Interview online at Apple Daily

Filed in Hong Kong, PressTags: ,

A few months ago, I did an interview with people from Apple Daily for their online education site. Little did I know that it would become quite an extensive interview and writeup, even getting some banner time in the main Apple Daily site.

Overall, the interview is pretty good. The one thing I am disappointed with is the sound recording. Some of the interview was recorded indoors at my friend's coffee shop Prestigio (she also serves fair dinkum home made Malaysian, Singaporean, Western etc food) in Sai Kung. Some of it was recorded outside the restaurant. Because of the noise from passing traffic, I voluntarily increased the volume of my voice with the intent of guaranteeing a recording that the reporters could take home and hear without difficulty.

The problem? It brought out one of the errors in my Cantonese abilities. Whenever I speak louder, the pitch of my voice naturally goes up too. When speaking English, this isn't a problem. When speaking Cantonese where pitch and tones are everything, it's a big no-no. The result is that my non-Cantonese foreigner accent becomes very pronounced, so much so that even I am embarrassed to listen to it. If I'm conscious of it, I can force the pitch back down while maintaining the volume which I've learned to do when filming at TVB. During the interview though, I was more concerned with the content of what I was saying than the accuracy of my Cantonese so it completely slipped my mind.

Douglas; a friend who I have the good fortune to know personally, and whose intelligence frequently humbles me; commented about my remarks regarding middle class people in Hong Kong, how they are not satisfied with their lives or conditions and how many of them have decided to not have babies. I've checked the transcript and audio recording on the interview site and it certainly sounds like I said that. However, I wouldn't say that, at least not the way it has been reported. I wouldn't say that because my wife and I are in exactly the same circumstance as many other middle class (sandwich class?) Hong Kong citizens.

The fact is that life here in Hong Kong is extremely difficult for many of its middle class citizens. We; meaning the middle class citizens; work hard not to get rich, but simply to make enough to pay our mortgages, taxes and eat. With any luck, we'll have some left over to maintain our car or occasionally repaint our flat. Most of our outings take us to the local cinemas and our wardrobes contain nothing special. It's therefore no wonder that many of today's middle class citizens have decided not to have babies. It would be too great an economical burden for most of us. (For those of you living outside of Hong Kong, good schools here in Hong Kong are not free and they're most definitely not cheap, and the expense begins when or before the infant hits the ripe age of just 2 years old.)

Douglas made a good point. It's the midle class people that keep the economy going, or at least keep the government's coffers full. On the other hand, the lower class people get handouts from the government. In many cases, these handouts are absolutely necessary. There are a lot of people here in Hong Kong living on just HKD2,000 a month. Remember for a moment that my wife and I spend more than that just to feed our 'kids' and you'll understand how impossibly difficult it must be for those lower class people to survive in the expensive city that Hong Kong is. The government handouts are therefore absolutely necessary. For these people, the government also provides housing, and there is of course free public schooling, although the final grades of secondary school are not free (please correct me on this if I'm wrong). With these provisions and if you're more concerned with procreating and continuing your family blood line than with the quality of the education your children will get from the free public shools, then it makes sense to have babies. Hence, many lower class citizens continue to have children and bring them up while many middle class citizens decide to do otherwise.

While in Indonesia last year, I couldn't help but observe that family life was a major part of life (i.e., people spend a lot of time with their families), and families were frequently quite large, especially in the poorer areas of the country. I can't help but wonder if technology and 'modern' life styles are anti-family.

But the one thing that keeps repeating in my mind every time I think about how poorer people tend to have larger families is a line from the Christian bible:
Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth
. That's truly something to ponder.


Comments (Comments are closed)

8 Responses to “Interview online at Apple Daily”
  1. 河國榮 says:

    (transferred from another entry. original date: 2006/05/27 22:35:31 +08:00)


    I don't remember saying that, and I don't think it's selfish for the current generation to not procreate and create a next generation. maybe I said it wrong (you know my Cantonese is so-so ;-) or you mis-understood me. which part of the interview was it in?

  2. 杜格拉斯 says:

    (transferred from another entry. original date: 2006/05/28 19:21:57 +08:00)


    " 珍 惜 人 , 香 港 有 很 多 從 事 勞 力 工 作 的 人 其 實 為 香 港 作 出很 大 的 貢 獻 , 讓 市 民 享 受 舒 適 的 生 活 , 但 卻 沒 有 得 到 太 多 重 視 。 不 少 中 產 的 香 港 人擁 有 很 多 , 過 著 很 好 的 生 活 , 但 都 不 感 到 滿 足 , 不 願 生 育 小 孩 。 而 那 些 勞 力 工 作 者可 能 工 作 辛 苦 得 多 , 收 入 相 對 少 , 他 們 卻 勇 於 生 育 , 培 育 未 來 的 香 港 人 , 他 們 其 實是 香 港 的 無 名 英 雄。"



    註﹕你o的中文差?你唔好講笑啦 :>

  3. sapphire says:

    (transferred from another entry. original date: 2006/05/29 05:57:04 +08:00)



  4. stephen says:

    Speaking of the Bible...I did a search on and there is a total of 31 entries found on "fruitful." Just on Genesis alone, there's 13 entries related to "fruitful" out of the 31 entries. Genesis had the majority of entries and just in Genesis' entries, 12 out of 13 entries of "fruitful" was related to creating multitude of generations upon generations to fill the earth. This is God's plan. So, yes, the meek will inherit the earth...but how will the meek inherit it if they don't pro- or create their next generations?

  5. 杜格拉斯 says:







  6. Carmen says:

    Hi Greg,

    HK students just have free education until F.3 (or grade 9) and then we have to pay school fee, the higher the grade you reach, the higher the fee as well. However, for those who're in need, the government still provides subsidies for them, either in the form of 50% or 100% grant. So as a person who's been a student for about 22 years in HK, I still think the education system in HK is quite fair even for the poor and free public schools are not necessarily worse than those expensive international ones. However, I also agree that the expenditure on education keeps increasing and that's really a worry for the middle-class.

  7. 杜格拉斯 says:

    Hi Carmen,


    加上李局長o既急於求成,一連串o既改革,葯石亂投,一項措施未見成效就開另一項,令教師o既正職變為副業。另外,硬把五級o既學生縮為三級,結果學校不能因材施教,教師光是花在課堂秩序巳經不勝其煩,試問四十分鐘一堂的課可以留多少給學生? 一連串改革,朝令夕改,試問一般都受過高深教育o既中產階層又點會願意讓自己o既下一代成為白老鼠呢?



  8. Hugo says:

    Hi Greg,
    I happened to read your interview with Apple Daily the other day. It is really inspirational I have got to say. I went to New Zealand alone 7 years ago. I have encountered many of the challenges and dilemmas you mentioned in the interview. Your spirit and attitude towards life have cheered me up. Thank you. :)