Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Lady

The Lady

Imagine this. 

One afternoon,  a group of badly wounded students flood in the hospital and spotting a student with a bleeding arm, you rush to give him emergency aid. A man in uniform grabs you from behind and tries to drag him out. 

‘What? Don’t you see he is bleeding?”Let him go, or I will shoot you. Don’t you see this red scarf? I have the right to shoot you!’And a gunshot was heard,  with your arm bleeding this time.

This is what happened in the opening scene of The Lady where in Burma, soldier with red scarf can have the right to shoot anyone on the street.

Witnessing this comes the moment for Aung San Suu Kyi (Michelle Yeoh) to decide in continuing her father’s legacy to fight for democracy or to continue living as a peaceful, somewhat unenlightened, housewife life.

Michelle Yeoh  in this movie has truly transformed herself from a more or less stereotypical Chinese kungfu star in Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon to the softly – spoken yet with intense inner strength ‘Steel Orchid’ – Aung San Suu Kyi.

Undaunted by soldiers’ gun pointing, she passed through them without even lifting a look  – that shows not the slightest hint of arrogance but a simple civil disobedience that reminds me of Gandhi (whose biography was widely read in the movie by Suu Kyi  and other students).

It was a pity for this great cast to have fallen into the hand of Luc Besson. Besson seems to be more apt to  direct film like the action – bursting Fifth Element but definitely not for this slow sentimental drama.

The static house arrest and the dry bureaucratic exchange, along with the constant frustration of getting connected in either telephone line or radio, can hardly sustain the momentum of the movie, saved by occasional intensely sentimental exchanges between Suu Kyi and her husband, Michael.

In any case, the causes, namely democracy and rule of law, that Aung San Suu Kyi fought for and has paid a dear price for doing so (years of solitude in house arrest and the pain of separation with Michael who can’t even see her in his dying bed) are what you and me are enjoying now; that’s we won’t get punched or shot on the street by someone who wears red scarf.

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The Ides of March

The Ides of March

Two days ago, Henry Tang slacked off all the blame on the illegal basement to Mrs. Tang. “It’s all my fault, not my husband” is what seems to be saying in Mrs.Tang’s quiet weeping.

This total fisco just doubly proves how dirty the political world is, and that’s what The Ides of March told us about.

Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) is the press secretary of Mike Morris (George Clooney), the governor of Pennsylvania and the Democrat presidential candidate. The story starts when Stephen, lacking political sensitivity, went out to meet the competitor’s campaign manager.

He belatedly told his boss, Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) about the meeting but this honesty was not very much appreciated; Paul distrusted and fired him. That starts Stephen’s revenge which eventually turned him into a soulless amoral person.

This plot bespeaks a tragic moral fable. The most chilling scene is when Ida, the journalist who threatened Stephen to publish his meeting, came after Stephen has emerged unscratched by the scandal and asked him  ‘Hey, Steve. I’m still your friend, right?’

Without irony nor any emotion, he replied ‘You are my best friend’ – the ultimate descent to hypocrisy.

George Clooney easily executed a relaxing judicious authority as what a governor should do. He listened to advices, asked the advisers and made his own mind. When asked about his view on capital punishment and what if the victim is his wife, he answered, without a moment of thinking, that he would kill the murderer.

Despite that, he is still against capital punishment, since ‘The society must be better than the individual’. (Professor Choy has written a fantastic article on this here)

But this idealism is all too superficial when on the face of Stephen’s threat, Morris simply gave up all his baselines. After all, a politician has no baseline in a political game, especially in an election running for the most powerful seat in the world.

In the political world, everything can be bought and sold for power; just like Henry Tang selling out his wife to continue running the CE election.

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The Shining – Book Cover
Genre: Psychological horrorAuthor: Stephen King

Spoiler Warning: Minimal.

Jack Torrance, a victim of a drunken father and battered family,  married with extremely emotionally sensitive Wendy to give birth to Danny, a child endowed with a highly charged psychic power. The story, The Shining, opens when this family moves into the Overlook Hotel, remotely located in mountain and is known to have a ‘bad reputation’.

Before moving, Jack, deep in alcoholism,  has lost his teaching job for assaulting one of his students and the Torrance family was on the verge of complete disintegration when Jack, in his drunken state, broke his son’s arm for messing up his papers.

Hoping to get a fresh new start, Jack takes the caretaker job in the Overlook Hotel for winter. In the meanwhile, Danny’s psychic power or ‘shining’ made him particularly susceptible to the supernatural foce in the Hotel; from the lady in room 217 to the unseen huge mask party in the ballroom.

Wendy with her instinctual motherly love for Danny and her fear of increasing insanity from her husband, desperately wanted to get out and leave, but to no avail on the face of the greedy evil force in the Hotel.

The relation between ghost and haunted memories/human weakness is like music and glass; when certain frequency of music resonates with glass, the latter breaks. In his last chance to decide leaving the Hotel or not, Jack simply let him get possessed by the evil force, since he can’t bear losing the job again.

Neither can he hold his thirst for alcohol anymore. When the bartender offered him the drinks (or hallucination?), Jack gave up and took it. One glass followed another until Hotel can possess him to swallow Danny and more importantly his psychic power.

In this novel, Stephen King showed us that the greatest ghosts do not exists outside of us but in our psychological minds.


A Reply to Minna Ho

The Locust Ads

First, I do not agree using ‘locust’ to pinpoint Mainlanders. According to the Oxford Dictionary, ‘locust’ refers to ‘ a large, mainly tropical grasshopper with strong powers of flight. It is usually solitary, but from time to time there is a population explosion and it migrates in vast swarms which cause extensive damage to vegetation.’

From this definition, I do not find it inappropriate to use ‘locust’ in a metaphorical sense to describe any person or any group of people that ‘enter’ into a territory for the purpose of scraping off the domestic welfare, causing extensive damage to the local population. It seems obvious ‘double non’ pregnant women and children fall within this definition.

Second, I didn’t pick on Minna Ho’s article because of any personal hostility to her. On the contrary, it is precisely because her article is so well – written and so convincing that compels me to write this reply, in spite of my very amateurish understanding of politics and laws. (her article is available here)

In essence, her argument may be summed up in the following ways:

  1. The historical background behind the Basic Law and Article 24 has given the lawful right of abode to all children born in Hong Kong
  2. Before and after 1997, Hong Kongers have also migrated to foreign places for better welfare, not just Mainlanders.
  3. The Hong Kong SAR government bears the responsibility for attracting Mainlanders.

For the first point, we, the Hong Konger, never have the chance to vote in a referendum or through any other democratic processes on any part of the Basic Law during the Sino – British negotiation. The legality of their right of abodes does not imply their legitimacy.

True, many Hong Kong families have migrated to other places but comparing Hong Kong’s population size to Mainland, there must be more Chinese migrating than Hong Kongers.

Further those who can afford to migrate are usually wealthy upper class, not the low – income families or the new couples in these 10 years. Why do the low – income families or new couples staying in Hong Kong have to suffer for what the rich minority has done (according to the logic in the article)?

Even if, we, Hong Kongers, did migrate for the sake of better welfare, so? What we have done is wrong does not mean the acts committed by ‘double – nons’ pregnant women are not wrong. They still bear the moral responsibility for consuming Hong Kong’s welfare.

The Hong Kong SAR government did permit Mainland pregnant women to come (for the moment) but it must be born in mind this government and our LegCo are never elected by universal suffrage. Strictly speaking, the government ‘s policies does not necessarily reflect our view.

It remains to be seen whether Donald Tsang’ s administrative measures will be working. Hopefully, the future government can have the gut to start the amendment process enshrined in article 159 of the Basic Law to eradicate the problem, once and for all.

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