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By: Lokman YuenEdited by: LAI Tsz Ching

Society

Run Under Epidemic - Standard Chartered Marathon 2021

The Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon returned this year with 15,650 participants after being suspended in 2020.

Society

Extra quarantine hotel rooms for foreign domestic helpers snapped up in minutes

Additional quarantine hotel rooms for arriving domestic helpers were snapped up in minutes, again, leaving employers and agencies upset over the lack of supply.  The government added 500 quarantine rooms for foreign domestic helpers at the Rambler Garden Hotel in Tsing Yi with booking beginning today. But many Hongkong families were left hanging. “I think all slots were snapped up within two to three minutes, like the other two quarantine facilities, ” said Chan Tung-fung, chairman of the Hong Kong Union of Employment Agencies. The hotel will release new rooms every day, the Labour Department said.  The Rambler Garden Hotel is the third facility, following the Silka Tsuen Wan Hotel and Penny's Bay Government Quarantine Centre, to be designated for the mandatory 21-day quarantine for arriving foreign domestic helpers, mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia.  Chan estimated that it would take another six months for the 6,000 foreign domestic helpers waiting to enter Hong Kong to arrive, taking into account the current daily quota of a maximum of 50.  Chan also called the appointment arrangement “very unsatisfactory” as the hotel’s server had a system error when bookings began at 9:30 am today.  Yoyo Kwok, who has employed a foreign domestic helper currently waiting in Indonesia, said she was unable to make a booking for her to come to Hong Kong.  “I was very angry. When I reached the booking page at 9:30, there were already no room vacancies for 21 consecutive days, ” Kwok said. Rambler Garden Hotel did not reply to requests for comment.  Kwok added that she attempted to book the Penny’s Bay quarantine centre, another designated quarantine facility, several times but was unsuccessful, saying that there was a serious lack of quarantine rooms for foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong.  The 500 new rooms are in addition …

Culture & Leisure

Premier League Opening: Kitchee 1-0 Eastern

In the opening game of the 2021/22 Hong Kong Premier League on Saturday afternoon, Kitchee, the champion of last season, beat the Eastern by one goal at the Mong Kok Stadium. In the 14th minute, Gavilán, No. 11 of Kitchee, used a made-up shot to score, which made his team win. Under the current COVID-19 prevention policy, the stadium can only accommodate up to 4,800 spectators, compared to 6,664 before the pandemic. 3,163 people came to watch today’s opening battle, reaching 65% of the maximum capacity.  “The fans here are very enthusiastic. I've never been so close to the players in the game,” said Wang Jida, a university student who came to watch the competition for the first time. The opening game is the focus of the league as the two teams were the champions and runners-up last season. Kitchee got 37 points last season to win the title while Eastern got 34 points, only one victory from the championship. Last time the two teams met in the League, Kitchee defeated Eastern 2-0, which directly led to the latter ranking second with a victory gap. This time they still cannot get a result of victory. The competition rules of this season are the same as last season. The eight teams will play in three cycles. After the first two cycles, the top four in the tables enter the “Championship group” to compete for the title in the last cycle, while the remaining four teams enter the “Challenge group”, in which they need to avoid ranking the last and being regulated. HK FC and HK U23 have newly joined the Premier League this season. The returning teams are Kitchee, Eastern, Lee Man, Southern District RSA, Tai Chung, and HK Rangers.  “This year's champion will probably still be Kitchee. Only Eastern and …

Society

Homeless might struggle under government-mandated contract tracing measure using the ‘LeaveHomeSafe’ app, NGOs warn

  NGOs warn that the homeless population of the city, especially those without a smartphone, might struggle to access government facilities and services as the government seeks to mandate the use of the LeaveHomeSafe app when entering government buildings. Anyone entering government buildings including government employees and the public will have to use the government-mandated “LeaveHomeSafe” mobile app for accessing government buildings and offices from 1 Nov, according to a press release.  “I usually go to the municipal services buildings and community centres nearby. I will take a rest in the library and take showers in the toilet of the stadium,” said Wong, who has been homeless for 30 years and sleeps on the Mongkok footbridge.  Nicole Yee, a volunteer of The Salvation Army Integrated Service for Street Sleepers said the homeless relied on government services and that the new measure would affect their daily lives. “Many of them don’t know how to write, using smartphones will definitely be harder for them to enter the facilities,” Yee said.  The measure comes after concerns from the government of potentially false information given in the forms which are filled instead of the app  "We notice that incomplete or even false personal particulars may be provided as we currently allow the registration of only the registrant's name and contact number as an alternative,” a government spokesman said.  The spokesman added that false personal particulars may “give rise to the risk of a community outbreak”. Under the new arrangement, people aged below 12 or aged 65 or above, and those with disabilities will be exempted from using the app. “The government has to let the homeless who do not have smartphones sign the form anyway and help them out from this issue,” said Sze Lai-shan, the community organizer of the Society for Community Organisation …

Society

HKU Pillar of Shame removal deadline in limbo

  The Pillar of Shame, commemorating the Tiananmen Square incident, is yet to be removed despite the 13 Oct deadline set by the management of the University of Hong Kong. The management gave the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China the deadline. However, the sculpture is still standing in university premises  "We are still seeking legal advice and working with related parties to handle the matter in a legal and reasonable manner," the University of Hong Kong said in a statement. The Pillar of Shame is eight metres tall. It has been standing outside Haking Wong building on the campus of the University of Hong Kong since 1998. The decision of demand for removal is speculated due to conflict with the Hong Kong National Security Law, but the spokesman of the university did not wish to comment on the speculative reports.   Chief Executive and chancellor of University of Hong Kong Carrie Lam Cheng yuet-ngor commented on the removal issue, stating it is the university's  matter, and expected the management team to follow the school’s policy on handling the issue. Jens Galschiot, the Danish sculptor of the pillar, said he has hired a lawyer to follow up on the ownership and placement of the art piece after the institution announced the deadline, according to local media reports. The sculpture commemorates and signifies the 1989 June 4th movement in Beijing. Also known as the Tiananmen Incident, students and teachers held a month-long protest from April 1989 to June 1989 with demands ranging from greater civil rights and the end to corruption among government officials. “I would argue that it is still me who owns the sculpture and that it is permanently on loan for exhibition in Hong Kong,” Danish sculptor Jens Galschiøt told Hong Kong Free Press. …

Business

Hong Kong stock surges after holidays

Hong Kong stock closed more than one percent higher on Friday (October 15), as investors returned from holidays catching up with the global rebound driven by a good start of the corporate earnings season.  The Hang Seng Index soared 1.5 percent, or 368 points to 25,330 after recovering from a day low of  24,929 in early trade.  The Hang Sang TECH Index climbed 1.92 percent, or 119.16 points to 6,318.91 at the close with Tencent soaring 2 percent and Meituan increasing 4 percent.  The Hang Seng Index climbed 2 percent or 493 points this week, which was shortened to three trading days due to a typhoon and the Chung Yang Festival holiday. The US unemployment claims released overnight also encouraged stock buyers in Hong Kong. The number fell to 293,000 last week, the lowest level since the pandemic began.   The Shanghai Composite Index increased 0.4 percent or 368 points to 3,572.  In China, the restrictions of home loans in some of the biggest banks were removed on Friday, which also boosted Asian stocks.  Although the latest move is beneficial to developers, it is unlikely to solve their liquidity problems, head of China and Hong Kong research at CGS-CIMB Securities Raymond Cheng told Bloomberg.    Chinese property stocks bucked the market trend and were lower on Friday. China Overseas Land lost 3.57 percent and China Resources Land was lost 1.71 percent.   

Society

Cleaners asked to clear debris of fallen plants under Typhoon Kompasu

  Safety concerns arose as cleaners were asked to clear plant debris while Typhoon Kompasu was striking Hong Kong.  “I am afraid to work because there are so many trees in this estate, but my manager told me to avoid them and continue working,” said Hong Xiujuan, a cleaner from Chun Wui Kee Company Limited.  Typhoon Kompasu skirted around 400 kilometres away from Hong Kong in the early hours today. The Hong Kong Observatory hoisted the Gale or Storm Signal No. 8 until 4.40 pm and recorded sustained wind speeds of up to 120 kilometres per hour. Hong said her cleaning company told her to clean up the leaves and branches of fallen trees. The company cannot be reached for comment. At 9.15 am, a 5-meter tree collapsed and fell on three vehicles at the open parking lot at Tung Tau Estate in Wong Tai Sin, local media reported. As at 4 pm, the 1823 Government Call Centre received 72 reports of fallen trees, according to a government press release. The Labour Department states in its Code of Practice in Times of Typhoons and rainstorms that employers should give “prime consideration to the safety” of staff on duty and provide equipment such as “safety helmets with chin straps, raincoats and waterproof safety boots.”  “The cleaners should not be working actually. The fallen trees in the estate will be handled by the engineering and gardening group of the Housing Authority after the typhoon,” said Lam Wai, a district councillor of Kwun Tong. “I think the government could monitor how the commissioners arrange jobs for their workers but they could not intervene actually, '' Lam said. Hong Kong was lashed by two typhoons this week. LionRock, which struck the city last week from 500 kilometres away, left at least 14 injured. The …

Society

Clogged sinks, awful food and poor service: Travellers shocked at Hong Kong’s quarantine hotels

When Lau Kai Ching decided to come to Hong Kong from Malaysia, she found she had limited options in choosing a quarantine hotel. “I found that there were few designated hotels and most of them were full, especially those which were highly recommended by users on social media,” she said. “So I had to choose one called Ramada Harbour View.” Once she arrived in September, things were not what she expected. “The most bothersome thing is that, in the toilet, the pipe doesn’t work very well and the water gets clogged very quickly. I asked some people to fix it but the staff from the hotel said that they had no permission to enter the room of the traveller who was in quarantine,” she said.  Lau said she wanted to change rooms but it required permission from the Department of Health. “Then I made a phone call to the department and the operator told me he had received the report and would arrange it as soon as possible,” she said. She said she received no reply after that. “Fortunately, after three days, the blockage of the water pipe eased a little. It could barely work but the water flow was so slow that it took a long time to wash,” she said. In Hong Kong, all inbound arrivals from outside of mainland China and Macau are required to quarantine in government-designated hotels that must be booked before boarding the plane.  In September, 92,398 people arrived in Hong Kong, ccording to the website of the immigration department. Those from “high-risk” countries, such as the US, the UK and much of Europe, are required to undergo a 21-day quarantine and should be vaccinated.  They are also required to undergo six compulsory tests during the period followed by a week of self-monitoring. Currently, …

Hong Kong stock rises second week driven by Alibaba's rebounds

  • 2021-10-08

The Hang Seng Index closed (HSI) at 24,837 points on Friday with a 0.55% gain as the Chinese tech giant Alibaba (9988) continues to recover from its historical low point on Oct 5, after the positive sign released by the purchase from a big investor. Alibaba jumped 5.5%, Tencent (700) increased 2.2%, phone maker Xiaomi (1810) increased 1%, and food delivery giant Meituan (3690) surged by 2%, despite receiving a 3.4billion yuan fine from China's anti monopoly act, with Hang Seng Tech Index outperformed by rising 34 points. The stock price of Alibaba in Hong Kong leaped 7.2% after Daily Journal released the deal message on Thursday — the firm needs some common stocks to maintain "cash equivalent" other than US Treasuries, since "the current U.S. Treasury rate of return is so low," according to Daily Journal's Statement, rallying up the prices of other China concept tech stocks as well. HIS surged more than 3% yesterday. The HSI opened high in the morning and closed low during the noon break, dragged by a 6% incline of WuXi Biologics, and moved back to positive as tech companies remain the gain. AAC Technologies Holdings (02018) dived the most by 13%, with an estimated 51% to 61% drop in the third interim net income. At the same time, the sports stocks retreated, believing to be the fatigue in the retailing market. Li Ning (02331) decreased 5.8%, and Xtep (1368) dropped 6%. The HSI fell to its supporting level of 23,000 in September, while Alibaba (9988) has plunged 32% since the start of the year before Charlie Munger's overweight. The 97-year-old billionaire American investor's newspaper publisher and investment firm Daily Journal expanded the position in Alibaba (BABA) by nearly 83%, owning more than 302,000 shares with $45 million stakes worth. Chinese tech companies have …

Society

Policy Address 2021: Carrie Lam acknowledges integration problem for ethnic minorities; expert says nothing has changed

The Hong Kong government will assess the effectiveness of its four-year-old scheme to enrol more non-Chinese speaking students in local kindergartens, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in this morning’s policy address.  But local experts and ethnic minorities have little hope anything will change. “It is encouraging that the minorities are part of the policy address, but for me, the challenging aspect is, where is the political will to truly enact all of this?” said Jeffrey Andrews, the first ethnic minority in Hong Kong to have run for the Legislative Council. “There’s so much money already given, but for me, I haven't really felt or seen any impact at all.” In the 2017-2018 school year, the government implemented the Kindergarten Education Scheme, through which eligible children are able to attend local non-profit kindergartens with a three-year subsidy, according to the Education Bureau.  As part of the government’s effort to integrate ethnic minorities into the community, kindergartens that admit more than eight non-Chinese speaking students are provided with additional funding. “Hong Kong actually does a good job in accepting non-Chinese, but one of the major things is the language barrier… I learned Chinese at a very young age. I found that very, very, very useful,” said Rubin Robert Fernie, a Scottish Filipino born and raised here. While the majority of the city’s population speak and write Chinese, less than one in five ethnic minorities are able to read Chinese, according to the Census and Statistics Department. In the 2016 Population By-census, 8% of the city’s population are non-Chinese ethnicities, an increase from 6.4% in 2011. “The policy is for sure important. But how do you implement them? In kindergarten education, how do you make sure ethnic minorities can learn Chinese in an equal environment?” said Leung Yuk-ming, associate director of …