Hong Kong Homies is a series where we get deep real fast with Hongkongers.
Wong Yu-ming, 47, farmer
My mother was very opposed to me becoming a farmer. She worked so hard to pay for my education so I can go and see the world, my four elder siblings didn’t get as much schooling as I did, just so I could leave the farm. I succeeded, and now I’m back, and that didn’t please her.
We all had to work hard when we were small. If you had to sacrifice your homework time to work on the farm, then of course your schoolwork would suffer, and so would your chances of advancing.
That’s what my older siblings did, but my parents considered schoolwork more important when they got to me, and so did my older brothers and sisters. They were older, so they put more time in on the farm so their younger siblings could study. It meant that we could have an hour or two each day to study and do homework.
I changed my mind about work during the last few years. When I was leading product development and getting into new markets for my old electronics company, I had to try and attract customers and meet earnings targets — maybe I can save money by making products in a different way, maybe I can squeeze more work out of employees….
When you have to think about this stuff, you’ll see that you have to coax customers into buying something, take advantage of distributors. It was like putting on armor every day and going into battle. I eventually wondered what I was doing all of this for, a score for my superiors? That’s how much I was worth.
Now I work a lot more — every day of the year — and rest a lot less. In terms of satisfaction and my spiritual health, I’m very relaxed. I don’t need to put on a mask to ask people to buy products that benefit neither themselves nor society. I don’t need to do any of that superficial stuff and I can be sincere and treat my customers like friends.
On Local Issues
I used to pay a lot of attention to stocks and technology news, but once you become a farmer, you’ll start noticing what happens to the people around you: the issues, inequality, such as an out-of-service lift at the base of a foot bridge.
We deliver produce to our customers by hand, and we pass a foot bridge while holding several kilograms of vegetables. I used to think that going up the stairs was fine, but I saw the importance of having ramps, elevators and escalators.