Generation 40s – 四十世代

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Hong Kong’s ailing film industry can play a leading role in a hi-tech economy

South China Morning Post
CommentInsight & Opinion

Albert Cheng says the next chief executive should focus on transforming the city into a world leader in virtual reality and a post-production hub, to boost the economy

After three weeks of electioneering to be Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has a comfortable lead ahead of her two opponents in terms of support from the small circle of 1,194 electors – despite being unpopular among ordinary Hongkongers. There is little doubt the former chief secretary will emerge as the winner on Sunday.

However, it would be difficult for her to lead a government when her credibility is low. She can secure enough votes to win, but not the hearts and minds of the people.

If elected, the first thing Lam must do is restore people’s trust. For this, she should focus her attention on one vital subject: the Hong Kong economy. I would advise her to steer public attention back to how to keep the city prosperous. How Hong Kong can ride the global wave of innovation and technology should feature prominently in her first 100 days.

When it comes to innovation and technology, people often think of fintech, start-ups, and research and development. They overlook one important opportunity here: the film industry. In her manifesto, Lam states that in the face of competition, the city “should continue to nurture talents in the film industry by providing training to those involved in film production and post-production, and provide assistance in the further development of the industry”.

This is probably one of the very few issues where I agree with her. The government should invest in the future of Hong Kong by transforming this creative and energetic city into a post-production hub and world leader in virtual reality technology.

Hong Kong has nurtured a critical mass of talent in the film industry over the years. It is a matter of how our leader can unleash this vast potential.

The policy so far has been to invest a relatively small amount of taxpayers’ money to help Hong Kong’s technology firms leap forward. Yet, the logic of a matching fund in collaboration with venture capitalists defies common sense. Once they spot a good movie script, opportunistic investors would rather pocket all the profits, rather than sharing it with the government.

Instead of fumbling around trying to pick winners, Secretary for Innovation and Technology Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung’s might be better to focus on assisting Hong Kong firms that are already on the right track to climb to the next level.

A scene from the 1987 movie An Autumn’s Tale. starring Chow Yun-fat and Cherie Chung. Hong Kong filmmakers used to produce up to 200 movies a year in the 1980s and 1990s, when the industry was hailed as a pillar of the local economy. Photo: Handout

Hong Kong filmmakers used to produce up to 200 movies a year in the 1980s and 1990s, when the industry was hailed as a pillar of the local economy. However, as its counterparts in Taiwan and the mainland continue to mature, Hong Kong’s creative industry has gone downhill. Virtual reality technology could be the key to help the city turn the tide.

Despite the lack of government support, local entrepreneurs have seized some of the opportunities. Actor Nicholas Tse Ting-fung is a shining example. He launched Post Production Office in 2003 to focus on post-production work for commercials and movies. He branched out in Shanghai and Beijing before selling 60 per cent of the firm to a listed company. However, its Hong Kong operations had to fold mainly because of runaway rentals and high labour costs. The is one of the many budding businesses which ended up moving away from Hong Kong.

The company has now been taken over by Digital Domain, which is chaired by Taiwanese businessman Peter Chou. It is listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange and can be promoted as a success story of our own. Digital Domain is based in the US, with its production studio located in Vancouver. Its special effects expertise is behind many Hollywood blockbusters, including Iron Man 3 and Transformers, to name but two. Many have asked, why Canada? Why not America? Or China? In fact, the answer lies in the local government’s aggressive incentives for investors.

By contrast, the Hong Kong government has been sitting on its hands. The flat, uninspiring ideas in the policy addresses every year are devoid of imagination. The next chief executive must take prompt action. When a good plan is not implemented, it remains at best an idea. Hong Kong can ill afford to let good ideas slip away.

Albert Cheng King-hon is a political commentator.

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What Hong Kong can learn from Europe’s still-evolving union

South China Morning Post
CommentInsight & Opinion

Yan Shaohua says the consensus-building project that is the European Union offers good pointers for our divided city


This year is an eventful year for Hong Kong. The city is poised to see the election of a new chief executive on March 26, and 2017 also marks the 20th anniversary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

On another continent, and just one day before the chief executive election here, the European Union will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome that laid the foundation of the union.

The EU and Hong Kong may seem very different from one another, but if we look deeper, the two could be familiar strangers. Philosophically, the EU’s concept of “unity without uniformity” resonates perfectly with the spirit of “one country, two systems” here. And, to a large extent, both the EU and Hong Kong are “strange animals” in terms of their unique place in the global system.

There are other similarities. The EU suffers from a perceived “democratic deficit”, Hong Kong is struggling to establish a “true demo­cracy”. The EU faces a backlash against the consolidation of a political union, Hong Kong is stuck in its political reform. The EU frets over the ascent of populism and nationalism, Hong Kong fears the rise of localism. Facing these challenges, both sides are at a crossroads, compelled to review their past and reflect on future paths.

Giving these commonalities, it is surprising that so little attention is paid to the EU in Hong Kong’s discussions on the future of “one country, two systems”. As a researcher in European studies in Hong Kong, I believe that a study of the EU would offer valuable lessons for our problems. These lessons can be summarised in what I call the “3Cs”: constitution, communication and consensus.


The first lesson is to come back to the constitution. Despite its inherent flaws and the multiple crises along the way, the EU has evolved from a group of six members into a union of 28 states under a supranational governance structure. This has largely occurred on the basis of what we call the acquis communautaire, which includes the accumulated legislation, legal order and court decisions that constitute the body of European Union laws.

In particular, the Treaty of Rome and its subsequent revisions have served as the constitutional framework to navigate the EU’s evolution. Although the EU’s progression is slow and not without setbacks, there has been a strong sense of working through the constitutional treaties which enables the EU to overcome the seemingly unworkable system.

The EU’s adherence to its constitutional framework and the supremacy it gives to European law should constitute “foreign stones that may serve to polish domestic jade”. Like the EU experience, “one country, two systems” is an evolving formula that calls for continuous improvements in practice. In recent years, the city has seen a strong push for reform, yet many of the discussions undertaken are out of the context and unrealistic.

In fact, a number of the issues raised have already been addressed in the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution. It is thus imperative that any discussion on the future of “one country, two systems” – which still provides ample room and flexibility to accommodate the pleas of different stakeholders – begins with the Basic Law.

Li Fei, chairman of the Hong Kong Basic Law Committee under the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, speaks at a luncheon with Hong Kong lawmakers and officials in November 2013. Hong Kong must create effective mechanisms for political communication and consul­tation between the executive and legislative organs, between the pro-establishment and pan-democratic camps, and between the SAR and Beijing. Photo: Sam Tsang


The second lesson is to establish effective channels of communication. The EU is a system of multilevel governance that involves multiple actors and multiple methods of decision-making. The functioning of such a complicated system would not have been possible without the various formal and informal mechanisms of communication between EU institutions and member states.

Such open and institutionalised ways of communication are not sufficiently seen within Hong Kong or between Hong Kong and Beijing. Consequently, the city is constantly trapped in confrontations over policies, politics and, particularly, its relations with Beijing.

To avoid unnecessary confrontation and facilitate constructive interactions, a priority for Hong Kong is to create effective mechanisms (formal or informal) for political communication and consul­tation between the executive and legislative organs, between the pro-establishment and pan-democratic camps, and between the SAR and Beijing. This could be achieved within Hong Kong’s constitutional framework.

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers hold up banners while being escorted out after they interrupted the chief executive election forum in Hong Kong last Sunday. With increasing social movements and political demonstrations, the SAR is transforming from an economic city into a political city, where politics and society are highly polarised. Photo: AFP


Based on the constitution and through communication, a third lesson for Hong Kong is to rebuild a consensus. The EU is essentially a project of consensus-building, which has in turn contributed to European integration. For decades, the post-war European consensus on achieving peace and prosperity through functional economic integration has been an enabling factor for the EU’s development.

That consensus seems to be losing momentum right now. The hopes are that a new consensus could be built on the occasion of the EU’s 60th anniversary.

Hong Kong is facing a similar dilemma. With increasing social movements and political demonstrations, the SAR is transforming from an economic city into a political city, where politics and society are highly polarised. Gradually, people seem to be getting used to divisions and confrontations, forgetting the wisdom of making compromises and consensus. It is time for Hong Kong to rebuild a much-needed consensus, not only on its internal governance, but also on its role as a go-between for China and the world.

Finally, we should be aware that the EU and Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” are both unprecedented political experiments in supranational and national governance. Despite the challenges and the crises that have emerged, they are still something worth fighting for, because they represent future possibilities, and hope.

Dr Yan Shaohua is an Asia fellow at the EU-Asia Institute, ESSCA School of Management, and a member of the One Country Two Systems Youth Forum

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政治抉擇 兩惡取其輕



本來,民主選舉就是要選出能夠造福人民的候選人。可是,當兩個候選人都不符標準時,選民只有兩個選擇:不投票(No vote),或投票給lesser evil,所謂「兩害取其輕」也。去年的美國總統選舉,只有希拉莉和特朗普兩個候選人,很多評論都稱之為「兩害取其輕」的選舉。

用「兩害取其輕」翻譯lesser evil,不算十分準確。Evil是個宗教概念。對耶教徒──無論是羅馬天主教徒抑或新教基督教徒──幹了evil的事,就是犯了宗教的罪(Sin)。犯了宗教的罪,是要受懲罰的。在此世逃脫懲罰,死後仍要受天主或上帝審判,懲罰是躲不了的。對天主教徒來說,宗教的大罪、重罪犯得多,可能上不了天堂,要下地獄。


此所以邪惡(Evil)與魔鬼(Devil)只是一字母之差。幹evil的事,就是與魔鬼為伍。韋斯曼(Eyal Weizman)在《萬惡中最輕者》(The Least of All Possible Evils)書中云:魔鬼是6-6-6的話,那lesser evil只是6-6-5,差別很小。萬惡中取最輕者仍是惡,仍會為害,不單害別人,還害自己──喪失了最寶貴的靈魂是也!「兩害取其輕」的害,即沒有「害人亦害己」的意思。Evil,譯為惡可能更好,作惡,就是為害個人的良知或良心。

不投票論者認為:lesser evil始終是evil。兩惡取其小,依然是作了惡。為存清白,應該不投票或投白票。反對不投票論則認為,不投票給「較小之惡」等於幫助「較大之惡」取勝。對惡袖手旁觀,表面上沒有作惡,實則是被動的(Passively)作了惡。正所謂「我不殺伯仁,伯仁為我而死」。漢娜鄂蘭(Hannah Arendt)在《平庸之為惡》(The Banality of Evil)中指:「選擇『較小之惡』的人,太輕率地忘記了:他選擇了惡。(He who chooses for the lesser evil all too readily forgets having chosen evil.)」正是這個意思。

「兩惡取其輕」的問題很早就困擾天主教的神學家。公元四世紀,聖奧古斯丁(St. Augustine)便提出「惡非實體論」:上帝創造萬物,如果惡是實體存在之物,那誰來創造惡呢?不就是上帝嗎?可是,上帝是至善的,本身不可能有丁點兒的惡,也就不可能創造惡(上帝也不是無所不能的呀!)。惡不是實體,那惡是什麼?聖奧古斯丁的答案是:惡只是善的失去(Loss of good)或善的否定(Negation of good)。


「惡非實體論」,主要為對抗當時流行的摩尼教。聖奧古斯丁在歸信天主教前,曾是摩尼教徒。摩尼教相信,善和惡都是實體存在,善是光明和真理,惡是黑暗和錯誤。萬事萬物中,都存在善和惡、光明和黑暗、真理與錯誤的鬥爭。人要得到救贖,就要取善去惡,得光明除黑暗。摩尼教主張善惡二元論。聖奧古斯丁則主張一元論──只有善是實體,惡不是。故此,大惡、小惡、較小之惡、較大之惡……只要是惡,都不應為之,頂多是容忍,因為有時好人也不得不行「必要之惡」(Necessary evil)。比如「正義之戰」(Jus ad bellum):雖然所有戰爭都是惡,甚至是萬惡之首,但反侵略、反壓迫、護教,便不得不戰。戰爭中必要殺人,殺人是惡,違反十誡,但打「正義之戰」,就不得不殺人,故此是「必要之惡」。

在羅馬君士坦丁大帝(Constantine the Great)在位期間,他頒令天主教為國教,教廷的勢力日益壯大,不單天主教至尊無上,且教廷擁有政治、經濟甚至軍事權力。聖奧古斯丁的「惡非實體論」來得十分及時,無他,教廷插手世俗事務,難免要「兩惡取其輕」和作一些「必要之惡」。聖奧古斯丁正正在教義上「合理化」此等行為。

時至當今,羅馬教廷有時也要順應時代。比如教宗若望保祿二世(Pope John Paul II)在《生命的福音》通諭(Evangelium Vitae)中就說到:教廷雖認為墮胎是作惡,但假如無法阻止墮胎合法化,教徒只能盡量減少其禍害。這就是「兩惡取其輕」矣!教宗本篤十六世(Pope Benedict XVI)亦發過通諭指出,教廷雖反對避孕和使用避孕工具,但在HIV 肆虐的地區,使用避孕套、派安全針筒予吸毒者,不算是助紂為虐,協助犯宗教的罪。

由此可見,教廷沒有明言,現實是默許「兩惡取其輕」。畢竟,正如佐治奧威爾(George Orwell)所言:「政治是兩惡取其小。」(Politics is the choice between the lesser of two evils.)

撰文 : 占飛

善惡 一銀兩面



耶教倫理學家於是提出「雙面效應原則」(The principle of double effect)。簡要言之,這個原則包括下列4點:(1)該選擇或行為必須本身是善的,至少無善無惡。(2)該選擇或行為之善,不能由惡達至。換句話說,不能先作惡,以取得善果。比如「地獄式訓練」培養運動精英,就違反了這個原則,因為誰都不敢肯定「地獄式訓練」必修成正果。萬一失敗,受「地獄式訓練」者身心受損,卻無法成為精英運動員,豈不是未見其利,先受其害;作了惡,而善不可得?


第(4)個條件是最難達至的。事前,誰敢肯定行為產生的後果必然善多於惡?冷戰期間,美國視共產陣營為萬惡之首,惡莫大於共產主義或社會主義,因此,美國對殘民以自肥,孟子所謂「聞誅一夫紂矣」的一夫獨裁者,也給予金錢援助和武器供一夫鎮壓人民,並以「兩惡取其輕」合理化這個外交政策──此政策名為柯克帕特里克主義(The Kirkpatrick Doctrine)──列根正是遵從柯克帕特里克主義而支持危地馬拉、菲律賓、阿根廷等國的獨裁政權,以及安哥拉、尼加拉瓜等地的反蘇游擊隊。最不智的是,援助和訓練阿富汗的聖戰士乃至拉登、塔利班等,間接導致現今的伊斯蘭激進恐怖主義。凡此種種均說明,當初以為選擇的是「較小之惡」(Lesser evil),發展下去,卻變成「較大之惡」(Greater evil)!

撰文 : 占飛

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Why Hong Kong’s traditional media is alive and kicking in the digital age

CommentInsight & Opinion
Keith Kam says the reading habits of Hongkongers have definitely gone electronic, but surveys reveal that they are actually seeking out online versions of trusted paid newspapers, with their insistence on verified facts

The rise of social networks and online media, together with the recent closures of some newspapers and magazines, have made it a “harsh winter” for print media, as the Hong Kong Journalists Association put it. In fact, “print media is dead” has been the most common refrain concerning the destiny of media over the past two years.

But before asking whether print media has really entered intensive care or is on the verge of death, I think we need to clarify whether this “print media” refers to the traditional media, and whether it is limited to newspapers and magazines. The number of people buying newspapers may have gradually declined over the past three to four years, but the number of people who receive news from electronic newspapers has increased significantly, according to one survey.

Thus, Hongkongers’ news-reading habits have definitely changed in recent years. However, the websites they visited were mainly the electronic versions of the paid-for newspapers. This shows that we still tend to trust traditional media more for reports of news and current affairs.

Last August, the Centre for Communication and Public Opinion Survey of the Chinese University of Hong Kong surveyed 907 citizens aged 18 or above, to rate the credibility of the media as a whole, and 29 media organisations in particular.

Electronic media and paid-for newspapers received higher ratings than free newspapers and online media in general, and online media received on average the lowest score for credibility among different media channels.

Clement So York-kee, a professor in the School of Journalism and Communication at CUHK, compared the credibility ratings with traffic statistics from online media and found a positive correlation between the credibility of paid-for newspapers and electronic media, and the traffic rankings of their websites. This implied that the higher the credibility, the higher the web traffic.

Yet, when it comes to free newspapers and the online media, there was no correlation between credibility and traffic. Readers seem to consume instant news from free newspapers and tend not to have high expectations of the credibility of this or “instant information” from online media.

Many of the young generation who are active on social networks often scoff at traditional or mainstream media and yet, deep down, they trust them more.

In addition, looking back at the disturbing trends in the US presidential election last year, some believed that one of the reasons for Hillary Clinton’s defeat was the fake online news shared around social media sites concerning Clinton and the Democratic Party.

Interestingly, the Czech Republic, which is set to hold two key elections in the next two years, has already set up a special department to crack down on fake news. It seems the public is more aware of the scourge and has re-examined the credibility of the media and the role of traditional media.

It cannot be denied that, in recent years, traditional media has faced setbacks due to the changes in people’s reading habits and the economic slowdown, bringing numerous operational challenges and a squeeze on manpower, which limits its capability to publish the best content.

When it comes to credibility and reliability, it is still impossible for social networks or media organisations led by non-journalists to replace the traditional media

However, the way the traditional media handles news and information still strictly follows an inherent code and standards, meaning that facts are verified and rumour-mongering is avoided.

Therefore, no matter how negative the prospects for development of traditional media seem to be in the eyes of the public, when it comes to credibility and reliability, it is still impossible for social networks or media organisations led by non-journalists to replace the traditional media.

Of course, there is still room for improvement in the traditional media but, in the foreseeable future, we shouldn’t expect to see any sudden demise of print media.

Keith Kam is chairman of The Newspaper Society of Hong Kong