Tseung Kwan O: Urban Planning By Psychopaths?

Earlier this week I did a feature on the state of the Hong Kong property market.

These photos were taken in the Tseung Kwan O (TKO) district of Kowloon.

Apparently, Hong Kong property prices have jumped 48% since January 2009.

This is being largely driven by mainland investors, who are making it impossible for first-time buyers in Hong Kong get on the property ladder.

The last two photos are actually of public housing, so not strictly part of the story, but I liked the pink and blue hues.

Incredibly, all of this has sprouted in the last 15 years, and they haven't even finshed it yet. 

Over the years I have heard Hong Kong housing variously described as; "rabbit hutches for humans", "concrete shoeboxes in the sky", "human filing cabinets", "mode of production storage units", and of course, in its wider context, "psychopathic urban planning".

Hemlock blogged about the place here.


Hong Kong Government Promotes Shark Fin On Its Information Services Dept Website

My how times change.

(© Copyright Hong Kong Government All rights reserved.)

As a Hong Kong Government accredited journalist, I have privileged access to the Information Services Department 'Digital Photos System', or DIPS as it is called. If you are bona fide member of the media in Hong Kong you are supplied with a username and password, which is very useful for when a big news story breaks here. This is if, for some reason, the media are not granted access to the scene, and only the official Government photographer is allowed to be there. Think Police or Customs & Excise operations, incidents airside at the airport, that kind of thing. So as a reporter, you can go into their system, download their pix, and file them as Hong Kong Government handout photos. But a lot of the day-to-day photos on the site are extremely ho-hum to say the least. The usual images are dull pictures of, say, Hong Kong Government officials shaking hands, (or "strengthening ties and fostering economic cooperation and partnership"), with some poor sod from elsewhere.

But whilst having a good old rummage on DIPS tonight, (something I'd been meaning to do for ages), I found a wonderful archive of stock photography of all kinds of things from Hong Kong. From bridges, ports, roads and tunnels, to stock brokers, dragonflies, temples, skylines and wetland marshes. A veritable cornucopia of the corporate, corny and cheesy. The archive is as picture postcard perfect as it is huge. And of course being such an incurable sharkaholic, I just couldn't resist a search for term: 'shark'. And what exactly did that trawl up from the archive? An AFCD photo of dead whale shark caught in a fisherman's net, a few other juvenile shark beach strandings, some minor government officials inspecting shark nets on Silverstrand beach... and the above photo dated 01 June 1997. A beautifully staged and lit PR photo promoting that king dish of all Chinese luxury cuisine, shark fin soup. Shot on film, (you can just tell), with no camera data available in the IPTC field in the 'File Info' when opened in Photoshop.

Now fast forward 13 years from the date of the photo in question, and despite the gargantuan efforts of just about every green group in town to get the Hong Kong Government to take shark fin off the menu at it's official banquets, and the widespread international condemnation of the cruel practice, Chief Executive Donald Tsang made no mention of shark fin at all in his 2010-2011 Policy Address on the 13th October. The status quo remains as is. All our efforts sank without a trace. Donald effectively raised his middle finger to the WWF, the SPCA, Greenpeace, the Civic Party, Hong Kong Shark Foundation, Shark Savers, Oceanic Love, Shark Rescue, Bloom, GreenSense, Clement Lee's 3,000 anti-shark fin Facebook mates, et al.

But there is no denying that public opinion in Hong Kong is leaning towards a ban on shark fin. Chinese people are getting fed up with it - just like they did with bound feet a few decades ago. Just like the way westerners turned the tide against slavery and, to a lesser extent, the fur trade. It may be some way off yet, but things in Hong Kong are definitely moving in the right direction on shark fin.

However, to show just how out of step the Government in Hong Kong is on this issue, it's interesting to see that this photo is still readily available for reporters to download from the Government website. As if promoting shark fin as a tourism draw is still somehow okay. Bad PR? Maybe. A bureaucratic overisght? Probably. It will be interesting to see how long this photo remains available.

If anyone knows where this is 'feast of fins' was shot, please do let me know. I am guessing from the funky interior decor of the restaurant, that it was at one of the Chinese Restaurants on the Jumbo floating restaurant, but I could be wrong. To see the image large, to be able to decipher the text on the bronze wall plaque, (and the morbidly curious should), please click on the last image in my 'Shark Finning' slide show (Screen 6 of 6) in the portfolio section of this website. And make sure to click on the full screen icon - you may have to wait a few seconds for the 1.2MB full size image to load.

Just look at that poor stuffed and varnished tiger shark on the wall! And the huge whale shark fins too. It's as unbelievable as the 80's hairdos of the poor couple pictured...


Hong Kong Night Skyline With Junk Boat...

Sometimes you find the most picturesque right under your nose...


PLA Song & Dance / China National Day 2010

To celebrate the 61st anniversary of the establishment of the Glorious Motherland...

... I am reposting some photos from the 10th anniversary of the Hong Kong Handover that I took in 2007.

Photos 1, 2, 3 & 4: The 'Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Song & Dance Troupe', General Political Department (GPD).

Photos 5 & 6: The 'National Ballet of China' performing a 'model opera' called 'The Red Detachment Of Women', which was first premiered on 26 September 1964. According to China's main ticketing website, "this play shook the entire foundation of bourgeois art".

Photos 7 & 8: The Beijing Military Area Command 'Zhan You Art Troupe' mass choir sing a concert entitled 'The Long March Suite - The Red Army Is Undaunted By The Long Expedition'. Songs include; 'My Dear Motherland', 'The Guerrilla's Song', 'In the Army', 'The Flags Are Fluttering', 'Spring Plough' and 'The Yellow River'.

Happy National Day!


Panoramic HDR Photography From The ICC, West Kowloon, Hong Kong


Happy Lantern Festival 2010!

Lanterns in Victoria Park, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, China, 22 September 2010.


Facebook Group "請曾特首在施政報告中暫絶魚翅 Please Say No To Shark Fin Soup In Your CE Policy Address" Holds A Press Event In Hong Kong...

Hong Kong saw its second ever shark fin protest yesterday.

'Sharkettes' from the Hong Kong Shark Foundation were out in force in Central District, handing out their postcards to the public. The pre-stamped postcards pre-addressed to Hong Kong's Chief Executive Donald Tsang, are urging him to put a halt to the serving and consumption of shark fin soup at all official government banquets. A Facebook campaign with the same aim has been set up too, which can be joined here.

The younger generation of Chinese were really supportive and accepted the postcards with grace.

People in their 20's and 30's laughed and smiled.

Many of them wanted to pose with the 'sharkettes' and have their photos taken.

I mean, who can but laugh at the sight of an 8ft shark on two legs coming down the street towards you?

The older generation, that's who.

The old guard are certainly not crumbling any time soon.

With all the post cards handed out, it was time to go up the hill to the FCC to attend the press conference.

But not before stopping in front of 'Super Star Seafood Restaurant' for a photo op. Not sure why, but the manager(?) was very pleased to see us, and even came out to say hello!

Back inside the FCC, the press conference was already in full flow.

The press conference line-up: Claire Garner (2L), Director, Hong Kong Shark Foundation; Audrey Eu (L), Guest of Honour, Legislative Council Member and Civic Party leader; Rachel Pang (R), anti-sharkfin Facebook diva (18,800+ fans!) and member of the Hong Kong Shark Foundation; and Rachel Vickerstaff (2R), Director, Hong Kong Shark Foundation. The ladies were jointly-presenting the shark protection postcard campaign. Both the postcard campaign and the Facebook campaign are aiming for Donald Tsang to make a public statement on the issue in his forthcoming Policy Address to Hong Kong's Legislative Council on 13 October 2010 - watch this space.

During the press conference, the delightful Audrey Eu even made reference to a photo by Paul Hilton in our book 'Man & Shark'. The image shows a juvenile oceanic white tip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) being hauled onto the deck of a Taiwanese longline fishing boat somewhere in the Western Pacific. Audrey's point was that even small sharks are now being targetted, as much of the adult population of sharks is being depleted at such an alarming rate. Unbelievably, even the Environment Bureau and the Agriculture, Food and Conservation Department of the Hong Kong Government have not publicly sworn off shark fin. So far, only the Hong Kong Observatory has.

A Hong Kong tradition: the cheesy group shot with banner at the end of a presser. The full text of the petition and its list of co-signors can be seen here.

One happy reader!

After the press conference concluded, Gary Stokes of Oceanic Love thought it would be a good idea to stage a small protest outside the Central Government Offices (CGO).

It was an ad hoc, but symbolic gesture.

One 'sharkette' tried to ask a favour of a security guard to help her pass a postcard to Donald Tsang.

He was having none of it.

So she decided to go through the proper channels instead, by employing a conveniently located HongKong Post box.

The six-month-pregnant Rachel Vickerstaff also did the same.

And Jan Lai of Greensense unfurled his awesome 'Jaws' poster.

Within five minutes of us being there, the state security apparatus had cranked into gear. Out came that video camera again. It was time for the 'sharkettes' to find their pelagic way home.

For more photos of the days sharktastic activities, go here.

As well as plenty of media coverage in the local Chinese newspapers (which was the main target), the press event gained English language media coverage in the form of radio interviews by the BBC and by RTHK, and photo coverage by Reuters: http://is.gd/fiPOQ http://is.gd/fiPJX http://is.gd/fiPLR


按:各位可以到 http://facebook.com/CePaSharkFin 按「讚好/Like」以示支持
另:本運動將在本星期日 ( 2010-09-19 ) 舉行記者招待會公佈詳情


致: 行政長官  曾蔭權先生
致: 環境局局長  邱騰華先生






一般相信每年有二千六百萬至七千三百萬條野生鯊魚被殺害,以滿足我們對魚翅湯的口福之慾。多種鯊魚正瀕臨絶種。一九九六年時,全球已經有15種鯊魚 及其近親品種被視為受威脅物種。但在短短十年間,其數字更加急增八倍。鯊魚在海洋生態系統中具有關鍵作用。若鯊魚絶種了,海洋的生態平衡受到破壞,人類的 存亡也會受到影響。







花旗集團 (Citigroup) 本年七月曾經在香港和星加坡以魚翅作招徠,推廣該銀行的信用咭,結果引來公眾的反感和抗議。該次事件曾被本港報章報導,甚至美國紐約時報和英國金融時報也 曾報導此事。集團最後從善如流,匆匆的把有關的推廣活動取消。其實,類似的事件,近年時有所聞。





Mr. Donald Tsang please say no to shark fin soup
in your policy address

To: Mr. Donald Tsang , Chief Executive
To: Mr. Edward Yau , Secretary for the Environment


Every October, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong delivers his Policy Address. We, the undersigned green groups, scholars, and concerned citizens, request the insertion of a pledge in his 2010 Policy Address, that

until there is convincing evidence proving the impact of shark fisheries to be compatible with the principles of sustainable development, the HKSAR government will halt the consumption of shark fin soup at all official banquets.

This request follows previous letters from some of the co-signing organizations to the HK SAR Government advocating a similar policy change, for which the answer we could get so far has been that “the matter is being looked into”. We urge Mr. Tsang to take concrete action, through this simple pledge in his Policy Address.

Environmental impact of shark fin soup

Between 26 and 73 million sharks a year are being killed to satisfy the appetite for shark fin soup. Many shark species are now on the brink of extinction. In 1996, 15 shark and related species were considered threatened. Within ten years this number has increased eightfold. Sharks sit at the top of the marine ecosystem and are therefore critical for oceanic health, upon which our own sustainability depends.

Global and local awareness

Many corporations and institutions in Hong Kong have already pledged not to eat shark fin soup. These include the University of Hong Kong, HSBC, the Hong Kong and China Gas Company, Hang Seng Bank, Swire Properties, and Canon Hong Kong. 180 primary and secondary schools have made a similar pledge.

Internationally, since 2007 the Malaysian Government has banned shark fin soup at their official functions. The Hawaii State Government has imposed a blanket ban on the possession, trade and distribution of all shark fin products in the state.

One government department, the Hong Kong Observatory has taken an admirable lead in removing shark fin soup from its menus.

Shark fin soup: a mine field for a corporate’s public image

Recent campaigns have showed the depth of public feeling on this important conservation and sustainability issue.

In July this year, Citigroup ran a credit card promotion in Hong Kong and Singapore featuring shark fin soup. This triggered a public outcry, with the story making its way into local newspapers and even The New York Times and the Financial Times overseas. The bank eventually responded to public pressure and swiftly scrapped the promotion. This is just one example of public opinion demanding that organizations uphold their public commitments to sustainability, with coherent policies around the consumption of shark-fin soup.

The lesson to learn from these incidents is that shark fin soup can easily turn into a public-relations disaster. It is much better to be proactive than to be forced to take action in the face of public pressure and justifiable frustration.

Shark fin soup is a luxury not a necessity

Hong Kong Government currently runs an “Endangered Species Resource Centre”. Every year it organizes almost a hundred exhibitions and seminars, and receives more than 6,000 visitors. All this is done to educate the public about the protection of endangered species. But no exhibition or seminar could be as effective as the Government setting an example.

Shark fin soup is a luxury not a necessity, yet its detrimental environmental impact seems very plausible, if not proven. We urge our government to give the benefit of the doubt to our environment, and to halt spending taxpayers’ money on shark fin soup, until someone can prove that it has no undesirable environmental impact. Isn’t this a sound public policy?


WWF - Hong Kong 世界自然基金會香港分會
環保觸覺 (Green Sense)
綠色和平 Greenpeace
Hong Kong Shark Foundation
Shark Rescue
護鯊行動(香港)(Shark Savers Hong Kong)
Oceanic Love
Yvonne Sadovy, PhD, Professor, University of Hong Kong
Prof. King Ming Chan, Director, Environmental Science Program, CUHK
陳詠娟博士 Wing-Kuen Chan, PhD
Alex Hofford (Author, Photographer, “Man & Shark”)
Paul Hilton (Author, Photographer, “Man & Shark”)
張堅庭 Alfred Cheung (導演、編劇、監製、演員、電台/電視節目主持人)
林一峰 Chet Lam(創作歌手)
余若薇 Audrey Eu
葉劉淑儀 Regina Ip ( 立法會議員,匯賢智庫主席 )
陳淑莊 Tanya Chan (大律師、立法會議員)
莫乃光 Charles Mok
范國威 Gary Fan (綠色社區主席 Chairperson, Green Community)
彭凱恩 Rachel Hoi-Yan Pang (「向魚翅說不」運動發起人)
Steve White
蔡海偉 Hoi-Wai Chua
Rico Wong
Kirk Keong Lee ("Save Our Shark From A Bowl Of Soup")
李銳華 Clement Yui-Wah Lee, PhD (「魚翅婚宴。人情七折」運動發起人)

查詢 Enquiries
彭凱恩 Rachel Hoi-Yan Pang -- Email: pangrachel AT gmail DOT com
Claire Garner – Email: claire AT hksharkfoundation DOT org
李銳華 Clement Yui-Wah Lee -- Email: leeyuiwah AT yahoo DOT com

-- 完 --


Security Guards Film Media In Hong Kong...

We are all used to this, the friendly face of government in Hong Kong.

But that doesn't make it any less annoying. All over the world, it's a increasingly common problem for photojournalists to be harrassed by the police and by security guards. Suffering intimidating pressure is, unfortunatley, all in a day's work for us.

Watching you, watching me, state security now comes in many different looks - including yellow nail polish.


Smuggled Elephant Tusks Worth US$1.4m Seized In Hong Kong

Customs officers in Hong Kong yesterday seized around 400 elephant tusks worth nearly US$1.4m, that had been smuggled in from Tanzania.

(Photo: Hong Kong Customs & Excise Department)

The ivory was found inside two shipping containers marked as dried anchovies, which arrived from Malaysia on Sunday. The two men who went to pick up the consignment at Tsing Yi container terminal on Thursday were arrested. (Report courtesy, RTHK.)

Can someone please tell me, what is it with this town's obsession with consuming endangered wildlife? And where were the tusks headed to? Was their final destination China?


At The Asian Seafood Expo In Hong Kong, Critically Endangered Bluefin Tuna...

How can this be allowed to happen?

Everyone, by now, knows that bluefin tuna is on the verge of extinction.

According to the United Nations International Union for the Conservation of Nature (UN-IUCN) 'Red List' of endangered species, bluefin tuna is as 'critically endangered' as the panda or the tiger.

So why is it OK to eat it in Hong Kong?

We don't eat panda or tiger, so why do people eat bluefin tuna? Because it is available, yet rare and expensive.

Because you have to be rich to be able to afford it. How can people be so dumb?

A friend suggested to me tonight that it has to do with race. But I really would prefer not to get into all that here...


All images and text © Alex Hofford / Image Solutions Ltd. 2011 | Web design in Hong Kong by Ugli © 2011