Chinese and English at HKU's faculty of arts, but her studies came to an abrupt end when the Japanese occupied the city two years later.  She returned to Hong Kong in 1952 and worked as a translator before moving to the United States three years later, where she would eventually become a US citizen.

Mr Soong's parents, whom Chang lived with in Hong Kong, inherited her entire estate after she died in her Los Angeles apartment in 1995, aged 75. Mr Soong said his parents had "boxes of correspondence" between themselves and Chang.  But he said the author became a "total recluse" in her old age, refusing to answer the door or phone.  He said many of her works included reflections from her time in Hong Kong, and many were partly autobiographical, including parts of Lust, Caution.  Set in Shanghai during the second world war, the story focuses on a patriotic woman who is hired to seduce and assassinate a Japanese collaborator but finds herself lured into an affair.  Mr Soong said some of the movie's scenes were filmed at HKU.

Dean of HKU's arts faculty Professor Kam Louie said while Chang was already well-known among Sinologists, the movie would extend her reach. "I'm sure that there will be a lot more attention paid to her," he said.  Professor Louie said Chang produced in-depth psychological analysis at a time when this style of writing was not popular in China, "She's unique in that way."

I shall perish if I can write about no one but myself.  Where is my old bawdry vigor and interest in the world around me?  I am not meant for this monastery living.  Find always traces of passive dependence: on Ted, on people around me.  A desire even while I write poems about it, to have someone decide my life, tell me what to do, praise me for doing it.  I know this is absurd.  Yet what do I do about it?

If I can't build up pleasures in myself: seeing and learning about painting, old civilizations, birds, trees, flowers, French, German -- what shall I do?  My wanting to write books annihilates the original root impulese that would have me bravely and blunderingly working on them.  When Johnny Panic sits on my hear, I can't be witty, or original, or creative.

... Writing is my health; if I could once break through my cold self-consciousness and enjoy things for their own sake, not for what presents and acclaim I may receive.  Dr. B was rirght: I avoid doing things because if I do them, I can't fail at them.  A coward's custard ...

... What horrifies me most is the idea of being useless: well-educated, brilliantly promising, and fillding into an indifferent middle-age.  Instead of working at writing, I freeze in dreams, unable ato take disillusation of rejections.  Absurd.  I am inclined to go passive, and let Ted be my social self.  Simply because we are never apart.  Now, for example: the several things that I can do apart from him: study German, write, read, walk alone in the woods or go to town.  How many couples could stand to be so together?  The minute we got to London I must strike out on my own.  I'd be better off teaching than writing a couple of mediocre poems a year, a few mad, self-centered stories.  Reading, studying, "making your own mind" all by oneself is just not my best way.  I need the other reality of other people, work, to fulfill myself.  Must never become a mere mother and housewife.  Challenge of baby when I am so unformed and unproductive as a writer.  A fear for the meaning and purpose of my life.  I will hate a child that substitues itself for my own purpose.  Ted is weary of my talk of astrology and tarot and wanting to learn, and then not bothering to work on my own.  I'm tired of it too.  And tired of the terrific drifting uncertainty of our lives.  Which, I suppose, from his point of view, is not at all uncertain, for his vocation of writing is much stronger than mine.

My poems pall.  A jay swallows my crumbs on the wet porch.  My head is a battalion of fixes.  I don't even open Yeats, Eilot -- the old fresh joys -- for the pain I have remembering my first brigtht encoutner less able to lose myselr.  And myself is the more suitable for quick losing.

It is one year before the grand opening of the Beijing Olympics.  China is attempting to make the transition from an economically developing nation to a truly great nation, but various conflicts are arriving in torrents.  Such is the opening statement of the NHK television documentary series titled <China In A Torrent> (see YouTube preview with Chinese sub-titles).

Since April this year, NHK has broadcast six episodes from this series: "Rich people and migrant workers," "60 days of war at a certain editorial department," "The story of a Qingdao senior citizen center," "Guaranteeing the water resources in Beijing -- the impending water crisis," "Citizens suing government officials -- the war over the land" and "Finding wealth in the sacred lands of Tibet" (shown on October 7).  NHK intends to continue showing episodes (including those about the Seventeenth Party Congress, education in China and the overseas expansion by Chinese enterprises) until the Beijing Olympics open next year.

<China In A Torrent> has caused a stir in Japan as well as in China.  The Chinese netizens thought: "We are saddened but powerless" and "This is something that the Chinese media cannot accomplish, but the Japanese media can do it.  Never mind about that.  The important thing is that something has recorded this, and it will cause more people to think and struggle about the issues."

But <China In A Torrent> has piqued the Beijing authorities.  After the first two episodes, the term <China In A Torrent> is a sensitive keyword that is blocked at all Chinese search engines and blog services.  BitTorrent downloads have also been shut off thoroughly.

... The Audit Bureau in China has issued an internal document concerning <China In A Torrent> (see Danwei).  This document showed that NHK had the approval of the relevant departments in China to make this documentary series.  The Chinese government has also made a careful examination of the first four episodes of the documentary series.  They believed that the first two episodes about the rich-poor gap and the media control were "basically pessimistic and negative to the point of having bad influence" and "maligning freedom of press in China."  But the next two episodes about the ageing of the Chinese population and the water resources were "objective."

... Of the six episodes shown so far, the two most impactful one were the first two: "Rich people and migrant workers" and "60 days of war at a certain editorial department."  In the first episode, the contrast between the ostentatious lifestyles of rich people and the impoverished lifestyles of the poor people appear again and again.  This showed that the rich and powerful people of China have monopolized the resources, so that the rich are becoming richer and the poor are becoming poorer.  The concluding statement was: "There is increasing pressure on the Chinese government to realize a society in which the wealth is shared when the rich-poor gap is expanding non-stop."

In the second episode <60 days of war at a certain editorial department>, the NHK team followed the chief editor and reporters of the Nanfengchang magazine for two months.  On one hand, reporters such as Tian Lei and Shi Po want to do their jobs but are prevented from so doing.  On the other hand, there are those ruthless orders coming down from above.  The film clips even included the documented orders to stop Tian Lei and Shi Po from reporting on cases of "compensation on forced land acquisitions" and "female slave trading" on the grounds that these reports were "negative and detrimental to stability and unity."

In order to continue filming in China, NHK has declined all attempts for interviewing.  They even turned away a China Youth Daily deputy chief editor who flew over to Tokyo to speak to them.

I am in Shanghai this past Monday evening, riding a taxi to my pal Shanghai Vixen's fabulous French concession flat, when suddenly Tang Wei's bottom and Tony Leung's most private parts appear, for a split second, within inches of my nose. ...

The Shanghai taxi-seat ad trailer for Lust, Caution is a montage of the hottest 20 seconds culled from the 12 minutes of bedroom scenes that will almost certainly be cut when the Chinese censors finish editing Ang Lee's film for mainland release. But in Shanghai, the heavy hand of censorship is a breeze for any film aficionado to circumvent. All you have to do is flag a cab.

(The Sun)

Ang Lee's <Lust, Caution> is very popular in Hong Kong and Taiwan, where extreme efforts have been made to stop piracy successfully.  When it appears in mainland China, the same effort will be made.

But Intellectual Property Rights Department chief Tian Li-pu, who is in charge of the protection of intellectual property rights, has never heard of the movie.

Yesterday, Tian Li-pu was asked about <Lust, Caution>.  He knitted his brow and whispered to the reporter: "What was the name of that movie again?"  The reporter repeated that it was <Lust, Caution>.

Tian Li-pu still looked totally befuddled and he asked: "Is there really no piracy?"  

This caused the reporters to burst out laughing. 

(1) Wong Park-yan (Liberal Party) is running in the Yuen Long district.  He was first elected as District Councilor four years ago after successfully defeating the younger brother of reputed triad member Four-Eyes Sai.  In 1999, he had been a member of the Heung Yee Kuk, the rural council.  In 1995, he was elected the village mayor of Sheung Ke village in Yuen Long.  For twenty years before that, he had been in the interior decoration business and he also ran a martial arts school.  He had played the roles of triad boss in movies such as <Teddy Boys>.  Before that, Wong spent three years in France.  Eh, he was not there to study.  In June 1974, at the age of seventeen, Wong and three other youths from the same village traveled to France via Holland and were arrested at the Paris airport.  The French customs agents found nine kilograms of Number 3 heroin in their luggage with a street value of HK$3 million.  When the reporter asked Wong about this episode, he claimed that it was a smear.  After the reporter showed him the press reports back then, he admitted that it was true.  He claimed to have been going to France to find a restaurant job and he had no idea that there was heroin in the luggage.  "My own thought was that I was just too young.  The French government thought that I was just a seventeen-year-old going to France for the first time.  They let me come home at the end of 1975.  I was a first-time criminal and I did not know what was going on.  Transporting drugs is different from selling drugs."  Question: "Were you transporting drugs then?"  Answer: "Yes."  But he emphasized: "The Liberal Party did not pressure me."  Wong is the godson of the 'godfather of New Territories, Tai Kuen.  Tai has purchased a lot of land in Sheung Ke village, including a village plot for building several hundred villas.  Wong Park-yan can help Tai apply to build through his position at the Distrcit Council."

(2) Mark Lam Man-kit (Liberal Party) is running in the Peak district.  Lam had taken the district over from LP party chairman James Tien.  But over the past four years, he has been frequently missing from duty.  At the District Council, his attendance rate was 66%.  His attendance at the Financial Committee meetings was only 36%.  He has earned the reputation of being the "big lazy worm" of the Central-West District Council.  This time, Lam will be facing Tanya Chan Shuk-chong of the Civic Party.  She is a rising star and therefore a formidable opponent.  Therefore, the Liberal Party has met to discuss how to defend Lam's seat.  A Liberal Party said that the strategy was to use the real estate developers to make telephone calls to colleagues and friends.  James Tien even ordered them not to take vacations or play golf, and concentrate on the campaigning.

(3) Cheung Sai-cheung (Liberal Party) is running to defend his seat in the Ho Man Tin district.  He has been a district councilor for more than twenty years and he was brought into the Liberal Party by Allen Lee.  But for the Chinese Liaison Office considers him to be a 'mole' because he is too "friendly with the democrats."  Specifically, his former aide Chen Li-kwun is a Democratic Party councilor in the adjacent district and they often run joint publicity campaigns.  Reportedly, the DAB is fielding an "undercover" candidate with no party affiliation for the purpose of ousting Cheung.

(4) Elizabeth Quat (DAB) is known as the EQ doctor on account of her "youth, professionalism and education."  She will be running in the Chung-on district of Shatin.  In her election statement, she claimed to have obtained bachelor's, masters and doctoral degress in business administration over the past nine years, although she does not identify the names of the educational institutions.  But last year, when she ran for the Electoral Committee, she stated that her degrees came from Greenwich University.  This may seem like the University of Greenwich (UK), but it is actually a private school on Norfolk Island, Australia, which provides distance learning.  The Australian government has said that "the course level, quality assurance and academic leadership do not live up to the standards that Australian universities should have."  When the reporter asked EQ about her education, she said, "My school is not the rogue university that the Australian university is talking about.  I went to a mainstream university which has gone out of business."  In 2002, Greenwich University (of Australia) happened to have gone out of business.  EQ is presently studying in the masters program of the Department of Family Studies at Hong Kong University.  There is no academic requirement to enter the program, which charges HK$ 190,000 in tuition fees.


Former chief secretary and Legco by-election candidate Anson Chan Fang On-sang denied she was being manipulated by overseas countries.  ... She denied allegations she was being manipulated by foreigners or foreign countries. "I've always worked for the people of Hong Kong out of my own good conscience. It was the same before and after the handover."

(Apple Daily)  

Hong Kong Democratic Party Legco members Martin Lee and Sin Chung-kai are visiting Washington DC and they have met with National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley and Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte.
When interviewed by Apple Daily, Martin Lee said that they told the American officials that Hong Kong SAR Chief Executive Donald Tsang will be providing a report on the consultations over the Green Paper which may not meet common global standards for democracy.  "We told them that this report is very important to Hong Kong, and we are worried that the report may not meet global standards for democracy."
Martin Lee added that the attending American officials understood and cared about the situation in Hong Kong.  "Mr. Hadley was supposed to be meeting with President Bush.  But he saw us and he knew us from before, so he came over to talk to us.  ... Lee said that the Americans were very activie: "The strategy of the United States is to support democracy everywhere in the world!"

Yesterday, Martin Lee published an editorial in The Wall Street Journal to call for American president George Bush to take the ten months before the 2008 Beijing Olympics to ask China to improve the situation of basic human rights.

(Japser Tsang Yok-sing, Legislative Councilor and former DAB chairman)

According to the Centre for Research of Globalisation, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in the United States of America played key roles in the various 'color revolutions.'  The report cited the first NED chairman Allen Weinstein: "Many of the things that we do today used to be done secretly by the CIA."  Although NED is not a government agency, most of its budget is allocated by the US Congress.  It was established in 1983 in Washington DC and its purpose is to "advance and promote global democraticization."

One of the principal functions of the NED is to provide funding for various "democratic organizations" around the world, and the "Chinese democratic movement" is one of the long-term funded projects for the NED.  The resources from the NED goes through various NGO's to the various local "democratic organizations."  One such NGO is the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI).  The NDI has an office in Hong Kong, where it is very active.  It "monitored closely" the various important elections in Hong Kong since the return to China, and it provides experts who give training on election and organizational development to the various big political parties in Hong Kong.

There are several points that cannot be doubted.  First, it is a consistent policy for the American government to promote the development of democracy in "non-democratic countries."  Secondly, over the past 20 years or so, an American tactic to promote global democraticization is to fund NGO's to operate in foreign countries.  Thirdly, the methods by which American promotes democracy in other countries includes interfering in the internal affairs.  This has been the case.

You can support the lofty American ideal to bring democracy to the world.  You can even believe that promoting democracy in a country is more important than respecting its sovereignty.  As a result, you accept that America can interfere with the internal affairs of other countries in order to promote democracy.  But do you believe that American has never interfered, is interfering and will never interfere with another country's internal affairs?  Or do you believe that even if American interferes with the affairs of other countries, it will never interfere with the affairs of China or Hong Kong?

If any Hong Kong politician should tell you with confidence: "There is no external interference in Hong Kong affairs!" and "Hong Kong citizens are not influenced by foreign forces", would you believe it?

This leads to a question that nobody in Hong Kong is asking: Why would anyone meet with John Negroponte to discuss human rights?  You wouldn't if you know anything about John Negroponte.

(Wikipedia)  John Negroponte

From 1981 to 1985, Negroponte was the U.S. ambassador to Honduras. During this time, military aid to Honduras grew from $4 million to $77.4 million a year, and the US began to maintain a significant military presence there, with the goal of providing a bulwark against the revolutionary Sandinista government of Nicaragua, which had overthrown the Somoza government and then created a state with close ties to both Cuba and the Soviet Union.

The previous U.S. ambassador to Honduras, Jack Binns (who was appointed by President Jimmy Carter) made numerous complaints about human rights abuses by the Honduran military under the government of Policarpo Paz García. Following the inauguration of Ronald Reagan, Binns was replaced by Negroponte, who has denied having knowledge of any wrongdoing by Honduran military forces.

In 1995, The Baltimore Sun published an extensive investigation of U.S. activities in Honduras. Speaking of Negroponte and other senior U.S. officials, an ex-Honduran congressman, Efraín Díaz, was quoted as saying:

Their attitude was one of tolerance and silence. They needed Honduras to loan its territory more than they were concerned about innocent people being killed.

Substantial evidence subsequently emerged to support the contention that Negroponte was aware that serious violations of human rights were carried out by the Honduran government, but despite this did not recommend ending U.S. military aid to the country. Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, on September 14, 2001, as reported in the Congressional Record, aired his suspicions on the occasion of Negroponte's nomination to the position of UN ambassador:

Based upon the Committee's review of State Department and CIA documents, it would seem that Ambassador Negroponte knew far more about government perpetrated human rights abuses than he chose to share with the committee in 1989 or in Embassy contributions at the time to annual State Department Human Rights reports.

Among other evidence, Dodd cited a cable sent by Negroponte, in 1985, that made it clear that Negroponte was aware of the threat of "future human rights abuses" by "secret operating cells" left over by General Gustavo Álvarez Martinez, the chief of the Honduran armed forces, after he was forcibly removed from his post by fellow military commanders in 1984.

In April 2005, as the Senate confirmation hearings for the National Intelligence post took place, hundreds of documents were released by the State Department in response to a FOIA request by The Washington Post. The documents, cables that Negroponte sent to Washington while serving as ambassador to Honduras, indicated that he played a more active role than previously known in managing US efforts against the leftist Sandinistas. According to the Post, the image of Negroponte that emerges from the cables is that of an

exceptionally energetic, action-oriented ambassador whose anti-communist convictions led him to play down human rights abuses in Honduras, the most reliable U.S. ally in the region. There is little in the documents the State Department has released so far to support his assertion that he used "quiet diplomacy" to persuade the Honduran authorities to investigate the most egregious violations, including the mysterious disappearance of dozens of government opponents.

The documents revealed

a tough cold warrior who enthusiastically carried out President Ronald Reagan's strategy. They show he sent admiring reports to Washington about the Honduran military chief, who was blamed for human rights violations, warned that peace talks with the Nicaraguan regime might be a dangerous "Trojan horse" and pleaded with officials in Washington to impose greater secrecy on the Honduran role in aiding the contras.
The cables show that Mr. Negroponte worked closely with William J. Casey, then director of central intelligence, on the Reagan administration's anti-Communist offensive in Central America. He helped word a secret 1983 presidential "finding" authorizing support for the Contras, as the Nicaraguan rebels were known, and met regularly with Honduran military officials to win and retain their backing for the covert action.

Both papers based their stories on cables obtained by a Post FOIA request. George Washington University's National Security Archive writes of

dozens of cables in which the Ambassador sought to undermine regional peace efforts such as the Contadora initiative that ultimately won Costa Rican president Oscar Arias a Nobel Prize, as well as multiple reports of meetings and conversations with Honduran military officers who were instrumental in providing logistical support and infrastructure for CIA covert operations in support of the contras against Nicaragua -"our special project" as Negroponte refers to the contra war in the cable traffic.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has decided the Taiwanese director's new film is not Taiwanese enough to represent the island in the contest for best foreign-language film ... "The submitting country must certify that creative talent of that country exercised artistic control of the film," the Academy's rules say.  The decision to bar Lust, Caution - which won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival last month - came as a surprise to people close to the film. They told Variety Asia Online it was just as qualified as Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the martial arts epic nominated by Taiwan in 2000, which won Oscars for foreign-language film, cinematography, art direction and music.

(Apple Daily Taiwan)  

According to the published rules of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for entry into the best foreign movie competition, the principal creative talents of the movie must come from the said foreign company.  But there is no specification of what the ratio must be, and the AMPAS reserves the right to make the final decision.  According to the chairman of the Tawian Directors Association, "This is very unreasonable!  The director is Taiwanese, the actors are Taiwanese and the scriptwriter is Taiwanese.  This is a Taiwanese movie.  How can the Venice Film Festival accept this as from Taiwan, but the Oscars cannot?"  In 2001, Ang Lee won the Best Foreign Movie Award at the Oscars with <Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon> under the name of Taiwan.  Although many of the creative talents came from outside Taiwan, their names were listed in Chinese and therefore got past.  By comparison, the principal workers of <Lust, Caution> have foreign names and therefore the AMPAS committee knew immediately that they were not Taiwanese.
AMPAS text: "We do require that artists of the submitting nation hold at least some of the key creative positions on a picture however, and the fact that the production designer, cinematographer, editor, composer, costume designer and sound mixers all were non-R.O.C. filmmakers worked against the picture's qualifying as a representative of your country."

(Apple Daily Hong Kong)  

Yesterday, during a telephone interview, Roland Soong who is the administrator of the literary estate of Eileen Chang (who wrote the short story <Lust, Caution>) said: "Of course, I was hoping this movie would make it to the Oscars.  This is so sad.  We are now living in an era of globalized culture with contributions from everywhere.  But the Oscars game forces you to belong to one country or else you are excluded.  This is out of sync with the times given that there are so much cross-national collaboration. 我 梗 係 希 望 套 戲 可 以 入 圍 啦 , 咁 樣 好 慘 , 家 係 世 界 文 化 , 度 度 都 有 貢 獻 , 但 奧 斯 卡 遊 戲 , 係 一 定 要 迫 住 你 屬 於 邊 個 國 家 , 否 則 唔 准 入 圍 , 咁 係 同 時 代 脫 節 , 家 咁 多 跨 國 合 作 。"

Over the past ten years, the District Council elections has been characterized of the increasing professionalization of the candidates.

In 2003, the candidate profile was:
18.5%: full-time district councilors
21.4%: community workers
15.5%: professionals
11.8%: business people
12.9%: administrators/managers
19.9%: other
In 2003, the electee profile was:
31.8%: full-time district councilors
18.3%: community workers
15.5%: professionals
11.3%: business people
10.8%: administrators/managers
12.5%: other
In 2007, the candidate profile is:
21.8%: full-time district councilors
19.4%: community workers
15.1%: professionals
12.5%: business people
  8.7%: administrators/managers
22.6%: other

One reason is the increasing competition among the political party.  The amateur politicians does not have the time and resources to compete against the full-time district councilors and community workers who are rooted in the community.  The candidate profile in 2007 is similar to that in 2003.
Within the various political parties, the percentage of full-time district councilors/community workers ranges from more than 40% to over 60%, with the lone exception of the Civic Party.
Over the past ten years, most political parties placed their trust in a certain model: they organize local activities, they befriend the local organization leaders, they provide community service and they even provide some 'benefits' to the residents.
Within the Democratic Party, Lee Wah-ming is the best example.  The district residents knows that his office sells discount mooncakes and dried sausages and organizes dinners and tour trips.  Lee does that because he could not be out-competed by the DAB.  Although the founders of the Democratic Party were elite who graduated from universities and initially resisted this style, their feelings have changed considerably after many years in the trenches.
The Civic Party does not accept this particular model.  Instead, they want to focus on educating the citizens about democracy and the rule of law.  The Civic Party contingent there has more professionals than full-time district councilors and community workers.  It remains to be seen whether these newcomers will be accepted by the people.

[in translation]

Yesterday was the deadline for the 2007 District Council elections.  The media have begun reporting the elections as if these were horse races, and trying to figure out which political groups will emerge winners this time.

The experience of the July 1st effect in the 2003 elections is still fresh.  People are still talking about how the DAB got thrashed, the LP failed to deliver and the DP and other pan-democrats succeeded unexpectedly, especially with the ADPL getting a high success rate of getting elected.  Since then, there has been eleven District Council by-elections, and those results hint at what might happen this year.

Of the eleven by-elections, five were due to misdeeds by the sitting councilors who were ousted from their jobs, with some of them even being sent off to jail.  Another by-election was due to technical challenge of the 2003 result.  In three other by-elections, the sitting councilors passed away during their terms.  Another by-election occurred when the sitting councilor declared personal bankruptcy.  The last by-election occurred because the former councilor was promoted to a higher position.  The number of by-elections is higher than any other comparable period in history.

Of the eleven by-elections, there were two each in the Eastern, Southern and Kwun Tong districts, and the rest were in Shatin, Shum Sui Po, Tai Po, Kowloon City and the western central district. ...

In summary, the leftists and their friendlies performed exceptionally well.  The pan-democrats were only able to squeak out a victory in Tsui Wan (Eastern District).  In the Hung Hom Bay by-election, there were no political parties involved and therefore the turnout was low.  But the other ten by-elections have implications for the political parties, and it is certain that the July 1st effect has completely disappeared.

Basically, the pan-democrats had been quite useless.  The DP lost five out of five battles, Frontline lost three out of three, and the ADPL and Civic Party candidates lost too.  The new left young man Lam Fei lost while attempting to take the place of the deceased councilor for whom he worked as an aide.  The only winner was Koo Kwai-yiu, who had not yet joined the League of Social Democrats at the time.  He was able to sneak in by a margin of less than 1%.

Among the leftists, the DAB won three out of four, with the lone loss due to inattention and wrong tactics.  The pro-China candidates won six out of six, with five straight-up technical knockouts and the one in Ap Lei Chau not having any obvious background in political groups.  The LP did not fare any better, losing three out of three battles badly.

The DP entered five by-elections, respectively in Kwun Tong's King Tian district, northern Ap Lei Chau in south island, Fortress district in east island, Kam Ying in Shatin and Ching street in western central island.  These districts included middle-class private apartments, mixed public/private apartments, grassroots private apartments, public housing estates and so on.  They lost all five by-elections.  To a certain degree, this shows that the DP brand does not carry any weight in any type of district, and their support level is receding among all social classes.

In so far as the votes go, Lee Wah-ming personally entered the Kam Ying (Shatin) race and received 42% of the votes, losing to an opponent who had more than 50% of the votes.  The Ching street race was to replace a former DP councilor, and the DP candidate got only 41% of the votes.  In the Fortress district (eastern island) battle, the DP candidate got 37% of the votes, which was almost 20% less than the DAB winner.  At Ap Lei Chau (southern island) and Kam Ying (Shatin), they received as low as 22% and 16% of the votes.  The DP lost these five by-elections and they lost them thoroughly.  This showed that their district work was rejected by the voters, and the brand does not mean anything.

In terms of the total number of votes, there were 12,945 votes cast in these five by-elections, and the DP received 4,034 (or 31%) of them.  This is the basic support for the DP now, and it is less than what they had in their prime.  From this, it is projected that the DP will get between 23% to 35% of the votes in 2007 elections, depending on the number of candidates entered and their local work results and conduct.

The Frontline lost three out of three by-elections.  This is expected for a political party which only cares about political topics and pays scant attention to local work.  Wong Hok-kam represented Frontline in two different by-elections, and received less than 30% of the votes in each case.  Former ADPL member Fu Wei-lok ran as a Frontline candidate in Nan Cheung district against DAB and ADPL candidates and received less than 10% of the votes, just barely coming out ahead of an independent candidate with no party backing.  This goes to show that district elections cannot be won by parachuting someone in.  The chance of winning is low without local district work, because the only votes will come from people who do not like the leftists.

In the Kam Ying by-election, the former Frontline district councilor was ousted due to misdeeds.  Wong Hok-kam's loss shows that such misdeeds have implications for the individuals as well as the entire party organization.  Wong Kwok-hung had won the original election with 75% of the vote, but Frontline and the DP could only get 23% and 16% respectively in the by-election to replace him.  With less than 40% of the votes together, they had no chance against the leftist candidate.

In terms of the total number of votes, Frontline received 2,120 votes (or 23% of the total).  This is a warning for the dozen or so Frontline candidates in 2007.

The ADPL only ran in the Nan Cheung by-election, and they were defeated by former member Cheung Man-to, who has now joined the DAB.  The ADPL received 33% of the votes, which reflects the basic core support as this by-election was held because the former ADPL councilor was ousted for misdeeds.

As the other pan-democrats, Koo Kwai-yiu (now with the League of Socialist Democrats) won by 39 votes (or less than 1%) over the DAB candidate Kiang Suk-man.  Part of the reason was that Koo had worked in that district for a long time.  Another reason was that the seat became vacant when the former DAB councilor filed for personal bankruptcy.  The DAB also used the wrong tactics.  It is by no means clear what will happen in the re-match of these two individuals in the 2007 election.

In Kai Yip, Lam Fei entered the by-election as the aide to the deceased councilor.  He had no distinguished local service, he used the wrong tactics, he had no backroom support and he planned poorly.  He was able to win 40% of votes because of what his predecessor left him.  In 2007, the DAB councilor will be elected automatically because there is no other candidate in that district.

Finally, Ho Kwok-keung received support from the Civic Party in the Hong Lok Yuen race, but he was badly beaten with less than 30% of the votes.  Once again, the problem was that he parachuted into a district in which he had not done any local work.  Since this was a rural district, it was understandable that the pan-democrats would be badly defeated when they don't have the right candidates.

Overall, the twelve pan-democrat candidates (twice for Wong Hok-kan) received 10,233 votes (or 38%).  This outcome is a severe warning to the pan-democrats.  The voters have shown that they will cast no-confidence votes against any political organization whose members committed misdeeds.  The pan-democrats are also not as good as the leftists in working hard to meet the needs of the voters.  Certain pan-democrat candidates and leaders appear to be clueless about the needs of the voters and consequently chose the wrong election strategies and points of focus.

More importantly, this series of defeats represent big blows to the pan-democrat local workers and candidates.  Many of the pan-democrats have now seen how strong their opponents (especially the DAB) are in their local district work and how poorly their own organizations have fared in the by-elections.  As a result, some have lost confidence about their own chances.  For example, out of the five DP candidates in the by-elections, Lee Wah-ming is a Legco member but only Wong Kin-sing is running (in a different district).  Of the other three, one has quit the party and the only two have lost interest in running for election.  Lam Fei and Ho Kwok-keung have not entered the district council elections at this time, so that their opponents in those districts have just won automatically.  ADPL's Cheung Chi-keung will not be facing Cheung Man-to, but it is not certain whether he can defeat the DAB's new candidate Lau Pui-yuk.

To acquire a language, one must acquire, at least superficially, many of the cultural attitudes that go with it.  As he puts it, "his capacity to assimilate the new culture would depend on his willingness to sever, or at least temporarily suspect, the attachment to his own in a much deeper sense."  This is a risky business, which very few people come to undertake.  It is difficult enough being a foreigner in Japan -- though, in the Japanese racial hierarchy, whites rank higher than non-Japanese Asians or blacks; it is much harder to be a foreigner who does not behave like one and thus eludes the stereotypical Japanese view of the world.

In the beginning Boon is a novice, scribbling notes and learning how to cope.  He makes such beginner's mistakes as assuming an understanding of irony among his Japanese friends:

"Nice weather," said Boon facetiously as he shook hands with Sugama.  Outside it was pouring with rain.

"Nice weather?" repeated Sugama, glancing out of the window.  "But it's raining."

It was not a good start.

But a novice is forgiven such lapses.  Japanese rather appreciate foreigners struggling with their language.  It confirms the uniqueness, indeed unlearnable complexity of the Japanese tongue, and by implication of the Japanese people.  Language, it is commonly assured, is the last drawbridge of the Japanese identity which no foreigner can hope to cross.  Those rare gaijin (literally, outside people, a term mostly used for Caucasian) who became fluent in Japanese throw this cozy view of Japanese unique out of kilter and are sometimes regarded as a threat, a lot like spies prying into family secrets.

There are several ways of dealing with this threat.  One method is simply to refuse to acknowledge is actually speaking Japanese.  But this kind of incomprehension is become rarer these days ... More common is the propensity to treat Japanese-speaking foreigners as highly trained circus monkeys, who can do uncanny imitations of humans.  Japanese delight in putting such hapless people -- know as hen na gainjin ("funny foreigners") -- on display in TV variety shows, where their antics are the source of endless fun.

This attitude is imitating, even offensive, but perhaps not entirely inaccurate.  ... Boon found himself speaking "words which were not his own and whose meaning he sometimes did not even understand, expressions of self-effacement, in particular, caution, superfluous agreement, solicitude and deference which he did not feel and for which his native language did not provide."  For a Frenchman to speak Italian, adopting many of the accompanying cultural attitudes, is one thing; for an Englishman to behave like a Japanese is quite another.  To speak a foreign language well one has to be an actor and the more alien the culture one impersonates, the more one become conscious of this.

There are many different types of acting, of course.  Some choose the "method" of the New York school, desperately trying to internalize ways of thinking that go against all their nature impulses.  The result can be to find oneself on cultural quicksand, sinking into a rootless limbo.  One way of coping with this ... is to treat the Japanese cultural attitudes expressed through language with deliberate irony -- the Brechtian method, as it were.  It is a form of self-protection guaranteed to make enemies in a country where irony is interpreted at best as a lack of sincerity, at worst as hostile sarcasm. 

Let us first review the "Guidance to Tribunal" under the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance:

In determining whether an article is obscene or indecent or whether any matter publicly displayed is indecent, or in classifying an article, a Tribunal shall have regard to-

(a) standards of morality, decency and propriety that are generally accepted by reasonable members of the community, and in relation thereto may, in the case of an article, have regard to any decision of a censor under section 10 of the Film Censorship Ordinance ( Cap 392) in respect of a film within the meaning of section 2(1) of that Ordinance; (Replaced 25 of 1988 s. 33)

(b) the dominant effect of an article or of matter as a whole;

(c) in the case of an article, the persons or class of persons, or age groups of persons, to or amongst whom the article is, or is intended or is likely to be, published;

(d) in the case of matter publicly displayed, the location where the matter is or is to be publicly displayed and the persons or class of persons, or age groups of persons likely to view such matter; and

(e) whether the article or matter has an honest purpose or whether its content is merely camouflage designed to render acceptable any part of it.

In preparing the case for the review of the decision, Oiwan Lam asked the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority just what information they had forwarded to the Obscene Articles Tribunal for the purpose of making a classification.  At first, the Obscene Tribunal Articles made the claim that "the adjudicators do not have to provide any explanation" and refused to turn over that information.  But Oiwan Lam persisted and argued that she must have that information in order to mount a defense.  Finally, after consulting the Hong Kong SAR Government Legal Department and the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority, the Obscene Articles Tribunal forwarded the information.

With respect to the COIAO requirements, 
(1) the bottom of the article including the readers' comments was cut off.  This means that COIAO requirements (b) and (e) were violated. 
(2) in the original article, the photograph took up about one-tenth of the page; in the forwarded 'article', the photograph took up one-third of the page.  This means that COIAO requirement (b) was violated.  
(3) the website on which the article appeared was not identified.  This means that COIAO requirements (c) and (d) were violated.

For the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority, the question is how could they forward this incomplete fragment to the Obscene Articles Tribunal for classification?  And how could they provide no information about where the article was published for the purpose of determining the likely audience (e.g. it is indecent to use the F-word in a Cantonese-language movie, but it is alright to use it in an English-language movie because the viewers to the latter are presumed to be mature).

For the Obscene Articles Tribunal, how is possible that when the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority handed them an incomplete fragment from an unidentified source, they raised no questions or demands but made a classification.  Do the adjudicators realize that their duty is to make sure the government departments are not abusing their powers?  Or do they think that they are only meant to be rubber stamps for the administrative departments?

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mei Fong would like to see more Hong Kong journalists covering news of the mainland.  Being on the doorstep of the mainland, Hong Kong students are in a unique position to straddle two worlds, she says.

Malaysian-born Fong, 35, who is based in Beijing and writes for The Wall Street Journal, is joining five other Pulitzer Prize winners - among them veteran war correspondent  Peter Arnett - for a Pulitzer Prize Winners Workshop of 20 lectures starting tomorrow at Hong Kong Baptist University.

"Hong Kong journalism students straddle two worlds," she said. "They have had much more western exposure [than their mainland peers], but at the same time are a part of China. They are right on the doorstep and it's very exciting for them.  "China is about the most exciting foreign posting without a flak jacket. There's so much happening here; there are tonnes of stories."

Fong said she did not think Hong Kong journalism was in decline and praised some of the more aggressive journalists. But she felt there could be more coverage of the mainland on a permanent basis.  There were many stories to cover in the run-up to the Olympics in Beijing next year, she said - not just sports but also the ongoing massive construction projects and human rights issues.

For three years, Fong was the Hong Kong correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. She arrived during the Sars outbreak in 2003, and has reported on bird flu and other issues including the announcement by former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa that he was standing down.  Fong was one of a group of seven reporters who won a Pulitzer for international reporting earlier this year. Her story was about a group of construction workers who faced terrible deprivation working round the clock in the pre-Olympic building boom. The story also garnered an Amnesty International Award.

She said it was possible for a Hong Kong journalist to win a Pulitzer.  "What I could teach the students [during the workshop] is that if you look at the list of Pulitzer Prize winners, they are all American and Caucasian. I'm the only Chinese face [on the Baptist University panel] and I'm not American," she said.  "You do have to work for an American news organisation, but the Pulitzer is not America-centric. It would be great one day to see a Hong Kong face up there."

Fong cites Britain's Queen Elizabeth as the reason she became a journalist.  "When I was 16, I won a Commonwealth essay competition. Part of the prize entailed a meeting with the queen."

[in translation]

This year's Nobel Prize in Literature may be the closest moment that the Chinese people get close to literature.  The works of the person who won the honor will reach the reading desks of the readers and we will likely to be reading Doris Lessing's <The Golden Notebook>.  If you have already read it before, then please accept my respect.

In this age with excessive information, it is costly to locate the quality works of literature.  The Nobel Prize helps a lot of people to simplify the process, even though some of the winners are just second-rate writers.  But it is no great loss to read some second-rate works, and there cannot be great harm to follow the trend and read the works of the Nobel Prize winners each year.

With the announcement of the Nobel Prize winner, many Chinese Writers Association members are disappointed once again.  Why isn't my name up there?  I can understand the anguish.  This is a factory for spiritual civilization and its ranks are just as bloated as other organizations -- to be more positive, one can say that it has many writers -- and it spends a lot of the taxpayers' money each year.  But it kept failing to win the Nobel Prize.  So there must be some pressure.

Based upon recent developments, I feel that the moment of winning the Nobel Prize is about to come soon.  After all, Guo Jingming has signed up as a member and used his strong point to plagiarize Tolstoy's <War and Peace> and <Resurrection> to produce <Not many flowers fall during dreams>.  How can the committee not be persuaded?  Besides, the soft weakness in the history of the Nobel Prize in Literature is that the committee misjudged the importance of Leo Tolstoy.  So this is a renewed opportunity for them to salute those great work.  Of course, Wang Meng can make the nomination.

The notion of plagiarism differs across country.  Our creative writers may be sent off to jail if they go to Sweden.  So we must follow other people's ideas when we are at their place.  Even if this does not work, we can always set up our own Prizes for Literature.  We might as well as be generous and set up three Prizes.  The first prize will be named the Homer Prize to show our international vision.  This prize is award to Wang Meng who recommended Guo Jingming, because he and Homer are both blind.  The second prize will be named the Orchid Pavilion Prize, which goes to Jia Pingao.  The Shijian Prize named after the master thief Shi Qian in the novel <Water Margin> will obviously go to the contemporary master thief Guo Jingming.

People who genuinely love literature will not take prizes seriously.  When the old Tolstoy left his home, he did so because he could not answer his own inner doubts and not because he did not win the Nobel Prize.  What is the purpose of art, including literature?  The following example is cited by many people: When the Nazis marched into Paris, Picasso concentrated on sketching an apple.  Compared to the Resistance fighters, this was not bravery.  But isn't it better than drawing the Nazi 'warriors'?  At a time when the world has fallen into darkness, the artist will insist on holding on to the beautiful things; even if non-cooperation carries danger, the artist must not avoid it.  By comparison, Wang Meng's defense of himself and Guo Jingming was that "the Committee is not choosing paragons of moral virtue."  This may be taken as a self-confession by the Writers Association.  So everybody should read more of the works from non-Writers Association members, because they are at least still drawing apples.


Billed by Sotheby's as "among the most historically important paintings of the Chinese avant-garde ever to appear at auction," "Execution" had been tucked away from sight until now. Its owner bought it from a gallery in Hong Kong a decade ago under condition that the painting not be shown in public because of its subject matter, according to Sotheby's.

On Friday, it went on auction in London ... "Execution" would become the most expensive work of Chinese contemporary art at auction, selling for 2.9 million British pounds ($5.9 million).

Stretching across "Execution" is a long red building, suggesting Tiananmen's gate outside the Forbidden City. Is the painting of Tiananmen?

"I want the audience not to think of one thing or one place or one event," he said from his Beijing home. "The whole world's the background." The red building, he explains, is simply something that's familiar to him as a Chinese artist. "As I said, the viewer should not link this painting to Tiananmen. But Tiananmen is the catalyst for conceiving of this painting."

The background may make people think of Tiananmen because he is a Chinese artist. "But it should not be," he said.

Yue painted "Execution" in a month -- in 1995. However, "it took me quite a long time for me to put the idea together."  The big picture, he said, "it's on the whole world's human conflict that is worth laughing about."

Drawing references to Francisco de Goya's "The Third of May, 1808: The Execution of the Defenders of Madrid" and Edouard Manet's "The Execution of the Emperor Maximilien of Mexico," the painting depicts a mock execution.  Manet, it must be pointed out, modeled his painting after Goya's; and Yue's "Execution" mirrors both of those -- but with his trademark grinning clones, all likenesses of Yue himself.

And the men in the position of being shot are shown in their underwear. "People feel freedom, most themselves, at home in their underpants," Yue said. And whereas in Goya's painting, the man's hands are up in resistance, the men's hands in "Execution" are down. "They are not fearing death," Yue said.  "The laughs illustrate my deep feelings," he said. The viewer will feel happiness but also fear toward the future and the unknown, a universal sentiment, he said. "One might be very happy now but always unsure of what's going to happen next.  "I think Chinese and the world have similar feelings in this respect," he said.

As for the main figures that dominate the right-half of the painting, they assume the position of holding the guns, but without the guns themselves. "In my painting, they're pretending to hold guns, as if playing a game." The man on the far right, holding one hand to his chest and another by his waist, is a direct reference to the man on the far right-hand side of Manet's painting: In that, he is cocking a gun.

Yue disagrees with the notion that his paintings are a veiled criticism of his government or of Chinese society, and he does not believe that this work will bring him trouble. "I think the painting expresses my feelings. It's not a criticism," he said, describing himself as not having strong political leanings. "I was trying to express my confusion over what I see."  The world has similar problems, he said.

Yue said he does not agree with being tagged a "Cynical Realist," a term coined by leading art critic Li Xianting to describe China's post-Tiananmen generation of disillusioned artists. At the same time, he doesn't concern himself about what people call him, he said.

That his painting has political undertones is inevitable, he said. "I cannot recall any event that has shaped my political views, but politics is everywhere in Chinese life, like the meal you eat every day," he said.

Of China, he said, "I think it is full of hope, but there are a lot of difficulties, too. China has a long cultural history and also faces a lot of problems right now. Right now, people are not satisfied, but we can find our way out."

P.S. In searching for related articles, I came across this AFP report by Elodie Mazein published at the China Post website.  The choices of the report title was ... ahem ... 'unconventional.'  Here is the screen capture:

In fact, every other article in the Art & Leisure section has the same title:

With my dual background, the search for identity and belongingness has always been foremost in my mind.  It took a long time before I could come to terms with myself.  Romance, marriage, philosophy, religion, business career ... finally I realized that I had to belong to myself rather than some sort of vague, abstract form of race or class ...

One approach to accepting myself and dealing prejudice was through an academic detachment ... the understanding of myself and my situation through the study of sociology and from a historical point of view.  Simply put, minorities suffer all over the world because it is a basic need of people to feel superior to others.  I have known first-hand that many cultures are prejudiced.

Intellectually, I abhor prejudice, but emotionally I too have prejudices.  It is as simple as that.  This forces me to realize that prejudice will never be eliminated.

Be yourself.  I think human beings are very lonely essentially, and if you try to belong to a race, society or class, you'll never be happy.  In fact, I'm against any type of government. 

The Journalism and Media Studies Centre (JMSC) of The University of Hong Kong (HKU) is to host an exhibition of the works of acclaimed Chinese writer Eileen Chang at the HKU Library (Ground Floor Foyer).

Eileen Chang studied at HKU's Faculty of Arts in the late 1930s. Entitled Eileen Chang: Hong Kong Legend (1939-41), the exhibition will showcase some of her original manuscripts, including the handwritten manuscript of On Lust, Caution. Also on display will be photographs of the author, some of her personal documents, and various translated versions of her books. 

The 8-day exhibition will be launched with an opening reception next Monday. Roland Soong, administrator of the estate of Eileen Chang, will also be present. Members of the press are cordially invited to attend, the details are: 

Date: October 15, 2007 (Monday)
Time:  4:30pm
Venue:  Entrance, Main Library, HKU
The exhibition will run until October 22, 2007 (Monday), during the Library's opening hours:-       

Monday to Friday 8:30 am - 10:00 pm
Saturday 8:30 am - 7:00 pm
Sunday 10:00 am - 7:00 pm
Close on October 19 (Friday) (Chung Yeung Festival)

Pre-registration is required for the public exhibition. For those who want to visit, please send names and contact details to E-mail:-  or Fax: 2517 4615, one day prior to the visit.

(Apple Daily)

隔 牆 有 耳 : 張 愛 玲 珍 藏 港 大 展 出

大 導 演 李 安 《 色 , 戒 》 炒 起 張 愛 玲 熱 潮 , 張 愛 玲 母 校 港 大 , 由 本 月 14 日 至 22 日 , 港 大 圖 書 館 舉 行 一 個 名 為 「 張 愛 玲 的 香 港 傳 奇 ( 1939-41 ) 」 展 覽 , 展 示 佢 港 大 讀 書 資 料 , 包 括 佢 《 談 色 , 戒 》 手 稿 , 仲 有 不 同 版 本 著 作 、 相 片 、 個 人 證 件 等 , 最 難 得 一 見 係 佢 同 第 二 任 丈 夫 賴 雅 婚 書 , 以 及 從 未 發 表 過 個 人 筆 記 。
呢 次 展 覽 開 放 畀 公 眾 參 觀 , 不 過 要 預 先 登 記 , 方 法 係 到 場 前 一 日 , 將 姓 名 及 聯 絡 電 話 或 電 郵 , 電 郵 至 或 傳 真 至 2517 4615 。 首 日 展 覽 下 午 4 點 半 後 開 始 , 下 周 五 重 陽 節 假 期 圖 書 館 暫 停 開 放 , 周 六 、 日 照 開 。

大 家 睇 慣 張 愛 玲 叉 腰 傲 氣 相 , 
呢 張 相 佢 , 神 情 較 柔 和 。   
宋 以 朗 提 供 圖 片

[in translation]

I arrived back in Taiwan at 5:48am.  I thank everyone for their concern.

I saw that there are quite a few people who are still unhappy over this affair.  So let me clarify for the last time -- there was a clash, but it was as exaggerated as in the media reports.

1. Liu You-chen got off the dais with the flag in his hands and then he went backstage to collect the award.  There was no grappling for the flag ...
The mainlanders were trying to argue with our WCG team leaders, and they quarreled when they disagreed.  The main participants in the quarrel are our WCG group leader, the United Daily News reporter and the Chinese Star Craft player PJ.  The mainland WCG group leaders and our players stood on the side and watched.  The mainland players SKY and FLY did not curse us.

2. They did not lay siege to the hotel.  When we returned to the hotel, the mainland players were chatting at the back entrance.  Our Age of Empires player walked right by them without anything happening.  He saw the mainland players back there and he said, "Our leader is afraid of another unhappy incident and so we went back through the lobby."

3. On the mainland side, PJ was the most excited.  He has an excitable personality anyway.  He was wrong to use foul language, but one cannot equate his individual case and say that it is true of SKY, FLY, KING and other mainland players.  In fact, when PJ became really excited, they tried to hold him back and seek a rational solution.

I feel that the mainland players are stuck.  If they cannot solve this problem, they might be considered unpatriotic by their government when they get back.  If the government won't let them participate in the World Cyber Games anymore, it will affect electronic game playing in China.

All players come here to compete simply and to realize their dreams.  FLY applied to me afterweards.  He was not targeting our players.  He only wanted the matter to be resolved.

We don't want to deal with political matters.  Liu You-chen was not over-thinking that day, and he was happy because he got the award.  He is very worried about this incident, because it may affect Taiwan's right to participate in the WCG.  When he returns to Taiwan, he will have to face the pressures from the media and the school.  In saying this, I am not accusing him of not loving Taiwan.  I am hoping that people won't inject too much political flavor into a 21-year-old young man who was merely happy for winning a medal ...

When we got back to Taiwan, we did not want to talk about this anymore.  At the airport, Liu You-chen and the WCG team leader had nothing to say to the press.

I am now assuming administration of the ESM.  If there are any agitated or inaccurate talk, I will delete it directly.  I do not want this affair to affect the friendship between the War Craft 3 players on sides of the strait.  We should pay more attention on the competitions and the players.  This is what will really help our players.

[in translation]

I got back to hotel and I used a friend's notebook computer plus wifi access ..

The award ceremony took place before the Star Craft and Warcraft 3 competition, and it appears to have been a car racing game.  Taiwan had a third-place finisher.  I was not paying any attention when he got up to accept his award.  Suddenly, PJ next to me said, "Hey, Isn't this the Blue Sky White Sun Flat from Taiwan?"  I looked at the big screen and this appears to be the case.  But I have never seen this flag in China, so I wasn't sure.  Throughout the process, I saw that this player was proudly raising that flag and staging all sorts of poses.  The big screen shot gave tihs player much more time than the first- and second-place finishers, especially about the flag.

The Chinese players and media workers were stunned.  Before the award ceremony was even over, he had already gone to find the WCG Organizing Committee to discuss this matter.  There has been no resolution yet.

But after the award ceremony was over, PJ chaged up and asked the Taiwanese people: "What do you mean?  Which flag did you just raise?"  I am not going to describe the process of arguing -- one side was right and the other side was wrong.  A fight almost broke out.  The group leaders from Taiwan spoke English and they threaten to summon the police.  The American police eventually case.  PJ was almost arrested for his impulsive behavior.

I am letting you know about this incident in the first instance.  I am disgusted with the Samsung WCG Organizing Committee because they want to hear and see nothing.  If this matter is unresolved, I believe that all our participants at these games will do everything within out power to boycott the Samsung WCG competition.

I will provide a detailed description of the incident.  The photographs and digital video are in the mainland Chinese media.

Relevant WCGOC History from 2001:

IMPORTANT WCGOC ANNOUNCEMENT: We have had a moment of happiness that has been tainted by an unfortunate act of dispute. Chinese Taipei has today won a gold medal in Age of Empires II: The Conquerors. Although we send our congratulations to the winning player, we cannot condone the celebration which the Chinese Taipei team shared after this victory. It was certainly not made known to the World Cyber Games Organizing Committee or any operations staff that such a celebration in which the flags of "Taiwan" would be waved was to take place prior to the occurrence. As the World Cyber Games is a festival to promote youth, games, and world harmony, we are extremely dismayed that this action was carried out by the Chinese Taipei team. Such acts of potential or real political divisiveness are not condoned by us or anyone related to the World Cyber Games. Thus, we denounce this act by the Chinese Taipei team and strongly request an apology from them, as it has so blatantly put the entire World Cyber Games and all its participants in an undeserved and unwarranted position of political difficulty. We hope that all our participants will uphold the ideals of the World Cyber Games as being a digital culture festival for all the world's youth and one for wholesome competition in games. There is, and never will be, any room for insensitivity to political or social issues or assertion of political agendas.

IMPORTANT NOTICE FROM CHINESE TAIPEI Chinese Taipei has submitted a full apology to the World Cyber Games Organizing Committee for their display and celebration including the flag of "Taiwan". This apology has been received and duly noted by the World Cyber Games Organizing Committee. Chinese Taipei has expressed their regret that such an unfortunate event transpired. They send their apology also to all the participants in the 1st World Cyber Games. Chinese Taipei has also assured the World Cyber Games Organizing Committee that any such similar instance will not happen again in the future.

Chinese citizen Mrs. Zhu said that her family of four joined a 13-day tour of Europe in mid-August.  There are 53 persons in the tour group, including several professors at the Beijing Academy of Languages.

For this tour, Mrs. Zhu decided to purchase some top brand clothing.  Since the European countries forbid contrabrand clothing, Mrs. Zhu went to the Xindongan Nike Specialty Store and purcahsed a t-shirt for 115 yuan.  The t-shirt has the words "I LIKE BEING NO TOP" on them with the Nike swoosh logo underneath.

When the group arrived in Europe, Mrs. Zhu wore her new t-shirt visited the scenic spots with her famly.  At the Rome airport waiting room, one of the professors took Mrs. Zhu aside and said: "The English-language words on your t-shirt don't sound very nice.  You shouldn't be wearing this."  At the insistence of Mrs. Zhu, the professor said that "I LIKE BEING ON TOP" means "I WANT TO MAKE LOVE 想要做爱."  (note: That is incorrect because the phrase refers to a particular position for sexual intercourse -- woman-on-top-of-man, which is different from the 'missionary' position of 'man-on-top-of-woman'.  But the original intent of using "I LIKE BEING ON TOP" means "I WANT TO BE THE BEST" while insinuating the double entendre with sexual overtones.)

Upon hearing the explanation, Mrs. Zhu blushed.  "I felt so embarrassed.  At my age, it is really embarrassing to wear this kind of clothing."  When she went to use the restroom later, a young man gawked at her, smiled and whistled at her.  That was enough to make her flee.  In retrospect, she recalled that many local people had been giving her weird smiles.

Yesterday, workers at the Nike office in Beijing said that all the sport shirts were designed at the USA headquarters to be sold everywhere.  They have previously not received any customer complaints about the words.  Workers at the Nike office in Shanghai said that they would consider refunding the money to Mrs. Zhu over the inconvenience that the product brought to her.

During that period of three months when I wrote reviews, reading ten or more books a week, I made a discovery that the interest with which I read these books had nothing to do with what I feel when I read -- let's say -- Thomas Mann, the last of the writers in the old sense, who used the novel for philosophical statements about life.  The point is, that the function of the novel seems to be changing; it has become an outpost of journalism; we read novels for information about areas of life we don't know -- Nigeria, South Africa, the American army, a coalmining village, coteries in Chelsea, etc.

We read to find out what is doing on.  One novel in five hundred or a thousand has the quality a novel should have to make it a novel -- the quality of philosophy.  I find that I read with the same kind of curiosity most novels and a book of reportage.  Most novels, if they are successful at all, are original in the sense that they report the existence of an area of society, a type of person, not yet admitted to the general literate consciousness.  The novel has become a function of the fragmented society, the fragmented consciousness.

Human beings are so divided, are becoming more and more divided, and subdivided in themselves, reflecting the world that they reach out desparately, not knowing they do it, for information about other groups inside their own country, let alone about groups in other countries.  It is a blind graspiong out for their own wholeness, and the nove-report is a means toward it.

Inside this country, Britain, the middle-class has no knowledge of the working-people, and vice versa; and reports and articles and novels are sold across the frontiers, are read as if savage tribes were being investigated.  Those fishermen in Scotland were a different species from the coalminers I stayed with in Yorkshire; and both come from a different world than the housing estate outside London.

Yet I am incapable of writing the only kind of novel which interests me; a book powered with an intellectual or moral passion strong enough to create order, to create a new way of looking at life.  It is because I am too diffused.  I have decided never to write another novel.  I have fifty 'subjects' I could write about; and they would be competent and informative novels that will continue to pour from the publishing houses.  

I have only one, and the least important of the qualities necessary to write at all, and that is curiosity.  It is the curiosity of the journalist.  I suffer torments of dissatisfaction and incompletion because of my inability to enter those areas of life my way of living, education, sex, politics, class bar me from.  It is the malady of some of the best people of this time; some can stand the pressure of it; others crack under it; it is a new sensibility, a half-unconscious attempt towards a new imaginative comprehension.  But it is fatal to art.  I am interested only in stretching myself, in living as fully as I can.

Now you know why I don't write novels ...

... How exactly did we get into this mess? Those are the better questions...and it's here that the analysis gets really, really depressing.

First, we have to own up: there is something very, very wrong with the way the opposition deals with itself, how it talks internally and seeks to work problems out. That situation may have come about in the context of Chávez, but I think it's a cop-out to blame it on Chávez ... even in the midsts of battle with the most ruthless of enemies, some wounds are self-inflicted. And the opposition's sheer inability to coordinate - or, to put it differently, to hold a conversation with itself that leads to coordination - is a self-inflicted wound.

I remember, some time in 2002, hearing Roberto Giusti argue explicitly that Chávez was so dangerous that journalists "could not afford" to be impartial towards his government. "I cannot be impartial between democracy and dictatorship," Giusti said. Lots of oppo journos were taking a similar line back then, and we all stood up and cheered for them. It all sounded ever so brave, so gallant, remember? We were so caught up in the drama of the moment, we didn't stop to think through how radical a position that was, and how dangerous its implications. We should have.

Why? Because decisions are only as good as the information that's available to those who make them. To the extent that that information is complete, impartial and accurate, it will give rise to decisions that produce the consequences intended. To the degree that it isn't, it will give rise to decisions that don't.

Now, what was Roberto Giusti really saying back in 2002? He was saying that the information the media publish should no longer be judged by the normal standards of journalistic ethics. Questions of newsworthiness, impartiality, confirmability and public interest would be set aside, and information would be judged by its usefulness in helping achieve an overarching, transcendent political goal: overthrowing the budding dictatorship. Henceforth, when a reporter arrived at a newsroom with a story, the first thing his editor would ask him would be not whether it was true, or whether it was new, or whether it had been confirmed, but rather whether it would help get rid of Chávez.

This new conception of the media's role meant that journalists would abdicate their responsibility to "hold up a mirror to society," to produce a space where society is able to see itself, warts and all, and to recognize its own reality as fully as possible. Henceforth, the media would serve as a trick mirror - reflecting only those parts of reality that it judged would further an ulterior end. That the image such a mirror produces is deeply distorted is tautological: in this context, the distortion is the point. And do notice that this isn't some wild conspiracy theory: this is the understanding of their own role that many of the nation's leading journalists proudly and publicly embraced.

That key figures in the oppo media openly endorsed this way of communicating should've given us pause. That they thought of their ethical obligations as a kind of "luxury", an added extra to be discarded when it proved inconvenient, should've put us on guard. How would we react, for instance, if a doctor took that kind of attitude towards his code of professional ethics?

But we're Venezuelans, so the passion of the political moment overcame us. And it's perfectly understandable. After all, Giusti and Colomina and the rest of them more or less announced, "from now on, we're only going to tell you what you want to hear." Who's going to object to that?

We should've realized all along that decisions made on the basis of a distorted understanding of reality can't be expected to produce the outcomes intended by those making them. We shouldn't be surpsied that the rise of openly partisan journalism set the stage for a series of catastrophic oppo own goals.

Back in 2002, we didn't stop to think through the risks, the potential costs involved in volunteering to be lied to. We didn't stop to realize that with every story puffed up out of all proportion because it made the government look bad, our understanding of our own country would diverge just a little bit from reality. We didn't think through the fact that, with every story buried or ignored because it made the government look good, the distance between the world as it is and the world as we think it is would grow.

Those who warned about this process were dismissed as cryptochavistas or, at the very least, as spoil-sports for busting our vibe at a time when all we wanted to do was sing "y decimos síííííí a la esperanzaaaaaaa..." So, it's true, we were systematically deceived ... but it's also true that we practically begged to be systematically deceived.

In the systematically distorted mirror the Giusticialista media put in front of us, everything was the way we wished it to be. We wished to live in a country where everyone hated Chávez's guts, the media showed us a country where everyone hated Chávez's guts. We wished to believe everything the government did would backfire due to incompetence and venality, the media showed us a country where everything the government did backfired due to incompetence or venality.

That our decision-making came to be dominated by wishful thinking shouldn't surprise us. As the Globovisión mindset colonized the opposition consciousness ever more completely, decisions come to be made on the basis of means-ends relationships that found no correspondence in reality (having generals camp out in Plaza Altamira will destabilize the regime! refusing to vote in assembly elections will delegitimize the government!)

All along, the oppo journo-punditocracy believed that the key to getting rid of the regime was to establish, beyond any possible doubt, that the public overwhelmingly rejected Chávez. For a while, from 2001 to early 2004, that wasn't so hard to establish: it was true.

But then reality threw the punditocracy a curve ball it was entirely unprepared for: it changed. In the second quarter of 2004, when the misiones started to make themselves felt and Chávez's popularity started to pick up, the punditocracy found itself up a political creek without an ethical paddle.

Their reaction when faced with these changed circumstances shouldn't surprise us: people like Giusti had been perfectly frank about it for years. This guerra was most definitely avisada. They lied. In the way that journalists and editors lie: not so much by telling outright untruths, but by puffing up those elements of truth that suit their objectives and playing down or ignoring those that don't.

So the polls that showed Chávez gaining in 2004 weren't reported, or were reported in a box on page 29, while any hint that the Si campaign was doing well was an automatic six columns above the fold on page one. The startling impact that the misiones had on barrio life became more familiar to readers of The Guardian or The New York Times than to readers of El Nacional or Notitarde. The ongoing passion that many poor people felt for Chávez was systematically downplayed. And little by little, day in and day out, we as opposition supporters were deprived of the informational tools we needed to understand what the hell was happening in our own society, in our own country.

This whole juggernaut of distortions came to an explosive head in the wee hours of the morning of August 16th, 2004, when the Recall Referendum results were announced. Now, I want to be clear here: what follows is not an argument about whether there was or wasn't fraud in 2004, a question that I remain agnostic on. What follows is a reflection about how and why the vast majority of opposition supporters became totally convinced, beyond the slightest shadow of a doubt, that there had been massive fraud and the election had been stolen long before any evidence to back this up was available.

Because, in the end, that was what was striking, wasn't it? We may look back now and retroactively bolster our conviction that there was fraud on the basis of analyses that were published much later, but the reality is that we were just as certain at 5:10 a.m. on August 16th! When it came to fraud allegations, the certainty came first: the evidence we could wait for. So what interests me, more than the underlying question, is the conditions for the production of that certainty, the mechanisms that managed to convince us that something we had no proof of had to be true, that our conception of the world didn't make any sense otherwise.

Looking back, it's hardly surprising that oppo leaders rushed out to cry fraud on the spot: nothing in their conceptual arsenal prepared them for the possibility that they could lose fairly. Hundreds and hundreds of hours of political propaganda - much of it mascarading as journalism, the rest of it self-avowed - had been invested to convince anyone who opposed Chávez that what was happening couldn't happen, not fairly, anyway. So the claim of fraud was a necessity to preserve our whole understanding of our social reality, and that understanding that had been carefully crafted over years by people who had told us explicitly that they considered impartial information a luxury we could not afford.

We've been living with the consequences of these choices ever since. Obviously, we didn't manage to overthrow the bastard: all we did was fatally undermine our own ability to understand the society we live in, to "think straight" about the political moment, and to agree on strategies of resistance that make sense. Five years on, Roberto Giusti's pledge doesn't look so gallant: turns out that what we couldn't afford was systematically distorted communications.

What's sad, though, what's really dismaying is that we don't even recognize the situation we're in, because the people who brought it about - and here I'm thinking much more of Miguel Henrique Otero and Alberto Federico Ravell than of R. Giusti - are still in charge of our communications. They have yet to issue anything like a mea culpa, possibly because, having bought their own propaganda, they're the most dissociated of the lot and genuinely can't grasp the scale of the cognitive havoc their editorial lines have wreaked.

Five years after Giusti's declaration of (the abandonment of his) principles, we've pretty much lost our ability even to talk to each other without biting one another's heads off. After half a decade of systematically distorted communications, we can't even agree on a single version of our contemporary history. We can't produce a shared understanding of the reality around us that can serve as a platform for our political action toward the future. And that, I think, is the real reason we can't coordinate: if we can't agree on what is to be done, it's because we can't agree where we are, or how we got here.

After years of systematically distorted communications, of decisions we were sure would have one effect and had another, of misplaced allegiances and squandered reserves of trust, it's not surprising that a kind of all encompassing nihilism has taken over opposition discourse, a kind of quiescent, polymorphously disgusted but imprecisely directed wrath based on a kind of existential disorientation that expresses itself in an ironclad refusal to believe in anyone or anything again. That is the legacy of Giusti's gallantry.

If it was just that we didn't understand what's been happening in Venezuela, well, that would be bad, but we could work it out. It's actually much worse than that. It's not just that we don't understand what's been happening in Venezuela, it's that we don't understand that we don't understand what's been happening in Venezuela, and when you don't understand that you don't understand something you're well and truly fucked, because you have no clear path towards gaining an understanding of it. You don't see the need for it!

Related LinkSo how come Caracas Chronicles suddenly isn't password protected anymore?  Francisco Toro, Caracas Chronicles, January 13, 2003