The voice of Hong Kong, from far away

Central Station | Nury Vittachi 18 Dec 2019

Who speaks for the people of Hong Kong? There's disquiet among some local people that a widely quoted source using a Chinese name is actually a Westerner.

A certain "Kong Tsung-gan" is frequently quoted in the English-language press, including the Washington Post and the UK's Guardian, as a Hong Kong "writer and activist." Kong is also a major presence on the Hong Kong Free Press website, which publishes his articles, promotes his self-published books, and gives away copies to people who donate cash.

But several people know "writer and activist" Kong is really Brian Kern, a teacher from the United States formerly working for Chinese International School, where he ran a human rights campaign group.

Kern made a splash on Hong Kong social media this year when he was filmed giving instructions to black-clad protesters, which gave rise to allegations that he was a CIA agent.

Kern did not respond to attempts to contact him for this article.

It is not illegal to publish material under a pen name, but journalistic ethics require publications to reveal that "names have been changed."

Presenting yourself as a person with a different ethnicity is a whole step more controversial.

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The latest part of Hong Kong society hit by the protests: the crime sector. Although the number of robberies and arson attacks rose recently, most other crimes fell in frequency, government statisticians revealed on Monday. So it's not just tourists who have stayed at home: so have criminals.


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"Yay! I've just had the first free metro ride of my life," said reader Thomas Hon Wing Polin. "It was in Shenzhen." The perk is offered to visitors aged 60-plus, one of many moves aimed at making Hongkongers feel welcome over the border. Jonathan Smith was pleasantly surprised to see the polite way people queued at Laojie station in Shenzhen. "It's a great contrast to Kowloon Tong," he said. "And nobody firebombs the station either, which is a bonus obviously."

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This restaurant in Vietnam offers this menu - and it may be all too honest.

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The Hong Kong post office yesterday announced that it will be selling collectors' stamps featuring The Gruffalo, a popular UK children's book. The sad thing is most people have no idea that it's based on a traditional story from China - although a UK author became rich from it.

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Old people in Hong Kong have just been offered the cheapest apartments in the history of this city: HK$0 a month, for life. The catch is that you have to be over 70 and living in a family-sized public housing flat.

The scheme aims to free up apartments for needy families by offering an irresistible deal to tempt oldies. Go on! Bite!

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A Hong Kong company called Vast Profit received a government grant this week. Apparently profits weren't vast enough.

Our business people are not known for humility. Last year, someone registered a Hong Kong company called Brilliant Genius.

For some reason, it made me think of Donald Trump.

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An advertising man who did not want his name in print tried to imagine what an honest slogan for recruiting radical protesters would say. "Are your job prospects really bad? Would you like to make them, much, much worse?"

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