Society & Politics

Society & 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 …

Society & Politics

Rallying International Resonance: Hong Kong-Catalonia Solidarity Assembly

Protesters gathered at Central tonight, waving Catalonia flags to rally in support of freedom and democracy in Catalonia, after some of Catalan leaders, such as former foreign minister Raül Romeva was put behind bars for calling for independence.  Catalonia is a semi-autonomous region in the north-east of Spain. The region has about 7.5 million people, with their own flag, language, parliament and anthem. Region stirred up constitutional crisis when the people demanded independence from Spain. The Hong Kong-Catalonia Solidarity Assembly started at 7 pm in Chater Garden tonight. Videos of police brutality and interviews of Catalan protesters are shown in the event. People brought along Catalonia flags with different banners and signs.  The organizing committee announced three demands, which include calling for peaceful response to protests from Spanish government, condemning brutal force by Spanish police against protesters and quelling any imprisonment for one’s political beliefs. There were heated debates online about joining the Assembly, fearing such action would jeopardize the passing of  Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and weaken America's support to the city. It's because the US is supporting Spain’s government in the Catalonia independence dispute. On the other hand, people think that supporting solidarity does not equal to support independence on the popular online forum LIHKG.  Waving the yellow-red-striped flag is Mr. Chan, 23, who was wearing a mask in the rally is ignoring the mask ban. He believes that supporting Catalonia is showing sympathy as the Catalan protesters are being ripped off of their freedom and democracy, same as what has happened in Hong Kong.  "When we asked for international communities to stand with us, we also have the responsibilities to rally support for those people being oppressed," said the masked student. "Prison is not a solution." A woman from Australia who was identified as …

Society & 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 …

Society & Politics

Overseas Hong Kong students defend their identity in times of protests

On her way out of the classroom, Sara, a sophomore from Hong Kong majoring in journalism at Emerson College in Boston, was asked by one of her American classmates if she was from China.  "No!" Sara flatly refuted, "I'd be offended if people said I was from China."  Given the recent tension in Hong Kong, Sara did not want to disclose her full name. Sara first became aware of her cultural identity as a Hongkonger when she was involved in the Umbrella Movement, a three-month occupation of a downtown area in Hong Kong back in 2014,  to call for universal suffrage.  Describing herself as a Hongkonger would makes Sara proud. It gives her a sense of belonging to her home city.  On her Facebook page,  most of her posts are about protests in Hong Kong.  "I'd say I'm from Hong Kong and they [her classmates] can ask me about what's going on [there]," Sara said.  She believes this is her way of contributing to her beloved city when she tells people on campus in Boston about what protesters in Hong Kong are facing. It’s her way of expressing her cultural identity. Frances Hui Wing-ting, another student from Hong Kong at Emerson College, wrote an article "I am from Hong Kong, not China" for the university newspaper.  It went viral.   "'I am from Hong Kong' has a special meaning. It means we value democracy and human rights,"  Frances explained.  In the article, Frances said it upset her to see the name of her home city listed as "Hong Kong, China" in the university's exchange programme document. She accused the university of not sufficiently "cognizant" and "knowledgeable" about Hong Kong. "It's very offensive to ignore one's identity," Ms. Hui said. She has been organising marches and assemblies in support of the anti-extradition bill …

Society & Politics

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

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: CarolYuan、Katherine Li、CassieZhang、YanniChow、ShukmanSo、BellaHuang、MoonLamEdited 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 & Politics

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 & Politics

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 & Politics

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 …

Society & Politics

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 …

Society & Politics

Legco By-election: pro-democracy camp's second defeat in Kowloon West

Hong Kong's pro-democracy camp has failed to regain veto power in the Legislative Council as the pro-establishment camp gets the upper hand in yesterday's Kowloon West by-election. Rebecca Chan Hoi-yan, who ran as an independent backed by pro-establishment forces, emerged victorious with 106,457 votes, leading by 13,410 votes. This is the first time the pro-establishment camp wins democrats by such a large margin. "I'm very excited to see this result. I'm grateful to every volunteer in my team and people who support me," said Ms. Chan, former TVB and Cable News journalist and political assistant to Secretary for Food and Health. Ms. Chan said she would focus on current work about people's livelihoods and keep her promises to the voters, instead of thinking about the next election. "We are going to make real and practical contributions," Ms. Chan said. "People's livelihoods are the first priority, and we should solve the problems concerning people's lives first." Despite facing controversies over election campaign expenses and her comments on Victor Mallet's visa denial that it was irrelevant to press freedom, she has a relatively high support rate of 25% according to the University of Hong Kong Public Opinion Programme's pre-election polls. Lee Cheuk-yan, who announced his decision to join the election after previously ousted lawmaker Lau Siu-lai's nomination was invalidated, have not succeeded in gaining the Kowloon West seat. He is the "Plan B" of pro-democracy camp, meaning that he would only join the election upon Ms. Lau's invalidation as an "alternative choice." Mr. Lee said he had “learned a lot from this election," and appealed to care for the future. He pointed out that there were still plenty of "battles" to fight, such as the legislation of Article 23, implementation of Lantau Tomorrow Vision. "As a Hongkonger, we can be disappointed, but …