Generation 40s – 四十世代

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被寵壞的英國足球

Hong Kong Economic Journal
C01 | 今日焦點 | 忽然文化 | By 占飛 |
2013-04-06

在英治時期,本地足球迷除了捧本地球隊外,就是關心英國隊(嚴格來說,應是英格蘭隊)。那時候,球迷除了對香港隊的球員如數家珍之外,就是對英格蘭的球員也耳熟能詳。回歸後,香港隊一落千丈,連占飛這樣的忠實球迷,也說不出半隊香港隊球員的名字。雖然英超聯賽仍是收視率之冠,英超的投注額仍然最高,但對英格蘭隊已日漸冷淡。香港的「去殖民地化」無甚進展,只在足球方面較為成功。

明年的巴西世界盃外圍賽,英格蘭目前在小組排名第二,比首位黑山(Montenegro)少兩分。打了六場比賽,只贏過兩個小國,對波蘭、烏克蘭和黑山都打和。世界盃外圍賽賽制小組首名自動出線,九組的次名成績最差的自動出局,其餘八隊打遺材賽,四隊出線。以目前的成績,英格蘭分分鐘是九組的次名中成績最差的,被淘汰出局。就算可以打遺材賽,連黑山都贏不到,對着任何一組的次名都無取勝把握。

小國打敗大國

1974年的世界盃,英格蘭外圍賽最後一場對波蘭,必須取勝才能出線,偏偏只能打成1比1平手,緣盡慕尼黑。四十年後的2014年,英格蘭最後一場外圍賽這麼湊巧又逢波蘭,會否歷史重演?英國傳媒早已憂心忡忡。反而「去殖民地化」的香港球迷漠不關心,朋友甚至對占飛說:英格蘭去不到巴西也是好事。問:何出此言?答曰:自有世界盃以來,從來沒有一百萬人口以下的小國能進入決賽周。根據黑山2011年的人口統計,全國人口只得六十二萬五千多。香港多逾十倍,中國多兩千多倍。黑山出線的話,既證明「小國可以打敗大國」,又創造了歷史紀錄,好浪漫啊!

英格蘭如此不濟,最主要當然是足球的原因:球隊無組織、欠隊形;攻不銳、守不穩;球員質素愈來愈差,朗尼只踢半場好波,下半場往往不知所終;領隊欠領導能力等等。可是,看了英國著名球評家馬田山姆(Martin Samuel)一篇報道,占飛禁不住懷疑,除足球的原因外,還有文化的原因。

當禾確特(Theo Walcott)因操練受傷被迫提早回國時,英足總派了兩人去接機,為他打點一切,替他取行李、安排交通工具等等。山姆質疑:禾確特已是二十多歲的成年人,又不是碧咸一類傳媒寵兒會引起騷亂,難道不懂照顧自己麼?為什麼英國足總要如此呵護備至?

另一邊廂,黑山國家隊的入球功臣戴贊諾域(Dejan Damjanovic)在周二比賽後,周三凌晨卻出現在黑山首都機場,形單影隻,自攜行李,沒有使用貴賓通道,只在公眾候機室和朋友一起講東講西。他將飛往貝爾格萊德轉機往南韓,向所屬球會FC首爾報到。

無獨立應變力

馬田山姆由是慨嘆:今天英國的年輕球員都被寵壞了──應該說,整整一代都是被寵壞的年輕人,年紀輕輕便歲入數百萬英鎊的球員更是「勁」寵壞、「超」寵壞,事事不用自己動手,事事有人安排好,他們怎樣學懂自立?不自立,如何懂得應變?無怪英格蘭隊一旦落下風,被對手控制中場、掌握主動,球員只會慌亂,沉不住氣,因為他們平日慣了被呵護、被服侍,無獨立自主的應變能力。

韋斯咸的前鋒卡頓高爾(Carlton Cole)說,時下的年輕球員,回到更衣室,把污衣髒褲臭鞋棄在地便算,自己不去執拾,因有僕役代勞。林柏特(Frank Lampard)亦表示,他出道時,要為老大哥清潔球鞋擦亮球靴。黃文偉說過,他出道時,要為隊中的老大哥(例如姚卓然)把硬梆梆的皮製球「砵」穿軟。

新一代年輕人什麼都有人代勞、服侍周到,順風順水沒所謂,遇到危機便手足無措。黑山球員不是球技比英格蘭球員出色,他們不用出色,一樣可以拚和高一皮的英格蘭,因為他們都是貨真價實的成年人,而英格蘭球員多是寵壞的一代,長不大的成年人。

撰文︰占飛

C01 | 今日焦點 |
2013-04-06

自古英雄皆寂寞

六十年前,1953年的11月25日,是英國足球歷史上一個大慘痛的日子,一個「真理的時刻」(the moment of truth)。在這天以前,英格蘭從未在主場被歐洲球隊擊敗。

此仗對手是當時歐洲新興強隊匈牙利。賽前,英國《每日電訊報》的球評家法蘭高爾斯(Frank Coles)認為匈牙利隊雖然隊員腳法秀麗,打的是控球在腳、地面傳球的足球,但在寒冷的11月,這樣落後的戰術,恐怕連一支甲組聯賽的球隊也打不過。只是,開賽分半鐘,英國便先失一球,全場大敗6比3。

在溫布萊大敗已經是羞辱,更大的羞辱在比賽後,匈牙利的教練Gustav Sebes竟然多謝一個英國人──占美賀根(Jimmy Hogan):「我們打的足球是賀根所教的。他日記述匈牙利的足球歷史時,他的名字應用金書寫。」(We played football as Jimmy Hogan taught us. When our football history is told, his name should be written in gold letters)

反躬自省

賀根是愛爾蘭裔英國人,生於1882年。他反對當時英國球隊打的橫衝直撞、高Q大腳的足球。他重視技術多過體力、整體多過個人、主張多打地波少打高空波、傳球走位多過三腳內攻門。正如一位球評家說的:「全面足球是賀根構思出來的,米高斯只是完善它」(Total football was the brain child of Jimmy Hogan, while Rinus Michels perfected it)。

可惜,賀根活在二十世紀初,在英國被冷待和奚落,邦無道,他惟有乘桴浮於海,把他的一套打法傳授給奧地利、荷蘭、德國、瑞士及匈牙利球隊。匈牙利的足總主席便說:「我們的足球知識全是賀根教的」。

大敗給匈牙利之後,英國並沒有閉門思過,反躬自省,把握這個時機改革國家隊,英國足總祕書禾爾(Frederick Wall)反而大罵賀根是英國足球的「叛徒」。至今,賀根曾執教的歐洲國家,除了小國寡民的瑞士外,都做過球壇的一哥。英國1966年捧走世界盃後,今天已淪落為足球的二流國家。

從來,走在時代前面的先行者都是落漠的。

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Central issues of the Occupy Central movement

South China Morning Post
Comment›Insight & Opinion
2013-05-23

Benny Tai

Benny Tai sets out the seven main components of the Occupy Central movement, which, he hopes, can help create a fair and just election system for Hong Kong and thus rebuild trust

There are seven components of the “Occupy Central with Love and Peace” movement. They form an integral whole. To some, this is far too complex. Indeed, these concepts are not simple. However, we are now facing a complex political reform process in Hong Kong. Therefore, a sophisticated plan is needed.

First, the ultimate goal of Occupy Central is to push for a means of electing the chief executive that can satisfy international standards on universal and equal suffrage under Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that is applicable to Hong Kong through Article 39 of the Basic Law.
We face a complex political reform process. Therefore, a sophisticated plan is needed

The standards include at least three reasonable requirements: that every eligible voter has an equal number of votes; an equal weight for each vote; and no unreasonable restrictions on the right to stand for election. A restriction that could be used to screen out a candidate purely on the grounds of political opinion would surely not be considered reasonable.

The second component is non-violent action. One form this takes in Occupy Central is civil disobedience. In a small but powerful book on non-violent actions, From Dictatorship to Democracy, Professor Gene Sharp suggested 198 methods of non-violent action, under three distinct categories: protest and persuasion, non-co-operation, and intervention.

Creating a social disturbance to a degree that it makes governance difficult is not the main objective of non-violent action. Rather, such action aims to generate a desire among people to impose limits on the government’s power and cultivate an understanding that people have the ability to withhold their consent to be governed by the existing illegitimate authority.

Third, there is civil disobedience. The objective here is to arouse people’s concern for the injustice of existing laws or systems. Martin Luther King Jnr provided a summary of civil disobedience in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. This is the model of civil disobedience. According to King, acts of civil disobedience are also illegal acts, but people who have committed them will voluntarily surrender themselves to the authorities and are willing to bear legal responsibility. They may join such acts to win people’s sympathy and support. However, one must also carefully calculate the cost that might be incurred before taking part.

Occupy Central will follow these principles to organise our acts of civil disobedience. Such acts would only be carried out after Occupy Central’s proposals on the means of electing the chief executive were rejected by Beijing.

Next, citizen authorisation after deliberation. These “deliberation days” are the process for citizens to indicate their stance directly on public issues. The actual proposal for the means of electing the chief executive needs authorisation from the general public. In addition, a decision should only be made after a detailed and well-designed deliberative process in which people receive adequate and balanced information on the options, and on the pros and cons of proposals from people holding different viewpoints.

Those who agree with the convictions of Occupy Central, no matter whether they are prepared to join in any future acts of civil disobedience, will be invited to join the deliberation days. Participants will deliberate in a group, with neutral moderators and facilitators. Through an electronic voting system, the general public can indicate whether they endorse the proposal recommended by Occupy Central.

Fifth, social awakening. As King said, the objective of civil disobedience is to awaken people to see the injustice in the laws and systems. If people are alerted to how systemic injustice has hurt the dignity of individuals as well as the general interests of the community, they may use different methods – including other non-violent action – to bring about change. The goal of Occupy Central is the same. Hong Kong people would be awakened to see that universal and equal suffrage is a basic right for all. It is also an important method to rectify the legitimacy crisis of the Hong Kong government so that it can enjoy the legitimate authority to introduce reforms to resolve deep-seated conflicts that include the widening wealth gap.

Sixth is the political game. Occupy Central is a political game in Hong Kong in which supporters of true democracy plan and act strategically. A game is interactive. A player’s action must generate sufficient impact or influence, actual or perceived, on other players before they will be pressured to react. But all games involve risk. One cannot accurately predict all possible actions of other players and one cannot foresee whether one’s action will generate any reaction, or indeed what that reaction might be. Action can only be planned on the basis of information at hand. Decisions in a game are made rationally.

It is hoped that sufficient pressure can be put on the players who are against true democracy in Hong Kong, including the pro-establishment camp and the central government. If they can rationally reconsider their positions, it is possible that they will agree to have true democracy in Hong Kong. Occupy Central does not want to see a winner-takes-all result, but to create an opportunity for all players to come together to negotiate the details on how to implement true democracy in Hong Kong.

Finally, public dispute resolution. To resolve a public dispute, the key is to construct a procedure that can allow all parties involved to enter on an equal footing into a deliberative process. This process aims to help the parties adopt an open-minded attitude in understanding the concerns of others. On the condition that no party’s basic interests or values are infringed upon, they would be encouraged to reach a consensus and a win-win solution. Occupy Central will first have to deal with the differences on strategies to achieve universal suffrage within the pan-democratic camp. Hopefully, the camp can be consolidated into a more powerful and united force for democracy in Hong Kong.

Many people consider that Occupy Central is too radical a move to strive for true democracy, that there is no chance Beijing would accept a demand presented in this manner. However, if civil disobedience were not planned, the chances of achieving true democracy would be even slimmer.

Our actions are rational and peaceful. There is no attempt to challenge the sovereignty of the central government. We only want a fair and just election system for Hong Kong. Trust between Hong Kong people, the Hong Kong government and the central government can be rebuilt.

Benny Tai Yiu-ting, an associate professor of law at the University of Hong Kong, is the initiator of the Occupy Central Movement. This is an edited version of a speech he made at a luncheon organised by the Hong Kong Democratic Foundation on Monday


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孩子考試還是爸媽考試?

Hong Kong Economic Journal
C02 | 醫情醫說 | 德育相傳 | By 許芷茵 |
2013-06-22

兩個孩子都在本地傳統學校念書,最近正忙着應付考試。不少朋友一聽見學校的名字就吐舌頭:「不僅孩子辛苦,媽媽也辛苦!」說來慚愧,過去十多年以來,總沒有一次,要我坐在身邊鞭策他們做功課或是溫習,孩子自幼稚園開始就明白,功課是他們的,分數也是他們的,媽媽的角色極其量是啦啦隊,最多兼任聖約翰救傷隊── 在他們跌個頭破血流時止血包紮,陪他們透一口氣重整旗鼓再戰江湖。

小學時還好,遇上學習上有不明白的地方,他們問,我就答,默書前要求我幫忙讀默一遍,我當然也樂意支持;但如果孩子決定不求援的話,我亦絕對放心讓他們自己單打獨鬥。考試成績派回來,他們向我報告,我總是微笑:「那麼,你自己滿意不滿意?」孩子會得捫心自問,然後坦率表態:「滿意,因為成績不錯/我已經盡了力。」或是「不滿意,我覺得我是太大意了/發力得太遲了/溫習得不夠純熟……所以失了很多分。」不論滿意或不滿意,他們都明白,考試是他們的,成績也是他們的,他們要做的不是向阿媽交代,而是向自己負責。

訓練獨立能力

早早訓練他們自發性地獨立處理功課考試,當中也曾付出過代價──孩子在真正明白自己的能力及效率以及課程的真正要求之前,亂打亂撞的,肯定有機會遭遇滑鐵盧。可是正如天下間一切的禍事一樣,愈早遇上,翻身的機會愈高。我深深相信並常常鼓勵孩子的一句話是:「If it does not kill you, it makes you stronger.」孩子在Trial and error的過程中悟出學習的方法,是受用一生的事。

不說很遠,單說正念中學的兩位年輕人,如今把功課拿來問我,我還沒有本事出主意呢!

數、理、化固然叫我皺眉;通識,究竟答卷要求是什麼?就算是老本行的語文,如今的世界不一樣,試卷與考官的要求也不一樣,難道憑二十多年之前的記憶與經驗來指手劃腳?肯定害人!

既然如此,更加不得不放心放手讓他們自己想辦法應戰。我當然知道這世上有孩子進了大學還替他們請補習老師或是代其做功課的父母,我只是同情將來僱用這些年輕人的老闆,因為他們的履歷表與畢業證書,至少有一半以上歸功於其父母的努力,並不真實反映當事人的才幹與實力。

陪坐陪讀?

孩子考試,我是不陪坐陪讀,可是不代表我不關心不留意。他們有多專心、多用功,做媽媽的心中有數,同時衷心讚賞。我常笑說:「這次考試我看得出你們已付出了一百分努力,就算不考第一名,在媽媽心中,已經給了你們第一名。」家長日,孩子的老師打開成績表放在我面前,問:「對孩子這次的考試成績滿意嗎?」我差不多是瞧也不瞧就笑答老師:「滿意,當然滿意,我是肯定滿意的,這是孩子們付出努力的成果,對於別人的努力,旁人豈有批評的資格,當然只有支持、支持再支持!」是的,我是媽媽,可是在求學與成長這種事情上,孩子是必須靠自己的,一切榮辱,皆自食其力,同時自食其果。

許芷茵
兒童教育工作者


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今日看遠古文明

Hong Kong Economic Journal
C05 | 城市智庫 | 回眸英倫 | By 毛羨寧 |
2013-03-23

最近到北京國家圖書館談公務,由古籍館主任帶我到中南海附近文津街的老館參觀。大門庭園中心有兩座石雕,上面刻着炯炯有神的蟠龍,我向陳主任問起來源和歷史。她說,那原是圓明園安佑宮門外的兩對華表,是漢白玉石雕,高八米、柱圍三米多,另一對華表在北京大學。英法聯軍在1860年洗劫及火燒圓明園,之後民國軍閥、官僚等也大量盜走園內文物用來裝飾私人別墅,1925年,燕京大學的翟博牧師派人到圓明園強行取出這兩對華表,其中三根到了燕京大學(北大現址),另一根則運往城裏,一度被閒置在天安門前。1931 年,北平圖書館在北海西岸建文津新館,把燕京大學多餘的華表和天安門那根一塊搬來。搬運工人目不識丁,兩對華表沒有組成一對,所以現在北大和文津街國家圖書館的華表都是一根粗一根細。我目瞪口呆地看這件圓明園流失的文物,想把它和文津館拍攝來留念,可惜空氣污染,照片只呈現一片灰色。

文明腳步不會停下

月前到柏林的時候下大雪,天色也是灰白的,但進入了「博物館島」(Museumsinsel) 上的佩加蒙博物館(Pergamon Museum),豐富的希臘、羅馬、亞述巴比倫和中東伊斯蘭等展品令人覺得文物保存是何等重要。一進到館裏,「佩加蒙祭壇」(Pergamon Altar)就在人眼前。這個祭壇是從古希臘城市佩加蒙(即是現今土耳其境內帕加馬Bergama遺址)挖掘出的宙斯祭壇,是西元前二世紀的建築。德國考古團隊發現了這件寶物,把整個已成碎片的祭壇買了下來,運到柏林重新還原。聽說原先的博物館因為太小而容納不下祭壇的上下部分,於是趕緊擴充改建,並加上石階讓遊人拾級而上,或是坐在其上欣賞壁雕刻着的故事。這個祭壇上雕刻的希臘神話,是泰坦被宙斯打敗後,巨靈族叛變,最後宙斯得到兒子大力士海克力斯幫助而打贏的故事。

通過長廊是伊修塔爾門 (Ischtar Tor)與遊行大道(Prozessions Strass)。每個人在這道建築於新巴比倫王國的城門之下,都會顯得很渺小。這是尼布甲尼撒王在西元二世紀的珍貴收藏。因為他重現當時的北門展示,所以上面藍色的浮雕配上黃色的線條與雕刻,拼貼出古老宗教的神聖動物像龍、公牛、馬等。碑文上寫着:「我,尼布甲尼撒二世(Nebukadnezar),巴比倫國王,那波帕拉薩爾(Nebupolassar)之子,用藍色上釉的石塊建造此伊修塔爾門奉獻給我的主Marduk。」整座城門和古巴比倫人過新年慶祝遊行用的街道,同樣也是把遺迹碎片搬過來復原。博物館的右翼還有一座羅馬神殿,其中的石獅子和帶翼公牛像,看似是科幻電影The Neverending Story 第一集所描繪的仙境守護神。博物館介紹這展覽為全球最大的古羅馬室內展出,但二次大戰時這個神殿剛好被大砲打中,現在還在修復期間。

最後一個主題是伊斯蘭文明——「沙漠中的宮殿城牆」(The Desert Palace of Mshatta)。1897 至1898 年,兩位學者Rudolf Ernst Bruennow和他朋友Alfred von Domaszewski到現今敍利亞、約旦和黎巴嫩附近考察,拍下照片帶回任教的海德堡大學慢慢做羅馬及晚古時期的分析研究,誰知發現了這道宮殿城牆。現代文明沒有因此停下腳步,反而要在城牆旁邊興建鐵路。德國考古學者請求末代德意志皇帝威廉二世阻止施工,結果1903年土耳其帝國的首相赫曼(Sultan Abdul Hamid)把它贈送給威廉二世以示兩國友好,促使了皇家博物館創立伊斯蘭研究所。我近看這道城牆的花形雕刻,原來每一朵都有隱約的分別,仔細得令人驚嘆。文明的點滴累積,不能單用金錢就可以買得到。

毛羨寧


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Asset inflation policies threaten to create another economic bubble

South China Morning Post
Comment›Insight & Opinion
2013-05-21

Andy Xie

Andy Xie says asset inflation is being pumped up in the name of stimulating a stagnating global economy and helping the unemployed. But the reality is that such policies benefit neither

Five years after Lehman Brothers went bust, the global economy remains in stagnation. But you wouldn’t notice it if you are in the stock market. The US market is hitting all-time highs. The Japanese market has risen by half in five months. And while Europe’s economies are in recession, the shares of its top companies are highly elevated too. Shouldn’t stock prices reflect or predict the economy? Don’t count on it. The dichotomy shows how ill economic management has become.

In the name of stimulating the economy and creating jobs, today’s macro policies mainly cook up asset inflation to benefit a few, which may trickle down to the unemployed through the so-called wealth effect. Unfortunately, few crumbs reach the bottom.
Pumping cheap money in through asset markets only benefits those people who can borrow

The US Federal Reserve claims that its policy has helped create two million jobs; that’s less than US$100 billion in income per annum. But one-third of the stock market valuation, over US$6 trillion, can be attributed to the Fed’s policy. The decline in interest rates may account for one-fifth of the corporate earnings. Instead of investing more to create jobs, the big companies have borrowed to buy back shares or pay dividends. Unless you are a shareholder, the Fed’s policy doesn’t benefit you much. The unemployed are, of course, least likely to be shareholders.

The Bank of Japan is learning from the Fed about boosting asset prices by printing money to buy whatever it wants to lift. Japan doesn’t even have an unemployment problem. It believes that asset inflation will lead to sustainable economic growth, ignoring that Japan’s main economic problems are its declining population (falling by around one million per year) and that its leading companies such as Sony and Sharp are no longer relevant to today’s world. Euphoria over the bubbly asset prices is giving instant credibility to the Bank of Japan’s policy. If asset inflation were the solution, Japan wouldn’t have suffered for the past two decades. Didn’t people blame the prolonged stagnation on its asset bubble then? A decade ago, even the then Fed chairman, Alan Greenspan, blushed to explain the logic of asset inflation leading to economic growth. Bubble-making was then considered wrong. Now what the Fed is doing is widely praised. And the Bank of Japan has earned much kudos for copying it. Didn’t the bursting of the Greenspan bubble lead the world into this mess? When people are in pain for too long, they begin to believe in quick remedies. Current Fed chief Ben Bernanke is being praised for doing what Greenspan was cursed for. It will take another bubble burst for people to see through this.

Capitalism is about market forces or the profit motive allocating capital, not governments or inherited power. In the real world, though, it never works exactly that way. It is often more profitable to subvert market forces rather then embrace them. Robber baron capitalism is one manifestation. John D. Rockefeller acquired his wealth mainly through creating and enforcing a monopoly. No one could be so rich in a perfectly competitive environment. Since antitrust laws were introduced in the developed economies, no one has become as rich as the robber barons a century ago.

Most emerging economies remain emerging because they practise crony capitalism. If undocumented wealth is included, the richest people in the world are really from emerging economies, not people like Bill Gates or Warren Buffett. Bad systems, not a lack of money, is the reason poor economies remain poor. If an emerging economy wants to develop, it must replace crony capitalism with the rule of law. But that, of course, won’t please the rich people there.

Monetary activism is a new factor that has subverted the market economy in the past quarter of a century. In the name of stimulating an economy in a downturn, to benefit the unemployed, a government cuts interest rates and pumps in liquidity, which inflates asset bubbles. Greenspan did it to the stock market in the 1990s and then the property market. When a bubble bursts, more stimulus is called for, again in the name of helping the unemployed.

The current debate on stimulus versus austerity misses the point. Neither really helps the people most in need. If central banks really want to help people through monetary policy, they should print money and distribute it equally. If monetary policy works, giving it to the people should be most effective.

Pumping cheap money in through asset markets only benefits those people who can borrow. Through such bubble cycles, wealth becomes more concentrated among those who gamble with debt. Maybe it is intended. Central banks seem too close to the people who gamble with borrowed money. Just check out the glitzy financial talk shops. Greenspan-style monetary policy is really a new form of crony capitalism. It rewards a special class of people who borrow cheap money to gamble. When it goes wrong, the bubble bursts. Another round of cheaper money follows. Hence, those with access can always double up. With so much wealth concentrated in finance, the central banks can even justify making policy for them. Otherwise, they may bring down the house.

Bubbles are really a redistribution game. As money becomes cheaper and cheaper, inflation is inevitable. Even though reported consumer price indices are not yet high, check out education, health care and housing. The biggest expenditure items are not in the CPI basket and are rapidly inflating. The little people are hurt most from such inflation. Their suffering then subsidises those who borrow cheap money to bet on asset bubbles.

Crony capitalism is associated with backwardness, and for a good reason. When profits go to those with power, not productivity, economic progress is slow. As the developed economies embrace bubble economics and crony monetary policy, they may join the ranks of emerging economies. The world may become more equal after all, with the top falling down.

Andy Xie is an independent economist