Monday, June 26, 2006

Flag Day

Flag Day is a unique Hong Kong tradition. On a Flag Day, typically a Saturday, thousands of mostly young people go on the streets to sell flags to raise funds for charities. Actually they put little stickers on people who made donations, typically some small change. On this past Saturday my second daughter went to sell flags for the first time, with my youngest daughter and I tagging along. It was a hot day at 32 degrees. But we all had a good time, and making some interesting observations at the same time.

Many people came to us to buy flags without being asked, since most HK people are quite familiar with this tradition and many want to help. At the same time, there are more people who deliberately avoided us.

We tried to approach people who were not walking too fast, have at least one free hand, and did not look unhappy. Roughly half of those we approached bought flags. Some said they do not have change; we would give them a flag anyway, hoping that they would make a donation next time. It seemed to me we had more female donors than males; but perhaps it was because we were close to the wet market.

I thought parents would like to set good examples for their children; so I was quite surprised that many parents with accompanying children actually declined to give. Apparently this rather counter-intuitive observation is quite well-known in the flag-selling community.

All in all, it was Saturday morning well spent.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Graffiti Aftermath

I was jogging along a footbridge running a highway flyover when I noticed a strong odor of paint thinners. Then I noticed 2 workers removing graffiti on the glass wall separating the highway from the footbridge. When I get closer, I was amazed to find that the worker was using his bare hands.

Paint thinners dissolve stubborn oil-based paints. We cannot tolerate even short exposure to such fumes. Imagine the effects on your hands and organs after long exposure.

I wonder whether the people who put up such graffiti in high exposure areas ever thought about the people who had to remove them. If they know what the workers have to do to remove the graffiti – and the workers must, at such highly visible areas – would they still insist on putting up the graffiti at such places?

It happened on Fathers’ Day. Judging from the age of the workers, they are most likely fathers too. How would their children feel, when they find out what their fathers have to do for a living?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

June 4th in Victoria Park

Many people say we should move on, either forget about June 4th totally, or put it out of our minds and wait for history to draw the conclusion. I cannot. I still feel strongly about the injustice and the crimes committed 17 years ago. I want to do something to remind myself that I want this to be resolved, as soon as possible.

10s of thousands of people in Hong Kong still feel the same way. Hong Kong is the only place in China where people can openly voice their true feelings about June 4th. This year I brought along my eldest daughter, who have just finished her HK School Certificate Examinations. She is going to be 17 soon, having been born in late 1989, just before the Berlin Wall came down. Her mother and I had taken her with us, while still in her mother’s womb, to protests in front of the Chinese embassy in Ottawa, Canada. So in a way, she is a child of June 4th.

We will continue to remember June 4th in whatever way we can. Attached is a picture of some of the candles in Victoria Park in the evening of June 4th, 2006. Hopefully, some day soon, we can see the matter properly resolved.