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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, …

Culture & Leisure

Veganism on the Rise in Hong Kong

It's time for another family gathering… Eugenia Chow, a Hong Kong vegan blogger, pushed up a forceful smile and sat in front of a table filled with traditional Chinese dishes with her family. "One of the main difficulties I face with being vegan is the cultural aspect of eating in Hong Kong," said Ms Eugenia Chow. With Hong Kong's traditional food mainly consisting of animal products, she said eating with family is often difficult, especially as a younger member of the family, "It's difficult to be picky with food in front of elders as it may seem disrespectful." Concerned about the sustainability of eating meat and the effect of animal farming on the environment, Ms Eugenia Chow started an Instagram account three years ago to blog her vegan lifestyle in an effort to encourage more people to start a vegan diet by proving that it is not a difficult task to be a vegan in Hong Kong.  Today, she has more than 8,000 followers on Instagram, alongside a blog and podcast of her own, where she discusses topics such as sustainability and environmentalism. Ever since she started blogging on her social media accounts, more people have asked her for advice on their diets.  Within two years, there was a 50% increase in the number of vegetarians in Hong Kong, according to a 2018 survey conducted by Green Monday, an organization based in Hong Kong that promotes green eating habits.  Ms Eugenia Chow commented that the sudden growth in interest in veganism is because documentaries about animal cruelty have gone viral and people started to be more conscious about their food choices. Another part of the reason is the growing concern on the environment as well as their personal health.  A twofold increase in both the number of Deliveroo's restaurant partners …

Society

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 …

Society

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 …

Society

Policy Address 20/21: HK government to introduce cash allowance for low-income families

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor highlighted new public housing schemes for residents with plans to provide low-income families currently waiting in line for public rental housing with cash allowance over a prolonged period. In the live broadcast, Mrs Lam hopes that the new schemes will "get Hong Kong out of the impasse and restore people's confidence as soon as possible."  To meet the demand of about 301,000 public housing units, the government plans to use 330 identified hectares of land required based on the Long Term Housing Strategy Annual Progress Report 2020 to implement 316,000 flats within the next 10 years.  Locations involved the Tung Chung reclamation side, the agricultural and brownfields sides in new development areas such as Kwu Tong North, Fanling North. Other suggested areas include nine sites at Kai Tak and Anderson Road Quarry, and parts of Fanling Golf Course will also be used for public housing development.  "It is the prime time to create more land for housing," she said. Ms Leung, who has been in line for public rental housing for four years, rated the policy address one out of 10. "She [Carrie Lam] did introduce new public housing, but it seems that the majority would be sold in the market rather than being rented, which would have zero impact on shortening the waiting time for public rental housing," Leung said. Currently, the waiting time for public rental housing averages at 5.6 years, which has increased by 0.1 years compared to June this year. As of September, there are about 156,400 general applications for public rental housing and about 103,600 non-elderly one-person applications.  A new cash subsidy will roll out for people waiting for public rental housing. In the trial scheme, applicants with two or more persons, and elderly one-person applicants not living in …