By: Mereen Santirad、Clara IpEdited by: Eurus Yiu

Society

Hong Kong ethnic minority face racial discrimination when seeking for housing

Malik Omar Zaman, a Pakistani who moved to Hong Kong 6 years ago, has been rejected more than 35 times when seeking a house in Hong Kong. He looked at about 50 apartments before he finally got to rent the current one.  "We found a nice apartment and the agent told us the landlord is not willing to give it to you," said Mr Zaman. Mr Zaman lives in a 350 square meter apartment in Yuen Long, one of the less expensive districts in Hong Kong, with his wife and two daughters.  Mr Zaman is among the 90% of ethnic minorities in Hong Kong who face racial discrimination when looking for a home, according to a survey  by two local NGOs, Hong Kong Unison and Hong Kong Ministry Refugee Group in late 2018. And though Hong Kong’s discrimination law makes this illegal, there is little recourse for rejected tenants who are often forced into illegal sub-divided flats and other substandard housing. There are a total of 583,383 ethnic minorities residing in Hong Kong, constituting 8% of the whole population. This includes Filipinos, Indonesia, Indians, Pakistanis, Nepalese, Bangladeshis, and Sri-Lankans, according to the 2016 population By-census Thematic Report. Many of the ethnic minorities live in Tsim Sha Tsui, Yuen Long, Sham Shui Po, Tin Shui Wai, and Tuen Mun - where living costs are relatively low and around 40% of them live in a subdivided flat, according to the survey.  According to local ethnic rights advocacy groups, preconception about ethnic minorities and no legal charge for a rejection of tenants based on nationality are reasons for landlords not to lease apartments to ethnic minorities. The race discrimination ordinance in Hong Kong states that in any circumstances if on the ground of the race of that other person, a person treats that …

Business

Lunar New Year Fair stall auctions less bustle amid pandemic uncertainty

The two-day auction for Hong Kong's Victoria Park 2021 Lunar New Year Fair stalls that ended on Nov. 17 received a cold reception as pandemic's uncertainty looms over the city. Only 175 wet goods stalls selling flowers are available for auction this year, with six left unsold. Officials have banned dry goods stalls which sell handicrafts and toys, as well as snack stalls due to health concerns. Hong Kong's largest Lunar New Year market used to have around 300 dry goods stalls and three food stalls. "I'm confident about the market this year," said Lau Hoi-to, who has attended the fair for more than 40 years selling peach blossom, "It's culture. Chinese people always buy flowers on Lunar New Year." Mr Lau successfully bid for 22 stalls for the coming fair beginning on Feb.6 and lasting for six days. The single highest bid is HK$50,000, about nine times higher than the starting price HK$5,440. The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department halved the opening price for all bids from last year because of the city's economic downturn. The total revenue of the auction is about HK$2.5 million, increasing by 60% compared to the previous year.   Ha Fang-fang, an orchid vendor, successfully bid for one spot. She hoped the government could soon normalize cargo transportation procedures between Hong Kong's border with mainland China. Under the pandemic, cross-boundary goods vehicles can only enter the nine cities of the Greater Bay Area and need to return the same day.  "It'll be much more convenient then," Ms Ha said, "But I'm still confident about the fair. I expect local people will still come and buy our flower." Still, Ms Ha expressed her worries that there will be less people around in the fair due to the pandemic  The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said all …

Privacy concerns raise over government covid-tracking app

  • 2020-11-26

Privacy concerns arose among Hong Kong citizens as the government recently launched the "Leave Home Safe" mobile app for coronavirus contact tracing. The app allows citizens to record their whereabouts and the duration of staying by scanning QR codes at places they visit. Although the government said that the data would not be saved in its system and all records would be automatically deleted after 31 days, some people are concerned about the security of their private data. "I think they would save a backup behind the doors no matter what, which makes me less willing to go out as they would know where I went and who I met," said Elyse Cheng Nga-si, a university student. Jason Chan Ka-yau, an Eastern District Council member, said that the public nowadays are aware of privacy issues when the government implements policies that would potentially collect individuals' personal information. "Take the multi-functional smart lampposts as an example. Although the government claimed that the lampposts are used for collecting data such as traffic flow and air quality, there were still people asking me if they are used as surveillance cameras instead," Mr Chan said. Ng Hing Yu, 43, a shop assistant at a boutique, agreed that using the app involves the data security risks, but he said it is inevitable. "When you gain some, you would eventually lose some.  If you want to protect your health, you need to sacrifice part of your privacy," said Mr Ng. Although Mr Ng has downloaded the "Leave Home Safe" mobile app, he criticised that it  could only control the pandemic temporarily, "I am not saying that the app is not good, but the most effective way to put the situation under control is to implement mandatory testing for all citizens." Instead of relying on the mobile …

Society

Resolving disability through faith-the story of Sa'diyya Nesar

Sitting in a wheelchair, and spreading positivity, despite her adversities through her words and writings, a Pakistani woman talks about her struggles of being a woman with disabilities. One such personality is Ms Sa'diyya Nesar. She is a disabled woman, who wishes to empower people through her writing, speeches and community care initiatives. She has written a book called Strength from Within and was recently awarded the 2020 Social Justice Fellowship under the theme of 'disABILITIES and Empowerment: Less Assumptions, More Conversations' by the Resolve Foundation. Ms Nesar, born and raised in Hong Kong was diagnosed with myopathy, which results in weak muscles since birth. She uses a wheelchair and needs assistance when going out, when moving around at home and while laying down, where she has to use a breathing machine.  According to the Hong Kong Monthly Digest of Statistics, there were 578,600 people with disabilities, as of December 2013. Among them, 320,500 persons said that they had disabilities which had a "restriction in body movement." In 2013, she graduated from the University of Hong Kong with a Bachelor's degree in English Language and Literature and later began to write for different news outlets about her struggle with disability. She refers to her struggle as a result of "attitudinal barriers"— which refers to stigmas associated with disability. Ms Nesar also believes that it is an assumption that people with physical disabilities mainly suffer from physical barriers. "It's usually assumed that the main challenge for those with disabilities in everyday life is their health or the physical barriers that we face.  It's actually not.   The main challenge lies in being judged or being treated differently. Being treated differently in a way that is derogatory instead of accommodating. There's a lack of inclusion and the alienation that can come from that. …

Culture & Leisure

A fancy walk leads locals to meet ethnic minorities' neighbours

Arabic signs, Islamic symbol on restaurant signboard, grocery store filled with spices line along Kwai Chung’s Ping Lai Path, a community surrounded by industrial buildings. The local cultural tour group led by the guide, Minhas Rashad, an inhabitant of South-Asia speaking fluent Cantonese, shows visitors an ordinary day of the South Asian and the Chinese residents live and gather in the area - a feature the community is notorious for. "Hong Kong is a wonderful city for travelling. For tourists, Hong Kong might be a city with Buddhist temples, Cha Chaan Teng, natural scenery on islands," said Minhas Rashad. "However, for us, it is not the full story."  Having lived in Hong Kong for more than 30 years, Mr Rashad thinks a warm-hearted community is important, however, Hong Kong people are more self-conscious and too busy that they barely pay attention, care and communicate with neighbours. "Now, the situation has changed," Mr Rashad said. "This is not a typical cultural tour as usual. Unlike Chungking Mansions, Ping Lai Path is way beyond tourist attraction," said Fikiyo Yiu, an officer from Hong Kong S.K.H. Lady MacLehose Centre who organizes this community project for ethnic minorities uniquely. The tour is operated by a community centre called Kung Yung Koon, that welcomes visitors to get a glimpse of the South Asian immigration history and living culture by exploring in Kwai Chung district. It is one of the projects of 'Our community of Love & Mutuality: Nurturing Cultural Diversity & Community Legacy in Kwai Chung'.  "As to enhance cultural sensitivity in Hong Kong, our project targets residents who live nearby the tour instead of foreign tourists," said Ms Yiu. Ms Yiu thinks the tour is a starting point for Hong Kong people, especially those living nearby to contact South Asians eating and living culture.  …

Politics

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 …

Business

Invest for your Future: Retirement Savings should now be on Track

Retirement may seem a long way off for young people, but it is never too early to invest for better retirement life. Once entering the workforce in Hong Kong, fresh graduates will start to invest via the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) - an employment-based retirement protection system. Under the scheme, both employee and employer are required to make a monthly mandatory MPF contribution, which is equivalent to 5% of the employee's relevant income, with a cap of HKD$30,000 per month. Employees with monthly earnings less than HK$7,100 are exempt from contributing to their own MPF accounts, but their employers are still required to make a 5% contribution.  In that case, for someone who has worked for 43 years, he or she will have a minimum of $3 million of savings under the MPF Scheme.  However, MPF hasn’t made everyone feel secure enough. The Financial Literacy Monitor 2018 reveals only 34% of surveyed Hongkongersres aged 18 to 79 were confident that they were financially well-prepared for retirement. According to UN World Population Prospects 2019, the average life expectancy for Hong Kong people has reached 85 years, ranking the top in the world. As people in Hong Kong generally retire at 65, retirement can potentially last for more than 20 years. During retirement, your monthly living expenses, medical fees as well as the cost of inflation can come up to much more than you expect. According to the Census and Statistics Department, the average monthly expenditure of retired households is $22,634. However, the survey done by the University of Hong Kong shows that respondents expected an average monthly retirement living expenses of about $12,600, which is less than half the actual monthly expenditure from the census and statistics department survey. Nearly 80% of the respondents considered that the average monthly expenditure after …

Health & Environment

Small community stores in Tai Wai are helping people in needs by giving out medical and cleaning supplies

Due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, people are anxious about it. To prevent themselves from getting the virus, they started to panically purchase medical and cleaning supplies. Some other daily necessities such as toilet paper have all been snatched as well. People now have high demands for medical products. However, their demands can’t be met due to the supply shortage. To soothe the problem, some stores have decided to sell the goods at a low price or even give it out for free to people who are in need.