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Society

HKU Pillar of Shame removal deadline in limbo

  The Pillar of Shame, commemorating the Tiananmen Square incident, is yet to be removed despite the 13 Oct deadline set by the management of the University of Hong Kong. The management gave the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China the deadline. However, the sculpture is still standing in university premises  "We are still seeking legal advice and working with related parties to handle the matter in a legal and reasonable manner," the University of Hong Kong said in a statement. The Pillar of Shame is eight metres tall. It has been standing outside Haking Wong building on the campus of the University of Hong Kong since 1998. The decision of demand for removal is speculated due to conflict with the Hong Kong National Security Law, but the spokesman of the university did not wish to comment on the speculative reports.   Chief Executive and chancellor of University of Hong Kong Carrie Lam Cheng yuet-ngor commented on the removal issue, stating it is the university's  matter, and expected the management team to follow the school’s policy on handling the issue. Jens Galschiot, the Danish sculptor of the pillar, said he has hired a lawyer to follow up on the ownership and placement of the art piece after the institution announced the deadline, according to local media reports. The sculpture commemorates and signifies the 1989 June 4th movement in Beijing. Also known as the Tiananmen Incident, students and teachers held a month-long protest from April 1989 to June 1989 with demands ranging from greater civil rights and the end to corruption among government officials. “I would argue that it is still me who owns the sculpture and that it is permanently on loan for exhibition in Hong Kong,” Danish sculptor Jens Galschiøt told Hong Kong Free Press. …

Society

Home and Away football tournament raises funds, awareness of plight of Hong Kong’s refugees, asylum seekers

  Sixteen local football teams made of refugees, asylum seekers, NGO volunteers and corporate workers kicked off a charity tournament yesterday in King’s Park to raise awareness and funds for local charity Branches of Hope. The Home and Away tournament winners, My Medicare & Turtles, were composed of players from the general public. Players for The Vine All Stars, Arise United and United FC are mainly refugees and asylum seekers. The team Stop Trafficking of People are volunteers from Branches of Hope. Another four teams are mostly made up of investment bankers and law-firm workers. “We could all be refugees at some point, we should accept everyone as human,” said Assan , who doesn't want to reveal his full name, captain of the The Vine All Stars. The tournament, organised by Branches of Hope, which works with the vulnerable and marginalised in Hong Kong, is the fifth since 2014 and the first in four years because of the pandemic and difficulties in finding a venue. The tournament has so far raised HK$150,000, which will mostly go to refugees and asylum seekers to subsidize their education and rent allowance. Teams from the public were required to raise a minimum of HK$6,000 to participate. “The support by the government is insufficient. We need to live properly too, with good accommodation and shelter,” said Ousman, who doesn't want to reveal his full name ,player for The Vine All Stars. “Lack of opportunities, lack of rights: they’re being denied the rights to flourish and that motivates me to remove all these barriers for them to grow,” said Aman Yee, Executive Director of Branches of Hope. Hong Kong is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and has no legal framework governing the granting of asylum. The Hong Kong …

Society

Cleaners asked to clear debris of fallen plants under Typhoon Kompasu

  Safety concerns arose as cleaners were asked to clear plant debris while Typhoon Kompasu was striking Hong Kong.  “I am afraid to work because there are so many trees in this estate, but my manager told me to avoid them and continue working,” said Hong Xiujuan, a cleaner from Chun Wui Kee Company Limited.  Typhoon Kompasu skirted around 400 kilometres away from Hong Kong in the early hours today. The Hong Kong Observatory hoisted the Gale or Storm Signal No. 8 until 4.40 pm and recorded sustained wind speeds of up to 120 kilometres per hour. Hong said her cleaning company told her to clean up the leaves and branches of fallen trees. The company cannot be reached for comment. At 9.15 am, a 5-meter tree collapsed and fell on three vehicles at the open parking lot at Tung Tau Estate in Wong Tai Sin, local media reported. As at 4 pm, the 1823 Government Call Centre received 72 reports of fallen trees, according to a government press release. The Labour Department states in its Code of Practice in Times of Typhoons and rainstorms that employers should give “prime consideration to the safety” of staff on duty and provide equipment such as “safety helmets with chin straps, raincoats and waterproof safety boots.”  “The cleaners should not be working actually. The fallen trees in the estate will be handled by the engineering and gardening group of the Housing Authority after the typhoon,” said Lam Wai, a district councillor of Kwun Tong. “I think the government could monitor how the commissioners arrange jobs for their workers but they could not intervene actually, '' Lam said. Hong Kong was lashed by two typhoons this week. LionRock, which struck the city last week from 500 kilometres away, left at least 14 injured. The …

Society

Panic-buying Emerges Before Typhoon Kompasu Hits the City

Hong Kong people scrambled for food after the Strong Wind Signal No.3 was in force, in order to have enough food before No.8 Gale or Storm Signal was issued today.  Fresh meat and seafood in the Wellcome Superstore in Sha Kok Shopping Centre were sold out at noon, as Hong Kong people were panic-buying to get prepared for the approaching typhoon Kompasu. Chan Fung, a customer at Sha Kok Market, said she returned home empty-handed yesterday because of the stockout. She visited the wet market again this afternoon and bought more than usual, including two bags of vegetables, five oranges and a fish, which cost around HK$200. Prices were up for approximately 10%, Chan added. Still, she was not able to purchase any meat, as they were all sold out earlier. “I didn’t buy much, the food is just enough for tomorrow, because I guess the typhoon will only stay for one day,” Chan said.  The second typhoon in the city this month is approaching after Lionrock’s visit on Saturday. Typhoon Kompasu will be nearest to Hong Kong in Wednesday's early morning, so the No.8 Gale or Storm Signal issued at 5:20pm will be in force at least before sunrise on Wednesday, according to the central briefing by the Hong Kong Observatory. “Strong to gale force north to north easterly winds, occasionally storm force offshore and on high ground,” said Yeung Kwok Chung, Acting Senior Scientific Officer of Hong Kong Observatory, in the central briefing at 9 pm. "Winds will moderate gradually tomorrow night, it will also be cloudy with heavy squally showers and thunderstorms." Queues in the Wellcome Superstore in Sha Kok Shopping Centre were extended to the back of the store.  Tang Man-wai, a customer at the Wellcome Superstore, had only a box of sushi and four cup noodles …

Society

Clogged sinks, awful food and poor service: Travellers shocked at Hong Kong’s quarantine hotels

When Lau Kai Ching decided to come to Hong Kong from Malaysia, she found she had limited options in choosing a quarantine hotel. “I found that there were few designated hotels and most of them were full, especially those which were highly recommended by users on social media,” she said. “So I had to choose one called Ramada Harbour View.” Once she arrived in September, things were not what she expected. “The most bothersome thing is that, in the toilet, the pipe doesn’t work very well and the water gets clogged very quickly. I asked some people to fix it but the staff from the hotel said that they had no permission to enter the room of the traveller who was in quarantine,” she said.  Lau said she wanted to change rooms but it required permission from the Department of Health. “Then I made a phone call to the department and the operator told me he had received the report and would arrange it as soon as possible,” she said. She said she received no reply after that. “Fortunately, after three days, the blockage of the water pipe eased a little. It could barely work but the water flow was so slow that it took a long time to wash,” she said. In Hong Kong, all inbound arrivals from outside of mainland China and Macau are required to quarantine in government-designated hotels that must be booked before boarding the plane.  In September, 92,398 people arrived in Hong Kong, ccording to the website of the immigration department. Those from “high-risk” countries, such as the US, the UK and much of Europe, are required to undergo a 21-day quarantine and should be vaccinated.  They are also required to undergo six compulsory tests during the period followed by a week of self-monitoring. Currently, …

Society

Policy Address 2021 Key Takeaways: developing a metropolis and upholding 'one country, two systems'

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s fifth and final policy address of her current term surpassed last year’s to become the lengthiest address ever. Reading her 80-page policy blueprint over a record span of two hours and 38 minutes, Lam spoke about her government’s commitment to the ‘one country, two systems’ principle and introduced the usual extensive list of economic and social measures.  Here are five key takeaways from her speech today: 1.Increasing housing supply Lam said the government identified 350 hectares of land to produce 330,000 public housing units over the next 10 years, a slight increase from last year’s figures.  Lam also announced the Northern Metropolis Development Strategy, a project to transform 30,000 hectares of the northern part of Hong Kong into a metropolitan area. Lam said the completion of the project will contain more than 900,000 residential units — including the  existing 390,000 — to accommodate about 2.5 million people. However, local advocacy groups were disappointed by the policy address’ lack of plans in addressing housing needs in subdivided flats. 2.  Bolstering Hong Kong’s position as an international hub Noting the financial services industry as “an important pillar” of Hong Kong’s economy, Lam aims to better position the city in bridging mainland China’s market with the international market by improving the stock exchange’s listing regime and expanding offshore business to using yuan currency.  Lam seeks to further foster the city’s status in international trade by forming closer relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and seeking to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. Lam also pushed for Hong Kong to become a leader in legal and dispute resolution within the Asia-Pacific. The Department of Justice will organise the Greater Bay Area’s legal professional exam and allow Hong Kong enterprises registered in Qianhai to adopt Hong Kong …

Society

Policy Address 2021: Carrie Lam acknowledges integration problem for ethnic minorities; expert says nothing has changed

The Hong Kong government will assess the effectiveness of its four-year-old scheme to enrol more non-Chinese speaking students in local kindergartens, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in this morning’s policy address.  But local experts and ethnic minorities have little hope anything will change. “It is encouraging that the minorities are part of the policy address, but for me, the challenging aspect is, where is the political will to truly enact all of this?” said Jeffrey Andrews, the first ethnic minority in Hong Kong to have run for the Legislative Council. “There’s so much money already given, but for me, I haven't really felt or seen any impact at all.” In the 2017-2018 school year, the government implemented the Kindergarten Education Scheme, through which eligible children are able to attend local non-profit kindergartens with a three-year subsidy, according to the Education Bureau.  As part of the government’s effort to integrate ethnic minorities into the community, kindergartens that admit more than eight non-Chinese speaking students are provided with additional funding. “Hong Kong actually does a good job in accepting non-Chinese, but one of the major things is the language barrier… I learned Chinese at a very young age. I found that very, very, very useful,” said Rubin Robert Fernie, a Scottish Filipino born and raised here. While the majority of the city’s population speak and write Chinese, less than one in five ethnic minorities are able to read Chinese, according to the Census and Statistics Department. In the 2016 Population By-census, 8% of the city’s population are non-Chinese ethnicities, an increase from 6.4% in 2011. “The policy is for sure important. But how do you implement them? In kindergarten education, how do you make sure ethnic minorities can learn Chinese in an equal environment?” said Leung Yuk-ming, associate director of …

Society

Policy address 2021: Northern Metropolis development project to boost land supply, address housing woes

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: REN Ziyi David、Kylie Wong、Serena KongEdited by: Zhu Zijin Cora 朱子槿、CHEN Bingyi
  • 2021-10-06

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor proposed a large-scale development plan in the northern New Territories in her last policy address of this term. Creating a new town on the border with Shenzhen, the plan will develop 600 hectares of land capable of housing 2.5 million people to address the current housing shortage.  “We cannot avoid the question of how much land Hong Kong lacks, as the projected shortfall will guide our spatial development strategy,” Lam said. The plan was delivered as the government of one of the world’s least affordable real estate markets pledged to ease the housing problem under pressure from Beijing.  “There will not be much change in the short term as planning requires time,” said Yuen Wai-kee, associate professor of the department of economics and finance at Hong Kong Shue Yan University.  “What Lam puts forward now is merely an early stage conceptual layout while the actual implementation might take at least 10 years.” The plan will increase the city’s public housing, though Lam did not say by how many. According to reports released by the Hong Kong Housing Authority, the average waiting time for public housing in 2020 is about six years. For the single elderly applicants aged above 58, it is about four years.  Many waiting for public housing live in cramped subdivided flats. Currently, 209,700 people live in units averaging one fourth to one third the size of a standard flat, according to the 2016 population by-census.  in July, Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, urged Hong Kong to scrap subdivided flats and “cage homes” by 2049.  Beijing’s top representative in the city, Luo Huining, followed up by paying visits to such homes on National Day last week. Increasing land supply with more affordable houses has been a …

Society

Policy Address 2021: advocacy group surprised over lack of subdivided flats relief measures

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Karmen Li、Tracy LeungEdited by: Bowie Tse、WANG Yichun
  • 2021-10-06

Tenants living in the city’s cramped subdivided flats expected help from today’s policy address but were disappointed by a lack of concrete plans. Another 5,000 transitional housing units will be made available to people waiting for public housing, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in her fifth policy address, after announcing earlier this week that the housing shortage would be the focus of her talk to the Legislative Council. The supply is expected to increase to 20,000 in the following years.  “The policy address failed to respond to the urgent housing needs of residents who are now living in subdivided flats and cage homes,” said Sze Lai-shan, a committee member of the local advocacy group Society for Community Organization. ”The number of transitional housing units should increase to 50,000 units in five years.”  In 2021, there were 226,000 people living in around 110,000 subdivided flats, according to the Hong Kong Legislative Council. Lam also said in the policy address that the previously-announced rent control measures for subdivided flats will go into effect in January to curb landlords from increasing rent for two years. Private housing between 70 to 99.9 square meters, colloquially referred to as subdivided flats, saw rent increase 42% between 2010 and 2019, according to SoCO. “Apart from the tenancy control, the regulations on the control of starting rents of subdivided flats are not proposed in the policy address after we have already expressed our demands to the government earlier,” Sze added.  “I am disappointed this time as I often hear that the government officials uphold the slogan ‘say goodbye to subdivided flats’ but it turned out that the government was only concerned about economic development,” said Li Miaorong, who has lived in a subdivided flat in Sham Shui Po for the last three years.  The family …

Society

Policy Address 2021: strengthen national education for students and teachers, Lam says

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Nola Yip、Tiffany MaEdited by: SHI Ruoshui、POON Hiu Lam、BellaHuang
  • 2021-10-06

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor highlighted national education in today’s policy address, saying that strengthening it is a way to cope with students who have been misled and participated in “extreme political activities”. This school year, liberal studies classes were replaced with the new subject “citizenship and social development” starting from form-4.  Lam said she would personally conduct classes for teachers of the new subject so that they may have a better grasp of the status and power of the constitution as well as the function of the chief executive under “One Country, Two Systems”. “It is hard to squeeze in time for national education elements on top of the current tightly-scheduled teaching curriculum. Giving classes for teachers would be unnecessary. Newly-joined teachers are required to take a three to six hour training course on national education,” said Ho Ho-ping, a secondary school teacher.  “Wide-ranging guidelines on national education would be confusing to teachers. There are doubts about the effectiveness of national security education,” Ho said. However, Ho said that highlighting civic education can emphasize the importance of being a law-abiding citizen for young people.  Lam said that a minority of students have been “deluded and radicalised to take part in illegal acts and even organise extreme political activities”, and called for cultivating the sense of “national identity, values and civic-mindedness.” Kevin Yeung Yun-hung, the Secretary for Education, has requested schools to formulate and implement formal plans on national security education as soon as possible. Universities are also advised to teach national education. Hong Kong Baptist University introduced a two-hour national security law education class as a graduation requirement this year.  Sami Luk, a third-year student from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said that she disagrees with Lam’s comments on the “deluded and radicalized” students.  “Some …