Generation 40s – 四十世代

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There’s more to life than making money, even in Hong Kong

South China Morning Post
Comment›Insight & Opinion

Peter Kammerer

Peter Kammerer comes to terms with his son’s decision to give up a well-paid job for love, overcoming the typically Hong Kong attitude that prioritises work and making money over life experiences

When my 26-year-old son told me he was going to throw in his well-paid job as a personal trainer to go to live with his girlfriend in Paris, I went nuts. Had he bothered looking at the unemployment statistics for under-30s in France? Was he aware of how difficult it would be getting a job in a place where speaking fluent French was essential in his line of work? Why wasn’t his girlfriend doing what so many of her country men and women had done and come to Hong Kong instead?

But my son is single-minded when it comes to what he wants. He also has an EU passport, which makes handing in his resignation letter, buying an air ticket and packing up straightforward. To placate me, he argued that he wants to see the world before he’s married and besides, in his line of work, it’s relatively easy to find business. Anyway, if things don’t work out in Europe, as a Hong Kong permanent resident, he can just return and pick up where he left off.

It’s the same logic that took me to Britain and then Hong Kong in the 1980s. I’ve never regretted those decisions, the enjoyment and knowledge gained being, as they say, part of a rich tapestry. Yet, after all the arguments with friends and work colleagues, it’s only recently I’ve been convinced. I believe it’s because having lived in Hong Kong for so long, I’ve been brainwashed into thinking that making money is more important than life experiences.

It’s a conclusion apparent from the starkly different opinions of people born and bred in Hong Kong and those raised elsewhere I’ve broached this with. The Hongkongers typically believe anyone who puts fun before money has their priorities wrong. Those with an overseas upbringing wondered what I was worried about, contending that when someone is young and financially unburdened by a mortgage or children, they should make the most of it. Besides, the latter group says, in a world of borderless job opportunities, what’s the problem?

I’ve a feeling Hong Kong has made me narrow-minded. Certainly, it’s the way many young Hongkongers seem to have been raised. They want the government to assure they get meaningful jobs, homes of their own, a decent standard of living and the rights and privileges of Western democracies. They are being unrealistic.

The cost of living in a city is naturally going to be high for anyone low on the employment ladder, as most recent school graduates are. Hong Kong’s housing prices appear steep for those who are just starting out, but if the widely accepted gauge of paying about one-third of income on rent is applied, shared accommodation or a subdivided flat is affordable for the majority. Experience, hard work and dedication improve circumstances, as my son well knows. Political aspirations are something else, though; there’s no perfect system of governing and there will always be those who are dissatisfied, which is why governments have to be as inclusive as reasonably possible when it comes to making decisions.

But for those who feel stifled or don’t see hope, there’s also a big, wide world beyond Hong Kong’s 2,755 sq km boundary. It’s full of possibilities. A foreign passport isn’t necessary to access them; all that is required is a sense of adventure. The mainland has far more than Hong Kong can hope to offer and it’s even in the same country, if biases can be set aside.

But there’s something else for younger Hongkongers to keep in mind; there’s more to living than making money. My elder son is following that principle as he plans the next chapter of his life. In his case, it’s about love – and who am I to argue with him about that?

Peter Kammerer is a senior writer at the Post


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筆者相信,海外升學並非為了「解決」目前的問題,而應該有更正面的目的。一般而言,家長都希望藉此建立學生的自信,擴闊視野,令學生更獨立等。但是,除了學習上的考慮,學生身心的發展、情緒的依賴、成長的需要亦十分重要。十來歲的青少年最需要家人的陪伴和意見,年紀太小的初中學生往外地讀書,可能令他們在最需要家人陪伴的歲月,只能依賴當地的老師和同學,長遠而言,他們的「重要的他人」(Significant Others)不再是父母,日後與家人的關係也許會變得疏遠。畢竟,前赴海外升學是家庭的重大決定,對尚在青春期的孩子來說,更可能是改變一生的抉擇,家長和學生都要在充分知情之下,共同商討,才作決定。


筆者兩名子女分別就讀高小和初中, 個人建議,即使負笈海外,較理想是在香港完成中學課程後,才到海外升讀大學。完成中六後,他們的中、英語文能力已有一定水平,又已掌握數學能力、邏輯思維和思辨能力,加上情緒和身心已發展成熟,更適合海外升學。

事實上,就經濟合作暨發展組織(簡稱「經合組織」)比較 2015年和2020年的人才應該擁有十項特質,其中兩次均高踞榜首的是Complex Problem Solving (面對複雜問題的解難能力)。既然如此,家長送子女到海外升學,不妨重點訓練子女這種特質,不要替他們安排和張羅太多,不要給他們太充裕的金錢和物質,亦不必急於讓他們每逢長假期便回港。相反,讓子女在海外「捱點苦」,長假期留在當地,讓他們多了解當地文化,如果當地准許學生在課餘工作,讓他們自力更生,用勞力賺取生活費。這樣,他們在幾年間獲得的,或許會更多,亦不致糟蹋了海外留學的獨特價值。

提到海外升學,一般人都會想到英、 美、澳、紐、加,但這些地方的學費和生活費實在不是一個小數目。筆者任教學校的學生大多數家境一般,但不少學生仍嚮往到海外升學,放眼世界,提升自己的全球競爭力(Global Competence),卻總覺得是無法達到的目標。因此筆者近年到訪過一些亞洲區的大學,替學生探索其他海外升學點,在此亦向讀者簡單介紹一下其特色。



近年「韓風」成為主流,因此往韓國升學的念頭亦開始在學生之間萌芽。現時到韓國升學的香港中學畢業生不多,主要是語言問題。事實上,不少韓國大學都有語言中心,香港的中六畢業生可先到韓國的大學修讀一年韓語課程,考獲TOPIK (「韓語能力檢定」Test of Proficiency in Korean)第三級,便可於韓國修讀學士學位課程。相對台灣,往韓國升學的文化衝擊較大,但亦因此感覺較國際化。每年的學費和生活費大約10萬港元,相比其他熱門升學國家較便宜。韓國不少著名大學都有國際課程,即是課程的70%至100%英語授課,香港學生在這方面有優勢。


根據世界經濟論壇(World Economic Forum)在2016年所發表的報告「The Future of Jobs」提出,不少行業現時最缺人的職位,其實在5至10年前,根本從未出現過。對於現時在學的少年人來說,有65%日後將會從事尚未出現的新工種。因此,我們的教育並非是「職業工廠」,替學生配對職業,而是要讓他們掌握將來社會需要的能力。「生涯規劃」關注的,並不局限於「事業」,無論在香港或海外升學,我們都希望幫助年輕人在步向成年人的生活模式時,明瞭自己不同的人生角色,因而承擔不同的責任,又規劃自己的興趣和閒暇,並讓他們掌握將來的世界需要的能力,讓他們在往後數十年的人生,選擇適合自己的生活方式,在不同的領域發揮所長,綻放光芒。


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With Hong Kong’s young faces of democracy in jail, is civil society being put in chains?

CommentInsight & Opinion
Michael Davis says the political symbolism of locking up young activists over excessive zeal is telling, and the lack of prosecutorial restraint may put at risk the reputation of Hong Kong’s independent judiciary

Last Thursday may qualify as one of the darkest days in Hong Kong’s history. The tragedy of young civic activists being dragged off to jail is bad enough. The political symbolism of Hong Kong’s three “faces of democracy,” being thrown in jail is even more telling. It is as if Hong Kong’s civil society is being jailed.

One can only wonder what the Department of Justice was thinking in pushing the courts to lock up so far 16 of Hong Kong’s dedicated young men and women, over moments of excessive zeal. Is Hong Kong on its way to joining other unsavoury regimes in filling its jails with political prisoners, as the international response suggests? Would prosecutorial restraint have been warranted?

The only logic offered by the government and accepted by the Court of Appeal is “deterrence”. There are deeper social and political issues at stake. Deterring the occasional excess in an otherwise non-violent movement also deters the exercise of valued free expression rights.

To understand the importance of such risk, it is important to know how the Hong Kong political system works. The “one country, two systems” model under the Sino-British Joint Declaration provided Hong Kong with an open rule-of-law-based society, but without the democratic constitutional tools to defend it.

This open autonomous region is lodged under a hardline regime with a strong political ethic of control as a fundamental principle of national security. This regime in its normal practice shows little inclination to exercise restraint.

The executive and legislative branches of the local “autonomous” government are effectively under the appointment and control of the central government, in a largely authoritarian system.

Local officials and appointees depend on Beijing’s approval and have little incentive or inclination to defend Hong Kong’s autonomy or core values.

Rather, the incentives favour a well-developed tendency to lecture Hong Kong on Beijing’s concerns.

The difficult task of defending Hong Kong’s autonomy, rule of law and basic freedoms has been largely left to civil society. Seeking a government that will perform its autonomous role, civil society activists have long promoted democracy as the key to sustaining Hong Kong’s autonomy and associated rule of law, and have kept the drumbeats of freedom alive on the streets by resisting government encroachment.

The local courts have backed this up as the legal guardians of civil liberties. In the common law tradition, this has included restraint in convicting or punishing civil society activists where fundamental rights are at stake. The courts have long distinguished themselves as the only independent branch of government. Will the government’s resorting to the courts to exclude and lock up its political opponents put that reputation at risk?

In protests over Article 23, the high-speed rail, national education, development projects and democracy, civil society activists have long represented core concerns of Hong Kong people.

In the face of countless lectures about how grateful people should be for Beijing’s kindness in giving Hong Kong its freedoms, Hong Kong people have stood their ground to defend those freedoms, as they did again over the past weekend.

Given the complicity of the Hong Kong government in assisting Beijing’s efforts at control, one can only wonder what sort of Hong Kong we would have today without this pushback from civil society. Alternatively, if Beijing had fulfilled its Basic Law promise of democratic reform, would Hong Kong have been more peaceful and less contentious?

Hong Kong civil society has faced a parade of difficult challenges. In Beijing’s 2014 white paper on “one country, two systems”, Hong Kong lawyers and activists were accused of a “confused and lopsided” view. We were told all guarantees in the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law come from Beijing and can be taken away by Beijing.

The local parade of challenges have included Beijing’s foot-dragging over promised political reforms, years of pressure on the media through economic rewards and intimidation, the emergence of corruption as Beijing-friendly businesses and elites are favoured, efforts at national education aimed at brainwashing youngsters in Hong Kong schools, and efforts to stack university councils to vet appointments and bring world-class universities to heel.

With the “umbrella movement”, Hong Kong’s civil society stood up against this degradation, to defend the solemn commitments to democracy and the rule of law. While non-violent civil disobedience involves breaking the law, as recognised by the trial judges in both of this past week’s cases, it has a long tradition as a noble last resort. The common law encourages judicial restraint in overseeing prosecutions where such precious rights are involved.

It seems our politicians have not learned the lesson that repression and unwarranted interference under the undemocratic Hong Kong system will invariably encounter civil society resistance. A government that repeatedly does this has only itself to blame for the increased resistance that follows.

Over the many years since the handover, civil society activism – involving hundreds of thousands of protesters – has, with rare exception, been non-violent.

Now three young civic activist leaders have been given six to eight months in prison for essentially, as found by the magistrate at the trial, climbing a fence to claim the “Civic Square”.

In lockstep with Beijing, the Hong Kong government has now taken to using the courts to eliminate its political opposition.

Through the oath-taking saga, with the assistance of a timely Beijing interpretation, it first took control of the legislature. Now it has gone back to the courts to lock up its civic opponents.

It is in this volatile context, in the shadow of Hong Kong’s rich civil society tradition, that locking up the youthful “faces of democracy” in Hong Kong looks pretty much like an attempt to lock up Hong Kong’s civil society.

Professor Michael C. Davis specialises in constitutional law and human rights

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Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow are in jail because Hong Kong law demands it

CommentInsight & Opinion
Rimsky Yuen explains the legal basis behind the judgment, as those seeing ulterior or political motives, and fearing for the independence of Hong Kong’s courts, may not have grasped the basic facts of the case

On August 17, the Court of Appeal delivered its judgment on the ­application to ­review the sentences involving Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Alex Chow Yong-kang and Nathan Law Kwun-chung. The court sentenced the defendants to immediate custodial sentences of six to eight months.

The judgment has attracted ­extensive attention and discussions. Since the defendants have indicated an ­intention to appeal, it is not ­appropriate to go into matters which may affect the intended appeal. However, since some of the comments display a lack of understanding of the basic facts of the case or our legal system, it is important that there should be an explanation of the different stages of the legal and judicial process.

The first stage is prosecution. The defendants were prosecuted for offences involving unlawful ­assembly, which is defined in ­section 18 (1) of the Public Order ­Ordinance as follows: “When three or more persons, assembled ­together, conduct themselves in a disorderly, ­intimidating, insulting or provocative manner intended or likely to cause any person reasonably to fear that the persons so ­assembled will commit a breach of the peace, or will by such conduct provoke other persons to commit a breach of the peace, they are an ­unlawful assembly”.

Unlawful assembly is not concerned with the ideas (whether political or otherwise) that the people who organised or participated in the assembly sought to advocate. Rather, it focuses on whether the conduct of the people during the assembly was unlawful. Accordingly, the defendants were not prosecuted for their political ideas.

The second stage is the trial. There can be no doubt that the ­defendants were convicted after a fair and open trial. The defendants were legally represented, and they had every opportunity to make such submissions as they saw fit. At one stage, they lodged appeals against their convictions. However, they subsequently abandoned their ­appeals. Thus, they no longer take issue with their convictions.

The third stage is the review of sentence. The first review took place before the magistrate who convicted the defendants, pursuant to ­Section 104 of the Magistrates Ordinance. The second took place ­before the Court of Appeal, pursuant to section 81A of the Criminal Procedure Ordinance. Such a ­review can only be lodged if the sentence imposed by the trial judge “is not authorised by law, is wrong in principle or is manifestly excessive or manifestly inadequate”.

All these grounds for review only concern legal issues. Political considerations do not come into play, whether at the stage when the prosecution sought the review or when the Court of Appeal dealt with the application for review.

The hearing of the review was also open and transparent. All the submissions made by the prosecution were legal (as opposed to political). The defendants, again, were legally represented, and had every opportunity to advance such submissions as they saw fit.

If one reads the judgment (in particular, the leading judgment by Justice ­Jeremy Poon Shiu-chor), they will see that the reasons leading to the conclusion that imprisonment is appropriate are legal reasons, not political ones.

Further, as is made crystal clear in paragraph 171 of the judgment, the defendants were convicted and sentenced not because they exercised their right of assembly, demonstration or freedom of speech; but because they had overstepped the line allowed by the law and that they had committed serious unlawful acts.

Hong Kong has all along upheld judicial independence. The Hong Kong judiciary is well-known for their independence and quality. It is regrettable that some of the comments (including some by overseas media) sought to attack our judiciary. As I have repeatedly said, the public has a right to discuss judicial decisions, but no discussion should seek to undermine the integrity or impartiality of the judiciary.

As observed in an Australian decision: “The authority of the law rests on public confidence, and it is important for the stability of society that the confidence of the public should not be shaken by baseless attacks on the integrity or impartiality of courts or judges (Gallagher vs Durack, 1983)”.

Some have queried the timing of the review applications, and alleged that there was an ulterior motive.

The timing of the review applications before the magistrate and the Court of Appeal are regulated by the relevant statutes. In the present case, the prosecution lodged the ­review applications within the relevant time prescribed by the statutes. The only reason it took almost a year for the Court of Appeal to hear the ­application was that it could not deal with the review of sentence until after the defendants’ appeals against conviction were disposed of (see section 81C (1) of the Criminal Procedure Ordinance).

The defendants’ appeals against conviction were scheduled to be heard on May 22. It was only after they abandoned their appeal on April 19 that the prosecution could proceed to fix a date for the hearing of the review of sentence, which eventually took place on August 9. In other words, the timing of these steps is not within the control of the prosecution, and any suggestion of an ulterior ­motive on the part of the prosecution [6] is simply groundless.

The law in Hong Kong protects people’s fundamental rights, ­including the right to assembly, demonstration and freedom of speech. However, any exercise of such rights should be in a lawful manner (see paragraphs 110-112 of the judgment). From the start of the prosecution up to the review of sentence by the Court of Appeal, the defendants were dealt with strictly in ­accordance with the law.

The defendants were convicted and sentenced for their unlawful conduct, not for their political ideas.

With these explanations, I hope the public and the international community will continue to respect our independent judiciary and ­refrain from baseless attacks.

Rimsky Yuen, SC, is Hong Kong’s secretary for justice

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以貌取人 失之子羽








西方最早將面相學看成「科學」的,要算十八世紀的瑞士人黎華達(Johann Kaspar Lavater)。他認為面孔一如書本般可讀,只須很短時間便理解內裏意思。看一眼陌生人,在多少時間內就能「得知」其為人呢?普林斯頓大學心理學教授托道洛夫(Alexander Todorov)做過實驗,人只須33毫秒(一毫秒是1000分一秒)看真人或照片一眼,就可斷定這個人是否信得過。黎華達且認為,以貌取人十分可靠。他的面相學,跟中國的《麻衣相法》相比,只是小巫見大巫,而國人卻有句老話:知人口面不知心。


正因人有這個本事,電影才事半功倍的成為最受歡迎的娛樂。最早提出這個說法的是匈牙利電影美學家巴拿薩(Bela Balazs)。

他在1924年發表的《看得見的人》(Visible Man)中指出,書本令人走向抽象。讀者要憑想像才能進入書本的世界。電影卻剛剛相反,由抽象的心智走向看得見的身體(From the abstract mind to the visible body)。



影像盛行,現代人愈來愈習慣「閱讀」面孔,亦愈來愈受面孔影響。可惜,《史記》中孔子說的「以貌取人,失之子羽」,現代心理學家已證明是對的,但錯不在面相學,而是人的「認知陷阱」,比如著名的「光環效應」(Halo Effect),便是指人習慣「以偏概全」的從局部印象推論出整體印象。女子眼大大、孩子臉、眉目姣好,很容易被認為天真、無邪念、無歪心卻蠢笨。電影《出貓特工隊》中,學業成績出眾的女主角,單眼皮而貌寢。她的閨蜜雙眼經常睜大,笑容甜美,便是讀書不成的蠢美女。反之,學業成績好的男主角(賓爺),卻是俊秀的小鮮肉。電影往往不自覺地強化了性別主義的標籤。

撰文 : 占飛