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We Deserve Better: Hong Kong Since 1997 [Paperback]

Hemlock
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
RRP: 15.00
Price: 13.56 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

25 May 2006
'Step right up to witness the freakiest political system in the world, a mutant hybrid so bizarre you have to read this book to believe it.' -- Hugo Restall, Editor, Far Eastern Economic Review. Since its transfer from Britain to China in 1997, Hong Kong has faced a succession of mishaps, traumas and quandaries. Bird flu, SARS, recession, demonstrations, intervention by Beijing, economic distortions, cronyism, pollution and overdevelopment have created a sense that the city is losing its uniqueness, confidence, glamour and livability. Hong Kong's people, businesses and policymakers have become fearful of competition, change and the future. Social harmony has given way to fracture along antagonistic political and economic lines. This volume recounts the decline in the city's governance, spirit and ambition in the years following the handover. It links up the political, economic and constitutional structures that have led to weak policymaking, misallocation of public resources, favouritism towards vested interests and public anxiety and resentment. And it asks whether and how Hong Kong under Chinese sovereignty can get back on track and achieve its full potential as Asia's greatest city. Hemlock is the nom de plume of a western-born Hong Kong taxpayer and voter who has lived in the city for most of his working life -- since the countdown to the handover started in the mid-1980s. For much of that time he served as a factotum to several prominent figures in both business and politics.

Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Inkstone Books (25 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9628674099
  • ISBN-13: 978-9628674091
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 14.7 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,261,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Answer to 'How's Hong Kong since 1997?' 8 Jun 2007
Readers of Hemlock's daily blog will be surprised at the seriousness of this tome compared to the sarcasm of the blog. This book surverys government and society since 1997, a turbulent ten years of externally inflicted pain - financial crises, SARS etc - mixed with locally inflicted pain - Article 23, Cyberport, appointed councillors etc - and advances the theory that the system of government developed by an unloved foreign power - Britain - is being continued by China, but is no longer appropriate for a modern society such as Hong Kong.

A mercifully brief primer for anyone who needs to understand Hong Kong or China.
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good, but if you like his blog you will be slightly confused 6 Jun 2007
By Adrian Furby - Published on Amazon.com
"Hemlock" is the nom de plume of a Hong Kong blogger who has been resident there for many years and has gained access to a lot of interesting people. I think he's some kind of journalist. He's been writing a blog for a few years now and it's very funny - very satirical, with great observations about Hong Kong politics and daily life. In later years he has been focussing more on the futile struggle for universal suffrage in Hong Kong, and the link between high land prices, government collusion with property developers, and a stagnating economy and political system.

But this is the problem with the book - his blog is very funny, the book is not. The book is still a very good read as it contains a lot to think about and for me it was quite eye-opening in terms of how the market in Hong Kong works. He reviews the events of the past ten years since the handover of Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China, and comes to some conclusions about Hong Kong's possible polical development. His conclusions are not pretty if you are an ardent pro-democrat, but I think they are basically realistic.

In writing the book Hemlock seems to have had to resolve a conflict within himself - did he want to write in the same vein as his blog, ridiculing HK's public figures and generally having a lot of fun at other people's expense, or did he want to write something that would be taken seriously, because he clearly cares about the development of Hong Kong? He has chosen the latter, so for those of you who have come to this book after reading his blog for a while, prepare to be disappointed. Nevertheless, you should read the book anyway, especially if you have an interest in Hong Kong and China.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Answer to 'How's Hong Kong since 1997?' 8 Jun 2007
By Bak Jin-sing - Published on Amazon.com
Readers of Hemlock's daily blog will be surprised at the seriousness of this tome compared to the sarcasm of the blog. This book surverys government and society since 1997, a turbulent ten years of externally inflicted pain - financial crises, SARS etc - mixed with locally inflicted pain - Article 23, Cyberport, appointed councillors etc - and advances the theory that the system of government developed by an unloved foreign power - Britain - is being continued by China, but is no longer appropriate for a modern society such as Hong Kong.

A mercifully brief primer for anyone who needs to understand Hong Kong or China.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The ideal wrap up of HK since the handover 13 Sep 2007
By HK Len - Published on Amazon.com
Much more readable and concise than the very detailed and specialized multi-volume publications on HK since 1997 by Civic Exchange. Especially good for newcomers to Hong Kong thanks to the glossary at the back which explains all the Tungs, Tangs, Tongs, political groupings etc. Not having read his blog before, I enjoyed the sometimes sarcastic tone of this book then found the blog quite a shock! Readers interested in China may also find this book interesting because he shows how China is tightening its grip in some areas but not all, and this may give us a clue about how the government will act as mainland cities become more open and prosperous.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Could have been so much better 27 Sep 2007
By Devereux - Published on Amazon.com
Having read the blog for several years, I was anticipating an interesting read. Unfortunately, by comparison, the book length doesn't suit the author as well as the essay form. Some topics are drowned by a welter of details, while in general terms the pre-1997 years are handled much better than the post-handover period. Like many first time authors, the writer could have used a strong editor. Stick to the blog, which, though repetitive, does at least raise the occasional smile.
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