Creating clouds and pixelating candidates|Hari Kumar

Published (HKT): 2021.04.17 11:03

Business is in his blood. I had met him accidentally, but over time I saw he was on to something new and brimming with ideas to venture into still greener pastures.

Often he would call out of the blue to talk about some new field he was planning to explore. So, it was not a surprise when he called one day to see if I knew anything about computers.

“Not a lot,” I replied. “But I can ask the IT guys in my office if you tell me exactly what you want to know about.”

“No, I know that lot. All they will do is spout some technical jargon and their solution for every problem is reboot,” my friend sneered. “I want to know which software is the best for picture editing.”

“My IT friend often talks about some shop which does it for him. Think it is called Photoshop,” I said. “He often goes to the Wanchai Computer Centre or roams around in Sham Shui Po. So I am guessing it must be one of those shops there,” I volunteered.

“That’s good,” he replied. “I too don’t know much about this, but I am trying to start a new business that will turn into a goldmine soon.”

“You have always had the knack to smell them out,” I said, though I have often wondered whether any of his plans had ever made the kind of money he talks about.

“This is a sure-fire idea. I see a lot of opportunities in the coming months, starting with the Olympics in July,” my friend said.

“Oh, I thought you were talking about photography. This is something to do with sports?” I asked.

“No, no, this not about sports itself. I plan to start an agency that offers picture pixelating, a service that will be in demand when the Olympics come around,” he was revealing his masterplan to get hold of those elusive millions.

“I thought that kind of DVDs were sold around the year, the ones that need pixelation of certain activities,” I said. “So I have heard,” I added quickly to make it clear that I was not a collector of such items.

But he wasn’t in the least bit suspicious. “This is to mask out names and logos of sportswear brands that are being boycotted by the mainland media. The media houses here will also definitely follow suit,” he said.

“So imagine this: everyone at the Olympics will be wearing branded sportswear. So what can these local channels do? They will need someone to cover up all those logos,” he continued.

“That could be a big problem,” I replied.

“It already is. Have you watched any of the mainland television shows recently?” he asked.

“No, I haven’t,” I confessed.

“They have already begun erasing. People appearing on TV look like they are walking on a cloud as the studios block out their shoes showing the brand name,” he said.

“Very prudent, I guess,” I replied.

“That is when I realized there would be a huge demand for pixelation during the Olympics and thought of starting a service for that,” he sounded very sure of his plan.

But I was struck by a doubt. “What will happen when the Olympics is over? Will there still be demand for such a service?” I asked.

“Bro, you know me,” he said. “Do you think I am in this for a few months?”

“I know you must have a long-term plan,” I replied quickly, knowing well he considered himself a visionary businessman.

“Yes, I have,” he replied with a laugh. He sounded pleased with my praise and I was glad.

“More sports events coming up?” I asked.

“No, a few months after the Olympics come the local elections. That will also generate great demand for such services,” he declared.

“To cover the brand names on shoes?” I couldn’t figure out how that was going to work.

“Faces,” was his curt reply.

“Pardon?” was all I could muster.

“See, under the new election rules, many people will be unwilling to contest, especially if they are linked to an opposition party,” my friend predicted. “So, I will offer a service that prints posters with faces pixelated to keep identities secret.”

“You could be on to something here,” I didn’t want to discourage him. “Would that be allowed?” I asked.

“The rules only ban blank votes. But there is no rule against unidentified candidates,” he must have studied the complicated new laws in detail.

“You seem to have thought this out well,” I said, wishing he had sounded this out with someone with a better knowledge of such things than me.

“I consulted some friends who are into politics,” he said, almost as if he had read my thoughts.

“They say it is a new dimension of democracy. Usually it is the ballot that remains secret. Under my plan, candidates can also remain secret if they wish to. They tell me my plan is perfect for Hong Kong,” he expanded his new theory.

“But will this help in getting votes?” I wanted to know more from this political genius.

“That is easy,” came the reply. “All you have to do is get the authorities to seize the posters citing some irregularity and people will come out in droves to vote for that candidate. Just like those big crowds at the Thai shop,” he said.

“I see your plan now,” I said in admiration.

“Yeah, that is what successful businessmen like me do,” he said. “I also see demand for this service increasing. Selfie-takers will need to hide brand names as more Western brands get boycotted,” he added before ending the call.

(A fictional satire written by Hari Kumar, who is a journalist based in Hong Kong.)

We invite you to join the conversation by submitting columns to our opinion section:

Apple Daily reserves the right to refuse, abridge, alter or edit guest opinion columns for accuracy, length, clarity, and style, and the right to withdraw and withhold columns based on the discretion of our editorial page editors.

The opinions of the writers do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editorial board.


Apple Daily’s all-new English Edition is now available on the mobile app:

To download the latest version,



Or search Appledaily in App Store or Google Play