司徒笑薇 The Rose’s Smile
(Fred Ma的圍裙)

$ 8,000,000.00


Fred媽,今年已經80歲,她就住在「活化廳」旁邊那大廈。「Fred媽」這名字其實是我改的,她真正的名字叫「司徒笑薇」--人如其名,一個美麗的名字。 Fred媽的性格有兩面:有時憂國憂民,為社會上不公義的事情憤憤不平,時常想要改變世界;有時樂天知命、默默耕耘、在失望中散播安慰。所以Fred媽的笑其實也有兩面,有時是苦,有時是甜。她與「活化廳」就像「兩生花」。
Fred Ma is already 80 years old this year. She lives in a building next to Woofer Ten. The nickname “Fred Ma” was actually made up by me [because she is the mother of Fred], but her real name is SZETO Siu-mei [the characters of her first name translate literally as ‘smiling rose‘]. People are like their names, and her name is beautiful. Her personality has two sides: at times concerned about people and the state of things, indignant about injustice and wanting to change the world; at other times, she is content with the way things are, silently plowing through, and sowing——amidst despair——the seeds of solace. So Fred Ma’s smile is actually double-edged——sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet. She and Woofer Ten both lead double lives.

I heard that Fred Ma’s first love was like this: the man was young, handsome, spirited and talented——even from a well-to-do family. Unfortunately, he emigrated away from Hong Kong, and their love faded away. (Fred Ma rarely brought up this topic, don’t tell her that it was me who leaked!) I think that if Fred Ma had gone away with him to the United States, she would probably be a rich old lady now, but in the time-space of Yaumatei today, she stands with two empty hands and still manages to spread compassion.

Fred Ma’s wish is to rescue people from suffering. At a certain period, she would come to Woofer Ten every day to watch DVDs on our television, a box set of 20 discs, each one a two-hour long lecture on Buddhist teachings. She said she wanted to find in them a way to resolve the various worries of the world. Her other research also includes Chinese medicine, healthy eating habits, acupressure, social enterprise, economic models to relieve poverty in the community, and more. At any time and place, she can always offer a bit of advice on how to transform the world. Every morning, Fred Ma walks a couple of times around the Yaumatei neighbourhood, and people offer her fruit and other foods. In the afternoon, she begins redistributing these goods, and in the evening she’ll show up at places like So Boring [a vegetarian co-op] and 18 Pitt Street [a former community space] to say hello to everyone. If anthropologist Marcel Mauss were still around to have visited Yaumatei, he would have thought that this must have been a tribe that still believed in the gift economy. How else was Fred Ma be able to live with so little money and still have so much to share with everyone?

Fred媽有句口頭禪,大概常常掛在口邊,但我們一直沒察覺。去到差不多2013年,何穎雅問我:「藝術真能改變什麼嗎?」我才爆了這句:「藝術能做的很有限,若真要做到什麼改變,靠的就像Fred媽那句話--『一人做啲!』(每人多做一點) 」這話後來傳開了,一呼百應,掛了出來做招牌,成了「活化廳」最高指導思想。
We never really took notice, but Fred Ma had a phrase that she always liked to say. It wasn’t until about 2013, when Elaine W. Ho asked me, “Do you think art can really change anything?” that I came to an answer: “What art can do is very limited, and if it really wants to make change, it’s to the measure of Fred Ma’s statement——’Each one can do a bit more!‘ [can also be translated as, ‘Each one does their small part!‘]” After that, her slogan began to spread, and it was hung up as a sign at Woofer Ten, becoming our guiding beacon.

Each one can do a bit more!” This sentence serves as the last buoy in a sea of crashing waves made each day by state collusion in the city. She’s lived 80 years, but when was the world ever made perfect? We cannot do everything on our own and are dependent upon, “You help me, and I’ll help you” in order to get things done.

「一人做啲!」是社群主義、是利他主義、是公共生活的擴大;首先必須一定程度放低自己,才能成就別人。既然有些事情政府不做,代議者也不是真的能為街坊追討什麼權益,那唯有靠自己雙手, 「一人做啲!」。
Each one can do a bit more!” represents a kind of social doctrine, an altruism, a widening of the boundaries of public life. It necessitates in the first instance a lowering of oneself in order to help reach the accomplishments of another. Even when there are things that the government fails to do, and council representatives cannot really safeguard the interests of people in the community, then we can count on our own two hands——”Each one can do a bit more!

「一人做啲!」是預兆政治(prefigurative politics)的體現,讓大家重新理解我們在社會、社區的權力位置, 不靠政府,不靠財團,靠自己,掌握行動的主動權,爭取自己想要的生活,建立心目中理想的社區。大家聯合起來,每人積極地,多做一點,就能成事。政府與資本家的監控愈來愈嚴密,要大家乖乖服從,與此同時,利他的成本也愈來愈大,大家都不願做吃力不討好的事,當這共謀的體制愈來愈穩定,社會也愈來愈極端。要改變現狀,Fred媽的方法是:「一人做啲!」
Each one can do a bit more!” embodies a kind of prefigurative politics, and it makes us understand again that we are a part of society, each having a seat of authority in the community, without depending upon the state, without depending upon any financial groups, only dependent upon ourselves. It takes the initiative of action and strives for the kind of life that we each want to live, bringing about the kind of ideal neighbourhood we would like to see. People coming together, each person positively working to do just a little bit more, to achieve together. The control by state and capitalist interests grows increasingly tight, calling for everyone to submit. At the same time, the cost of helping others grows ever higher, and no one is willing to do the hard and thankless jobs. As this system of state and business collusion grows ever more stable, society becomes ever more extreme. In order to change this condition, Fred Ma’s way was always, simply, “Each one can do a bit more!

Each one can do a bit more!” creates networked relations via a heterogeneous and bottom-up, rhizomatic strategy. Its methodology operates in flows and pulses, where each person carries out what needs to be done, with the individual as the operative unit such that, however dense systemic control becomes, cannot govern us all. “Each one can do a bit more!” is to practice what one preaches. What one says and thinks is less important, but what is crucial is whether or not you can——like Fred Ma——put a bit of idealism back into life and actually practice it.

I heard that there was a place that suddenly erupted in revolution, and everyone came out onto the streets. There were old and there were young, and there was a flag on which was written, “From the bottom up, each one does their small part!” Looking more closely, you could see that among the crowd of resistors, each of them was wearing the same mask——each one bearing the rose-like smile of Fred Ma.


— 原載自《街坊小傳》2015,念剛在今天過世的Fred媽。
— Originally published in Kaifong Stories (2015), republished on Medium.com with minor edits by LEE Chunfung to commemorate the passing of SZETO Siu-Mei (1935-2020).


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(Fred Ma的圍裙)”

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