I came across this video on Facebook and as far as socio-political commentaries go, it’s real gem coming from veteran HK actor/director Anthony Wong Chau Sang. His real name is Anthony Perry and yes, he is of mixed British/Chinese parentage. An opinionated, outspoken man who doesn’t mince his words, Anthony’s recent speeches and online posts often drew flak from the establishment and the conformists. In this video clip, he cogently argued labels like “xenophobia” which the pragmatists conveniently pin on people who oppose liberal immigration policies.
To be honest, I’ve never really liked Anthony Wong’s movies. But being the pragmatic society that Hongkong is, many people have to lock up a bit of their brains to pander to the public. Stupid movies are made for stupid people. They are not necessarily made by stupid people. Some makers of stupid films are actually very wise and intelligent. This is a paradox that many rigid and judgemental Singaporeans need to overcome if they wish to engage in open discussion.
I’m particularly fond of Anthony Wong’s careful differential between discriminating and despising. He may have been called all sorts or names in the past. Those people were mocking him for his mixed parentage. It’s not the same as him not wanting so many “new Hongkongers” who lack social graces and refuse to learn Cantonese. This is one important point that is usually lost in our local discussions on “xenophobia”. His pragmatism which borders on prostitution towards film production notwithstanding, Anthong Wong adopts a self-respecting attitude towards integrating new immigrants. No matter how small Hongkong is or how strong the central administration is, Hongkongers like Anthony Wong are only showing due respect to their unique identity. Newcomers are welcome if they can blend into the melting pot where immigrants from Africa and the Middle East have adapted well to the local language and culture. That should be the main selection criteria and not wealth or academic qualifications.
Anthony Wong has shown the world that even though he may pandered to public demand when he made his junk films, he is still a proud Hongkonger at heart, ready to stand by his identity and the Hongkong spirit which had evolved over the years without hand-holding from the British. His arguments are down-to-earth, off-the-cuff but extremely cogent. It’s hard to find any intellectual, let alone actor who can discuss the topic with so much personal pride, passion and logic in Singapore.
Below is a rather sober and subdued interview done with Yang Lan (often dubbed China’s Oprah). Anthony Wong maintained his humour and unequivocal style, albeit with due respect to the host. He spoke in Mandarin and political issues were not covered.
It’s a rather bland interview with no discussion on mainlanders overwhelming Hongkong, but there is something I wish to point out in this interview. I’m not sure if it was due to Anthony Wong’s insistence, but note that even mainland China didn’t dub the Cantonese speeches in Mandarin.
Hongkongers are pragmatic people. But how far will they bend over backwards for the sake of prosperity? Anthony Wong was willing to make trashy, stupid films for money even though he knew how to direct artistic plays. But when in comes down to immigration policies which threaten the spiritual well-being of his home, he put his foot down. Sadly in Singapore, most people who are feeling uncomfortable with the rapid influx of foreigners lack the maturity or eloquence to argue their point/case. We are pragmatic people like Hongkongers, but where is our limit?
How many principles can we strip off? How parts of our body can we allow others access to without feeling ashamed of ourselves? Even nude models have limits and principles. Why shouldn’t we? If we can stand our ground and execute terrorists even when threatened by Abang, why can’t we have the basic decency not to present one-sided news reports from a major trading partner without any comments from opposing sides?
© Chan Joon Yee