There Is More Than One Jackie Chan
(originally published 5/4/09)
I was recently asked by someone how Hong Kong had changed since the "handover" in 1997. I have to say - as an on again off again observer - not much. (Shenzen - on the other hand - is an eye opener - and I only saw it in the dark.) Jackie Chan made the local news while I was there saying - basically - that freedom to the Chinese means chaos in the streets. He cited Hong Kong and Taiwan as examples. I have only been to Taiwan once, but that Hong Kong is chaotic is not new news.
Several years ago a young westerner was flogged in Singapore for vandalism. There was a great hue and cry. "How can Singapore have such draconian laws," the non-cognoscenti wailed? Being me, I just asked my best Singaporean friend the same question. "We are a polyglot people from all over the world." He continued, "have you ever seen the geography surrounding our little island nation? There's the Straights of Malaca to our west as full of pirates as anywhere (at the time). There is the worlds third most populous nation just 100 km south. And - if that weren't enough - to the north there are guerrilla elements (also known as bandits or 'land pirates') on the road from Johor to Kuala Lumpur." Here is the kicker, "we have tough laws because if we did not we would have chaos." Not my words. His.