Taiwan LGBT groups face legislative dilemma to pursue marriage right

By Fred Lai & Sharon Shi – 16/1/2016

Standing in the very front of the election campaign rally, Jeffery Chiu looked up at the stage, watching the votes for Tsai Ing-wen rocketing every minute, and could not help crying.

The 26-year-old was staunchly waving a flag in his hand, not a flag with Tsai Ing-wen’s smiling face but rainbow that represents lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people.

He is one of the 2.3 million LGBT members in Taiwan. Tsai’s long-waited election was believed to be inspiring news to them, since she is the first and only president who openly supports gender and marriage equality.

“She supports us and stresses equal rights. I’m proud that she can get elected,” Chiu said.

There were five gay candidates running in the parliamentary election, while 83 of others held a supportive view towards same-sex marriage, according to Pridewatch, an LGBT website in Taiwan.

Though the five candidates all failed to grab a seat in the Legislative Yuan, the voice of the LGBT groups in Taiwan is growing stronger after thirty years of pursuing equal rights.

“Gays are not living in a vacuum. They are members of the society just like everyone else,” said Jennifer Lu, who has participated in LGBT movement for 12 years and is one of the five candidates.

She said the right to marry is a birthright of people, which cannot be deprived because of their sex orientation.

In 2013, a draft bill on same-sex marriage was proposed by Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights. It suggests amendments of marriage law and allows gay people to get married.

After two years of discussion, however, the parliament still cannot agree on legalizing same-sex marriage.

Ben Shao, Executive secretary of the Centre of International Affairs from the former ruling party Kuomintang, said it requires public consensus to pass the law.

“Same-sex marriage has not yet been widely recognized by the community,” Shao said,

“We only care about the public opinion.”

Referring to a survey conducted by Minister of Justice, he said only 35.3 per cent of the respondents agreed that gay marriage should be legal on the island.

KMT’s counterpart, the Democratic Progressive Party, yet takes the side of support. The party’s Deputy Director of Department of Youth Development Mr Huang Shou-ta said the challenge in legalizing same-sex marriage is how to introduce such a law.

“DPP holds a progressive attitude towards the issue, yet it still needs to go through the legal procedures and the supports from the public,” Huang said.

Derek Tai, attorney at law, reckons the legislative purpose as the most important factor.

“If the LGBT groups use the reason that everyone in love has the freedom to be married, I’m afraid of the after effects for the society, such as those who have fetishes,” Mr Tai said.

He added same-sex marriage may not be a tool for the LGBT groups to attain equal rights because  “the aim of marriage is to bear children and stabilize the society, but not to eliminate discrimination.”

“If a marriage does not need to carry the responsibility to nurture the next generations, there will be no future for Taiwan.” Pastor Zhao said. As one of the opponents against the bill, she addresses that gay couples cannot have children while heterosexual marriage can.

“Legalization of same-sex marriage will undermine the values of marriage in the society,” she said.

Marriage may still be a dream for LGBT members in Taiwan. Jennifer Lu hopes that the newly-elected Legislative Yuan could have a diverse view when dealing with domestic issues and take care of the minorities.

“The right to marry is just a small topic in rights equality movement. We are not taking


Killing Ground for Journalists

Imposed with pressure from the government, drug cartels and their media companies, journalists in Mexico are fighting for free press.

By Sharon Shi & Fred Lai – 10/04/2016


Zedryk Raziel, reporter of Reforma was detained by the special military soldiers at the main square in Mexico City, the capital of Mexico. (Provided by Zedryk Raziel, Source: Twitter)

Months ago when Rubén Espinosa fled in exile 300 miles from the gulf coast of Veracruz to Mexico city, no one anticipated that he would be found shot to dead in an inconspicuous department, together with four of his colleagues and friends.

The renowned photojournalist was reported as the 14th victim on the list of journalists murdered in Veracruz from 2010 to 2015, all pointing to the governor Javier Duarte as the main person responsible, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Yet Rubén was pursued merely for a cover photo for the opposition magazine Proceso, in which Javier Duarte wears a police cap with his potbelly hanging over the belt and a headline that writes: “Veracruz, a lawless state.” Simple as it was, but bloodily was its cost.

From the up-north state of Tijuana to the eastern shore of Veracruz, Mexico is notorious for its suppression on freedom of speech. The government corruption and protracted drug wars escalating, journalists across the country find what they are holding in hands is not a pen, but bets on life or death.

“Mexico has press freedom to the extent that reporters get to publish what they want,” said Armando Flores Chiu, a Latin America Project Executive of Blue Umbrella in Hong Kong. “But the point is, you have to take the responsibility on your own.”

Mounting evidences show that Mexico could be the most dangerous country for journalists in the world. According to Reporters Without Borders, 91 deaths and 17 disappearances of journalists have been recorded since 2000, while 326 attacks on journalists were documented by Article 19, a human rights organization with a specific mandate on protecting journalists.

In all cases, the government carried out search operations yet all ended up with inadequate responses. Fifty-six per cent of the attacks were ascribed to the public servants, which may make sense of the unsatisfying investigations.

“The bitter reality has become shockingly common in the country,” said Domingo Aguilar Mendiola, a sports news editor for Starmedia in Mexico City.

Even for a non-political sports news reporter like Domingo, he was scolded by his editor and told to erase his online article about the “suspicious dealings” of the owner of a local famous football team. He later knew that the owner is a friend of their boss.

The press freedom in Mexico becomes worse with the ranking dropped from “Partly Free” in 2005 to “Not Free” in 2015, according to Freedom House.

The risks underpinning the work of journalists are linked to the general climate of impunity dominating Mexico’s life, said Dr Elvira Dominguez-Redondo, Associate Professor of International Law at Middlesex University in the UK.

“If potential aggressors are not investigated, prosecuted and punished, they remain a constant threat in an atmosphere of social fear and intimidation,” she added.

The government approved Law of the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalist to establish a procedure for urgent cases when life or physical integrity of the journalist is at risk.

“However, there are serious problems in its implementations linked to the lack of trust in its ability to protect journalists,” said Dr Elvira, who visited Mexico on human rights mission for the Civil Observation Mission (MOC).

Interviewing the kingpin may pose risks on reporters, but nothing is more dangerous than working in the regions where the drug cartels control with impunity, said Leticia Pineda, a correspondent of Agence France-Presse (AFP) in Mexico.

Many Mexican journalists have been attacked or kidnapped by punks in their homes, added Leticia. “The criminals know everything about them, where they work, where they live and who their relatives are.”

“The cartels control everything: agriculture, farming and tourism in states like Guerrero, Veracruz or Tamaulipas,” said Eduardo Bautista, reporter of EI Financiero Bloomberg.

The 25-year-old journalist once wrote about the business crisis of an electronic music giant in Mexico, whose music tours were greatly affected by the insecurity caused by drug gangs.

Eduardo was then threatened with retaliation not only from the gangs but also his interviewees. With hands tied, he took down the article and was asked to take a one-month “vacation” by his editor.

“Such threats can only happen in countries with a weak and corrupted justice system. And Mexico is one of these countries,” said Eduardo.

Despite the threats posed ahead of Mexican journalists, media companies failed to protect local journalists, or even tried to distant them when reporters received alarms.

“Journalists really put their lives on the line when investigating the sufferings drug cartels leave in their wake,” said Leticia Pineda.

She added that editors or owners of media companies often have commitments with the power groups, censoring journalists within the groups.

“We have news media companies, but more or less controlled by the Government,” said Zedryk Raziel, reporter of a liberal Mexican newspaper Reforma. “[Directors of] newspapers in Mexico are afraid of the Government and of losing their incomes for advertisement paid by the Government.”

On November 8, 2014, he was detained at the main square of Mexico City, in front of the symbolic National Palace where the country’s constitution was adopted a century ago and representing justice.

He was one of the thousands demonstrating for the 43 Ayotzinapa students, who were kidnapped and killed in September. But the protest calling for justice turned bloody.

Soldiers hurled stones and woods at the people, hitting them with hand chains. “At midnight, they started a prosecution and detained dozens of citizens at random, me included,” said Zedryk Raziel, who kept stating he was a journalist but being ignored.

Yet people all over the world do not turn a blind eye on the plight of reporters in Mexico. The death of the photojournalist Rubén Espinosa has provoked barrage of criticism globally condemning the violence against journalists.

“Journalism is a search for the truth, and the governments are trying to hide it.” Zedryk said when being asked why he wants to be a journalist regardless of the embattled situation.

He said the Mexican government is based on theft and lies and journalists are responsible to reveal them even if it comes with danger. “Is it worth it? Yes, it is.”

The family of landlord

In the countryside, landlords and rich peasants were the targets of all, even though they had lost everything before the Cultural Revolution came

By Sharon Shi – 11/4/2016

“The son of the landlord! The son of the landlord!”

His eyes turned to the tips of the shoes as soon as he stepped outside the house with the voice of hatred filling the ears of this five-year-old boy. He just wanted to run around in the mountains covered by hundreds of thousands of cedars like any other five-year-olds. Never daring to look up and see those faces with despite, he could not understand why all other children and adults hated him so much, nor did he know what “landlord” meant even though he repeatedly heard the word.

He was always alone – he couldn’t attend schools, nor did he have any friend.

In this tiny village named Longxi, where you need to walk up to ten hours through mountains and across rivers from the nearest bus stop, a little over 100 households only relied on farming to survive. Owning several pieces of land for some 30 square kilometers would count for the richest family in town.

It was the most remote and poorest land in the southwest of China, far from the heart of Beijing in the northeast, where villagers were lagged behind of everything. But this time, they kept up with the ten-year long nationwide intellectual movement of Mao Zedong, then Chairman of the Communist Party, in the 1960s.

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution massively swept across China in 1966, in pursuit of the “true” Communist ideology. The movement aiming to purge remnants of capitalist and traditional elements, this five-year-old boy, father of Long Shaoxian, was the final generation of landlord, growing along with the Cultural Revolution.

But Long’s father never tasted a day of sweet because the tragedies to the family could date to when the Communist Party seized power to run the country in 1949.

Long before her father was born, the People’s Liberation Army came to the village in the year of Mao winning the civil war against Kuomintang (KMT), confiscating land from her grandparents and leaving nothing to this family. Every piece of land and grains of that year were then redistributed to others.

“Even if you were not willing to hand in everything, there was no chance to rebel,” Long Shaoxian recalled her grandmother. “They had guns, but we had nothing.”

The family fell from the heaven of being the richest to the hell of the poorest. When the Cultural Revolution spread to town, her grandparents were the only two adults who were still alive before 1966 among their generation of over ten family members.

In the heart of the country, Mao Zedong used the weapon of Cultural Revolution to kill the infiltration of bourgeois in the government and society. Removing the “revisionists”, the movement radiated from top leadership to normal citizens who are intellectually anti-Maoism.

Violent struggles ensued across China with millions of people were prosecuted. But in this remote area where few intellectuals existed, the landlords and rich peasants became the targets in class struggles even though they had already lost every piece of the land in Communist Party’s land reform during the 50s and early 60s.

Except for Long’s family, a total of 50 relatively rich people were prosecuted in Gaibao Commune, one of the countless communes across China that were launched in Mao’s Great Leap Forward to develop the countryside.

“The villagers were not aware of what was the Cultural Revolution, nor were what it was for,” said Long. “But the torture to my grandparents escalated.”

Tied onto a wooden cross with chains, Long’s grandfather was repeatedly beaten for the whole day, leaving him unconscious at night. Not aware of the next morning coming, he was dragged off to the same spot with the blood of yesterday still fresh on the shirt. Several teeth levered out by poker, her grandfather tasted rusty iron in the mouth.

Her grandfather was mentally broken-down after being tortured for seven years. Feeling worse than death, Mr Long held the only knife in the house and cut his throat when he came back home as every other day. Blood came down, flowing with the red bleeding from the slashes on the face.

“My grandmother found him on time and fortunately the cut wasn’t too deep,” Long Shaoxian remembered her grandmother’s words. “But grandfather never got better from a psychological disorder and passed away three years later.”

Long said her grandmother was then the only target of all after the death of her husband.

The village was named “Longxi” for lying beside a stream and over half of the villagers shared the same last name of “Long”, meaning Dragons in Chinese. More than 300 people shared the same ancestors but time divided them into different “classes”. They were relatives, close or distant, but the flame of hatred burnt up all the same.

Her grandmother was beaten and starved every day, like his husband. She passed black stool for nearly two months and collapsed during the torture but people from the commune never meant to stop.

At the verge of death, Long’s grandmother stepped beside the cliff, beneath which lay a river that could swallow her remains.

She could not take it anymore of living under torture and starvation. She thought of jumping off.

“Mother! Mother!” she heard her son across the river.

“I had to live for my kids given they had already lost their father,” she told to herself.

Having no land to farm, not to mention grains to harvest, Long’s grandmother walked to the neighbouring villages when she was ignored by the commune, begging for leftovers to feed the whole family.

“The five kids, including my father, were the only support for my grandmother to live through all the tough years,” said Long.

“Grandmother lost track of time and had no idea when the Cultural Revolution was over,” said Long. “The only thing she did know was to hope the painful days would come to an end soon.”

Long’s grandmother rebelled her whole family for choosing this husband in an era of dictates of parents and words of matchmakers. They should be a happily married couple with their free wills to bind, but the marriage only lasted for four years of happiness, followed by 27-year painful life that left a fragmented family.

“She never regretted marrying my grandfather,” said Long Shaoxian.

The end of Cultural Revolution in 1976 meant the end of being publically tortured and humiliated but the continuity of poverty.

Yet not being able to attend schools for the entire adolescent life, Long’s father started in the lumber business with all the available cedars in the mountains he dreamt of running through at five years old.

The family started to recover bit by bit.

Funding HK Start-ups

By Sharon Shi, Charlotte Yang, Juliana Wu

Start-ups in Hong Kong are craving for investment and the government should invite more enterprise heavyweights to reduce the burden.


Twelve local start-ups battled fiercely for a ticket to Switzerland this weekend in the final round of Seedstars Hong Kong, a start-up competition held by Seedstars World.

The 12 finalists will have a chance to win at least $US 1.5 million investment.

Although there will only be one winner for each country, the prize is worth it for start-ups which have a tough time finding seed money.

Start-ups in Hong Kong are craving for investment. Projects, such as Alibaba’s HK$1 billion start-up fund, will bring in much investment capital as well as opportunities.

In a study carried out by Google and Chinese University of Hong Kong’s center for Entrepreneurship, 64 per cent of start-ups said insufficient capital was the biggest problem they face while 88 per cent say they were self-funded because investment capital was hard to come by.

According to Asian Venture Capital Journal, Hong Kong start-ups attracted US$33 million in funding from international and domestic investors in 2014. While the number almost doubled in 2012, the earliest year for which data is available, it lagged behind some other Asian cities: Singapore start-ups attracted US$319.4 million; Tokyo US$179.2 million; Seoul US$72.3 million and Shenzhen US$202.9 million.

New technologies, like 3D printing, renew the old fashions and innovate new industries to happen.

The government has made failed several attempts to improve the situation. It set up its own venture capital fund in 1993 with HK$750 million at its disposal, but was abandoned in 2005 criticism for its investments’ poor performance.

Then the government set up the Small Entrepreneur Research Assistance Programme (Serap), in which it offered loans of up to HK$6 million on a matching basis. However, the program was criticized by the Legislative Council and the Audit Commission because officials could not recoup the loans from the start-ups.

The government should invite heavyweights like Alibaba to set up start-up funds or technology giant like Facebook to carry out projects. For example Fb Start, a program designed by Facebook to help early stage mobile startups to grow and develop their app.

Under Alibaba’s HK$1 billion fund, for example, entrepreneurs can start and grow its business on Alibaba’s platform which brings their products to the enormous mainland market. Startups will also have access to capital and technical assistance as they develop their businesses.

With more knowledge and experience in the market, professionals in these funds will probably make better investment decisions that yield higher return than government bureaus. They will also have more time than government officials to monitor these startups. Moreover, even if the investments did perform badly, it is the fund that would bear the cost rather than the taxpayers in the scenario of a government funded project.

In attracting the companies to come, the government can emphasize on Hong Kong’s sizable talented poll, entrepreneur’s global outlook and the city’s world-known indomitable work ethics.

Overall, tempting as the US$ 1.5 million competition prize of SeedStars World might be, a sustainable start-up fund is what the city’s young entrepreneurs truly need.



It could be me

Soldiers burst into the house with gunfire. Suddenly pitch-blackness filled the afghan room with only several flashlights, glowing orange, penetrating the darkness.

“You! You! Head down! Move!” the soldiers yell.

For the second time in the “refugee camp”, my hands still could not help shaking, even though I was not a full participant but a camera man standing aside. I should have had mental preparation for what would happen but my heart still could not help speeding up, even though I knew the “soldiers” would not hurt me anyhow.

The simulation is just 14 per cent taste of a real camp, says Mr David Begbie, the organizer of the Refugee Run.

Being the main character as the village leader and charge commandant in the Refugee Run, Mr David Begbie says the simulation tries to help people walk in the shoes of refugees to feel the fear, powerlessness and vulnerability in only one slice of the real life situation.

Refugees being robbed and shot by the soldiers, starved and raped in the camp, “I was trying to avoid being seen and singled out,” says one of the participants, Mr Jack Packham. “You did not want to be noticed.”

“Education alone does not always change people’s behaviours,” Mr Begbie says. “When people’s hearts are engaged and empathy kicks in, suddenly people’s hands must help.”

The Senior Spokesman at the Crossroads Foundation started his volunteering work in his parents’ bedroom where the organization was born, he says. Coming back from the United States after university in 2004, he got down to full-time serving at the Crossroads.

Leaving Australia to Philippine and Hong Kong in childhood, his family saw plenty of poor people, he says. Those experiences make him a man with no country.

“Just in my heart, it was difficult,” Mr Begbie says. “Because I wanted to help but what can I do?”

He realizes he could be an ambassador not from a country but on behalf of people who have no voice. “Everywhere I am a tourist but also I am at home,” he says.

Warfare, conflicts and persecution force more than 32,000 refugees fleeing from home per day on average, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

They may only have the name on the ID card but nothing more, says Mr David Begbie.

He says the over 50 million refugees, people displaced outside their countries, may be taken by agencies that know fleeing people are coming.

However, an unplanned camp can start from one exhausted family sitting down and settling a tent without soldiers or fences, he adds.

“There is no one kind of camp,” he says.

Mr Jason Noble, the Engagement Strategist at the Crossroads Foundation, says the soldiers are poorly paid in the country where refugees rushing in brings huge burden to the government.

“One former refugee said the soldiers live in the pocket of refugees,” he says.

Mr Noble adds the military gives little salary to soldiers but a gun, telling them to make income from the expensive assets.

“The soldiers are not necessarily evil,” he says.

Mr David Begbie says refugees choose Hong Kong for the privilege that few countries have to allow people to cross the boarder without visas.

Around 79,000 refugees and asylum seekers live in Hong Kong, according to UNHCR. Only less than 200 gained the recognized status.

But Hong Kong is not a good place for them to survive, adds Mr Begbie.

“Asylum seekers are not allowed to work in Hong Kong while their cases are being processed,” he adds.

According to LegCo report, recognized refugees would receive a monthly cash allowance of HK$500 from the UNHCR, which ceased in July, 2013.

However charities, NGOs, private citizens and other social sections start to offer assistance, says Mr David Begbie.

“The situation is slowly evolving and slowly changing,” the spokesman adds.

Camps, slums, homes he visited and people he met in Macedonia, Bosnia and many other regions, he saw a man’s nose, lips, ears and hands were cut off by rebels and a girl was burnt by fire coming down from the grass roof.

“It could be me,” says Mr Dvid Begbie.

On Reading

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Sharon Shi Workbook

Summer 2015 — Photographing the City: London

On Reading

Aim, Objectives, Concept

The main purpose of my project is to show London has not been taken over by the “new”. The way we approach information has changed with the development of technology. The digital world brings us a whole new way of consuming those “old” stuff, like books, newspapers. Kindles, iPads, people seem to be obsessed with this little creature that carries bunches of libraries, news agencies, and bookstores. But still, I can see Londoners are cherishing the feelings of holding the old classics, from kids playing with fancy and well-designed science books, old man sitting every day in a book store to refresh his memory, to women grabbing a piece of newspaper reading on the way to work, people never forget to read the real stuff here in London.In terms of shooting, I hope to find different kinds of people, from young to old, from women to men, and also different places of them showing up to read something, from tube to park, from street to premises. I try to find typical samples to show how people read in this city, delivering a feeling of calmness and quietness coming across from reading. I try to gather images with different settings but a similar pattern of angles to create a sense of consistency.

Research on Readings


“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”

—Charles W. Eliot

“I haven’t actually got that far into it but as far as I’m aware, it’s about World War I. It’s a bit slow to begin with, so I’m hoping it picks up. I think a lot of people are reading more from Kindles and iPads than actual books, which I think is quite sad. I really like the old classics.”

—Aisling McGuiness (on BBC Culture)

Books are like mirrors: if a fool looks in, you cannot expect a genius to look out.

—J.K. Rowling

In Old days books were written by men of letters and read by the public. Nowadays books are written by the public and read by nobody.

—Oscar Wilde

On one side, there is a beautiful, calming world of printed books and reading. Free from electronic-based impatience, distractions, and failures.


Attitudes towards reading and writing

• 22.2% of young people aged eight to sixteen say they enjoy reading very much and 28.4% say they enjoy it quite a lot. 39.2% say they like it a bit and 10.2% say they do not enjoy reading at all.

• 66% of adults believe that the ability to read, write and communicate is a fundamental right in modern society.

• 92% of the British public say literacy is vital to the economy, and essential for getting a good job.

• A quarter of children and young people do not recognise a link between reading and success.

• Children and young people who engage in technology based texts, such as blogs, enjoy writing more and have more positive attitudes towards writing – 57% express a general enjoyment of writing vs. 40% who don’t have a blog.

• There is a consistent gender difference in attitudes towards writing. Boys do not enjoy writing as much as girls (38% vs.52%), either for family/ friends or for schoolwork and are more likely to rate themselves as ’not very good writers’ (48% vs. 42%).

• Technology based materials are the most frequently read, with nearly two thirds of children and young people reading websites every week, and half of children and young people reading emails and blogs/ networking websites (such as Bebo, MySpace) every week.

—Deeqa Jama and George Dugdale, National Literacy Trust, Literacy: State of the Nation, A picture of literacy in the UK today

References and Inspirations

      There are plenty of works of artists, photographers, painters inspiring me in terms of the project idea itself, places where I can find people read, composition, lightings, styles. 

      Also, many thanks to the teachers here, Mr Frank Watson and Ms Umit Zeyinciogluto give me valuable advice on the project.

André Kertész: On Reading

Mr André Kertész is the main reference of my series of London readers. I followed Mr André Kertész’s name of this lifelong project “On Reading” as a photojournalist, who captured the romance and escapism of reading in the past. This series of pictures shows the joy of reading in a period of time when technology did not distract people’s life in Paris.I really like the way Mr Kertész portrait the details of people reading without interrupt their peace and calmness. So I followed this feeling of not disturbing the subjects to capture the moment of their joy.


David Alan Harvey

Also, I got the inspiration from Mr Harvey to express the calmness in the motion. Using low aperture to slow down the shutter speed, this enabled to create the feeling of motion in contrast of a still person standing in front of the train, the calmness.


John Kortland

In terms of composition, Mr Kortland’s photo inspired me to shoot from the front of the person and focus on his behaviours and emotions. Messy backgrounds and foregrounds creates the sense of layers, making the picture a 3D rectangle.


Nancy Fletcher

When I visited the National Portrait Gallery, I found this painting, Hamish & Sophie Forsyth, by Nancy Fletcher. In a way, it shows the memories of the family as well as their style of reading, newspapers, books.

The Process

Seldom will I find someone sitting next to me to take out a book or newspaper and read during my time in Hong Kong. I tried to count once or twice when I entered the Mass Transit Railway (MTR), where in one section of the train, seven in ten, approximately, will stare at their phones, and the other three, in a daze.

When I start exploring this city, I notice people read everywhere; every one of them seems to have at least one book in their bag. They stay in the world the book bring to them, quiet and elegant. Or they will grab a piece of newspaper in the tube station, looking for what they missed during the work.I decided to make a series of people reading in London to show these “old” stuff have not been taken over by the “new”.

Some of those people I captured were drown in their world of books while some might notice me shooting them. But the interesting thing is that they were willing to be in my camera after I explained what I was doing. This city is so romantic with this group of people.I walked around the city without a destination, just letting my heart take me away to find these people. And luckily, I did.

After looking through some initial pictures, patterns were not clear and I was dry about where to go next. Then I tried to go to some noisy areas where I could luckily come across some people reading peacefully and tried to express their calmness in my pictures.After the final shooting, I selected seven out of 13; I got around 40 at last though. I was still not determined which six to go in the series when I suddenly felt the subtleness of those photos where I could really find the calmness in the readers’ minds.

Development of the Project

Images not chosen for the final

I came across this lady on the way back to the hall. A glass of wine and a book, she was so deep in her world and so elegant. A little reflection on the glass showed her calmness out of the busy life. I actually like this picture very much but at last I did not choose it in the series because it was too close to the lady so that I could not tell the context and environment of the image. It, then, from my perspective, did not fit into the theme of the series.

This old grandpa read in the Waterstone bookstore every day and he has a very good memory to recognise me, saying he noticed me came the other day. I like it though, but still, the composition does not quite go with the whole project.

The inspiration of shooting from this angle was coming from Mr André Kertész where he captured from above. I tried to picture people in different angles in order to give the sense of diversity but it did not work quite well in the end.

This is the image I hesitated for a long time whether to put it into the series. I like the way the book hid the reader’s face, giving a mystery of what is his facial expression and emotions behind the book by trying to get the answer from what he reads. But I dropped it in the end because the picture could not show much of the calmness.

This picture is quite interesting because there are four people reading different things and they have different reaction towards what they are reading. But I feel it difficult to know where to focus and the overall environment is not as interesting so I did not choose it.

I was inspired by Jowell, who is doing her project on hustle and rustle of the city by showing an isolated subject when I noticed this woman sitting on a crowded street in Westminster. But the quality of the image was not quite good in the end.

I noticed this man eating his quick breakfast and his eye could not move off from the newspapers. He was so focused and chased every second he had to grab information. But I think I was not close enough to get his facial expression in the image and the light is so hard at that time.

Images before and after photoshop

I subtly adjusted the light of the image. Originally, the source of light coming from the door behind the image, creating a dark side of the man’s face. I lowered a little of highlight and she shadow and put up some saturation to the image colour.

The light of the original photo is too hard, directly from the above sky. So the face of the reader was covering all with shadows. I adjusted the highlight and shadow to show more clearly of the reader’s face and cropped a little bit to place the reader of the one-third of the image.

In this image, I adjusted the colour to make it a bit more warm to show then contrast between yellow of the compasses and watches and the blue of the reader’s shirt to make him stand out. Also, I made a slight adjustment on the highlight and shadow to let the reader’s face shown more clearly.

In this image, I firstly higher the contract to make the shape of the horse more edged. Then I adjust the white balance to make it natural white instead of a little bit warm. After lower the highlight and shadow, I cropped the foot behind the reader to make the image very clean.

Originally, the image background is too bright because I shot in a fairly dark area. So I adjusted a little bit of the highlight to lower the brightness behind the tree, though it did not help very much. Then I made changes on the shadow to give more light on the readers face and the three. And also I added some green to the image and subtly made adjustment to the saturation.

The original picture is quite dark, so I added some exposure to the photo and also adjusted the shadow to give more light on the woman’s body. Then I cropped the picture from the left to remove the yellow sign and placed the woman in the one-third position.

Self Critique

Project title: How did this develop from your working title and what was involved in the decision process?

Initially, I was thinking to call my project “Readers in London”, which is directly pointing to the subject. After I showed my Pilot Project, which I continued with in the Personal Project, Frank suggested me to check on Mr André Kertész’s work. Then I found out his series on readers in Paris was named “On Reading”. So I decided to follow him on the Personal Project of what is going on when people is on reading.

Subject: Reflect on the subject matter of your project and the background research on this subject.

It all starts when I was in the departure hall, nervous about travelling alone to a completely unfamiliar country. An old lady sitting next to me started reading her book, a yellowing book; it must smell good, I guess. I like the smell of an old book, feeling like history. And also, technology changes our way of living; we human become virtual, not fond of the real stuff, the old classics. But after arriving in London, I started to notice people do read a lot in this city, everywhere, in parks, tubes, buses, streets; everywhere can be a place of joy and calmness of reading. I did research on the history of London’s printing industry and old bookstores, some of them were gone though. But London is still a nice place for book lovers, where people around read almost everywhere.

Aims, Objectives, Concept: (How and to what extent have you have achieved the aims and objectives of your project? Describe the main concept driving your project.)

My main concept is to show this city has not been taken over by the new technology where people do love reading the “old” stuff, a real book and printed newspapers. I want to show their calmness and enjoyment of reading no matter where they are, when they show up by not disturbing their reading. I think I almost achieve my proposed aims and objectives, though I was noticed by some of the readers I captured but some will just continue their reading, ignore me, and some others would show their willingness of being photoed after my explanation.

Form, medium, presentation: what is the final form and method of presentation of your work and why did you make these decision?

Originally, I wanted to show six pictures of different places with different shooting angles, which turned out to be not coherent enough and a little bit messy. After a week of collection, I finally selected seven out of around 40 images. And I was quite hesitated which one to exclude, then I suddenly realized a pattern in my other images, where the background and surroundings are a little bit heavy and messy while the readers are standing out from all these settings so I let the bus magazine reader go off the project series. And the final six images becomes two groups where each is from a similar angle.

Research methods: what methods did you use to research this work and how did this research inform your project?

I firstly looked through some reports about contemporary reading habits and how reading influence people’s life. I found a lot of good quotes and sayings to reflect the old and new reading style. After I decided to practice this idea in the Pilot Project, Frank suggested me to refer to Mr Andre’s “On Reading”, which gave me a great inspiration on how I was going to compose the image and what kinds of people I should go for. I went to galleries to feel those works, and how they were created and captured. Also, I found some other artists’ and photography lovers’ works online, which inspired me a lot on the project.

Reference: How useful were the references you explored – the artists, writers and filmmakers and how do you think your project would function in similar contemporary fields of production?

The references I found, especially the works of Mr André Kertész’s, inspired my project not only from the concept itself, and techniques. I started to figure out what is behind the picture instead of just looking at it, but seeing it through the conceptual perspective, where I made up my story about a particular photo, and also learning it from composition, lighting, more of how to develop certain kinds of effects, that is, I started to think about a photo when I see it. From my perspective, my project is a record of how people’s life still remains the way as hundreds of years ago, where people treasure the “real” and “old”. It can be an advertisement of alarming people not to throw away their classics as Aisling McGuiness said on BBC, “a lot of people are reading more from Kindles and iPads than actual books, which I think is quite sad”, so don’t put away our classics.

Other comments:

I wish I could have more time to walk around the city to find more diverse areas and different kinds of readers, like kids and so on. It is totally a great memory for me to capture all these readers because I am personally a book lover and really enjoy the feeling when holding a book on my hand. And as a journalist-to-be, I hope the project also could be my lifelong series of recording people reading all around the world, who still enjoy the feeling that real stuff bring to them.

Dropping in total revenue, yet attributable profit rockets, Cathay Pacific reports.

Cathay Pacific Group reports a decline in total revenue because of drops in passenger and cargo gains.

Dropping in total revenue by 0.9 percent, the Cathay Pacific Group reported an increase in attributable profit by over four times to HK$1.97 billion for the first six months of 2015.

Passenger revenue declined by 0.8 per cent to HK$36,226 million, affected by yield on routes to Australia, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom due to the weakness of currencies relative to the Hong Kong and United States dollars.

The incidence of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in June and red outbound travel alerts from the Hong Kong government reduced the demand for Korea travelling.

The depreciation of the Japanese yen, however, led to a growth in demand for travel to Japan but not in reverse.

The Group served 16.8 million passengers, a jump of 8.8 per cent in the first half year with passenger capacity rising by 6.4 per cent.

The Cathay Pacific Group introduced passenger services to Zurich and Boston in March and May respectively and stopped routes for Moscow in June.

Cargo revenue decreased by 2.5 per cent to HK$11,376 million and cargo yield for Cathay Pacific and Dragonair fell off by 11.1 per cent to HK$1.93.

Demand for cargo shipments from Hong Kong stayed strong for the first part of 2015 since the last quarter of 2014, but slackened in the second.

The Group spent HK$16,619 million on fuel in the six months, a fall of 12.2 per cent compared with the same period in 2014.

The significant reduction in fuel prices for the period cut down the total operating costs but was offset partially by the hedging losses.

Fuel still remained to be the most significant cost, accounting for 34.2 per cent of the Group’s total operating expenses.

Shoving Greece out of the Eurozone is a hurt to all

Greece’s referendum voted a “no” to further bailout aid from their international creditors, making the country swayed closer to bankruptcy and an exit from the euro area. Other Eurozone leaders reached an agreement to grant a third bailout programme to save Greece. Although a final deal still needs further negotiation and ratification from several national parliaments, the decision to keep Greece in the euro is a glimmer of light to both the country and the Eurozone.

Fears sparked among lender countries whether Greece could meet its debt obligation since Greek Depression started in 2009. When Greece truly failed to pay back the International Monetary Fund(IMF) of €323 billion debts on June 30 of 2015, Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman suggested Greece of an exit from the Eurozone to recover its economy by launching a new national currency, the drachma. The devaluation would then give the country a chance to boost its exports and pay down the debts with cheaper currency like Iceland and Canada. But would the method work for a country within a union zone?

Giving the history of the Eurozone, to form a union is best way to prevent another major war. Leaving of Greece would be a threat to the credibility of the euro and the European project by clearly stating the perceived irrevocable membership would be no longer true. Economically weaker countries, like Italy and Spain, would start to lose faith in the single monetary policy. “If one country leaves, then you start to get fluctuant,” said Mr Geoff Cutmore, financial journalist at CNBC. “Just like the earthquake starts with tremours, it eventually becomes a vast event.” More exits would break the current balance and turn into a more chaotic situation.

A “Grexit” would also lead to a potential exit from the European Union. According to a latest opinion poll conducted by the Greek Public Opinion (GPO), the majority, seven out of ten, chose to stay in the Eurozone at any cost and more than half believed they would be isolated if leaving the EU. Roger Bootle, independent British economist and consultant, wrote, “It is true that default and a euro exit could endanger Greece’s continued membership of the EU. More importantly, though, there is a strong element of national pride. For Greece to leave the euro would seem like a national humiliation.”

True, lying about its economic situations in the first place is Greece’s fault. “We always borrow too much, we always struggle to pay back, somehow we get away with it,” said Mr Geoff Cutmore.

Greece, however, is a tiny country, accounting for 0.3% of the world GDP. “In reality, it really wouldn’t bring down the European at all,” said Mr Cutmore. Back to the reality, even though Greece is running out of money and may not able to pay off debts, the country would have to start rebuilding the confidence from people, promising to pay wage, and take reforms to the industry.

District Council elections reach a record high of 951 nominations


District Council Election candidates
Infographic on facts about 2015 District Council election candidates

The fifth-term District Council elections reached a high record of 951 nominations with six withdrawing candidature when the two-week nomination period ended on October 15, a jump by over 100 individuals than valid nominations in 2011, according to the HKSAR Government.Snip20151018_4

Sha Tin District receives the highest number of candidates among the 18 local districts while the Islands District ranks the lowest with 87 and 24 nominations respectively.

The 2015 District Council elections will be held on November 22, adding 19 more elected seats than in the 2011 poll to a total of 431.

Over 30 parties and social groups send candidates to contest seats with newcomers, like the Youngspiration, emerging after the Umbrella Movement.

More than 300 candidates come from the pro-establishment camp, still overrunning the pan-democrats by around 100 persons.


The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong gains the majority of nominations from the pro-establishment camp while The Democratic Party makes up the biggest portion in the pan-democrats camp with 172 and 92 candidates separately.


Nominations from the DAB also take up the largest part among the 633 people who claimed their political affiliations, followed by the Independent candidates.


Female candidates accounts for only around 20 per cent of the nominations, a gentle increase by three per cent than in 2011.