Book Promotion Trip

Like
a tornado, the last two weeks in July came and went with dizzying
force. Those were perhaps the two most astounding weeks in my whole
life. By “astounding”, I mean the events that took place were utterly
outside of even my wildest dreams.

Before
landing on Hong Kong soil, I had only expected to be interviewed by a
couple of magazines, and if I were lucky, to have a few book buyers
asking for my signature at the scheduled Book Fair book sharing session.
As things turned out, perhaps even the word “astounding” is an
understatement. A more apt adjective would be “unreal”.  That said, I
think I still have my feet firmly on the ground, as I have been through
enough ups and downs to allow this to get to my head.

Summing
up major events of this book promotion trip, I had interviews with
eight publications and two TV broadcasters and gave talks on three
different occasions (including the book sharing session at the Book
Fair). One thing that I had never dared dream about was the overwhelming
positive reception of the book by the media in general. From my contact
with them, it came across as if they had at long last found an outlet
for their long-muffled voices. I was under the distinct impression that
the media had long been arm-twisted to play down on negative reports
about the property cartel.

Another
point I can’t help wondering is the fact that no one from the
administration had seemed to care enough to read, let alone respond to,
the original English edition which was published at the end of 2005. I
had expected that the book, which is about serious social and economic
issues, might at least somehow draw a little attention from
policy-makers, who are presumed to be proficient in the English
language. But reality fell short of my expectations. Even now, with all
the buzz about the new Chinese edition going round, not a word from the
government has yet been heard.

Two
questions keep circling in my mind since I came back from the trip. Is
the Hong Kong society slowly waking up to reality?  Is the book going to
move more post-50s, post-60s and post-70s to come off their comfortable
couch and start asking themselves honestly whether they want future
generations to be stuck in the same old “property serfdom”?

To
quickly recap the meetings and interviews that I had and the talks I
gave while in Hong Kong, I list below the events in date order. If I
babble a bit or sound a little self-indulgent, I hope readers will bear
with me.

Touch-down (July 13):

It
was a bright hot morning when the plane touched down at Chek Lap Kok at
6:00 am. Clearing immigration and customs was a breeze, probably
because people were still half asleep.

Looking
out from the air-conditioned airport express train, North Lantau looked
particularly green and inviting under a summer sky with a few white
clouds. The landscape called fondly to mind the farmlands and unspoiled
countryside of the New Territories in my childhood days. The inevitable
question popped up: “How long can Lantau remain unspoiled?”

Welcome Meeting (July 15):

Having
been invited to a meeting with various staff members of Enrich
Publishing, I took the MTR to Kwun Tong in late morning. Peggy was kind
to come to meet me at the MTR station and guided me to Enrich’s office.

Everybody at the meeting seemed elated about initial sales since “地產霸權”
was officially launched on July 2. A full-page interview report
appeared in Ming Pao’s Sunday Life section on July 11 (yes, the day
before I got on the plane), which had been conducted via email and in
which Ronald Yick was the interviewer and I was the interviewee, helped a
lot by way of alerting the general public about the book. The publisher
staff thought that the timing of the launch was spot-on, as
anti-developer sentiments reached a boiling point, spurred by the
Henderson internal sales saga. Peggy, who was responsible for marketing,
reminded me of the press interviews lined up for the following ten
days. Mr. Ma, my book editor, told me that some large bookshops were
already placing large second orders and the publisher was ordering a
second print-run.

After the meeting, the boss treated me and his staff to a delicious dim-sum lunch at a nearby restaurant.

Link to the Ming Pao July 11 interview report:-

http://news.mingpao.com/20100711/vzd1h.htm

Yazhou Zhoukan Interview (July 16):

The magazine interviewed both Dr. Lam Pun Lee (whom I quoted several times in my book) and myself at the same time.

Apple Daily Interview (July 18):

This
interview was brought about through Ronald Yick’s connection. The
assigned reporter Ken Lui, as readers might guess, is a post-80 like
Ronald.

What
came as a total surprise was that the interview report that came out
the next day (July 19) occupied almost a full page on the inside
headline page (A2) of the newspaper, complete with a large photo of me
holding the book. The online version even included a short video clip
and had over 100,000 hits.

Link to the Apply Daily July 19 interview report (a repost):-

http://marmarday.com/12615/%E5%B0%88%E9%A1%8C-%E6%96%B0%E5%9C%B0%E5%89%8D%E8%A6%81%E5%93%A1-%E5%87%BA%E6%9B%B8%E8%B8%A2%E7%88%86%E5%9C%B0%E7%94%A2%E5%95%86/

經濟一週 (a finance weekly) Interview (July 19):

My gut feeling was that the reporter was trying to get me to talk about things quite unrelated to the message of the book.

Ming Pao Finance & Property Section Interview (July 20):

Two days later (July 22), the report came out on half a page in the finance & property section of Ming Pao.

Link to the Ming Pao July 22 interview report:-

http://news.sina.com.hk/cgi-bin/nw/show.cgi/19/1/1/1794759/1.html

Book Fair Opening, Now TV Interview, Ming Pao Weekly Interview (July 21):

This
was an action-packed day. Peggy had asked me to be present at the
Enrich Publishing booth inside the Book Fair compound on the opening day
and to answer questions from Now TV and other media who might turn up.

When
I arrived at 10:45 am, the publisher’s booth was already jam-packed
with people. There were lots of photographing requests. I presumed they
were from the media. The reporter and photographer from Now TV tried to
do an interview with me, but it later turned out that their voice
receptor was not functioning very well as there was too much noise in
the background. They suggested to take me to lunch first, then to go
back to their studio (which is nearby) to do the interview properly.
They even promised to chauffer me to my afternoon appointment in time.
So, I just couldn’t refuse them. Before I left with the Now TV people to
have lunch, a reporter from Voice of America asked me a few questions
and I answered them. Then Peggy announced through a loudspeaker that I
would be back at the booth on July 24 evening to give a book-sharing
talk.

At
the Now TV studio, I was properly made-up and appeared on camera for
half-an-hour. Under the deceptively calm appearance, my heart almost
jumped out of my mouth.

In the afternoon, I attended the Ming Pao Weekly Magazine interview as scheduled.

TVB Jade Finance Magazine Interview and SCMP Interview (July 22):

Both
interviews took place at Enrich’s office. In the late morning, the TVB
photographer started the camera rolling inside the meeting room as the
principal producer began the interview. I was still very much on edge,
even after the Now TV practice. When the interview ended, the team took
me to the Kwun Tong seashore for a few more shots.

The
reporter from SCMP was waiting patiently in Enrich’s office while I was
running late with the seaside filming and I thanked her for her
patience.

Book Sharing Session at Book Fair (July 24):

Flanked
by Ronald Yick and Wong Yeung Tat (a well-known novelist and drama
writer who had just launched a new novel about developer greed), I
started the presentation at 7:00 pm, which attracted quite a crowd. Wong
is a vivacious and humorous guy who had little problem in holding the
crowd’s attention. Ronald also did his part by jumping in at the right
moment. The audience responded by a round of applause and by speaking
their minds. The talk was followed by a book-signing session. A long
line formed in front of the raised platform where we were seated. Some
book buyers requested to have photos taken with me.

Book Sharing Session at HKReaders and Sing Tao & Headline Daily Interview (July 26):

Ronald
was the moderator, and there were two other speakers: Victor Yuen and
Kaxton Siu, both post-80s. The four of us had had a coffee chat before
we showed up at the bookstore. When we arrived at the bookstore at 8:00
pm, the whole room was packed with an eager audience, with many seats
having to be removed to make more room for the standing crowd.

Victor
and Kaxton were well prepared and had a lot to share about
government-conglomerate collusion. When we finished our presentation,
many from the audience took turns to speak. The session ended on an
optimistic note that a concerted effort on the part of those who care
will bring about positive changes in society.

The
reporters from Sing Tao and Headline Daily waited till the session
ended to interview me. Then I chatted with Daniel Lee, founder of the
bookstore, and thanked him for helping to organize the event.

Link to the HKReaders Session (in two parts):-

http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/8526371

http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/8526717

Link to the Headline Daily July 29 interview report:-

http://news.hkheadline.com/dailynews/headline_news_detail_columnist.asp?id=117918&section_name=wtt&kw=8

Talk Organized by Community Development Initiative (July 28):

Jeffrey
Au, founder of CDI (a non-profit policy think-tank), had approached me
on the Book Fair opening day with an invitation for a talk on July 28.
That afternoon, the black rainstorm signal was up, but went down by 5:30
pm. The talk took place as scheduled at 7:00 pm in a lecture room at
the City U.’s United Centre campus. Two other speakers joined me:
Professor Stan Wong from the Chinese University and Dr. Yip Ngai-ming
from the City University. The audience was responsive and many took
turns to speak. Before the talk began, the TV unit of CDI (OurTV) had
interviewed me for 20 minutes.

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