Reflections about Universal Suffrage

On August 31st, 2014, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) made its pronouncement about the selection of the HKSAR Chief Executive in 2017, through a document entitled “Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Issues Relating to the Selection of the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region by Universal Suffrage and on the Method for Forming the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in the Year 2016”, hereinafter referred to as “the Decision”.

It was an important day in the history of Hong Kong. So important, in fact, that millions of Hong Kong people proceeded to watch the Miss Hong Kong Pageant 2014 Finals instead of reading the Decision, let alone thinking or discussing about it. The Brave New World is upon us.

Ranting aside, I am writing to convey my thoughts about the situation, and raise some questions in the process.

OCLP Is Doing It Wrong

There, I said it. Some people believe that I’m pro-OCLP. I’m not. But I’m not against it either. 

The problem with the OCLP is that they gave the establishment a break by invoking “international standards”.

“International standards” is ineffective as an argument for a simple reason: standards don’t say anything about the underlying fundamental principles of morality and justice.

Certainly, a respectable standard about democracy and human rights is formulated with some presupposed fundamental principles of morality and justice, but it is not the fundamental principle; it cannot replace the fundamental principles. When we demand that a system meet some international standard, the authority can arbitrarily reject it on technical grounds “because it doesn’t apply to our special case”, as we just witnessed in Mr Leung’s response.

Instead, we need to take the fight to them and directly point out the blatant inequality and manipulative nature of the establishment’s proposal. We need not refer to “international standards” to perceive inequality and contradictions. It would be intellectually more taxing, but ultimately I believe it will be more effective and more fruitful. You can get away on technicalities, but you cannot get away on ethics.

One might observe that the Basic Law clearly states the selection of candidates by a nomination committee as the ultimate aim. What this entails is that we need to also challenge the Basic Law on ethical grounds. We need to keep in mind that the law is not absolute, that it is arbitrary to various degrees; otherwise there would be no raison d’être for a Legislative Council at all. Again, it would be a difficult fight, but it would be a fight that the authority cannot easily flee from.

“Broadly Representative”

The Decision stipulates that candidates to the Chief Executive election in 2017 shall be nominated by “a broadly representative nominating committee” (my italics). A look at the composition of the nominating committee reveals what is meant by “broadly representative” and what values the establishment holds.

There are 1200 seats in the nominating committee, divided into four sectors of equal size.

The first sector, i.e. a full quarter (300), is “the industrial, commercial, and financial sectors”. It is comprised of individuals and corporate members, representing mostly employers, and big-money businesses – in other words, corporate interests. Somehow, corporations, with their concentration of power into private hands, have the right to pick Chief Executive candidates for us.

In contrast, in the third sector, “the labour, social services, religious and other sectors”, the labour subsector only takes 60 seat, yet there is no doubt that non-professional labour far outnumber high management and employers in the society.

This mean that any entity with enough money is given more voice than the people with lower income. Again, note that I’m using the word “entity”: any organization with some kind of “collective will” and a bunch of wealthy people behind it is given more voice than real human beings.

What gives them the right to have a voice at all, let alone more voice than real people?

Take a look at the name of the third sector, too: “the labour, social services, religious and other sectors”. That’s right, this is the “miscellaneous” sector. Not just any kind of miscellaneous sector, but the kind where “dissidents” – people who most strongly oppose the Central Government and the collusion between private power and policy makers – are jammed in and sharing a small number of seats out of 300. Since any person who wishes to run for Chief Executive needs only obtain the support of a little over half the nominating committee, the NPCSC has effectively round the opposition into a minority group and is telling any Chief Executive hopeful that they may skip wooing that group at their convenience.

The 50% Rule

The Decision stipulates, as I just mentioned, that any Chief Executive hopeful needs only the support of over 50% of the nominating committee in order to be nominated as a candidate. In other word, you can become a candidate if you obtain support from 601 or more members out of the 1200 total.

At the same time, the NPCSC wishes for the 2017 election to consist of 2 to 3 candidates.

By the pigeon hole principle, this means that each member in the nominating committee have the right to give their support to at least two candidates.

In fact, some of the nominating committee must support more than one candidate: if each committee member supports only one candidate, then there will only ever be one candidate, as only one person can obtain the support of more than half of the committee.

Effectively, this means that committee members have a right to a Plan B candidate.

What gives them the right to have a Plan B while the rest of the population can only vote for one candidate?

In addition, what message is this arrangement sending to the voters? I believe the message is that “it doesn’t really matter whom you vote for” because you are picking either their Plan A or their Plan B.

Migration Assistant cannot be trusted

So my rMBP arrived Thursday morning and I started a migration over LAN that night, before hitting the bed. It took 9 hours (i.e. until Friday morning) to drop to “1 minute remaining”. On the rMBP, Migration Assistant told me to plug in an ethernet cable to make the migration go faster. “But you don’t have a built-in ethernet jack anymore!” The irony.

And then it decided to hang at “1 minute remaining” for the remainder of yesterday. (WTF x 1)

So I said “fuck it” and aborted the migration. For the record Migration Assistant allows you to cleanly abort a migration, by pressing Cmd-Q. To see if I can speed up the migration, I removed the HDD from the old machine and put it in a USB 3.0 enclosure. I restarted a migration over USB. This time Migration Assistant tells me it will take about 2 hours. Much better.

And then the unthinkable happened:

At around the “37 minute remaining” mark, Migration Assistant stopped copying files and pretended it was done. (WTF x 2)

And it gave me a warning message to this effect: a user’s UID had to be reassigned from 502 to 501 and because the user also has a relocated home directory, I may need to manually correct the permissions after the migration. (WTF x 3)

Even a seasoned Mac user like myself find this warning message a little cryptic. “Thanks for not even telling me the username or relocated home directory path in question!” (WTF x 4)

I knew something was wrong, so I started digging into the newly migrated home directory…

“Where is my music? Where are my photos? Why am I missing random files and directories?” (WTF x 5)

And I’m not even talking about special files and directories that may have application-specific or machine-specific semantics – e.g. I can *somewhat* understand if you don’t completely mirror “~/Library” because that’s mostly profiles and settings, which can have application-specific semantics. And by “semantics” I really mean stupidities like the use of absolute paths where relative paths would be more appropriate. Instead, I’m just talking about ordinary files and folders: zip files, text files, etc.

At this point I said “fuck it” for a second time and just rsync’ed all the missing ordinary files and directories.

:~ Kal$ ping *

I know. I have not blogged for a few months now. The same goes for most of my friends. It seems that being away from school does drain the very soul out of us. Everybody must be busy with something and has lost interest in blogging. Let me list some of the things you can be busy with:

  1. Aimless browsing of Facebook
  2. Ignoring the hundreds of Facebook requests that you get daily
  3. Spamming your friends with Facebook requests
  4. Playing a Facebook game
  5. Reading Digg, Reddit, Engadget, or Slashdot
  6. Starting/engaging in a flame war on one of the aforementioned sites
  7. boys/girls at the office
  8. your boss’ hot secretary
  9. your boss/your boss’ hot daughter
  10. game consoles (and games) for which you finally have the money
  11. overtime work
  12. cooking (because you are living on your own now)
  13. laundry (same reason as above)
Pretty much everyone has been slacking off as far as blogging goes, except Jawaad, Skrud, Spiro, and Kevin.
Hall of Shame:
  • Nadia – has not blogged at all for almost 2 whole years now;
  • Terry – lost his domain name to some domain squatter.
Eric is clever, updating his MSN Space with sets after sets of pictures instead of writing.
I know all of you must have made new friends. I have, too, even all the way in Japan. But gee, try to give sign of life from time to time and not forget about TSG and everybody else from Concordia.

Short咗

星期日行街行到腳仔軟。先係朝早同屋企人响荃灣兆和街嘅合發茶餐廳喫早餐,跟住我同家姐疙咗去如心廣場睇吓落成咗係乜樣。點知原來咩都冇,得間酒店開咗。隔離荃新天地又係未裝修完。結果唯有走去荃灣廣場行Jusco。不過一入廣場門口,就俾Wanko雞乸咁大隻字嘅「二折」牌嗍咗埋去。就咁樣就開咗市,家姐即刻搵到聖誕禮物俾阿媽同係Montreal嘅死黨同學。跟住再上幾層,喺間DVD/唱碟鋪搵埋老竇嘅禮物。Jusco嗰度反而乜都冇買就走咗。

第一回合完,就哽係食嘢補充能量。上次喺綠楊食越南河,發然仲有好多檔可以試。所以今日又番去綠楊,試另一檔唔知”Euro”乜鬼嘅(家姐溫馨提示:「係EuroGoGo呀。」)。啲意粉都OK,係嗰兩支奇異菓汁同橙汁甜咗少少。

補給完,我地就先分道揚鑣:家姐去銅鑼灣會合企鵝姐,開始佢嘅第二回合;我就去展開我嘅旺角探險。點解去旺角?因為我隻踎屎死咗。讀者一定諗:『踎屎死咗關旺角咩事呀?』。咁我就話你知啦。話說PCCW寄咗封信嚟話多謝我申請寬頻,所以送無綫踎屎,要去旺角挪。不過我點會淨係為咗隻踎屎去旺角丫。前世未迫過咩。其實我主要仲想搵OS X Leopard Family Pack,買番隻模型鉗,同撞吓仲搵唔搵到MG版F91。模形鉗喺烟廠街嗰邊好易搵。有個店員同我講有田宮兩款一貴一平,仲話貴啲嘅唔會咁易剪崩。我話「唔係啊嘛?剪膠咋啵。」所以最後去咗Modern買把最平嘅(50蚊)。隻F91我差啲搵唔到,得番一間有一千零一隻。原來因為唔好賣,好多鋪都冇再入貨。Leopard搵到我傻。出街前我就明知唔熟旺角,去中原地圖睇過信和中心同旺角電腦中心大概係咩位置。點知…去到旺角兜到我傻,嗰度啲遊客資訊牌又退晒色,都睇唔到啲街線,淨係睇到街名。Sino同MKCC又攪笑到冇牌嘅。攪到我問咗幾次啊sir先搵到MKCC。最後我見MKCC兩間有賣Apple嘅都斷Leopard嘅貨,知道冇機,就連Sino都放棄搵就去咗銅鑼灣join家姐同企鵝姐。去到銅鑼灣先發現佢地係搵我去破財擋災。家姐買咗對平平地嘅太陽眼鏡唔駛一個鐘就買咗兩件幾形嘅黑色casual恤衫自己著同兩條呔送比Montreal嘅朋友;咁就900蚊。跟住去睇吓有咩形戒指補番老竇唔見咗嗰隻。不過最後冇買,淨係睇咗款,因為我地唔肯定老竇手指咩嘥屎,刻咗名嘅話又冇得換;要等我地噠老竇其它戒指嚟度吓先。企鵝姐見我地攪咁耐,就游咗去第二檔睇衫,仲執到筍嘢。

之後就去咗SOGO睇玩具。原來我真係大鄉里,依家先知Sylvanian Family系列咁誇張嘅。酒店,水車,菓汁檔,你諗到就有。一傾之下,先知道企鵝姐玩得仲pro。佢嫌Sylvanian Family本身嗰幾款屋太細,所以用Hello Kitty嘅一款大屋代替。真係orz。我仲好奇想睇吓SOGO有咩Gundam貨,一睇之下先知佢食水深;隻F91我喺旺角買先168蚊,喺SOGO要259蚊。

行到攰,又到食嘢時間。去咗檔佈置得幾有越南feel嘅餐廳。叫咗牛肉河,燒豬肉檬,炸春卷,仲有招牌炸雞翼。每人70蚊左右埋單。

跟住家姐順便係藥房買牙刷,然後就分手番屋企。

番到屋企,由於眞係太攰,發生咗啲好hard plastic嘅事…

我好心急咁打開合F91睇說明書,見到呢幅嘢:

當時腦入邊嘅反應係『死嘞。唔記得買較剪添。』

引越しました

今日新大久保からひばりヶ丘に引っ越しました。すごく暑い日でした。さらに荷物が沢山すぎるので、二回往復しました。シャッツは完全に汗に浸っていった。

新しい家はハウスシェアです。今部屋が足りないから、この三週間は友達と同じ部屋に住んでいる。後ドイツルームメートは故郷へ帰るので、そのときもう一つの部屋がある。

Today I moved from Shin-Ookubo to Hibarigaoka. It was really hot today. Furthermore, because we had too much stuff to move, we had to do another round trip. My shirt got all soaked in sweat.

The new home is a house share. Since there is not enough rooms right now, I’ll be sharing a room with my friend for 3 weeks. After that, the German roommate is moving back to her hometown and we will have another room.

東京に到着!

四日前に東京に着いた。ここは本当にでかい都市です。東京の市区だけでは全香港と同じぐらい大きさかも知れない。まあ、その感じです。

そして。。。昨日の朝は鼻血が出た。少し吃驚した。「大丈夫かなー。まだ三日でしたぞ」っとおもった。

もし文法が間違えば、私を改めて下さい。

I arrived in Tokyo 4 days ago. This is a really huge city. Perhaps just the urban area of Tokyo is about the same size as all of Hong Kong. Well, that’s the feeling I get anyway.

And then… yesterday morning I had a nosebleed. I was a bit surprised. I thought “Woh, am I ok? It’s only been 3 days!”

The Real Origin of the Canadian “eh?”

Here is my take on the origin of the Canadian “eh?”

The French keyboard layout.

When you want to type in French, the easiest way is to switch to the French keyboard layout, instead of using the Alt + 0XXX codes for the accented vowels and the c-cédille. However, once you switch to the French keyboard layout, some other keys, such as the forward slash (/), become harder to find, so we Canadians in the French speaking provinces often switch back and forth between the English and the French layouts. Sometimes, though, we forget to switch back from the French layout to the English layout. And this is what happens when you ask a question in English, while typing with the French keyboard layout:

“So you want to go to China Town tonightÉ”

You see that “É” at the end of the sentence? That’s what happens when you try to type out the question mark (Shift + /). In the French keyboard layout, that key combination gives you the e accent aigu instead of the question mark.

The sentence ends up being read as “So you want to go to China Town tonight, eh?”

And that’s how the Canadian “eh?” was born. 🙂

Facebookers Against Irrelevant Facebook Groups

Yesterday I finally caved in to peer pressure and joined Facebook. Immediately, I find myself disappointed by its Groups feature. Frankly, it’s nothing more than a huge mess, with a really bad signal-to-noise ratio. Many irresponsible kiddies create groups that are irrelevant and off-topic with respect to the group types. Why shall anybody suffer browsing through 300+ irrelevant groups just to find the proper ones about Ajax and Ruby on Rails? Stop the injustice!

If you feel the same as I do, you are welcome to take part in the protest and join the Facebook group I have created: Facebookers Against Irrelevant Facebook Groups.

How you can help the cause immediately:

  • Right now the group is missing a proper logo. When you join, feel free to use your creative talent and contribute by uploading a logo of your own creation.
  • Digg this story, or submit it to your favourite community news/bookmarking site. Please pay attention to proper categorisation.
  • Invite your Facebook friends.

Hopefully the group can grow into a large enough number to get the attention of the Facebook administrators.

A Little Bit of Update (Hong Kong/Macau/China)

Hello everybody, I know I haven’t posted in the longest time. I have been lazy/busy/travelling in the past months. Anyway, here it goes …

My long vacation started off with a trip to Hong Kong and China. In fact, it was pretty much the main theme of the whole vacation. This time, I visited many companies and manufacturing plants around Dongguan, Guangdong Province. I got to see the assembly of high-end speakers and audio components at GPE and that was really cool. I couldn’t get any picture because obviously GPE has NDAs with their clients and because my camera decided to break down under the heat right in my first week in China. So basically that also means no picture for the rest of the vacation. I saw the site for the new plants of our metalware die-casting business and a new branch office Macau. The most memorable part of my stan in China was a business/sight-seeing roadtrip with one of my uncles and his friends through the Eastern part of China (Dongguan –> Jiujiang –> Nanjing –> Yantai -(ferry)-> Dalian –> Dandong –> Qinhuangdao/Beidaihe –> Beijing –> Wuhan –> back to Dongguan). There are some pictures from that roadtrip but I have yet to get them from my uncle and his friends.

Jiujiang city is pretty well off, considering how inland it is. The best part of the city is built around a lake, where there are plenty of lightworks at night. You can find great food at low prices there, if you know where to look.

Nanjing used to be a national capital in ancient China. It hosts many attractions, including the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Presidential Palace, and the now disused Purple Mountain Observatory; and is one of the best jade sculpture centres of China. There is also the first five-star hotel of China, the Jinling Hotel, at which we stayed.

Yantai isn’t very special. We only went there to catch the ferry anyway. So I’ll just skip ahead.

The area around Dalian has fresh air and decent sunshine because it is one of the least industrialised areas of China. We went to visit a weaponry history museum, which displays some of the least honorable facets of Chinese society. It’s not the warfare or propaganda aspects of it; after all, what country doesn’t wage war or use propaganda at some point in history? What ticked me off is the utter laziness and lack of sense for civil duty of some Chinese people. We came across some retired war planes and war vessels, which can be visited onboard at 5 RMB per person (which is not exactly cheap in the context of Chinese economy). I went onboard two of those and felt completely ripped off; the vessels are unmaintained and full of litter. Those museum keepers really should be ashamed of themselves. They charge 5 RMB per person yet didn’t do anything to keep these historical artifacts presentable. Fortunately the area had great seafood (particularly the abalones) to make the day less frustrating. There was also a museum of reptiles where they teach you many things about crocodiles and snakes. They have a huge indoor lake/river system where you can watch hundreds of snakes live. Of course, the less friendly, dangerous, or endangered species, like cobras, are isolated. Somehow in the middle of the large, beautiful park surrounding the museum, there is a gigantic cage with many different kinds of big and small birds, including peacocks and cranes. I joked with my new-made friend (the son of my uncle’s friend) that that must be the secret laboratory where they research new species of cross-infecting avian flu to use as biological weapon. =P

Dandong is a small city on the Chinese-North-Korean border. In fact, it is only separated from North Korea by the Yalu (a.k.a. Amrok) river, which is much narrower than the part of our Saint-Laurent river lying between the Montreal island and the South Shore. Yet, in summer, it can get so foggy that you can’t see through to the other side of the river, unless you take a walk onto one of the bridges and past the middle of it. One of the historical landmarks of Dandong is the broken bridge. It used to be a rather advanced bridge in the old days because the middle section of it could be rotated to leave an opening for large ships. The Eastern part of it was destroyed in a bombardment by American warplanes during the Korean War, and the rest is full of holes, either made by shrapnel or by armour-piercing rounds. Apparently the Chinese government left the broken bridge there on purpose to commemorate the war. I took a sight-seeing boat to see the shore of North Korea upclose. The contrast in landscape between the two shores of the river is quite interesting. On the side of Dandong, you would see many buildings that are over ten storeys high (some more colourful than others), big advertisement panels, lots of lightworks in the evening, and generally a great deal of business going on at the shore. On the North Korean side, you would see buildings that are at most three storeys high (generally unpainted and grey/yellowish due to weathering), no advertisement panel, no lightwork, and no business on the shore; instead, you would see a bunch of kids playing on the beach and soldiers elsewhere on the beach, with rifles in their hands, some of which smoking or slacking off. According to rumours, the kids and soldiers only come from “good families”, families deemed unlikely to defect from North Korea. Due to the multitude of ethnic groups there (Han Chinese, Manchu, and Korean), food variety is abundant in Dandong. Seafood is served raw and cooked; raw shrimps accompanied with kimchi is especially exotic and tongue-tingling. At night, some people roast corn ears and beef above open coal fire and the flavour is carried across the whole street. Because of this very diversity of food I had my share of misadventure (albeit funny) in Dandong, and that’s called acute gastroenteritis. I was sharing a room with my uncle the whole trip. That night in Dandong, my stomach decide to play really not nice. After my uncle had gone to bed, I was stuck in the washroom for over half an hour and I felt more and more sick. I managed to get out and tried to sleep again but couldn’t. My uncle woke up and asked me what’s the matter. I told him my stomach wasn’t feeling very well. My uncle didn’t think it was very serious so he went to sleep again. Then my stomach hurt so much that I decided to call the frontdesk to get a taxi to the nearest clinic or hospital. So I left the hotel room alone, while my uncle was still sleeping. I didn’t wake him up because I thought it would be quick. I left a message with the frontdesk anyway just in case. So I got to the hospital and everybody on nightshift at the emergency was sleeping because apparently no real emergency ever happens around the place. After about 10 minutes of waiting and paperwork, I finally got to see the doctor, who woke up with her hair and lab coat in a mess. She actually looked kinda cute like that. Then she said three times in Mandarin that I was wrong, with an interrogative look. I thought “what the heck? Does she mean I should have come to the hospital sooner?” After not getting an answer from me for a while, she finally asked me if I was a soldier and I bursted out laughing because at that point I finally understood what she meant earlier: she was asking if I were in the troops. The confusion was due to the fact that “不對的” (wrong) and “部隊的” (belonging to the troops) are both pronounced “bu dui de” in Mandarin. It was a military hospital so maybe soldiers get a discount. Anyway, 10 minutes later my uncle arrived in taxi and had an “lol” all over his face. He told me that he woke up in the hotel room and couldn’t find me, so he thought “oh shit. I lost my nephew.” and finally learned my whereabouts from the frontdesk.

We then started our trip back on a different route. The first checkpoint was Qinhuangdao (literally the Island of the Qin Emperor), which is apparently where the Qin Emperor sent off an expedition to the seas for the elixir of eternal life. There was also the Old Dragon Head, the Eastern end of the Ming Great Wall. The place features many tablets with poems by past emperors and political figures. The view on the open sea from high grounds is fantastic.

Then we stayed a night in Beijing. Unfortunately that’s when my uncle got a phonecall and had to hurry back to Dongguan to take care of some urgent business. So I didn’t have the chance to visit the Forbidden City, the Residence of Ji Xiao Lan, or the Old Summer Palace; but I did take a walk around the famous Tiananmen Square and the Wangfujing boulevard (“the boulevard with the well for the lords’ residences”), a shopping street that really shows off the lifestyle and prosperity of a great capital.

There is nothing of interest to write about the rest of the trip back to Dongguan.

Coming next: Trip to the U.S.