Saturday, 30 January 2010

天崩地裂

昨天下午一時許,土瓜灣馬頭圍道發生罕見的塌樓慘劇,一幢五層高的舊房子,懷疑因主力結構損毀而崩塌,十秒間盡化煙塵。四名住客因走避不及葬身瓦礫,另有一人至今下落不明。

昨天在公司,已在即時新聞上得知塌樓一事,但晚上回家看電視新聞,才知道事情那麼嚴重,遠出於想像之外。沒想到應該堅固耐用的混凝土,並非大片大片的脫落,而是給壓成粉碎,看上去竟如沙泥。最頑強的,竟是電視機、冷氣機等難以分解的大型電器,還有那懸在空中的半截斷裂樓梯。

當局仍在調查事故的原因,但坊間已是眾說紛紜。今早讀報,有人懷疑是地面商鋪的裝修工人誤損主力結構而肇禍,有人則認為是房子日久失修所致。無論如何,這種意外實在太慘酷,只盼當局亡羊補牢,可以杜絕類似的慘劇再次發生。

香港素有福地之稱,沒有天崩地裂的地震、沒有摧枯拉朽的龍捲風,縱有颱風暴雨、山泥傾瀉,近年已少有導致房屋坍塌的事故。誰會想到一幢好端端的房子,在毫無朕兆的情況下,遽然崩裂倒塌?也許有人會拾佛家的牙慧說人生無常,但這一切總也應該有因有果。

如果房子保養得宜、結構穩固,即使落成了五十多年,在沒有天災的情況下,至少不會說倒就倒。最耐人尋味的是,在瓦礫中竟看不到半截支撐外牆的樁柱,彷彿五層房子就只靠磚石和混凝土像砌積木一樣蓋起來的。難道五十年前蓋樓不用先打樁?如果這個猜想屬實,香港到底還有那些房子是採用這種不合時宜的建築方法?年深月久,結構仍安全嗎?還適合人類居住嗎?應該怎樣保養維修才可保障居民安全?

我不是建築師,無法解答這些問題,但我相信政府在檢查全港落成五十年以上的房子後,應該針對市民的疑慮詳加說明,以免有人妖言惑眾,引起恐慌。

家,本來是最安全、最溫暖、最舒適的地方。無緣無故突然崩塌,絕對不能接受。政府必須查明原因,追究責任。香港號稱自由社會,市民應享有免於恐懼的自由,這是基本的人權。如果連家也不安全,令人惶惶不可終日,其餘一切免談。

希望死者安息、傷者早日康復,劫後餘生的居民盡快重建家園。

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

霜雪未銷融,暗香凝月櫳。
枯枝橫牖閣,夢寐覺嫣紅。
眾艷爭春秀,孤芳顧影重。
醒時多少恨,殘星倚疏鐘。

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

郊遊樂

今晚凌晨十二時半才到家,不知怎地,老是沒有睡意。只好把星期六跟朋友去行山的照片翻出來整理上網,順便寫一篇簡單的blog,記下這一次難得的遠足。

從陽明山莊旁邊的衛奕信徑,一直走到赤柱引水道盡頭下山,共走了兩個半小時。路程比想像中困難一點,主要是因為前半段上坡路,全是陡峭的石階和岩石,走起來頗感吃力。這幾年雖然不乏運動,但體重不減反升,腿勁也日漸退步。爬石階時雙腿肌肉繃緊,很快就腿酸,反而走岩石路卻不覺費力。後半段下坡路路面情況稍佳,但臨近懸崖,路旁沒有欄杆,加上石階斜度更高,更須格外小心。

幸而天氣極佳,風和日麗,清澈如水的藍天、樹木蓊鬱的山嶺,真是久違了的好風光。我故意放慢腳步,一邊走,一邊隨心取景拍照,享受那心無罣礙的好時節。就連給枯樹殘枝割裂的天空、在餘暉中迎風搖曳的野草,也顯得分外嬌嬈,令人戀戀不捨。

雖然小腿的肌肉仍然疼痛,還是很高興可以爬到人跡稀少的高處,仔細看看這麼天然無雕飾的香港,敞開心胸欣賞冬日的藍天碧海、青山夕照。

我的家、我的鄉,本來就應該這麼簡單、這麼漂亮。

Sunday, 17 January 2010

只可一,不可再

最近一口氣看了《梁醒波傳--亦慈亦俠亦詼諧》和《武生王靚次伯--千斤力萬縷情》兩部紀念香港粵劇老前輩的傳記,甚是感慨。

時光荏苒,再璀璨耀目的繁華旖旎,總會成為過去,無法重建,也不能保育。即使利舞臺、普慶戲院沒有被拆掉,世上也不可能再有另一位梁醒波、另一位靚次伯。因為,時代不同了、社會改變了,粵劇作為香港人主流娛樂的日子已不復再,演出驟減,僧多粥少,新進的伶人沒有那麼多機會磨練自己的演技,要成一家之藝,談何容易?

中國傳統文化素以優雅曼妙見稱,戲曲藝術可謂其中的集大成者。欣賞戲曲講究想像力、領悟力、語言文字等個人修養,也需要觀眾用心感受戲裡的喜怒哀樂。可是如今社會過分講求效率和利益,把人的身心摧殘殆盡,誰還有耐性看戲?更糟糕的是,現在的品味往往不是透過教育來培養,而是以金錢來衡量,審美眼光有等於無,無疑是斷絕了戲曲的觀眾來源。

也許有人會說,既然戲曲不能配合現代社會的節奏,就需要改革,只有改革才能生存。改革需要眼光來找出正確的方向,需要勇氣來排除萬難、擇善固執,但也可能違背了事情的本質,落得邯鄲學步的下場。

更何況,有時候不是改變自己就行。社會愈來愈庸俗,生活愈來愈艱難,人心愈來愈急功近利,這些都是自己無法改變的客觀因素。做好了本分,只能無愧於天地,卻未必可以挽狂瀾於既倒。至於怎樣排遣這種無能為力的沮喪和憤怒,我實在沒有頭緒。

對於兩位梨園老前輩,我也頗有感情。梁醒波晚年是無線的台柱之一,在《歡樂今宵》的演出固然經典,在電影中也不乏令人印象深刻的角色。他也是少數能夠在國語片中亮相的粵語片演員,遊走於戰後香港兩大電影陣營而游刃有餘,可見波叔非同凡響的地位。

其實,許冠文和周星馳最典型的搞笑技倆,都很有波叔的影子,老觀眾如我一看就知道。可惜波叔離世較早,我輩算是最後一批看過他參演《歡樂今宵》的觀眾,更年輕的觀眾可能對他全無印象。近年電視上也少播了粵語長片,間接中斷了香港電影歷史脈絡的普及教育。雖然牟利的電視台沒有義務行善,但無可否認粵語長片是認識往日的香港、培養香港人歸屬感和身分認同最簡單、最有效的途徑。如今沒有了,除了可惜,還是可惜。

至於靚次伯,我對他沉鬱蒼涼、層次分明、吐字清晰的聲線讚嘆不已。當年用walkman初聽《紫釵記》,一字一句敲在耳膜上,端的是懾人心魄。尾場〈節鎮宣恩〉開始時一段中板轉滾花悠悠唱來,剛勁凝渾,舉重若輕,與波叔在《再世紅梅記》〈裝瘋鬧府〉那一段的風格全然不同。靚次伯以獨特的聲線演繹盧太尉的陰沉狠辣、盛氣凌人,宛若眼前。不過盧太尉所以對李益和霍小玉無情,全因疼愛女兒之故。盧太尉對人談起幼女燕貞時,靚次伯的聲線自然而然的變得溫柔起來,聽在耳裡,彷彿看見他老人家一臉慈父的笑意。這份深湛的演藝功力,實在令人佩服。

透過書籍、唱片和電影,的確可以抓住一點逝去的風華;但說穿了,那可能只是guided imagination,比天馬行空略微好些。正如兩部書都提到,電影畢竟與舞臺上的現場演出不同,又不是現場演出的紀錄片,能保存下來兩位老前輩的技藝非常有限,若有十之一二,恐怕要答謝神恩了。即使保存下來了,沒有當事人耳提面命,後人又能領略多少?本來呢,要留住吉光片羽已經很不容易,應該好好珍惜才是,但想到此處,心裡仍忍不住有點遺憾。

也許,戲行中人除了爭取固定的演出場地外,也應該好好思考如何紀錄和傳承老前輩的演藝,避免絕技失傳的遺憾繼續發生。

Sunday, 3 January 2010

The Post-80s Phenomenon

All of a sudden the Mainland Chinese cliche of "post-80s" or "the post-80 generation", referring to those born between 1980 and 1989, has become a buzzword in Hong Kong. It is a cliche, because our compatriots in Mainland China are already talking about "post-90s", who will soon be leaving teenage and admitted into the adult world.

These days "Post-80s" is sprinkled in news reports and commentaries on current affairs in Hong Kong, as if its absence would undermine the value of those articles, if any at all.

Perhaps I may sound a bit cynical here, yet I can't help feeling sad when those born during the 1980s are putting themselves under spotlight of public scrutiny through shameless expression of their views (no matter how ridiculous or stupid it may seem) and radical actions like what we saw in the protests outside the Liaison Office of the Central Government in Hong Kong last Friday. The unprecedented public attention on the post-80s does not indicate a general awakening among the people of Hong Kong but a regrettable insensitivity among many of us to what is going on.

Thanks to the long working hours that are inhumane and deprive many of us of a healthy lifestyle, the people of Hong Kong are getting indifferent to what is going on in the community. We are told to devote our energy to nothing more than what pays our bills. What makes us truly happy has been reduced to what we can get hold of with money. We are no longer sensitive to something less tangible than a piece of fine food or branded item. What receives or triggers our attention is sensual pleasure or stimulus. Having said that, our attention span is getting shorter and shorter and we need even more exciting or radical stimulus for the next time. Perhaps this also explains why the most sensational and unprofessional newspapers remain bestsellers here in Hong Kong.

To a certain extent, this explains why the post-80s behave as they do. They have a lot of grievances to tell and desperately want themselves heard. They were born and groomed in a community where attention can only be drawn through radicalism and sensationalism; and creative and critical thinking is encouraged only through lip service. They were given a rosy picture, which they only came to know recently that it was not much more than an illusion. They have been seriously misled. It is understandable that they want to make a change, but they are not as capable of doing as they think, because logic and sense are never appreciated. They think they have been misled by their parents and teachers from childhood, but few of them recognise they are now being misled by someone else who wastes no time to take advantage of their anger and frustration.

Just like the rapid rise and fall of any other buzzword, I don't expect the much-touted "post-80s phenomenon" would help foster any fundamental change in the mentality of the people of Hong Kong. Our superstition in the power of money is so deeply rooted in our DNA that even education is tainted. Without knowing what education is truly about and a system that can groom us and our children to become human beings of empathy and integrity, how can we achieve any meaningful change in the community for the good?

Saturday, 2 January 2010

On Selection of Chief Executive in 2012

Given the decision by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress that the Chief Executive will be selected by universal suffrage in 2017, I do not think adding the so-called "democratic elements" in the selection method in 2012 will be of any benefit or significance. Rather, I suggest that the Government should focus on public education to encourage voter registration and voting at the first popular election of the Chief Executive in 2017. A period of five years is barely enough to transform the long-standing scepticism and reverse the rising political polarisation among the people of Hong Kong. Yet I believe a good understanding of what voting is all about and active participation is crucial to the success of any election. Drilling on the operational details of elections will only discourage voters from exercising their legitimate power - if that is essentially what the Government and Beijing authorities intend to do.

There are a number of reasons to my negative view on the methods of selecting the Chief Executive in 2012. For one thing, the current composition and membership of the Election Committee is far too limited and dominated by the privileged class. Members of the Election Committee are not accountable to the registered voters in Hong Kong. At the same time, Hong Kong voters have no right to elect their representatives to the Election Committee. They have only extremely limited access to members of the Election Committee to express their concerns. There is also no way to ensure that the Election Committee members have done their job to voice out public views on matters related to Hong Kong, let alone to review their performance and take actions accordingly.

More importantly, there is no logical link between an expanded small-group election and universal suffrage. The Consultation Document does not provide any blueprint on how the expanded electorate and representation of the Election Committee can help facilitate the universal suffrage in 2017. Pardon me for being blunt, but making such a claim without substantiation is improper and irresponsible.

A number of current members of the Election Committee and potential candidates under the handicapped system have always been intimidated by popular polls because they know too well that they would have a slim chance of clinging onto their current positions and privileges in elections by universal suffrage. So does the Government mean expanding the electorate will help prepare them for popular elections? Given the great differences between the current system and elections by universal suffrage, to what extent does the electorate have to be expanded to achieve this objective? As mentioned earlier, the current electorate of the Election Committee is appallingly narrow and the election mechanism is flawed. Why bother to invest time, energy and resources into something that would be done only once and for all? Public resources are always stretched and, as a taxpayer, I truly believe there is plenty of better alternatives in which such resources can be invested for significantly more effective results.