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"Malaysia Truly Asia part XXXVII"

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Malaysia's Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party has demanded that a planned concert by Michael Learns to Rock be canceled, as the concert (to be held at the Genting Highlands Resort) is scheduled during Ramadan. They've said this concert is an insult to Islam. I suppose they mean the timing of the show, though they could also be commenting on the relative quality of this group.

This is the same party that managed to get a Beyonce concert canceled in 2007 and held protests outside an Avril Lavigne concert when they were unable to get that canceled. In terms of Lavigne, they said the concert would weaken the younger generation "morally and mentally" and again, perhaps they're just being music critics here.

I thought Malaysia was "truly Asia," this melting pot of cultures and tolerance? I thought Malaysia is only 60% Malay/Muslim? But apparently there is no respect for the other 40% of the population. It's not very "Pan" of them, is it?

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In other shopping news (probably should have put this at the end of the previous post), Causeway Bay shopping mall Delay No Mall has closed. Owned by the guy behind the G.O.D. (Goods Of Desire) shops and the Delay No More t-shirts, most of the tenants had moved out. It was in an odd location that doesn't get heavy foot traffic - but then again so are the G.O.D. shops. I went there twice but didn't find anything of interest - of course the target audience was much younger, and at least this was a mall that did not have the usual assortment of shops that you find in every other mall in HK. The space will be given over to a new branch of Taiwan dumpling kings Din Tai Fung.

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Couple of things in the SCMP letters column caught my eye today.

Mr. Stephen C.K. Chan suggests that the West Kowloon Cultural District should include a convention center, a casino and "a range of hotels." Why? Because he has already decided that "most Hongkongers will not attend the events that are staged," without knowing what events are going to be staged! Of course he's probably correct, as "most Hongkongers" seem to have no interest in arts or culture beyond investment opportunities.

Meanwhile, Mr. Robert Chau, "founder, chairman, Health & Lifestyle Channel," has decided that so-called "free-to-air" TV channels "features a lot of degrading television programmes that damage the fabric of our society." He does not cite any specific examples, nor does he give his definition of what is degrading beyond citing "rude language" and "people sometimes acting in a very immature manner and doing some stupid and degrading things." He goes on to suggest a boycott of the companies that advertise during these programs. There is a way to register one's dislike of a program - turn the TV off. But that's not enough for Chau, who is clearly yet another neanderthal out to dictate morality for everyone. Like that political party in Malaysia.

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Fresh fruit containing residues of cancer-causing pesticides was found on sale at branches of Park 'n Shop and Vanguard. "Among the residues found, the most dangerous were the pesticides chlorpyrifos and dichlorvos, which are listed as highly hazardous by the World Health Organisation." Oddly enough, according to the SCMP, this is one instance where the mainland has regulations against selling this sort of poison but Hong Kong doesn't. And of course the supermarkets don't give a damn about the quality of what they sell.

"An off-duty sergeant fired three shots as a gunman took aim at him and another man tried to attack him with a knife in a remote car park in Tai Po early yesterday. Lam Kin-keung, 54, who is due to retire soon, missed his two targets and twisted his ankle while running for cover." I'd say this guy needs to retire now.

Also in the "we can't do anything right" section is a report from the Hospital Authority that says that despite record levels of organ donations (well below levels in western countries), "some organs that could save lives are not being used at public hospitals because of a lack of manpower and failure to keep potential donors in good condition long enough for a brain-death confirmation."

Well, gotta run, more later, of course.

Blogger Paul Lewis said...

The policeman is actually due to retire on Friday. Like most police in Hong Kong, he's never fired his gun in a real situation before.

Robert Chua's letter was very funny. He said that television's main purpose was to educate, inform and entertain.

I may have the order wrong there, but he did say educate first.

Who decided that?

Anyway, his Health and Lifestyle Internet TV channels are not exactly setting record viewing figures.

8/25/2009 4:47 PM

Blogger mister bijou said...

Chua took the phrase "educate, inform, entertain" from Lord Reith, in 1922 the founding director general of the BBC.

In that order, it remains part of the BBC's mission statement, although you have to wonder if anyone bothers to adhere to it anymore at the Beeb.

8/25/2009 10:10 PM

Blogger Mona said...

I wonder if any of the gentlemen who wrote in disagreement with Robert Chua’s intention to improve the TV airwave ever asked their own or other parents (especially mothers) if they are happy with the state of today’s degrading TV programs? Would they agree with Robert’s or their personal comments? Have they ever seen the disgusting TV programs in Hong Kong that he was referring to? If they have personally seen those disgusting programs I am sure they would agree that Robert was right in expressing his fear that the broadcasters are damaging the fabric of our society? Are they not concern that those programs are the cause of the degradation of our social values?

TV’s main role is to ‘entertain’, ‘inform’ and ‘educate’ so what is wrong when Robert put to ‘educate’ first before ‘inform’ and ‘entertainment’? Would Paul Lewis prefer not to have to ‘educate’ at all and rather replace ‘educate’ with ‘degrade’ as long as it entertaining to him? He is right when he say ‘Health & Lifestyle Channel’ is not setting record viewing figures because Robert is fighting against the popular trend of degrading program content. I am sure he is aware he will not set record viewing figures because he is running against the tide of popular degrading programs. Why fault him for trying to provide a ‘socially responsible’ channel for our society? One wonders who and what Paul stands for and holds against Robert’s mission? Guess Paul is single man, carefree and really does not care what the future holds for his generation or our Chinese society cultural values.

Mister Bijou is right about whether anyone would bother to adhere to the TV 3 main roles to ‘educate’, ‘inform’ and ‘entertain’ anymore. This does not mean that we should not try to follow BBC mission statement made by then Lord Reith the founding director general’s BCC in 1922.

Degratainment programs will always be more popular and rate better than clean healthy programs just as junk food (candies and ice cream) would be over any healthy food taken during proper meals for children. What would you do if you are the father of a child who prefers ‘junk food’ or ‘healthy food’? Feed the child regularly with junk food? Likewise if broadcasters are ‘socially responsible’ what would they do? Food for Thought!

8/27/2009 11:11 AM

Blogger Spike said...

So Mona, you have decided that you are superior to everyone else and in a position to dictate the morality that everyone else should follow? You don't like these programs so no one should have the choice to watch them?

Most television stations and program providers are run by corporations. The major legal responsibility of a corporation is to earn money for its stockholders. They do so by providing programs they believe will achieve high ratings so that they can charge the most for advertising segments.

If you don't like a show, switch it off. Don't allow it in your house. And don't try to tell me what's allowed in the privacy of my home. If the shows of the Health & Lifestyle Channel are not popular, it is not the fault of the public, it is the fault of the H&LC. So your plan to increase the ratings of H&LC is to force other programs to shut down because they are otherwise unable to compete fairly in a free market?

8/27/2009 1:36 PM

Blogger Mona said...

So Spike it is all about money for you – putting ‘profit’ ahead of ‘social responsibility’. Despite showing you the similarity between ‘junk food’ and ‘degratainment program’ you are unwilling to accept reasoning and remain stubborn with your views.

Of course we expect corporations (public or private) to earn money for its stockholders while remaining a socially responsible company, but not when knowingly that the money will come from damaging the fabric of our society.

Guess if you happen to be in the British era in Hong Kong you would say that it is ok to sell ‘opium’ to China based on your belief that as long as it makes money for the stockholders.

I am not telling you what is allowed or not allowed in the privacy of your home. The issue here is that as it is ‘free-to-air’ TV that the disgusting programs get into ‘health family homes’ which parents object. You may expose yourself to whatever rubbish you like if you pay for it but such rubbish should not be exposed to children. If one takes drugs (obviously paid for) is it right to offer it for free to the children (to tempt them)? – even cigarette ads has been banned on TV to discourage smoking!

Spike, please consider the wellbeing of our society. ‘Money’ is not everything! I failed to convince you about the need for ‘social responsibility’ and shall leave this debate for the public to comment. Your views speak volume for your personality and integrity!

8/28/2009 10:46 AM

Blogger Spike said...

You have misinterpreted my comments.

There is no law regarding social responsibility for corporations. Law for corporations says their only responsibility is to make a profit. There is no clause in corporation law regarding social responsibility.

Television programs and opium are not the same thing. Television and McDonalds are not the same thing. And you are just as free to choose to eat somewhere other than McDonalds as you are free to watch a DVD or read a book instead of watching TVB.

You are attempting to set yourself up as the arbiter of morality for others. What gives you that right?

8/28/2009 11:28 AM

Blogger LuvBug said...

Robert may have it a little 'twisted' around, but I agree that TV's role should be to inform (news), educate (documentaries) and entertain (shows,movies, etc).
But his version of degratainment may not be entirely wrong as I feel that TV corporations today are swayed by the big advertising bucks - read P R O F I T - that go with popular ratings.
So, now everyone wants to watch how performers scheme cunningly to outwit each other in various reality TV shows to collect the $1 million bucks in prize money! Is this the kind of moral values that we want to inculcate into our next generation? Do we want our kids to outwit us at home so that they can cheat parents out of a quick buck to get at that fast food burger or pizza which you and I had to sweat for during our youth?
I guess Robert's Health & Lifestyle Internet TV provides a breath of fresh air into a somewhat gutter-bound global TV landscape.

8/30/2009 9:46 PM

Blogger Mona said...

I have every right to be arbiter of ‘morality’ as you have the right to be arbiter of ‘degradation’. If you wish to impose such trash upon yourself, do so at your peril. I am absolutely against ‘free-to-air’ TV offering such degrading programs to children and young adults because the frequent airing would amount to an endorsement by the society (which is not) and would soon be regarded as ‘normal’ and soon society will behave rudely, doing disgusting things that other decent societies would oppose. I have no objection if it is on Pay TV.

We all have our ‘freedom to choose’ (preferably good from bad) but we should not forget that we also have the ‘freedom to object’ (rejecting all rubbish) to such rubbish on our ‘free-to-air’ TV.

On your comments about Television programs and opium / Television and McDonalds not being the same thing - so is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ TV program content not the same thing! But the comparison between the two is the same (good or bad – program or food content) so what do you say?

8/31/2009 1:33 PM

Blogger Spike said...

What do I say? I say that in a free society, you have the freedom to express your opinion, as do I. You have the right to say that some program is offensive to you and that you will not watch it. You can suggest that I shouldn't watch it as well. But you can't order me not to watch it, unless perhaps I'm a member of your household. And I also have the right to say that I disagree with your opinion.

And actually, you're only combating the symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. If you see society on a downward moral slide, is it TV alone that's at fault? If TV broadcasters show programs that you find degrading and those programs are popular with the mass public, then wouldn't it be fair to say that the problem lies with the education system that didn't teach kids a better appreciation of the arts and culture, ethics and morality, and with their parents who failed at passing along their moral standards to their kids?

I don't believe that people can exist solely on a diet of Shakespeare, they need a bit of Three Stooges as well. But people need to be able to choose for themselves. And no matter how hard we try, not everyone will appreciate Hamlet, not everyone will appreciate Aida.

If you don't like the choices that are out there, and you make the positive step of providing an alternative choice, and what you provide fails to catch on with the public, is that the public's fault? Is what you provided so great that there must be something wrong with everyone else because they can't see it? Is it the fault of broadcasters that are providing things that people like? Are you advocating a system of censorship that only allows public expressions that you agree with?

I am not the arbiter of degradation, regardless of what you think. And you are not the arbiter of morality for anyone besides you, your family and perhaps your group of friends.

I think McDonald's sucks. But I don't advocate the forced closure of it. I advocate doing a better job of teaching people about nutrition and health and then letting them make their own choices. Because that's freedom. And that's how freedom works.

8/31/2009 2:09 PM

Blogger Mona said...

Spike - Many of my points are not answered and wonder is it because you cannot defend them? Here are my answers to your key points: You can suggest that I shouldn't watch it as well. But you can't order me not to watch it, where did I ever ‘order you not to watch? unless perhaps I'm a member of your household and even if you are a member of my household I will not order (but advise) you not to watch unless you are a child!

If TV broadcasters show programs that you find degrading and those programs are popular with the mass public, then wouldn't it be fair to say that the problem lies with the education system that didn't teach kids a better appreciation of the arts and culture, ethics and morality, and with their parents who failed at passing along their moral standards to their kids? If TV broadcasters are socially responsible they would not air ‘bad ethics and immorality’ programs that are counter productive to the good teaching / efforts made by parents. Parents want to keep ‘junk food’ away from a child even when they like it more than ‘regular healthy food’ and likewise they want to keep away ‘degrading programs’ from their children while the ‘free-to-air’ TV broadcasters continue to air such programs.

If you don't like the choices that are out there, and you make the positive step of providing an alternative choice, and what you provide fails to catch on with the public, is that the public's fault? Where did you read in my letter I blamed the public? It is the broadcasters that I am blaming. Is it the fault of broadcasters that are providing things that people like? Is it not the fault of parents if they provide ‘junk food’ to feed their child just because they like it instead of providing them with ‘healthy food’?

I think McDonald's sucks. But I don't advocate the forced closure of it. I advocate doing a better job of teaching people about nutrition and health and then letting them make their own choices. Because that's freedom. And that's how freedom works. Did I ever advocate the forced closure of the broadcasters? I only wanted the broadcasters to be aware of the damage they are causing to our society with their ‘degrading’ programs. I just wanted them to stop producing such programs and be ‘socially responsible’.

9/02/2009 9:48 AM

Blogger Spike said...

I'm enjoying this exchange Mona, hope you are too. But I'm not certain that you have entirely understood what I am trying to say here.

Why should TV broadcasters be socially responsible? I'm not talking ethics or morals here, I'm talking legality. I'm sure that a lot of the execs are well aware of what they're showing. And perhaps sit around in board rooms saying, "Can you believe they watch this crap we put on?"

They are in business to earn a profit first, everything else second. That's how corporation law works. They put on programs that they believe will get high ratings so that they can charge a higher price for advertising minutes. If their shows don't get high ratings, the people in charge often lose their jobs and are replaced with someone else. That's how commercial TV works.

I also suspect - but can't say for certain - that TV licenses require the broadcasters to show a certain percentage of public affairs or educational programming. And if you questioned the broadcasters, they could say that they are living up to this, by pointing to such shows that mostly do not air during prime time hours.

If I look at TVB Pearl's schedule in just the next few hours, I see Electric Company (good educational programming for kids), an hour of news, a documentary on architecture, a documentary on New Zealand, ending up with 4 hours where they cut over to Bloomberg. So they can say that they are living up to their responsibilities.

The US tried to establish a "family hour" for broadcast TV, it was voluntary and it was mostly abandoned after a few years. I agree with you that adult programming on broadcast TV should be restricted to certain hours.

But if you don't like some percentage of what they're showing, and those shows are popular with the mass public, is it the broadcaster's fault for airing them, for doing their job and catering to the masses? Is it the public's fault that they'd rather see someone's pants get pulled down than an evening of cultural entertainment or documentaries?

Actually, what you want are two different things.

First, you want them to be aware of what they are doing. I believe that they are already well aware but that they don't care because they are earning profits, which is their job. I hope that in support of your desire, you are also registering your complaints with broadcast management and the broadcast licensing authorities in HK and not just with me.

Second, you want them to stop producing such programs. You want them to be "socially responsible." Fine, how do you propose to do that? The only way they will do it under current laws and regulations would be if they were to believe that such a change in programming would lead to increased profits. And in order to do that, you would need to change the taste of the public en masse so that they would stop watching these shows you find objectionable. I'm not saying this is impossible but it isn't trivial either.

Or you would need to change the set-up of commercial television in Hong Kong so that it is no longer a commercial enterprise. Since this is unlikely to happen, I like a suggestion that was in a letter in the SCMP today, offer an alternative: have the government establish a third, non-profit network, dedicated 100% to educational and informative and cultural programming. Many countries do this, including both the US and China. Why not Hong Kong?

I agree 100% with your "freedom to object." You and I may not agree on what constitutes social responsibility or morality, but I support your right to publicly register your opinion, using every legal method at your disposal. And I would hope, since you seem to be an open minded person, that if you write a letter that's printed or get interviewed on TV and I disagree with your position, I have the right to state my disagreement.

9/02/2009 4:25 PM

Blogger Spike said...

Oh, on the McDonald's thing, yes, to a large extent it is the parents' fault that they don't steer their children towards healthier food. And perhaps the schools could do a better job of teaching about nutrition. But the fact is, McDonald's relentlessly targets children in their marketing campaigns. The children respond to this and then demand that their parents take them there to eat, because the kids don't have the necessary knowledge for making an informed decision. This happens all over the world, not jut in HK. I ask - is it fair and ethical to allow McD's to use this marketing tactic? If we can ban the advertising of cigarettes to children, can we not ban the advertising of unhealthy food to them as well?

9/02/2009 4:25 PM

Blogger Mona said...

Hahaha…you would say ”Why should broadcasters be ‘socially responsible’? You support the broadcasters irresponsible actions by saying when you are talking about business it is about ‘legality’ and is not about ‘ethics’ and ‘morals’ which means that in your book they not expected in businesses. For you it is OK to put ‘PROFIT’ ahead of ‘ethics’ and ‘morals’ regardless of the consequences in the degradation of our society.

We are getting nowhere with this exchange as we certainly have different views which is perfectly OK but it is a shame that you represents the views of the minority that represent the less socially responsible society that is destroying our next generation.

I give up on you. I wish you well in wanting to live in a society that is going downhill thanks to people like you who instead of fighting for the ‘good’ prefers to have the freedom to choose between the ‘bad’ and the ‘bad’ (what a choice!) instead of the freedom to choose between the ‘good’ or the ‘bad’.

Mona

9/04/2009 10:31 PM

Blogger Spike said...

Truly a shame that you have to resort to personal attacks, ignorance of reality and the law, and emotions in conducting your debate. I withdraw my offer of marriage.

9/04/2009 10:47 PM

Blogger teshan said...

Seems to be like this is a debate between one who represents a "bad guy" and the other, a "good guy"! Nobody wins here because our world is not just black and white.

9/06/2009 9:57 AM