South China Morning Post


South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)-November 24, 1996

It could be a scene from a sci-fi movie, a lecture theatre audience mesmerised by details of the lives of the good citizens of the Pleiadan star system. Is there life as we know it among these local alien enthusiasts, lost in thought as they fall for tales of little green men, asks JASON GAGLIARDI?

I DON'T want to write this story. Honest. I hate UFO nuts and conspiracy theorists. I fell asleep in Independence Day. I'd like to smack Fox Mulder on the nose. But here I am, clickety-clacking away at the word processor in a sweaty panic. There can be but one reason for this, and it is not that my boss is standing over me with a big stick. Without a doubt, my actions are being controlled by super-intelligent aliens from a nearby star cluster. There have been too many "coincidences", you see.

For a start, the only reason I attended a recent UFO symposium was that I saw an advertisement for it while flicking through a magazine in a sandwich shop. Normally, I never set foot in this shop. I was only there because I was seized by an inexplicable urge for a banana, bacon and peanut butter sandwich. This points clearly to the fact that evil space aliens _ probably in league with Elvis _ are messing with my head. Come to think of it, I visited Graceland this year. Perhaps extraterrestrials posing as tour guides inserted some insidious implant.

Then, when I met up this week with Moon (yes, that's her real name) Fong, a local alien enthusiast seeking to set up Hong Kong's first homegrown UFO club, more weird stuff happened (cue annoying Twilight Zone theme). We chose to have a coffee in Cafe Yoyo in Sheung Wan. There on the placemats, poorly disguised as yoyos, were what any fool could see were flying saucers (segue into eerie Close Encounters-type music). I haven't been able to sleep all week, wondering why I keep seeing men in black lurking around my apartment block. Well, actually they're old ladies in black pyjamas, but that doesn't fool me. I just know that any night now, bulbous-eyed, stick-limbed "greys" are going to walk through my bedroom wall and start stealing my sperm ...

WE are back in Cafe Yoyo and a slightly breathless, wild-eyed Moon is recounting the inexorably linked, ET-supervised chain of events that have led up to our momentous meeting in what might be Hong Kong's gaudiest coffee shop. Moon is not your average Hong Kong girl. Oh no. While her Hong Kong University graduate peers were giggling through job interviews and scouting out Hello Kitty! backpacks to match their Giordano jeans, Moon was roaming the highways and byways of the United States in search of extraterrestrial intelligence. Her search began some five years ago, while working at the Las Vegas Hilton (not that far across the Nevada desert from Area 51 _ cue more annoying Twilight Zone music and shout, "Elvis has left the building!"). Moon says she went along to a UFO seminar out of mild curiosity, and found her life forever changed.

"It was a 100-hour advanced course by Laszlo Steiner, who is a Hungarian professor and an expert on UFOs," Moon says. "After that seminar, I spent three years with him, travelling around the world to various alien contact sites. He has written _ and I typed up _ more than 30 contactee stories, which I'm now hoping to find a publisher for. I think maybe I was being used or guided by ETs. I don't know why I did it. I just had this burning feeling inside that I had to be involved. The conditions were very harsh, and we didn't have much money. Sometimes we just lived out of a van, using libraries and hotel lobbies to type up the stories." Later, she coyly admits part of that fiery feeling might have stemmed from the hunk of burnin' lurve the handsome Hungarian directed her way. "Okay, okay, yes, he was my boyfriend as well," she giggles.

Moon is in the process of shipping over "tons" of UFO magazines, videos and other material from Hawaii, where she spent most of the past year with Steiner. "What I want to do is get a regular group going here and then organise lectures, guest speakers, that sort of thing. I also want to start a local, Chinese-language magazine. My family think I'm crazy, but I don't care."

Moon claims to have seen a UFO two years ago. She and Steiner were among a group of people at the Pyramid Of The Sun And The Moon at Teotihuacan, the site of an ancient civilisation and bounteous UFO sightings outside Mexico City. "We were there with this Peruvian man named Sixto Paz, who has been contacted many times and has a group called Mission Ramma, which has thousands of members all over the world," she says. "Anyway, I saw a disc the size of a car, black, it seemed to absorb colour and it floated like a falling leaf except it was going up. Within a minute or so, it had gone so high I couldn't see it anymore. Wherever Sixto Paz goes, people seem to see UFOs. UFOs often appear at these ancient sites because they are built at vortex areas, high energy areas, which the ETs use to travel from one dimension to another." Convincingly, she adds, "I think I am convinced it was real."

Moon says the reason aliens only reveal themselves to isolated individuals rather than parking their flying saucers in the middle of Queens Road Central and shouting, "We're here, let's party!" is quite straightforward. "The ETs operate under universal laws. If they reveal themselves to everyone, then there will be chaos and wars will break out. They do not want to interfere. They want to get their message across in a subtle way." And that message is? "That we have to act now before it's too late to save the planet." What, these ETs have been clocking up gazillions of frequent flier points in their tinfoil frisbees to tell us what we could have heard at a Greenpeace meeting? Moon smiles the patient smile of the true believer and says, "I was sceptical too, once."

LET us jump back in time even further (cue funky Doctor Who theme); to a fortnight ago, in fact. A motley assortment of sheepish yuppy couples, crystal-dangling new-agers, studiously bored journalists and, er, complete loons have assembled in a lecture theatre next to the Hong Kong Stadium. Next door, in a parallel dimension, people are drinking beer and watching football, oblivious to the fact that the good citizens of the Pleiadian star system are among us and have been for years.

The organiser of the conference is the local representative of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON _ an acronym which, incidentally, becomes MORON with just three deft pen strokes). In true X-Files tradition, he puffs incessantly on a cigarette, refuses to reveal his name and works for a shadowy government organisation (well, the Environmental Protection Department). The Smoking Man, as I shall always think of him, has wild eyes, thinning hair, a rumpled suit and more conspiracy theories than an Oliver Stone script.

"I was surfing the Internet two years ago and I came upon a wild story about how we have descended from colonists from the Pleiades system and that they are now worried we are destroying ourselves," he frets. "Lo and behold, I started researching this and I blew my own mind! I'm now utterly convinced by this theory. Whenever the aliens try to contact our governments, we just shoot them down. The US Government is well aware of the situation. The CIA was created expressly to cover up alien contacts." His voice drops to a whisper and his eyes dart back and forth like someone watching a tennis match on fast forward. Then he drops the bombshell: "It's possible this was the reason JFK was assassinated."

The Smoking Man begins to sound like the voice of sweet reason, however, after more than two hours of listening to the symposium's star turn, Colonel Wendelle Stevens. The former US airman's rambling discourse is made all the more weird by the clipped tones in which he delivers it in. Stevens spends much of his time talking about his contacts with Eduard "Billy" Meier, a one-armed Swiss farmer who claims to have had more than 700 contacts with aliens from the Pleiades since 1975. Meier has become a cult figure, leading a Swiss commune known as the Semjase Silver Star Centre, after the female cosmonaut he regularly chats with, while Stevens has written two books advancing Meier's claims (perish the thought that either would be trying to make a buck from our kindly alien neighbours).

Stevens goes on at length about how Meier's many photographs present incontrovertible evidence of alien visits, and of being shadowed by CIA operatives at every turn. He then treats us to a slide show, revealing an array of flying saucers which look about as realistic as old Star Trek sets. What Stevens doesn't tell us about is the work of Kal Korff, who has spent 15 years researching the Meier "contacts".

Korff says based on known factors such as the focal length of Meier's camera, a mathematical formula can be devised to calculate the size of the spaceships in the photos. Invariably, he says, they are not the "22.75 feet in diameter" alleged by Meier but small models placed close to the camera. Similarly, Meier's "time travel" happy snaps of Venus turn out to be pinched from NASA's Mariner 10 spacecraft images, and his portrait of three sexy cosmonauts, Asket, Nera and Semjase, were photographed from a television screen.

Of course, it could be that Stevens is just confused from the rigorous travel schedule he keeps up (he had just arrived from Ecuador, where he interviewed eight women from an isolated tribe carrying implanted alien foetuses in their wombs) or dizzy from looking over his shoulder so often. To spook the sceptic, he makes regular reference to his time as a US Air Force pilot and his pivotal role in all manner of super-duper-secret schemes. Needless to say, he believes Area 51 is a veritable multi-storey UFO parking station.

There are, however, some yawning credibility gaps in his tales. For starters, would a master-race of brilliant, beautiful aliens really hang out with a balding, one-armed farmer with a Freddie Mercury moustache? Why not pal around with Mel Gibson or Claudia Schiffer? And can we really trust Stevens, with that atrocious comb-over and sky-blue blazer? Stevens says he likes to distance himself from the crazed "woo woo element" among UFO enthusiasts. But after hearing him recount tales of hairless Mexican dogs sent to keep an eye on us by canine aliens, I was left with a burning desire to utter just two words: "WOO WOO!!"

SOME would say that with the end of the Cold War, it was inevitable America would turn upon itself and look out into space to find a new bogeyman. Instead of geriatric evil emperors hovering over buttons marked "Start World War III NOW!", we have slimy spacemen who want to play with our private parts and shadowy government agencies determined to cloud the truth. Witness the atomic box-office performance of Independence Day and the beyond-cult following of The X-Files. American television is now awash with X-Files clones, an X-Files film is forthcoming and two versions of the theme tune recently duelled in the Top 10.

For Moon Fong's part, she is convinced Hollywood and the big television networks are being manipulated by the CIA to ensure the gullible public has an image of aliens as mean-green-muthas-from-outer-space, who want nothing more than to take over our planet or burst from our stomachs. She lives by the X-Filian motto: "Trust no-one".

"All we hear in the media is about people kidnapped, raped, artificially inseminated by aliens, but it's all disinformation," she says. "In the real abduction cases, people don't say they were harmed. They do often become psychic and look at the world in a different way afterwards. A lot of the negative cases are done by paid government agents, you know, the CIA and things like that. The US Government spends US$400 million (HK$3.09 billion) a year out of a black budget just to do UFO disinformation." Says who? "That's what Lazlo says." How would he know? "I never asked him that. Sorry.

"Really, I think no aliens could be as nasty as we human beings. We are the real aliens. I believe there could be bad ETs, but the good ETs are guiding us and protecting us from the bad ones. All these latest UFO movies are not like Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind, because the CIA is not going to approve anything that puts ETs in a good light. The US Government influences Hollywood to give out the message that aliens are bad and may try to invade us. Spielberg's films are the only ones that seem anywhere near realistic _ in fact, he may even have been used by ETs." Now there's a novel thought. ET behind the camera and the hirsute auteur crammed into a basket croaking, "phone home".

Says Moon: "I don't trust MUFON and some of the more organised UFO groups, as they have been infiltrated by various governments. Things like the Roswell alien autopsy footage is obviously fake. It's nothing but a smokescreen. Roswell happened 50 years ago and people keep talking about it, and meanwhile there are hundreds of meaningful cases coming out. One Billy Meier picture that can be proved is much better evidence than the whole Roswell case."

FOR every nutter and each paid-up member of the "woo woo" club, there is a sane individual with a genuine story of a UFO encounter. Many pilots can reel off stories of brushes with weird craft, but, of course, they must keep mum if they want to keep their jobs. No one wants to be sitting at 30,000 feet behind a captain who chats with little green men. The Royal Observatory has kept detailed records of UFO sightings since 1984, and averages 40-50 reports a year. Some are easily explained, such as the deluge of reports on April 9, 1993, which turned out to be spotlights on the roof of the Parkview apartments in Tai Tam.

Others baffle observatory officers to this day. One senior civil servant claims to have seen a 500-metre-long rectangular craft one night in August 1988 in Sai Kung, covered in lights and emitting a droning noise (it is unknown if he had been at the Beach Pub beforehand). On November 16, 1993, witnesses in Tin Shui Wai, Tuen Mun and at the Chinese University reported a lone disc speeding in a north-westerly direction, giving off blinding, green-tinged flashes of light. On August 30, 1992, four separate Hong Kong Island residents claimed to have seen four circular UFOs flying in formation. Just after 1am on May 4, 1985, the observatory received numerous reports of a cigar-shaped object spotted over Central and the Peak (although this could have been David Tang).

Moon Fong says the size and shape of alien craft can vary greatly. "Of course, many of them look simple. That's because they are. The propulsion system is much simpler than even our cars. We have gone off on one lower branch of the tree of knowledge and we keep elaborating on that, but the ET tells us we have to go back to the fundamentals and get back on the right path.

"Look, I was a sceptic before, but when you talk to so many people who are not seeking fame or publicity, who genuinely believe they have been contacted, you have to start to believe. I'm not saying they are all telling the truth. But even if 50 per cent are lying, that leaves 50 per cent who are not. You just have to keep searching for the truth." Indeed. Because the truth is out there. Way out there.

Out of this world: Moon Fong was hurled into the heady world of UFOs after a chance encounter with future boyfriend Laszlo Steiner.

Photo: Ringo Tang
Edition: 2Section: Sunday MagazinePage: 22
Index Terms: Sunday Morning PostRecord Number: 133CECC6789C85F0(c) 1996 South China Morning Post