Interviewing the organiser of Sai Kung Carnival 3.3 turned out to be a roller-coaster ride swinging from a low of raised voices and angry words to a high of photos in the sun with big smiles and arms around each other. Meeting SK Hiew was memorable, to say the least. He is an accomplished fellow, architect, owner of five restaurants (two in Sai Kung, Fat Duck Den and Gastrobox) and now community organiser.
Here is how the interview played out:
The subject was the Carnival, which you will have deduced is on 3 March. I started by asking SK who was behind it, who were the members of the “Preparatory Committee on Promoting Beautiful Sai Kung”. SK refused to say, “It is not political, we need a lot less about politics.” Questioned further he said the idea came from the District Council (Chairman Ng Sze-fuk “is a family friend”) and a group got together to arrange the Carnival.
I asked him about the $300,000 put up by the Council to help finance it. How would the money be spent? SK wouldn’t say. “Don’t pick the bones out of the egg.” Asked about the number of booths to be set up in front of the Tin Hau Temple, he said this was undecided. I pointed out the event is in a bit over two weeks. Would his own restaurants, Fat Duck and Gastrobox, be taking part in what is at least partially a food fair. “Not sure,” he said. I asked about the programme, who were the VIPs that would speak at the opening ceremony? SK would not say.
It was around this point the conversation started getting heated. He raised his voice, accusing me of behaving like a colonial. I responded in kind, telling him forcefully he was being evasive and deceptive.
After this exchange, I stopped asking direct questions and just chatted with SK. The problem was not mis-communication. SK said he spent 20 years in the UK and got his architectural degree at the University of North London. He kept repeating that the purpose of the Carnival was to promote the many attractions of Sai Kung, Geopark, hiking trails, temples, ancient artifacts, Hakka food. I repeated several times this was laudable. And said there was no problem about the $300,000 which was a small amount for a worthwhile project. In essence what had gone wrong was that English public relations had not been well handled, in fact was virtually non-existent.
Sai Kung Carnival 3.3 starts at 10am on 3 March and runs until 5.30pm on the temple forecourt. SK said many schools will send children, who will sing and dance. A special feature will be Hang Hau Kirin dancing. There will be many entertainers, making things with balloons for the kids and face painting. SK said, “This will be the first. We want more dialogue, to promote Sai Kung businesses, all together. If this one isn’t the best, we will do better next time.”
By now we had mutually decided we weren’t bad blokes after all. We parted with bonhomie, big smiles and arms around each other, as a staff member snapped photos in the sun. You will read more about SK in BUZZ because his architectural practice (Kal) is doing splendid projects beautifying downtown shopping areas, notably for Sino Land. That is, if SK doesn’t get mad again, after reading this article.