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By: Malick GaiEdited by: Robin Ewing

Society

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 …

Society

Panic-buying Emerges Before Typhoon Kompasu Hits the City

Hong Kong people scrambled for food after the Strong Wind Signal No.3 was in force, in order to have enough food before No.8 Gale or Storm Signal was issued today.  Fresh meat and seafood in the Wellcome Superstore in Sha Kok Shopping Centre were sold out at noon, as Hong Kong people were panic-buying to get prepared for the approaching typhoon Kompasu. Chan Fung, a customer at Sha Kok Market, said she returned home empty-handed yesterday because of the stockout. She visited the wet market again this afternoon and bought more than usual, including two bags of vegetables, five oranges and a fish, which cost around HK$200. Prices were up for approximately 10%, Chan added. Still, she was not able to purchase any meat, as they were all sold out earlier. “I didn’t buy much, the food is just enough for tomorrow, because I guess the typhoon will only stay for one day,” Chan said.  The second typhoon in the city this month is approaching after Lionrock’s visit on Saturday. Typhoon Kompasu will be nearest to Hong Kong in Wednesday's early morning, so the No.8 Gale or Storm Signal issued at 5:20pm will be in force at least before sunrise on Wednesday, according to the central briefing by the Hong Kong Observatory. “Strong to gale force north to north easterly winds, occasionally storm force offshore and on high ground,” said Yeung Kwok Chung, Acting Senior Scientific Officer of Hong Kong Observatory, in the central briefing at 9 pm. "Winds will moderate gradually tomorrow night, it will also be cloudy with heavy squally showers and thunderstorms." Queues in the Wellcome Superstore in Sha Kok Shopping Centre were extended to the back of the store.  Tang Man-wai, a customer at the Wellcome Superstore, had only a box of sushi and four cup noodles …

LIVE: Hong Kong Policy Address 2021

  • 2021-10-06
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Kiki Lo、Kylie Wong、Jayde CheungEdited by: Shameel Ibrahim、LI Chak Ho Samuel
  • 2021-10-06

This is the live coverage of Hong Kong Policy Address 2021, the fifth and last policy address in Carrie Lam's term of office. Stay tuned for more in-depth coverage on our website and social media platforms. TYR on social media: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hkbutyr/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hkbutyr/?hl=en Twitter: https://twitter.com/hkbutyr   1:39pm: That is the end of Carrie Lam's final and lengthiest policy address. Please stay tuned for further stories from The Young Reporter.   1:18pm: Patriotism is the root of Hong Kong to be the pearl on the palm of the Central Government.    1:14pm: Under the double safeguards of the electoral reforms and the implementation of national security law, Carrie Lam believed Hong Kong will continue to “play an irreplaceable role” and will “pass on the torch” to the new generation.    1:15pm: she faced pressing challenges due to social unrest and Covid, however she was able to pull through because of the support from the Central government and her family.      1:13pm: Carrie Lam urged citizens to vaccinate.   1:12pm: Carrie Lam thanked the people of Hong Kong for helping fight Covid-19, and Hong Kong will continue to prioritize opening with the mainland.   1:11pm: Support will be provided to local youngsters developing in mainland China, especially in the Great Bay Area.   1:09pm: The central government will continue facilitating the flow of talent between Guangdong and Hong Kong, according to Carrie Lam.   1:05pm: Carrie Lam said she will double the quota for the “Quality Migrant” scheme, which mostly targets “highly skilled” and “talented” people from the mainland. 1:04 #policyaddress #policyaddress2021Hong Kong needs to attract more non-local talent so Mrs Lam said she will double the quota for the “Quality Migrant” scheme, which mostly targets “highly-skilled” and “talented” people from the mainland. @hkbutyr — Yimeng ZHANG (@KateZHANG_YM) October 6, 2021   1:05pm: It …

Society

Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble cancelled after nine months, leaving some disappointed

The Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble was terminated based on differing anti-pandemic strategies, the Hong Kong government announced Thursday.   As Singapore moves to a "COVID-resilient" strategy, the Hong Kong government said it is still aiming for zero local cases.   The much anticipated travel bubble was delayed three times since it was announced in November last year as Hong Kong and Singapore both dealt with waves of increased COVID-19 cases.   The bubble would have removed quarantine restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers landing in Hong Kong.   “From Hong Kong’s point of view, the air travel bubble should not worsen the epidemic,” said Hong Kong Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah at a press conference this morning. “We hope normal activities can continue under the premise of epidemic prevention, so we will continue examining the situation.”     Yan Lau and Feliz Lee, Hongkongers who live in Singapore and manage the YouTube channel “Kong Wife”, said they have been longing for an opportunity to visit their relatives in Hong Kong after moving to Singapore more than a year ago.    “We expected the air travel bubble could help us return to Hong Kong more easily, ” said Ms Lee. “We are so disappointed.”   Current arrivals from Singapore are required to quarantine in a hotel for 14 days, with costs running from HK$7,000 to more than HK$20,000.    “Time is what matters the most,” said Ms Lau. “It is not fair when we are not allowed to come to Hong Kong directly, even though we are already vaccinated.”   Singapore will allow arrivals from Hong Kong to enter Singapore without quarantine from Aug. 21.      Singapore tour plans by Hong Kong travel agencies, including EGL Tours and Miramar Travel, were dashed. However, the travel agencies said …

Politics

Pakistanis with Hong Kong Residency Rights Say Return to City Being Thwarted Due to Vaccination Rules

    Hundreds of Pakistani nationals, attempting to return to Hong Kong, claim they are being turned back even if they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus and have rights to live and work in the city.   According to Apna Hong Kong Network, a Facebook social group that provides information about Hong Kong in English and Urdu for South Asians living in the city, more than 2,000 Pakistani nationals with Hong Kong residency rights approached them for help because they are having difficulty returning to Hong Kong.   “Hundreds of Pakistanis booked flights on 9 and 10 of August, and were sent back from Dubai,” Sadaf A. Muhammadi, the founder of Apna Hong Kong Network, told The Young Reporter. “They were informed at Dubai airport that vaccinations from Pakistan are not accepted by the Hong Kong government.”   “Families have been separated for months... some people have lost jobs because they have been away for too long,” she added.   The Hong Kong government suspended flights from Pakistan, India and the Philippines - all considered high-risk countries due to high coronavirus infection rates - beginning April 20 in its effort to prevent the further spread in Hong Kong.    In recent changes to Hong Kong’s regulations allowing international flights, the Hong Kong government will allow overseas travelers to enter Hong Kong beginning Aug. 9, depending on which region they came from. Overseas regions have been re-categorised into Group A specified places (high-risk), Group B specified places (medium-risk) and Group C specified places (low-risk).   According to the latest regulations, Hong Kong residents from Pakistan can return to Hong Kong only if they are fully vaccinated, and able to present negative results for COVID-19 test conducted within 72 hours, and confirmation of room reservation in designated quarantine hotels.    “Only …

Society

Hong Kong Brands and Products Shopping Festival opens, Unexcited by govt’s consumption voucher

The 2021 Hong Kong Brands and Products Shopping Festival, which was traditionally held during winter, opened on Friday in hopes to tap the buying spree boosted by the government’s HK$5,000 consumption voucher scheme.   For its first time held in summer, the festival will last for three days from August 6 to 8 at the AsiaWorld-Expo in Chek Lap Kok on Lantau Island.    After the opening ceremony of the festival, Edward Yau Tang-wah, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development of Hong Kong, said the electrical consumption voucher was intended to boost the economy.   “Despite securing the enterprise, employment can also be secured by only spending a dollar,” he said. “We hope this goal can be achieved in the short run.”   The festival, used to be held annually in December or January in Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, offers a variety of goods, as well as entertainment like shows, lucky draws and booth games for visitors.   The organiser, the Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong, expected the festival would have an enthusiastic response as registered citizens started to receive a $2,000 electronic voucher from the beginning of August. The balance of the voucher will be paid later this year.   “Some customers bought boxes of products using the vouchers,” said Ms Lee, who refused to disclose her first name. She is in charge of HOME+, an online shop that offers frozen food, groceries, household appliances and beauty products.   “We expect a 10% to 20% increase in membership after the festival,” she said.   The owner of Tak Shing Sea Products Co., Ltd. Ms Woo, who withheld her first name, said   while half of the customers purchased with electronic vouchers, the sales were limited. “They spend no more than $2000,” she added.   “We didn’t fantasise about …

Society

HK Swimmer Haughey Breaks Asian Record, Wins Second Olympic Silver Medal

  Hong Kong people cheered and applauded on Friday as they witnessed local swimmer Siobhan Bernadette Haughey breaking the women’s 100m freestyle Asian record and winning her second silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics.   Collected her first silver medal in the women’s 200m freestyle two days ago, Ms Houghey finished the 100m freestyle at 52.27, only 0.31 seconds behind Australian athlete Emma McKeon, who made an Olympic record at 51.96.    Setting the new personal and Asian best, the second silver makes Ms Haughey the first Hong Kong swimmer to attain two medals in the Olympic Games.   Speaking at the press conference, Ms Houghey said 80% of the performance depended on her mentality. “I broke the personal best at the semi-final and achieved my goal. I just wanted to enjoy the 100m race,” said Ms Haughey.      Tokyo Olympic marks Hong Kong’s best performed Olympic Games so far, including two silvers achieved by Ms Haughey and a gold from Cheung Ka-long in the men’s individual foil fencing which is the city’s first medal in the game.    Approximately 500 audiences at APM, a shopping mall in Kwun Tong cheered for the 23-year-old while watching the live broadcast together.    Crowded on two floors, supporters brought along cheering tools like pom poms that made loud sounds by hitting and decibels reached the maximum as Haughey’s silver medal was secured. No one could help but cry out their excitement and appreciation.     Ten-year-old swimmer Yu, who withheld his first name, was inspired by the outstanding performance of Ms Haughey. “I will practice swimming more often, but winning an award in the Olympic Games is too difficult for me,” he said.   Audiences showed both the national flag and regional flag of Hong Kong after Ms Haughey won the …

Society

New non-invasive colorectal cancer test may lower the cost and risk of detection

  Researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong have identified four unique bacterial genetic sequences found in the faeces of patients with colorectal cancer. By testing for these markers, known as M3, the scientists have developed a new non-invasive test that can detect colorectal cancer with up to 94% accuracy.   The CUHK team used the M3 test on more than 1100 cancer subjects. Patients were asked to swab their faecal samples at home. The swabs were then stored in plastic vials and sent to the laboratory for analysis. The results were available in four hours.   Based on a risk scale, doctors can then use the results to predict the likelihood of the patient developing cancer, and offer dietary recommendations to reduce the risk.   Patients with high risks may then be asked to have a colonoscopy to look for cancer cells and polyps.   The M3 test can also be used to detect recurrent polyps which may develop into cancer. The scientists used the M3 test on more than 200 patients who have had polyps removed within five years. The M3 test can detect the polyps with up to 90% sensitivity.   Compared with current tests for colorectal cancer, the M3 test is more sensitive than a faecal immunochemical test and less invasive than colonoscopy. Patients do not need to prepare the bowels for testing and there is no risk of rupturing the bowels or gastrointestinal bleeding. The cost is also much less than colonoscopy since patients can collect the samples themselves.   “We are cautiously optimistic about the popularisation of the M3 test,” said Prof Francis Chan Ka-leung, Dean of Medicine and Director of the Centre for Gut Microbiota Research at CU Medicine.   “The cost for the M3 test is subject to different needs of …

Society

Top student in this year’s Diploma of Secondary Education exam says “ Hong Kong Is My Home”

  Seven students achieved the top score of 5** in at least seven subjects in the 2021 Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education. Three of them also have 5** in an eighth subject, making them so-called super scorers.   Students could check their results on the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority website from 7 am this morning.    The top students are from Diocesan Girls School, St. Stephen’s Girls’ College, St. Mary’s Canossian College, Po Leung Kuk Tang Yuk Tien College, Queen Elizabeth School and Ying Wa College.    Chan Lok-yung, the first student from St. Stephen’s Girls’ College to get the top score, wants to study medicine at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.    “Hong Kong is my home, I grew up here. I love this place,” Ms Chan said.   At school, she liked to investigate social issues as a Chinese debate team member. She recognised the importance of liberal studies in the DSE curriculum. But from next year, the Liberal Study paper will require candidates to provide short answers or multiple choices only . Students will no longer need to make any personal judgment.   “Cancellation of the contents (liberal studies) doesn’t mean we will think less critically. We can learn it through other means, such as reading the news from different perspectives,” Ms Chan said.    This year’s DSE candidates spent one-and-a half years on online schooling because of the pandemic, out of the three-year exam preparation.    Ms Chan was upset because she was not able to meet her schoolmates, but her teachers and friends played crucial roles in her exam preparation. “My friends and I studied as a group so that we could supervise each other and share our studying progress,” she said.     Of the 49,976 candidates, who sat the …

Society

Hong Kong Government Land Confiscation Scheme Forces Closure of Popular Farmers Market at Mapopo Community Farm

  After more than a decade in operation, Mapopo Community Farm held its last farmers market on Sunday before permanently closing due to the Hong Kong government’s Land Resumption Ordinance.    The farmers market sells locally produced vegetables, mainly from the northeastern part of Hong Kong’s New Territories, including Ping Che (Fanling), Tsiu King (Sheung Shui) and Kwu Tong (Sheung Shui).    At two in the afternoon, about 15 people lined up outside Mapopo Community Farm to snatch up locally grown fruit and vegetables, including winter melons, pumpkins, longan and dragon fruits. Most products were sold out within the first hour.    Chatting and laughing during their visit to the market, customers filled shopping bags with green vegetables and fruits. Some visitors brought their pets and kids to the market, to witness the decline of Hong Kong local agriculture. People expressed gratitude to the farmers by leaving messages and colorful drawings in the farmer markets’ autograph book.    “The villagers are exhausted fighting for their lands,” said 26-year-old Ms. Wong, who withheld her first name. She said she has heard of the land resumption scheme since she was a student.     The scheme, officially announced in 1998, allowed the government to claim the land for residential purposes, in order to handle the growing population in Hong Kong.    Farmlands in Kwu Tong North, Fanling North and Ping Che/Ta Ku Ling have been identified by the Hong Kong government to be new development areas.The rural areas in northeast New Territories will be used for commercial and residential land.    However, the development plan was rejected by the farmers. They worried that the residential and commercial land development would reduce the amount of farmland, thus deteriorating the farmer’s livelihood.    Following several legal challenges by residents of Ma Shi Po Village, …