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Siu Gaa

Entry updated 29 August 2023. Tagged: Author.

(?   -    ) Unknown and presumably pseudonymous author, known only for their short story "Ngomun dik Sidoi" ["Our Era"] (2020 Gongjyuhok web), a brief Satire concerning a tourist in 2050, unable to find historical sites in Hong Kong because all the names have been changed. Siu's characters are confused by deliberate rebrandings and also by misprisions brought about by ignorance – a street sign that identifies "Alexander Terrace" is now "Rednaxela Terrace" because locals are unaware of the old right-to-left writing system. The Cantonese language has been eradicated (see Linguistics), replaced by the simplified characters and received pronunciation of State-mandated Mandarin (see Memory Edit).

It was uploaded as shortlisted entry in an essay competition run by the Societas Linguistica Hongkongensis (SLHK, aka Gongjyuhok), an organisation founded in 2013 for the preservation and promotion of the Cantonese language. In that regard, its drift into consideration of Religion, the presence of a mosque as an abandoned cultural site, and of references to diverse churches being corralled under a single State-approved umbrella, might be regarded as an irrelevant and provocative tangent. But Siu's point, delivered succinctly in just a few pages, is that Hong Kong has a culture, identity and diversity all of its own, under attack from pervasive policies of censorship and suppression. The leading character's parents have died as a result of "having inhaled too much Chinese-made tear gas in their youth", an obvious reference to the protests of the late 2010s. Siu ends by quoting Kniha smíchu a zapomnění (1979; trans Michael Henry Helm as The Book of Laughter and Forgetting 1980) by Milan Kundera: "The struggle between man and totalitarianism is the struggle between memory and forgetting."

In dating its historical crackdown to the year 2025, "Ngomun dik Sidoi" might be considered as a Sequel by Other Hands to Sap Nin (2015), imagining the consequences of that film's Dystopian predictions a further generation along, after the removal of the last protections promised by the Hong Kong Basic Law (1990), for which see China. Thematically, it was nothing new, with concerns close to those of Dung Kai-cheng's Dituji: Yi ge Xiangxiang de Chengshi de Kaoguxue (1997; rev 2011; trans Dung Kai-cheung, Anders Hansson and Bonnie S McDougall as Atlas: The Archaeology of an Imaginary City 2012) or the political allegories of Ni Kuang. What makes it different is the timing of its publication, after the promulgation of the Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (2020), a statute forbidding "secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion."

After visits paid to his family by the police in 2023, the website owner Andrew Lok Hang Chan dissolved the SLHK, "in consideration of the legal risks involved in continuing its activities." His farewell letter alluded to earlier pressures upon him, and the characterization of the SLHK as a "radical anti-China organisation" after he had protested over the introduction of mandatory Mandarin-language examinations at Baptist University in 2018. [JonC]

see also: Chan Koonchung; Huang Yi.

Siu Gaa



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