Worse than quarantine

City talk | Siu Sai-wo 11 May 2021

To arrest the spread of Covid-19 variants, the government requires residents at buildings where there are confirmed cases to be subject to mandatory testing and quarantining.

People under quarantine are basically locked in, and such an idling period must have a particularly drawn-out feel for Hongkongers, who live life in the fast lane.

Jimmy Tang Kui-ming, owner of Prince Jewellery and Watch, had been to a quarantine camp because of close contacts with someone who tested positive. But he considered himself lucky because he went with his wife so they had the company of each other.

He has a big home, so I asked if camp life was hard to endure. He laughed and told me he'd been through worse, as he had lived in a "partitioned unit" as a child.

Coming from a grassroots background, Tang didn't exactly live the life of a prince when he was young.

The whole family crammed into one partitioned room in a 1,000-square-foot flat they shared with seven other families. The part he found hardest to forget was the daily chore of disposing of "night soil."

To save on transportation expenses, his father walked for more than an hour to work on a blue-collar job every day. He had trained under martial arts master Ha Hon-hung, father of "Lion King" Ha Kwok-cheung, who runs a famous lion dancing troupe, so he was a "hidden dragon" not only in kung fu but also bone setting.

After he set up a bone-setting clinic in Kowloon, life improved for the family. At the time, Tang senior was known in the neighborhood as Tang sifu, an honorific he gladly accepted.

A few years ago, Tang performed Chinese drumming at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. I wonder if the pursuit, associated with Chinese martial arts, as well as his generous and helpful personality, are the result of his father's influence.

Remembering difficult days makes today's challenges seem not as bad. That's probably why Tang didn't find quarantine tough.

But he hasn't forgotten the suffering of medium and small businesses as well as the people from the grassroots as the local economy came under unrelenting battering in the past two or three years.

So he urged the authorities to speed up vaccinations so life can return to normal as soon as possible.

Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily

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