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Hong Kong Baptist University’s new president plans “personalised pathways” for students

  • 2021-06-17
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: LI Chak Ho Samuel、WANG Yichun、Shameel IbrahimEdited by: Shameel Ibrahim
  • 2021-06-17

Professor Alexander Wai talked to The Young Reporter about his new job and his plan to lead the university towards change Alexander Ping-Kong Wai assumed office as president of Hong Kong Baptist University on Feb 1. In his interview with The Young Reporter, he emphasised the importance of embracing change in university education, and the challenges posed by the social environment the pandemic and more. Hardship of students and graduates under the pandemic Prof Wai is the first university president to assume office in Hong Kong since the COVID-19 outbreak. He said it’s tough for graduates to find jobs but disagreed that companies are unwilling to hire them because of the social unrest in 2019. “I’ve heard that some corporations said they would not hire our students. I don’t believe that. To me that’s not a big concern. The concern is actually the economy,” said Prof Wai. He added that the low vaccination rate in Hong Kong is to blame for the economic slowdown. On university life during the pandemic, Prof. Wai recognised the challenges of mixed- mode teaching. Students can be on campus for classes, but face-to-face activities are limited. “I would like my students to be able to adapt to changes and tolerate differences. (The pandemic) is unpleasant of course. But we can make the best of it,” said Prof Wai. Personalised Pathway of Study in the planning Since late January, Prof Wai has been hinting that an “important project” was underway at HKBU. In the Planning Exercise Proposal which will be put forward to the government, HKBU will include what Prof Wao described as “personalised pathways” of study. If approved, students will be able to design personalised study plans aimed at achieving specific goals, distinct from academic programmes currently offered. “Students who know they may not fit …

Society

Trade Unions call for protection for workers of food delivery platforms

Delivery workers of digital food delivery platforms are not guaranteed a minimum wage and do not have reasonable work injury compensation, the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions said in a press conference today. The HKFTU asks the government to reexamine the employment status of gig workers, including delivery workers of digital platforms. All three major digital food delivery platforms, Foodpanda, Deliveroo and UberEats, recruit delivery workers under self-employed contracts.  “The platforms use algorithmic management to control the actions and quality of service when they are in fact the employers of the deliverers,” said legislator Micheal Luk Chung-hung, who worked as a deliverer for a few hours. Mr. Luk said in other countries and regions, governments recognize delivery workers as employees of the digital platforms and are not considered self-employed. In Taiwan, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the Ministry of Labour confirmed in October 2019 that workers of six food delivery platforms, including Foodpanda and Uber Eats, were employees.  In Spain, the legislation was passed in March 2021 that recognised delivery platform couriers as employees, in line with a Supreme Court judgement that confirmed a deliverer of Glove, a digital food delivery platform, was an employee. “Although we have questioned the (Hong Kong) government about this issue, they have always responded by claiming there are 'no statistics, no research and no policies at the moment’,” Mr. Luk said. He pointed out that the most significant drawback for self-employed deliverers is that they are not entitled to reasonable compensation for work injuries since the digital platforms do not need to provide labour insurance for them.  “All three major platforms in Hong Kong provide accidental insurance for deliverers,” Mr. Luk “but the coverage and the insured amount are far worse than labour insurance.” Comparing the insurance provided by the three …

Society

Educated Immigrants Leaving Hong Kong, Research finds

University-educated mainland immigrants aren’t staying, according to research from Hong Kong Baptist University released today. Between 2007 and 2011, 40.2% of the tens of thousands of new immigrants to Hong Kong held a bachelor’s degree, but a third of them left before 2016, according to the report. “The number continues to drop,” Yuk-Shing Cheng, Head of the Department of Economics at HKBU who led the research team, said in a press conference today. “Immigrants with higher education have a higher mobility,” Lai-shan Sze, the Deputy Director of Society of Community Organisation, a local NGO that sponsored the research, said in the press conference, “They will stay if they can blend in, but leave if they cannot.”  Although the government has policies to bring talent into the city, it has failed to retain them, the report said. Prof Cheng said the government should focus on the coming generations as the research shows second and third generations have a positive impact on Hong Kong. Younger new immigrants are more likely to go to university in Hong Kong, according to the report. Around 45% of new immigrants who came to Hong Kong before age nine obtained bachelor degrees. The number drops for older immigrants. New immigrant Mandy Dai’s son, 32, is now an accountant in Hong Kong with a university degree, but it was a struggle for her to get him here, she said in the press conference.  Ms Dai, who is from the mainland, married a Hong Kong man, but it took 11 years for her to be allowed to move to the city. Her son, who gained residency in Hong Kong, attended school in the mainland until he was 11 while they waited for her one-way permit, she said. “The one-way permit system can be better allocated,” Hongliang Zhang, Associate Professor …

Politics

District councillors’ “unprecedented actions” a severe challenge to government, says Carrie Lam

Some “unprecedented actions” by the current batch of district councillors have brought severe challenges to the government, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said this morning. While she was not specific about what those “actions” were, she said the Home Affairs Department would take appropriate “reactions”, including keeping an eye on funding to the councils, councillors’ remuneration and their offices, which were paid for by the government, she said.  Mrs Lam’s remarks came after the HAD issued warning letters on June 4 to some district councillors who had distributed candles and posted contents related to the anniversary of the suppression of the student-led democracy movement in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. In the letter, HAD says it has received complaints alleging that some district council members have conducted activities which are unrelated to their duties, damaged community harmony and possibly breached the laws of Hong Kong. “These activities include, but are not limited to, distributing materials and conducting publicity to encourage and facilitate members of the public to participate in unauthorised public assemblies,” says the letter. But Ramon Yuen Hoi-man, a Sham Shui Po district council member and one of the recipients of the HAD letter, has described the chief executive’s characterisation of the councillors’ actions as “absurd”. A member of the Democratic Party, Yuen distributed candles to residents in Cheung Sha Wan on June 3 and 4.  He told The Young Reporter in a phone interview that the distributed candles did not involve public money, and he did not see how it would clash with his work as a district councillor. “Whether I am a councillor or not, I would still distribute the candles to the public,” he said. Yuen also posted the lyrics of the song “The Flower of Freedom” on his Facebook page.  The song …

Society

Hong Kong workers suffer from mental health issues, research shows

Hongkongers are overworked and stressed out, research shows. More than 60% of workers have symptoms of “burnout,” including easily getting tired and losing interest in everything, according to research by the Mental Health Association of Hong Kong and Tung Wah College. A quarter of interviewees said they feel “extremely depressed or anxious.” More than a third work overtime with an average 48.4 hours per week despite an average contract of 41 hours per week, the research found.  “Hong Kong is starting late for promoting workplace mental health,” Lawrence Lam, Vice President of Tung Wah College, said in a press conference today.  Most surveyed said they did not have flexible working hours. “We encourage enterprises to have ‘Mental Health Workplace Policies’, including family friendly policies and flexible working hours,” Stephen Wong, the Assistant Director General of the Mental Health Association of Hong Kong, said at the press conference. Mr Wong said employees should learn more about mental health, pay attention to the mental health condition of people around them and develop a caring culture in the workplace.  It is normal to have high working pressure in Hong Kong and having workshops and online lessons is a waste of time, Steve Lam, 47, a clerk in a telecom firm, said. “The best way to release our pressure is to give us more holidays,” said Mr Lam. “It is good to have positive communications, but managers need to communicate and understand us first.”  “I think having lessons and workshops will work, it will help reduce our working pressure,” said Brook Chan, who is in his 30s and works in customer service.  The researchers interviewed 213 full-time employees from two different enterprises and plan to talk to 400 more of different backgrounds and ranks, said Prof Lam. The full report will be released at …

Society

Tuen Ma Line to fully open on June 27

The Tuen Ma Line will be fully operational from June 27.  It is a key section of the Central-Shatin Rail link. “The government has confirmed that the new railway is in a good and safe condition, and it is ready to operate, ” said Frank Chan, the Secretary of Transport and Housing, in a press conference today. Part of the Tuen Ma line is currently operational, providing train services between  Ma On Shan and Kai Tak. From June 27, two new stations, To Kwa Wan and Sung Wong Toi, will be added to the line. Also, Ho Man Tin station of Kwun Tong Line and Hung Hom Station of East Rail Line will have new platforms in order to serve as transit stations.  Train services will run at three-minute intervals during peak hours once the entire Tuen Ma line is running. The new line will shorten travel time by up to 19 minutes. Passengers going from Kai Tak to Tsim Sha Tsui East, for example, will not need to change trains. Currently, they have to change twice. Passengers using Octopus cards at the two new stations will get a fare reduction. Adults will get a HK$1 reduction per ride, while Child and Student Octopus Card users will get a HK$0.5 reduction. The same discounts will be extended for passengers using Kai Tak and Hin Keng station, where the discounts are currently active. The discounts apply until Jan 1 2022. Passengers taking longer journeys in some stations may be cheaper. For example, a passenger travelling from Tuen Mun to Hung Hom, will pay a discounted fare around HK$20.6 using an Adult Octopus Card But if he goes one station further to Ho Man Tin, then the discounted fare will be around HK$18.9. “The fare setting has historical reasons. We need to …

Hong Kong’s Bishop-elect promises to listen to young people

  • 2021-05-18
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Hamish CHAN Hung MingEdited by: Jenny Lam、Robin Ewing
  • 2021-05-18

Hong Kong’s newly appointed bishop said in a press conference at the Catholic Diocese Centre today that he will listen to young people with empathy, but he has “no working plan” on how to do so.“ Young people are not homogenous and their views of Hong Kong are not homogenous. We need to understand them, discuss with them, not to debate but to have a dialogue,” Stephen Chow said. Bishop-elect Chow, 62, was appointed by the Vatican on Monday. The position has been vacant for two years since the death of Bishop Michael Yeung Ming-cheung in January 2019. As a religious leader, Fr Chow said he is going to help people who have been neglected by society. “Unity is not the same as uniformity. Unity is plurality and we need to respect plurality,” said Fr Chow. “Empathy means understanding other people’s opinion. You do not have to agree, but understanding is already a good start,” he said. “It is better to communicate in a small group rather than communicate in a lecture hall.” “It is vital to allow space for thinking. Students cannot grow without it,” said Fr Chow, who has been the Supervisor of Wah Yan College since 2007. Fr Chow said he did not know whether the Vatican consulted Beijing before his nomination. The China-Vatican Agreement gives China the right to appoint bishops but at the same time, recognises the Pope as the head of the Catholic Church. The 2018 Agreement was extended last year. Fr Chow has joined the commemoration of the June 4th Tiananmen Square crackdown at Victoria Park in the past. He said commemoration can be done in “different ways”. “I will pray for China, ” said Fr Chow. Whether or not he will join any public gathering this year depends if it is legal …

Society

Consumer Council Finds Children’s Art Supplies Pose Safety Risks

More than half of the children’s crayons and fingerpaints tested were found to release toxic metals, the Consumer Council said in a press conference today. “Although there is no immediate risk, potential long term diseases may appear,” Nora Tam Fung-yee, Chairman of the Research and Testing Committee of the Consumer Council, said in the press conference. The Consumer Council tested 12 models of crayons and seven models of fingerpaints. The blue crayon from Swiss company Caran d'Ache’s “Hobby Line 1/2 watersoluble wax pastel” had the highest amount of aluminium, exceeding the EU Toy Safety Directive limit by almost five times. “Blue and black crayons contain the most harmful elements as black coal is one of the raw materials,” said Prof. Tam in the press conference. Children’s paints in Hong Kong must comply with one of four standards, including the EU standard used in the test, according to the Hong Kong Toys and Children's Products Safety Ordinance. Over half of the tested fingerpaints failed to comply with the EU Toy Safety Directive which requires children’s paints to taste bitter so they won’t be eaten. Fingerpaints produced by Spanish companies Jovi and Jar Meló, Korean company Mungyo and US company Crayola did not contain embittering agents at the EU standard, according to the Council. The council said parents should read package instructions and select paints based on the child's age. Parents should also consider purchasing crayons with a plastic barrel to reduce risk for ingesting harmful substances and be sure children clean their hands after use. Caran d'Ache responded to the council that the product involved stopped production in 2013 and had complied with the EU standard then. New products comply with the latest standard, said the company. Jar Meló and Mungyo responded to the council that they had added embittering agents …

Business

BNO migrants sell Hong Kong properties for UK tax reasons

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Kwok Chiu Tung 郭昭彤Edited by: Zhu Zijin Cora 朱子槿
  • 2021-05-11

Hong Kong British National (Overseas) (BNO) passport holders moving to Britain tend to sell their properties in the city to avoid related taxes charged by the UK government on overseas properties and that may trigger a capital outflow of up to HK$280 billion from Hong Kong, based on banks and media estimation. BNO migrants will be subject to the UK's global tax system, under which their rental income from Hong Kong will be taxed and if they want to buy a residential property in Britain without selling their Hong Kong residence they have to pay an extra 3% of stamp duty. Therefore, Hong Kong residents emigrating to the UK are pondering what to do with their Hong Kong flats. Chan Siu-yi, 36, who moved to the UK several months ago with a BNO visa, has decided to sell her property in Hong Kong to avoid extra taxes. “The global taxation policy might charge us about €2000 (HK$18,717) every tax season if we don’t sell our property in Hong Kong after moving to the UK within 9 months,” she added. The British government launched a new policy after China passed a national security law last year, to allow Hong Kong BNO holders to live and work in the UK for up to five years and eventually seek citizenship. The policy is expected to spark a new wave of immigration. The British Home Office said in January that the number of immigrants via HK BNO visas is expected to reach between 258,000 and 322,400 over five years. Based on the estimation of Bloomberg Intelligence Research, up to 16,300 Hong Kong households may move to Britain via BNO visas this year and a maximum of HK$150 billion worth of properties from these families could be on sale in 2021 alone. A Bank of …

Society

Shorter Quarantine for Fully Vaccinated; No government quarantine for residents of building with only one covid case

Residents of buildings with only one covid-19 case, including the mutant strain, will self-monitor instead of going to government quarantine centres, Dr Ronald Lam, Controller of the Centre of Health Protection, said today in a press conference. More than 1,000 residents are being released from quarantine centres, including from Kornhill and Caribbean Coast where mutant strain cases were found, after they test negative. “To prevent further transmission, a very cautious approach needs to be taken,” Dr Lam said in the press conference. Close contacts still need to quarantine, Dr Lam said, but the fully vaccinated will have seven days of home confinement plus seven days of self-monitoring. Department of Health clarified at night that close contacts still need to go to government quarantine centres plus seven days of self-monitoring. Fully vaccinated includes those with a “full course” after 14 days. People who have recovered from Covid-19 within nine months are also included. Onee Chan, a resident at Kornhill who was sent to the government quarantine centre at Penny’s Bay yesterday, said she was speechless over the new measure. She said it was not sensible to put all residents into the quarantine centre. “The requirements to release are also nonsense. It’s absolutely annoying to ask us to do testing at their centre on our own. How can they guarantee everybody to strictly follow? Self monitoring is a joke. We’ve been self monitoring ourselves for more than a year,” Ms Chan said. Shorter hotel quarantines were also announced for airport arrivals from designated countries beginning May 12. Measures for extremely high-risk and very high-risk areas, including the United Kingdom, remain unchanged. Control measures for quarantine hotels will also be reviewed, said Dr Lam.