Chi Sun Spotlight: Speaker Series with Jason Ng

Following its tradition of “Nurturing a Community of Freely Enquiring Minds”, last month Chi Sun College had its very first gathering of the “Stay Young Dream Big Speaker Series” for the fall session of the year. The Speaker Series, started with an aim of creating a social bridge between the students and the rising leaders of the world, this time invited the famous social commentary blogger Jason Y. Ng to have an interactive talk with us, Chi-Sunners.

Best-selling author of Umbrellas in Bloom (2016), No City for Slow Men (2013) and HONG KONG State of Mind (2010), Jason is a full-time lawyer and a contributor to The South China Morning Post, TimeOut, EJInsight, and Hong Kong Free Press. He is also an adjunct associate professor at the Faculty of Law in the University of Hong Kong.

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Though he is a man of varied talents, from alpine skiing to home-cooking, his unique perspective regarding politics sets him apart from the rest. In-fact, he actually started his writing career by blogging about politics. However, you might be surprised to know that he came to blog about politics while he was trying to launch a career in classical music.

As it happened, he was trying to come up with contents for a classical music website, but as a self-described “political junkie”, talking about politics came naturally to him. And when he realized that a lot of expats couldn’t follow Hong Kong politics due to a lack of English writers, he felt he could maybe make a difference.

That was in 2008. Eight years later, here he is, one of the most prominent writers in Hong Kong. In Jason’s words: “Things just started happening from that one tiny seed I planted eight years ago without expecting any feedback or any sort of response.”

As far as his observations are concerned, Jason revealed that he actually gets most of them from his life experiences. Though he was born and raised in Hong Kong, he spent a large proportion of his time abroad. In fact, he returned to Hong Kong for the first time after 20 years. The distance however proved very important for his writing. In his words: “When I first moved back to Hong Kong about 10 years ago, I was able to reacquaint with the city with a fresh pair of eyes, and hence am able to sort of have the outsider-insider dichotomy in my writing.”

Jason also believes that if you find a topic you’re passionate about, the drive to work will come naturally:  “You need to ask yourself, ‘Why do I want to write, and what do I want to write about?’ And if there are topics that are so important to you, then regardless of the feedback you want to keep writing.”

While during the talk, Jason did help us understand Hong Kong politics, he also gave us valuable life advice. Among other things, he advised us to not waste time, to not do anything half-heartedly and most importantly to try out everything. In terms of blogging, he advised the writers to have a particular theme so that they can attract the attention of the people, but at the same time also provide information to feed people’s curiosity.

After the talk, Chau Tran, a fellow Chi Sun Spotlight member, and I got the unique privilege to interview Jason.

In response to why he didn’t return to Hong Kong sooner, Jason said: “You don’t want to go back until you have achieved something; go back to your family when you have something to show for. After 20 years, I felt like I am ready.”

Jason also shared his wisdom on how to manage a busy schedule: “Take a hard look at how you spend your day, and you can probably squeeze half an hour from here and there to do everything you want without sacrificing your social life.”

What made the talk and the interview interesting was the fact that it was more of a discussion rather than a speech. Jason wasn’t there as a renowned personality, but rather as a senior mentor trying to help us get a grasp of life and thus nurture our curiosity.

By: Maitraee Mistry, 1st Year, Bachelor of Engineering