Having lived in Hong Kong for 29 years, Gregory Charles Rivers is considered a “real Hongkonger” by netizens, especially after his performance in TVMost 1st Guy Ten Big Ging Cook Gum Cook Awards Distribution show (毛記電視第一屆十大勁曲金曲分獎典禮).
But the 50-year-old Australian has his own ideas about what makes a real Hongkonger.
These are people who genuinely care about the welfare of the public, not those who are concerned only about the top 5 percent of the population.
Which is why he likes 100Most’s irreverent commentary on social issues.
He says the controversial satirical magazine takes creativity “to the edge”, knowing its views will be suppressed once these cross the line.
Rivers himself is no stranger to controversy.
He was ridiculed online for a social media post in which he warned about “bad consequences” if citizens continue to treat the police as an enemy in the wake of the Mong Kok clashes.
In a subsequent post, he seemed to have appeased his critics after he called for a public conversation about violence, saying companies should also help ease social tensions.
Rivers’ politics tend to be a mix of liberal and conservative doses.
He thinks it’s “important” that ordinary citizens are represented in the legislature but disagrees that universal suffrage is the solution to everything.
“What is important is to have representatives of the people in parliament,” he says.
Rivers identifies himself with the grassroots and says he understands their despair over their situation.
“When I first arrived in Hong Kong, everyone was happy. People were optimistic about the future,” he says.
Like many Hongkongers, he played the stock market hoping to make enough money to buy his own flat.
Instead, he emerged completely convinced he should have kept away from it.
“When the US invaded Iraq, I was holding stock warrants, probably with 200-300 percent yield,” he says.
“I wanted to cash out but the securities manager persuaded me to stay. As soon as we ended our telephone conversation, the market collapsed.”
Rivers says he lost a lot of money.
There is not much joy in the property market either.
“Property prices are unreal. The property market is like a pyramid scheme, where previous property buyers make money off the backs of the current ones” he says.
“The bubble will burst when new buyers are no longer able to support the whole market.”
Still, Rivers calls Hong Kong home.
He says people planning to emigrate out of fear of Hong Kong’s future are making a mistake if they think they are going to a better place.
Emigration works only if people are fully assimilated into the local culture, he says.
Meanwhile, he says Hong Kong is better off in the hands of a chief executive who does not want the job.
“They’re likely not hungry for power, so they’re likely to serve, rather than rule.”
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb. 17.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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