Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Sichuan Earthquake

Photograph: Dan Chung for the Guardian

Sichuan province is once again devastated by earthquake, with the magnitude measuring around at 7.0. It has been almost 5 years since the last major earthquake struck the same area. So far over 200 and possibly more has been confirmed dead and 8000 injured. Many became lost their homes and had to take refuge at temporarily set up tents. Soldiers and rescue teams were swift to provide aids to the people in the worst hit arre around the city of Ya'an. Although the scale of devastation were much smaller than the 2008 earthquake (which claimed the lives of 87,000) still it has put some strain on the recovery from the previous major disaster.

There's no urgency for help from the outside as the local authorities already have all the resources to handle the situation. But for donations I would recommend Sichuan Quake Relief and Jet Li's One Foundation.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Ghost of the colonial past

Stepping into 2013 (and getting pass apocalypse hype) the city of Hong Kong resumed business as normal and the same goes along with the usual annual protests. As many celebrated the new year, there were also tens of thousands took part in the anti-government protest calling chief executive CY Leung to step down. One of the most noticeable things in recent protests have seen participants appeared to be waving the British colonial-era flag and sometimes playing the British national anthem along side. Something we never have expected to see again after 1997. The organizers were supposedly to be part of some Facebook groups. This has set the alarm going for authorities who feared of an independence movement in the making and calling for a ban on the colonial flag.

The Dragon and the Lion

The British colonial Hong Kong features an emblem or the Royal coat of arms, a crest that contains that with a Chinese dragon and a lion by the sides, to remark to its unique 'east-meets-west' design it is also briefly known as a 'dragon and lion flag' (龍獅旗) by the locals. The flag was first officially introduced in 1959. Although the colonial flag has been through several designs before this was the one that represented Hong Kong before the handover in 1997.  

The good old colonial days?
Ironically most of the flag wavers were probably too young to remember what it was like under British rule. Indeed the British were accredited for establishing a successful economic, legal and social system that has allowed Hong Kong to flourish and prosper. But of course it was not all hunky dory, the local Chinese were treated like second class citizens and discriminated by their colonial rulers. However to most who have lived through those times will have positive things to say and quite nostalgic of the past.

Despite the paranoia from authorities realistically speaking I don't believe Hong Kong will become independent or revert back to British rule. Nor were those the intentions of the anti-government protesters. HK citizens have accepted to be part of the PRC but only that they maintain Deng Xiao Ping's 'one country two system' principles. Meaning people want the least interference from the government in Beijing. The waving of colonial era flag is nothing more than a provocative move to show their frustration towards the current SAR governors that failed to maintain the system that was placed by the British rulers, as well as the incompetence to handle an array of political and social problems. It is also a reminiscent of how sophisticated the colonial government was by comparison.

A mere Facebook group will unlikely to develop into or have resources to pull off any feat that will change HK's sovereignty. However if little is done to tackle grass root issues such as housing and deteriorating of the system then the paranoia of the pro-Beijingers will only become truer each day.

Picture I took just by the harbour at TST