Society & Politics

Politics

Hong Kong Trump supporters urge US to be harsh on China as Biden takes office

Since immigrating to the United States from Hong Kong more than 20 years ago, Matthew, a 44-year-old actuary living in Virginia, has voted four times in the presidential election. Twice for Barack Obama and then for Hillary Clinton. In 2020, it was Donald Trump.  Pro-democracy Hongkongers, like Matthew, have seen government crackdowns on the city's autonomy and freedoms during the anti-extradition protests and after the passage of a draconian national security law. Feeling desperate, some projected their hope onto former President Mr. Trump, who they thought gave China a hard time.  But as that hope is extinguished when Joe Biden came to office as the 46th US President on Wednesday, Hong Kong Americans who sided with Mr. Trump wait and see how the country’s relationship with China may develop in a new era.   "I hope the new cabinet would understand the so-called 'cooperation with the CCP' and a 'win-win' will only make the CCP win twice and do no good to the US in the long term,” Matthew said in a text interview on the day of the inauguration. He did not want his surname to be shown for fear of being targeted by authorities.   Though Matthew recognised the Democrats' effort in pushing forward the Human Rights and Democracy Act last year -- a bill that requires the US to assess Hong Kong's autonomy and allows punishing officials violating human rights -- he found the tariffs imposed by Mr. Trump more effective in weakening China and doubted if Democrat Mr. Biden would endorse them.  Mr. Biden’s aide said in August that the president "would re-evaluate the tariffs upon taking office" but had not committed to lifting them, the Washington Post reported, after Mr. Biden blamed the taxes for harming America’s economy.  When asked if he would make China pay for …

Politics

My day in Chungking Mansions: Disconnected "country" in Hong Kong

The elevator in this 17-storey behemoth of a building with more than 4,000 residents and hundreds of small businesses, can only hold five people. Waiting for an uncrowded one needs both patience and luck.  After 10 minutes, I give up and enter the stairwell to walk six numbers of flights downstairs. The walls are covered with graffiti. Through the window, I can see nothing but pipes with black stains.  Nearly half a century ago, Chungking Mansions was one of the most upscale buildings in Tsim Sha Tsui. But now, this complex has become a low-priced gathering place for minority groups and asylum seekers.  Before the pandemic, it used to see about 10,000 visitors every day. They come here for authentic food, affordable rooms, drugs, and prostitutes. For decades, some local people have viewed the complex filled with crimes and violence, as another "Kowloon Walled City," which was known for its high density and lawlessness. But fewer visitors amid the pandemic have made this building further disconnected from the outside world. I'm here to spend 24 hours, to get inside the look of this building and its people.  It's 5 pm on Sunday. Outside the stairwell on the ground floor, about 10 Africans are drinking beer and watching football on the television with loud music. I feel nervous in this unfamiliar place with so many corners and aisles, which are like scattered puzzle pieces. So I choose to stand still and look around to figure out the direction.  Luckily, someone is waving at me. I tell him that it is my first-time visit and ask for his advice. This 37-year-old Indian grocery shop owner, Muddassar Ahmed, is keen to give me an introduction. This five-block complex has more than 3 hundred stores. Most are run by African and Indian migrants and …

Society

Islamic content in textbooks spurs discussion on religious education in Hong Kong

  When Adeel Malik, an English teacher at a local school in Kwai Chung, saw messages on social media linking terrorism with Islam, he was upset. "They are basically explaining a social issue, but then they are connecting [terrorism] to Islam in a way which [the] Islamophobes know best," Mr Malik said. Screenshots of the two books, Journey Through History: New Topic-based Series and the Liberal Studies (LS) Advanced 2020, have been circulating in Muslim WhatsApp groups. The liberal studies book said some Muslims wanted to "safeguard" Islamic doctrines and cultures and they "started wars and attacks" against Western cultures. That ignited discussions on Islamic education among members of the Muslim community in Hong Kong.  More disturbing for Muslims living in Hong Kong was that a history textbook contained false information about Islamic history.   The book, among other things, claimed that Prophet Muhammad's face was shown in several paintings in the 15th century, but were discarded later to prevent idol worship of the Prophet and to focus on Allah [God in Arabic]. That's false, according to Islamic teachings. Islam prohibits drawings of any image of human beings. Raza Nasir Razi, an LS teacher at the Islamic Kasim Tuet Memorial College, is not surprised by what's in the books. During his career as a teacher in Canada, similar misunderstandings of the religion were common in the school curriculum. He found that misunderstanding of Islam to be "universal,"  referring to the common misconceptions of Islam in the West.  "A primary mistake is that the textbook author [said] that Prophet Muhammad is the founder of Islam," Mr Nasir said. "Muslims believe that Prophet Muhammad was the final prophet and believe in all the prophets mentioned in the Abrahamic faiths." But, Mr Malik is optimistic about the city's effort towards including Islamic education in …

Politics

Hong Kong's enhanced coronavirus control in the restaurant industry draws controversy

On December 8, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced that dining regulations are to be more stringent as the fourth-wave of coronavirus fast approaches Hong Kong.  In addition to maintaining the two-person gathering limit, the dining time at the restaurant was further shortened to 6 pm Fitness centres, sports premises, beauty salons, massage parlours and other places that are normally open were also required to be closed. These measures take effect on December 10. These measures were taken in response to the consecutive rise in triple-digit confirmed new cases of coronavirus since December. "We experienced this before," said Percy Lam Kwok-Ming, the manager at Brotziet, a German cuisine restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui. He referred to the third wave of Covid-19 and said that they lost around 30% of their business during that time. The food and beverage sector saw a 35.3% decrease in sales during the third quarter of 2020, according to government statistics.  "We had to take a lot of no-pay leaves so it affects our salary," said Pujan Rai, a staff at Brotzeit. She said that since part of her salary goes to supporting her family, whose income is also affected during covid, "it is a bit of a struggle every time a new wave hits Hong Kong." Ms Rai thinks it's too much to ask the restaurant to close at 6 pm as they can't get more revenue from the sale of alcohol or drinks, even have to rush customers to eat as soon as possible. She found the 6 PM limit to be excessive, since Brotziet is a restaurant and bar, closing at 6 pm means they sell fewer drinks and have to rush dining customers as well since the restaurant originally opens till 2 am, "pushing the closing time back to 8 or 9 pm …

Society

Policy Address 20/21: Carrie Lam introduces a scheme to fight youth unemployment but students are hesitant amidst Hong Kong-Mainland political unrest. 

In Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor's fourth policy address today, she addressed Hong Kong's growing unemployment rate and introduced a new scheme that will open up to 2,000 places, of which some are innovation and technology positions, in the Great Bay Area for postgraduate students.  The Greater Bay Area consists of 9 cities in China, as well as Hong Kong and Macau to create a megalopolis. With aims to increase cooperation between Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macau and promote economic development.  The city's unemployment rate hit 6.4% this year, the highest it has been in 16 years according to government statistics. Especially among the youth, according to trending economics, as of September 2020, youth unemployment has skyrocketed to a staggering 12.10%.  In order to combat this worrying trend, the Hong Kong Government will introduce as part of the Greater Bay Area expansion process a new scheme officially called "The Greater Bay Area Youth Development Scheme". In hopes that Hong Kong graduates will apply and receive career opportunities in the Great Bay Area.  "Personally, I won’t work or get a job in the Mainland," said Tommy Mo, a student at Hong Kong Baptist University. He expresses his concerns about the National Security Law and the repercussions that he might face for being vocal with his political views on the CCP on social media platforms.  Mr Mo isn’t the only one to hold such opinions, 70% of Hong Kong’s youth said that they would prefer to keep their distance from mainland China and 60% were not a fan of the Greater Bay Area and that it would bring “more harm than good”, according to media reports on a survey conducted by Hong Kong Guangdong Youth Association in January.  Alice Lam Hoi-Yan, another student at HKBU expressed similar concerns but thought the …

Society

Policy Address 20/21: HK government to introduce cash allowance for low-income families

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor highlighted new public housing schemes for residents with plans to provide low-income families currently waiting in line for public rental housing with cash allowance over a prolonged period. In the live broadcast, Mrs Lam hopes that the new schemes will "get Hong Kong out of the impasse and restore people's confidence as soon as possible."  To meet the demand of about 301,000 public housing units, the government plans to use 330 identified hectares of land required based on the Long Term Housing Strategy Annual Progress Report 2020 to implement 316,000 flats within the next 10 years.  Locations involved the Tung Chung reclamation side, the agricultural and brownfields sides in new development areas such as Kwu Tong North, Fanling North. Other suggested areas include nine sites at Kai Tak and Anderson Road Quarry, and parts of Fanling Golf Course will also be used for public housing development.  "It is the prime time to create more land for housing," she said. Ms Leung, who has been in line for public rental housing for four years, rated the policy address one out of 10. "She [Carrie Lam] did introduce new public housing, but it seems that the majority would be sold in the market rather than being rented, which would have zero impact on shortening the waiting time for public rental housing," Leung said. Currently, the waiting time for public rental housing averages at 5.6 years, which has increased by 0.1 years compared to June this year. As of September, there are about 156,400 general applications for public rental housing and about 103,600 non-elderly one-person applications.  A new cash subsidy will roll out for people waiting for public rental housing. In the trial scheme, applicants with two or more persons, and elderly one-person applicants not living in …

Society

US 2020 Election Result: Joe Biden beats Donald Trump to be the 46th president of the United States

Biden has won more than 73 million votes, which hit a record high in US elections. He is now projected to have 290 Electoral College votes which the presidential hopeful only needs more than 270 votes to be elected.  Biden still won the battleground Pennsylvania by a margin of 49.7% to 49.2% over Trump after Trump requested a recount. Biden also took over another competitive swing-state, Georgia, winning the 16 electoral votes.  After announcing the latest result, Biden stated, "Americans, I'm honoured that you have chosen me to lead our great country." He declared that he would restore political normalcy and a spirit of national unity to confront raging health and economic crises.  He also promised to be the president for "all Americans" and calls for "American unity" in his later speech. Joe Biden, a 77-year-old man who has served the government for more than half a century, has been previously 47th vice president in the Obama administration for eight year. His term of being the president is expected to last for four years till 2024.

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: Yanni Chow
  • 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 …