Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Annie's Song
The latest...
The ``fattish'' mystery man with a dog whom neighbors of dead model Annie Pang described earlier had a name and a face as a witness in the ongoing noncriminal coroner's inquest into the cause and circumstances of her mysterious death in 1995.
Pang's decapitated remains -- skeleton on the floor, skull in a waste basket -- were found in her cluttered, unkempt bedroom in an apartment owned by her former married lover, lawyer John Fang, in October 1999.
Sit Ping-hung, a truck driver described by coroner's officer Dee Crebbin as Pang's last known boyfriend, said he met Pang in October 1993 when he was introduced to her in Macau by a friend who was dating her at the time.
About a month later he said went with another man at Pang's invitation to her apartment in Sai Kung which previous testimony has shown was also owned by Fang. It was over cocktails of narcotic cough syrup that night that Sit said he and Pang went to bed and consummated a relationship that would become increasingly fraught with melodrama and angst until they agreed to break it off near the middle of 1995.
``I was high,'' Sit said of the cough syrup, which he said Pang poured from a ``big bottle, almost a gallon. Annie became delirious and from that day on we were together.''
While Sit minimized his own drug experiences, he said Pang become addicted to cough syrup and Halcyon sleeping pills and finally turned to smoking heroin in the year she disappeared. Heroin traces were found in her hair.
He described quarrels, and several suicide attempts, including one in which Pang climbed out a 26th floor window and threatened to jump from a laundry rack and another mutual pact where both were in a bathroom and he severed the gas line.``I switched on the gas and we waited for death to come,'' Sit said. ``I passed out but Annie called the police.''
The pair had moved from Sai Kung to share an apartment with Sit's sister, who eventually grew weary of the ambulances and firetrucks and neighbor complaints and told them to leave.
Suicide reports were made to authorities in March, April and July of 1994, Crebbin said. Sit said that non-reported attempts were also made ``too often.''
The pair then moved into the Yau Ma Tei apartment on Waterloo Road where Pang would later die. While there they owned a pomeranian dog named Bobo for several months until Pang sold it, Sit said. Sit initially claimed he knew nothing of Pang's long relationship with Fang, but admitted to Crebbin that his former sister-in-law, who had opened a bank account for Pang, told him that the two had been lovers. He also said once accompanied Pang to Fang's law office where he waited outside while she went in to ask Fang for money.
He said Pang's refusal to give up drugs led to his decision to leave her. In the summer of 1995 Sit told her he was going to the mainland to find a wife and asked her for money.
She told him she had none but he claimed she gave him two gold bracelets and a ring which he pawned for about HK$1,500 and took to China where he found no wife but instead ``found some fun because I felt bored.''
Sit said he never saw her or went to the apartment again.
When Pang's remains were found in 1999 there was a message scrawled in lipstick on the bathroom mirror, one that Sit said he had seen following a 1995 suicide attempt. It read: ``I have gone to Kalong Wah hospital.''

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Metal Machine Music
Two or three or even a year ago, this would've been nearly inconceivable in Shenzhen. At least to my shot-full-of-Swiss cheese-holes brain. What I'm talking about is a sound art/ambient music performance in a Shenzhen warehouse that C and I caught part of last night courtesy of a guy named Lawrence Li. It's the first time I've met him, though we've corresponded via e-mail and talked on the phone a couple times.
He's a former reporter and critic for what was once one of the the most respected papers in China, though sadly what made it respected also got it neutered and its editors jailed on bogus corruption charges. Lawrence was the music and art critic and I'm unclear as to why he's no longer there though I'm fairly certain it had nothing to do with his beat -- the paper was either famous or infamous depending on your political affiliations (or lack of them) for its investigative stories.
So I'm in Shenzhen calling Lawrence with a freelance tip and he mentions the sound art show and about 4 hours later I'm in a time warp. A warehouse with feedback and drone coming from the stage with a small Chinese guy twisting a guitar and flipping a phase-shifter doing his best Hendrix-squallfeedback Lite imitation A rapt mostly reverent or merely curious virtually all-Chinese audience -- about 500 give or take 100 or so of Shenzhen's cutting edge artistos I'm guessing -- is at a respectful distance not sure what to make of it all, while others crowd and crawl around the stage with cameras and video gear.
All that spoils the illusion that I could be in Denver or New York circa 1972 it is the lack of dope smoke, no happily chemically addled tie-dyed souls doing the amoeba dance and the lines of sullen, very skinny, some very pimpled and very young security kids in identical cammo fatigues, some with their hands over their ears. I think of the 18-wheeler sized T-shirt and/or wind breaker glad security goons and goonettes at the US concerts and, as they say, chuckle wryly. Not even close. Getting into what passes for backstage I just keep walking and smile and say 'thank you' in bad Chinese as one makes a token and very polite attempt to halt me. I haven't felt this cool since I snuckered my way backstage briefly to gape at Neil Young and Warren Zevon working out arrangements for a brief impromptu gig in Winter Park, Colorado summer of 90something or when Eddie Van Halen ... aw, never mind. Suffice to say that I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.
Anyway, there's no light show but there is a video screen that is utilized with striking force later for other performers.
It's all kinda strange and wonderful at the same time. This is not new in Beijing or Shanghai, I'm fairly sure. And blase in Hong Kong where the featured Shenzhen act last night, a Polish-born, Tokyo-based world citizen of sorts named Zbigniew Karkowski told me he'd performed for an audience of 30 last week.
''Tonight I've seen about 500 coming in and out,'' said Karkowski, who like the artists who followed the opening act used programmed lap tops, not guitars. Not as sexy but sonically and creatively more effective, though I joked to another expat there that I'd love to see someone douse their HP Compaq Nc6000 with Ronson lighter fuel and set it ablaze. I didn't know it until I googled Karkowski later but I'd been talking to a sound art legend and godfather -- a revered, respected artist who does things like make field recordings of Kyoto temples and warps and morphs them into what a writer named Marc Weidenbaum wrote, "something one suspects the locale's elders would be hard put to recognize."
Lawrence told me that this avant garde sonic explosion was officially sanctioned by the SZ authorities, which given the cammo kids I kinda figured though I was still slightly shocked and awed at being at something so, so, so . . . damn almost cutting edge here even if the blade was mostly only slicing through a lot of old stale air. But the rent-a-cop-kids grimacing and holding their ears after failing to stop the crowd from rushing the stage at Karkowski's exhuberant invite gave me some hope.
For an informed and knowledgable write-up, complete with pics check out Lawrence's blog at

Friday, February 24, 2006

That Smell
You'd think that the scent of a rotting corpse next door -- a stench one security guard told the coroner's court yesterday was so strong that he and his partner ''walked faster'' when they were patrolling that area -- might attract some attention, especially when it goes on for 10 days.
Not so at the apartment where Annie Pang died in July 1995 and where her skeleton with the skull in a bedroom trash can was found in October 1999 -- one day after her former lover had been in the small bedroom and claimed to have seen nothing.
Some testimony so far as bordered on absurd. The apt building honcho in charge of complaints and who had some dealings with Pang's lover John Fang has more or less lied regarding things like the smell (smell? what smell? nothing here folks, move on...) and at about least one phone conversation he and Fang had about selling the place.
Some has been comical. The next door neighbor, who along with his son said the odor wasn't enough to warrant a complaint: ''It was not extremely strong, like dead cockroaches -- not as smelly as a dead rat. ''
(What exactly does a dead cockroach smell like? I was dying to ask him about the subtle gradients of scent between a rotting rat and a rotting roach and how he knew.)
Some people did complain but why their complaints were ignored and now denied by the building's ombudsman is unclear at best. No one bothered to even knock on Annie's door or apparently put much thought into where she might be. ''We thought she'd moved,'' was the common song, though no one saw any furniture or other belongings hauled out and no one, it seems bothered to track down Fang.
One thing is clear, though. More than 10 years gone and it still stinks.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Annie the Headless Ack-ack Gunner
Folks, the colorful legal character assassination of the helpless-to-defend herself headless model Annie Pang continues. What follows has something for virtually everyone. Sex, probable lies, obscene videotapes, flamboyant suicide attempts, drugs - no rock 'n' roll - but it does have a quick guide to Cantonese drug slang.

Though the coroner's investigation into the 1995 death of decapitated model Annie Pang is to officially determine when, how and why she died, Pang's youngest sister said Wednesday in Eastern Magistrate Court that police investigators have already told her family that she died of a drug overdose.
No official cause of Pang's mysterious death has ever been established ever since her skeleton and her skull in a waste basket were found in October 1999 on the floor of her bedroom in a 300-square-foot Yau Ma Tei /Waterloo Road flat owned by her long-time married lover John Fang. Fang, a lawyer is the brother of former former chief secretary of administration Anson Chan and son of renowned artist Fang Zhaoling, who died Monday.
``What did police ask tell you about the cause of her death?'' attorney Mary Jean Reimer who is representing the Pang family in the inquest asked Pang Po-yuk.
``The police said she died because of taking drugs,'' her sister replied. ``Police said they found white powder in her flat.''
``White powder being heroin?'' asked coroner Colin Mackintosh.
``Yes,'' said Pang Po-yuk.
No autopsy results for 31-year-old Pang, who smoked heroin at least once, according to two drug addicts who also testified Wednesday, have ever been released.In other testimony a bizarre and wanton portrait of a lonely, desperate, suicidal Pang was painted by a man who once bought dogs from her while she was living in a Sai Kung flat in 1993.
Pang, whose modeling career was essentially over by then, was attempting to breed and sell pomeranians at the flat owned by Fang, whose visits to her were declining at the time.
Siu Hong-wah said he was 19 when he received a phone call from Pang in response to a dogs/puppies-wanted ad he had placed in Oriental Daily News. He drove to Sai Kung and paid her HK$10,000 for three dogs but calls and invitations from her escalated after the transaction and ultimately took a sexual and morbidly melodramatic twist.
Siu told the five jurors that when he returned ``three or four'' more times at her invitation, Pang habitually greeted him in the nude or clad in sheer silk pajamas ``with nothing underneath.''
``I didn't pay any attention to this,'' Siu claimed, though he also described her as ``quite sexy, somewhat reckless and a very nice person.''
``I thought because she was a model that she wouldn't feel shame so I didn't pay attention.''
Furthermore she begged him to stay saying she was lonely and twice tried to kill herself in front of him when he refused to linger.
``She cut her wrist deeply to the bone with a paper cutter,'' said Siu, who denied any sexual relationship with Pang. ``I held her, helped to stop the bleeding and called 999.''
On another occasion Siu said Pang swallowed an estimated 50 blue oval tablets he believed were sleeping pills as he left.
``She was treating me like a boyfriend. She took all the pills in front of me and began shouting like a psychotic patient and running around naked,'' he said.
``In response to that what did you do?'' asked Reimer.
``I drove off. I did return to take a peek at her. She was making phone calls and seemed normal so I thought she was okay.''``Did you have any thought that they weren't sleeping pills? Maybe vitamins or something else?'' asked Reimer.
``I didn't care,'' Siu replied. ``She looked like she was safe.''
According to previous testimony from family members an increasingly depressed, insomniatic and insecure Pang left the Sai King flat in 1994 at the behest of Fang who told her he wanted to rent it out. He moved her to the smaller Yau Ma Tei flat where living expenses from him declined and her debts to loansharks escalated, ultimately forcing her mother and older sister to break off contact with her.
Two former junkies, described also as Pang's ``casual friends'' told coroner's officer Dee Crebbin and Mackintosh in often contradictory and occasionally unintentionally humorous testimony that they had smoked heroin at least once with Pang after she visited their illegal porn videotape business on Temple Street in 1994.
Chow Wai-chung described Pang as a ``rookie'' heroin user who needed assistance in ``chasing the dragon'' and using the ``ack-ack gun.''
That term as well as more Canto-drug slang ``the harmonica method'' had Mackintosh patiently asking twice for definitions. Chow explained that ``harmonica'' and ``dragon'' were the same term for smoking or inhaling burning heroin fumes off aluminum foil and that the ``ack-ack gun'' was smoking heroin mixed with tobacco in a hollowed out cigarette.
Chow's and fellow user Ka Kong-tin's versions of events were both often self-contradictory and contradicted each other regarding the number of times they'd visited Pang, where and how they met her and the number of people she'd smoked with. They both agreed however that she had incessently begged them for as much as HK$100,000 to pay off loansharks and appeared to be virtually penniless.
Ka drew chuckes though from court observers and officials when he corrected a reference to their obscene ``DVD'' business.
``They were tapes,'' he said. ``DVDs weren't on the market in 1994.''
'The inquest continues today with testimony from Fang tenatively expected for Monday after the Friday funeral for his mother.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

'Dem Bones
More here than most of my readers will probably want to know about the decapitated skeleton that was Annie Pang but I'm posting two stories -- the one that ran Tuesday and one that will run Wednesday as well as a link to a great site, ESWN, that gives you an idea of how the Chinese language press and our English language competition, the South China Morning Post is covering it.
Basically, most of the Chinese papers and the Post went with an angle that the judge/coroner told the jury to disregard as hearsay. It was a very vague statement from Annie's mother that unnamed lawyers had threatened her family due to Annie's lover's (John Fang) high falutin' Hong Kong connections. She claimed that they linked the family (Anson Chan is Fang's better known sister, a pro-democracy HK politician, their mother was a famed artist who died Monday at age 92) to underworld/triad connections.
The judge cut this rambling accusation off and instructed the jury to forget they'd heard it. But most of the other papers went with it.
Here's the link to ESWN post. (Thank you Mr Soong!) "The case of Annie Pang"
And here's story one followed by the second day.

Annie Pang, the 31-year-old former model who was missing for four years until her decapitated skeletal remains were found in a Yau Ma Tei apartment owned by former chief secretary Anson Chan's brother, had three abortions at his demand over a 10-year period, Pang's mother told a coroner's inquest Monday.
Pang's mother, Lam Mui, told coroner Colin Mackintosh and five jurors that her daughter had been sexually involved with Chan's married brother, lawyer John Fang, since about 1985.
She described their relationship as "like husband and wife" and said Pang told her that Fang's marriage was a union "in name only."
Lam said: "I scolded my daughter and told her she's so young. How could she be with such an old man? But she told me his marriage was broken and that he did not share a bed with his wife."
Under questioning by coroner's officer Dee Crebbin and Mary Jean Reimer, a lawyer for Pang's family, Lam described a kept-woman relationship in which Fang provided flats and living expenses for Pang, who worked as a model and later tried breeding and selling dogs.
"They had had an ongoing intimate relationship soon after they met but it seems that the relationship had deteriorated somewhat a year or two before [Pang's death], although the deceased kept in contact with Mr Fang and became involved in other intimate relationships," Crebbin said.
Lam - who said she had never met or spoken with Fang - also said that after he had Pang move from a flat on Jaffe Road to another in Sai Kung in the early 1990s, her daughter complained that he did not see her as often and missed payments for her living expenses.
In a bid for his attention, Pang made a superficial attempt to slit her wrists, Lam said. "She told me she slit her wrists in order to scare Fang so he would visit more often," Lam said.
She denied that her daughter had health problems such as epilepsy or used any drugs other than sleeping pills, though Crebbin said a packet of heroin and a partial syringe were found in the abandoned flat.
Statements from as many as 49 witnesses, including three described as "casual friends/drug addicts" may be heard in the investigation which is expected to last 15 days.
"You will hear evidence that she was involved with others in taking heroin, that she was a model and also loved breeding dogs," Crebbin said.
The coroner's investigation is not a criminal proceeding but an "inquiry into the cause and circumstances of the death [of Pang]," Mackintosh told the jury.
There are many unanswered questions, beginning with why Pang's body remained undiscovered for so long - the last time she was seen was July 1995.
In about August 1995 neighbors complained of a smell they described as "dead rats," Crebbin said.
Also, why, in October 1999 when Fang and a locksmith entered the Waterloo Road apartment to close bathroom and bedroom windows that had caused water leakage into the flat below both said they never saw Pang's uncovered skeleton nor her skull in a waste basket on the floor beside the bed in the 300-square-foot flat.
"Mr Fang said he had to step over some things to reach the [bedroom] window and did not look at what they were," Crebbin said.
The next day he sent a man named Yeung Kwai-choi, who also knew Pang, to clean up the flat which was "in a terrible mess. Extremely untidy, dirty full of dust and cobwebs," Crebbin said.
It was Yeung who saw the skeleton and called police after he notified Fang.
Yeung is said to be the same man who Pang's mother said threatened and beat her daughter when she had visited Fang's office in an attempt to get money.
However, under questioning Lam admitted that she had not mentioned the alleged beating and threats to the police in one interview last year, only to report them a month later.
When asked why, she said, she was "too sad I didn't know what to say. I was so sad I didn't remember." High Court Justice Michael Hartmann ordered the inquest last December because of public interest and "genuine concern" over Pang's death.
In ordering the inquest, Hartmann reversed decisions by both the police and the coroner's office not to investigate the death.

Second day:
Photos and references in decapitated model Annie Pang's diary to her married lover John Fang were missing when they were returned to her family by police in 2001, Pang's eldest sister told a coroner's investigation Tuesday.
Pang Ngor said photos she and other family members had previously seen of her sister vacationing with Fang were not returned; pages had been ripped from Annie's diary, including one with Fang's Chinese first name repeatedly written on it, and a woman's watch with Fang's name engraved on it was also not returned to the family.
The 31-year-old former model was missing for four years until her decapitated skeletal remains were found in October 1999 in a Yau Ma Tei apartment owned by Fang who is the brother of former chief secretary Anson Chan and son of renowned artist Fang Zhaoling who died Monday.Fang had been expected to appear before the coroner's inquest Tuesday but his testimony was delayed due to his mother's death.
The investigation is not a criminal proceeding but an ``inquiry into the cause and circumstances of the death [of Annie Pang],'' coroner Colin Mackintosh said.
Pang's sister said that when the police investigation into her sister's death was originally closed in 2001, some possessions found in Annie's filthy flat were missing or in worse condition when police returned them to the family.
In addition to the diary pages, photos of the couple and watch, she said other photo albums which had been in good condition in two boxes when originally taken by the police were returned damaged.``When the photos were returned to us there were much less than before. The photos were completely damaged with wet and mold,'' Pang said. ``They were stuck together.``When I first saw the diary it was intact and I had seen a page with Mr Fang's name clearly written repeatedly on one page. When it was returned to me that page and others were torn away,'' she added in response to further questions by Mary Jean Reimer, a lawyer representing the Pang family.
Mackintosh had the damaged diary examined by the five jurors and asked that the remaining contents be translated for further investigation.
Some pages are blank and others contain only a few lines of writing, he said.
Pang said police told her that possessions belonging to Fang were returned to him and gave her ``no clear explanation'' for the mutilated diary or damaged photos.In other testimony, Pang's sister painted a picture of a wayward sister hooked on sleeping pills whose life was spiraling out of control amid gambling debts and fears that her long relationship with Fang -- a lawyer who had set her up as a mistress in a series of flats and paid her HK$10,000 to $20,000 a month for living expenses -- would finally end.
``In the beginning it was good. She said she wanted to have Mr Fang's child. Later she told me that she and Mr Fang argued about money and she couldn't sleep because he wouldn't come see her,'' Pang said. ``Sometimes when I asked her why she had no money she said it was because Mr Fang had financial problems.''
Pang said her sister told her that she was HK$40,000 in debt to loan sharks after gambling in Macau and had begged her unsuccessfully for a loan. Their mother also complained of receiving threatening calls about the debt, Pang said.
Annie's financial woes and demands finally led Pang and her mother to change their phone numbers and cease contact with her in late1994 and 1995.
However, Pang said the last time she saw her sister was in March 1995 at the Tai Hing police station in Tuen Mun where she went to bail her out for HK$2,000 following an argument and physical confrontation with a boyfriend who was not Fang.
Annie Pang is believed to have died in July 1995, the last time she was seen. In about August 1995 neighbors complained of a smell they described as ``dead rats'' coming from her flat but no investigation was made.
In October 1999 Fang and a locksmith entered the Waterloo Road apartment to close bathroom and bedroom windows that had caused water leakage into the flat below. Both claimed they never saw Pang's uncovered skeleton surrounded by maggot casings, nor her skull in a waste basket on the floor beside the bed in the 300-square-foot flat.
The following day Fang sent a former employee to the flat to clean it. He reported the remains to police after phoning Fang.
Pang's sister said the family did not know where Annie had moved and that later attempts in 1995 to reach her through Fang were unsuccessful.``I spoke to him once and he said she did not want me and my mother to have her phone number,'' Pang said.
She said later attempts to reach Fang were fruitless. She also said that they believed Annie might have moved overseas.
Another, younger sister Pang Po-yuk began crying Tuesday when she recalled the last time she saw Annie.
``She came to our mother's house but my mother was not there,'' Pang Po-yuk said between sobs. ``I told her I would visit her later but I didn't ask for her address. If I'd known this would have happened I would have asked her for her address and all this would not have happened.''

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Headless model found in topless bar (or the Lonesome Death of Annie Pang)
I've always loved that first headline from the -- I think, NY Post -- sometime in the '70s. Gotta Google it later for the specifics but nonetheless this week I'm covering, sort of, the HK equivalent.
There's a week long coroner's inquest that begins Monday to try to get to the bottom of why the separated skeletal remains of a 31-year-old former HK model named Annie Pang apparently languished for about 4 years in an apartment rented by a wealthy businessman named John Fang. It's further complicated by the fact that Fang's sister is a prominent HK politician named Anson Chan. Lots of high level connections which explain why although Annie died in 1995 and her remains -- skull in a waste basket, body on the floor -- weren't discovered until more than four years after she died, in that "Mr Fang failed to see the skeleton when he entered the flat (in 1999) to close some windows the day before Pang was discovered; and that the windows had possibly been open for more than four years yet the flat remained free of obvious water damage."
"The owner stated that he never saw the skeleton of the deceased lying, uncovered on the floor beside the bed," said a prosecutor who kept pushing for an inquest.
Oddly though Fang found the apartment in such a mess otherwise and ... "instead of trying to find out what happened to Pang," whom he had not seen alive for four years, he "ordered an employee to go to the flat the next day to clear it out."
Surprise, surprise. When the hapless cleaner arrived the first thing spotted was a headless skeleton on the floor and the head in waste basket. "A gold tooth and two digit bones were missing," read a coroner's report.
Annie's mother and sisters through the years have claimed that she had received death threats and been beaten by a so-far undentified law clerk associated with Fang.
Fang himself has said "I wanted to help Ms Pang after I got to know her, so I provided a safe haven for her, but it is so surprising that I wanted to say away from a drug addict? People like to equate money with sex and power--nobody believed why I wanted to help her. She used to cause trouble at my soliciter's firm and also at the police station ever time she tried to kill herself. I'm generous to men, too; does that mean I'm gay?"
Um, no. It doesn't mean you're Hong Kong's answer to Mother Teresa, either. And it especially doesn't explain why you continued to pay rent on the place for more than four years until one of your toadies got the thankless assignment to "discover" her bones.
Until now there had been several attempts to unravel this mystery, all previously blocked by a coroner who "decided not to hold an inquest for fear of exposing Pang's drug habit, gambling habit, medical conditions, suicidal tendencies, complicated love affairs and casual sexual attitude."
Why sure. Of course. Explains it all. Thoughtful fellow that he was, he was simply looking out for Annie's reputation which was already -- literally -- garbage.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Mohammad's Radio
The Islamic outrage over the 12 Danish cartoons finally trickled down into Hong Kong today when about 2,000 of the 70,000 Muslims here marched and shouted "Allah akbar!" for about an hour. There was a lot of energy in the all-male, no-Chinese (though the majority of Muslims in Hong Kong are Chinese) parade but all was ultimately peaceful.
Their goal besides getting on the evening TV news and in tomorrow's newspapers was to present a petition to a UN worker here calling on the Danish government to apologize for the cartoons. ``The UN is the head of world and we are asking them to teach [the Danish newspaper and cartoonists] a good lesson or put them in jail or something,'' the march organizer told me.
This rather shaky grasp of world affairs and how-things-work was also displayed by a few other protesters. My fave? A fellow with a hand-scrawled, five-line screed proclaiming that Jewish mobsters Meyer Lansky and Mickey Cohen and the CIA were responsible for the 1963 assassination of John F Kennedy.
And there was the geographically-challenged pair of outraged protestors brandishing signs topped with brown plush toy dogs representing ``the prime minister of Norway.''

Friday, February 10, 2006

Great Speckled Bird
Bird flu fears are mounting in Hong Kong where it seems virtually every day brings a report of clueless school kids playing catch with dead wild birds which later test positive for the H5N1 avian virus or seizures at the China border of illicit, ailing live chickens stuffed into Auntie Leung's suitcase.
Chinese love their chicken blood fresh and many will risk their lives for it rather than lose face and serve a frozen fowl purchased from Wellcome or Park N' Shop, our two leading supermarket chains. Imagine the shame!
But Hong Kong is cracking down and on Monday Poultry SWAT teams will be fanning out to the rural areas to seize and destroy illegal chickens from backyard farmers.
As The Standard reported: ''Agriculture officers may break into private homes to seize contraband chickens after a prohibition on neighborhood poultry farming comes into effect next Monday, warned Stella Hung, director of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. The threat Friday comes after villagers voluntarily surrendered just 240 chickens to AFCD officials, who visited 116 villages over the past week. ..." The story ended on this upbeat note: "Funeral parlor aassociation chairman Ng Yiu-tong said Sunday that religious ceremonies for the dead will no longer use live chickens and instead will use the clothes of dead persons in rituals."
So in addition to wondering just how a dead person's clothes can adequately substitute for a live chicken at a funeral, one imagines squads of ominous-looking men covered head to toe in orange or white haz-mat hoods and suits with universal "No chickens" logos on the backs, clutching automatic weapons, flame throwers and shotguns bursting into a rusty corrugated metal and weathered wood shack as Second Uncle and Fourth Auntie clutch squirming contraband fowls to their breasts and wail.
"Just. Put. Down. The. Chicken, ma'am. Slowly...slowly -- that's it -- and no one will get hurt..."
Or defiant screaming toothless crones awkwardly flinging infected chickens at the officers who shrink back momentarily in reflexive horror before pumping the birds and their withered owners full of shotgun rounds.
"I'll give up my chickens when they pry them from my cold, dead fingers," vowed 72-year-old Fok Lwok-hung, a weathered life-long backyard Tai O poultry breeder. "Remember, when chickens are outlawed, only outlaws will have chickens."

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Strange Days
A sudden, unexpected shakeup at the paper on Friday has left me fairly shaken. While I can't go into details, suffice to say that the two men I admired most -- senior editors and two of the finest editors I've had in almost 30 years in the business -- were abruptly canned by the paper's executive editor two hours before he formally jumped ship for our competition.
He more or less shat in the nest, burned it down and fled. A former boss of his heard about it and reportedly e-mailed him with a succinct message: "What you did was evil. You will not be forgiven."
I second that emotion.
One of the fired editors got the word in California where he had gone for a month to give stem cells to his ailing twin. The other was here and a wake/goodbye party that lasted nearly 12 hours in Wan Chai bar ensued. It began about 9pm and I staggered back to my apartment at 7am Saturday.
Kids, don't try this at home.
I sense also that my days at The Standard may be numbered also as the two who left were my most ardent supporters, especially during a time last year when I came under fire for....for? For exactly what, I'm not sure. Backstabbing mofos abound, it seems, no matter where one lives.

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