Speak up against the odds
Bringing glamorous revenue or glory to TVB, the largest local television broadcaster, may be the goal for many of its artists, but a former Miss Hong Kong contestant chose to expose its dark side that the other 4,000 staff members dare not to touch on.
TVB's senior executives considered the young lady a threat to their corporate image as she “talked too much” publicly. One of the incidents triggering the termination of her contract with TVB took place when she offended them by opposing a “hidden guideline” for local artists – to behave politically correct, which means “to secure your job, say nothing about politics and religion.”
That might be the reason why, as she says, audience could always see celebrities strolling around in charity events but seldom see their faces in political activities.
“Those stars are proud of being a member of Hong Kong's entertainment industry but when asked if there are any constructive ways to contribute to Hong Kong, they could hardly utter a word.” She says eloquently. She looks smashing and confident in her casual jeans.
She soon left TVB with no regret and now she is a model, an actress, an online radio host, and a popular blogger. With her outspoken personality, people started to remember her name – Erica Yuen Mi-ming.
Recently, the 28-year-old lady has further steered her career towards a more provocative area – the political arena.
She was the first artist appearing as a political commentator in a news and political commentary programme of Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) called Pentaprism II, in which she commented on taxi fare increase and the Chief Executive's blunders in the two episodes shown in November and December last year.
She recalled that Tse Chi-fung, the producer of the programme, approached her after she expressed her views on the floor of the City Forum held in Victoria Park in October, criticizing Liberal Party's policy on employment.
“I believe RTHK employed me partly because I am a celebrity, having high publicity among citizens.” Another reason may attribute to her critical mind and sharp opinions, which have attracted viewership by the tens of thousands on Youtube.
She says she learnt to think critically and cry out against injustice when she was in St Stephen’s College. “My parents divorced when I was young. I was then sent to a boarding school since nobody had the time to take care of me as my Dad was travelling around for business.”
Ms Yuen then gained a degree at Tufts University in the US in 2003 majoring in economics. After that, she worked at a large business company in Hong Kong for a year and decided to take part in the beauty contest.
As “the pursuit of fame and wealth” remains a stereotyped image of showbiz, she admitted that her decision to enter the entertainment business was a hard one for her father and friends to accept until she started to write as a newspaper columnist and published a book. “They know I am not those gold-digging public figures after reading my articles, “she says relieved.
Whenever she has a chance to give comment in the public, she would first analyze the news and sometimes asks for more information from Lion Rock Institute, a Hong Kong based think tank she belongs to that promotes free market based public policy solutions where some members are columnists and editorial writers of Apple Daily such as Simon Lee Chao-fu. Her views are based on the principle of supporting democracy and free market policies.
Among the million types of flamboyant women on the planet, Ms Yuen and Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher may be categorised in the same group as their outspoken characters coincide.
Thatcher once said, “I love argument, I love debate. I don't expect anyone just to sit there and agree with me, that's not their job.”
Ms Yuen openly traded biting remarks with seasoned political commentator Albert Cheng Jing-han, nicknamed Taipan, over controversies in “Sunday Taipan”, a political commentary talk-show of NOW TV.
Sparkle is important in a talk-show. Partnering with Taipan, Ms Yuen says that it was “an exciting task as there are usually no scripts, no standard quotes.”
“I think Taipan wishes to mirror David Letterman in the style of hosting, but it's still a long way to work out an efficient approach.” She adds referring to Letterman, a world class talk-show host in America, who has won consecutive six Emmy Awards of the CBS show‘Late Show with David Letterman’.
Being green in politics, she says she is not qualified yet to occupy key positions in social advocacy. She also says that it is more challenging for her to be persuasive as the audiences know her showbiz background.
Yet, as an artist who has been frequently featured in Hong Kong’s tabloid magazines, she fits perfectly to “bust the bad guys” and tries to set the local entertainment business on “a more righteous footing” as she says.
She frequently uploads to her three blogs to express her viewpoints. One of her blog posts analysing the so-called “scandals” in local tabloid magazines has been translated into English and posted on EastSouthWestNorth, an English-language Web log that dealing with Chinese politics and media that is arguably the “most content-rich, reliable and illuminating,” according to a Reuters reporter.
Netizens respond powerfully and enthusiastically to her often sarcastic comments. Some agree with her, some admire her, some rebuke her and some even curse her. She says, “I am grateful to all interactions we have. They help me explore what human nature is.”
In 2006, her onslaught against female pop singer Stephy Tang’s practice of judging the quality of a book by just glancing over a few pages was quoted by Apple Daily as the day’s entertainment news headline. In a single day, her web-journal attracted about 300,000 hit counts. “Stephy is really popular I would say,” she says grinning with her eyebrow raised.
There are many reasons why young women participate in the Miss Hong Kong Beauty Pageant. Some may see it as a step up the career ladder, others as a way to become a Hollywood star. For Ms Yuen, it is a way to “let her voice be heard” as she says.
“So many behaviours in the showbiz industry are away from fairness. A lot of so-called ‘super stars’ are ‘privately’ outspoken. They grumble in their peer circle but never say it out loud. So the problem is never solved. If they’re victims, they will always be victims,” she says boldly.
She condemns the recent scandal over ten female artists in TVB concealed the identity of the offender after being sexually harassed.
However, she admits she had lost numerous commercial contracts as the clients disliked her blunt criticism. She insisted, “I will not alter my character to please anyone as long as I believe expressing overtly is worth doing.”
Talking about her future plans, the petite, feisty lady has big ambitions. Starting up a skin-care business, teaching investment strategies, producing TV shows, setting up a new political party and running for the next Legislative Council are all possibilities.
For such kind of person who is always going beyond limitations, she is capable in surprising ways to “let her voice be heard” in the future.
|From Elle Blog|
近年來，香港瀰漫著揮之不去的鬱悶──經濟的低潮、政策的折騰、狹隘的視野，以及對社會科學和實踐研究的輕視，使香港的優勢和自主性越見薄弱迷失。但政府和 不少主要社會資源的持份者，依然崇尚逾時的精英主義，習慣以由上而下的思維，延續昔日的管治模式；但在追求經濟增長或新機遇的同時，我們整體的生活質素卻 未見改善，社會的貧富差距越見巨大，離以人為本的社會越來越遠。這不但使我們感到無力和無奈，更令我們為未來擔憂。經濟和健康的連串危機，把我們從習以為 常的、效益主導的經濟生活中驚醒，告誡我們急需反思過去的生活價值，並為社會、經濟和生活模式確立新方向。
近一世紀前，陳獨秀先生在《新青年》雜誌寫下《敬告青年》一文，寄語青年在風雨飄搖之時，承擔起改造社會之責。今天，我們作為生於七、八十年代前後、行政架 構及立法議會外的一群，也提出六點對社會的冀盼，希望拋磚引玉，帶動政府、學界和民間，開展對香港未來的討論；也希望社會痛定思痛、勇於變革，為下一代建 立一個視野遼闊、共同參與、不再反智的社會。
任何社會與公共政策，均應以嚴謹的研究作基礎，並以社科的謹慎態度將之納入公共行政體系之中，而非先有結論、後有研究。本地不乏水平出眾的學者和文化工作 者，但卻往往不被重視和鼓勵，無奈於學院進行與社會應用無關的學術論文，或在民間被視廉價勞工。無論是政府、企業，或掌握學術資源的機制，均有責任為本地 提供更自由、更富應用性的學術和文化土壤，推動更多與社會相關的研究及創作，尊重知識，同時為理想、實踐和創意拆牆鬆綁。
傳統『香港精神』，認為香港人肯捱願搏，自力更生便總有出頭天。但今天的香港階級流動停滯，青年人不是墮進無休止自我增值的扭曲循環，便只能在技術工作短 缺的勞工巿場徬惶掙扎，兩極化的勞動巿場抹殺了突破的可能性。香港需要更健康的勞動巿場和流動階梯，社會制度需要新的想像和更彈性的發揮空間，讓有新思維 和創作力的人──特別是青年人，可以根據個人的興趣和理念，自由創造自己和香港的未來。
自由多元的言論空間，是香港僅餘不多的既有優勢之一。唯有不以仇恨和恐懼推動討論，以知識和理性深化對話基礎，方能讓這優勢得到最大發揮。公民社會需要開 放、認真、互相尊重的討論態度，政府兼聽則明、民間互相包容，建構真正多元的、非形式主義的、由下而上的交流諮詢平台，深化知性討論，下一代才能在理性的 環境成長。
香港擁有大中華地區相對最寬鬆的媒體與網絡自由，加上殖民地的歷史因素，理應是一個國際城巿，這也是歷來香港對中國的價值。但近年香港卻越見去國際化，國 際視野淪為商業工具及包裝，社會卻缺乏對世界的認識和關懷，少數族群亦不被主流社會主動融和。在高喊「背靠中國、面向世界」口號的同時，我們必需主動確立 香港在國際社會的獨特價值，維繫本土社會的國際性，更具人文關懷地了解和參與世界，方能真正地拓展視野，擺脫孤島心態，確認自己的長處和路向，從而維持對 中國的獨特貢獻。
『我們』指的是廣義的香港人，無論是年長或年輕、生於斯或移居至此，既視香港為家，便需正視本土的歷史脈絡，從個人的根，發展出屬於我們的路向。在全球化 席捲中國的同時，了解及確立自己獨特的定位更形重要。香港獨有的文化、歷史、複雜而多元的身份，在中國近代史，也一直具有富批判性的、醞釀新思維的優良傳 統。這些傳承，正是香港人的根本，我們務必對之珍重，並認真研究和借鑒。否則十年後的香港，只會淪為一個無根的社會，和一個毫無特色的夕陽城巿。
發起人: The Roundtable Network – The Social Science Network in Hong Kong [圓桌香港社會科學網絡] @成立四週年紀念 (http://www.roundtable.com.hk)