Culture Club

Anniversary of Anita Mui Yim-fong's death will be a time for reflection

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 December, 2013, 12:31pm
UPDATED : Monday, 09 December, 2013, 12:31pm

December 30 marks the 10th anniversary of Canto-pop queen Anita Mui Yim-fong’s passing. Mui’s old friends, “God of songs” Jacky Cheung Hok-yau and comedian Eric Tsang Chi-wai, join forces to stage a charity concert at the Exhibition and Convention Centre to commemorate the late star.

Besides emphasising the charity nature of this one-off concert, Cheung and Tsang gave an interesting “order” to those who are planning to attend the concert. They told the media that there will be a strict dress code: “Nothing glittery, glamorous and colourful. [Attendees] must wear black and white. No entry will be allowed if the concert-goer wears the wrong colour. We will have staff inspecting people’s outfits and we will refund the tickets to those who are banished from entering the concert.”

The last time Hong Kong actually cared about dress code was probably when the city was still ruled by the Brits. I love dress code. It is not a fashion statement. It is an important guide to good manners, showing us how to be respectful to others. My mum taught me to wear the right things since I was a child. I grew up on Cheung Chau, where we walked around the island in flip flops. And whenever I was spotted wearing shoes that covered my toes, relatives and neighbours couldn’t help asking “are you going to Hong Kong [Island]?” Yes, going to Hong Kong Island was a BIG deal! The ferry took us to Central and we had to dress properly because we were heading to the city centre where the richest of the rich were. We must not make us and our fellow islanders look bad.

But it appears that as time goes on, the importance of dress code has faded, especially in the local media scene. I couldn’t understand why some reporters could actually wear sandals and even flip flops when they were on a job. Why would people go to wedding banquets in scruffy jeans that looked totally wrong? And here’s the most classic example: I was once invited to a black tie gala dinner for work, and in order to match the dress code, I forked out a substantial amount of money to buy the first and only floor length ball gown in my wardrobe. But apparently I was way too serious because another journalist across the table was sporting a pair of sunglasses on her head and a pencil skirt – those were the only pair of bare legs spotted in the ball room. It was downright embarrassing.

The dress code that Cheung and Tsang propose is absolutely the right thing to do. This city needs a re-education of what it means to be respectful. After all, it is a memorial of one of Hong Kong’s most beloved Canto-pop icons whose untimely death due to cervical cancer was a traumatic conclusion to 2003, where Hong Kong was tormented by the suicide of Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing on April 1, hundreds died of SARS, and 500,000 people protested against the Basic Law article 23 in fear of losing their freedom. There will be nothing to celebrate. December 30 will be the day to mourn for a hopeful past that was gone for good.