Does the tale become political reality?

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 March, 2012, 12:00am


It's fashionable to round on tycoons these days, but let me just say one little nice thing about the Kwok brothers of Sun Hung Kai Properties, one of the 'hegemonic' families who allegedly own Hong Kong.

Sun Hung Kai financially supports a nifty Chinese-language literary monthly called Books4You, which is distributed for free. As far as I know, it does not interfere with its editorial content, which tends to favour pan-democratic politics and features literary critics and writers who share similar views. It is kind of a New York Review of Books wannabe, but its lighter weight makes articles more readable.

The latest issue focuses on Chinese martial arts novels, featuring the obligatory interview with a pan-democrat. This month it's Civic Party lawmaker Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, who turns out to be an expert on famed martial arts novelist Louis Cha and has written four books about him. Wow!

I have always found the pan-democrats self-righteous and tiresome, but Ng is quite fascinating here.

She and the interviewer consider the possibility that in Cha's novel The Deer and the Cauldron the character of Qing emperor Kangxi stands for the central government and the revolutionary tin-dai (heaven and earth) gang represents the pan-democrats. If so, where does that leave Cha?

The Deer and the Cauldron changed as later editions came out. Kangxi went from being a tyrant to a good emperor whose evil deeds justified good ends, and the gang's ideology of restoring the previous Ming dynasty - Western-style democracy? - became a bad joke. And Cha became an adviser to Beijing.

'Perhaps the changes came after Cha met Deng Xiaoping and began to see a good side to the Communist Party,' Ng says. 'Without an overarching power to impose order, society could descend into chaos.'

Ng does not share this view, but the dilemma she describes pretty much confronts every thinking Hongkonger.