The Entertainer in Hong Kong

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Do you remember those big thick dining out coupon books? New York had them (maybe still does) and Hong Kong used to have them. You’d buy the book and for a year you’d get all these “buy one, get one free” discount coupons for restaurants and other places around town.

Once in awhile I’d buy them. The potential savings almost always seemed to make them worthwhile. Except I’d never have the damned book with me when I passed some restaurant. And in Hong Kong, places come and go so fast that after a few months probably half the places you have coupons for have closed and there are no coupons for all the new places that sprang up to replace them.

Enter The Entertainer. (Yeah, okay, it was so obvious that I couldn’t resist.)

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It’s a company that started with a coupon book in Dubai and has now spread the concept to the rest of the middle east, plus Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa and London. The global stats on their web site claim 10,000+ global outlets (but you’d have to buy one subscription for each territory to get at all of those), 1 million redemptions per year, $1.3 billion in revenue “driven” to merchant partners.

They’ve got the traditional coupon book if that’s your thing, but they’ve also updated the concept by having a smartphone app. So now you don’t have to lug the book around or clip any coupons. Just load the app on your phone and you’re ready to go.

The Hong Kong app or book will run you HK$595 for one (calendar) year. There’s also a try-out version of the app, one month for HK$149. You can download the app for free and then choose a subscription via an in-app purchase or buy directly from their web site.

They say they’ve got 333 merchant partners in Hong Kong plus 126 hotel partners worldwide. The screen shot below – just 5 listings – already shows you 3 hotels, 1 restaurant and a Chinese medicine clinic – so that gives you some idea of their range.

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Scrolling through their Hong Kong listings,  I saw some places that I regularly go to and more than a few that I’ve been wanting to check out. Obviously they have good coverage for Central. (And, just as obviously, nothing in Tai Po, no big shock there.)

A very partial list of the restaurants they have in Central just to give you some idea of their range:

Al Forno, Alfies, Aqua Luna, Boqueria, Cafe de Paris, Cvche, French Window, Gold, Holly Brown, Pizza Express, Staunton’s

The deal is usually get one main course free when you buy one (the free one is the cheaper of the two). You get multiple coupons for most places, so you can go back to places you like more than once and still save. I’m sure that you can think of plenty of places that are not included, but the point is that there are plenty of good places in there.

They also have deals for various services – fitness places, salons, photo studios and others. The deals with the biggest potential for savings are the hotel deals – get one night free for each paid night. There’s a choice of hotels for places in Thailand, Malaysia, Bali and around the Indian Ocean. (Unfortunately no hotel discounts for the place I go most often, the Philippines.)

I’m looking at the “new” category right now and I see DiVino, Genie Juicery, Spasso, Carpaccio and a few others. So it appears this is continually being updated.

The app needs a bit of work. Every establishment, regardless of type, has a little fork-and-knife icon next to it. Restaurants, hotels, nail spas, kids activity centers all have a fork and knife next to their name.  You can’t immediately tell the ice cream parlors from the nail spas.

Also, don’t click on that top center bit where it says “Hong Kong” with the “ALL” underneath. The choices that then pop up are “Near Me” and Alphabetically” and no matter what you do, all you’ll get is a pop up box telling you that you have to make a selection from a non-existent list of filters. Every time I hit that “ALL” by mistake, I have to kill the app and start over again.

My wife and I both work in Wanchai. So a couple of nights ago I figured I’d try out The Entertainer app for dinner for the two of us after work. You can easily search the app by district (also by name, shopping mall, hotel or cuisine), so I did a search on Wanchai.

Looking for the places closest to us, there were two – Doghouse and Trafalgar. (Lots more choices around Brim 28 and Star Street but we were both tired and not in a walking mood.) I chose Trafalgar, a British style pub) since they’ve got that 5th floor outdoor deck and it was a nice night for eating outside.

When we got to Trafalgar, we didn’t have to show any coupon or mention anything in advance. We simply ordered what we wanted – my wife was in a steak mood and got their $298 rib eye; I ordered the $158 chicken parmigiana since I don’t see that on too many menus here.

When we finished eating and it was time to ask for the bill, I showed the screen on my phone to the waitress. She brought the manager over, the manager entered the restaurant’s PIN into the app, and they brought the bill over with my chicken parm for free. So they’d knocked off the $158 (and also no 10% service charge for that, so my actual savings was closer to $175). It was simple and relatively hassle-free.

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(One thing I should add – the portions at Trafalgar are big. My wife said that next time we should just get one main course and one starter or salad and split everything. I said that’s fine but I still have two more “coupons” for the place and they’re only good on the main courses, so we’ll just have to “suffer.”)

The app lets you combine multiple “books” – manage multiple subscriptions within one instance of the app.  This is a nice touch for people who may travel frequently to the same destinations. I wouldn’t get this for Singapore, where I tend to eat in hawker centers anyway, but would definitely consider it for my next trip to London.

They’ll start selling their 2015 app and book in November with an early bird discount. I’ll be posting more info on that once it becomes available.

One thing I forgot to mention and it’s one thing that makes this different from other coupon books I tried – there’s nothing that says you can’t use this at “prime time” on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night.  The Rules of Use say, “All offers can be used at any time during regular opening hours unless specified.” The only blackout days are Hong Kong public holidays and Rugby Sevens and Chinese New Year weeks (at merchant’s discretion).

So $595 for a year and I saved $175 my first time. Clearly, even if I use it just once or twice a month (we don’t go out that often), I’ll end up saving far more than the $595 cost. And there’s no book to lug around or coupons to clip, so I always have it with me and will actually continue to use it. The Entertainer is an old concept brought up to date and well executed.

Full disclosure – I was given a free one year subscription to The Entertainer in Hong Kong in exchange for a review. But, here’s the deal – when they first approached me, I would not have agreed to this if I didn’t like what they were offering. And they made no specific requests for content in the post, merely that I try it out and report on my experience. I’m genuinely happy with this and plan to keep using it.

UPDATE: Oops! If you want the one month “try out” membership, you can only get it by following this link.  (It’s not an affiliate link or anything like that.) And I’m told this is only good up until November 10th, after which just annual memberships are available.

 

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OccupyHK – You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

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There’s an article in the NY Times today on the latest developments in OccupyHK. The HK police have been dismantling barricades, sometimes with the aid of chain saws, erected by the protesters. The article has bits like this:

“This is to protect our democracy, to protect our future,” said Patrick Chan, an accountant, taking a brief break from helping to raise an elaborate fortress of bamboo and plastic binding on the edge of Central, the city’s main financial district.

“The government doesn’t listen to the Hong Kong people, so we must do this,” he said, his voice choked with emotion.

And then you come to this bit:

Lucy Tse, 52, said she had been stuck in her home in east Hong Kong Island since the protests broke out two weeks ago, and she lamented that she had to take the train instead of getting around in her Mercedes-Benz. “This is a public space for all Hong Kong people, not just for the students, not just for the government,” she said. “These Hong Kong students are spoiled.”

The biggest question I suppose is how they managed to find this idiot if she’s “stuck in her home” (in an area that hasn’t seen any protests).

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Louis C.K. Does Not Like ISIS

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From The Atlantic today:

In the newest issue of Dabiq, the English-language magazine published by ISIS, the extremist group for the first time confirmed and justified the capturing, enslaving and selling of Yazidi women and children.

“The Islamic State’s litany of horrific crimes against the Yezidis in Iraq only keeps growing,” said Fred Abrahams, special adviser at Human Rights Watch. “We heard shocking stories of forced religious conversions, forced marriage, and even sexual assault and slavery—and some of the victims were children.”

In the article, “The Revival of Slavery Before the Hour,” the magazine stated that “the enslaved Yazidi families are now sold by the Islamic State soldiers,” adding that, “the Yazidi women and children were then divided according to the Shariah amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations.”

Referring to the Yazidis as “pagans” and “infidels,” the article said, “Their creed is so deviant from the truth that even cross-worshipping Christians for ages considered them devil worshippers and Satanists, as is recorded in accounts of Westerners and Orientalists who encountered them or studied them.”

ISIS is also boasting about what they see as the revival of important institutions, such as slavery. “Before Shaytan reveals his doubts to the weak-minded and weak hearted, one would remember that enslaving the families of the [infidels] and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of Shariah that if one were to deny or mock, he would be denying or mocking the verses of the Quran and the narrations of the Prophet, and thereby apostatizing from Islam,” the article says. “… May Allah bless this Islamic State with the revival of further aspects of the religion occurring at its hands.”

That may have something to do with why Louis C.K. went on this Twitter rant (courtesy of Pajiba):

Oh, fuck you, ISIS. Sincerely please fuck each other in the mouth with forks. You’re 7 year old boys. You’re stupid. You suck.

— Louis C.K. (@louisck) October 13, 2014

I’m 47. seen a lot of assholes. But these ISIS fuckfaces Are the worst. ISIS please drink Sunoco gas and then have a smoke.

— Louis C.K. (@louisck) October 13, 2014

Whether or not ISIS is really a bunch of Halliburton employees

— Louis C.K. (@louisck) October 13, 2014

Or just homegrown raping marauding cunts they appear to be. Just really. Fuck them already. They stink.

— Louis C.K. (@louisck) October 13, 2014

Fuck ISIS doesn’t mean yay America. I’m not saying this as an American. I don’t believe they’re coming here. I’m a Martian.

— Louis C.K. (@louisck) October 13, 2014

a Martian just like every displaced killed raped Iraqi Syrian by Assad bush saddam Cheney ISIS. The separation is an illusion.

— Louis C.K. (@louisck) October 13, 2014

But right now. As a cranky guy reading the paper, Fuck ISIS in all 3 holes and make a fifth and fuck them there too.

— Louis C.K. (@louisck) October 13, 2014

I mean a fourth hole. Sorry. Seriously sorry.

— Louis C.K. (@louisck) October 13, 2014

 

He may have a point. But he’s been a bit weird on Twitter lately. This series from a few days earlier (again via Pajiba)

It really feels like Mars used to be a here that got globally warmed by some very us-y people-things.

— Louis C.K. (@louisck) October 8, 2014

I’m not saying I can prove it. I’m saying it feels like it.

— Louis C.K. (@louisck) October 8, 2014

It feels like they left mars on a moon that they pushed out of orbit and rode over here to try to orbit what was earth

— Louis C.K. (@louisck) October 8, 2014

That’s the only way you could move billions of people-y types. But their moon crashed into pre-earth and everyone died.

— Louis C.K. (@louisck) October 8, 2014

What was left turned into here and our moon and got seeded by marsian corpse DNA. And later we’ll use our moon to go back.

— Louis C.K. (@louisck) October 8, 2014

That’s what it feels like anyway.

— Louis C.K. (@louisck) October 8, 2014

And it feels like we are gonna keep bopping around on moons til we realize the whole solar system is actually a spaceship.

— Louis C.K. (@louisck) October 8, 2014

The sun is the engine and if you wait til it all lines up just right and you push “go” you can ride it to a bigger far place.

— Louis C.K. (@louisck) October 8, 2014

I would really like to emphasize that these are not opinions or theories. It’s just a feeling I have.

— Louis C.K. (@louisck) October 8, 2014

Also I feel like I know the origin of the basic despair that we all feel in the pit of our being, that one thing we all share.

— Louis C.K. (@louisck) October 8, 2014

We used to be one single thing that was nowhere. The Big Bang happened, sending us, which used to be a “me” hurtling outward.

— Louis C.K. (@louisck) October 8, 2014

And that basic sad despair inside is us going “aaaaaaaaaaaaah!!” Through space. We’re like on the 20′th “a”

— Louis C.K. (@louisck) October 8, 2014

If you go “aaaaa!” For a jiblion years you stop even hearing yourself say it. Anyway that’s just how it feels sometimes.

— Louis C.K. (@louisck) October 8, 2014

I’m not high.

— Louis C.K. (@louisck) October 8, 2014

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God Only Knows

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Completely unrelated to my previous post!

The BBC has unveiled a new web site called BBC Music, and to draw attention to it they’ve released a video of a newly recorded all-star version of the Beach Boys’ classic “God Only Knows,” credited to The Impossible Orchestra.

godonlyknowsSo who is in this? In semi-random order:

  • Dave Grohl
  • Alison Balsom
  • Lorde
  • Pharrell Williams
  • Zane Lowe
  • Sam Smith
  • Paloma Faith
  • Eliza Carthy
  • Nicola Benedetti
  • Chris Martin
  • Jaz Dhami
  • Martin James Bartlett
  • Danielle de Niese
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Florence Welch
  • Lauren Laverne
  • Brian Wilson
  • Jake Bugg
  • Katie Derham
  • Gareth Malone
  • Kylie Minogue
  • Chrissie Hynde
  • One Direction
  • Emeli Sande
  • Elton John
  • Baaba Maal
  • Ethan Johns
  • Jools Holland
  • Jamie Cullum
  • Brian May
  • Tees Valley Youth Choir
  • BBC Concert Orchestra

It’s both lovely and odd at the same time. Lovely, well, because God Only Knows is a great song. Bizarre because of the “something for everyone” approach combined with a 2:59 running time, most of the people listed above are shown for just two seconds each singing the title line. (Brian May is shown in front of a huge stack of amps playing just four notes on the guitar.) The video is nicely done and it’s certainly worth seeing once.

Here’s the link to it at the BBC Music website. And here’s the link to it on Youtube, in case the embed below doesn’t work.

 

 

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Starless and Bible Black

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(It’s a King Crimson song. For some reason I think the title fits what I’m about to write.)

I don’t watch Bill Maher’s Real Time every week, but I did watch it last week because I was curious to see what comments he might have about the situation in Hong Kong. (Verdict: not funny and borderline racist.)

One of the guests on last week’s episode was new to me, author Sam Harris. He’s written a series of books that could best be described as anti-religion. His latest is titled Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion.  I’ve been flipping through another of his books, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the End of Reason. (He seems to like titles with colons.) The gist of this book is that religion is the root of all evil and unless we do away with it, mankind is doomed to extinction.

I don’t really disagree with what he’s saying, but I think he may be a bit heavy-handed. And I think he’s arguing to the converted. While I’m highlighting a bunch of passages for myself for future reference, I don’t think that any religious person who stumbles upon this will find their faith seriously challenged. As Harris says, since religion is a matter of faith, arguing against religion using logic would seem to be a losing proposition. (And I know from firsthand experience how true that is.)

Then today I came across the NY Times review of a new book from Edward O. Wilson, The Meaning of Human Existence. Wilson’s 85 and the review says this may not be his best work, but it looks like something I might want to seek out. Here’s a few quotes from Wilson and the review by Dwight Garner.

Stephen Hawking has called humankind “just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star.” 

“Let me offer a metaphor,” [Wilson] says. “Earth relates to the universe as the second segment of the left antenna of an aphid sitting on a flower petal in a garden in Teaneck, N.J., for a few hours this afternoon.” 

Among the questions he is most asked, he says, is: “What can we learn of moral value from the ants?” His response is pretty direct: “Nothing. Nothing at all can be learned from ants that our species should even consider imitating.”

He explains that while female ants do all the work, the pitiful males are merely “robot flying sexual missiles” with huge genitalia. (This is not worth imitating?) During battle, they eat their injured. “Where we send our young men to war,” Mr. Wilson writes, “ants send their old ladies.” Ants: moral idiots.

Another writer might explain how ants cooperate. Mr. Wilson puts it this way, on how leaf-cutter ants fend off killer flies: “The problem is solved, mostly, by tiny sister ant workers that ride on their backs, like mahouts on elephants, and chase the flies away with flicks of their hind legs.”

He suggests we ask the leaders of each religion and sect to “publicly defend the supernatural details of their faiths.” He wishes to “charge with blasphemy any religious or political leader who claims to speak with or on behalf of God.”

“The great religions are,” he writes, “sources of ceaseless and unnecessary suffering. They are impediments to the grasp of reality needed to solve most social problems in the real world.”

Throughout “The Meaning of Human Existence,” he has generous things to say about each of those squabbling siblings, science and the humanities. Yet he is clearly exasperated that we dote so much on the latter.

“Even the best-educated live on an ad libitum diet of novels, movies, concerts, sports events and gossip all designed to stir one or more of the relatively small range of emotions that diagnose Homo sapiens,” he writes. The sword of science, he says, “cuts paths through the fever swamp of human existence.”

The book to read, to get the full story on Mr. Wilson’s eventful life, is his memoir “Naturalist,” published in 1994. But he tells good stories about himself in his new book.

When the Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction went to Carl Sagan in 1978, he says, “I dismissed it as a minor achievement for a scientist, scarcely worth listing.” Yet when Mr. Wilson won the same prize the following year, “it wondrously became a major literary award of which scientists should take special note.”

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CY Leung – Caught

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Good old honest-as-the-minute-is-long CY Leung got 7 million Australian dollars (approx HK$50 million) for selling an insolvent property services firm to an Australian company.  And then he conveniently forgot to declare this payout on his register of personal interests.

So will Hong Kong’s fearless anti-corruption watchdogs, the ICAC, show up at his mansion and take him away in irons?  Yeah, right.

Full details here.

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Occupy Hong Kong Winding Down

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I know I’ve picked up a bunch of new readers and Twitter followers due to all my posts during the past ten days of protests here. I expect I’ll lose a lot of them once I return to my standard nonsense shortly. But until then, a few stray thoughts.

I think if nothing else, C.Y. Leung has shown how absolutely inadequate he is for his current job. A smart man might have defused the entire thing by going down to Admiralty on the second day and making a speech. Something along the lines of, “My fellow Hong Kongers. I feel your pain. I empathize with you. But get real. This is China. Full democracy is never going to happen. So let’s sit down together and talk about what is possible. Let’s work together for a better Hong Kong.”

Instead he treated the protesters like terrorists. “I ain’t goin’ down there,” he said, or words to that effect.

People get upset because he doesn’t stand up for the people of Hong Kong. That’s not his job. Mr. 689 was not appointed to represent the people of Hong Kong. He was appointed by China to protect China’s interests in Hong Kong. Let’s face it. His title ain’t Governor, it ain’t Mayor, it’s “Chief Executive.”

I’ve seen Facebook postings and even gotten emails from people complaining about the protests. “How dare they take over the streets! What about my rights? My 20 minute commute to work now takes an hour!” That’s pretty much a direct quote from little self-centered spoiled brats who can’t see further than the tip of their noses. Forget the future and the rights of 7 million people, there’s traffic and I’ve been inconvenienced!

Well, if you want to take that stance, then I’ll say that I want Occupy to go on forever. Since my 307 bus from Tai Po to Wanchai no longer goes to Central, the bus is half empty and I always get a seat in the morning. Coming home, Immigration Tower is now the first stop rather than the 6th. I get a seat going home too – and an empty seat next to me to rest my bag. Yeah, okay, tonight it took the bus almost an hour for just the Causeway Bay leg of the journey, but so what? I got to watch Anthony Bourdain’s Bronx episode of Parts Unknown and the latest episode of Boardwalk Empire. It was a productive ride for me!

Sadly, the U.S. comedy news shows haven’t been doing a great job on their Hong Kong coverage. I didn’t see anything from Jon Stewart. Bill Maher made a vaguely racist joke. John Oliver’s done the best so far, but it was far from his best material and got only a middling reaction from his studio audience. You could say that Hong Kong is just 0.1% of the world’s population and it’s a comparatively small story, especially when you can scare larger numbers of people into watching you by covering ISIS and Ebola. But Hong Kong’s quest for freedom should play right into their agenda and I expected more.

Finally, don’t forget. This is not just about democracy and about voting. This is about the financial inequality that most Hong Kongers feel. This is about a place where half the people have to live in government subsidized 300 square foot flats because they can’t afford anything else, while another huge group is living in 300 square foot shit boxes that they’ve paid millions of HK$ for. The division between the poor and rich is greater here than any other country and most people here are not getting ahead. Treading water is seen as success. And the non-representational government appointed by China is doing nothing about this, because it’s just not part of their agenda.

So this is an expression of frustration on multiple levels. The sad thing is, I don’t think that anything will substantially change as a part of this.  And whoever replaces C.Y. Leung in 2017 (or sooner?)(Regina Ip?) is going to be the same as him or even worse.

Which isn’t to say that people should sit idly by and accept it because you can’t change it. Silence will be taken for complacency and assent. The only rational response is dissent … or packing up and leaving.

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Hong Kong – Dumb and Dumberer

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First, from today’s SCMP:

The police officer who made the controversial call to use tear gas on thousands of Occupy Central demonstrators in Admiralty one week ago today, fuelling unprecedented civil disobedience in Hong Kong, says he has no regrets and would make the same decision again.

The senior superintendent was the commander in charge of the area where tear gas was fired last Sunday afternoon into crowds of pro-democracy supporters that had taken over a major street near government offices.

“I have no regrets. If I hadn’t used it, and they had come through, we could have ended up with seriously injured or worse,” he said, referring to a mass crush in 1992 in Lan Kwai Fong that left 21 people dead.

“If I am in the same situation [again], and there is serious threat to public safety, then I will do the same.”

He said if he had not made the decision, people could have died, as the use of tear gas was solely to prevent mass injuries from a possible stampede if there had been a sudden break in the cordon.

“It wasn’t intended to disperse the crowd … it was intended to stop the charge and make sure there was no crush of people,” he said.

After assessing the situation for several hours and when a group of about 200 protesters became more aggressive in trying to break the police cordon, he said he – and he alone – authorised the officers under his command to use tear gas on the protesters.

“I hope people understand why it was used. It was used to ensure their safety. There was no political motive in this. It comes down to me as the commander on the ground, thinking people are getting seriously hurt and that was why it was done.

After the interview was conducted, police asked that the officer’s name not be disclosed.

I remain unconvinced that this anonymous police officer was the person who gave the order. I think he was ordered to say he gave the order to take the heat off his superiors. Of course I have zero proof of this, I’m just sayin’.

And now, from local blog Dictionary of Politically Incorrect Hong Kong Cantonese comes the dumbest thing you will read all day – if not all year.

A Hong Kong netizen saw the following piece of news while reading Singtao Daily, a pro-Beijing newspaper.

The headline: Bedroom’s Hanging Cabinet Collapsed. Filipina Maid Crushed to Death in Dream

The sub-headline: Because of “Occupy Central”, she died “undeservedly”. School closure makes the maid sleep longer (than she should)

The intro: Yesterday, a tragedy happened in a family in Tseung Kwan O. A 100lb cabinet, which was installed to the ceiling, collapsed as the eight screws that stabilized it became loose. Because of Occupy Central. the maid didn’t need to bring her master to school and was sleeping at that time. She was crushed to become unconscious and later pronounced dead at hospital. The young master who sleeps at the same room suffers no injuries. The family is extremely sad because of her death.

Yeah, that’s right, A newspaper has found a way to blame the death of someone sleeping miles away from any protest on the protest. And bonus! She’s Filipina, so look how unbigoted we are!

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Hong Kong – Where Are the Tycoons & Celebrities

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People are asking why HK’s tycoons and celebrities aren’t speaking up in favor of the democracy protesters. It’s pretty easy to figure out.

The mega-rich in Hong Kong want to continue to do business in China. Hong Kong’s 7 million people – with a large percentage living below the poverty line or earning minimum wage – aren’t a big enough market for them when you compare it to China’s middle and upper classes, which I’m guessing numbers somewhere between half and three quarters of a billion. So they won’t rock their economic boat.

Very few HK movie, TV and music stars have spoken out, Chow Yun Fat and Anthony Wong being two rare exceptions. I’m convinced that most stars are under incredibly restrictive contracts and they won’t risk their livelihoods.  Again, the major media distributors want to distribute their products in China as well as Hong Kong and don’t want to see that market closed, or specific artists banned.

Here’s one exception – Chapman To.

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Chapman To Man Chak yesterday appeared at the Dragon Center to promote his film FLIRTING IN THE AIR. When TVB interviewed him, the host asked Ah Jat to remove his yellow ribbon that showed his support for the movement and upset Ah Jat. Ah Jat immediately broke into foul language and refused to back down. “TVB doesn’t allow people to wear yellow ribbons, crazy.” TVB could only continued the interview. Ah Jat was still angry after the interview, “Air it if you like, don’t air it if you don’t.” 

No idea if TVB aired it or not.

The same article mentions that Wong Jing is wearing a blue ribbon, indicating support for HK’s police and Beijing. It’s probably been close to 20 years since he’s made a movie worth watching.

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Hong Kong’s Old Guard Speaks – Martin Lee and Regina Ip

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First, Martin Lee, in the OpEd pages of Sunday’s edition. You may argue that Lee was not a very effective leader of the Democrats back in his day, but he was the leader they had and up against an opposition that no one else has figured out how to deal with either.

HONG KONG — At 76 years old, I never expected to be tear-gassed in Hong Kong, my once peaceful home. Like many of the other tens of thousands of calm and nonviolent protesters in the Hong Kong streets last Sunday, I was shocked when the pro-democracy crowd was met by throngs of police officers in full riot gear, carrying weapons and wantonly firing canisters of tear gas. After urging the crowd to remain calm under provocation, I got hit by a cloud of the burning fumes.

The protesters persevered. They ran away when gassed, washed their faces and returned with raised hands. But the police continued to escalate the crisis. Their aggressive actions hardened the resolve of Hong Kongers, many of them too young to vote, to defend our freedoms. These include the long-promised right to elect our leader — a right that was effectively ruled out in late August when the government in Beijing said that candidates for the city’s top executive post must be vetted by a nominating committee filled with Chinese government allies.

The riot police pulled back on Monday morning and since then the government has chosen a wait-them-out strategy. At times downtown Hong Kong has felt like a street festival: bands have appeared and tents have sprouted up. Young people chat, lounge, poke at their phones and sleep. Thursday night the atmosphere turned tense when Leung Chun-ying, the city’s chief executive, held a news conference in which he refused to resign. But by and large, Hong Kongers are relaxed and determined.

Why are we protesters — including the many high school and university students among us who have their whole lives ahead of them — fighting for our rights in the city’s streets?

Because this is a last stand in defense of Hong Kong’s core values, the values that have long set us apart from China: the rule of law, press freedom, good governance, judicial independence and protection for basic human rights. Beijing’s heavy-handed response earlier this week made it clearer than ever that our future as a free society is at stake.

It is young people on the frontline of the protests — including many who weren’t born when the territory was handed over from Britain to China in 1997 — who understand this most clearly. They don’t want to spend their lives in a Hong Kong that becomes like just another mainland city, corrupted by cronyism and a duplicitous one-party system. They value academic freedom and the ability to speak and write freely.

The protest will reach a crisis point, one we cannot win alone. In order for us to attain the rights that Beijing has promised, the rest of the world has to stand with Hong Kong. That includes the many multinational companies whose prosperity depends upon our free markets and open-and-honest society, but more important, it includes the world’s free democracies. Hong Kongers deserve more vigorous backing from Washington and London, which pledged to stand by us before the handover in 1997, when Beijing made the promises it is now so blatantly breaking.

Both Washington and London, in their failure to come out strongly in favor of the peaceful democracy protesters, have effectively sided with Beijing in a disgraceful display of power politics.

My biggest fears are twofold. If Beijing, in an attempt to defuse the situation, steps back from confrontation, offering a few meaningless carrots to the demonstrators and diplomatic bromides to the international community, the demonstrations — and the media attention so necessary to keep them going — may lose force. In that case, time is on Beijing’s side.

What would be worse, of course, is if the mandarins in Beijing conclude that global censure is meaningless, that overreacting with tear gas and violence against peaceful protesters will cost them nothing but a few weak protestations from the world community.

The people of Hong Kong have waited for decades for China to honor its promise that we would rule our city with a “high degree of autonomy.” This commitment was made in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, an international treaty registered at the United Nations — and applauded by the world when it was announced. China’s determination to ignore its promises and to control the election of Hong Kong’s next chief executive has created this dangerous climate.

Britain signed the Joint Declaration with Beijing and must act now that it is being violated. The United States is an effective guarantor of that treaty, and President Obama’s policy should be governed by the U.S.-Hong Kong Policy Act, which states that the survival of Hong Kong as a free society is in America’s interest. London and Washington have leverage with Chinese leaders and the duty to urge China to honor its international treaty obligations.

China’s leadership could still use its better judgment, as it has done before. In 2003, Beijing tried to force Hong Kong to pass legislation that would have rolled back religious, press and political freedoms. There was a massive peaceful demonstration on July 1, 2003. The chief executive at that time, Tung Chee-hwa, was eventually forced out of office and the law was shelved.

Beijing should stop dictating the outcome of Hong Kong’s elections and threatening the pillars of our society, not least so that China itself can advance with Hong Kong as its model.

The message of the past week is clear: The people of Hong Kong will fight for our freedom and way of life. At a time when the world is wondering if China will be a responsible member of the global community, Hong Kong has become the essential test.

Two days ago, a not unfavorable profile of Regina Ip. I don’t trust her and I think what she is doing at the moment is just saying whatever she feels she has to say so that Beijing will see her as the successor to CY Leung. And she will continue Hong Kong’s tradition of each CE being worse than the one before.

HONG KONG — As dusk settled over Hong Kong, Regina Ip glanced out of the window of her office in the Legislative Council building. Eight floors below, students chanted slogans as they prepared to escalate the boycott that within 48 hours would turn into the most momentous demonstrations on Chinese soil since the Tiananmen protests in Beijing a quarter-century ago.

“We have an identity crisis,” Ms. Ip said in an interview last week. “These young people, they are congregating outside. There’s a lot of problems with them — their sense of identity. How come they cannot identify themselves with China?” [Really? She has no clue?]

Squaring Hong Kong’s British colonial heritage with its reality as a part of China is a problem that Ms. Ip, student of Elizabethan poetry, former colonial official and now pro-Beijing lawmaker in Hong Kong’s legislature, has been tackling for decades. Her seesaw intellectual struggle in many ways mirrors Hong Kong’s, and she says wants to build an effective democratic system that fits Hong Kong’s reality: rule by Beijing.

Ms. Ip is one of the few establishment figures seeking to meet with leaders of the Occupy Central movement to find a way to end the protests that have caught the world’s attention. “If you see it in a positive light, it’s another demonstration of our tradition of large-scale peaceful protests, if we can resolve it peacefully,” she said on Thursday. She said she might run for Hong Kong’s top post in 2017, seeking to replace the increasingly unpopular incumbent, Leung Chun-ying.

For Ms. Ip, 64, the path of compromise was not always the natural choice. More than a decade ago, as Hong Kong’s top security official, she led the government’s push to pass a law on subversion and treason. Her efforts to ram the bill through the legislature, despite widespread concern that it would erode the city’s civil liberties, ended in failure and her resignation in 2003. She was also hobbled by her public statements, at one point remarking that democracy helped Hitler’s rise to power in Germany in the 1930s and led to the subsequent Holocaust, and that it was not “a panacea for all problems.” She later said she regretted making that comparison, but maintained that the point about democracy not being a cure-all was a valid one.

It was an unusual remark coming from someone who in the 1980s as a civil servant under the British helped set up some of Hong Kong’s first democratic institutions — elections for local councils. She then went to Stanford University and took a seminar on democracy taught by two prominent scholars on the subject, Seymour Martin Lipset and Larry Diamond.

And after her resignation in 2003 she went to Stanford again, that time to study under Mr. Diamond for a master’s degree. Her thesis was on how to build democracy in Hong Kong.

“She came here very burned and kind of wanting to withdraw and contemplate, and kind of recovered some political creativity and energy,” Mr. Diamond said in an interview. “And as a result of her thinking, began to develop what she thought was some kind of middle way or independent path that could navigate this difficult contradiction between hopes for greater popular sovereignty in Hong Kong and a pace and level of reform that Beijing could be comfortable with.”

In her master’s thesis, Ms. Ip argued for a stronger political party system in Hong Kong and a chief executive, much like in the United States, who was also a party leader, giving him or her more authority. She viewed democracy as more of a tool than anything — a mechanism to help Hong Kong’s leader govern more effectively. She concluded in the thesis that “if this opportunity is seized to good effect, the spinoffs for the future democratization of China are immeasurable.”

Now, though, she makes it clear that democracy has to be more than something nice to have in principle — it has to deliver. “While I fully support and understand the normative justifications for a democratic system, having seen Hong Kong’s democratic transformation, the big question in my mind is in what way more democracy added value,” Ms. Ip said in the interview.

After returning to Hong Kong she quickly set out to enter the public arena again, this time in the Legislative Council. In 2007, she stood for election, facing her onetime boss, Anson Chan, the former chief secretary of Hong Kong. Mrs. Chan, who won, said in an interview that a desire to keep Ms. Ip out of the Legislative Council helped her decide to run.

“Quite frankly, with her background, with her beliefs and with her character, I thought it would be sending to the community of Hong Kong quite a wrong message about democracy,” Mrs. Chan said in an interview. “I also knew, particularly with the entire Communist machinery behind her, the only person who stands a chance of defeating her is me. So that’s why I decided to run.”

Mrs. Chan said she did not think that Ms. Ip really believed in democracy, saying, “a leopard doesn’t change its spots.”

Ms. Ip ran again in 2008, successfully, and has been in the legislature since.

Ms. Ip studied the works of the 16th-century English poet Philip Sidney at the University of Glasgow. Soon after she was recruited in London to serve in Hong Kong’s colonial-era civil service. She speaks of the British colonial administrators with admiration — unusual because Chinese officials often view those who rose through the ranks of the British system with suspicion. “My British bosses, they actually governed Hong Kong in accordance with Confucian values,” she said, noting that she received commendations from several colonial governors.

“Is Hong Kong Chinese or is Hong Kong Western?” she asked. “It is in our interest to be both.”

It is her affection for Chinese culture, and passion for order and authority, that may draw her toward Beijing. Her website features a picture of former Prime Minister Zhu Rongji giving her a thumbs up during a meeting in Brussels in 2001, when she was Hong Kong’s top security official. And, like other pro-Beijing officials and lawmakers here, she acknowledges Beijing’s authority. She rattled off the names of senior officials she had just met in Beijing, where she had taken a delegation of business executives, quoting several of them in Mandarin.

“The reality in Hong Kong, naturally, is we are part of China,” she said. “You can’t really go against Beijing.”

So there you have it in a direct quote. If she does succeed Leung and become Hong Kong’s next Chief Executive, she “can’t really go against Beijing,” so in moments of crisis and in between, we know where her loyalties will lie.

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