Each morning in my office, accompanied by a good espresso, I open the South China Morning Post to the inside back page and—after perusing the letters sent by common citizens—I shift backward to page 2. There I find the column of one of Hong Kong’s less common citizens, Alex Lo, who writes day in and day out under the heading “My Take”. Until a year ago, this diversion was accompanied by a red bean cake, since prohibited by my dietician. Notwithstanding this painful loss, there is no better way to start the day.
Lo’s column is what I miss most when I am travelling out of Hong Kong; he is a man who is not for sale. The recent publication of a collection of his columns is an opportunity to assess with the benefit of hindsight his take on the political and cultural subjects that he is handling—or according to some, mishandling.
Printed on extra-thick and glossy paper, this book will satisfy even a demanding bibliophile. Cartoonist Harry Harrison caustic creations illustrate the concepts in Lo’s columns. Readers of the SCMP will find it quick read at just over 100 pages; the columns may also be familiar. Most were penned in 2012 and are therefore still fresh or, it might be better said… fragrant; only a few have been taken from the previous years. Some new material has been added to comment on or clarify the contest.
The articles are ordered by theme; chapters include: “New and Old Chief Executives in the Docks”, “Democracy on the Instalment Plan”; Our God-Awful Class System”, “China Today and Tomorrow”. Some might well result in a long jail sentence in some less-enlightened jurisdictions; in others perhaps painful trials for defamation. (Edward Snowden, of NSA and CIA fame, may indeed be correct in his positive assessment of freedom of expression in Hong Kong.)
My Take will be offered to subscribers of the South China Morning Post; others are advised to search it out in a bookstore and—after reading—place it on the bookshelf next to other chroniclers of their times, present and past.
Angelo Paratico is a journalist, correspondent and author of several books in Italian and English, the most recent of which Nero: An Exemplary Life; his website is