Sunday, 15 October 2006

Give Me A Break... Undisturbed Please!

Weekends during which I could go hiking, swimming, writing, watching DVDs or working out in a gym now seem a remote reality. I have already forgotten for how many weekends I have been working from morning till evening. An iron-red cauldron of annoyance and fury has never been boiling so violently inside me, ready to erupt any time like a devastating volcano.

I am ready to burn anything in front of me into ashes. No questions asked.

Unfortunately, I know better than anyone else that this is life and little, if any at all, can be done about it. There is no one to blame or to complain against. Everyone has been working hard on their jobs and so have I. But at a time when five different journalists from the same media outlet called me within a week on the same issue, I just couldn't help wondering why I'm always the one who respond to their enquiries.

I don't understand why things always happen over the weekend and I'm the only person stuck in front of my computer at home. Even if I don't have any specific plan or appointment over the weekend, I would like to stay away from work and enjoy some leisure time on my own. This is the balance of life that I strongly believe everyone are entitled to have.

Unlike many technology companies have proclaimed in their advertising campaigns, technology nowadays are not making things easier but making work far more accessible than it should be. Mobile phones and emails on Blackberry are perhaps the most notorious inventions that keep people at work 24 hours per day, seven days a week. Physical distances make no more sense and people just can't get away from the labyrinth of calls and emails every now and then, wherever they are. This is exactly why so many people are suffering from all those kind of mental illness these days. This is also why I'm still not convinced to have a trendy 3G mobile phone or Blackberry or digital personal assistant or for that matter, as many people out there want me to have. I just don't want to spend another grand or two to make my life even more miserable.

I know I don't have the privilege to complain when compared to those from the grassroots who are left unemployed or are made to work 12 hours every single day to make their ends barely meet. But I have no intention to make anyone feel bad. All I need is a good and undisturbed rest to refresh myself, both mentally and physically. I simply want to vent my fatigue, fury and frustration. Otherwise I would have joined thousands and millions of mentally ill patients within a day or two.

Friday, 13 October 2006

回憶的價值

經過連續幾星期的非人生活,這兩天終於可以緩一口氣。前天趁著難得的一天假期,把拋荒幾星期的事情趕緊做一遍--做運動、寫文章,還有把早前買下的《雪山飛狐》影碟跳著看完了。

在螢幕上看著一張張熟悉的臉孔,心裡總有一股說不出的滋味。二十年前的風流人物,如今不是美人遲暮,便是成了「騎呢老祖」,再不便是消聲匿跡、或者騎鶴歸去,那份韶華已老、時不我予的感覺,濃得化不開。

也許有人不明白,三十世代正當盛年,為甚麼有逝水難追之嘆?

其實很簡單,因為我們都失望、我們都氣餒、我們都寂寞。

這幾年來,香港的「三十世代」掀起了一股懷舊風潮,而且集中於流行文化商品的層面上。八十年代的歌手紛紛復出開演唱會,影碟、唱片都出版了「復刻版」,甚至有人組織了八十年代流行文化的展覽,和同輩一起沉緬於回憶中的快樂。誰是始作俑者已不重要,我也不想諉過於慘淡經營的流行商品供應商,他們不過是順水推舟、推波助瀾而已。要是沒有三十世代空虛無助的心靈,他們那些翻炒再翻炒的精選唱片和舊劇集,也賣不了一個滿堂紅。

不知道有沒有人研究這股懷舊風潮的意義,尤其是對於三十世代的意義。只是覺得,我們這些七十年代出生的香港人,好像一直渾渾噩噩,沒做過甚麼值得我們驕傲的事情,反而覺得自己是不屬於任何年代、任何地方,只是無止境的過客。

七、八十年代的光輝和成就,跟我們沾不上邊兒,我們充其量只是一個適逢其會的既得利益者。九十年代的跌宕,我們也沒有機會直接參與,只是似懂非懂的冷眼旁觀。來到二十一世紀,我們理應成熟,肩負著更重大的責任,但現實似乎並非如此。論資歷,不夠淺也不夠深;論學識,只是馬馬虎虎,比上不足比下有餘;彷彿永遠只能在青黃不接的尷尬夾縫中掙扎,做個為他人作嫁衣裳的過客。

也許因為這樣,才會有那麼多人重新沉緬在八十年代眩目的光環裡,尋求一點慰藉。相比於現實的無奈和虛偽,八十年代無憂無慮的日子真像夢境一般。既然同樣是虛幻,到底八十年代也是大夥兒一起經歷過的美好時光,腦海裡的回憶童叟無欺,而且還有那麼一鱗半爪,仍讓大家牢牢握住。

不知從甚麼時候開始,腦袋裡的回憶開始褪色,心裡卻生出一種莫名其妙的衝動,逼著自己抓住某些東西,來提醒自己曾經活過、年輕過。例如少年時曾擁有過的電視劇畫冊,到了二十年後的今天,要用畫冊原價五十倍、甚至一百倍的價錢買回來,我咬一咬牙,還是決定寧願不吃兩個星期早餐,也要留住這份見證過自己少年時代的珍貴文物。各位觀眾,別忘了那是連博物館也不會收集的文物呀!還有那些曾經令我廢寢忘食的電視劇,更不必說。即使早對情節、人物瞭如指掌,仍是有一份無法抗拒的渴望。只要出版了影碟,還是忍著痛乖乖的刷卡,一盒一盒捧回家,心裡才覺得踏實,好像營營役役的身心,終找到一個落腳的地方了。因為,我相信,即使外面波詭雲譎,從此仍可以躲在陋室之中,與不老的回憶作伴。

也許你要笑我逃避現實,但有誰能夠像阿久津真矢那樣永遠堅強?阿久津不是也需要兒子亡靈的安慰,才賦予自己堅持下去的勇氣嗎?

所以,請不要道貌岸然地批評懷舊有多頹廢、有多商品化。商品只是一種形式,我願意用不合理的高價買回來的,不是表面上看得見、摸得到的商品,而是商品背後所代表那份已遠去、開始褪色的回憶。回憶才是無價之寶。因為在老人癡呆症發作之前,我需要一些retrieval cues,把美好的時光永遠留住--儘管那些都是一些虛無縹緲的光影。

虛幻的人生,只能在虛幻的光影裡尋求存在的價值和真實感覺。也許這就是我這個三十世代的悲哀。

Thursday, 12 October 2006

Don't Look Down Upon Your Little Monsters

Almost a week has passed after the final episode of the special feature of Joou no Kyoushitsu was aired, but I'm still inclined to share my two-cents on this remarkable drama, probably one of the best I have seen in five years.

While the most obvious "lesson" of this drama is the urgent need to rethink what education is all about and what the best approach of education should be, there is another key message that parents and teachers should never overlook - do not ever look down upon on children. For some reason we adults always think that children are good and simple by nature. They need to be taught about the borderless knowledge of the world and how to sustain their good qualities in-born. However, as we can see from countless news reports about violence on campus and juvenile delinquency in recent years, our assumptions now seem irrelevant and inappropriate. Are children really as simple as we think they are? Do children have their own way of thinking that we adults are unaware of or reluctant to learn about?

Look at the students whom Akutsu met before she transformed herself into a "devil" teacher. They bully. They kill. They pay no respect to human life and dignity. They set their teachers up in wicked plots to make them resign or deprived of their jobs. Worse still, most parents do not have any idea of what their children truly are. They are easily blinded by their good behaviour on appearance, and do not bother to find out what their children think inside their little but complicated minds.

Isn't it a bitter reminder for parents and teachers, who have been taking it so much for granted that children are simple and innocent and should not be held responsible for what they do?

I even think that it's time for the judiciary to re-consider this naive assumption and review the legal proceedings for juvenile delinquency. I don't say this simply because I have watched the Japanese drama. I say this because I find the frequent recurrence of juvenile violence, drug and sexual abuses over the last couple of years unacceptable and irritating. The current approach of giving teenage criminals exceptionally lenient treatment, based on the assumption that they are too innocent and immature to fully understand the consequences of their deeds, is but a hopeless fallacy. How can you be sure that a 15-year-old boy doesn't know it is illegal to kill or to rob? Do you really believe in this kind of bullshit if the boy tells you that he doesn't know? Does it have anything to say about the education being offered to our next generations? At a time when people in 70s or 80s are often found guilty of engaging in violence and sexual abuses, despite their "experience" as human beings, what difference can age actually make in terms of defining the legal liabilities of offenders?

That's why I find it somewhat surprising that the 13-year-old boy who almost claims Akutsu's life in the drama can escape from any criminal charges he may have faced. Akutsu is right by saying that only education can achieve miracles, but a superstitious belief in the power of education without taking into account its limitations can also be destructive. I'm really worried about Akutsu, who is ready to risk her life for her students. Luck will not be always on her side.

Wednesday, 11 October 2006

Disgraceful Obsessions - A Personal Review of Policy Address 2006-2007

Chief Executive Sir Donald Tsang delivered his second policy address today.

Not surprisingly, this policy address fails to present a long-term vision for Hong Kong's sustainable development. Sir Donald's obsession with pragmatism and his eagerness to solicit support for a second term in the office has become a convenient excuse for his lack of commitment to the "blessed land" that has nurtured him for more than 60 years.

Among other things, what irritates me most is Sir Donald's arrogance. I can understand why Sir Donald is so proud of what he has been doing, because people of his age still think that securing a permanent job with pension in the Government is a lifetime achievement that is worth mentioning when he visits his grandfather's grave. Being an administrative officer responsible for policy-making for the Hong Kong subjects provides yet another justification for arrogance and complacence. Unfortunately Hong Kong is no longer a colony. We do not need a benevolent autocrat who is obsessed with lip service of his love and commitment to his subjects. Despite the boring and demoralising education we have received at schools all these years, we are still smart enough to tell whether the Government leaders have done their jobs well. Aren't you making yourself a laughing stock by putting those ridiculous words such as "always people first" and "for the people" in writing in every single piece of propaganda, when this is exactly why every taxpayer contributes to allow the Government to exist? Are you trying to remind your people or yourself?

The second most annoying thing is his repeating Hong Kong's success story AGAIN to show the so-called "emotional" side of the Great Leader. In his 60s, Sir Donald is exactly one of those baby-boomers who have made Hong Kong as it is today. They have conveniently turned a blind eye to the fast-changing, interest-oriented social environment of Hong Kong that is totally different from the time when the baby-boomers left their schools to their careers. At that time social mobility was high. Opportunities were everywhere for those who worked hard and were willing to learn and improve their lives. Changes were slow and progressive, allowing people more time to adapt. Individuals often have a strong sense of responsibility not only for himself/herself, but also for his/her family and the community as a whole. People respected each other by Confucian heritage although they didn't know much about the Western values of human rights. But all these have gradually been replaced by an obsession for personal pursuits at the expenses of the others, so long the means are allowed within the legal framework. Communities are torn down and conglomerates uproot family business and entrepreneurship. Hard work is no longer appreciated but cunning tricks, in the name of creativity, work and count. Every aspect of Hong Kong are dominated by baby-boomers who refuse to retire, and these are the people who criticise their next generations of lacking commitment and experience because they see their children are not as successful as they were at the same age, in terms of both income and social status.

Sir Donald, pardon me for asking a dumb question: Under such a shameless and soulless environment, how can you expect your next generation like me, a woman of the same age of your sons, to work hard to succeed? Do you really think that hard work still works in Hong Kong today?

Let me be absolutely honest with you: To me, this is no better than a convenient lip service to make the people of my age and younger even dumber to follow the success stories of your generation, and by doing this, we are doomed. We are sick of this hypocrisy. People like you have witnessed the irresistible changes of Hong Kong and have facilitated some others, but too many of you have also failed to recognise that new wisdom is also required to survive in the new Hong Kong that you helped create. Of course you are proud of your achievements and would like these to become "blessings" and "fortune", but we don't want them. While these blessings and fortune do not last, they can also become a curse for us. We want to do things our way like you did, but in a more sensible, responsible way with more integrity and respect for people, culture and the environment. Please stop all the rhetoric about the people and your old success stories. Concentrate on what you should do and shut up.

Sunday, 8 October 2006

懺情記之天海祐希篇

說不盡的女王,說不盡的天海祐希。

早在改編自《源氏物語》的《千年之戀》上映時,便聽說過天海祐希的名字。無奈我對這部世界上最早的長篇小說,始終不過電。無論是原著譯本還是電影改編本,都是淺嘗輒止,半途而廢,屢試屢敗。天海祐希在《千年之戀》的造型固然是非常討好的,但卻沒有令人驚喜。也許是因為對寶塚歌舞團的成見,總覺得在寶塚反串男角的女生都是一個粉紅模子倒出來的,沒有血肉,沒有個性,只有假鳳虛凰的柔情蜜意,像任劍輝演周世顯時激昂澎湃的男子氣概完全欠奉,但日本師奶卻甘之如飴、神為之奪;不禁懷疑日本師奶欣賞男人的眼光,可能還比不上半世紀前的順德媽姐。

第二次看到天海祐希的名字,是在《溥傑與皇妃》的演員名單上,天海客串飾演在中國出生的日本歌姬李香蘭。唱歌跳舞自然難不到花了六年半時間就登上寶塚首席男主角寶座的天海,但李香蘭的嬌媚纏綿,又豈是輪廓分明、線條硬朗的天海所能企及?氣質不對就是不對,任是大羅金仙也無能為力。可憐天海演李香蘭的造型卻博得「像人妖」的惡評,這可不關她的事,只能再次嘆一句日本男人完全不懂欣賞女性,對氣質這種只能意會、難以言傳的抽象東西,根本摸不著頭腦--難道穿上鑲滿珠片的旗袍、在鬢邊插朵大紅花就是李香蘭了?開玩笑。

真正欣賞天海,當然是因為看了令香港多少家長和教師無地自容的《女王的教室》。編劇遊川和彥那辛辣、戲謔的筆鋒固然叫人擊節讚賞,但天海的演繹也是功不可沒。看她一臉輕蔑地批評學生的無知軟弱、家長的自私虛偽、老師的苟且怠惰,實在痛快淋漓,真想跳進電視機裡敬她一大碗酒。

我相信天海是演繹「女王」的最佳人選,即使換了氣質相近的江角真紀子,也可能演不出那種讓人嗅出死亡味道的冷酷無情。天海不必吹大氣、瞪眼睛,兩顆深不見底的眼珠子只要四十五度角地斜睨著你,或者居高臨下、漫不經心地用眼光把你全身掃瞄一遍,你便會不由自主地機伶伶打個寒顫,彷彿自己突然給脫光了衣服站在她跟前,甚麼秘密也藏不住了。

昨晚看了《女王的教室》前傳第一部《天使墮落》,又教我張大了嘴巴合不攏。不是沒見過天海披散一頭鬈曲長髮載歌載舞的揮灑自如,而是沒想到她可以這樣脫胎換骨,做個心思單純、懦弱怕事,連目光也變得平庸起來的小婦人。天海從來不是小鳥依人、不吃人間煙火的類型,而是深通世故、看盡人間冷暖的sophistication的化身,看她穿起圍裙為丈夫和兒子煮飯打掃,居然散發著尋常百姓家的溫婉嫵媚,怎不教人看傻了眼?最令人奇怪的是,我對《溥儀與皇妃》裡天海的「人妖」造型記憶猶新,如今看她在《天使墮落》的模樣兒,竟然感到一份難以抗拒的親切和美麗。

「美麗」從來不是天海的形容詞,至少她給我的印象是如此。說起天海,總是覺得她「酷」、「帥」、「型」,跟美麗沾不上邊兒。以容貌來看,天海當然算得上是個漂亮的女生,然而她高挑瘦削的身材、輪廓分明的臉龐和長時間反串男生的演藝經歷,至少在觀眾心目中,早已把她和女人的身分割裂,否則不會有那麼多日本師奶為她著迷,而是應該把她當狐狸精看待。我敢打賭天海的影迷以女性佔絕大多數,因為男性對一些曾經反串男生的女演員總是有一種莫名其妙的敵意和戒心,深怕自己的老婆和女友會給迷得七葷八素,然後被這些不男不女的怪物吃掉,一去不返。天海固然是其中的佼佼者,任劍輝、茅威濤、龍劍笙何嘗不是一樣?

反串男角的經歷,不但為女觀眾製造了無窮遐想,更為女演員本身帶來沉重的心理負擔,像茅威濤那樣仍然可以結婚生子、成就「正常」人生的「成功個案」並不常見。畢竟沒幾個男生受得了自己的太太或女友是女扮男裝、博得一眾師奶、少女瘋狂迷戀的反串演員罷?最近聽說天海和男友吉川晃司在鬧別扭,心裡總覺得有點不舒服。詳情我當然不知道,也無意深究,只是想說,除了性別錯亂的問題,如果妻子或女友事業有成,男方看在眼裡只有酸溜溜的葡萄,或者只埋怨女方沒有足夠時間和自己在一起,沒有給她應有的支持和關心,便是罪大惡極,活該給丟到阿馬遜熱帶雨林餵鱷魚。我不知道天海的終極人生目標是甚麼,但如果她嚮往結婚生子的「正常」/傳統人生,希望她在二十一世紀的今天,可以找到真正關心她、尊重她個人自由和尊嚴的另一半。我只有祝她好運了。

What Education Is All About?

Japanese TV drama Joou no Kyoushitsu, literally "The Queen's Classroom", is thought-provoking in many ways. In addition to being a mercilessly straightforward reminder of hypocrisy in the adult world, it also inspires the audience to re-think what education is all about.

No other issue can be more relevant and important not only for Hong Kong but all over the world.

One of the most common criticisms of Maya Akutsu is her ruthless and tyrannical style of teaching. She seems to pay no respect to human rights of her students. Otherwise she would not have forbidden her students to leave the classroom to respond to the call of nature under all circumstances.

She is also notorious for the pre-mature introduction to her students the merciless competition in the adult world by emphasising the paramount importance of achieving good academic results. Her arguments are simple and straightforward: Our resources are very limited. Only successful people will be given a choice. Good schoolwork means success, preference and thus happiness. Mediocrity will bring nothing but contempt and misery. This argument is fully put into practice in her class. Preference is always given to those with the highest marks in class. They can receive lunch first with the best choices available. They can pick a seat wherever they want. On the contrary, those with poor academic results have little choice, if any at all. Worse still, they are made to serve their classmates and be responsible for all the cleaning and tedious jobs that nobody wants. Undoubtedly, these measures make it even more difficult for those students with poor performance to catch up.

The audience should find little difficulty in understanding Akutsu's strategy of transforming the classroom into a battlefield, in which her 12-year-old students are exposed, most probably for the first time, to the reality of pain and despair that their parents have been trying to conceal from them.

Exposure to the cruelty of reality is, however, merely the first and most obvious implications of Akutsu's punitive strategy. What she wants to achieve ultimately is to strengthen her students' capabilities in meeting whatever challenges they may face in future. No one can be spared from any difficulty in life, so get ready sooner than later. The process during which her students evolve from such negative responses as suspicion, mistrust and resistance to positive attributes of courage, confidence and persistence speaks for the remarkable success of Akutsu. Upon their graduation, her students finally come to realise the extraordinary but privileged training Akutsu has given them. Their tearful farewell to Akutsu is undoubtedly one of the most touching moments I have ever seen on television.

Apparently this is no more than a dramatised episode designed to impress the audience. What I find Akutsu's strategy provoking is, nonetheless, the sharp contrast between her devastating strategy and the benevolent approach that is commonly adopted in Hong Kong nowadays. In a setting when the rhetoric of human rights and respect for individuals replaces responsibilities and obligations, Akutsu is by all means an inspiring reminder that excessive protection and tolerance can be destructive. Just like human immunity against certain diseases, children can never develop self-protection mechanisms without experiencing setbacks and difficulties. Akutsu's approach is by all means an exaggeration to another extreme, but its intrinsic value deserves more recognition than it currently receives.

When protection and tolerance does not help create next generations with more strength, more integrity and higher capabilities, what should parents and teachers do? If they are right in saying that Akutsu's ruthless approach doesn't work either, what is the best approach of education to achieve the mission of creating a better future with young people of responsibility, respect and integrity?

Unfortunately the negative response of many parents and teachers in Hong Kong show that they fail to comprehend the key question raised in the drama. All they can see is how they become a laughing stock at which Akutsu and the audience coldly sneer. For some reason they fail to do anything but associate themselves with the selfish and stupid gang of adults. What is even more ridiculous is that some accuse Akutsu for damaging the professional image of teachers. How much damage could a fictitious character do to a well-established profession? Why make a fuss of everything if you have already done a good job at what you are supposed to do?

Ultimately all these ridiculous behaviours of the teaching profession may be attributed to the result-oriented management that is proven to be seriously unfitting for public functions such as education. When teachers are evaluated by the number of students who get "A" grade in examinations, how can you expect to have truly good teachers that do not care what parents and students say about them until 20 years later? When the teaching profession is filled with people who fail to attain academic results good enough for business schools at universities but are obsessed for well-paid jobs with long holidays, what kind of education do you expect? When parents feel that education of their children is none of their business but the teachers', what kind of future do you expect of Hong Kong?

Perhaps it's time for Akutsu to launch an intensive programme for those parents and teachers who have failed to do what they are supposed to do, rather than wasting her time in the re-training centre, which will fail to change her philosophy anyway. To me, the fact that Akutsu is sent to the re-training centre for the second time represents a harsh and powerful slap in any education system that prevents truly committed teachers from shaping a better future.

Wednesday, 4 October 2006

Overdraft

I can't really tell how tired I am. And yet there doesn't seem to have an end to what I have been doing for about three weeks.

I have been on an alert mode almost 24 hours a day, seven days a week, not to mention the overtime work through the weekends. It seems that now I have come to point where my threshold was transcended far beyond what I originally expected of myself. To my surprise, I have no headaches, the notorious problem that has been haunting me since teenage. I can sleep - though not very well, of course - but still better when I was suffering from mild depression two years ago. But I'm not sure how long my seemingly good shape is going to last.

There are always two sides of a coin, indeed. I lost three kilograms in three weeks without any workout in the gym. My loins have shrunk and my appetite has dropped to record low. Carbohydrates and meat are no longer my favourites - at least now I seldom want to have them together.

While everything seems fine, I can't help wondering how long the positives are going to last. I am getting more and more worried about my ability to keep up the standard of my work and, more importantly, the quality of life. A colleague was right by saying that there seems no end to what we have been doing together. New things keep happening that require not only immediate attention but also careful planning and implementation. I'm really concerned that the quality of work will be compromised at some point due to my physical and mental overdraft. This unprofessional and unfortunate scenario is the second last thing I want to see.

The ultimate thing is, apparently, a physical collapse.

I don't need another major problem somewhere inside my body to remind me of the importance of health. Hepatitis A was bad enough. I know it is not good to skip lunch for work, but I simply do not have time and appetite. I was really surprised that I didn't feel dizzy or starving when I stepped out of the client's office after a 90-minute meeting. Perhaps I was right when I joked to my colleagues that I have a more than sufficient reserve of body fat mass that would sustain me for another three or four weeks without food.

Unfortunately, compared to many others in Hong Kong, I have the least privilege to complain. Thousands from the grassroots are struggling for more than 12 hours per day for shameful wages paid by the leading corporations and multinationals. They are doing this not only to make their ends meet but also to stay away from the Government and the community's wrongful perception that receiving public financial assistance is a shame that represents laziness, dependence and incompetence. It is no longer news that middle-aged fathers and mothers die at work due to exhaustion and overdraft.

Compared to those hardworking and respectful people who are doing jobs that most people do not want, I am certainly one of the lucky ones. I should be grateful and yes, I am. But from the perspective of maintaining social justice and sustainable development, nothing should justify ever-increasing hours of work that take everything away from people's life but push their physical and mental capacities to extreme limits. We simply cannot afford having too many people suffering from grave illness that sustains the vicious cycle of having fewer people working to support a growing dependent population. Something should be done urgently to break the cycle.

Monday, 2 October 2006

A Bitter Showcase of Ignorance

Nothing compares to watching the final episode of Japanese TV drama Joou no Kyoushitsu, literally "The Queen's Classroom", after working through the weekend. This thought-provoking and heart-warming TV drama yet again proves the unchallenged leadership of Japanese pop culture in Asia, which, in my opinion, is likely to maintain in the next five years.

Not surprisingly, the "devil" teacher Maya Akutsu portrayed by the irresistibly cool Yuki Amami has stirred up quite a bit of criticism in Hong Kong, where many parents and teachers find the TV drama really embarrassingly truthful in hitting out at their darkest corners. Teachers complained that their professional image and integrity were damaged. Some even went that far to ask for a halt of the show. Parents also complained that their children are so intimidated by the "devil" teacher on television that they are reluctant to go to school. Their children are said to be crying loud whenever they saw Yuki Amami appearing in black from head to toe. Most probably under the pressure of parents and teachers, an Education and Manpower Bureau spokesperson said in early August (when only two out of 11 episodes of the drama were aired) that parental guidance is recommended for this drama.

What a bitter showcase of ignorance and selfishness among Hong Kong parents and teachers it is, although few have recognised this long before they are expected to. Those parents and teachers who lashed out at the drama are exactly the target of harsh criticisms of the drama. Essentially it is this group of parents and teachers who have spoilt their children, who have made their children incapable of doing anything but complaining for discomfort and difficulties. Isn't it ridiculous to any sensible person that children are afraid of going to school after watching something on television? Isn't it obvious that parents, like those in the drama, are providing their children with unnecessary protection that eventually deprives them of the opportunity of becoming independent people with a reasonable level of survival capabilities? Isn't it absurd to accuse someone of damaging a profession's image when actually the drama's criticisms are targeting those who fail to do their job properly? Is there any reason why the teachers' union leaders broaden the issue to become something for the entire profession? Does it imply that the drama's criticisms have hit out at something in them?

However, for those who are neither parents nor teachers like me, I find it extremely thought-provoking and exciting to see that how the hypocrisy and selfishness of parents, teachers and the whole adult world is scorned with Maya Akutsu's cold and contemptuous remarks.

Rhetoric blaming the younger generations of not being as smart, strong and capable as their predecessors has become very common these days. But few adults do reflect on how this world has been shaped to become as it is. Many tycoons and billionaires born before or during the post-Second World War baby boom often encourage the youth to work harder to succeed. But they have turned a blind eye to the fact that the community has become so much different that their dictum of hard work no longer works, or at least not as effective as it used to be. At a time when society is fully or even excessively institutionalised, unbreakable monopolies are everywhere and thus creativity and innovation is subtly suppressed, what can you expect from the future generations?

What Maya Akutsu advocates in the drama is nothing but the old wisdom of building strength through hardship and suffering. As one of the characters aptly puts, Akutsu becomes a devil teacher to train up her students so that they are better prepared for the challenges in future, rather than allowing them indulge in the greenhouse created by their parents and other teachers who believe that children should stay away from anything dangerous and contaminating. Those who always stay in a virus-free environment are more likely to get sick when exposed to polluted air because of poor immunity and adaptability. It is just as simple as that.