Society & Politics

Society & Politics

Lifelong suffering of Women in India

Women in India suffer from violence throughout their lives, according to a veteran journalist covering the issue for years.   The violence starts from infancy, from infanticide and infancy neglect to domestic violence, said Nita Bhalla, the chief correspondent in South Asia at the Thomson Reuters Foundation, in a forum of Hong Kong Baptist University today. Based in New Delhi, Nita Bhalla works as a foreign correspondent for about 20 years and wins an award for her coverage on human rights. Meanwhile, since females are often considered inferior to males, if a family can only support one child for education, the opportunity always goes to the male ones, resulting in deprived opportunities in education, said Bhalla. About half of Indian women get married under the age of 14, according to a government report, and the youngest was only aged 6, said Bhalla.   After they get married, sexual abuse within the family, wife-sharing and domestic violence tend to follow, she said.   Six out of ten men admitted they have committed domestic violence, including hitting their wives, confiscating their money and devaluing them, according to a United Nations report. At the end of her talk, she says because there are still many positive stories, she can recover from overwhelming frustrations after witnessing disasters. A famous case of brutality to females is the Delhi gang rape, in which a 23-year-old female student was raped by six men in a bus, resulting in her death and worldwide attention.   Under social pressure invoked by the protests, four attackers were sentenced to death by the government, while one of them, who was under 18, was charged with a three-year sentence.   “The death penalty can’t solve the problem as we find in researches,” said Bhalla.   “Our main focus should on the change …

Society & Politics

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor further justified her plans for Hong Kong in a press conference Wednesday afternoon, following the announcement of her first policy address in the morning. Responding to the saying that her policy address highlights only livelihood issues but avoids political matters, Lam said Hong Kong has not had a proper atmosphere for such a discussion yet. Lam mentioned the acts of some legislators that morning in the Legislative Council, which she considered as disrespect, are a sign indicating that the city is not ready for much political discussion. She said political reforms, especially those regarding Article 23 and universal suffrage, could only be progressed when time is suitable. Concerning measures to ease housing problems, Lam said the best way for now is to increase the supply of flat units. She promised to make transparent discussions in the near future to confirm how the schemes can work feasibly in detail. While public doubts if the “Starter Homes” plan could solve pressing issues related to housing soon, Lam clarified that it is more important to provide every the opportunity in purchasing flats. Another focus of Lam’s address is regarding to innovation and technology. Lam agreed that the industry in Hong Kong has been lagging behind that in the Mainland for years. Apart from the increase in research and development funding, Lam said she will put in extra effort to this field by supervising the whole process of development herself. Regarding Hong Kong audience booing the national anthem at a football match on Monday, Lam thought the irrational audience are only the minority of the whole. She reaffirmed that Hong Kong is part of China and such acts are considered deeply disrespectful to the home country.

Society & Politics

Government plans to provide subsidies for university hostels construction

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Elly Wu、Elisa Luk、Erica Chin、Holly ChikEdited by: Angela Cheung、Daniel Ma
  • 2017-10-11

Carrie Lam, the city’s Chief Executive, announced in the latest Policy Address the setting up of a $12 billion Hostel Development Fund, offering subsidies for universities to construct student hostels. Lam said the lack of on-campus accommodations could hinder international students from studying in Hong Kong, thus making the local tertiary campuses and learning environment less international. Lam believed that establishing the development fund could speed up the executive procedures.   The University of Hong Kong, which has the highest percentage of international students of 39% among all University Grants Committee(UGC) funded universities, accepted less than half of international students who applied for dormitories in the year 2014-2015. Meanwhile, all international students applied for hostels in Lingnan University were accepted. However, only 15% of applicants are international students, which is the lowest among local universities. Hence, the “internationalisation” of a university campus has no direct relationship to the provision of residential halls. The “internationalisation” of a university campus has no direct relationship to the provision of residential halls. “The policy would help to attract more international student only if they are prioritised to apply for on-campus accommodation,” said Annie Chan, associate professor of Lingnan University. Kevin Yue, Resident Master of one of Hong Kong Baptist University’s halls, pointed out that universities’ policies on arranging residential hall units to local and international students affect the effectiveness bringing diversity to the campuses, especially when there is not enough dormitories even for local students. Less than half of the 63 international students studying in Hong Kong Baptist University reached by The Young Reporter said they would study in Hong Kong without a dormitory place Out of 63 international students reached, 48 percent of them claimed that they would come to Hong Kong to study even without a dormitory. “I would still come to …

Society & Politics

Carrie Lam pledges better political inclusion of ethnic minorities

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Tracy Zhang、Jade Li、Raphael BletEdited by: Choy York Borg Paulus、Tracy Zhang、Ellen He
  • 2017-10-11

Requirements on Chinese proficiency will be relaxed to include more ethnic minorities in the government, announced Chief Executive Carrie Lam in her first policy address. “We need to increase the job opportunities for ethnic minorities to work in the government,” said Lam. Civil Service Bureau has started a review on the entry requirements relating to Chinese proficiency to get more ethnic minorities working in the government. Currently, ethnic minorities willing to join the civil service are required to undergo a written Chinese proficiency test. The government launched Project Gemstone in 2013 to teach ethnic minority young people Chinese, making it easier for them to join the police. Apart from the support on language, representatives of ethnic minority have also been included in a preparatory committee chaired by Lam for children’s issues. Shalini Mahtani, the founder of Zubin Foundation said it's a good start because at least Carrie Lam is looking into this issue. "We'll continue to ask Carrie Lam to get more ethnic minority members into government advisory committees to express their voices," she said. However, Pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo said the policy address showed “complete ignorance” on long-lasting ethnic minority problems. “I feel pessimistic. We should keep on fighting and can see miracles on politics including ethnic minority’s political participation in Hong Kong,” said Mo. Abeer, spokesperson of HK Ethnic Minority Women, said the lack of political participation for ethnic minorities cannot be solved in a short time through those limited measurements. “Hong Kong is lagging behind in almost all aspects of life services for ethnic minorities,” she said. “No doctors, no police officers, so even no need to mention politicians.” Kathleen Magramo, a Filipino student from the University of Hong Kong said the framework is on the right track but concrete actors need to be mobilised to see …

Society & Politics

CE to rebuild housing ladder with “Starter Homes” scheme

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: CHAN Yeuk Hang Erin、Caroline Kwok、Michael Shum、Wong Yin TingEdited by: Lam Ka Sing、Nicole Kwok
  • 2017-10-11

CE to rebuild housing ladder with “Starter Homes” scheme Reported by Caroline Kwok, Erin Chan, Candice Wong,  Michael Shum Edited by Alfred Lam, Nicole Kwok,  Sean Hsu, James Ho Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor revealed details of the “Starter Homes” scheme in her maiden policy address today. The scheme is to provide more affordable private housing for young, middle class first-time home buyers who are struggling with the city’s endless price growth in private housing. The scheme’s applicants must have an income level not exceeding $34,000 a month for singletons and $68,000 for households with two or more members, about 30 per cent higher than the income limits for Home Ownership Scheme applicants, she said. Land supply for the units will come from sites owned by private developers or bought by the Government. Lam said the government will dictate the scheme at the end and developers will only help building the homes. Poon Wing-cheung, senior lecturer of Building Science and Technology at City University of Hong Kong, agreed that the government should work with private developers to speed up the scheme. “Developers are well-equipped with land resources and are experienced in maximising land use,” Poon said. Thomas Lam, senior director of property consultancy, Knight Frank, also thought that “Public-Private Partnership” can provide certain incentives for both parties. “For example, developers will supply farmland for “Starter Homes” in exchange for discounted land premium arrangements,” Lam said. However, he also pointed out some limitations of the scheme. “The targeted income-group of the “Starter Homes” scheme  only makes up around  one-tenths of the labour force. Large number of “Starter Homes” units may also affect the private market of small-sized units,” he said. Sammy Po, chief executive of Midland Realty’s residential division, said the application requirements and resale restrictions of “Starter Homes” should be tight …

Society & Politics

Ethnic minority groups urge government to address unequal opportunities

About 50 individuals from various ethnic minority rights group gathered outside the Hong Kong Government headquarters in Admiralty to call for equal opportunities for ethnic minorities. Organizations and individuals include Hong Kong Unison, Diversity of Voices, ethnic minority parents, local university students and graduates and Chinese-home tutors. They ask Chief Executive Carrie Lam to implement policies related to ethnic minorities which she made in her election manifesto. Carrie stated in early 2017 that she would ensure the successful implementation of Chinese education among ethnic minority students if she was elected as the next chief executive. Jeffrey Andrews, the first ethnic minority registered social workers in Hong Kong of Indian descent and organizer of the march, sees Chinese education as the key to eliminate discrimination against ethnic minorities. “The lack of proper Chinese education [for ethnic minority students] is still not tackled. At schools, we did not get to learn Chinese properly. Therefore, for many generations, ethnic minority people cannot get into universities, cannot integrate into the society or cannot get a proper job,” said Andrews. He also lamented the negative perception of ethnic minorities. “Various media sites are blaming us for making Hong Kong chaotic. There is this government slogan: Hong Kong is my home. But I don’t think we [ethnic minority community] are included in this message,” he added. He added that the unequal opportunities in education have existed since kindergarten. “There are even some kindergartens that deny [ethnic minorities’] entry. Those schools say, ‘Our place is not for your children since everything is taught in Cantonese.’ This problem can persist from kindergarten until university. We never really seem to integrate into the society. It is ridiculous that we have to pay to learn Cantonese outside instead of at schools,” said Andrews. Salma Deiya, a representative for ethnic minority university …

Society & Politics

Activists call for support of jailed mainland dissidents

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Zoya Zhao、Raphael Blet、Tracy Zhang、Jade LiEdited by: Lam Ka Sing、Tracy Zhang
  • 2017-10-05

An activist group organised a temporary exhibition in Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui Wednesday evening, calling for support of jailed activists in mainland China.     The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China hopes the Democracy Lantern Action can make the public pay more attention to the “patriots” in custody and the human rights issue in the mainland, said Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong, vice president of the organisation, referring to dissidents such as the 709 lawyers, a group of lawyers under government surveillance.   The number 709 refers to the fact that the lawyers were arrested on July 9 in 2015.   “The annual event we hold next to the Tsim Sha Tsui harbour every year at Mid-Autumn Festival is to advocate for those in custody who cannot get united with their family members,” he said.   “We also hope to increase awareness on the suppression on the defendants of human rights in mainland on the night of a traditional Chinese festival when people unite with their family members,” he added.   Chow Hang-tung, barrister and vice president of the Hong Kong Alliance, also regarded the Mid-Autumn Festival as a symbolic time to call for the activists’ reunion with their families as it is when Chinese families traditionally gather to celebrate.   “The most vocal lawyers have been either placed in jail or put on probation since the 709 crackdown, severely reducing the number of human rights lawyers who can still work effectively” said Chow, who believes that the situation for mainland human rights lawyers has worsened since the jailings in 2015. The alliance has delivered moon cakes to the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government on Chinese National day on Monday, asking for the release of jailed mainland dissidents to reunite with their families. …

Society & Politics

Hong Kong bike-sharing initiatives's secretive rise

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Japson Melanie Jane、Angie Chan Wing Ling、Xu MingyanEdited by: Daniel Ma、Sean Hsu、Choy York Borg Paulus
  • 2017-10-04

The Lands Department confiscated around 30 bikes in Tin Shui Wai and Yuen Long, most of which are from GoBee, the first bike-sharing service in Hong Kong. Unlike existing bike-rentals, bike-sharing services allows users to rent green bikes by scanning QR codes with their mobile phones, posing no restrictions on where to pick-up or drop off the bicycles. Sha Tin District Councillor Sunny Chiu Chu-bong finds the bike-sharing service is a good concept and can be very convenient, though problems have arisen since before its implementation. However Chiu said there are no regulations towards these services, but taxpayers are paying for these bikes. “They are using government land to make profit, without approval from the public.” The district councillors were not informed of the bike-sharing service until they started receiving complaints; Some complained of alarms going off and are unable to be turn them off; Bikes were inappropriately parked, blocking the road. These are only some of the common problems found since the launch of the service. “Hong Kong is not ready for bike-sharing services,” he added. “ The city lacks government regulation and infrastructure. More similar companies are going to surface and that will worsen illegal parking.” Sha Tin resident Chan said this service is quite convenient, but it’s not very well-known and the payment method is quite complicated. Though she is concerned of the parking problem, she would choose to pick up these green bikes for a free 30-minute session. Another resident Michelle Cheung feels uneasy about the registration and payment method of the services. She fears about privacy problems which could hinder with the usage of the service. “The government should make them register and plan out the areas for them to park the bikes.” She answered when asked about possible government action, regarding the disruption caused …

Society & Politics

Lack of seat belts on minibus poses threats to passengers’ safety

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Elly Wu、Michelle Ng、Sharon Pun、Wong Yin TingEdited by: Fred LAI、Celia Lai
  • 2017-10-04

More than 40 per cent of light buses in the city do not  have seat belts, despite mandatory requirements to install them. A crash involving a minibus in Shek O three days ago again raised concern on the potential threat to safety. Twenty six passengers were injured. A new law enacted in 2004 states that all minibuses must be fitted with  seat belts. The Young Reporter talked to more than 60 minibus passengers and found that only 29% of them would wear seat belts when taking a ride. Tam Chun Tak, Secretary of HK, Kln & NT Public & Maxicab Light Bus Merchants' United Association, says the high cost of fitting seat belts is a problem. He believes that without government subsidy,  it will take at least 15 years for seat belts to be installed on all light buses, and they have no plans to install seat belts in existing minibuses. “The only way to ensure all minibuses have seat belts is to replace some of the existing vehicles, “ Tam said. That’s because the frame of some of the  current buses cannot be fitted with seat belts. But former Secretary for Transport and Housing, Cheng Yu-wah, now a legislator, says the government has provided help to the industry. She explained that there have been three incentive schemes since 2004 to encourage minibus owners to replace their own vehicles in order to comply with environmental and safety standards. Out of the 64 minibus passengers The Young Reporter reached, 87% pay attention to whether seat belts are installed on minibuses, but only 29% wears them sometimes. No one said they would refuse to take a minibus without seat belts. Wong Hei-man, 20, who was once fined for not wearing a seat belt on a minibus, says she is not concerned whether …

Society & Politics

Cultural tours fail to pull mainland tourists during Golden Week

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Holly Chik、Caroline Kwok、Ezra CheungEdited by: Angela Cheung、Emily Cheung
  • 2017-10-04

  Not a lot of mainland tourists come to Hong Kong for cultural exploration or eco-tours, spokesperson of Mainland Travellers Centre of China Travel Service said. The company offers different one-day tours including popular tourists spots such as Ocean Park and Hong Kong Disneyland, but they also offer cultural and eco-tours. For example, China Travel Service provide cultural tours to Kowloon Walled City Park and visits to Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark. Both types of packages targeted at mainland travellers but cultural and eco-tours are usually less popular amongst customers regardless in peak seasons or in regular days. Over these few days of the National Day Golden Week, over 150 individuals from the mainland came to Hong Kong daily for one-day tours of traditionally popular tourist attractions. Yet, only less than 60 joined either cultural or eco-tours every day. China Travel Service spokesperson said the company did not marketise any of their tours as flagships and customers could make their own choice. “Usually they are here (in Hong Kong) for shopping and popular tourists spots,” spokesperson said. Ho Ho Go Experience is a tour agency which covers tradition and off-the-beaten-path attractions. The founder, Ling Ho, also said no mainland tourist has joined their cultural tours after they were launched in 2015. • 20 Most Popular Countries as Mainlanders' Tourist Destinations (Data from China Tourism Academy) Former Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying aimed to diversify the visitor source market and develop cultural and creative tourism, as he announced in the 2016 Policy Address. The government defined “creative tourism” as tourism and minglement of experimental activities with local characteristics, citing South Korea, Brazil and New Zealand as examples. Brazil offers tourists samba dance learning experiences instead of just watching a dancing show, whereas New Zealand organises indigenous related hands-on workshops operated by local …