This is quite a momentous weekend in Hong Kong. Mass demonstrations culminated in the Chief Executive backing down on requiring all public schools to introduce a new curriculum that spews the party line. (The problem hasn’t gone away entirely, but some schools will be able to get out of it.)
And on Sunday Hong Kong will hold elections for its Legislative Council.
So it’s without coincidence that I chose Jason Y. Ng’s book, Hong Kong State of Mind (Blacksmith Books, 2011) as my book of the week. It’s not only a quick read because Ng is an entertaining and thought-provoking writer, but also probably one of the most relevant books written in English for today’s Hong Kong issues.
As stated in the book’s subtitle–37 Views of a City that Doesn’t Blink–each chapter looks into a specific issue relative to Hong Kong or other parts of Asia (the last section depicts his travels around the region). He writes about education and politics, the two major issues in Hong Kong this weekend, but also pollution, the mainland-Hong Kong culture clash, and the Tiananmen remembrances in Victoria Park, just to name several.
Born in Hong Kong, Jason Ng went abroad for high school and university (including business and law school). After a stint practicing law in the New York, Ng returned to Hong Kong in 2005. In his book, he looks at Hong Kong from both an insider’s and outsider’s perspective.
Hong Kong State of Mind is a great book for Hong Kong locals, novices, and everyone in between. It was fun for me to read it several months after traveling to Hong Kong for the first time in 14 years.
Although this book was published in early 2011, you can read more about current Hong Kong issues on Jason Ng’s bi-weekly blog, As I See It. He has a fabulous post about Sunday’s elections, including an in-depth assessment of the different political parties.
On a final note, I’ll insert my own observation. I find it a bit ironic that as Hong Kong people successfully demonstrated to push back the mandatory mainland indoctrination, Legco elections are being held on the very day Mao Zedong himself died 36 years ago, marking the end of the Cultural Revolution.