Society & Politics

Budget relief measures to ease Hong Kong's financial woes

  • 2020-02-26
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Cherry Lee、Cassie Zhang、Hong-shun WongEdited by: YanniChow
  • 2020-02-26

The aims of this year's budget are "supporting enterprises, safeguarding jobs, stimulating the economy and relieving people’s burden", Financial Secretary, Paul Chan Mo-po said in his fourth budget speech in the Legislative Council this morning.    Despite an expected decline in government revenue next year, a cash payout of $10,000 will be distributed to about seven million local permanent residents aged 18 and above. That will cost about $71 billion in taxpayers' money. "The government has to increase public expenditure amid an economic downturn to stimulate the economy and ride out the difficult times with members of the public." Financial Secretary, Paul Chan told legislators. The aim of the payout is to "encourage and boost local consumption and relieve people’s financial burden," he said. The $10,000 is expected to be distributed in the Summer, Mr Chan explained in the press conference after the budget speech.  Salary tax and profit tax will also be reduced by up to 100% with the ceiling of $20,000.This measure will cost the government $18.9 billion, benefiting about 2.05 million taxpayers. The government will also be waiving rates in respect of residential properties for four quarters of 2020-21, with a ceiling of $1,500 per quarter for each rateable property, remaining the same as last year. The proposed tax reduction is not applicable to property tax. However, individuals with rental income can enjoy tax reduction under personal assessment, Businesses can secure low-interest loans of up to $2 million under the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme to help them overcome the economic downturn. That will cost the Treasury up to $20 billion.  Enterprises will also benefit from waiving of rates for non-domestic properties, business registration fees and registration fees for all annual returns in the coming year.  The Financial Secretary also pointed out that even though the expected fiscal deficit …

Society

Mainland students at Hong Kong universities dissatisfied with suspension of on-campus teaching due to novel coronavirus

Hong Kong universities suspend on-campus classes until 2nd March, sparking worries of poor online teaching quality, graduation delay and financial loss among mainland students. Online teaching measures including Zoom, Moodle and WhatsApp will be applied during the suspension. Make-up classes, examinations and approval of graduation lists will be duly deferred. “The suspension sucks! Now I’m just wasting my tuition!” raged Xu Zheng, a mainland senior at Hong Kong Baptist University majoring in advertising and branding. Twelve mainland students at the University drafted a “Joint Declaration of Mainland Students at Hong Kong Baptist University,” worrying about financial and academic loss caused by another suspension on the heels of the 6-month political upheaval last year. The Declaration received 1079 effective supporting signatures by 19:30 1st Feb before it was submitted to the University. The Declaration demands graduation support, focus on teaching quality and tuition compensation, expanded qualification for full tuition refund and subsidy for the living of non-locals. The drafters claimed that flaws of online teaching such as inaccessibility of on-campus equipment would discount the outcomes of the tuition paid. About half of 1305 respondents felt “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with the quality of online teaching due to political turmoil last November, according to a survey conducted by Association of Mainland and Hong Kong Youth, HKBU. About half prefer extension of semester to online teaching. According to official websites of Hong Kong universities, yearly tuition for non-local students is about 100,000 HK$ more than that for local students. Based on a Mingpao survey, 28.6% to 46.0% of Hong Kong university entrants were from Mainland China in the academic year 2018/19. “We talked with the mainland student organization and they said some students would be misrepresented if they were to publish a declaration, so we came up with this joint letter asking for …

Politics

New port regulations around the world

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Eurus Yiu、Mereen SantiradEdited by: Nicole Ko、Moon Lam
  • 2020-02-07

Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced today (February 3) that four ports, including Lo Wu, Lok Ma Chau, Huanggang and Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal, would be closed from 0:00 tomorrow to reduce the flow of people. WHO declared an outbreak of the new coronavirus as a "Global health emergency", but it did not recommend any restrictions on travelling to China or on trading with it. Despite this, some countries are offering travel restrictions, to prevent the epidemic from heating up or out of control. According to the data of the National Health Commision by the end of February 2, China has identified 17205 confirmed cases, 21558 suspected cases, including 15 cases from Hong Kong. Number of deaths has climbed to 361. The virus does not only spread in the mainland, but also in 23 other countries with 283 cases confirmed. Hong Kong 9 out of 13 ports in Hong Kong will be suspended at midnight. Three ports including the airport, Shenzhen Bay Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge will be opened and Kai Tak cruise terminal. The United States On January 30, the new coronavirus has been listed as a US public health emergency, imposing travel restrictions and issuing a mandatory quarantine. Foreign travellers from China in the past two weeks (except for immediate family members of US citizens and permanent residents) are banned from entering the US. In addition, US citizens who have stayed in Hubei province within the past 14 days need to be screened, and subject to mandatory quarantine for 14 days. Citizens who depart from other chinese cities and return to the US will be diverted to eight designated airports for health screening procedures. Australia Effected from February 1, all persons travelling to Australia from mainland China are required to be quarantined for 14 days (except Australian citizens, Australian …

Politics

Issuing telescopic batons to off-duty police officers sparks concern

Throughout the course of the Hong Kong protests, police have been accused of using brutality tactics against protesters. What started out as a peaceful march towards the extradition bill gradually became a greater fight for democracy and investigation against police violence. A typical weekend of protests usually involves riot police with guns, batons and shields. Protesters may turn to using bricks, long sticks, metal pole and petrol bombs as weapons. Due to the escalation of protesters' violence and in the interest of operational efficiency, a new legislation that allows telescopic batons to be issued to off-duty officers from September 11 onwards has caused another ripple in this turbulent society. Chen, a 20-year-old university student who works part-time in the catering business, said he is "quite afraid" upon hearing the news.  The young man, who did not wish to disclose his full identity due to fears of authorities finding out, has shown strong doubt towards the decision made by the police force. "I will not define myself as a protester because I didn't join the protest very often. I have only participated in two rallies. However, I still feel scared," he said. Mr. Chen's occupation requires him to work till night and he only reaches back home around midnight. At the night of protest, he often sees police officers patrolling around the bus stop located somewhere in New Territories searching for protesters.  "Although I have not been checked by those officers ever, I still want to protect myself from being arrested, I will always leave some signs that I just left from my work place, in case riot police checks on me," he added. Chief Superintendent John Tse Chun-chung of the Police Public Relations Branch announced at a press conference on September 10 that numbers of telescopic batons will be specially …

Politics

Mass rally in London to call for second Brexit referendum

LONDON - Marchers in London celebrated on Saturday after the British parliament voted in favour of withholding approval of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit plan.  Organisers of the rally, People's Vote, want a second referendum on Brexit. They claimed up to a million people joined the march. Protesters assembled on Park Lane at noon and walked to Westminster, where the Parliament is located. They waved European Union flags, carried signs and banners which read "Together for the Final Say", and shouted "Boris out!" during the march. Anger poured out in Britain when Mr. Johnson announced a Brexit plan last week, in which Northern Ireland would remain in the European single market for trade purposes but leave the customs union. That would mean Northern Ireland would become Britain's entry point into the European Union’s customs zone. Britain would need to stick to EU regulations on agrifood and industrial products, which some believe will cause huge economic damage to Britain.  "A no-deal Brexit will influence day-to-day food, medication and people's daily life in the UK," said Savannah Louie, a protester in the march. Another protester, Marnn, who came from Ireland with her husband, said, "If it [Brexit] happens, we will need to leave the UK and go back to our own country." Petts, Marnn's husband, said he would feel "desperately disappointed" if Boris Johnson's deal is passed in Parliament. Countries currently in the European Union do not share single borders with those outside the union. Whether or not there will be a hard border between Britain and Ireland has been a main point of contention in the Brexit debate. Britain's major opposition Labour Party, is against Mr. Johnson's latest deal. They want to put the country’s decision to leave the European Union to a public vote.  Rosie Rawie, aged 28, a member …

Policy Address 19/20: Carrie Lam rolls out economic measures for youth but misses the mark

  • 2019-10-16
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Carol Yuan、Katherine Li、Cassie Zhang、YanniChow、ShukmanSo、BellaHuang、Moon LamEdited by: Katherine Li、Tomiris Urstembayeva、Oasis Li
  • 2019-10-16

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is attempting to appease discontented youth with a number of policies for more affordable housing and career opportunities as well as a one-off subsidy for school children, as announced in her policy address today.  Speaking to the public this morning in a broadcast video, Mrs. Lam said she plans on increasing youth hostel availability by the thousands, helping young professionals with a new Starter Home program and providing each school child with a $2,500 subsidy from the 2020/21 school year. "We will enhance the operation of the Youth Development Commission, so that it can participate, at an earlier stage and in a more concrete manner, in policy discussion relating to education, career pursuit, home ownership as well as young people's participation in politics," reads the supplement section of the policy address.  These policies came after four months of increasingly violent youth-led protests tearing across the city and Mrs. Lam’s failure earlier today to deliver the full policy address within the Legislative Council Chambers upon being repeatedly heckled by the opposition party. Despite Mrs. Lam's emphasis that those policies were created "with a view to respond to the aspirations of the community", many young people feel that she has missed the mark. "Carrie Lam may hope that her policies can calm down the youth, but young people may not accept that," said Tse Kee-On, a 24 year-old member of the Social Democrats League, who joined a protest in front of the Central Government Offices this morning. He said that most youth have non-financial aspirations and dreams, such as genuine universal suffrage. "I think most Hongkongers think the policy address is useless, because it can't help solve the social division," said Mr. Tse, who questions Carrie Lam’s legitimacy in the hearts and minds of the people.  …

Society

A "Day of Thanks": Hong Kong protestors flock to pro-democracy businesses to show gratitude

Pro-democracy protesters heeded an online call to support "yellow shops" today, expressing their gratitude to businesses which have shown support for the ongoing anti-government protests that started in June.  The "Day of Thanks" was publicised on social media outlets and chat platforms, such as telegram, encouraging supporters to "say yes" to those businesses by endorsing and purchasing products from them throughout the day. The "colouring" of opposing political views was sparked by the Occupy Movement in 2014, with pro-democracy supporters labelled "yellow ribbons" and allies of the police or Chinese government classified as "blue ribbons".  The current unrest, sparked by the now-withdrawn extradition bill, has again greatly divided the city, with netizens categorising shops depending on their political stance.  Stores classified as "blue" are actively boycotted by protestors, while stores categorised as the newly emerged colours of "red" and "black" — meaning mainland financed or have suspected triad affiliation — are often graffitied and vandalized during demonstrations.  Let’s Jam, a cafe in Tsim Sha Tsui, and Lung Mun Cafe, a Hong Kong-style diner, were among the "yellow shops" listed on a poster advertising the "Day of Thanks". Supporters were urged to check into the establishments on social media with the hashtag #standwithhk. Many of the "yellow shops" have openly endorsed the pro-democracy movement through participating in strike days, posting social media as well as in-store.  Staff of Let's Jam said business has increased after they have created a “Lennon Wall” in the shop for customers to write words of encouragement to support the movement and protesters. "More people have been coming to support us for standing on the side of Hong Kong people," said Tung, staff member of Let's Jam. "Apart from the Lennon Wall, we also offer free meals to protesters who used up their money because of the movement."  Ms. Chiu is …

Society

The heart-stirring rhythm — "Glory to Hong Kong"

Dubbed the new, unofficial anthem for Hong Kong, the heart-stirring march "Glory to Hong Kong" has motivated and touched the hearts of protesters, inspiring them to join choruses in shopping malls around Hong Kong. The lyrics have been translated into different languages, including English, Japanese and Korean. Videos showing flash mob-style performances have reached more than 2 million views on Youtube in a month. The tune is the creation of a musician working under the pseudonym, Thomas, who we contacted by LIHKG. "I created this song to boost morale and to enhance cohesion among the people," Thomas said. "My faith ( in the movement) inspired me to write the song. I want people to keep their heads up together and I want everyone to know that we are fighting hard for liberty and freedom," Thomas added.  "The song not only talks about the old days when people used to chant about the 'Spirit of Lion Rock', but it also refers to a new generation of Hong Kongers, and their sacrifice for liberty and rights," he said. Thomas said the protests are no longer just about opposition to the extradition bill, but also symbolize Hong Kongers' fight for freedom, liberty and universal suffrage. "Most people in Hong Kong support the protesters by buying them safety gear such as helmets and gloves, but these gear can barely withstand the violence. As a musician, I can write a song to strengthen people’s faith because having a strong faith is invincible," he said.  Some say the song is a better way to express political aspirations than violence. "The song comes at a time when the activists want to have space to express their sentiment rather than just fighting the police. I believe people are afraid of 'Mainlandization', that is, their personal liberty and freedom will …

Society

When wardrobes are politicised: is it safe in Hong Kong to dress in black?

Since June, the streets of Hong Kong have been filled with the trademark black and yellow hues, peppered with the pink filters of their gas masks. Some even cover their entire faces with black scarves or turtle necks to hide their identities. Andy Lam, 21, is one of the black-clad demonstrators."Wearing black T-shirts represents our identity and our five demands," she says. The five demands include withdrawal of the extradition bill, an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality, not to label the unrest as "riot", release arrested protesters and universal suffrage. Anyone wearing black these days may be suspected of involvement in the protest, especially after some protesters threw petrol bombs and bricks, set fires and vandalized properties. Ms. Lam said she strangers sometimes glance at her just because she is in black. Recently, she tried to help a mainland couple to find their way around Hong Kong Baptist University, but to Ms. Lam, they seemed suspicious because she was wearing black. Christoph Li Xiaoyong, a 22-year-old mainland student from Hong Kong Baptist University, is not a protester, was mistaken for a protester on September 9 just because he was wearing black. He was actually just out to watch a movie in Mongkok that evening. "I had to hide in the alley but the riot police followed me and then found me. I then had to go back on to the main road, where I got tear-gassed along with the protesters," he recalled, "and that made me feel depressed." Another mainland student, Seven Yang, had a similar experience when she was in black.  "Coming back from Lowu, I was stopped by customs officers for inspection. They checked my bags but not my friends’ who were wearing other colours,” she said. In fact, people with different political views are split according …

Photo Essay

Art Review: The Stars Exhibition in Art Basel

This year, the 10th Chancery Lane Gallery especially displayed early artworks of a trio of avant-garde artists to commemorate the 40th anniversary of a historically important art event, which challenged official aesthetics and called for free artistic expression in the Post-Mao Era. Wandering at the colourful Art Basel, visitors could not help but slowed down their pace when a series of black and white photographic documentation came into sight. On an early morning in fall in 1979, the year after China initiated the economic reforms, a group of non-academy Chinese artists exhibited a total of 163 works with distinctive Modernist style and rebellious thoughts, displayed on the iron railings of The National Art Museum of China (NAMOC) after they were deprived the right to use an official exhibition space. Curators named exhibition with the word, Star, which means each star exists as an independent illuminator rather than the only illuminator during the Cultural Revolution when Mao Ze-dong was hailed as sun. This art exhibition without official permission gained huge supports from art students and famous artists at that time. On the following day of the opening, however, the police from the Dongcheng District of Beijing arrested two core curators, Huang Rui and Ma Deng-sheng, and acclaimed that The Star Exhibition affected the daily life of the masses and social order. After two months of demonstrations and negotiations, folk artists from The Stars Art Group eventually got legal permission to exhibit their artworks at the gallery of Beijing Artists Association, which attracted more than two hundred thousand audience. The second edition of The Stars Exhibition was successfully held in 1980, yet, it aroused the panic among senior figures of Chinese art field. An art exhibition jointly organized by Huang Rui, Ma Deng-sheng and Wang Ke-ping was banned due to the Anti-Spiritual-Pollution Campaign launched …