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Few books with “sensitive” content on sale at HK Book Fair 2021

  Books that contain politically sensitive content can hardly be found at the Hong Kong Book Fair 2021, the first such event held after the Hong Kong National Security Law was introduced last year.    Publishers say fears about breaching the law, which bans acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, have discouraged them from pubishing some titles.   Hillway Press is the only publisher that has released books whose content may possibly be regarded as sensitive, including The Journey Through the Brick Wall and 21 July 2019.   The first book is an autobiography of Raymond Yeung Tsz-chun, a liberal studies teacher who was shot in the eye in a protest on 12 June in 2019 during the anti-extradition bill movement.    The second is written by Ryan Lau Chun-kong, one of the victims in the so-called 721 incident, who offers his account of what happened in the evening of July 21, 2019, when a number of people deemed to be sympathetic to the anti-extradition bill protests were attacked by alleged gangsters in the Yuen Long MTR station.    Mr Yeung, who has since quit teaching to start Hillway, also revealed that the company was prepared to publish three other books that contain sensitive content, but no printers were willing to print them. He did not disclose what those three books were about. Jimmy Pang Chi-ming, president of the publishing house Subculture, said fears over the “white terror” of unintentionally violating the national security law now pervaded the whole publishing industry.    “Under the vague standards of the national security law, we have abandoned some books that only contain cultural content,” said Mr Pang.   “For example, Liu Xiaobo (the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner who was jailed on the mainland for inciting subversion of state …

Society

University LGBTQ groups in China “muted” following social media account closures

With no warning and little objection, more than 10 social media accounts for university LGBTQ groups in mainland China were shut down on July 6, according to members of the LGBTQ community in China.    Posts and content published on the WeChat accounts, including WDH Purple from Tsinghua University, ColorsWorld from Peking University, and Zhi Heshe from Fudan University, were removed, according to members of those accounts. All of the account names were changed to  “unnamed official account” by Tuesday evening.   The closure of the accounts may have been connected to a student protest at Wuhan University in April 2021, according to the founder of an NGO in Wuhan that focuses on LGBTQ issues. The protest, in support of feminist issues in China, may have crossed the government’s “red line,” the person, who wished not to be identified by name, had written in a recent WeChat discussion with Cheung Kam-hung, a Hong Kong LGBTQ activist. During the protest, Chinese feminist activists, who are accused by the Chinese government of having been influenced or helped by foreign politicians, were mentioned.   The activist wrote that, following the university protest at Wuhan University, the Chinese government probably began to collect information about the social media accounts belonging to the university LGBTQ groups.   These digital social media accounts, mostly organised by student communities and teachers, were often used to share stories and research about LGBTQ groups.   A message on the main page of the closed accounts stated, “(WeChat) received relevant complaints that (the account) violates The Internet User Public Account Information Service Management Regulation. All the content in the account has been blocked and usage of  the account was stopped.”   RucSGS, an organization at Renmin University of China advocating discussion on gender issues, said it was affected.   The …

China’s ride-hailing app Didi still in use as authorities review cybersecurity

  • 2021-07-06

      Two days after mainland authorities ordered the removal of ride-hailing app Didi Chuxing from China’s app stores, it is still the preferred way of transport for many diehard customers   For 29-year-old engineer Li Haining, who works in Qingdao, hailing a car from Didi Chuxing to get to her office has become part of her daily routine.   “Honestly this incident will affect my choice in the future as I’m concerned about my privacy, but I will keep using this app as long as it’s the most convenient and affordable one for me,” she said.   The Cyberspace Administration of China ( CAC)  removed Didi’s app from local app stores last Sunday, shortly after it announced that it would start a cyberspace probe.    “Didi Chuxing app has serious violations of laws and regulations concerning the collection and use of personal information. The Cyberspace Administration of China notified app stores to remove Didi Chuxing in accordance with relevant regulations of the National Cybersecurity Law,” the CAC said in a statement on July 4.   Didi, a household name in China, raised US$ 4.4 billion in its IPO at the New York Stock Exchange on June 30. Its stock gained 1 percent on the first day of trading.   Besides Didi Chuxing, the CAC also launched cyberspace reviews into Boss Zhipin, Yunmanman and Huochebang, three other companies listed in New York this year, and removed their apps from the country's app stores on Monday.     When using those apps, customers need to provide their identity information such as identity card and phone numbers and their location.   Cao Jing, 40, who is used to calling a car from Didi to work almost every day, said the fact that Didi was collecting data was no surprise to her.   …

Society

Apple Daily newspaper folds after a 26-year run

Long lines snaked around newsstands in Hong Kong today as supporters snapped up the last edition of the Apple Daily newspaper. Top officials of the 26-year-old tabloid-style paper have been detained or jailed. The company’s assets were frozen by the government under the National Security Law, forcing it to shut down. Its website and mobile app also stopped being updated after midnight. About a million copies of the last edition circulated around the city, about ten times its normal print run. Splashed across the front page was a photo taken from the paper’s offices in Tseung Kwan O showing a crowd outside. The headline read “ Hong Kong people bid farewell in pain”. Apple Daily’s proprietor, Jimmy Lai, is serving a 20-month jail term for taking part in illegal protests in 2019. He also faces accusations of violating the National Security Law. The newspaper has long taken an anti-communist and pro-democracy stance. Gary Sing Kai-chung, a former senior photographer of Apple Daily, who has worked at the paper for 17 years, was angry and sad about the newspaper’s closure. “It is like watching a family member get killed,” Mr Sing told The Young Reporter. He described Apple Daily as a pioneer in the Hong Kong media industry.  “They sent motorbikers to the scenes to take photos when covering breaking news. More reporters would arrive later to cover the incidents and do follow up stories. This workflow was started by Apple Daily,” said Mr Sing. He said Apple Daily was also willing to invest in equipment. “The speed of changing from film cameras to DSLR cameras was so fast at the Apple Daily,” said Mr Sing. “While other media outlets were still hesitating on whether digital cameras were good, we had already swapped to the new cameras in all divisions.” “If …

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 …

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 …

Government u-turn on quarantine policy for residents coming from Guangdong not because of external pressure, CE says

  • 2021-05-25

The policy reversal that will continue to allow Hongkongers to return from Guangdong province without quarantine was not based on external pressure, Chief Executive Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said before the weekly Executive Council meeting this morning. Last Saturday, the Centre for Health Protection announced that Guangdong province would be listed as medium risk after a Covid-19 case was found in Guangzhou, effectively cancelling the Return2hk scheme for the province. The Return2hk travel scheme, launched in November, allows residents returning from certain areas of the mainland, including Guangdong province and Macao, to be exempt from 14-day quarantine. Former Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying questioned the move in a post on Facebook at 8:36 pm that night, saying the plan was a puzzle. “The area of Guangzhou city is 7,434 sq km. The area of remaining places in Guangdong Province is 23 times larger than Guangzhou city. When there is a case in Guangzhou, Return2hk cannot apply to the whole province. This is what I am unable to understand,” he wrote in the Facebook post. Two hours after Mr Leung’s critical post, the government announced only the Jinlong Huixin building in Guangzhou, where the case was found, would be classified as medium risk. Mrs Lam said today the original arrangement was “not very proportionate”. “When the government officials knew about the decision, they thought that immediate adjustments were needed and made it that night,” she said. She said the Secretary for Food and Health had the authority to decide the locations placed on the risk list and that they acted according to the existing mechanism. The next step is to allow mainland residents to come to the city with quotas and certain restrictions in order to boost labour flow, Mrs Lam added at the press conference. She said she is still discussing with …

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 …

Mainland man jailed for more than six years for stabbing Hong Kong protester

  • 2021-05-14

A mainland Chinese man was sentenced to six years and four months imprisonment in a Hong Kong court today for wounding with intent a young protestor who was distributing leaflets in Tai Po during the anti-extradition bill movement in 2019. Liu Guosheng, a 24-year-old cook, slashed the neck and stabbed the abdomen of a 19-year-old student in a pedestrian tunnel near the Tai Po Market MTR station on Oct. 19, 2019. Judge Andrew Chan Hing-wai said the attack was premeditated as the defendant purchased a fruit knife a day before the incident despite the victim being randomly chosen. He added the defendant was persistent in his attack and his intention was to kill the victim. He also said the injuries of the victim were serious and far-reaching, including physical pain for a long period of time and psychological impact, which was the most difficult to treat. “The life of a very young man has been ruined,” the judge said. He described the case as “one of the senseless episodes” during the protest in 2019. The judge said the use of violence did not and would not resolve any political differences. He said six months remission was given to the defendant for his voluntary surrender.

Society

Prison rights group calls for transparency in complaint system

Beyond the high grey walls and barbed wire fence, only a little sunlight shines through the barred windows into the cells where prisoners spend their days. Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre is a medium-security facility where people who are denied bail are often held while awaiting trial. Mr Ma, who doesn’t want to reveal his full name for fear of retaliation, was arrested in November 2020 due to the social movement. He has been in solitary confinement for more than a month, and he doesn’t know when he will get out.  “You lose all your rights in solitary cells where you spend 23 hours a day facing four walls,” said Mr Ma, who has been in the Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre since late November 2020.  “Everything is worse in solitary cells.” Solitary confinement should only be used as a last resort and never longer than 15 days, according to the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. But Mr Ma didn’t file a complaint. The Correctional Services Department introduced the Complaints Appeal Board CSDCAB in 2016, chaired by the deputy commissioner of correctional services. It serves to improve the transparency and credibility of the Correctional Service Department’s complaints handling mechanisms. The appeal board is responsible for re-examining complaints and making final decisions on the appeal cases against the findings of complaints investigations.  But those held behind bars have limited channels to cry for help. Complaints in Hong Kong’s 24 prisons are first investigated internally. In 2019, prisoners, members of the public and prison staff filed 504 complaints to the Complaints Investigation Unit of the Correctional Service Department, according to the department’s website. Only two were substantiated and close to 60 percent were found to be unsubstantiated. Social organisations and prison right activists call for transparency to …