Slice of Life

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 February, 2008, 12:00am

From the South China Morning Post this week in: 1988

Hongkong, February 3

A group of Diamond Hill clansmen vowed to fight the development of the multimillion-dollar Tate's Cairn Tunnel to protect their centuries-old homes.

Desperate clansmen who petitioned the Office of the Members of the Executive and Legislative Councils (Omelco) said the 300-year-old village and its ancestral hall had to be relocated if the Government wanted the tunnel project to succeed.

'It's not good enough to give us cash compensation if it still means the end of our village and folklore,' said one village representative. 'Where shall we go? We have regarded the village as our ancestral home for many generations - ever since the late Ming dynasty (1644).'

The group wants to be given the same rights as those enjoyed by village clansmen in the New Territories.

Long-time residents of Diamond Hill's Sheung Yuen Leng and Ha Yuen villages enjoyed rural privileges such as rights to land swaps in times of public redevelopment before 1937. The Government's rezoning plan, which marked a dozen villages south of Lion Rock as part of Kowloon, took away those privileges.

Hongkong, February 4

The Chinese version of the future Basic Law will be the only authentic version although there will be an official English translated copy. This was agreed by a 15-member co-ordinating group of the Basic Law Drafting Committee, which is tidying up the first draft of the mini-constitution for Hongkong. The latest decision may have far reaching effects on future proceedings in local courts.

At the end of a three-day meeting, a spokesman for the group, Mr Xiao Weiyun, said the group had explored a number of options before agreeing that the authenticity would not be mentioned in the Basic Law but the Chinese copy would in fact be the authentic version.

Mr Xiao said it was not possible to have both the English and Chinese versions equally authentic.

This meant that if any discrepancies arose between the English and Chinese versions after 1997, the Chinese copy would prevail. Mr Xiao said China's National People's Congress would promulgate the Basic Law in 1990 in Chinese and any interpretation of the mini-constitution by the NPC would be made on the basis of the Chinese copy.

Beijing, February 6

Liu Haisu, one of China's most famous living painters and honorary president of the Nanjing Art Academy, felt a tragic sense of deja vu when he read a report in a Hongkong newspaper - a young woman he had hired as a model at his academy was harassed into insanity after returning to her native village by peasants who equated posing nude with prostitution. Liu had seen it all before. As an avant garde artist in 1919, he was at the centre of a celebrated controversy in which he defended a female he had employed against the hostility of an intolerant society.

Outraged that history should repeat itself in this way, he called a reporter from the People's Daily newspaper and sent HK$1,000 to the injured 18-year-old, Miss Chen.

'It's still the same after 70 years,' Liu said.

Miss Chen took up a contract to pose as a nude model for students at Nanjing Art Academy last year. When her contract expired after several months, she returned to Liuhe county in Jiangsu to recuperate from an illness. While watching television at a neighbour's house, a programme about art schools explained how models pose for students.

'Is that the sort of thing you do?' asked her astounded friends. As rumours spread, dozens, then hundreds of people burst into her home to get a first-hand view of the once-naked lady.

Her misfortune seems to have struck a nerve in the collective Chinese conscience. Letters of sympathy and offers to help have been pouring in from all over the country.