The Young Reporter

Pro-democracy Office Avengers opens first physical store in Mong Kok on Saturday

Office Avengers, Pro-democracy online shop selling artworks related to Hong Kong social movement, opened its first physical store in Mong Kok on Saturday afternoon with the purpose to facilitate the movement. Passing through the queueing line and into the store, one can see designs of Pepe the frog and LIHKG pig, both the symbolic cartoons in Hong Kong social movements, on keychain, T-shirts, etc. The store also sells products with mottos and quotes from the social movement. Part of the profit goes to young adults in need and designers. "Places to purchase these unique products are sparse. We wish to provide a platform for them to sell their creative products and contribute to the social movement at the same time" said a volunteer for Office Avengers and its collaborator HMarket who wished to stay anonymous. Part of the reason why Office Avenger branches out offline is to provide a more convenient space both for young adults to showcase their creativity and for the public to purchase products as a contribution to the social movement. "Not only do I get to purchase pro-democracy products designed by people who hold the same political stance as I do, but I also get to contribute to the movement even though it's little," Ms Cheung, who refused to give her full name, said in the queue before opening hours.  Both Office Avengers and its collaborator HMarket have promoted pro-democracy information and taken an active role in raising money for young adults who have become estranged from their family due to the social movements. They provide funding to teenagers for them to creatively design their own products, which will then be sold in the stores. The store owners are expecting to provide job opportunities to young adults in the future. "Hope they could earn a living …

Civil Human Right Front demands release of 12 detained protesters and freedom of assembly

Civil Human Right Front's proposal to demand the release of 12 anti-extradition bill protesters detained in Shenzhen was met with an objection letter from the police on Sep 25. The police mentioned that past parades held by CHRF usually turned into violence that damaged buildings and hurt people, citing also from the current social distancing rules that public gatherings of more than four people are not allowed. "Commissioner of Police believes that it is necessary to oppose the protest, so as to maintain public safety, public order and protect others rights and freedom," the letter of objection read. Upon the decision of the police, parade convenor Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit replied that the police have exhausted all their powers to prohibit the holding of parades and assemblies. The two sides held a meeting on Sep 24 on details of the protest. "The meeting only took 15 minutes. I could not feel any sincerity from the police," said Mr Sham. "Hong Kong has not had a legal parade for seven months since February," Mr Sham said. "Freedom of assembly is the right of Hong Kong people but it has been severely exploited these days." CHRF later announced on social media that they would appeal against the decision. Chan Ngai-chung, an anti-government Hong Kong citizen, said that the action of police is not surprising. He said, since social unrest occurred last year, the government has started to limit the freedom of assembly and speech, and most demonstrations have been restricted or prohibited. "This is expected but doesn't mean it is right, for a democratic society, freedom of assembly is essential," Mr Chan said. Chan Kwok-cheong, supporter of police, said that the police are responsible to maintain social order and public safety. He believed that it is understandable to ban the rally as some …

Concerns over press freedom arise due to HK police's change in "media representative" definitio

Student journalists and freelance journalists in Hong Kong worry about their press freedom in the future as they are currently excluded from the recognition of the police. Hong Kong police announced on Sept. 22 that only journalists who have registered with the Government News & Media Information System and those from "Internationally recognized" media outlets will be identified as "media representatives." Student media from six local universities later released a joint statement, citing the press freedom under the Basic Law, to condemn the decision. "Article 27 of the Basic Law of Hong Kong stipulates that Hong Kong residents shall have freedom of speech, of the press and of publication," the statement read. The statement also expressed the worry that the amendment would strip individual freelance journalists and non-mainstream media journalists of reporting rights. Sharron Fast, a media law professor and deputy director of the Master of Journalism programme at the University of Hong Kong echoes the issue as well. "I think the immediate impact is that it is drastically narrowing the definition of journalists," Ms Fast said. Ms Fast added that student journalists who may not be part of a GNMIS recognized organization have a reason to worry because the frontline police officers now have "the very subjective authority to make determinations and to improve hand-picked journalists who are able to cover a protest scene." Heung Sum-yee, a final year journalism student at the University of Hong Kong worries that there will be more events in the future that will diminish the press freedom in the city. "A lot of exclusive news in protests was reported by freelance and online media journalists. If they are not able to report at protests, it would be a great loss for the news media industry in the city," she said. Sheryl Lee Tiantong, …

Calls for improvement in online learning

Ignoring the piles of unfinished assignments on his desk, Michael Shum, a form two secondary school student, sits in front of his computer to play video games all day. Since the government announced the suspension of  classes, spending hours in front of the computer has become his new normal. Amid the coronavirus outbreak, schools in many countries, including Italy, India and the United Kingdom, have closed down in order to slow down the pandemic transmission. Ahead of the other countries, two months before it turned into a pandemic, schools in Hong Kong already stopped  face-to-face classes and shut down the schools indefinitely. Most teachers have since transferred to remote teaching. Students can turn their homes into classrooms with one click on their computers and get on to their schools' e-platform. Zoom is a popular web-based video conferencing tool for many universities worldwide, whereas eClass is often used in secondary schools to provide digital learning resources. Since the SARS epidemic in Hong Kong in 2003, the government here has been using the slogan "Suspending classes without suspending learning". The aim is to encourage schools to adopt eLearning in classrooms and offer digital content for students' self-learning outside the classroom. Apart from enabling eLearning during emergencies, the government also wants to build up an interactive way for students to participate in class actively. "E-Learning is a leading trend today and beyond, therefore the Hong Kong government has been promoting  eLearning for almost 10 years," says Dr. Li Ka Kui, the chairman of the Hong Kong Publishing Federation.   But Michael Shum has his reservations on eLearning. He thinks the only benefit of eLearning is that he can stay at home all day, without rushing to school. "I simply don't like eLearning especially when we are forced to suspend all our classes,"Michael says with …

Hong Kong's underprivileged face unequal access to healthcare

Fong Cheng-Mui, 75, relies on the government's old age subsidy of approximately $3,000 per month. She prefers to treat herself at home rather than go to a public clinic when she falls ill.  "I once went to Queen Elizabeth Hospital with severe abdominal pain and waited for over five hours, but never got treated. I went home and took care of myself," said Ms Fong. Ms Cheng is one of thousands of people in Hong Kong, who have not been getting adequate healthcare. A study by the Chinese University of Hong Kong in late 2018 found that 8.4% of respondents did not seek medical care due to financial problems. Others avoid public clinics because of overcrowding, according to a local non-governmental human-rights advocacy group.  While many in Hong Kong can afford private healthcare with minimal fuss, the city's lower and middle income residents face long queues and hours of waiting at public hospitals. Consultation for primary outpatient care costs $50 per visit with speciality services at $135 for the first visit and $80 for a follow-up, according to the Hospital Authority's website.  "When I found out that I had a lump in my stomach, I rushed to a private hospital because I could not wait at a public hospital because I was afraid that it might be cancer. But the charge was so high that I had no choice but to come back to a public hospital," said Fung Ho-Chu, 71. Last year, for non-urgent cases, waiting times to see a doctor at a public hospital ranged from a minimum of six months to nearly three years, according to the Hospital Authority's website. For semi-urgent cases, it could take up four to seven weeks.  Last year, Ms Fung had to wait five months to see a specialist in a public …

Fight or flight: How do Students Abroad Cope with the Global Pandemic

As schools around the world shut to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, university foreign exchange students struggle over the decision to return home or stay put.  In Europe, non-essential incoming travel was banned on March 17, stirring worries among the student community as air ticket prices shot up.  Rachel Khun, a German exchange student in the Netherlands, decided to go home, despite Germany having one of the highest numbers of confirmed cases in Europe.  "I left the country when face-to-face classes at the university were suspended. Staying at home reassures me," said the 21-year-old, adding that her home in the German countryside has fresh air and open space and she can follow the news in her mother language. "I will not return to the Netherlands unless classes or exams are resumed on campus," said Ms Khun, who was sharing a home with three other students there.  Also studying in the Netherlands, Chiara Pierucci, 21, from Italy, decided to stay as the number of confirmed cases there are fewer than in her hometown.  "My parents asked me repeatedly to go back home before all flight connections would be interrupted, but I thought that staying in the Netherlands was safer," said Ms Pierucci, who lives alone in a studio apartment with a private toilet.  Italy is the most hard hit country other than China, with case numbers reaching 64,000 and a death toll over 6,000 as of March 24. Meanwhile in the Netherlands, the number of confirmed cases is just under 4,000.  Ms Pierucci said her main concern is the spread of the virus. "The possible development of the virus is scarier than catching the actual virus," she said, though she also worries about the Dutch private healthcare system, which requires insurance. Alitalia, Italy's main carrier, requires passengers to wear …

Art review: Artists discuss video art in the 90s at Art Basel

Technological improvements gave way to video art in the 1990s, and serve as the new gateway to film and new media art forms. "[After] the post-film period [and entering] into the period in which video was more easily accessible in terms of equipment, what became important [for the development of video art] was the fact that video cameras became cheaper," she said. "The Final Cut Pro was a very important element that any artist could have just as one had tubes of oil paint," Ms. Malani, whose work expanded from the realms of painting to film and video since the 1990s, added. Final Cut Pro is a video editing software released by Apple in the early 1990s that is packed with features such as colour correction, sound mixing and special effects. Priced at a mere US $1000, the programme was significantly cheaper than those released by the film industry's then superpower, Avid, whose systems ranged in prices from US $50,000 to $100,000. "My idea for making video art was because the language of the moving image is much better understood. Montage is very quickly understood by an Indian public because they are used to seeing it in advertisements, television and all of that," she said. The emergence of video arts in Asia during the 1990s was attributed to technology and culture, Zhang Peili, a Chinese contemporary artist and the Director of the Embodied Media Studio at the School of Intermedia in Hangzhou, China said. "Technology is being imported to China and is known by the people in China and used here. On the other hand, people's awareness of arts and culture changed. And because of that, they would abstain from what they did before," he added, "That's how video art came into being." Barbara London, an American curator and founder …

Art Review: The Stars Exhibition in Art Basel

This year, the 10th Chancery Lane Gallery especially displayed early artworks of a trio of avant-garde artists to commemorate the 40th anniversary of a historically important art event, which challenged official aesthetics and called for free artistic expression in the Post-Mao Era. Wandering at the colourful Art Basel, visitors could not help but slowed down their pace when a series of black and white photographic documentation came into sight. On an early morning in fall in 1979, the year after China initiated the economic reforms, a group of non-academy Chinese artists exhibited a total of 163 works with distinctive Modernist style and rebellious thoughts, displayed on the iron railings of The National Art Museum of China (NAMOC) after they were deprived the right to use an official exhibition space. Curators named exhibition with the word, Star, which means each star exists as an independent illuminator rather than the only illuminator during the Cultural Revolution when Mao Ze-dong was hailed as sun. This art exhibition without official permission gained huge supports from art students and famous artists at that time. On the following day of the opening, however, the police from the Dongcheng District of Beijing arrested two core curators, Huang Rui and Ma Deng-sheng, and acclaimed that The Star Exhibition affected the daily life of the masses and social order. After two months of demonstrations and negotiations, folk artists from The Stars Art Group eventually got legal permission to exhibit their artworks at the gallery of Beijing Artists Association, which attracted more than two hundred thousand audience. The second edition of The Stars Exhibition was successfully held in 1980, yet, it aroused the panic among senior figures of Chinese art field. An art exhibition jointly organized by Huang Rui, Ma Deng-sheng and Wang Ke-ping was banned due to the Anti-Spiritual-Pollution Campaign launched …

Weekend Review: Word art on signboards remains in Hong Kong

Two of our reporters join a signboards tour in San Po Kong and uncover the untold tale of a historical Chinese word font. Ever heard of the Chinese font Li Han Kong Kai ? Before it stepped foot into the world of typography, it was made up of 3600 Chinese word samples from Li Han, who used to be a signboard calligrapher before he retired. Those word samples were later passed down to his grandson Lee Kin-ming, who is continuing Mr.Li Han’s work in their family-run factory. "Signboards of large companies are everywhere and everyone can notice them,  but it is not the same for small shops' handmade signboards," said Mr. Lee Kin-ming, who holds regular guided tours in the weekends to introduce long-standing signboards in the city that are usually overlooked.  Compared to other old  districts such as Kwun Tong, most of the shops  in San Po Kong have a longer history so their signboards are still reserved, according to Mr. Lee in one of his guided tour held in the weekend before. He said signboards in Hong Kong are usually clear and visible from a distance. "Hong Kong shop keepers prefer grandeur fonts with thick strokes. For example, the Beiwei font looks  imposing since hooks inside the characters are relatively large," he said. Bone clinics and martial clubs usually use the Beiwei font for their  signboards, while the Clerical script font is for more artistic uses, he added.   For sign boards with  more complicated characters. Mr. Lee said  he uses rulers and French curves to draw curved alphabets such as the English letter "U" and for numbers,  he photocopies those on his calendar and follow them to draw. For example, the Biaukai font, of which strokes in words are usually separated,  has been disliked by many signboard …