Category: China

Galton Voysey & DealDash.com – A Conflict of Interest

I first learned about Galton Voysey from a recent Consumerist article claiming they are simply producing premium or luxury products primarily for use on DealDash.com.

Barrel Shack. Verdict, Aava, Schultz, Kamikoto are some notable Galton Voysey brands featured on DealDash.com
Barrel Shack. Verdict, Aava, Schultz, Kamikoto are some notable Galton Voysey brands featured on DealDash

The article goes on to describe a lawsuit accusing DealDash.com of the following:

  • The lawsuit claims that expensive, supposedly high-end products, produced by Galton Voysey, auctioned off on DealDash are not what they seem.
  • Several of these brands, such as Bolvaint, Kamikoto, Aava, appear to only be available on DealDash, the brand’s website or on Amazon directly from the brand.
  • Most of the brands’ websites are registered in the same way to hide their actual ownership.
  • Trademark applications for these brands lists DealDash founder William Wolfram as the chairman of Galton Voysey, the company registering the marks.
  • The plaintiff alleges this is all a ruse to sell auction bids for overpriced products supplied by DealDash’s founder

Galton Voysey Background

According to their website:

Galton Voysey is a platform for building, buying and developing consumer product brands. We are home to 28 iconic brands that we have developed or acquired, and extend our professional expertise to a portfolio of global brands. We believe it makes more sense to test early to validate ideas that work and ones that don’t. This gives our operation and design teams a way to experiment with something tangible, gain experience in the process and reapply their learnings in the next iteration. With a proven network of over 140 factories, Galton Voysey builds brands across a broad range of consumer, lifestyle and home goods segments across Europe, US and the world.

Sounds like a normal private company developing and selling private label goods online leveraging manufacturing resources in the Asia-Pacific region with a startup mentality.

However, what is interesting is the background and the involvement of William Wolfram, the owner of DealDash.com and principle investor of Galton Voysey according to InsideRetail Hong Kong:

As it marks its third anniversary, Hong Kong-headquartered online luxury goods retailer Galton Voysey is recruiting more staff and expanding its presence in Mainland China.

Galton Voysey was founded by 28-year-old French woman Marine Aubrée Antikainen and its biggest investor is William Wolfram, 24, who believed the biggest brands of the next 50 years have not yet been built…

…Galton Voysey believes it is disrupting the global luxury goods market with new and fresh thinking, in many cases helping brands go direct from factory to consumer through their own brand websites.

According to LinkedIn, Marine Antikainen is listed as a co-founder while William Wolfram is both chairman and investor of Galton Voysey.  Oddly enough, William Wolfram is not listed on the website and the majority of Galton’s partners are mostly law firms.  These are the other companies listed as partners

  • The Loft Studio, – The Loft Studio does not cite Galton Voysey or its brands as clients.  However, it is likely this company produced the photos seem on the company website and for its brands under NDAs.
  • Vistra – Vistra is a company providing “tailored trust, fiduciary, fund and corporate services”. It is likely they are supporting Galton with various offshore financing and related services.
  • A partner with a magnifying glass and letters “AI” as its brand logo.

The rest of the website is somewhat vague on their actual work aside from a sizzle reel about the office culture and a press release announcing the company’s 3rd year of existence.

Galton Voysey Brands & DealDash.com

According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, Galton Voysey filed trademarks for its brands: Schultz, Wilson & Miller, Verdict, New Haven, The Barrel Shack, Kamikoto in 2016.  However, Galton brands such as Bolvaint was trademarked by IPIF Limited, which was formed last July, while brands such as Ashlynn Avenue, Aava, Cate & Chloe, Bardenshire do not appear to have any trademarks.

According to TINA.org:

DealDash.com positively describes and endorses products that are auctioned on its
website. Some of these products are sold by companies that DealDash founder William Wolfram is the Chairman of, a fact that is not disclosed to consumers in any DealDash marketing materials. For example, during any 24-hour period, at least 40% of DealDash auctions are for products made and sold by:

Galton Voysey brands Schultz, Kamikoto, The Barrel Shack

Galton Voysey Brands Verdict and New Haven

Galton Voysey brads Bolvaint, Ashlynn Avenue, Wilson & Miller

There is a clear conflict of interest when a major investor and chairman of Galton Voysey is also selling the company’s brands on DealDash.com, which is also owned by the same person.  It is even more questionable when this strong connection is not disclosed to the public.

The Brands Examined

While the brands appear to have quality products when examined at face value, things are not what they seem.  Galton Voysey’s marketing team and growth hackers have done a great job promoting these brands with a combination of paid Facebook likes, reviews by vloggers and blogs that are either paid or provided based on free products, compelling brand videos and standard SEO.

Although these brands appear to be private label brands one would expect to find online or at a premium retailer such as Macy’s, the pricing strategy for the various products suggests they should be treated as premium or luxury items, despite the relatively new brand development and limited brand history.   What is even more interesting is that these brand have products that have pages of positive reviews without really describing much about the products.

I’ve had three major Galton Voysey brands, Kamikoto, Bolvaint, and The Barrel Shack, submitted to FakeSpot.com, which scans for unreliable or fake product reviews.  Below are the general results:

http://fakespot.com/company/kamikoto

Fakespot has analyzed 6 products and 267 reviews for Kamikoto products.The Fakespot algorithm considers 60.0% of those reviews to be unreliable.

The Fakespot grade is based on reviews of products listed on Amazon with Kamikoto as the company name.

http://fakespot.com/company/bolvaint

Fakespot has analyzed 5 products and 21 reviews forBolvaint products.The Fakespot algorithm considers 20.0% of those reviews to be unreliable.

The Fakespot grade is based on reviews of products listed on Amazon with Bolvaint as the company name.

http://fakespot.com/company/the-barrel-shack

Fakespot has analyzed 8 products and 148 reviews forThe Barrel Shack products.The Fakespot algorithm considers 60.0%of those reviews to be unreliable.

The Fakespot grade is based on reviews of products listed on Amazon with The Barrel Shack as the company name.

When reviewing the websites, it appears nearly all the Galton Voysey brands have the same website layout from Shopify, and relatively limited contact information.  The Bolvaint website claims to have an office that is occupied by Patek Phillipe, while the Kamikoto brand doesn’t have a Japanese website, its return address is in a residential area, the brand site is hosted in the USA, and apparently the knives are made in China (which is unheard of for artisanal Japanese knives).  The lack of real information behind the brands and brand history is a recurring pattern among the Galton Voysey brands.

Conclusion

While Galton Voysey initially appears to be a private company developing and selling private label brands, it is merely a tool for DealDash.com to promote overpriced products to unsuspecting customers.  The fact the William Wolfram is involved in both companies without full disclosure, the limited information available for Galton Voysey, the strange trademarking process for the Galton brands, and irregular product reviews make the entire arrangement extremely questionable if not an outright scam.

Despite some glowing reviews by unsuspecting vloggers and blogs, none of the brands promoted by Galton Voysey can actually justify their prices due to their lack of history, actual reputation, or product quality in certain cases.  I would have no issues with their brands if they were actually being produced and sold as private label brands to leading retailers as implied in their mission statement and official interviews.  However, the reality is that they are primarily pushed through DealDash.com at inflated prices and placed on Amazon.com and their own brand websites to create the perception they are actual products.

For more details on the lawsuit – see https://consumermediallc.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/dealdash.pdf

For latest updates from TruthinAdvertising.org – see https://www.truthinadvertising.org/dealdash-status-updates/

Weird Asian-Americans & How they Damage Asian-Americans as a whole

The Asian-American Community is its own Worst Enemy

By  Ronald Chiang

I’ve been following online sentiment and Asian-Americans at large seem to be interested in the following:

  1.  Issues surrounding ethnic identity
  2. Issues related to systematic exclusion in society

It seems that the majority of Asian-Americans dwell on their identity.  On one hand, they tend to do what they can to fit in with the majority population, whether it is just learning to be a monolingual English speaker, studying a eurocentric view of Asian history, or trying hard to fit in.

For whatever reason, many Asian-Americans chose to pursue a monolingual existence with English being their native or primary language.  They tend to not like speaking their cultural language (Chinese, Vietnamese, Gujarati) over some misguided attempt to fit in with the majority non-Asian peers in school or because they believe they are superior by virtue of living in the USA.

Then later in life, they lament about having a narrow life experience because they cannot pursue other professional opportunities due to a lack of knowledge in an Asian language or some sense of regret that they’ve compromised themselves.

Like most people, history in the United States for Asian-Americans is taught from a western standpoint often with the general concept that much of the US, Canada and Europe are rich and free while the rest of the world is poor and dependent on the USA for their futures.  As a result, enough Asian-Americans grow up believing they are again superior by virtue of living in the United States and develop a tendency to look down on their unamericanized Asian peers.

Again, as they get older and learn about reality being Asian-American, they regret being indoctrinated in such a falsehood and sometimes overcompensate with zealous support of their native country (China, Korea) in such a manner, including but not limiting to nationalism, and apologism, that they make native citizens of those places seem unpatriotic.

Then lastly, like their parents and other immigrants, many Asian-Americans work too hard to “make it” in the USA by becoming financially secure and often compromise themselves to fit in.  Some ways they’ve done this is by embracing the Model Minority stereotype, which implies that Asian-Americans will be accepted and fit in American society if they choose to become leading professionals in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) and avoid social issues of “undesirable minorities” like African-Americans and Latinos.

They’ve also persuaded the rest of the country that they do not need diversity programmes like other minorities because they’re superior Model Minorities and they can work hard to go anywhere.  In extreme cases, they’ve gone out of their way to support Affirmative Action with calls to minimise Asian students to an absolute quantity in favour of diversity for everyone else (including White students).

Not surprisingly, because of the Asian-American community’s apathy and distance from diversity initiatives and the willingness of their majority to hold back their own community in favour of other groups, American society at large became indifferent to social issues in the Asian-American community ranging from dismissing Asians with personal struggles as “rejects” to simply keeping Asian-American media portrayals to an absolute minimum.

When the Asian-American community complains as a whole, the majority population does not take their calls seriously due to their ongoing claims of being Model Minorities, their willingness to put the interests of everyone else above their own community and their general need to stay inoffensive when faced with major social issues.

While it would be unfair to generalise the Asian-American community, the majority of individuals with such values tend to be those from California living in suburbs with upper-middle incomes, from families with university degrees, and have a misguided sense of social justice that involves letting everyone else benefit at their own expense.

These people are the reasons why no meaningful change has occurred among the Asian-American community due to outlandish fears of being grouped with the other minority groups, which often motivates them to avoid “rocking the boat” and an ongoing misguided belief that conforming to an untrue stereotype is the only way to succeed for a place in the USA.

Also, with the growth of social media and online forums these same individuals that often conform to stereotypes usually overcompensate for their perceived shortcomings by resorting to worshipping, if not cheerleading, events in their families’ ancestral country where they have no actual connection to their daily lives other than their ethnicity and known family history.  Examples of this involve Chinese-Americans supporting China’s decision to restrict foreign NGOs or build artificial islands in disputed waters.

Frankly, I am frustrated by all of you Asian-Americans for being walking stereotypes that resort to passive and weak methods to overcompensate for a lack of self-respect and ignorance in their actual history.   Moreover, any suggestions that Asian-Americans can improve their standing within the community through self-respect, understanding of their culture (bilingualism, history), and being assertive in society are often dismissed, invalidated and rejected by the majority who believe in conforming for the sake of pleasing others.

With that in mind, I honestly do not expect any meaningful change in the perception and treatment of the Asian-American community by Asian-Americans themselves and by other Americans in my lifetime.

Hong Kong Free Press: A new, non-profit, independent English language news source for Hong Kong

Do you believe Hong Kong needs a new English language news source? Launching in June, Hong Kong Free Press is an independent news outlet seeking to unite critical voices at a vital time in the city’s constitutional development.

Through our links with Chinese media partners, HKFP strives to bridge the language barrier and raise local and global understanding of Hong Kong issues in the post-Occupy era. Our launch is well-timed, coming amid rising concerns over the decline of press freedom in the territory.

 

A much-needed voice:

With a fast, visual, multimedia design, HKFP will launch with a focus on local breaking news, showcasing translated and viral content while providing a direct platform to expert progressive voices, citizen contributors and advocacy groups.

As a not-for-profit business, HKFP will become more sustainable over time with multiple revenue streams. As we grow, we aim to offer more comment and analysis, investigative journalism, regional coverage and explainers.

Why now?

Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the International Federation of JournalistsHong Kong Journalists Association and Pen America have all reported on the recent decline of press freedom in Hong Kong. With attacks on journalists, advertisers withdrawing from media critical of the establishment along with the existential pressures facing the wider industry, it is ever more vital that the territory has an independent platform for critical voices to be heard.

In addition to highlighting the lack of plurality in the local media landscape, the Umbrella Movement protests exposed a gap between the Chinese and English media. Some stories, themes and angles featured in the Chinese media were missed or ignored by the English press – other stories took days to be reported on.

 

Purpose of crowdfunding and how will the funds be used:

We are seeking to raise HK$150,000 to

  • Complete our website and populate it with content ready for launch.
  • Create a mobile news app for iPhone and Android.
  • Sustain two frontline reporters for two months to oversee our launch period.

Every HK$50,000 over our target will help sustain us for one extra month.

 

Execution Plan 
May-June : Crowdfunding
Late June : Official launch of Hong Kong Free Press

 

Background of project owner

Tom Grundy is the founder and co-director of Hong Kong Free Press. His team consists of:

Hong Kongers have chosen political stability in the past 17 years. That is changing rapidly

DARKER TIMES AHEAD

In two days, Americans will unite and celebrate July 4th, full of pride, with parades. Across the ocean, Hong Kongers commemorated July 1st – the city’s Establishment Day since the 1997 handover – in an entirely different fashion: divided, and for many, filled with anger and shame.

On one end, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying stared onto the flags of China and Hong Kong, as the Chinese national anthem is played in the background, and will sure enjoy an extravagant firework display across the Victoria Harbour later that evening.

For Leung, his bureaucrats, and (no doubt) many patriots, July 1st is of as great significance as the Independence Day to Americans. But for all that, Leung has distanced himself further away from people across the aisle, who took the streets of the city under an uncanny storm to show their discontent towards, amongst all things, China’s vision for the city’s political future.

A resolute march

Tens of thousands of citizens went on a protest to support the pro-democracy call to make the next Chief Executive election in 2017 to meet international standards for democracy. The protest, in the form of a march through Hong Kong’s Central district, is an annual event to voice citizens’ mixed demands of democracy, universal suffrage, rights of racial and sexual minorities as well as to show resentment towards the administration in Hong Kong and it’s puppet masters in China.

The number of participants is expected to match or exceed the benchmark set in 2003 when a crowd of 500,000 marched in light of a proposed anti-subversion law, Article 23, combined with the fact that the government handled SARS poorly. Prior to that, 1.5 million gathered sympathising the victims of 1989 Tiananmen Square protests in China during its immediate aftermath.

Turnout this year is proliferated by a recent white paper from China which said that Hong Kong’s autonomy under ‘one country, two systems’ is restricted and comes solely from the authorisation of the leadership in Beijing. This document exacerbated the effects of the city official’s misplaced economic priorities (which are, themselves, shortcoming) and repeated, bureaucratic call for ‘stability’ coupled by words (but not action) of ‘trying hard to forge consensus’.

Change is desperate

Many citizens also feel misrepresented by the parliament of Hong Kong which, because nearly half its seats are only open to a small number of voters belonging to an assigned professional or special interest group, is largely occupied by pro-Beijing legislator. Though even the most outspoken patriot amongst these legislators silent this night and refused to defend Leung’s unhurried political reform on television amidst strong opposition voice.

Leung’s legitimacy is no better than the parliament’s because he was elected by a 1200-small council which makes up for a pitiful 0.017% of Hong Kong’s population. This council is also largely occupied by special interest groups and thus, unlike the rest of Hong Kong, has a strong Beijing-bias; in the most recent 2012 vote Leung received a mere 689 votes because of infighting within the pro-Beijing representatives combined with infidelity reports of his opponent, not because there was genuine competition.

Protesters are numbed by the state’s failure to deliver change which had momentum back in 2012 but fell quickly on its feet due to officials’ successful delaying tactics. Many feel that the government is unable to deliver and consequently their altitude has been radicalised despite the fact that Hong Kong is by tradition a socially conservative city and intolerant towards change, particularly among its large elder population.

Young student groups are among those which are radicalised. Scholarism, led by 17-year-old Joshua Wong, has emerged in 2011 when the group opposed a proposed scheme of ‘Moral and National Education’ which aimed to elevate patriotism amongst youngsters but in its textbooks included bias and often fictitious language that favoured the Communist Party of China.

An uncertain future

This frightened the public and brought politically inexperienced students to the front stage of opposition through speeches and silent protests. Three years has passed that even but when Beijing insisted that the next Chief Executive to be ‘patriotic’ recently, fear of a Communist crackdown reignited. Only this time it is met with an increasingly aggressive crowd.

Growing in number and strength, strong believers of democracy such as professor Benny Tai sponsored a plan of civil disobedience as their last resort if they fail to achieve their goals. Some 10,000 citizens are organising sit-in protest in Central which will cripple Hong Kong’s financial district. The student group Scholarism has planned for a trial run of such occupy movement after today’s protest and they fully expect to be arrested.

It will be a shame if government’s neglect is met with violence and violence is met with arrests in order for progress to be made. The first of its kind, Hong Kong’s ‘one country, two systems’ promised 50 years of autonomy and is designed to make the city flourish economically as well as socially and politically, and act as a shining example for Taiwan – which China wants to overpower under a similar system but has gotten nowhere – and to the world.

America will mark their 238th anniversary of independence on Friday; Hong Kong’s political system is only 17 years old. Yet the city is already exceedingly divided and politicised, and a gloomy future seems set for the three decades ahead.

Hong Kong SAR is Not a Democracy!

Could anybody out there give me a quick introduction to the Hong Kong government and its political landscape? I’ve always had the impression it had a democracy and there are like dozens of political parties in the city.

Hong Kong is a semi-autonomous city that is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) within China under the Basic Law (HK’s mini-constitution).   In essence, Hong Kong SAR is semi-democratic since it does not have universal suffrage, a basic tenet of a democracy.

The Chief Executive, currently CY Leung, is the head of the government in Hong Kong SAR and is answerable directly to Beijing.

According to the Basic Law, the Chief Executive (CE) must be a Chinese citizen who is a permanent resident of the HKSAR with no right of abode in any foreign country. The person must be at least 40 years old, and has ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of no less than 20 years

The Chief Executive is elected by 1200 members drawn from functional constituencies and government officials.  There are no direct elections for the CE post as explained below:

However, because so many of the functional constituency parties are instructed by Beijing for whom to vote, the outcome was already known regardless of televised debates and campaigning.

Hong Kong also has a unicameral legislature popularly called the LegCo, or Legislative Council. The LegCo consists of 70 elected members with a fixed 4-year term. Lawmakers in the LegCo, are either elected by direct elections for the 35 seats representing geographical constituencies (districts) or by functional constituencies representing  professional or special interest groups (numbering around 230000) for the other 35 seats in the 70-seat LegCo.

The major functions of the LegCo are to enact, amend or repeal laws, check and approve budgets, approve taxation and public expenditure, and review the work of the government. Due to the design of the Legislative Council, the majority of elected officials tend to be from pro-Beijing political parties or groupings, which often work together for corporate-government interests.

Currently, two groups are fighting for influence in the Hong Kong SAR government:

Pro-Beijing coalition: political parties united by the political ideology of being closer to Beijing government, but differ on other issues.  Since the handover, the Pro-Beijing camp have never lost being the majority in the LegCo, thanks to support from functional constituents and collaboration among the Pro-Beijing parties.  Notable parties include the DAB (Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong), Liberal Party, and FTU (Federation of Trade Unions).

Pan-Democrats: political parties united by calls for democratic reform, universal suffrage and human rights.  Pan-Democrats are often labelled an “opposition camp” by various groups and media aligned with the mainland Chinese government, since the Pan-Democrats goal run counter to values promoted by the Chinese Communist Party.  Recently, 27 democratic legislators formed the Alliance for True Democracy, a formal coalition to show solidarity for genuine democracy. Notable parties include the Democratic Party, Civic Party, and People Power.

8 Reasons Why the Northeast New Territories (NENT) Development Plan is Wrong for Hong Kong

Question: What’s the deal with the Northeast New Territories (#NENT) Development Plan? I heard that some companies (or few people) are going to get a lot of money from the land? And something was passed a few days ago in 立法㑹 under questionable circumstances? What happened?

Answer:   The North East New Territories (NENT) Development Project would allow Mainland Chinese to enter Hong Kong without a visa, which effectively removes the border between Hong Kong SAR and China.

However, this is against the Basic Law (HK’s mini-constitution), which stresses “one country, two systems”, where Hong Kong enjoys autonomy despite being part of China.

June 27th, 2014 – Members of the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee voted 29-2 to move forward with the NENT Development Project, despite irregularities with rushed voting procedures.

 

8 Reasons Why the Northeast New Territories (NENT) Development Plan is Wrong for Hong Kong

1. Doesn’t resolve Hong Kong’s Housing Issues

North-East New Territories Development Plan (NENT Plan) involves 614 hectares of land. Of this, 400 hectares of the plan requires the government to buy from landowners.

Residential development accounts for 96 hectares of the project, which is estimated to provide 60700 residential units: 40% public housing and 60% private housing.

Majority of private housing part for project is “low density luxury housing” (54 hectares), and only 36 hectares of the entire project is used for pubic housing – just 6% of the project!

 

2. Destroys Traditional Communities

Despite preserving some traditional villages, over 10,000 people are still affected by the plan.  Homes inhabited by over 3 generations of families will be destroyed in the name of development.

NENT Plan also destroys quality of life for inhabitants in the affected area. Landowning villagers are being forced to leave, but unable to afford replacement homes despite government compensation.

Most of all, all inhabitants will lose their homes and traditions, under the NENT Plan.

 

3. Many Elderly Will Be Made Homeless

HK SAR government’s latest NENT Plan is to demolish the existing elderly home in Shek Tsai Leng in 2 phrases and replace it with a public estate for the elderly in 2023.

It sounds great on paper, but not all the elderly would qualify to live in the replacement estate, which means there will be those made homeless by the development plan.

Even if they qualify to move into the replacement estate, the first phrase of demolition will badly affect the environment and quality of life for elderly who are living in the area.

 

4. Major Conflicts of Interest

The Town Planning Board (TPB) has not approved the NENT Development Plan but HK SAR Government bypassed it to apply for public funding, which is against procedure.

Also, details and size of land acquisitions has not been finalised for proper review.   The Financial Committee of the Legislative Council (LegCo) that approved the plan is composed of legislators with direct conflicts of interests.

Legislators with such conflicts of interest include Ng Leung-sing (Chairman of the Committee who is tied to Sun Hung Kai), James Tien Pei-chun (New World Development), Lau Wong-fat and Abraham Razack.

 

5. Destroys Local Farming and Agriculture

The NENT Plan will destroy 25% of active farmlands in Hong Kong SAR and what remains of locally produced vegetables and livestock along with harming the environment. The HK SAR Government has no plans for real sustainable development in Hong Kong’s rural areas.

NENT Plan will turn remaining farmlands into “to-be-developed” land, which allows developers to continue accumulating land for development into private luxury housing, shopping centres, and other commercial development catering to Mainland Chinese.

 

6. Doesn’t Create Jobs

The NENT Plan claims that it will “..maximise the increasingly frequent economic interactions” similar to ZAPE in Macau and the Shenzhen SEZ as in the past.  Plan also claims the NENT development will provide around 37700 new job opportunities, including research and development, retail and community services.

However, other relevant necessary services including education are not specified.  There is also concern whether citizens who move into the NENT development area will have the necessary skills and qualifications needed to fulfill the demand in these industries or not.

 

7. Ignores Public Concerns

Villagers affected by NENT Plan and activists supporting the villagers have exhausted all methods to urge the government to withdraw the plan.

They have spoken to  relevant government officials, protested outside the Lands Department, collected 50,000 signatures opposing the Plan, and some elderly affected by the plan have knelt at the LegCo begging them to withdraw the Plan.

However, the government and those in power refused to change their minds.

 

8. An Expensive White Elephant

The HK SAR Government plans to spend USD15.5 billion to build a “new Northeast New Territories”. Around USD5.3 billion will be spent on infrastructure, and USD3.9 billion is used for land compensation.

About 95% of land qualified for  government compensation is owned by major developers and indigenous villagers.

Instead of destroying local agriculture and livelihood of people living in the area, the government could have used the money on projects that are more acceptable to Hongkongers.

 

Conclusion

This NENT Plan highlights the collusion between government and big business, and the pro-Beijing camp’s domination of the LegCo.

Chief Executive CY Leung has gone on record saying he wanted the NENT as a special area where Mainland Chinese can enter visa-free.  This would erase the border between China and HK.

The NENT development area also matches the land holdings of major property developers, suggesting collusion between government and big business.

The Plan fails to resolve ongoing housing and job creation issues in Hong Kong. It would also result in loss of locally farmed crops that contribute to a sustainable Hong Kong.

This USD15.5 billion White Elephant project is also a potential waste of taxpayers’ money.

Are you comfortable to bear this cost?  

What is Going On In Hong Kong Right Now?

Question: I’ve read political forums and debates on CNN and I just can’t understand what the debates and discussions in Hong Kong, China are about. Can you please explain to me the political issues that Hong Kong is now tackling and current events?

Answer:

Hong Kong was formally a British colony. On July 1st, 1997, Hong Kong entered a 50 year transition period (it will end in 2047) to Chinese rule. The Hong Kong people do not like the Chinese government (except those involved in government or business) and are terrified of becoming part of China. The idea of the transition period is that Hong Kong will still have its own government and not be fully integrated into China right away. This kind of gradual change would diffuse the anger and outrage of the Hong Kong people over time.

In the meantime, China is socially, politically, culturally, linguistically, economically and physically enveloping Hong Kong. Currently, huge numbers of mainland tourists who spend money very well are critical for Hong Kong’s economy. In the mind of these tourists, Hong Kong is a part of China. As a result, they do not change their culture, try to speak Cantonese or even English when they visit. They spit, shit in the streets, and are offensive to the local people. But because they spend so much money, locals have to speak there language. As a result, Cantonese is on the decline even in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is part of the pearl delta region. The mainland is currently rapidly developing that entire pearl delta region to create a mega city that is roughly the size of Denmark. Hong Kong will inevitably be swallowed by this city.

In a nutshell, the outrage in Hong Kong now is their response to being gradually consumed by the mainland in almost every aspect of life. This is a misunderstanding of the 50 year transition period. Locals want it to be a 50 year extension of autonomous rule, but really it is the period of gradual takeover by the mainland.

Also, as the New Territories (the northern part of Hong Kong which borders Mainland China) are developed, the Hong Kong government (which is really just a puppet of the mainland) is planning to bring in many mainlanders as permanent residents of Hong Kong. As Hong Kongers become more and more diluted, they lose their voice. That voice is already so weak because they don’t even have suffrage and can’t vote for their political leader (who already needs to be approved by the central government anyway).

The loudest Hong Kong people, especially youngsters, want to select their own leader in the 2017 election, but Beijing wants to keep some control of Hong Kong by limiting whom Hong Kong voters can vote for.

As part of an “Occupy Central” campaign, a non-binding referendum is staged to get public endorsement for the demand of nomination by the public, as opposed to just a small group of Beijing loyalists representatives called the “nominating committee,” which is stipulated in the Basic Law (some sort of mini constitution for Hong Kong). The result of the referendum doesn’t matter that much really. It represents over 750,000 voters’ wish to have a say in who can be voted in the 2017 election.

What’s next is that, before the end of the year, Hong Kong government will have to release to the public a proposed method of selecting Hong Kong’s Chief Executive in 2017. Occupy Central threatens to blockade traffic in Central, the business district, if the proposal doesn’t fit their demand of a “universal suffrage in accordance with international standards.” Hong Kong government and Beijing officials have deplored the disruptive protest, which its organizers call “civil disobedience”. More political chaos will ensue. It might agitate Hong Kong activists and make them do more radical things, such as storming government or legislative buildings.

Another key thing to realize about the environment now is that June-July is a very sensitive time for Hong Kongers politically. The anniversary of Tienanmen Square, even though it did not take place in Hong Kong, is very important to Hong Kongers. July 1st is the anniversary of the beginning of the transition period.

Hong Kong: Economic Freedom No More

Ever since Maragaret Thatcher handed Hong Kong back to China in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, Hong Kong has been going downhill.

 Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
Hong Kong, alternatively known by its initials H.K., is a city-state and is a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea.

After 1997, it seemed like the handover wasn’t such a bad idea to the eyes of many.  A good number of Hong Kongers who emigrated to Canada, Australia, the UK and even America moved back to Hong Kong to take advantage of the emerging Chinese market and the improvements in the city since they left.

Even John Stossel used the post-97 Hong Kong as an example of the wonders of “Economic Freedom” in his now-infamous “Is America Number One?” special. The late Milton Friedman claimed that he was wrong about Hong Kong going into decline in his revised introduction to his popular “Freedom and Capitalism” book.  If only Milton Friedman knew what happened to Hong Kong since his passing.

Hong Kong at this time is slipping from being an international city in Asia to becoming just another Tier 2 mainland Chinese city.  The economic freedom that is frequently cited by right-wing economists, libertarians, and traditional liberals is becoming obsolete. In 2013, the start-up HKTV was denied a television broadcast licence on the grounds that the company was not a division of a major corporation.

On the other hand, cable operators with friends in government were able to easily security television licences bringing the number of free-to-air networks to being run by now 4 corporations.  Later attempts by HKTV to air as an online service were also blocked by the Hong Kong government.  I am not sure if this is economic freedom but it sounds like a form of corporatism or socialism for the wealthy to me.

The reality is economic freedom is no longer real in Hong Kong unless you’re the head of a major HK corporation or in bed with the government.  Any attempts to dream big or become massive will only be crushed by the establishment due to their need to preserve their own status quo.  As far as they’re concerned, people can still continue to exist as small or medium-sized business owners but never at a corporate level.

The Asian-American Experience & How to Deal With It

Asian-American is a constructed demographic by some California-based Asian-American activists and promoted by the majority group in the US of A.  However, a collective Asian-American experience doesn’t exist and never did despite being promoted by vocal Asian activists in an effort to unite the various ethnic Asian groups living in the US of A for greater recognition, greater rights, and greater social mobility.

In reality, ethnic Asians in America are broken up based on their language, nationality and sometimes religion. First generation immigrants separate themselves into their local ethnic communities, and their children partly define their racial identities from their original cultures.   On the other hand, descendants of first generation immigrants become disconnected with their ancestral cultures and start to think of themselves are “Americans”.  Regardless of generations, many Asian-Americans will make friends outside of their own little cultural group and often feel necessary to compromise their own identity, culture, second language to fit in.

Because there are Asian-Americans who are willing to compromise themselves and their self-respect to fit in, many non-Asian Americans believe that it is more socially acceptable to disparage Asians because they are a “model minority” and will not assert themselves for fear of being excluded in American society.  As a result, Americans believe they can get away with producing racist garbage such as the Asian Girls music video and song with excuses that it was done with an Asian model and because they have a “cute” token Indonesian-American as a band member.

I was also told by many White, Black and Latinos that the Asian Girlz video is not a big deal because it has incoherent humour and to just “lighten up“.  At the same time, they would change their tune by complaining that the George Zimmerman acquittal is racist and unfair. Despite what some people say, Asian-Americans are expected to tolerate this kind of abuse as they are compliant model minorities while others such as Blacks or Latinos are expected to assert themselves in the face of abuse or racism.  This perception in America is simply a blatant example of double standards yet it is somehow accepted in society.

Over time, these ongoing stereotypes give the majority population the impression they can get away with casual racism against Asians and arbitrarily judge Asian-Americans on an abnormally higher standard than other ethnicities. While the racial discrimination is nowhere near the levels of Chinese exclusion and Japanese internment during the 19th and 20th centuries, Asians are still seen as perpetual foreigners or by historic stereotypes.

With all these problems surrounding Asian-Americans whether it is culture shock, discrimination or a lack of clear identity, much of the ongoing dialogue in this so-called community are ultimately tied to racism or identity issues.  This is because the core of the Asian-American experience is the ongoing frustration of not being accepted in American society regardless of how hard they try to fit in whether that involves compromising one’s original identity; jettisoning the family’s native language or culture; or screwing over fellow Asians in a misguided attempt to avoid being seen as disloyal towards America. The point is no matter how hard Asian-Americans try, they will never fit in and it is better to be happy with who they are and accept their multicultural background.

Latinos had these kinds of problems for decades and managed to gradually destroy these labels by asserting and actually retaining their dual cultures regardless of stereotypes and without generally compromising to fit in.  These problems facing Asian-Americans were faced by Latinos living in America whether they are natural citizens or immigrants and eventually became an accepted and defining part of American society.

While other Asian-Americans claim they have little to learn from the Latino experience because they also face discrimination and because Asians have a supposed advantage via the “model minority” stereotype, Latinos did change America’s perception of being perpetual foreigners to being considered an integral part of American society.  Many Latinos have been increasing their presence in media, government, and in the workplace at various levels.  They are valued due to their multicultural background, many are functionally bilingual and most of all they are free from the “bamboo ceiling” that keeps Asians from reaching management levels due to ongoing perceptions by Americans that Asians are uncreative, compliant and lack individuality, which they believe is not the case with non-Asians.

Latinos who are US citizens are able to assert themselves and become recognised for being a major economic contributor and voting group in the country.  At the same time, I do not see this kind of solidarity among Asian-Americans in the US of A since it has become too easy for US politicians whether they are Democrat, Republican, Tea Party, Racist Party or Green party to divide and conquer the Asian-American community when it comes to elections (eg Taiwanese-Americans support any politician who gives lip service to Taiwan Independence and demonising China, Vietnamese-Americans support any politician who claims to demonise Communists, Laotian-Americans support anyone who claims to care about the overseas or Hmong community, Tibetan-Americans will throw their lot with any politician ranting about evil Chinese Commies or how they love the Dalai Lama, etc).

As long as the Asian community is divided and easily fractured, they will never have a voice in the American government and society at large. Also, Latinos generally assert themselves when they are mistreated or when they receive citizenship, which is not truly the case with Asian-Americans as seen by how Levy Tran took the gig without complaining about the Asian Girlz subject matter or when Marcello Lalopua, the band’s Indonesian member, did not speak out when the racist Asian Girlz song was being produced.

Most of all, many Latinos have learned they will never fit in American society no matter how they tried ranging from passing as white or abandoning Spanish as their second or foreign language. This is why many of them maintain a working knowledge of Spanish or express pride in their multicultural background unlike many in the Asian community. I still see the heavily Americanised Asians distancing themselves from the less Americanised Asians and labelling them as FOBs, weirdos, or Unamericans or becoming ignorant of their parents’ culture.

At the same time, I’ve also seen some Asian-Americans gravitating towards other Asian cultures that seem more popular than their own home cultures such as Chinese or Filipino-Americans learning Japanese and Japanese culture to the point they know more Japanese culture and history than their own or to the point Japanese becomes their second language instead of Chinese or Tagalog. This also applies to Asian-Americans who lean towards Korean culture or try to integrate themselves into the Korean-American community when they are not and never will be Korean.

I don’t see Cuban-Americans or Chicanos trying to pass themselves off as Puerto Ricans; or Colombians knowing more about Mexican culture and history than their own. I also don’t see many Latinos railing against other Latinos who recently moved into the US of A as FOBS or outsiders.

This is why it is would be better to look at how the Latino community went from being seen as perpetual foreigners to being considered part of America rather than dwelling on Asian-American frustration in a cultural bubble. It’s time Asians in the US learn from them and their struggles and victories to benefit the Asian-American community and to stop dwelling on these issues in a bubble.

The Publicis Omnicom Groupe Merger is Great for Advertising!

So this weekend in the ‪#‎adlife‬, Omnicom and Publicis Groupe announced they will merge into a creatively named holding company called Publicis Omnicom Groupe. What this means is that they will become the largest advertising holding company eclipsing WPP and leaving IPG and Havas behind.

From the company’s point of view, this will be a win-win with their increase in overall market share, synergies between formerly competing shops/agencies, and increased efficiencies. In other words, this will suck for the average ad professional since there will just be an illusion of choice when switching shops, possible redundancies due to consolidation, and aggressive cost-cutting in reduced healthcare and 401k benefits. Regardless, this will be great because it will increase overall ROI for shareholders, result in an increase in freelancers from all the project layoffs, and lower starting salaries due to the glut in freelancers and reduced costs.

On the flipside, this will be a boon for indie shops since they have a chance to steal some business away from the corporate agencies. With the merger, there are now clearer conflicts of interests and less stability for the ad professional, something indie shops could take care if they make the right decisions.

This will also be great for the other holding companies due to the expected increase in freelancers and available talent. With the increase in freelancers due to resignations or layoffs, this means companies can work harder to get contract work at lower rates or lower starting salaries since we all know that a glut in talent leads to lower costs. Also, this merger will get other holding companies such as IPG, Havas or even Dentsu to start thinking about merging or strategic alliances.

All this news about holding companies merging at the corporate level may seen boring and academic, but the short story is that all ad professionals need to start protecting their necks. Whether this means kissing up to the department heads or senior colleagues to get them to protect them or act as their advocates during restructuring time or simply switching jobs before things get bad at the office, everyone is on their own in light of these changes.

This means people who are out of the job will expect to be competing with more freelancers for gigs or will need to pare down their expectations for salaries or benefits. Most of all, everyone needs to get ready for shops being reshuffled, re-branded, realigned and relaunched similar to what WPP did with G2 when they merged it with related shops and relaunched it as Geometry something after severing its links with Grey.

Also, the Asian economies are going to slow down so don’t expect to find work in this side of the world because ad spend if also going down just like in North America and Europe.  Or this could all fail due to anti-trust regulations in the US and EU.