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By: Janice LoEdited by: Nicole Ko


Survival of food trucks in Hong Kong, difficult but worthwhile

A million dollars could be the down payment for a flat in Hong Kong. Yet, Gordon Lam Sui-wa decided to spend his million on his first food truck, Table Seven x W. Burger, in 2017. Three years later, food trucks still haven't caught on in the city and revenue is much lower than expected. But Mr Lam says he has no regret. "Food trucks bring me a lot more than just money," he explains. Former Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah proposed the idea of food trucks in Hong Kong in his budget in February 2015. Two years later, the Tourism Commission launched the first batch, mainly targeting customers at tourist spots. Disneyland, Ocean Park and Golden Bauhinia Square are among the first eight spots being selected. However, strict regulations and the lack of support from the government have doomed the food truck industry, a popular and thriving business in western countries. One of the regulations is restricting parking venues. Mr Lam, who is also the chairman of the Hong Kong Food Truck Federation, thinks that parking spaces are only located in districts where the government considers as tourist attractions. "The venues provided have the least flow of people even if it is located in tourist attractions like Tsim Sha Tsui," says Mr Lam.   He uses Clock Tower and Salisbury Garden in Tsim Sha Tsui as an example, which are located within a six-minute walk. "Tourists would visit the Clock Tower but not Salisbury Garden [where the parking venue is located]," he adds. The chairman says that members of the Federation had made suggestions to  the government on providing parking venues at places with a larger flow of tourists and locals such as Temple Street. But they receive no reply from the authority. "Even if we simply want to relocate a …

Culture & Leisure

Century-old Tradition Warding off Diseases Driven away by the Pandemic

Burnt smell of incense, flaming joss sticks and cheering of the people... the Fire Dragon have been parading along the streets of Tai Hang since a century ago. However, this year Mr Chan, who is the commander in chief of the Dance, felt hopeless about the spectacle's first cancellation ever. "A lot of customers and residents from Tai Hang still came to support us [despite we did it differently this year]," said the 74-year-old Fire Dragon Commander in Chief and Organizer proudly with a twinge of sadness in his voice. Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance is held during Mid-Autumn Festival every year. The tradition was legended to drive away diseases. Yet, the Tai Hang Residents' Welfare Association announced in early September that the annual ritual would be cancelled this year in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures.  Chan Tak-fai has been the Fire Dragon Commander in Chief for over four decades.  "I was told that it was my passion towards Fire Dragon Dance that made me chosen as the Commander in Chief," said the 74-year-old. Since the Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance was first held in 1880, the annual ritual was only cancelled once during the Japanese Occupation in December 1941 to August 1945.  Even during the SARS pandemic in 2003, it was held as usual. "The Dance was performed earlier than it usually was in mid-May that year, hoping to drive away the SARS," Mr Chan added.   The Dance that year was seen as effective in driving away the SARS pandemic.  As stated by the World Health Organization, Hong Kong has removed from the list of SARS affected areas on June 23 that year as there were no new cases for 20 consecutive days.   Yet, so far, there is not any scientific proof that the Tai …


Hong Kong legislation fails to curb animal cruelty

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Janice Lo、Jasmine TseEdited by: Yanni Chow、CarineChow
  • 2020-12-16

More than a dozen dead and injured animals, including hamsters, rabbits and cats, were found on a slope near Sham Tseng in Tsuen Wan in February. They were thrown from a building while still alive. Two suspects were not charged, and the Department of Justice dropped the case, claiming there was a lack of evidence. Details of their deliberation were never made public. The decision shocked many, including Fiona Woodhouse, Deputy Director of Welfare of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "It was beyond my expectation, beyond everybody's expectations involved in that case," she said. Last year, 656 cases of suspected animal cruelty were reported, with only 56 prosecutions made by the Hong Kong Police Force and the Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department, according to data provided by an AFCD spokesperson.  This is only a slight increase from the 6% conviction rate between 2013 and 2017, according to Legislative Council statistics. "When I read the animal abuse cases, when I hear about the news, when I see cases of cruelty, it hurts me, deeply," said Kim McCoy, founder of the Hong Kong Animal Law and Protection Organization. Stating that the legal system should provide a voice for the voiceless, Mr McCoy criticised the Cap. 169 Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance for being outdated and said the lack of duty of care does not prevent cruelty from happening, resulting in the low conviction rate for animal abusers.  The ordinance was introduced in 1935 and based on the United Kingdom 1911 Protection of Animals Act. While the UK act was replaced by the 2006 Animal Welfare Act, Hong Kong's law was briefly revised in 2006 to increase the maximum punishment to three years' imprisonment and a fine of HK$200,000. All animals — mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, fish, or …


Assault survivors: The inevitable trauma that follows

Divya, 23, sits on the rooftop of the building she lives in and savours the pink and purple sunset Hong Kong has to offer. It's her favourite place in the world, her comfort, like being wrapped up in a big, cosy blanket on a chilly day.  But in that same place more than 10 years ago was where she was sexually assaulted. At the time, she was 12 and her assaulter was 20. He was a relative who stayed under the same roof as her and would touch her inappropriately almost every day until she was 14.  Until one day, while it was happening, she blacked out. She doesn't recall anything apart from waking up and shoving him off her. After that point, family tensions started rising due to unrelated reasons and he was out of her life for good.  To this day Divya, who asked to be identified only by her first name, hasn't mentioned it to anyone in her family for she was terrified of victim-blaming, a prominent yet toxic culture in South Asian households where she was raised. Sexual violence is more likely to occur in patriarchal cultures, research has shown, and victim-blaming, when a woman is blamed for causing the assault because of her clothes or behaviour, is still prevalent. "I was afraid that people would think it was my fault," she said.  31 cases of rape and 414 cases of indecent assault have been reported as of August this year, according to statistics from the Hong Kong Police Force. While it showed a decrease compared to statistics last year, the reality is that many victims of sexual assault do not come forward. One out of seven women will experience sexual violence in Hong Kong, but nine out of ten stay silent in a report conducted …


The New Norm: An Online World

Since COVID-19, the pandemic has altered the way that we leave the comfort of our homes and socialise with one another. Seeing different faces on what were once the crowded streets of Hong Kong are a thing of the past. Instead, we see masked faces at half-empty restaurants and meet people through our computer screens. With the implementation of social distancing measures, schools, businesses and even fitness industries have interacted digitally instead, adapting to this new norm of an online world. More and more businesses are adjusting to a permanent work-from-home state. Tech giant Microsoft initially announced that it would not open its offices till at least January 2021, but later stated that it will allow its employees to permanently work remotely, even post-pandemic.  A booming app during the pandemic, Zoom, has been crucial in allowing such arrangements to thrive. Founded in 2011, the software company has specifically gained fame this year for its accessibility in areas such as school classes or business events. In the first quarter of 2020, Zoom's revenue skyrocketed to HK$2.96 billion (US$382.2 million) and its customer growth has risen by 378% from a year earlier.  But, people are adapting differently to this new virtual phenomenon.  Schools and classrooms, once filled with the sound of students chit-chatting while teachers tried to pass their knowledge onto them, are now empty. Instead, students wake up, grab their laptops, punch in a meeting number and passcode, and take their classes for the rest of the day in the confinement of their own homes. "I need to stay up really late for my classes till three or four in the morning, it's overwhelming," says Michelle Kwong, a student enrolled at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. She chose to stay back in Hong Kong and take all her classes online because …


The New Normal of Learning: Online Classes

COVID-19 has posed great challenges to the education system in Hong Kong. Schools have to adapt to online teaching to prevent the spread of the virus.  Under the incoming fourth wave of COVID-19, Mr Lobo Ho Lik-sang, the principal of the Maryknoll Fathers' School, said that there are many challenges to overcome, while teachers and students are improving in online teaching and learning under the new normal. Under the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers have to teach by using online conference software and assess students' performances online. Students are also facing uncertainties under the pandemic. Some have lost practical learning opportunities, some have lost the precious interacting moments with teachers and friends, some are having difficulties in online learning such as completing assignments and examinations. "Online teaching is a tough challenge for teachers," said Mr Ho."Zoom is a one-way method of teaching and it is hard to build an interactive environment," he added. Mr Ho also attributed to network infrastructure and the limitations of technology as the problems in the online teaching environment. While teachers find online teaching tough, college students feel helpless in completing assignments with insufficient assistance from teachers. "I have to do my assignments and exams without any help from teachers at home. I feel helpless,", said Jeremiah Choong Hon-lam, a student from the Heng Seng University of Hong Kong. Mr Choong also added that some practical training cannot be delivered online. "My assignments include practical training, and I can't do it at home," said Mr Choong. Mr Ho also echoed the concern raised by Mr Choong. "Not every concept and knowledge can be taught online. For example, experiments and physical techniques have to be learnt in a realistic situation." Mr Choong's situation is just a tip of the iceberg. According to a survey conducted by the Lingnan University …


Quarantine Hotels Regain Public Trust

A deploy of AI vacuum cleaner to sanitize the carpet, a regular disinfection of each guest room, a frequent disinfection of fresh air filter, a use of independent pipe for air conduction to prevent cross-contamination, and 24 hours available of masks and hand sanitizer, this is the epidemic control measure at Dorsett Mongkok hotel.  All that COVID precaution has made Pang Yui-man feel safe. She is spending a night at Dorsett Mongkok to celebrate her birthday. Her room was spotless. There was a precaution guideline pamphlet on the table. There are also bottles of hand sanitizer, and a Covid-19 test kit. The results would be available within 24 to 48 hours at the reception. Dorsett Mongkok partnered with Ecolab, a global leader in infection prevention, to use Ecolab's Disinfectant Cleaner 2.0 to clean and disinfect high touch areas, guest rooms and air-conditioning systems. Before visiting Dorsett Mongkok Hotel, Ms Pang was sceptical about the hygiene because the hotel used to provide a quarantine package and there were confirmed cases. Ms Pang carried her own protective gear, including her own towel, pyjamas and hand sanitizer when she visited the hotel.  "I now feel that the hotel follows hospital hygiene standards to protect their customers and staff," said Ms Pang.  Hong Kong's hotel industry has been severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Government figures show an 88.2% drop in visitors in the first five months of 2020. Hotel room occupancy rate fell from 59% in January to 29% in February according to the Global Database website. Many hotels started to switch their focus to local customers.  During the third wave of the pandemic in Hong Kong, a total of 25 hotels offered quarantine packages. According to the list of hotels provided by the Secretary for Food and Health, most quarantine hotels are …

Health & Environment

Closed-off management in Shenzhen communities during COVID-19 : People long for work resumption

Residential communities in Shenzhen are implementing closed-off management, some entrepreneurs at Peak Boulevard Estate long for work resumption due to concerns of financial losses of enterprises. "294 people's temperatures were tested, 0 shows abnormal..." After reading the daily community disease-prevention briefing, Tian Bao, the owner of a winery, as well as the resident of Peak Boulevard Estate, started his another closed-off day with the latest news of coronavirus pneumonia on social platforms. The COVID-19 coronavirus was found in Wuhan in December 2019. It first broke out as an "unknown pneumonia" at the Huanan seafood market and quickly spread throughout China during the next 2 months. Many countries in Southeast Asia, Europe, North America and even Africa were also affected. Up to now, according to the official daily announcement of the National Health Commission of China, there are around 57,900 existing cases, over 2000 deaths were reported. Shenzhen has cumulatively confirmed more than 400 cases, ranking at the top in Guangdong province. "Few people are going out now because everyone is afraid of the virus," said Zhang Li, a resident of Peak Boulevard Estate, "I only went out for some necessities which I couldn't buy from online stores. My family hasn't been out since the end of January."   Shenzhen Headquarters for Prevention and Control of Pneumonia Epidemic Caused by Novel Coronavirus officially announced the implementation of closed-off management in all the residential communities in Shenzhen on February 7. The property service department of Peak Boulevard Estate took actions on February 5th - unnecessary visitors are restricted from entering the community, residents have to declare their information through a Wechat program named "i Shenzhen" and use a specific system authentication code for entrance.  "We receive a daily report from the property services department, it concludes what the staff has done to prevent …

Health & Environment

Rumours on social media sparked Hong Kong's toilet paper run

For more than two weeks, toilet paper has been hard to come by at supermarkets around Hong Kong. At ParknShop in City One Shatin housing estate, shelves which normally used to be loaded with toilet rolls are now left empty. The store had to put up a sign on the empty shelves saying that as soon as toilet paper is restocked, each customer will be allowed to buy only two packets. Panic buying started after the rumours spread on WhatsApp stating that the factories in mainland China will stop working, meaning there will be a shortage of toilet paper in Hong Kong.  The posts which started to spread on February 5, were credited to an anonymous inner source from Wellcome, one of the biggest supermarkets in Hong Kong. Wellcome dispelled the rumours the same day, saying that no such worries were needed since the factories in the mainland are still supplying toilet paper regularly.  On the same night, the Hong Kong government has confirmed that there will be no shortage of major supplies such as food products. They also said that there was no need for the public to panic and called the rumour mongers were with "evil intentions." Olivia Cruz is a domestic helper who has worked in City One Shatin for seven years. Carrying two packs (16 rolls) of toilet paper outside Parknshop, she said that her employer told her to buy as much as possible. "My employer is always browsing in social media, that is where he got the news," Ms. Cruz said. The supermarket came up with a policy that each customer can only purchase up to two units of specific supplies. Not only toilet paper, rice, ethyl alcohol, and hand wash are also in the restriction lists.  According to Winnie Ip, a shop assistant in …

Health & Environment

Fo Tan: Residents refuse to leave homes following first coronavirus case

On February 6, Fo Tan saw its confirmed first coronavirus case after a middle-aged man had returned from Guangzhou.  The man, who remains unnamed, 42, lives at the Palazzo's Tower 10 and had travelled to mainland China and Macau over the Chinese New Year holidays to spend time with friends and family.  But on February 3, after returning to Hong Kong, he began to develop a fever and cough before being brought to the Prince of Wales Hospital, where he tested positive for the virus and has since remained in stable condition.  Rita Babani, who lives in tower two at the Palazzo, says she's worried that the virus could spread to other towers during the estimated 2-14 day-long incubation period.  "I'm just hoping for the best after the case in tower 10 and will probably stay indoors until all of this is over," says Ms Babani.  The Palazzo's management, however, has begun to take steps to ensure the well-being of its residents, including having hand sanitizers on each floor and cleaning its facilities twice a day.    Ms Lee, who did not want to reveal her first name in fear of losing her job at the Palazzo, believes that residents should avoid going out until the epidemic subsides.  "We are obviously doing our best in terms of ensuring the health and safety of our residents. I think it is also the responsibility of our residents to take precautions and only go out when required during a difficult time like this," Ms Lee argues. Local businesses have also taken a hit, as a result of the coronavirus case at the Palazzo.  Steven Chan, 26, who works at a local barbershop in Fo Tan, says that business has been adversely affected since the case. "I think it's no surprise that business has been …