FCC staff party in pictures
The annual FCC staff party in late January at the Golden Bauhinia restaurant in the Convention Centre was its usual boisterous self. The staff, Board, members and guests put on their glad rags and competed in a bunch of drinking and eating games. It wasn’t too competitive as everyone got a prize.
Harry’s rejects: The Hong Kong Chief Executive Election 2017
As jailed Hong Kong police have learned, the world is watching
On March 3, 1991, a taxi driver was pulled over by Los Angeles police ending a high-speed chase. After exiting his vehicle, four officers surrounded the driver. Three began beating him while another stood watching. They were unaware that George Holliday was overlooking the scene from a nearby balcony and videotaping the brutality. Holliday sent the tape to a local television station, which broadcast it. The video was picked up and rebroadcast worldwide. The driver, Rodney King, became internationally known. A state jury later acquitted the officers and the subsequent riots resulted in at least 55 people dead and 2,000 injured. It took the California National Guard to quell the unrest.
Since Holliday’s videotape, countless altercations of all kinds involving police and security forces have been captured on camera and shared with the world. Phone cameras are ubiquitous and countless people see themselves as citizen journalists. By now, every force on the planet ought to realise that the world is watching. But somehow they keep on forgetting.
That includes the Hong Kong police force, seven of whom have just been tried, found guilty of assault and given two-year jail sentences for dragging a protester – who was already in custody – under an overpass and administering a beating during the Occupy protests in 2014.
It was dark beneath the underpass, so maybe they thought no one could see them as they punched and kicked Ken Tsang. Maybe they were just oblivious to what was not immediately in front of them. Maybe they didn’t care. Only they can say.
Their defense lawyers argued that the tape, shot by cameramen for a local television station, should not be accepted as evidence. That failed. Then they argued, also unsuccessfully, that the tape might have been edited by unknown persons (the station denied that the tapes had been altered). In the end, the pictures told the story.
The officers, who were not inexperienced, forgot the lesson of the Rodney King case and of so many other similar abuses: You are not alone, even when you think you are. Even CCTV cameras intended to help law enforcement observe traffic, or to assist security guards stationed at buildings, can be capturing you and your behaviour.
The lyrics of the old pop song have never been more literally true: “Remember when you tell those little white lies/’Cause the night, has a thousand eyes.”
What is surprising about the Ken Tsang saga is not that it happened, but that we learned about it. In fact, allegations of abuse by the police are far from rare.
On historical average, 80 percent of complaints of assault by police are withdrawn by the complainants or deemed not pursuable. Of the remaining 20 percent, virtually all are found to be either “no fault,” “false” or “unsubstantiated.”
Despite the generally good overall reputation of the Hong Kong police force, numerous cases (sometimes hundreds) of alleged assaults are reported every year to CAPO, the Complaints Against Police Office. CAPO is under the police and is in turn monitored by the Independent Police Complains Council (IPPCC), a statutory body formed in 1993 whose members are appointed by the chief executive. Neither body has been uncontroversial, right up the present.
On historical average, 80 percent of complaints of assault by police are withdrawn by the complainants or deemed not pursuable. Of the remaining 20 percent, virtually all are found to be either “no fault,” “false” or “unsubstantiated.” I remember covering the legislature in 2013 when Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok, responding to a legislator’s question, said: “In the past five years, no complaint cases involving assault were found to be ‘substantiated.’”
There had been 323 complaints of assault the previous year.
Lai went on to say that many of the complaints were found to have been made by individuals who were themselves charged with an offence at the time, and who raised the assault allegation as part of their defense, only to drop the CAPO complaint afterwards.
So what we have seen over the years is a complaints mechanism where assault complaints are filed but not substantiated.
Lai’s answer came 12 years after the Los Angeles riots and a year before the 79-day Occupy demonstrations. In between, the police had already begun sending their own video crews to shoot protests, drawing complaints from the journalists with whom they jostle for position, as well as from demonstrators concerned about facial recognition and the chilling effect on public protest. The police in the field should be well acquainted with the technology by now.
But the officers who have been sentenced to two years in prison for beating Ken Tsang somehow forgot that world was watching, just as it watched what happened to Rodney King and so many after him. One hopes that this realisation will somehow help deter the use of excessive force in the future. But experience suggests that while some things will happen out of sight, others will happen in just enough light that once again the world will be watching.
Written by Francis Moriarty
Obituary: Mike Simms, revered editor and crusader against tautology
Mike Simms, veteran editor with a career that spanned over five decades in five countries, died at 73 in early January.
Always the gruff gentleman, Mike could often be found holding up the Main Bar at the end of a late shift sharing his stories and strong opinions with the likes of Greg Torode and the late Walter Kent.
Armed with a razor-sharp wit, mastery of English and grasp of Latin, Simms will be remembered for schooling generations of reporters and sub-editors on the importance of good language, saving many a story from the trappings of tautology and verbiage.
His trademark dry humour would be displayed regularly on Facebook – often as sardonic one-liners or via his wildly popular “tautology of the day” posts. Many would feature his beloved dog Scrap, with whom he enjoyed a good hike.
“Despite his gruff exterior, Mike had a mischievous sense of humour that will be sorely missed by all those who knew him in both the newsroom and his favourite Wanchai bar,” a friend and fellow journalist said.
Simmsy, as he was affectionately known, made his mark and a lot of friends in many newsrooms: he was, before his time in Hong Kong, deputy news editor of the Evening Star, chief subeditor and columnist at the New Zealand Herald; The Guardian and Sheffield Morning Telegraph in the UK; deputy chief subeditor at The Age, Melbourne; and chief copy editor at The Monitor, Singapore.
He joined The Standard in 1987, working his way up from chief copy editor, chief sub and night editor to editor. Simmsy joined the South China Morning Post in 2004 as chief copy editor and retired in 2014.
Simms, described as a “firebrand editor” with high expectations and “a true individual”, often gave short shrift to so-called conventional wisdom or the “standard Western view”.
Deeply competitive, he abhorred the bad use of English and those who transgressed were unlikely to do so again.
Simms set himself up as a freelance copy editor after his retirement where he continued his tireless campaign… On his “Good Language” website, Simms wrote: “Times are tough for our language, as mass media abandon time-honoured quality-control procedures and the days when no one’s work reached the public without undergoing rigorous editing fade into pre-internet history.
“These aren’t just the arcane concerns of some crusty old grammarian, they should be the concerns of anyone who relies on the language as an effective communication tool.
“Time will tell whether this trade-off between credibility and cost will prove sustainable for outlets that need to be taken seriously. I suspect not.”
Damon, his son who lives in the Philippines, said on a Facebook posting that Simms “loved Hong Kong with a passion”. He was self-taught in Cantonese and was “a decent cook” of his favourite local dishes.
Post editor-in-chief Tammy Tam said: “I was very saddened to hear of Mike’s death. He was a hugely influential and dedicated member of our local news team, and did much to mentor our reporters and sub-editors. His knowledge of Hong Kong society, politics and government policies allowed him to speak with authority, whether it was with our most senior editors or cadets. We shall greatly miss his voice of reason.”
Simms fell ill in the Philippines three months ago while on one of his regular visits to see his young granddaughter, Gabriella. He returned to Hong Kong and was admitted to hospital with a leg infection. He suffered pneumonia in mid-December and died at Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
“I think I speak for everyone when I say that a very large part of our lives disappeared on Friday, and that his passing has left a hole in many people’s lives that will never be filled,” Damon said.
Simms leaves wife Jean, sons Damon and Anton, grandchildren Paige, Lauren and Gabriella.
The FCC’s new semi-buffet lunch will get your taste buds tingling
The Club has launched a new menu option for the Main Dining Room.
The Semi-Buffet Lunch offers a choice of four main courses accompanied by a wide selection of appetizers, side dishes and desserts.
And all at a very reasonable price: if you choose just the salad bar plus appetizer it’s HK$128 per person; if you go for the full semi-buffet menu it’s HK$220 per person. Great value!
The main courses include seared Atlantic salmon, Tandoori lamb chops, seared chicken breast, and tossed linguine with mixed mushrooms. There is also salmon and ham available at the carving station.
The salad bar and appetizers include: Mussel Pâté with Ciabatta; Chayote & Chicken in Curry Mayonnaise; Beet & Onion Salad; Mixed Bean Salad; Marinated Hearts of Artichoke; Roasted Zucchini, Aubergines and Capsicums with Garlic; Hydroponic Greens; Green Papaya and Green Mango with Thai Chilli Sauce ; Mixed Vegetable Salad with Condiments; Tomato & Mozzarella Salad; Egg, Capsicum & Sweet Corn Salad.
The FCC is raising funds for the China Coast Community care home – and here’s how you can help
The Club’s new Charity Committee is this year raising funds for the China Coast Community, a care home for the elderly in Kowloon Tong. In the past, it has also been known as home to a number of FCC members.
What sets the China Coast Community apart from other care homes is that it’s the only one dedicated to assisting the English-speaking elderly in Hong Kong. The residents come from different nationalities – the common denominator is that they all speak English, have spent a significant part of their lives in Asia and don’t have access to government-sponsored facilities.
The idea for a care home for English speakers was first mooted in March 1978 when the Dean of St John’s Cathedral Reverend Stephen Sidebotham called a meeting to look into the needs of the elderly. A year later and with the support of the Hong Kong Jockey Club and an interest-free loan from the government a property at 63 Cumberland Road was bought.
The two-storey CCC is still on this original site although it has undergone a number of makeovers. Beginning with just eight beds, the building was expanded in 1982 and, responding to the needs of the residents, in 2000 it became a fully licensed Care and Attention Home with professional nurses on call around the clock.
The centre is home for 39 residents and there is a waiting list for people hoping to get in. The CCC prefers to admit people when they are still active – most of these residents live on the first floor and the less mobile residents have rooms on the ground floor where they are closer to nursing staff.
As far as elderly care goes, the CCC facilities are good. All residents have their own room and shared bathroom. Meals are served in sittings in a restaurant and there is a lounge for communal activities – yes, that includes Bingo. Physiotherapy and occupational therapy session are available twice a week and regular activities organised by volunteers.
Residents pay depending on their financial position. Those who are comfortably off pay 85% of the cost of living at the centre, but in many cases residents can’t afford that and instead pay a much-reduced fee. The shortfall required to keep the home operational is largely covered by donations as they receive little government funding.
The FCC’s fundraising efforts will focus on purchasing much-needed specialist beds, which will make it easier for nursing staff to look after residents. Funding for the home’s occupational therapist dries up this year and the FCC also hopes to raise money to continue that ongoing service. We are planning to make visits to the home and hope members will volunteer to assist with the various activities we get involved in.
‘Hong Kong Remembers’, the FCC’s extravaganza on March 25, will bring together some of the best of Hong Kong’s home grown musical talent with proceeds from the event going to our chosen charity, the China Coast Community.
Among the acts performing will be The Red Stripes, the acclaimed ska and soul band whose brass section is sure to raise the roof of the Main Dining Room. Down in Bert’s, Miriam Ma and Hippogroove will continue their run of getting the crowd on their feet with their energetic R&B sounds. Complementing these live acts will be DJ’s including local favourites Crimes Against Pop whose only instructions have been to ‘get the place dancing’.
Tickets for the event, which include buffet food and drinks, are available at the FCC priced HK$880 for members and HK$1100 for guests.
How can you support this year’s charity? Come to the party on March 25 and bring your friends and some cash for raffle tickets for the chance to win some fabulous prizes.
If you would like to donate funds to “Buy-a-Bed” at HK$18,000 each, you will be acknowledged with a small donation plaque on the bed. Contact Joanne at [email protected] to pledge your donation.
As the China Coast Community is a registered charity under the IRO Section 88, any donation would qualify for tax relief, in which case cheques should be made payable directly to China Coast Community Limited and can be sent to the FCC, c/o Joanne Cheung who will then process them with CCC.
Reciprocal Clubs: A look at our partner press clubs around the world
The FCC Hong Kong has a long list of clubs around the world with which we have reciprocal arrangements.
Members are welcome at clubs for bankers, doctors, golfers, sailors, swimmers, rugby players, cricketers and aviators – a diversity of pursuits reflecting the interests of our own membership. Many of these affiliations were arranged by FCC stalwarts with social or professional connections to what are now partner institutions.
Not surprisingly, however, press clubs and associations comprise the largest body of affiliates. We are currently linked to a total of 36 in Asia, Australasia, Europe and North America.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that more than a third of those organisations – for financial, political or other reasons – are unable to maintain clubhouses, so while their members are able to drop in on us, we can’t drop in
For media associations, of course, reciprocal availability of facilities isn’t really the point. Even though they have no bar of their own to lean on, it is entirely right and proper that journalists who join, for example, The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China in Beijing or The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Myanmar in Yangon, should be able to visit The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong.
Many press organisations without premises, or with only an office, organise gatherings in bars, restaurants and other meeting places, and FCC members from Hong Kong who get in touch in advance will often be welcome to join them.
In Singapore, for example, where the FCC has reciprocal arrangements with no fewer than six clubs, four of which do have their own facilities, it might still be socially or professionally useful to get in touch with the two that don’t. The Foreign Correspondents’ Association (Singapore) and the Singapore Press Club both organise lively programmes of events for members, and are addressed by visitors of the same calibre as those at our speaker lunches.
Albeit currently without a home, the FCA Singapore has been in existence almost as long as the FCCHK. Founded in 1956, it was, as the history on its website proudly notes, at an FCCA lunch in 1961 that that “then-Malaysian Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman first mooted the idea of a ‘union’ of Malaya, Singapore and the North Borneo dependencies”.
Some of our professional reciprocals, of course, have been around for a good deal longer. Vienna’s Presseclub Concordia, founded in 1859, claims to be the oldest press club in the world, and the United States’s National Press Club in Washington was established way back in 1908.
Both of those do still have their own clubhouses. Some other historic journalists’ clubs have been less fortunate.
The London Press Club, founded in 1882, managed to stay in its off-Fleet Street premises in Wine Office Court for more than a century, but now operates as an association with just a London office.
The nearby Wig and Pen in The Strand – a meeting place for journalists and lawyers from 1908 – was an FCC reciprocal club until it closed after 95 years in 2003. The building, which dates back to 1665 and survived the Great Fire of London the following year, still stands. Last time I passed it was a Thai restaurant. It’s the sort of fate that gives one pause for thought every time our own lease comes up for renewal.
Fortunately the gap left by those two in London has been filled by the Frontline Club near Paddington railway station. It offers accommodation at very reasonable rates for London, and is within easy walking distance of the Heathrow Express. It’s the nearest thing in London to the FCC socially, and well worth dropping into even if you don’t decide to stay there.
There are reciprocal press clubs you can physically visit in many of the world’s major cities, some of which are fairly straightforward media facilities providers, and some of which also have a more social aspect.
In France members have access to the Club de la Presse Strasbourg and the Press Club de France in Paris; in Germany to the International Press Club of Munich; in Holland to the International Perscentrum Nieuwspoort in The Hague; in Denmark to the International Press Centre in Copenhagen; and in Switzerland to the Geneva Press Club.
In the US press clubs with premises to which we have access, in addition to the National Press Club in Washington, include the Overseas Press Club of America in New York City, and the American News Women’s Club in Washington.
In Australia FCC members can visit The National Press Club of Australia in Canberra and closer to home in Asia we are linked to The Press Club of India in Delhi, The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo, the Seoul Foreign Correspondents’ Club, and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand in Bangkok.
Indeed many FCCHK regulars have at various times been members of one or another of those clubs as well. The late Diane Stormont, whose photograph looks down over the east end of the Main Bar, was a past president of both the FCCHK and the Seoul Foreign Correspondents Club.
In addition to our fully fledged reciprocal arrangements with overseas press clubs we are more loosely affiliated with all members of the International Association of Press Clubs, established in 2002, of which the FCCHK was a founder member.
Although many of our reciprocal clubs are also members of the Association, we are not automatically entitled to the use of the facilities of those which are not – although Journalist and Correspondent members wishing to gain access to some of them may find their FCC membership helpful when applying. It’s good to have connections.