Monday, 21 May 2012

Accidental hero of HK$6000 handouts

Benson Tsang, Nise Sou, Ban Chung and Cyrus Hu.

    A man who spent his HK$6,000 government handout on buying food for Hong Kong's hungry has accidentally created a new movement to help the city's poor.

    Benson Tsang Chi-ho was making a simple personal protest against the government's decision to give all permanent residents cash instead of using the money to help the people he believed really needed it.
    He used his money to buy tins of food and hot meals from small, independent stores and restaurants in Sham Shui Po to feed the local poor.
    A few of his friends decided to join in, using their HK$6,000 "as it should be used - back into the community".
    Tsang, an interior designer, posted some pictures of their efforts on Facebook and then arranged some other "people's handouts" using the social network site.
    The turning point came in February, after a government clean-up operation swooped without warning on street sleepers in Sham Shui Po. Their belongings, including bedding, identity cards, phones and clothes were confiscated and thrown away.
    Tsang said: "I got so mad about it I started ranting on Facebook. That night, I brought clothes down to Sham Shui Po for [the street sleepers] but they were nowhere to be seen. It was really cold that night."
    His outrage saw his actions gather momentum and now, a year and two months since the first "action" last March, 150 to 180 people gather once a month to try to make a difference. Most of them have never met each other before. And as of yesterday, 678 people had indicated on Facebook that they were taking part in the next of their planned events.
    Tsang said: "It's completely decentralised and anonymous. No one needs to commit and everyone's encouraged to bring the idea back to their own neighbourhoods, or start their own actions."
    Tsang said the aim wasn't just to "feed the poor" but to change the way people see others and to realise how powerful one's decisions can be.
    "This is not about being sympathetic - we don't need that. It's about sharing. We are trying to rebuild community and relationships within a neighbourhood," he said.
    Nise Sou Lai-sim, who does community development work in a church and has become a regular participant, said: "We don't raise funds, we don't need commitment, we have minimal organisation.
    "Rather, we hope this experience will create bridges between people of different backgrounds.
    "Our aim is to bring back the sense of neighbourly friendliness which Hong Kong has lost."
    Sou became involved last October - at which time about 40 people were taking part - after coming across Tsang's Facebook posting about a "mooncake event", where the group was giving out 800 mooncakes which had been donated.
    On Christmas Eve, she added, about 100 people turned up. She said talking to store owners, street sleepers, the elderly or cubicle dwellers was just as important as giving out food. "When you talk to people, your heart will change," she added.
    She said it was also important to spend donations within the community itself. "If we buy cans of food from ParknShop and Wellcome, then the meaning is lost.
    "This exercise is actually about bringing awareness. I changed the way I see, and so changed the way I consume.
    "We want participants to realise this," added Sou, who said the movement had also spread to To Kwa Wan and Kowloon City.
    Cyrus Hu Kwok-chum, who joined for the first time in December, said the initiative had made him aware of where food was made, and who would benefit from the money he spent.
    "My eyes were opened," he added, saying he now counted street sleepers, local store and restaurant owners as well as the people collecting cardboard among his friends.
    Hu works for a food import and export company and his bosses now donate food and drink which is close to their sell-by date and therefore cannot be sold to supermarkets.
    Another participant Ban Chung Wing-sze, who works in publishing, was moved to act a year ago after seeing Tsang's pictures of elderly people collecting cardboard to sell in order to be able to eat that night.
    "I was looking for a way to serving people, and saw that this was a good one," she said.
    Tsang said 80 per cent of the people who indicated they would come to an event turned up.
    Without a structure, Tsang said, he had named what was happening an "equal sharing initiative".
    There are now around 20 people who help put together events.The next one climaxes on May 26 and is all about "rediscovering your little neighbourhood stalls".People are being asked to purchase five to 10 cans of food from different small, local shops, label them with the stores' addresses and paste pictures on Facebook.

On May 26 in Sham Shui Po, which has the lowest average household income in the city, participants will swap the cans of food then return to their own districts to hand out the tins to the local needy, said Tsang."We will create a network and map of all the local surviving stores all around the city, supporting them, while using our money to ultimately support the needy," added the man who started it all.

Original article: SCMP ( needs subscription)

If Hong Kongers can take time out from their own busy lives to share, what can British Chinese learn from this , in order to improve our own sense of community?


  1. Unlike the other completely trivial, local news at best stories you find in China which the Daily Mail seems to love publishing, you can bet they won't publish something like this.

    1. Yeah actually Im not a big reader of online Hong Kong tabloids but I know sometimes SCMP has the odd interesting article. And this one caught my attention, just because its unusual the way it happened, that someone can actually do something that can create a sense of community in some pretty dismal times.

      Funny enough I did find something the mail printed about cage dwellers but as you say its doing its usual taking truth and putting sinophobic twist on it

      But what strikes me about the article, is that the organiser is quite specific about 'rediscovering your little neigbourhood stalls',and then posting what you bought on facebook.

      To me, this shows cultural pride.

      Its pretty impressive how they organised everything to create a sense of togetherness. From what I read about whats going on in HK with all the changes this is something that can lift people spirits.

      Be nice if we did something here, though if not necessarily giving to poor, but some kind of charitable event that can at least connect the Chinese in the UK that isnt necessarily the usual commercial dragon dance, but more a people event, with I suppose, food and talking. What that would be ive no idea.

    2. found another, more relevant example

      Read the comments, all moderated, all nice and civil (considering the context). Yet the past few months we have had several articles of a similar nature concerning (in no particular order): babies, foetuses, animals, cruelty, hunting rhinos-tigers..... yet all these stories were unmoderated and, as a result, full of racist bile. The only difference between this one and those were the latter was referring to China. What's up with that then?

    3. Just look at these articles, if the DM calls itself the newspaper for "Middle England", then why are they publishing local news from half way across the world?

      Pactically every week they'll have a story like this about China. They're never this meticulous with any other country. The DM knows the opinions of what they and their readers hold, but their blatant sinophobia is repulsive.

      Seriously just fucking look the captions of these photos on this newspiece, it even says "Quirky China News".

      If they expect all ethnic minorities in the UK to integrate themselves into society whilst they're constantly slandered at with racist taunts attacks, then they're fucking idiots.

    4. Nice collection. Can try and do an article on Western press sinophobia, to BBCz if you want. But itd probably have to say something fresh about sinophobia other than that we dont already know, and need a cross-section of examples, other than just the Daily Mail.

    5. SCMP is a very mainnstream broadsheet english newspaper with many western journalists , it doesnt cover small stories.

      Incidently, @ anonymous, I was due to post your article on DM but wanted to contact you first, but your email is blocked.

    6. @BBCz, I made the email to only send the msg and to keep my main email anonymous, I deleted it after. Although I'll be fine with anything you publish, I'll email me if you want.


  2. Has anyone read about the facebook creator new wife?

    I digress, sad to say this but most BBCs are Thacterite kids, there is no "big society" just me me me, I try not fully to be like that but reckon it the prevailing attitude even in HK bcoz sadly the belief is u are nothing if u aint got money etc, its also why there is community interest, without money u still in chains. I been to HK ppl r money and business obsessed, what is Gokwan really all abt? it the pricetag...

    1. re Facebook just found this

      Wasnt sure if it was worth an article being that this is a BBC blog, though it touches on IR.

      I'd agree with you that many BBCs have thatcherite values. And that british financial hub has arguably made Commonwealth Chinese immigrants into an even more materialistic type of Chinese, and in a way deadened our Chinese spirit, which is why I think as Chinese we need to get it back.

      Like the guy in the article, give ourselves a more balanced perspective in life which is also a Chinese concept, but obviously challenging when we are trained to behave a certain way.

      Re the $6000HK GOV handout. I guess that's the 'controversial' part of the article, because that's the part most BBCs are entitled to.

      Re: the guy who accidentally started the movement. Maybe he was wealthy anyway so he could afford to do such a gesture, whilst many Chinese could not have afforded to.

      Its also arguable, whether we got our handout or not whether we are concerned about it or not, to understand that community is also the idea of giving and not just taking.

      Its partly why we commune online on this blog contributing articles, taking time to share opinions, and to question whether we as individuals and as a community can go beyond that. Its a challenge, but without a strong spiritual intention, whatever infrastructure you intend to set up for yourself, the efforts will be meaningless.

    2. Its interesting how theyre portrayed initially as simple down to earth computer geeks/nerds. However, Priscilla Chan first met Mark Zuckerberg at a Jewish fraternity party. The question is...why would a Chinese go to a Jewish fraternity party? the same reason these white males go to Asian societies - to hit on the members of the opposite sex.

      Obviously Priscilla Chan is a Jew licker with matzah fever and went there intentionally to look for a Jewish guy to date. There is nothing co-incidental about the actions of these types of Chinese women including the likes of Wendi Deng...

      ...its all pre-meditated and pre-planned, she even asked her teacher what she had to do to get into Harvard when she was just 13 years old, her teacher was so shocked because no 13 yr olds ambitiously plan that far ahead.

  3. Ethnic Chinese in Britain have been charitable when they can afford it. The problem being, those most likely to be in a position of being charitable (regular job/income, moderatly stable standard of living) are those who were born here or long term immigrants - and these people in general tend to donate to British, and thus white people oriented charities... you compare this with rich asians who have setup charities and funds that specifically target those of asian descent... there are very few examples of ethnic Chinese doing this for their own people - because they consider the wider British - and thus white, asian British - as their own. So essentially, the resources and goodwill of ethnic Chinese who donate and dedicate their time goes towards everyone in this country - and while that includes ethnic Chinese, as we are so few in numbers in reality that amounts to nothing - whereas resources donated by whites to British charities they know will mostly go towards white British (as they are the majority).... same with asians donating to asian targeted causes.

    There are exceptions though... the owner of Wing Yip (I think) has a fund going for years now that targets British ethnic Chinese who otherwise couldn't afford to go to uni with scholarship fees. That is why when I was talking about creating a media presence for British Chinese on an earlier article, that we should lobby Chinese businesses, successful Chinese individuals etc. for funds and resources... because they are the people most likely to give a damn AND in a position to help.

    1. Was it this article you commented on?

      Re Charitable contributions, most of it goes to whites because it keeps them in the good books. Re Wing Yip again thats patronising british universities. Whether he would fund such a venture, that is Chinese only, its hard to tell.

      But with British Chinese community being actively around since 1970s why hasnt anyone thought of this before, and why are the events and get togethers that represents us 'Oriental' and Exotic and flimsy in nature?

      Personally, as I think BBCz has mentioned before, its pointless being part of something that is 'programming for whites' as we have enough of that already. Only a vehicle that allows ethnic Chinese/British East Asians to have an open mind to understanding each other as Chinese in Britain.

      Being charitable, is not only giving of money, its also time and effort putting into something that you dont get immediate return. Again some BBCs do this, but because theres no solid community identity, most of that volunteer work, unless it's a local FOB run Chinese community, is largely for whites/ non Chinese.This in turn does nothing to nurture a UK Chinese collective identity and arguably makes it more whitewashed.

      In reference to the article, to me, unless UK Chinese take an active interest in a project that can enforce ethnic Chinese collective interests like Mr Benson Tsang, even though we know the interest may not be reciprocated, cant really see much changing. I guess in a way, Hong Kongers are Hong Kongers. British East Asians are made up of so many different divisions of ethnicity ( British East Asian) and core of UK Chinese community do not themselves have a collective sensibility, which would arguably be the base of such a collective, rallying for a charitably cause would take considerably more initiative. Incidentally, does anyone know of any British Japanese or British Koreans Or British Thai /Filipino ? The ones I've seen and few that Ive met are either visiting FOBS/ visiting FOB students or FOB females with white boyfriends.

  4. That the ' bastion ' of capitalism has made CW Chinese callous and uncaring, or words to that effect.

    I say BS.

    I say that may apply to the Western oriented elites and a few crass individuals but not really to the masses.

    In any case how would the 2 main commentators here gain access to that when they can't speak their own language.

    Most things are barred to those who cannot communicate effectively in 1 of the 2 major Chinese languages. End of.

    Get a life and learn some Chinese and stop resenting people who have done so.

    Jianjianjain Hanjainnnnnn !

    Guardian readers are cowards and hypocrites just as much as Hanjians are.

    they only cry foul if the racism is against kunduts and blacks.

    Also one certain person is pushing the all encompassing " British Asian " agenda to get reclaim lost face, due to both sides of the divide dissing him, despite the fact that he knows this will harm all Chinese in a very short time frame.

    Joker, go and marry Fanfan from capital spreads - " Kno Wha' ah meannn "



    1. Theres no resentment here. The article is discussing creating a connected sense of community by giving back . I cant understand your other points as i dont speak FOB-lish.

  5. Learn Chinese, end of.


    1. On a BBC blog what part of 'British' Chinese community dont you understand? Got some idea of the nerve I hit, but let you save your face as I'm not here to make enemies with ethnic Chinese even occasionally autistic ones.

  6. Chinese are Chinese - end of.

    Make up your mind who you are.

    I really don't give a shit either way but it seems to me that you are the one doing all the whining with little justification.

    I think this 'nerve' you hit must your own.

    What a joker.


    1. On the boxer article, when I suggested the British Chinese media should be run by BBCs, you mentioned that without FOBS it wont happen, I agreed, and then went off on one of on a tangent about Huaren or some other crap instead of choosing to understand the logistical challenges of getting it off the ground.Or even offering a practical contribution.

      If you arent open to understanding or respecting other peoples opinions, or specifically BBC viewpoints, or if as you say, dont give a shit, either way, go find some Malaysian FOB blog instead of trolling here.

    2. What media ? What FOB ?

      No bigger troller than a fake who claims to be Chinese and from HK, when he can barely speak 2 words of Cantonese - never heard of this, no Chinese can survive in long term in HK w/o Chinese - you will be laughed at till we are blue in the face.

      I am a dual national - HK and MY and I sometimes reside in UK. As a pure Chinese who speaks both Chinese languages - I have more right than you to comment on Chinese matters, especially when some people pose as saviours but are really out to get " revenge " for self perceived slights from the Chinese.


    3. What self perceived slights are you on about? Im talking about giving back to British Chinese community to create something substantial or of actual value to British Chinese identity beyond something than bunch of groceries and a dragon dance and you are going on about revenge.

      And if you cant understand the concept of British Born Chinese who speak Cantonese to varying degrees, why are you still posting here?

      How about this - sign up for a google ID and write an article about how you think all British Born Chinese should be ashamed etc in your typical FOB derogatory stance and email it to Write it in English, not FOBlish and we'll get it published.

      Then you can consider yourself a proper contributor and not a troll.

      And if you cant remember the Boxer article that talks about BBC media that you referenced only a few comments ago, I suggest you go see a doctor. You may have some kind of autism.

    4. @ming, Who claims to be Chinese and from HK and cant speak 2 words in Cantonese? Who are you referring to?

      Dual national of MY and HK? You do realise there is no Hong Kong citizenship, don't you? You have quasi-citizenship, not real dual nationality. You don't even know the law.

      BTW, your Chinese is not that good either Ming, otherwise you'll be reading ONLY Chinese news websites in Chinese characters/text and not English ones like this - which is what 'real' FOBs do, not wannabes.

      Final warning: If you persist with your stupidity, I will ban you for trolling again.

    5. I have no idea what self perceived slights he's on about either. Also, nobody has claimed to be from Hongkong, nobody has said they cant speak cantonese. Very strange character is our ming rev, he doesnt read the articles or follow discussion, instead uses his very wild imagination and invents 'made up' facts out of the blue.

      Speaking of clueless FOBs with wild imagination with made up facts. Have you seen this...

      chunxueping review of our blog!

      "Very bitter, unpleasant, self-pity blog. To me sum up all that is bad with Chinese male in UK.

      They want white girl-friend, run down Chinese girl because she not blonde, blue-eyed with generous chest and then complain that Chinese girl turn her nose up at them."

      HAHA. I have never published any 'self-pity' articles. I have never published any article 'bigging up' white blonde blue eyed women over Chinese women! I have never published any article justifying IR with white blonde women. No commenter anywhere on this blog has ever published a comment saying they want blonde women with blue eyes.

      As always these baseless, factless, incorrect assumptions reveal more about the inner insecurties and personal predjudices and ignorance of the posters themselves than those whom they attack. In this case, this dumb FOB woman chunxueping (who doesn't even live in the UK, but lives in Beijing) thinks she knows all about the BBC male in the UK yet I can make a bet she doesn't know any BBC males in real life, so why say that?

      Obviously, this fallacy that Chinese men want blonde women with blue eyes has to come from somewhere. But where? Since there is no factual evidence of Chinese men wanting blondes or marrying blondes in large numbers, I'm guessing it comes from the Chinese woman's own bitter internalised oppressed imagination of explaining why she has been rejected by Chinese men and thus, thinks she can go for the white man as Chinese men go for blondes.

      Its interesting Wai the other day said BBCs need to incorporate HK and Mainland FOBs into a new website so we can unite as a community and discuss topics together. Haha, you think we have anything to discuss with these clueless FOBs who know nothing about BBCs or British Chinese?

  7. Its normal, in China due to the famines through the ravages of time (about 1900 of them since 200BC) the wealthy have ALWAYS given out rice and grain to the poor.

    In Hong Kong it even happens today.

    Myself I don't give money to charity. I give time instead. I teach English to needy people. I work a 75 hour job. I have various lessons I take. I have things I need to do, not want NEED to do. I spend hours on my accounts.

    yet I still take 5 hours out a week to do my teaching thing unpaid.

    1. Impressive, as an individual , I wouldn't begin to pretend to match anywhere near those kind of achievements.

      Re:giving back to the community

      Maybe the way British Chinese community is set up.If the first Chinese came here as slaves or shoeshiners to Royalty,it doesnt seem we have outgrown that slavish mentality. Kowtowing just seems to be part and parcel of British Chinese identity , and like many things, we just chose not to question the psychology of British Chinese identity enough.

      Giving back to those in need is one thing , but If theres no genuine of community in the first place, then giving back to the community cannot even begin to exist.

    2. I'm also impressed with Ken.

      Re article: Im not sure those concerned in the article are 'wealthy' just middle class,although I maybe wrong, just look at the guys name.

  8. Ah keep your lousy blog.

    I got more respect for Daniel York than I do for either of you.

    nei hai cienkak, pientai, sutpai che !

    Bye .


    1. With that kind of skewered logic, good riddance.

  9. To sum up, IMO the poverty that needs treating, is British Chinese social identity itself - and us members of British Chinese community who do nothing to reach out to each other or show a real warmth of welcoming or sense of kindness towards each other.

    Those that will regret / suffer are those same BBCs who arguably as adults now, choose to raise their children in the UK without a social identity.

    It may not be apparent now, but at some point, British Chinese complacency towards it's own attitude, may well be affected, and by then it may well be too late.