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Society

World Press Photo Exhibition 2020 returns to Hong Kong

The World Press Photo Exhibition opened today for two weeks after being cancelled in February by Hong Kong Baptist University over campus safety and security concerns.  The independent, Amsterdam-based organisation holds the awards, which is recognised as one of the most prestigious photojournalism contests in the world. The World Press Photo 2020 received more than 70,000 entries from 4,000 journalists. The Hong Kong exhibition is sponsored by the Netherlands Consulate General in Hong Kong and Macau. More than 150 photos are exhibited as this year’s winners across eight categories: Contemporary Issues, Environment, General News, Long-term Projects, Nature, Portraits, Sports and Spot News. Photo of the year "Straight Voice", won by AFP photographer Yasuyoshi Chiba, was on a protester reciting poetry amid a military coup and blackout in Sudan. A major theme of the Word Press Photo 2020 were protests held in places all over the world including Algeria, Sudan, Hong Kong and Chile. Other themes were climate change, transgender rights and territorial conflict.  Story of the year titled "Kho, the Genesis of a Revolt", was a series of 30 photographs on the youth-led protests in Algeria by photographer Romain Laurendeau. A series of photographs on the protests in Hong Kong titled “Hong Kong Unrest” by AFP photographer Nicolas Asfouri, was nominated for World Press Photo Story of the Year. The Covid-19 pandemic put a halt to more than half of the World Press Photo exhibitions worldwide and delayed Hong Kong’s exhibition, which was initially set to be held in the fall last year.  The exhibition was cancelled again in February by Hong Kong Baptist University after online criticism of the Hong Kong photos sparked safety and security concerns.  The exhibition is open to the public at theDesk in the United Centre, Admiralty. Online registration is required beforehand to enforce social …

Culture & Leisure

Cotton trees in bloom and the best places to see them

Hong Kong’s cotton trees are in full bloom. The flame-colour flowers mark the height of Spring in the city, especially along the road named after it: Cotton Tree Drive in the mid-levels. Native to India, Malaysia and the Philippines, cotton trees are widely cultivated in South China, Taiwan, Indo-China Peninsula and Malaysia by immigrants. According to Mr. Ken K. Y. So, arborist and t Chief Executive of The Conservancy Association, cultivation of cotton trees has been recorded in Hong Kong since the Qing Dynasty. Today, there are more than 8,000 trees according to Greening, Landscape & Tree Management Section of Development Bureau. Colloquially known as “hero trees”, cotton trees get the name for their straight and sturdy trunk., They are also named after the legendary hero of the Lizu people, one of the 56 ethnic groups indigeous to Hainan island in southern China. The late Hong Kong pop icon Roman Tam also had a song called Hung Min, the Cantonese name for cotton trees, in which he used the plant as a metaphor for the lofty and unyielding character of Chinese people. It also carries the connotation of cherishing and the promise of wealth and well-being. In 2015, a Wong Tai Sin District Councillor proposed to sterilize the cotton trees around town because he thought the kapok the plants produce was a nuisance. But the proposal was eventually dropped because there was no medical evidence that the white kapok affected the respiratory system. The scientific name of cotton trees is Bombax ceiba. It can be found all over the city, and there is a cotton tree lovers map marking out more than 40 places to admire the bloom. Many are in Tuen Mun and Mei Foo. The most famous place to see cotton trees blossom is along the Shek Kong …

Culture & Leisure

Anti-pandemic measures baffle florists in Lunar New Year Fair

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Vikki Cai Chuchu、Kwok Chiu Tung 郭昭彤Edited by: Zhu Zijin Cora 朱子槿
  • 2021-02-12

On Lunar New Year's Eve, buyers crowded the Mongkok Flower Market for last-minute shopping while the 15 government-organized festival flower markets were relatively quiet due to anti-pandemic measurements, which curtailed the number of stalls by half, limited visitors and slashed operating hours. The Hong Kong government once decided to stop organizing this year’s Lunar New Year Flower Fair but changed its mind to announce on Jan. 19 that the 15 flower markets would be opened for the festive period of seven days but with crowd-control measures. Many Hong Kong florists who planned to join the Lunar New Year Flower Market had already taken alternative plans including renting pop-up shops and selling online. “We have rented a shop for selling flowers, but the government suddenly changed after two weeks,” said Hung Chun-kit, 31, one of the florists. He said that they were not able to return the deposit to the shop owner and the government measurement made them lose their head. Even though the government exempted the rents for the 2021 Lunar New Year Flower Markets, it would not be enough to compensate florists’ extra costs and reduced sales. “The scale has been downsized with crowd-control measurement, customer flow is fewer than before. It is hard to gain profit even though the Lunar New Year Flower Market was uncharged, ” said Mr Hung. The scale of the fair had been down to 50%, the number of booths is limited. Therefore, florists continued to rent empty shops to sell flowers because these shops have no crowded-control measurements. “The government announcements are messing around our businesses, and this is an erratic situation for our industry,” said Tse Wong Siu-yin, 45, chairperson of Hong Kong Flower Retailers Association. Lam Sze-ching, 72, a florist who won the bid but did not join the fair while …

Culture & Leisure

Tsang Fook Piano Company to close in March after 105 years in business

  Tsang Fook Piano Company, Hong Kong’s oldest musical instrument store, announced on Jan. 22 that it will end its business in March. The descendant of the Tsang Fook family revealed the decision to close was made because the next generation had limited interest in inheriting the business. The announcement mentioned how the company has witnessed the ups and downs of the city for more than a century, and it is now time to say goodbye.  Its two branches in Wan Chai and Wong Chuk Hang are putting on a clearance sale before the closure. The founder, Mr Tsang Fook, learned how to make and tune pianos in Europe and America. In 1916, he opened Tsang Fook Piano’s first branch on Morrison Hill Road in Wanchai. In the 1980s, Mr Tsang set up a factory and manufactured his own ‘made in Hong Kong’ pianos named Morrison. The street nearby was named “Kam Hong Street” (translated as “the piano company street”) to commemorate the factory building. The brand earned its prominence not only in Hong Kong but also in South East Asia, Britain and New Zealand. Later on, the company expanded its business to music instruments wholesale, retail and education. Customers expressed their regret about the closure of Tsang Fook Piano Co. This afternoon, Mr Yip, a retiree, wandered around the showroom for half an hour, trying to turn back time. When Mr Yip was young, he visited the store regularly. He was the guitarist of a band. Since the 1950s, Tsang Fook Piano Company has been one of the few stores in Hong Kong selling foreign music instrument brands, including his favourite Gibson guitar.  “At that time, Tsang Fook was far more well-known than Tom Lee and Parsons Music. And now, the online world and the chains throttled its room …

Culture & Leisure

Art exhibition calls Hong Kong people to reflect on the meaning of migration

The Cypher Vol. 10: Migration A Self-Return Show exhibits works from five local artist units, calling people to reflect on the significance of migration. The art exhibition takes place at Negative Space in Wan Chai from Jan. 16 to Jan. 30. It is co-organised by Video Cypher, a platform that gathers local video creators since 2017. The 15-day exhibition is a sequel to the online screening last November, where five local artist units were invited to produce a video on the topic "Migration". Installations and decorations shown in the exhibition are a self-reflection of the artists as a form of continuation to their work. S Chan, the curator of the exhibition, mentioned that the artists emphasized the change of physical distance in their work of their own accord.  Ms Chan therefore decided to conduct the exhibition in a home-like area to illustrate a sense of familiarity for people to reflect on migration. The exhibition area is paved with foot massager pads to convey a sense of painfulness to the visitors. "The foot massager pads are associated with the sea water background on the poster, through which we would like to analogize the difficulty of migration," Ms Chan explained. The first artwork, "Road to Nowhere", is a two minute animation made by Ziki Cheung Kit-yin. The animation makes people reflect if migration is still a good option for people to escape from the problems in their home country and have a fresh start in a new place even when there are problems all around the globe.  An installation of bowling pins placed in front of a television with the ball is set in front of the screen, which Ms Cheung created to further evolve the message presented in her animation. "The bowling pins are associated with the television which trapped the …

Society

Art exhibition brings Hongkongers’ attention to the unattended cracks in the city

Local artist Yeung Tong-lung showcases his artwork which reminds Hong Kong people of the neglected parts of the city while COVID-19 has won all attention. Presented by Blindspot Gallery, in collaboration with a local independent bookstore -- Art and Culture Outreach, the Daily Practice is a solo art exhibition showing Mr Yeung’s artwork which was completed during 2015 - 2020. Amongst all pieces, Mount Davis, which illustrates the Yangge Dance Incident that happened in June 1950, is the featured artwork. Holding an art exhibition amid the fourth wave, though fewer visitors were expected, they believed that it was the right timing to make it happen. “In the past few months, Hong Kong people have been stressed over the pandemic,” said Wong Man-ying, one of the visitors. “Everyone seems to have their complete focus on getting themselves away from any possibility of being infected. To some extent, we became selfish. But in fact, there are people who really need help.” Although none of the art pieces demonstrates individuals being affected by the pandemic, or any pandemic-related scenes, showing the daily life of the minorities in Hong Kong could give visitors a heads up of the existence of these vulnerable groups, and that they could be suffering at this critical time, said Ms Wong. “It is rare for [Yeung] Tong-lung to hold a solo art exhibition or to display his work in any other exhibitions,” said Wong Cheng-yan, manager of Mr Yeung and gallery manager of Blindspot Gallery.  My Yeung’s last exhibition was in early 2019. Thus, even though the exhibition rolled out as the pandemic was prevailing, a lot of Mr Yeung’s friends and special guests still attended the opening reception.   Daily Practice’s opening reception was held on Jan. 19 at Blindspot Gallery in Wong Chuk Hang. The exhibition period …

Society

Hani Halal – The Award-winning business making Hong Kong Halal-conscious

From Halal lollipops to gelatine sheets, Hani Halal's online shop sells anything Halal as the name suggests. With no artificial colours, the shop's fan favourite sweet rose lollipop is hand-decorated for its customers.  In October 2020, the business won an award for its Medjoul dates at the LOHAS Expo cum Vegetarian Food Asia 2020.  The term Halal is an Arabic word that means "permissible." In the context of food, it refers to the dietary requirements of Muslims based on their Islamic faith. Muslims cannot eat pork and have special procedures for the slaughtering of meat, according to their religious rites.  Hani Halal, officially known as 3 Hani Enterprises Limited, started two years ago, in 2018, to bring a viable option for consumers of Halal food. Ms Leung, together with two other partners and the Incorporated Trustees of the Islamic Community Fund of Hong Kong, the official body for Muslims in Hong Kong, helped make her vision become a reality. "Food is the most easy way to connect with people, especially in Hong Kong. We talk business through food. So, food is something that is easy to connect with people," she said. She added that her business sells products globally, but mainly focuses on Hong Kong and Macau.   The award-winning business has also won a Manpower Development Award for 2020 from the Employment Retraining Board (ERB) for training both Muslims and non-Muslims on the dietary requirements of Halal food. There is a considerable demand for Halal food in Hong Kong, with 65% following a strict halal diet, according to research conducted by the Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  The city has 300,000 Muslims from various backgrounds, making up 4.6% of the city's population, according to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's Home Affairs Bureau. Muslims first came to the city during the British …

Society

Islamic content in textbooks spurs discussion on religious education in Hong Kong

  When Adeel Malik, an English teacher at a local school in Kwai Chung, saw messages on social media linking terrorism with Islam, he was upset. "They are basically explaining a social issue, but then they are connecting [terrorism] to Islam in a way which [the] Islamophobes know best," Mr Malik said. Screenshots of the two books, Journey Through History: New Topic-based Series and the Liberal Studies (LS) Advanced 2020, have been circulating in Muslim WhatsApp groups. The liberal studies book said some Muslims wanted to "safeguard" Islamic doctrines and cultures and they "started wars and attacks" against Western cultures. That ignited discussions on Islamic education among members of the Muslim community in Hong Kong.  More disturbing for Muslims living in Hong Kong was that a history textbook contained false information about Islamic history.   The book, among other things, claimed that Prophet Muhammad's face was shown in several paintings in the 15th century, but were discarded later to prevent idol worship of the Prophet and to focus on Allah [God in Arabic]. That's false, according to Islamic teachings. Islam prohibits drawings of any image of human beings. Raza Nasir Razi, an LS teacher at the Islamic Kasim Tuet Memorial College, is not surprised by what's in the books. During his career as a teacher in Canada, similar misunderstandings of the religion were common in the school curriculum. He found that misunderstanding of Islam to be "universal,"  referring to the common misconceptions of Islam in the West.  "A primary mistake is that the textbook author [said] that Prophet Muhammad is the founder of Islam," Mr Nasir said. "Muslims believe that Prophet Muhammad was the final prophet and believe in all the prophets mentioned in the Abrahamic faiths." But, Mr Malik is optimistic about the city's effort towards including Islamic education in …

Culture & Leisure

New Fashion Trend: Generation Z Promotes The Rise of Second-hand Market

Nearly 30 people crowded in a 200 feet factory building units for buying clothes. Ms Athena Lau Ka Yi, an 18 years old secondary student, was holding four to five pieces of clothes in her hand, still looking for more items. Many young girls shuttled between the clothing rack, eager to hunt for treasure among the pile of clothes. In the crowded space, a secondhand clothing weekend market was organised, attracted many young girls, mainly 15 to 23 years old. There were over hundreds of clothes in the market. They all looked new, but were actually second-hand. Clothes were divided into different styles which all looked young and fresh, particularly targeting young customers. "It is so fun to shop here," Lau said, "whenever I find clothes I love, it feels like a treasure hunt." Lau enjoyed her secondhand shopping in this market so much, as the price was very affordable while quality was good. Most of them ranged from HK$50 to HK$100, some were only HK$30. "Lifexit" is the organiser of this secondhand clothing weekend market, who collaborated with three online secondhand shops, "Retrovert", "Asian Angel" and "Chan4room". Ms Coco Lam started up Lifexit to provide a space for people to relax and enjoy their peaceful moment. It locates at an industrial building unit in Kwun Tong, provides space to organise all kinds of activities. Secondhand clothing weekend market is a new try. "As I can see the secondhand clothing trend growing among young people nowadays, and the message behind buying secondhand is meaningful," Lam said, "that's why I organised this weekend market." She hoped, through this market, more people can get to know more about secondhand clothing culture in Hong Kong. Secondhand fashion trend is growing globally and rapidly. ThredUP, one of the largest consignment and thrift stores in …

Culture & Leisure

Online concerts becoming a growing trend in China amid COVID-19

It was Nov. 3, He Xun was supposed to have self-study class in the classroom instead of putting on nice make-up and opening NetEase Music on her smartphone in the dormitory. It was her first time skipping the class just for watching the online concert of Arashi, a J-POP idol group.  Ms He is a 19-year-old student who lives in Baoding, a northern city in Hebei Province near Beijing. She has been a fan of Arashi since middle school and dreamt of watching the live concert.  In February, Arashi announced that the concert scheduled for April at Beijing's Bird's Nest stadium would be cancelled due to the epidemic, so as the concert in May at National Arena of Japan. To meet their fans' expectations, Arashi decided to conduct an audience-free concert on their debut anniversary day, with no recording provided. "As they will suspend the group activities from the end of 2020, this online concert might be their last concert so I couldn't miss it at all," Ms He said. Although unable to attend the concert personally, she still took out her hand lantern and turned off the lights, pretending to be sitting in the Arena. In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, live shows, unfortunately, became a victim at the hands of gathering restrictions. According to the China Association of Performing Arts, the COVID-19 outbreak in the first quarter of this year led to the cancellation of 20 thousand performances nationwide and a box office loss of more than 2 billion RMB. When the artists can't perform normally and fans feel down because of the cancellations of musical events, online concerts popped up with the ubiquity of digital music and advanced technology. Tencent Music Entertainment Group has launched TME Live by utilizing a variety of scenes, innovative performance modes, …