‘Undergrad’ in translation: hKUDOS reviews the May 2017 issue

May 26, 2017 / by / 0 Comment

If you ever need a good reason to read Undergrad, HKUSU’s official magazine, just remember how C.Y. Leung begged you not to. Back in 2015, he said we should stay alert to its “fallacies” and “misstatements”—with an endorsement like that, who can resist?

Undergrad covers university and local news, and copies are distributed free across campus. Its signature is a strong and often controversial voice, but love it or hate it, many in HKU consider it required reading. Just one problem: right now it is available only in Chinese.

With that in mind, hKUDOS checked out the latest issue, published on May 22. Here are the highlights:

Can’t remember to forget you

Undergrad issues are themed, and this time it’s all about forgetting. In 4 feature stories, Mabel Cheung and Deborah Tsoi investigate why Hong Kong doesn’t have an archives law, and why that’s such a big deal. There is a transcript of the panel discussion on Vanished Archives, which is a great companion piece to the documentary film. But the standout article is their interview with archivist Simon Chu Fook-keung, which peeks into the murky interior of government bureaucracy.

Hong Kong’s current system to manage records is dysfunctional. We need to fix the Government Records Service, as well as pass an archives law. A robust records system helps the public monitor the government, forcing it to make careful decisions, and reminding them to be accountable to the people and not China or vested interests. (p.46)

Unnatural selection

A recap of the CE election in March: Tony Cheung takes a dim view of John Tsang’s political ideology, and traces the rise of HKU alumna Carrie Lam. Student elections also ran into some trouble, with only a 20.65% turnout rate for this year’s HKUSU Annual Election. Even worse, the Social Sciences Society failed to elect an executive committee after 3 rounds of general voting. (There’s a 2-page timeline to help you sort out what happened—it’s that messy.)

In HKU we talk about the importance of democracy, and we pay close attention to local and international elections. And yet, the majority of students don’t care about campus elections. The crux of the problem is that they don’t understand how campus elections affect them, the university, and even society at large. (p.31)

Science with a conscience

Does anyone care about astronomy or mathematics/physics? Probably more people than you’d expect, as Dean of Science Matthew Evans belatedly found out. Jason Tsui interviews professors—current and retired—in the Faculty of Science to get a sense of what the majors were about, and why they’re now being axed. The article ends with a blistering critique of Evans, arguing that his choice to cancel the majors is a sign of worse things to come.

The two cancelled majors belonged to the Department of Physics. When Professor Tse became Department head in January, he was told the two majors will be cancelled… The Department of Physics was not consulted in the whole decision-making process, and so there was no discussion in the Department before Tse was informed. (p.24)

Briefly noted:

  • A dense allegorical tale inspired by Márquez.
  • Editor-in-chief Martin Tse offers seven recommendations on horse-racing.
  • How the pan-democrats lost 400,000 votes in two decades.
  • On Amazon you can buy anything, including HKU theses.
  • Wanchai snapshots.
  • Content farms are bad for you—like, really bad.
  • A reflection on the violent protests in Mong Kok.
  • Collaborative poem by 18 student contributors, responding to the prompt: “if I forget about Hong Kong, what would you tell me?”

One last thing…

There’s a spoof of Your Name on p.13, which we won’t spoil here. Either you’ll have no idea what’s going on or you’ll find it absolutely hilarious.

The full magazine can be found online here, and copies are distributed on campus. Special thanks to Undergrad, HKUSU.


Law and literature student at HKU.