Generation 40s – 四十世代

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Having a helper leaves Hong Kong’s young lazy and spoilt

South China Morning Post
CommentInsight & Opinion
2017-07-04

Peter Kammerer

Peter Kammerer says depending on helpers for daily living well into adulthood renders Hongkongers averse to hardship, unable to think for themselves and lacking basic life skills

The 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China raised all sorts of issues, among them whether our city has lost its edge. The conclusion seems to be yes – that we’re gradually falling behind competitors in virtually every area.

There was even a suggestion that our famed entrepreneurial spirit was disappearing, and questions were asked as to why. It’s a complicated subject with rent, education and parental ambitions for children at play, but I’d also wager that part of the problem is because we have too many maids.

Foreign domestic helpers aren’t to blame for the decline of shipping, universities slipping down rankings and Shenzhen lording it over us with innovations and hi-tech industries.

But my argument is less about advantage than laziness. Rather than coming up with solutions to our problems, we’re increasingly expecting others to fix them for us. Younger generations, like the millennials, appear to want everything laid out for them, from cheap housing to the best jobs – all for minimal effort.

It’s easy to see why people aged between 18 and their mid-30s would think this way; many had or continue to have maids to take care of them.

Between the end of 1998 and 2015, the year for the latest statistics, the number of foreign domestic helpers almost doubled – from 180,000 to 340,380.

That’s a lot of youngsters who didn’t need to clean up after themselves, had someone cooking for them, getting them ready for and perhaps taking them to school, and to be on hand to cater for their every need.

They were spoilt as kids and many continue that way as adults.

I know of single people who have full-time maids to take care of them and their pets. A couple with a pre-teen son have decided to move back into the wife’s parents’ home while their helper is on vacation because the thought of taking care of the child, cleaning the flat and cooking is too daunting.

Those raised by maids are readily identifiable at the gym I go to; they ignore rules to return used towels to the front counter and instead drop them on the changing room floor.

In the weights area, heavy plates are left either on the floor or attached to bars, rather than being put back in racks, posing a danger to other users. The toilets are left in a mess.

Helpers are an integral part of the Hong Kong government’s growth strategy. They enable both parents to work and provide care for children and the elderly. As a result, their wages are kept artificially low and exempt from minimum wage requirements.

With the typical Hongkonger earning about HK$15,800 a month, many working couples can easily afford the HK$4,310 salary.

But the influx of maids, at present increasing annually by about 10,000, has a litany of drawbacks.

The government is not under pressure to expand or improve child and elderly care services. Helpers may not be adequately trained to take care of a wheelchair-bound or bedridden person.

Sundays are a popular day for employers to give their maids their weekly day off, which means public places are overcrowded. And then, there is the reliance of families on their helpers to the point that they no longer have basic life skills.

Lazy people don’t necessarily have lazy minds; studies have found they’re often the intelligent ones and have figured how to get by with minimal effort.

But avoiding hard work and expecting something for nothing doesn’t teach us important lessons like success and failure, and finding solutions to problems.

Helpers free us up from what some people would consider the mundane, but the extra time is only worthwhile if put to constructive use.

Judging by our flat economic growth, reluctance to break away from businesses that are fading, and jump on opportunities offered by the Hong Kong and Beijing governments and take a risk, we’re well on the way to losing the ability to think for ourselves.

Peter Kammerer is a senior writer at the Post


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從刻舟求劍到逆水行舟

明報
觀點
2017-07-03
馬嶽:

 

2017年6月,香港人被各種「回歸20年」的討論和回顧淹沒。我個人對這種年結式/十年結式的「回顧」一直興趣不大。我總覺得年月是時間的單位,從社會科學的角度,和社會變遷沒有因果關係,於是20年不見得比19年或21年更值得反省回顧,12月也不應比11月更有回顧價值。很多社會變遷都是持續性的,用「齊頭」的數字作結不見得是最好的框架。用文件或文字來規定社會在某段時間的變遷,像「50年不變」,本身就是不科學的。

多年來最重要的變遷是什麼?

這篇文章的截稿恰好定在6月30日,好像是某種命定要寫點和「回歸20年」有關的東西。這段日子給人問了很多相關問題,令我不禁想:這許多年來最重要的變遷是什麼?

一直以來,一國兩制的最深層次矛盾,是中港在政治價值上的差距,或者說是中國共產黨領導和港人主流在政治價值上的差距。我會問:二三十年來,這差距拉近了麼?

一國兩制基本構想上着眼的「兩制」差異,最初當然是經濟性的(「兩制」是社會主義和資本主義)。中國內地和香港最大的差異在經濟制度、生產力、發展水平和生活水平上,而原有法制、司法獨立和法治、各種人權和自由,是香港經濟制度重要的政治配件。在一國兩制原構想下,這些政治價值和制度上的差異,都可以在民族主義(「一國」)的大前提下包容。

「50年不變」的假設是,香港的生產力和制度都較先進,但假以時日中國內地在經濟發展、生產力和生活水平會追近香港,差異會因而拉近,可能50年後不需要再一國兩制。這個分析方法,當然是「很馬克思主義式」的。

網絡社會來臨和新身分政治興起

但人類是很難預測社會的長遠變化的。近二三十年世界社會的最大變化之一,用Castells的說法,是網絡社會的來臨和新的身分政治的興起。經濟變遷如後工業化、全球化和網絡力量,加上冷戰結束,令世界各地人民找尋新的身分,令民族國家(nation-state)的影響力下降、人民追求自主自由參與、抵抗父權,各種身分政治的運動應運而生(包括環保、性小眾、各種地域自主的運動等,當然也有向宗教原教旨主義和排外族群主義進發的)。

香港人尤其年輕一代緊貼全球化的趨勢,隨着踏進後現代和網絡社會,走向崇尚自由、自治、自主、後物質主義和平等價值,思考新的身分認同,認同各種後現代的運動,是自然不過的事。

世上不少先進國家面對網絡社會和新身分運動的挑戰,走向權力下放、尊重及回應地方自治的訴求、領導層年輕化、快速回應民意、加強施政的問責性;對各種後現代的運動訴求,例如環保和同性婚姻,也要加倍重視和積極回應。

但我們看中國官員對香港的話語和其盛載的價值,到了2017年卻仍然非常「前現代」。例如經常仍然用冷戰思維看問題:反抗運動都是「西方亡我之心不死」的結果。例如香港年輕人的問題是經濟問題、是不能上流和買房子的問題,對策是給更多經濟援助;「人心不回歸」就加強由上而下的教育,再多加些課時或者從幼稚園開始,例如強調國族主義和民族國家的必要,希望不斷強化國家功能來控制公民社會和民間自主。衡量一國兩制成功的標準永遠是「繁榮」和「安定」,永遠是經濟增長、建設和競爭力,不去問生活在其中的港人是否覺得自由快樂。面對政制民主化的要求,就祭出「國家安全」和「穩定」的大旗。回歸廿年滿街紅旗水馬,滿紙像是工業化初始階段的話語和口號,和香港近年的政治價值走向背道而馳,差距像不止一個世代,真的是「恍如隔世」。

二三十年前,中國政府還會比較虛心地承認香港問題他們不大懂,香港有很多先進的制度特質中國內地需要學習(例如法治、科學管理方法、公務員制度、廉政等等),於是《基本法》會加進不少制度限制,為防止內地影響香港建立一些「防火牆」。今天的中國自居「天朝」,信心滿滿地覺得「中國模式」可以垂範天下,變成了張浚生來教導香港人什麼叫法治、你們不懂管治香港我們來教你。這變成把「中國模式」看成最普遍優越的制度,覺得遠在「天朝國都」的人比香港人更了解香港管治,也不見得有什麼知識根據了。

20年「舟已行矣而劍不行」

10多年前,我就用過《呂氏春秋》中的「刻舟求劍」比喻來說香港的政治發展:「楚人有涉江者,其劍自舟中墜於水,遽契其舟曰:『是吾劍之所從墜也。』舟止,從其所契者入水求之。舟已行矣,而劍不行, 求劍若此,不亦惑乎?以故法為其國與此同。時已徙矣,而法不徙,以此為治,豈不難哉?」

這本來說的是,如果政治價值已經大變,但政制十多廿年都不變,是沒有能力回應新一代的政治訴求的。二三十年前,香港人還可以接受「安定繁榮」的話語,因為當年政治文化還很保守,殖民地的不民主體制邏輯八九十年代勉強還是可以管治的。20年都沒有與時並進,改革政制來跟上人民價值的轉變,就是「舟已行矣,而劍不行」了。

中國官員連與時並進的欲望也沒有

在2017年的今天看來,這個看法竟然還是太樂觀了。劍墜在水底,通常是不會動的。中港的政治價值鴻溝,卻可能是愈來愈闊。二三十年來中國內地的生產力和發展水平當然是大大追上香港,但政治價值差異卻沒有隨之拉近。當香港人的政治價值已經急速地隨着全球化和進入網絡世代而邁進後現代、後物質和新身分政治,中國官員仍然用一大堆工業化初始的概念看世界看香港,不單政治觀念沒有現代化,連與時並進的欲望也沒有了。河底有暗流,劍好像愈來愈遠了。

延伸閱讀:Manuel Castells, The Power of Identity(West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010)


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失去靈魂的舍堂文化

信報財經新聞
教育講論
2017年6月24日

梁亦華

早前,香港大學接連發生性欺凌的醜聞。3月下旬,港大一名退選幹事遭同學按住,強行向其下體滴蠟。事發不久,李國賢堂亦傳出短片,另一男生遭按在床上,被同學以下體拍打頭部。欺凌事件震驚全港,校方隨即表示事件已交由「副校長領導的小組跟進調查」,並報警處理,聖約翰學院舍監亦發表聲明,指「不接受任何形式欺凌,學院對此持毫不含糊立場」……

表面看來,校方看似嚴肅處理事件,但事實上跟進結果是如何呢?據報道,校方對23名涉事者的裁決結果僅是「3人被取消宿位,19人被暫停入住宿舍,一人被書面警告」。在繼後訪問中,校長不痛不癢地回應:「(校方)希望從組織上的變革,避免不當行為發生……(校方)無意令學生停止他們已進行多年、覺得有意思的活動。」副校長則指即將9月推出非強制性網上預防性騷擾課程,而所謂課程則只是看短片,填寫回饋問卷,以作回應,而傳媒跟進亦到此而止,可是對教育工作者而言,這事件不禁令人反思:為何如此令人髮指的性欺凌,會出現在雲集全港頂尖精英的最高學府?新生營即將於暑假開始,社會和學校的回應與跟進,又能否預防類似事件再次發生?

法不施於尊者?

一直以來,每所學校多少也存在着青少年的欺凌行為,這些欺凌行為的原因很多。心理學的觀點認為,人們在潛意識中存在內心不安,性與暴力則是人們平衡心理衝突的重要媒介。對此,佛洛依德的心理分析學說已詳細詳述;社會學的觀點則認為,如此強制而不人道的性欺凌,只是洗腦儀式,而這往往涉及摧毀對方自尊心及其他防衞機制,旨在更好地嵌入舍堂文化。學者侃侃而談,都有道理,不過兩類觀點都有一共通點:性欺凌者是情有可原的。前者視性暴力為一種恢復心理正常的正當手段,加害者往往被嚴密家庭和學校監控,過度抑壓,無法處理內心充滿衝突「受害者」;後者則視他們為宿生身份建構的過程,加害者往往被描繪成過於盡責,「過火」而不自知的無辜搞手。

筆者並非心理學專家,對學者的理論亦無意否定,但站在教育工作者的角度,只想起特首年前的一句說話:「守法與犯法之間沒有灰色地帶」。如果被按在床上的受害人是女性,學校會否同樣以玩得「過火」輕輕帶過?如果這是一群無業青年當街鬧事,而非港大學生,社會又將如何報道?可見,社會大眾的處理方式並非視乎行為的本身,而是加害者與受害者的身份而定。一言蔽之,便是「刑不上大夫,法不施於尊者」,以及「男性不可能受到性欺凌」的偏執情結。

大學託兒所化

這是因為學生對性欺凌認知不足嗎?性教育課程能預防性欺凌問題嗎?在大學中,直接的暴力攻擊並不多見,更多出現的是社交排擠,又或取花名、嘲笑樣貌身材等為主的言語欺凌。近年關於青少年欺凌的心理研究指出,這並非因為欺凌者有一絲善心,而是因為施暴者會估計社會容忍的底線,了解師長通常低估這些行為的破壞性,一般不會作出干預而作的理性選擇。從這觀點看,犯事學生並非無知。相反,他對事後社會反應的預計其實相當準確。

再者,教授性教育是否大學的職責?據哈佛大學前校長Harry Lewis在其著作《失去靈魂的優秀》(Excellence Without a Soul)一書便指出,「愛」與「關懷」已佔據大學的價值觀中,而規範(Regulation)以及自我效能(Self-efficacy)則往往被擠到一旁,這直接令大學「託兒所化」,一些本應由家長進行的德育輔導(如性教育),逐漸成為大學的職責,而學生(包括加害者)均被視為「無力控制發生在自己身上的事」,如此職能和觀念,這實在是有違大學之道。

正如作家Eldridge Cleaver所言:「如你不是答案的一部分,便是問題的一部分」(You’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem)。各方的「冷處理」,到底是解決問題,還是製造與縱容問題?如果被按在床上的是閣下兒女,你還會覺得這23名犯事者只是「過火」而不自知,又或抱着憐憫之心,認同他們是無力處理內心衝突的「受害者」?

筆者認為,真正的教育並非對着一眾精英講解「何謂性騷擾行為及如何處理之認知」,而是幫助學生成長,灌輸學生為自己行為負責的思想。對加害者而言,比起吸取知識,也許他們更需要被教導如何當一個勇於承擔責任的成年人。

撰文:梁亦華
香港教育大學項目主任


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港產片20年起跌

信報財經新聞
回歸20年自由講 電影
2017年6月24日

占飛

二戰以後,香港電影經歷幾番風雨,既有高峰,也有低谷。每次高峰過後,便是低谷。上世紀五十年代是第一個高峰,六十年代中陷入低谷。其低潮程度,比起今天說「香港電影已死」更嚴重。幸而鳳凰在浴火中重生,七十年代中至1993年,是港片的第二個高峰,亦是港片的最輝煌時代。

六十年代中的低谷源於內因,粵語片落後於時代,給國語片和荷里活片比下去。1993年的低谷,外因是荷里活和市場萎縮,一部《侏羅紀公園》便壓倒港風。香港只有六七百萬人口,市場小,過往港片昌盛,皆因有龐大的海外市場,包括台灣、韓國、大馬、新加坡、泰國等華僑聚居地。1993年,台灣投資港片急跌,韓、泰等地電影起飛,港片的外埠市場從此一去不復返。

八十年代以降,港片有4條院線。嘉禾、邵氏、德寶及新藝城幾間大公司,採用荷里活的影廠制度:有片場、自家院線,發行自行攝製的電影。為了滿足院線的要求,每年都拍攝幾十部電影。要保證票房,最穩健是拍類型片,是以在港片光輝時代,類型電影層出不窮,硬橋硬馬功夫片、諧趣功夫片、動作片、警匪片、黑社會片、喜劇片、武俠片、鬼片、殭屍片、恐怖片、奇幻片、災難片、文藝片、青春愛情片乃至情色片,大製作和小製作,百花齊放,觀眾目不暇給。

地產霸權

到1996年,4條院線縮為3條。放映的影片數量銳減三成,票房自然同步急跌,戲院被迫逢星期二減價至30元。港片墮落低谷,尚有一個基本的原因。昔日港英政府規定,每區必設戲院,提供娛樂給基層市民,由此奠定電影蓬勃的基礎。如今,一些新、舊市鎮連一間戲院都沒有,政府放之任之,還談什麼匡扶電影業呢?九十年代,地產興旺,地皮值錢,獨立戲院紛紛結業,小型戲院改設在商場內。1993年,全港有119間戲院,座位12萬餘。到2002年,只剩下60間戲院,座位5萬7千。到2011年,戲院尚有47間,但座位卻4萬不到。電影何來興旺的客觀條件呢?港片沒落,地產霸權難辭其咎!

不幸,九七年後,香港經濟災劫重重:亞洲金融風暴、地產泡沫爆破、負資產潮、沙士疫症等等,導致影廠制度崩潰,大公司不是結束就是冬眠,院線無法維持,港片幾乎陷入六十年代中的停產危機。一些資深導演和電影工作者,斯時北上拍片。徐克由千禧年開始已經植根神州,拍合拍片。

回歸20年,港片的起落可分成2個階段。1997至2003年,是第一階段。2003年至今,是第二階段。在第一階段,經濟雖然不景,仍然佳片紛呈,有不少創新風格的類型片。隨便數數:《香港製造》(1997)、《春光乍洩》(1997)、《去年煙花特別多》(1998)、《我是誰?》(1998)、《暗戰》(1999)、《細路祥》(1999)、《花樣年華》(2000)、《少林足球》(2001)、《麥兜故事》(2001)、《見鬼》(2002)、《無間道》三部曲(2002-2003)、《功夫》(2004)等等,均證明港片面對挑戰,電影圈仍然有足夠資源和人才拍出製作精緻、創意澎湃的作品。

紛紛北上

經過6年的小陽春,港片仍然無法中興,皆因海外資金減少、戲院減少、人才外流──袁家班去荷里活,成龍和成家班返內地,《功夫》之後,連周星馳都離港北上。本來,這不一定是壞事。資深電影人北上,新人才有揚名立萬的機會。可惜,港片新浪潮後的第二代和第三代電影人無法接班,至今仍然只有佳句,沒有佳篇;偶有佳作,水準欠穩。加上荷里活轉型,廣泛使用新科技(IMAX、3D)和電腦特效,配合互聯網風捲殘雲的搶奪了觀眾,小陽春終無法聚沙成塔。

2003年起,中國電影市場騰飛。CEPA落實,中港合拍片急增,由之前每年10部左右,2006年增至29部,幾近3倍。

香港電影人,無論台前幕後、大明星和小演員,紛紛北上掘金,掏空了本土影圈。正正是這個階段,新一代既無資源,也無本事接棒,只得少數資深電影人(如杜琪峯的「銀河映像」)留港苦苦支撐大局,難怪響起了「香港電影將死或已死」的聲音!

撰文 : 占飛


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Theresa May must not let the EU hold Britain to ransom in Brexit talks

CommentInsight & Opinion
2017-06-15
Grenville Cross says with Brussels likely to play hardball, the British prime minister should make it clear the UK has the will and strength to go it alone, as opportunities beckon beyond the euro zone

After Britain voted last June to leave the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50, the Lisbon Treaty’s departure mechanism, on March 29.

If divorce terms are not settled by March 29, 2019, Britain will exit without a deal. European Council president Donald Tusk says “there is no time to lose”.

Despite her election setback, May will oversee Britain’s strategy once formal talks begin on Monday. The negotiations will be tough and tortuous, and probably nasty. May must, however, stick to her guns, as the deal she secures will define Britain’s future.

Many Europeans, given the huge problems caused by open borders, the euro zone and the democratic deficit, now openly praise Brexit. Some in Europe will undoubtedly want to punish Britain for its audacity, and to deter others. The EU, traditionally intolerant of dissent, will play hardball in the talks.

Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has described how, after Greece’s anti-austerity Syriza government won a huge electoral mandate in 2015, the EU ruthlessly clamped down. Its central bank cut off emergency liquidity for private banks, bringing Greece to its knees. Syriza was forced to capitulate to EU demands, causing untold misery to ordinary Greeks and an unemployment rate of 23.5 per cent.

The EU cannot bully the UK in the same way, but Varoufakis nonetheless warns Britain against the EU’s negotiating net. He predicts a campaign of attrition by the EU, exploiting Britain’s political divisions. Although Varoufakis advises May “to avoid negotiation at all costs”, she must talk to the EU in good faith, while making clear Britain will not cave in to threats.

The European Commission claims Britain may have to pay as much as £85 billion (HK$845 billion) to leave the union. This is a bluff. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales has found that, taking into account rebates owed to the UK and the realisation of Britain’s investment in the European Investment Bank, the Brexit charge could be about £15 billion. Even this could not be legally enforced.

The EU, however, is desperate for British cash, and for good reason. It is hugely expensive, and wasteful.

Apart from its more than 32,000 civil servants, the EU is now expanding its fledgling foreign service, with offices around the world. The patience of European taxpayers will snap at some point but, in the meantime, the UK must not be held to ransom.

Moreover, Britain is not, as some suggest, dependent on EU trade. British exports to the EU have been falling since the euro zone was formed and now only account for 12 per cent of Britain’s economy.

The EU states, however, need to sell their products to Britain, and this will not change. The EU had a £60 billion trade surplus with the UK in 2015, and if it imposed tariffs it would be shooting itself in the foot.

The terror attacks in London and Manchester have highlighted the urgent need for the UK to secure its borders and control who enters, impossible under Europe’s open borders policy. Mass EU immigration has also placed huge strains on housing, social services and schools, and gravely affected the quality of life of ordinary Britons. If Brussels tries to prevent May from reducing immigration to manageable levels, she must be prepared to walk away. She should, however, seek the greatest possible access to the single market, through a new free-trade agreement.

If the EU tries intimidation, May must point out that they rely on British markets, intelligence and armed forces, and that everyone will benefit from an amicable separation. Britain, on course to be Europe’s largest economy by 2030, has always looked outwards, and its future lies in exploiting emerging markets.

At least 14 countries, including Australia, Brazil, China and India, want free-trade agreements with the UK. Once EU red tape is cut, the financial sector could save £12 billion a year, and it will be possible to export to millions more customers from the rising economies.

Although the prospect of breaking away from a dysfunctional political union is exhilarating, the price of separation must still be right. If the EU insists on intolerable terms, May must call it quits. The EU should understand that, if pushed, Britain has the determination and strength to go it alone.

Grenville Cross SC was a backer of Vote Leave