Winding road, straight from heart

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Only he works in this office and sometime his friends or other people drop by

Mr. Wong Ga-leung hobbled through the empty hall towards his office. He is 57-year-old and works as secretary in the Hong Kong Stuntman Association.

During the 80s and 90s of last century, he was active in the action choreography in Hong Kong. Many films ring a bell, such as From Beijing with Love, The Kung Fu Cult Master and Twilight of a Nation, starring Stephen Chow, Jet Li and Ray Lui respectively. However, he encountered a severe train accident in Indonesia afterwards, causing one leg disabled.

Now, he accepted this job with flexible working hours because he can work at home to take care of his son who is less than 11 years old and suffers from autism. Through those ups and downs, he didn’t complain about nor sympathize himself for all adversities but rather follows his personalities, complying with his conscience.

At forty, he had no doubts about his vocation-to be a director. After over one decade in TVB, Wong couldn’t see hope there. “TVB has a strict schedule for each drama and this didn’t allow you to add in more imagination,” he said. Due to the disappointment and desire for his dream, he was inspired by other two peers, one of whom was Indonesia overseas Chinese, to go to Indonesia where techniques of filming lagged much more behind than Hong Kong.

At the beginning, partners didn’t care much about profit distribution. They worked for the Chinese Indonesia’s brother’s film production company but it never financed the filming as negotiated. “I only focus on how to make a better film and other business was in the charge of the Chinese Indonesia,” he said, “I don’t know how much we earned but it was 33% of the profit that we have.” Wong couldn’t speak Indonesian at that time, so he had to listen to their arrangement about financial issues.

When Wong was finishing a shot of a train, his leg was accidentally run over by the train. A small length of his crus left his body, flying away. The severe situation cost him almost four years to complete the course of treatment in Hong Kong, during which time, only that Chinese Indonesia stayed in Indonesia.

Wong asked for HKD110 thousand from that Indonesian company, along with insurance, just covered the fee.

“He is disabled and useless.” When Wong and his partner came to the company again, he heard of that his old partner had planned to get rid of them. “If we wanted to continue working there, we should accept 5% of the profit,” he said because they were told that all properties were lost in the anti-China riot. “It’s so different from our original intention. 5% is unfaire.”

The Chinese Indonesia later kicked out his brother and dominated the company, which had connections with TV stations and thrived afterwards. Meanwhile, some Indonesia producers still invited Wong to direct films. “That peer even phoned to complain about my stealing his business,” he smiled and said, “Our work is better.” Gradually, he, at forties, learnt basic Indonesian by himself with help of dictionaries.

Although some friends felt pity for him because of the train accident, he responded that it is pointless blaming God for an unfair fate but to think about how to face it.

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Wong and his son

But challenge was still awaiting.  When Wong was about to set up a company in Indonesia, his three-year-old son was unfortunately diagnosed with autism. It meant that his family had to move back to Hong Kong because the city has better subsidy system which can mitigate some financial burden.

“Had I not married at that time, I would not have had a child with autism. But, it is now and I should take the responsibility.” Every day, Wong need to send his son to school first, one for the defective, and after work, he helps with son’s homework because his wife is Indonesia, not knowing about Chinese.

Family is his core at present. If there is a good chance that separates him and his family for a long time, like one year, he would say no. “What if they meet problem when I am absent, they need me and after measuring these two,  I know  what I should choose.”

From his value, his choice and attitude towards life come down to personality. He said, “If I have to earn opportunities in mainland China through alcohol manners, I prefer to give up but lots of my peers accept it and establish their social net there.”

He knows many successful directors or action choreographers and reckoned that many of them pay much efforts behind the shining stage while some behave against their heart. “On one hand, I am not good at socializing, but on the other hand, even though I am not satisfied with my personality, I will not force myself for benefits against my conscience,” he said, “I am not smart but kind-hearted.”

So, he still regrets not meeting a friend brilliant enough to guide themselves to fight for their dream despite his failure to become such person.

“Life is plain but you still don’t know what will happen tomorrow.” Wong often participates school activities sharing right methods to educate those children with mental or physical disabilities.

He pointed to the book Word 2010 office example and said, “Friends help me enroll an office course and I am happy to learn skills that benefit my job.”

There are also several handwriting paper on his table. He is practicing the running script and cursive writing. “I try to learn rules in the cursive writing and recognize those characters,” he said, “looking for interests in life.”

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Immigrate to Taiwan at middle age

Over fifty years old, Raymond Lui has planned to immigrate to Taiwan for years. But, he still needs at least HK$500,000 to knock down the door to Taiwan. Apart from the unstable income from stock market, he has HK$20,000 to HK$30,000 income on average, which he said is just a bit better than grassroots.

“The thought of immigration occurred to me when CY Leung, the chief executive of Hong Kong, went to the office,” he explained, “Leung’s policies on Hong Kong and compliments to Beijing have determined me to immigrate.” The current system is ridiculous for him.

Four years ago, the rent of where he lives now in Tin Shui Wai was HK$7,700, but now, they are charged of HK$10,000 for 55㎡, doubling that of a flat measured 92㎡ in Taiwan-Taichung. “We don’t have much deposit, so it is important to find a place less expensive for our retirement,” he added, “Taiwan has a better environment and less living pressure.” Another reason is Taiwan is close, they can come back if necessary.

However, only he and his wife leave when time is ripe, away from their parents, son and relatives. He said parents are too old to adjust a new life and they have their own routine. Brothers will take care of them; also they will often make calls. His son will go to college and he can decide by himself.

What he memorizes most is Hong Kong in 80s when young people had opportunities, even global-oriented, as long as they worked hard. Even though you didn’t have good education background, diligence still brought you 10% increase of wage. “But now, no matter what degree you have, you are to work for others and little chance can you start from scratch without experience and relations,” he said.

According to statistics of National Immigration Agency of Taiwan, 7,498 Hong Kong and Macau people, including students and immigrant investors, received Taiwan residence permits, among which more than 90% were from Hong Kong. It tripled compared to that in 2004, setting a new record.

Ming Fok, a Hongkonger who has lived Taiwan for more than ten years, said he heard of many cases when new Hong Kong comers want to run a coffee shop. “They don’t know Taiwan,” he said, “They take it for granted that many customers would queue up in front of their shop as long as they have one.” But, he assured that these people have had a deep consideration; after all, they are leaving their hometown, even families.

Due to the policy adjustment, Lui have to invest in and run a business, which he hasn’t thought clearly. But he said he would frequent to Taiwan before leaving and do more investigation. So, at the beginning when they go there, deposits will be the main source of finance. “The uncertain investment doesn’t worry me,” he said, “I may as well hunt for opportunities outside because Hong Kong is hopeless.”

An action life with a peaceful heart

HONG KONG Dec.8—Hand-in-hand, several stuntmen built a “man-made” bridge over two cliffs and leading actors would walk across it. Tony Leung Siu-Hung was one of the stuntmen. Thin and of medium height, teenage Leung often substituted for actresses to finish such dangerous scenes. Is being bold enough? NO. Leung didn’t have job opportunities until he learned Karate and Kong fu and accumulated martial arts experience for almost two years. He is still active now, 60 years old, surviving in the test of time and gaining a good reputation. However, self-expansion arose on his way to success but fortunately he restrained such negative emotion by virtue of belief of Buddhism. Hong Kong stuntman industry, he said, would be replaced by competitive late entrants in seven years. Action choreographers are responsible for innovation but they, along with the industry, are stuck now.

Learning is a habit
“He is not a genius but is definitely hard-working,” said Wong Ga-Leung, Leung’s old friend. Introduced by his elderly brother and uncle, Leung quit school at 15 years old and adventured with his brother in the stuntman industry. He was just not interested in schooling but still got good grades.

“Siu-Hung, be an action choreographer because you will be eliminated from the industry up to your forties for lacking enough energy,” he repeated what his brother told him and forged these words in heart. So, apart from learning from his brother, famous action choreographer Leung Siu-lung, he joined the martial arts school. At that time, he worked as an electrician apprentice and earned 60 Hong Kong dollars a month, HK$15 of which was paid as tuition to Kong fu.
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                        Tony (right) was practising with Leung Siu-lung (left), 1976      Courtesy of Tony

When working odds jobs on the set, Leung was accustomed to observing how seniors dealt with filming, editing and camera techniques. Additionally, he read references and bought a tape recorder to watch movies, digging out camera movements and montages by himself.

A stuntman who could perform summersaults on the ground was more popular but Leung couldn’t. This 21-year-old stuntman enrolled to a summersault center while his peers showed little interest. An elder once advised Leung not to waste money because they were both paid HK$150 per month no matter he could do summersaults or not. “Years after, they vanish in the industry while I have become an associated action director,” he said.

A devout Buddhist believer
“Action choreographers often feel great work pressure and some people get angry easily,” said Yee Tin-Hung, a partner and friend of Leung, “Leung is a mild vegetarian, never smoking, drinking nor gambling and it is rare to find another one sharing the same personalities.”  Yee once asked Leung what the secret was to embrace all things and keep an open mind and he concluded it in his belief in Buddhism.

As a believer in Buddhism, he learns and applies tenets into life. For him, every gain and loss come down to cause-and-effect transmigration, “People who bullied me have left the film industry” he said and laughed.

Yee added that Leung is famous for his patience and responsibility. From years ago, Leung has started to ask participation in the entire production of films, joining meetings to exchange opinions on scenes, rather than designing acts based on instructions given. “No extra money allocated, we volunteer to do so and this is welcomed by directors,” he said.

If his final design calls for more budgets, he will transfer the financial problem to the director or producer because he has provided the best.

To do or not to do, there are only two options. If he accepts a job, he will try his best to complete it because he doesn’t know if there is one more chance in the future and more importantly, what efforts he pays now decides following outcomes. So, he is satisfied with all his works and is confident about his expertise, also believing that if an action choreographer keeps this idea in mind, he or she can succeed.
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          Movie: The Legend Is Born: IP Man, 2009  Tony was giving guidance         Courtesy of Tony

However, being a director brings more satisfaction than an action choreographer and when he first tasted the power. Leung used to be an obscure director at Shaw Brothers Studio and the producing group from The Shaw didn’t cooperate well. Once, two experienced lighting engineers apologized to Leung that they spent three hours setting a wrong daylight environment and needed four more hours to fix it. Everyone was waiting for a good show—Leung would shout with rage—but Leung restrained himself. “Even though they often perform against me, I still believe they will not set me up deliberately,” he said. Leung asked them to keep one voice that the director wanted to change. Since then, all the members were convinced. “I know it is self-expansion brought by authority and I must eliminate it,” he said.

Struggling
He is struggling for what he could do after retirement. “As long as you have commercial value, there are opportunities,” he said but for him, it is also sad that seniors are still working at their seventies because they don’t know what to do except for action choreography. What’ worse, if one is unable to work because of disability, he or she will be forced to find other jobs and cannot get much subsidy because the standardization of stuntman industry is not well-improved.

What’s he thinks is Hong Kong stuntman industry is in gloom now. Foreign and mainland competitors will deprive Hong Kong of the leading position of action film, which experienced a slowdown in 1970s but was revived by Bruce Lee. However, this era failed to find a super star to sweep the world. He sighed and said, “If we performers cannot interpret, action choreographers are incapable.”

For young stuntmen who are not good-looking but refuse to work behind-the-scene, he said “It is useless for the ugly duck to envy Miss Hong Kong because he cannot change it.” You can only train yourselves well enough and wait patiently for your talent scout.

Does “Future Fund” have future?

At the beginning of this year, Hong Kong Financial Secretary Tsang Chun-wah put forward a conception of “Future Fund” on the base of the Working Group on Long-term Fiscal Planning’s research on Hong Kong public finance. This group, comprising officials headed by Secretary-general of Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau and non-officials elites from related background, was delegated to draw scientific plans of public finance in response to an aging Hong Kong society and governmental long-run fiscal expenditure.

The “Future Fund” was proposed as an imitation of foreign countries. Fund accumulates from the land fun, adding with annual surplus, and underpins infrastructure construction and boosts economy despite government’s continuous deficit in the future.

According to the government bulletin, given the increasing aging population and labor shortage, if the current tax system and rate continue and no external crisis happen, the revenue would increase at an estimated 4.5% on average per annum in next two or three decades.

However, the structural deficit would occur in 15 years at best on condition that the government doesn’t add more benefits, only subject to population and price changes. Facing the deficit risk, Tsang was still positive. In the speech on 26, February, he stated that there was more than HK$700 billion fiscal reserve, with HK$220 billion of land fund, around HK$130 billion for specific use and approximately HK$400 paid for daily operation. Hong Kong’s economy and the government’s revenue would keep going up and expenditure was allowed to increase but its growth must match that of revenue. “By correspondingly controlling expenditure increase, stabilizing revenue and expanding income sources, the fiscal dilemma could be avoided.” said Tsang.

“I think this fund is a good direction but impossible to be carried out”, Chong Wylunn said, former associated chief reporter in Sing Pao and journalist in Finet, “Future Fund is a meaningful warning Financial Secretary gave to Hong Kong government from the politic perspective for not overspending on welfare expansion and so forth”. He pointed out that the fund, if set up, must hunt for a new project that would bring at least 7% return per annum; otherwise, the original investment could not double to more than HK$400 billion. Additionally, land sales contributed around HK$60-80 billion in contrast to 10% annual growth of recurrent expenditure comprising education, medical treatments and social welfare, housing. Meanwhile, considerable pension plus annually paid subsidy allocated to civil servants was estimated to amount to HK$900 billion in foreseeable future. “Apparently, revenue can’t cover expenditure in the long term, let along extra money for the fund.” he explained.

Chan Wysun, chief reporter of Ming Pao’s financial section, agreed that the current financial reserve can only disburse recurrent expenditure. “The government initiated well but it remains uncertain because we have no idea about implementing details.” He said that take inflation into account, the actual amount of money in action was about HK$200, roughly enough for 5-8 years at best. Although the government was in the black now, blind public service constructions at a high cost would bring about troubles. “Imitation of Australian Future Fund is worth considering if Hong Kong will encounter huge deficit in the future, but is it a signal that Hong Kong is to be another Australian for Tsang put is forward now? If so, I approve of steps ahead.”

The government had announced a group further discussion held in July, focusing on how to reinforce governmental assets management and interpret research to residents for a year-end report to Financial Secretary. But so far, there is no following-up official information.

Different Pharmacy

It is very common that at the entrance of Hong Kong pharmacies are stacked many cans of milk powders, packages of roll paper, boxes of detergent, shampoo and other daily supplier. Walking inside, you will find an array of cosmetics, more suppliers and fancy-packaging, seemingly useful drugs that even don’t ring a bell with you. This kind of pharmacy, or drugstore, is opened everywhere. It happens that in one section of Argyle Street or Shan Tung Street, commercial streets in Mong Kok, you can see two or more at a glance.

Meanwhile, many pharmacies sell diverse Chinese herbal like Astragalus, Angelica etc. and valuable ingredients such as fin and ginseng. Medicine materials are reserved in big glass jars when some are displayed in air. Labeled with “doctor’s visit”, Tai On pharmacy, located in Tai Wai, only concentrates on Chinese medicine, where there is a separated room for the inquiry treatment. Doctor Pan, around sixties, was on duty, and outside were five patients, one of whom was pregnant. Pan inquires, feels their pulse and prescribes by computer, seven minutes per patient on average. Besides much more herbal materials, it offers decocting service, which distinguishes itself from those multi-purpose drugstores.

Hong Kong Students’ Appeal (happened on 27 SEP.)

Hong Kong Students’ Appeal
Last Saturday, on 27 September, a crowd of students still remained seated peacefully in front of the headquartes of the Legislative Council after student activist leader Joshua Wong was arrested the day before, boycotting vetted chief executives by Beijing in 2017 election and demanding an acceptable response from the government.
DSC_0796(by Xu)

“Students are simple and adorable. They protest out of a pure motivation as they aren’t burdened with family and social pressure,” said a 40-year-old Hongkonger who was from Kowloon district and didn’t want to give his name, “Hong Kong has been an idle running society for years,” he added, which meant the city was seemly developing whereas it didn’t run forwards in essence. When asked about the risk of electing an anti-central chief, he said politics was a compromising game, “the Populism would not happen here despite a universal suffrage.”

A junior girl of 15 years old from Tsing Yi district, together with her parents, said “We want to have a word with officers, but the government was always evading a direct talk with students’ representatives”. She once participated in routine gathering of Hong Kong Federation of Student (HKFS in short). Participants discussed in groups and chose a representative for a further decision and “One person, one vote” was a consensus. “We wished for a government that was truly elected by Hong Kong people, rather than being slated by Beijing, and functioned for the sake of this city.”

“Students have applied for this demonstration permission but theirs was turned down while campaigns of pro-central were approved,” said a junior student protestor, Yee Shan Lau who came with her friend to join the demonstration without their parents’ permission, “The central has promised in 2007 an universal suffrage of 2017 but now it’s still vetted by Beijing, which makes Hongkongers feel deceived,” her friend added, “The relationship of Beijing and Hong Kong is like making friends and how can we keep good terms one another without mutual trust?.” According to Yee, protestors clearly knew what they were demanding, a democratic election. They two sat along the street outside the fence in case that police block pathways so that they failed to go home in time.

Goods, which were donated by citizens, was orderly transferred to support protestors and students were equipped with goggles, umbrellas etc., because police unexpectedly employed violent force against them last night.

About Me

Hi, I’am Bella. Welcome to my site. “Bella” was given by my french teacher because it shares the same meaning with my first name “Qian”, which means “fine and beautiful”. I came from Nanjing, Jiansu Province and as a foodie, I want to recommend our local specials “Duck blood rice noodle”, Salted duck, and Jinling soup dumplings to you.