Ed's HK Hack Writer Awards

Posted by Ed 3 mths ago
A hack writer is a pejorative term for a writer who is paid to write low-quality, rushed articles or books "to order", often with a short deadline. ... In journalism, a hack writer is deemed to operate as a "mercenary" or "pen for hire", expressing their client's political opinions in pamphlets or newspaper articles.
The Hack Writer Award is aimed at improving journalism by identifying poorly written articles as well as political and/or commercial propaganda being passed off as legitimate articles.

Today's Hack Writer Award goes to Christy Leung of the South China Morning Post for her puff piece:

Frustrating, painful, saddening: police commander describes seven months of dealing with Hong Kong protests

When judging this piece of writing, there were many weaknesses that reflect on Christy's unwillingness or inability to challenge Officer Dover, but the highlights are as follows:

1. Rupert Dover claimed police were slow to respond to the Yuen Long MTR massacre stating:

‘Yeah, because of the distances involved (all officers were deployed to deal with riots in other parts of Hong Kong)'

Well Christy, that is implausible and untrue.

I was on the front lines dozens of times (writing for AsiaXPAT) between October and December and no matter where the protests started, whether it was in Shatin, Yuen Long, or Tai Koo, the police arrived at the scene within 15-20 minutes.

When protesters gathered in the malls in December, the police again showed up within 15-20 minutes, sooner if the protesters were damaging shops.

Based on this, I seriously doubt Rupert Dover's assertion that implies the Yuen Long Police Station was empty because all officers were deployed to other parts of Hong Kong to deal with protests.

If that were the case, then if someone were to have run through the Yoho Mall in Yuen Long threatening people with a meat cleaver that evening, would the police have required 45 minutes to respond to an emergency call? I don't think so.

And if major, violent protests would have sparked up in Yuen Long, would it have taken 45 minutes for the police to arrive? I don't think so.

Even if there were only a handful of officers in the Yuen Long station at the time, there were men attacking defenceless people, including women, in the MTR. Surely dispatching a handful of armed officers to the scene would have immediately put an end to that massacre?

Why did you not ask these questions?

Why did you not ask why those attackers have not been arrested? None of them concealed their faces and they are all easily identifiable on the CCTV footage.

Why does the HK Police not offer rewards for identifying these attackers as the force does for anyone providing information that leads to the arrest of protesters who smash a Starbucks?

If the BBC ever replaces Hard Talk with Soft Talk, you will have found your calling.


2. At one point Ruper Dover said, with respect to his role in policing the protests, that ‘he was just doing his job in accordance with the law’ and that he does not fear being targeted by the American authorities for police brutality.

Why did you not ask him why he did not arrest himself (or turn himself in) when he was accused of breaking the law by illegally letting his property in Clearwater Bay?

Why did you not mention that a conviction for this offence is punishable by 2 years in prison and a 200k fine?

Why did you not ask him if he fears being prosecuted by the Hong Kong Police and courts?

These are obvious questions for Rupert Dover that a trainee journalist would have thought to ask.

Yet you didn't think, didn't want to, or were told not to ask them.

Whatever the reason, it does not matter. Christy Leung, you are today's winner of Ed's Hack Writer Award!


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Ed 3 mths ago

The latest winner of Ed’s Hack Writer of the Day Award goes to Alex Lo of the SCMP for his profoundly out of touch article With Unpopularity Comes Great Power

His Op-Ed started off reasonably, and I was about to dismiss him as a finalist for the Hack Award, but then he lost the plot at the end making these statements:

“Protesters threatening more strikes and violence? Well, it’s precisely those violent protests that have brought on the national security law. The more unrest and mayhem, the more empowered those hated officials will be in their jobs, and more justified in their hardline stance. Maybe it’s time to try more peaceful means.”

I am not condoning violent protests but to suggest peaceful protests will achieve what violence has not is both absurd and (wilfully?) ignorant of the facts.

The Umbrella Protests of 2014 were peaceful but ultimately dispersed using tear gas, pepper spray and false promises. Slow forward to 2019, and we had upwards of 2 million HKers take to the streets peacefully protesting. They were again met with a deluge of teargas and pepper spray. Rather than disperse this time, they resorted to violence.

In November, HKers eviscerated the pro-Beijing candidates with 17 out of 18 seats in the local elections going to the pro-democracy camp. Many saw that election as a referendum, a mandate to the HK government. After a brief pause waiting to see if the government would respond to yet another peaceful overture, when protester demands were ignored they flooded back onto the streets with renewed rage.

Alex left us all hanging by suggesting the protesters try more peaceful means. That is rather short on specifics so let me help him with some suggestions for a follow up article.

Why don’t you advise that the protesters apply for a protest permit (let’s ignore the fact that the chances of getting a protest permit approved are about as high as me winning the Mark 6 – and I don’t buy lottery tickets) for a gathering at the HK Stadium later this month.

They could contact HSBC and ask if they might release the $10 million that the bank seized from their account and then ring Mike Rowse and ask him to help organize another ‘Harbourfest’ event at the stadium.

Instead of bringing in dozens of big name acts, they could engage one headliner (Justin Bieber?) and a washed up warm-up act (Air Supply would be my recommendation here). Both bands could play their greatest hits interspersed with covers for Imagine, Kumbaya, We are the World, Give Peace a Chance etc….

Let’s ‘imagine’ that the permit for this event is rejected and the protesters decide to move forward with the Kumbaya Concert anyway. Why not suggest that when the police arrive the protesters blow kisses and pass them flowers.

That should convince the police not to tear gas, pepper spray, beat or arrest them. In the unlikely event that the police ignore the peace offerings, then why not counsel the protesters to riff on the BLM protests out of the US and take a knee. Surely when the police see that they too will take a knee, in solidarity with the protesters, and uncuff those they have arrested and wish them well in future endeavours.

I am not getting paid to do your job Alex, so I’m going to have to cut this off and let you finish it. Afterall, you are the trained journalist with years of experience, so surely you will be able to improve on my inchoate thoughts regarding these issues.

Over to you Alex.  Meanwhile, congratulations on the award.   
The after party will be held in a dark corner at the venerable Old China Hand this evening from 9pm.  

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Ed 3 mths ago
Hong Kong Harbour 
The national security law could turn Hong Kong into Asia’s Monaco
The city may soon say goodbye to its port and welcome posh yachts, redomiciled Chinese stocks and even more upmarket property
Cantonese communities overseas will blossom as they did pre-1997 and BN(O) passport-holder arrivals could be a boon for the British economy
When I initially saw this headline I thought it was a joke.... but on further perusal, I see that Neil Newman, the author, is serious.
So how does this work Neil?    I've yet to see a single super yacht pull into the Hong Kong harbour in the 3 decades I have lived in the city.
Are billionaires going to have sudden epiphanies and say to their captains, 'we need to sail to Hong Kong immediately because it's the new Monaco!'
Perhaps Neil has never been near the Hong Kong harbour, otherwise known as 'the ditch'  or better still, the open sewer.   He best be careful not to fall into the 'water' because ingesting a mouthful of the sewage can result in more diseases than a drunken sailor picks up in the most sordid port.
Perhaps the aristocrats will come to watch the solid wall of smog (I mean fog...) roll in every morning courtesy of the factories in South China.   That ranks up there on any billionaires bucket list, of that I am certain!
Then there is always the chance of witnessing a petrol bomb being thrown by a 15 year old girl at the secret police and watching her get cuffed and dragged off to do her penance in a jail cell for life.   What a fabulous story to tell at the next London dinner party.
It is early in the year but I am thinking that Neil has dropped such a wicked howler with this delusional bullshit that he deserves the Hack of the Year Award now.   It will take a seriously outrageous pile of nonsense to beat this. 
Congratulations Neil.   You get this week's award and you are definitely the front runner for the big prize. 
Monaco Harbour  

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Ed 3 mths ago
It has been brought to my attention that Neil is not a journalist. His bio states:
Neil Newman is a thematic portfolio strategist focused on pan-Asian equity markets. Experienced in the major global financial centres of Tokyo, London and New York, he is a regular commentator on commercial investment strategies that suit constantly changing investor trends. He is a long-term resident of Hong Kong.
I am not sure that I'd bet the house on 'themes' that are predicated on Hong Kong becoming the 'Monaco of Asia'  but then I am not a 'thematic portfolio strategist' so what do I know? 
Anyway, even though Neil is 'a thematic portfolio strategist' and not a journalist, he still qualifies for the Hack Writer Award, so we will not retract this week's honour.   

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Ed 3 mths ago
We've got ourselves a double winner - Alex Lo of the SCMP does it again!
Long story short, Alex states in his recent Op-Ed:
How concerned is the world? According to a typical headline in the BBC, “nations condemn new law”. What, all nations? At the end of the report, it acknowledged more than 50 countries supported it. Since then, another 20-plus have expressed support. Yes, they were asked by Beijing to do it. The reality is that most of the world doesn’t care because they realise the obvious: it’s China’s own business. 
Alex, before you hit Enter on your article, you might have first checked which countries are on the list.    Let me help you:
Antigua and Barbuda, Bahrain, Belarus, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo-Brazzaville, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominica, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Tajikistan, Togo, UAE, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
This is quite an impressive list of countries Alex.   Just about every failed state, banana republic and dictatorship in the world is there including North Korea.   
Keep up the terrible, illogical work Alex.   You might score a hat trick. 

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Ed 53 days ago
One of our award winners is 'well-respected' by his colleagues!
However, nine current and former SCMP employees told me that the lines were often far less clear. Nearly all pointed to Yonden Lhatoo, the SCMP’s chief news editor—and among those responsible for editing the subway story—as an example. Lhatoo, a former TV journalist who was described by current and former colleagues as an abrasive and mercurial presence prone to angry outbursts and frequent shouting, is part of a trio of senior editors seen as contributing to a sometimes caustic newsroom environment.


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