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The Young Reporter

Lowest ever turnout under revamped LegCo Election system

The first Legislative Council election under the revamped electoral system ended last night with a 30.2% turnout rate in the geographical constituency races, the lowest since the handover in 1997. About 1, 350, 680 people cast their ballots in 10 geographical constituencies, a 28% percent decrease from the last Legco election in 2016. The turnout in the Election Committee constituency was 98.5% and 32.2% for the functional constituencies, according to official statistics. Click here to see the voting rates of different districts (made by Grace Koo). “Their votes are not only for choosing their own LegCo members. They are also a show of support for the improved electoral system and their aspirations for effective enhancement of the governance efficiency of the HKSAR as well as the resulting economic development and livelihood improvements,” Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in a press release yesterday.  Beijing reformed Hong Kong’s electoral system in March, by creating an Election Committee constituency of 40 seats to be voted on by a body established in September. The electorate is made up of 1500 Election Committee members. The total number of seats in Legco also increased to 90 from 70. “The election committee is composed of elites from all walks of life,” said Allan Zeman, chairman of Lan Kwai Fong Group, and a member of the Election Committee. “I think the new system can really work.” Mr Zeman though failed to secure a seat in the Election Committee constituency. A total of 153 candidates competed for this term of LegCo. For the first time since the handover, there is more than one candidate running for every seat, including the functional constituency seats. Twenty members were directly elected in the geographical constituencies. Voting was changed to a double seat, single-vote system, which means each voter can vote …

Secretary for Education denounces "lying flat" trend, emphasizes values education

Secretary for Education, Kevin Yeung Yun-hung, denounced the “lying flat” trend, the attitude of doing nothing popular among young people in the mainland, and highlighted the importance of values education in Hong Kong schools in an online post yesterday The “lying flat” movement started in April when a post on the Chinese popular website Baidu titled “Lying Flat Is Justice” went viral. It  refers to young people who strive for nothing more than what is essential for survival.  “The recent trend of "lying flat" is even more worrying. A negative life attitude can easily cause depression and hinder social development in the long run,” Yueng wrote in his post. “I am grieved for that, just the same feeling as many parents and teachers who love those kids.” Yeung also said the government will soon release the curriculum framework for the recently proposed values education, which includes moral and ethical education, civic education, and national education.   The education bureau said promoting activities related to Chinese history will allow students to learn about the essence of Chinese culture, absorb traditional wisdom, and cultivate moral sentiment.  “We must work together to promote values ​​education rooted in Chinese culture together and support students to build positive thinking,” the online article said.                                       “I think the new curriculum has a political agenda and I hope the teachers could be professional enough to tackle this,” said Lau, a local high school teacher who said he is responsible for executing the values education curriculum at his school. He requested anonymity over concerns about his work.  In June, Yeung told the Legislative Council that the bureau will send teachers to mainland universities to enhance their understanding of the nation's development. Teachers will also attend training courses related to national affairs, the Basic Law and the National Security Law.  The …

Carrie Lam emphasises the central government does not “owe” Hong Kong citizens universal election

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the central government does not “owe” citizens universal suffrage stated in the Basic Law in an enrichment talk to Citizenship and Social Development teachers today.  The subject “Citizenship and Social Development” was established last year to replace the core subject “Liberal Studies”, which has been accused of leading to social unrest in 2019. The new subject requires teachers to use “reliable and authoritative sources” to teach. For example, government documents and official quotes. She said some democrats have misled the public to believe that the central government did not approve a universal election which is promised in the Basic Law. Lam said the central government did approve the Hong Kong government to political reform three times. She suggests that the increasing number of members in the election committee of the Chief Executive shows the central government is striving for democracy. Lam said the proposal of “831 decision” allowed the public to have a universal election. The “831 decision” allowed universal suffrage with a “nomination committee”, which is similar to the current election committee, to nominate the candidates for the Chief Executive election before public voting. “It was a very brave move by the central government but sadly it was banned by the opposition in the Legislative Council,” said Lam. She said the governor before the handover was also not elected by the public, and the central government wants to keep the system the same as before the handover which citizens are used to. “The idea that the central government owes citizens a universal election is wrong,” said Lam. “The British government did not give any say to Hong Kong citizens for choosing who is the governor.” Shum Pui-yee, a Secondary 4 student studying Citizenship and Social Development, said the above idea was already …

No phone, no entry

Since November, scanning of the Leave Home Safe app has become mandatory for visitors to government buildings. This poses a problem for many homeless people in Hong Kong who do not have mobile phones. Chloe Wong, Joana Nguyen and Aruzhan Zeinulla report on how homeless people cope and what’s being done to help them

Hydroponics: how an alternative farming method is paving the way for sustainable agriculture in Hong Kong

26-year-old Ivan Tam Hoi-fung, starts his day in his small farm in Tai Wo, practicing a unique kind of farming.  Tam practices a unique method of farming known as hydroponics - a method in which in the absence of soil, the roots of the plants are submerged in water to ensure essential nutrients reach the plants.  This method also allows plants to grow on the water without soil, saves water and does not include any pesticide.  Tam is the Project Officer of Hong Kong Hydroponics Company Limited and has been managing it since 2019.  "A colleague and I can take care of the entire farm, and we produce one ton of vegetables every month," said Alan Yip, the Business Development Manager of the company. "From seeding and detection to harvesting and packaging, I do them all by myself," said Tam, who works in a 4000 square feet farm. The main products of the hydroponic farm include hydroponic vegetables across different seasons. For instance, salad vegetables are available in autumn, winer and early spring while Chinese vegetables are grown during the spring and summer.  The farm was started by Jason Poon, the Chief Executive Officer of the farm. He has been in the field for eight years. He brought his experiences from the Netherlands to “establish a new Hong Kong hydroponic planting model”, according to the company’s website. He is currently the president of the Hong Kong Hydroponics Association promoting the idea of hydroponics in the city The development of hydroponics in Hong Kong  came after the Agricultural, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD)  set up a Controlled Environment Hydroponic Research and Development Centre (CEH R&D) to introduce and demonstrate hydroponic techniques and equipment to the local farmers.  The centre, known as iVeggie, was launched in 2013 at the Cheung Sha Wan …

Waste-charging Scheme: Financial Burden Hits Underprivileged Elders

Liu Siu-lan, 73, lives alone in a public housing flat and makes a living by scavenging for cardboard after her retirement. Liu worked as a garment worker in a sewing factory after she fled to Hong Kong from the mainland in the 1960s. She lives alone after her husband died a few years ago. She has no children or other family. “I can still work and contribute to society by collecting cardboard from shops and sending it to the recycling stations,” said Liu. “It cannot make me a huge fortune, but can subsidise my living.” She said she can go to Yum Cha with her friends once a week with the income from recycling. “It is tiring but I think it is the right thing to do,” said Liu. “It is always good for the elders to have something to do,” said Liu. “It makes me feel like I am not a burden to society.” However, she may need to pay for domestic waste in 2023. The Legislative Council passed the waste-charging schemes, named The Waste Disposal (Charging for Municipal Solid Waste) (Amendment) Bill 2018, on 26 August. There will be a preparatory of 18 months before the implementation of charging, which means the scheme will start no sooner than early 2023, according to the Environmental Protection Department. Under the scheme, households will need to buy “designated garbage bags”, which have nine sizes for citizens to choose from. For oversized waste, such as furniture, citizens will need to buy a HK$11 “designated label” to affix with the waste. “It is not reasonable to charge us money for having rubbish,” said Liu. “Obviously not everything is recyclable.” Wu Kwok-sang, 72, lives on a government subsidy and alone in a public housing flat. “The waste charging scheme will definitely increase my financial …

COVID-19 quarantine and travel restrictions challenge Hong Kong’s domestic helpers

Ybañez’s 68-year old mother, living in Cebu City in the Philippines, was hospitalized for high blood pressure and diabetes for two months before her death. Ybañez, 40, who has been working in Hong Kong for almost three years, would have to quarantine in both the Philippines and upon return in Hong Kong for five weeks in total.  Employers of foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong are required to pay for one trip home for each helper every two years. In response to the pandemic, the Immigration Department mandates that prospective employers sign the undertaking of the employer document agreeing to pay for their employees’ Covid tests and all quarantine expenses upon entry to Hong Kong.  “My employer couldn't afford it," said Ybañez. "Even if I had gone, they could only wait for one week before burial and I had to do two weeks of quarantine in the Philippines, so it was impossible to see her.” Low availability of flights and quarantine hotel rooms, travel bans and vaccination requirements have made travel in and out of the city challenging for foreign domestic helpers.  In April, Hong Kong banned flights from the Philippines, and in June this year another flight ban extended to Indonesia, significantly impacting the wait time for inbound employees. Both these bans were lifted in August.  In September, the government opened Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre on Lantau Island to helpers who are fully vaccinated with non-Hong Kong available vaccinations for 21 days quarantine, allocating nearly 800 rooms with a price capped at HK$500 per night. Helpers vaccinated with either Pfizer/BioNTech or Sinovac can also quarantine in hotels upon their arrival.  The pandemic has doubled the number of foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong seeking help from local NGO Mission For Migrant Workers this year, the NGO said. More than …

Light rail passengers worried about safety after a woman was pushed onto the track

Sarah Chan Miu-ching, 21, lives in Tuen Mun and takes the light rail transit three or four times a week.   "I am definitely worried about falling on the track just like what happened to the woman yesterday as there is no platform screen door,” Ms. Chan said. A 47-year-old woman was walking on the platform at Tai Hing (North) station yesterday when a man whom she did not know suddenly pushed her onto the track. The woman’s left shoulder was injured. Police later arrested the suspect at Ching Chung station. Safety facilities at road junctions in the light rail system include traffic lights, road signs on light rail reserved area and vehicle height restrictions, yellow box marking and a bell before the light rail enters a road junction, according to the spokesman in the Legislative Council in 2011. Kitty Wong Yuen-yi, a secretary working in the MTR company, said that the automatic platform gates cannot be installed on the light rail because its operation system is different from other railway systems in the city.  “When a train approaches a station, only the driver can stop the carriage and open or close the platform gates,” Ms Wong explained.”Since the road is shared with other vehicles, it’s technically difficult to install the gates.” “There are no platform screen doors like at MTR stations. It’s so easy to be shoved onto the track just like what happened to the woman yesterday,”  Zoe Cheung Man-yi, 46, a Tuen Mun resident said. She urged the MTR corporation to pay more attention to accidents at railway stations and tackle them as soon as possible. In 2017, a man pushed a female cleaning worker off the track at the Yuen Long Light Rail Station. The worker had fractured elbows and injuries to her jaw and lips.

HK Philharmonic Swire Symphony Under The Stars back in-person after 2 year hiatus

The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra returned to the Central harbourfront on Saturday for its annual Swire Symphony Under The Stars, after being moved online last year because of the pandemic and cancelled in 2019 because of pro-democracy protests.  The orchestra presented an exuberant programme of classical dance music with four philharmonic musicians performing as soloists: violist Andrew Ling and trumpeters Christopher Moyse, Douglas Waterston and Robert Smith.  "This year's event is very exciting because all the pieces are classical dance pieces," host Harry Wong said in his opening remarks.  Hong Kong conductor Wilson Ng led the concert after music director Jaap van Zweden was denied a quarantine waiver by the Hong Kong government. All of his remaining 2021 appearances have been cancelled. About 12,000 people attended the concert live at the Central harbourfront on Saturday night and around 2,000 attended the live screening at the West Kowloon Art Park, Wong said at the concert.  "It's a very artistic weekend in West Kowloon as the concert also coincides with the opening of the M+ museum of visual culture and other events," said Paul Tam, executive director of performing arts at the West Kowloon Cultural District.  "West Kowloon is not just an entertainment hub, also for civic engagement, you actually enjoy both inside and outside and it's pet-friendly.” "It's good that the event is free and it is socially distanced to give people access to the orchestra," said Marcus Scarlett, who watched the live screening of the concert from the Art Park. "It's really nice that the host engaged the audience to be involved in the dance music," said Vanessa Kwan, who also attended the live screening at the Art Park.  The concert was also shown online via Zoom and live streamed on  the philharmonic website, official Facebook page and YouTube channel.  …

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