By: Jasmine TseEdited by: Simran Vaswani

Society

Migration and misinformation amid uncertainty in Hong Kong

Jean Francois Harvey from Harvey Law Group, along with over 60 immigration companies, were at the International Immigration and Property Expo on March 27. However, what Mr Harvey witnessed there left him dumbfounded. “I saw consultants openly telling people to buy start-up visas. I also saw others squarely selling jobs — it may not be a real job, but it’ll get them the visa,” Mr Harvey recounted. Paying money for a job offer is illegal in Canada, but such blatant advertising at the expo shows how many people are not aware of Canadian immigration policies, making them susceptible to misinformation and fraud. Immigration fraud has long been an issue in Hong Kong, as Mr Harvey observed throughout his 29 years as an immigration lawyer. “But now, there’s a big increase in interest in immigration, so there’s more misinformation than ever,” said Mr Harvey. The number of Hong Kong passport holders applying for temporary or permanent residency in Canada reached 8,121 in 2020, hitting its highest point in at least five years despite border closures because of Covid-19, according to Reuters. And with misinformation comes fraud. Canadian Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco Mendicino released a statement on March 5 to commemorate the government’s Fraud Prevention campaign, saying, “Immigration fraud targets people who want to come to Canada in good faith. Sadly, the pandemic has exacerbated these troubling activities, with new ways for dishonest individuals to defraud clients.” A 2019 investigation by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation exposed how an immigration consultancy targeted Chinese nationals and charged them up to $170,000 Canadian dollars (HK$1,052,754) for a fake job. CBC also found that Hong Kong had reported “high rates of fraud or suspected fraud, and only 15-22% of arranged employment offers were found to be genuine.” Nancy Caron, a spokesperson for Immigration, …

Society

Ethnic minority entrepreneurs break the glass ceiling

It was almost 8 pm when Anushka Purohit walked into a bakery in Tsim Sha Tsui. Fixated at the smell of freshly baked, glossy and sweet bread that lingered hours after it came out of the oven, she hoped to buy a piece before the store closed.  As she was getting ready to pay, the cashier said to the rest of the staff, “Last order of the day.”  On her way out, Anushka noticed a tall pile of trays, with each one separated by a layer of assorted breads. “What are you going to do with all this bread,” she asked, curious to know what will happen to all the leftovers.  “Throw it,” the cashier said while the other staff prepared black garbage bags. Anushka was shocked by the amount of fresh bread that was going to waste.  Days later she saw someone drinking beer. That got her thinking about how to turn one fermented product into another and that’s when Breer was born.  Anushka and her three co-founders of Breer use unwanted bread to make beer.   In 2019, Hong Kong saw 109.5kg of domestic food waste and 51.5kg of commercial and industrial food waste per person, according to the Environmental Protection Department. With craft beer and breweries becoming increasingly popular in Hong Kong alongside what seemed like a never-ending food waste problem, Breer seemed like a good solution. She first came up with the idea for the Enactus Social Innovation Competition at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. After representing Hong Kong in the national competition, the team decided to pursue it full time, using the money they won from the competitions as capital.  Almost half of store-disposed foods in Hong Kong is leftover bread, according to a report by Breer. The city also produces 3,600 tonnes of …

China's billion dollar "blind box" toys craze

  • 2021-04-15

Lin Tangtang is shaking a box against his ear in a brightly lit toy shop. He is trying to guess from the sound and the weight of the box to see whether the doll inside is the one he wants. “All of my friends are buying blind boxes,” the 21-year-old university student said. “Every time I go out to eat, I will go to the store to buy one or two of the new series of dolls. It’s already a habit of mine.” He has bought over 200 figurines since July 2019, each of them costing 59 yuan (HK$70). A blind box is a type of packaging that keeps its content hidden. The box is identical in every way and nobody--including the store owner--knows which toy is inside.  In recent years, the "blind box craze" has gradually become a phenomenon in China, attracting many young consumers to buy mystery boxes and in order to collect the toys inside.  Pop Mart, the largest company in the Chinese blind box industry, launched a US$674 million (HK$5.2 billion) initial public offering in Hong Kong last year. The driving force behind China's blind box business is pop culture. The market was valued at 29.48 billion yuan (HK$35.38 billion) in 2020, a 44% increase year on year, according to a Chinese data analysis platform iMedia. The products in the blind box mainly just toys with images authorized for production by the original creators.  There are mainly two types of intellectual property (IP) rights for Pop Mart’s blind box toys: existing IP from well-known movies, cartoons, games and historical figures with a story background such as characters from the Harry Potter books. Then there are original IPs designed by artists without story content, such as a popular green-eyed blonde hair pouting lips girl, Molly, designed by …

Society

A Hong Kong Calligraphy Master

Every corner, wall and even the floor of King Wah Signboards in North Point is covered with the calligraphy of  Au Yeung Cheong. There are also photos of his visitors, both local and from overseas.  It’s a kind of creative mess with ink, plastic boards and paper all over the floor.  The shop has been around for 30 years but recently relocated to Kam Ping Street after the State Theatre building was sold.  The 65-year-old Chinese calligraphy master is well known for his remarkable and unique real script Mr Au Yeung has created more than a thousand signboards in Hong Kong, starting from writing, text carving to installing lightboxes.  He started when he first arrived in Hong Kong in the 1970s and later set up his shop King Wah Signboard. “The real script was created and used by emperors as the official typeface since the Tang Dynasty,” Mr Au Yeung claimed.  He described the strokes as Guan Yu’s blade, clean-cut, awe-inspiring, which is different from the Song Ti font and regular script typeface.  “The Real script shouldn’t look as if they don’t have heads or tails. The characters are tightly structured and as sharp as a knife cutting a watermelon,” he explained. As  Mr Au Yeung demonstrated his calligraphy, he almost threw himself into a trance, savouring the connotation his work seemed to bring him. He then compared his work with the calligraphy of  Wu Zetian, the only empress of China. “Don't you think mine is more beautiful than hers?” he asked.  It might be a common misconception that expensive brushes and ink are needed for the artform. But Mr Au Yeung revealed that his brushes and inks were bought from a hardware store nearby.  “What matters most is the skill you have in handling the brushes and how familiar …

Health & Environment

Hong Kong priority groups get first doses of BioNTech vaccine today

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: AMALVY Esten Carr Claude Ole EriksenEdited by: Simran Vaswani
  • 2021-03-10

Priority group Hongkongers were given access to the German-made BioNTech vaccine today for the first time since the first 585,000 doses arrived in Hong Kong on Feb. 27.  In addition to the elderly, priority groups include food and beverages servers, food delivery workers, transportation operators, construction workers, property management staff, teachers, and tourism staff. Priority group Hongkongers can schedule bookings at any of the 29 community vaccination centres spread throughout the city, which opened their doors at 9 am.  At the EDB Kowloon Tong Education Service Center, people showed up in droves to receive their first shots. EDB Kowloon Tong Education Service Center is one of 29 vaccination centres in Hong Kong. “I got it this morning and at least for me I've had the whole morning already and I feel fine nothing feels any different I guess," said Priyanka, a local woman on site this afternoon to accompany her father to get his first vaccine.  Both Priyanka and her father opted for the BioNTech vaccine against the widely available Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine, as distrust of the Sinovac vaccine spreads among Hongkongers.  “According to all the available information, I think this is one of the most reliable, safe, and protective vaccines that we can get worldwide,” said Dr Y. K Lo, who also made his way to the Kowloon Tong Education Service Center this afternoon to receive his vaccine.  Dr Y. K Lo stands outside the Education Centre in Kowloon Tong after having received a BioNTech vaccine today. Distrust in the Sinovac vaccine started when a local woman, 55, and a man, 73, died this past week after receiving their first shot. Although Hong Kong health authorities have ruled out the vaccine as the main cause of death, Hong Kongers are not convinced.  The efficacy rate for the Chinese vaccine varies …

Health & Environment

Another Covid-19 ambush lockdown at Tsim Sha Tsui Mansion

Yet another ambush-style lockdown is being implemented tonight at Tsim Sha Tsui Mansion, Nathan Road. The lockdown comes after the Centre for Health Protection reported nine new Covid-19 cases citywide on Monday, one of which was from the building. The case from Tsim Sha Tsui Mansion is a 41-year-old housewife who developed a blocked nose on March 4 and tested positive for the virus the next day. Tsim Sha Tsui Mansion consists of many subdivided homes, guest houses, hotels, stores and restaurants.  Before Chinese New Year, several ambush-style lockdowns were implemented as a way to mass-test residents overnight in buildings with untraceable or growing cases.  In early February, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced that all lockdowns would be on hold ahead of Chinese New Year as cases decreased.  Social distancing measures were also loosened after the holidays as the fourth coronavirus wave came to a gradual end.

Society

Ethnic minority women: race and gender in "Asia's world city"

Unkind looks on the MTR, judged for not looking like or having the same skin colour as the majority and even getting turned away from jobs solely because of ethnicity. Ethnic minorities face discrimination on almost every corner of Hong Kong's streets. More than 80% of ethnic minorities said they face discrimination on a day to day basis, such as in shops, markets or restaurants in a study done by the City University of Hong Kong. It can be even tougher for ethnic minority women, who may face both racial and gender discrimination. On top of that, the city has seen a big change over the past year from its usual buzzing atmosphere amid an ongoing pandemic and over a year of social unrest that fills the air with unwavering tension. Ethnic minority women account for more than 100,000 of the 7.4 million population, with the majority being South Asian. This excludes foreign domestic helpers, who make up a large chunk of the female population according to the 2016 Population By-Census.  Marium Fatima Awan, 22, a Hong Konger by nationality says she's been turned away from jobs because of her Pakistani ethnicity.  Born and raised in Hong Kong, with the ability to read, write and speak Cantonese fluently, Ms Awan says that’s done anything but work to her advantage. In fact, it’s proven a double standard. Employers expect her to speak more than two languages because of her ethnic background.  But not all ethnic minorities can pick up the local language that easily. Ms Awan says more needs to be done to include and inform them about what goes on in the city.  The younger generations were reported to have a better understanding of Cantonese, according to data from The Census and Statistics Department. In 2016, almost 65% of ethnic …

Health & Environment

Carrie Lam and government officials visit lockdown area Sham Shui Po on second day of ambush style lockdown

The government announced several more ambush-style lockdowns in Sham Shui Po, Jordan and Tin Shui Wai shortly after 7pm on Tuesday night. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, Secretary for Food and Health Sophie Chan Siu-chee and Secretary for home affairs Tsui Ying Wai visited the lockdown area in Sham Shui Po at 11pm on Tuesday night. Carrie Lam left shortly after taking to staff in testing tents and several citizens. A large number of police officers standby in the lockdown area.  17 blocks on Ki Lung Street, Nam Cheong Road, Tai Nan Street and Pei Ho Street are covered in Sham Shui Po lockdown. The testing is expected to finish by 7am Wednesday morning. Citizens are demanded to stay in until their testing results show negative for COVID-19. Ambush style lockdowns have taken citizens by surprise the last two days.  Several teenage girls were taking a tutorial class while the government announced the lockdown in Sham Shui Po, according to Apple Daily. The girls were let go after doing a COVID-19 test.  “We were racing out of the lockdown area when they sealed off the area,” Macy Leung, a housewife who lives in Sham Shui Po said. She added that the ambush-style lockdown was disturbing and she highly doubts its efficiency.  Mr Cheung Kin-chung, Chief secretary for Administration said on Monday that multiple sudden lockdowns will take place until Feb 11 ahead of Lunar New Year.