Society

Society

"Cyberpunk" exhibition takes place at former Sham Shui Po homeless camp

The "Heart of Cyberpunk" exhibition opened last week at the Tung Chau Street Temporary Market in Sham Shui Po, which used to be a homeless camp. The 9-day free-to-enter exhibition featured various workshops, guided tours and interactive sections with local artists. It marked the start of #ddHK, a 3-year Creative Tourism and Placemaking Project by Hong Kong Design Centre, since last October. However, the venue of the exhibition turned controversial as the Market was known as the camp for the homeless. The market was locked and the homeless had to move to the Tung Chau Street Park nearby.  This project was criticized as an accomplice in driving out the homeless, despite they had clarified later on their Facebook page. Ng Wai Tung, Community Organizer of the Society for Community Organization, agreed that there was no causal relationship between the exhibition and clearance of street sleepers at the spot. "The clearance took place in 2019, and ended by the end of the year. The police would suspect street sleepers for keeping drugs or offensive weapons, and bring them to the police station, and cordoned off their wooden house right away." Mr Ng said that the clearance was a step-by-step operation. The Highways Department would clear up the wooden house, and set up wire fences. So the homeless had no choice, but moved into the Tung Chau Street Park, and places like McDonald's. However, street sleepers' belongings had been damaged and lost during the clearance by the police. The Society for Community Organization has been helping 10 street sleepers, filing claims to the government at the Small Claims Tribunal for loss of personal belongings, ranging HK$2,200 to HK$13,290.  The lost items included clothing, cards, and cash, however invaluable items such as gifts from family, and photos, were unable to claim for compensation. …

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.

Society

Hong Kong celebrates 'Once In a Blue Moon' Halloween amid COVID-19

Traditionally, Halloween has been a festival for people to dress up as different characters and go trick-or-treating. But, the Halloween of 2020 has been a different one: Hong Kong is celebrating the festival under COVID-19, along with a 'blue moon'. The blue moon phenomenon, which refers to the second full moon in the same calendar month, is also the origin of the English phrase 'once in a blue moon'. The first blue moon appeared during the Mid-Autumn festival in early October.  "We are excited to see what everybody is talking about, and also looking forward to seeing it [the blue moon]," said Alex Nathan, 45, who came to the West Kowloon Cultural District to take part in Halloween activities such as face painting. Mr. Nathan also brought four other children to the District, with all of them dressed up as different characters, including a vampire and ballerina.   "The blue moon is making the day more special," said Will Mok To-Wing, 31, and Rebecca Cho Miu-Kwan, 24. Mr. Mok and Ms. Cho decorated their gathering venue with outdoor chairs and pumpkin lanterns, while also sharing food with their friends. Under the blue moon were a group of adults and children dressed as the hit Japanese game character Mario, which were bought from an online shopping platform for less than HK$500.  "We wanted to dress up at a low cost and with clothes that can have different recognizable colours, so we chose Mario," said Cuby Lau Pui-Yu, 32, who put on a green Mario costume, along with her former classmates and their children. Apart from the costumes, Mr. Nathan, Mr. Mok, Ms. Cho, and Ms. Lau also carried face masks and hand sanitizers in their bags, with the pandemic still looming large in the city.  Due to COVID-19 and unstable weather in …

Society

Halloween brings large crowds to Lan Kwai Fong amid COVID-19

Hundreds dressed in costumes gathered at Lan Kwai Fong for a night of partying on Halloween, with packed streets and long queues accumulating for bars and nightclubs, amid the city's on-again, off-again social distancing measures.  "We can't take off our masks at all, take proper photos or completely enjoy ourselves," said Sparsh Goyal, 20, a university student in Hong Kong who came to celebrate Halloween with her friends, while having to sanitize her hands frequently to enforce self-hygiene and remain safe. Up until Friday, bars, restaurants, and clubs were only allowed to operate at a half-full capacity, with a maximum of four people per table allowed at restaurants, two at bars, and a required midnight closing time.  On Friday, the government announced it would ease measures with the limit of people at restaurants raised from four to six and from two to four at bars. Clubs and bars were also allowed to operate at a 75% capacity till 2am, a two-hour increase for party-goers.  Police took extensive measures to ensure crowd control. Signs were hung at every corner to guide people through designated entrances and exits, as well as to make sure they were following social distancing measures. Some were not so worried about the risk of contracting the disease even while being present amongst such a large crowd. "There is not a big chance of catching COVID while just walking around [Lan Kwai Fong]," said Chan Yu-Hon, 34, who said it was his first time celebrating Halloween at the city's prime party street. Most bars and clubs followed anti-epidemic measures such as temperature checks upon entry and providing hand sanitizing gel.  "It's kind of surprising and unusual to see this many people together now," said Aidan Cheung, 23, referring to the large crowds. Since the start of the pandemic, …

Society

Resolving disability through faith-the story of Sa'diyya Nesar

Sitting in a wheelchair, and spreading positivity, despite her adversities through her words and writings, a Pakistani woman talks about her struggles of being a woman with disabilities. One such personality is Ms Sa'diyya Nesar. She is a disabled woman, who wishes to empower people through her writing, speeches and community care initiatives. She has written a book called Strength from Within and was recently awarded the 2020 Social Justice Fellowship under the theme of 'disABILITIES and Empowerment: Less Assumptions, More Conversations' by the Resolve Foundation. Ms Nesar, born and raised in Hong Kong was diagnosed with myopathy, which results in weak muscles since birth. She uses a wheelchair and needs assistance when going out, when moving around at home and while laying down, where she has to use a breathing machine.  According to the Hong Kong Monthly Digest of Statistics, there were 578,600 people with disabilities, as of December 2013. Among them, 320,500 persons said that they had disabilities which had a "restriction in body movement." In 2013, she graduated from the University of Hong Kong with a Bachelor's degree in English Language and Literature and later began to write for different news outlets about her struggle with disability. She refers to her struggle as a result of "attitudinal barriers"— which refers to stigmas associated with disability. Ms Nesar also believes that it is an assumption that people with physical disabilities mainly suffer from physical barriers. "It's usually assumed that the main challenge for those with disabilities in everyday life is their health or the physical barriers that we face.  It's actually not.   The main challenge lies in being judged or being treated differently. Being treated differently in a way that is derogatory instead of accommodating. There's a lack of inclusion and the alienation that can come from that. …

Society

Art exhibition disCONNECT HK takes over tenement building to reflect on COVID-19

Fourteen artists will showcase their works in an exhibition about connection, belonging, isolation, and the role of technology under the pandemic by taking over a restored 1950s Hong Kong historic tenement building. Local non-profit arts organisation, HKwalls is collaborating with Schoeni Projects, a contemporary art project based in Hong Kong and London to launch disCONNECT HK from October 11 to November 29, featuring artists from Hong Kong, the UK, Germany, Italy, Iran, Portugal, and Spain.  "Everyone needs a bit of art and everyone is craving it, especially when we are having such a hard time now," said Jason Dembski, 39, founder of HKwalls.  Organisers decided to hold disCONNECT HK at a rehabilitated tenement building to inherit most of disCONNECT LDN, the original project which took place at an 1850s Victorian townhouse in South West London from July to August this year.  The three-floor exhibition in Causeway Bay is open to the public for free, but appointments have to be made online in advance. To further allow the public to access the exhibition, HKwalls is also offering a 3D virtual tour at Hysan Place, which enables visitors to revisit disCONNECT LDN digitally. Despite the exhibition situated in the centre of the city, it has not been capturing much attention.  "When we invite visitors to the 3D tour,  people usually hesitate," said Hui Wai-sze, 28, an assistant curator from the Schoeni Projects.  Ms Hui believes that education in Hong Kong has a huge impact on how people view art, in particular, street art. “A lot of us were educated that street art is not as presentable as other forms of art, and is not a proper medium to express our feelings and thoughts,” she added.  She hopes through holding more family-friendly arts events like disCONNECT HK, the general public could have a …

Society

Hongkongers celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival in a socially distanced way 

For the first time ever, the city celebrates the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day with social distancing measures, which includes compulsory mask-wearing in public areas and no more than four people in a group gathering.  Despite the social distancing measures, people gather around without keeping a distance of at least 1.5 meters apart.  Traditional celebrations including the National Day Fireworks, Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance and the public Lantern Festivals have been cancelled. While several districts' festive events are still available in town.   MTR cancels overnight services on Mid-Autumn Festival for the second year in a row, train services are provided within normal time.  The Leisure and Cultural Services Department warns Hongkongers to strictly follow the social distancing rules and not to enter prohibited areas such as beach and barbecue sites during the holidays.  The new social distancing measures in place will be maintained until October 7, while bars, restaurants and karaoke clubs are allowed to open until 12 am.  Hong Kong records 12 local COVID-19 cases in the past seven days, a 71-year-old woman of elderly home tested positive and 61 co-residents were sent to Asia-World Expo for quarantine.     A black rainstorm signal was issued on Wednesday night before the Mid-Autumn Festival.  Mr Chuang Ka-ming, 14, and a secondary school student says this year's Mid-Autumn Festival is unprecedentedly joyless and less exciting, "I can't feel the festival mood, wearing masks while playing outside." He gathers with another three classmates at Shatin Park, playing glow sticks and lanterns. Miss Kan Tsz-lok, 16, also a secondary school student who admires the moon with her family after the reunion dinner. She feels disappointed that her sister cannot enjoy the festival games,"Many Mid-Autumn Festival carnival and lantern riddle games have been cancelled this year. For me, I'm less affected by the cancellation as …

Society

Confusing high-tech online classes during campus closure

Time has frozen in the hallways of the Department of Computer Science at Hong Kong Baptist University. All the lights on, but the empty rooms are almost too eerie to step into. A piece of paper that reads "Online Teaching  In Progress" is stuck to a door. Behind it, Lan Liang is sitting in front of his computer, facing a screen filled with the names of his students framed in a grid.  Due to the overwhelming spread of COVID-19, universities in Hong Kong and mainland China have suspended on-campus teaching activities since January. Resumption of classes before the Summer now seems unlikely. Teaching activities have moved online. But the high-tech teaching tools have caused some confusion. Some teachers are uncertain whether students understand the content while others aren't sure how to use the online teaching software. Dr Lan, a lecturer from the Department of Computer Science at HKBU is among them. He started teaching at the university two years ago but has experienced the suspension of on-campus classes twice so far.  Dr Lan started teaching using the video conferencing application, ZOOM, this semester. Teachers share their computer screens in real time with students.   Dr Lan found it difficult to teach that way. "At the beginning, I actually felt very weird just talking to a computer for two hours," said Dr Lan,  "I did not know whether the students really understood the concept or not. I just kept talking and talking." He asked his students to turn off their cameras because he was afraid that the network could not bear the traffic if everyone was on video. Dr Lan is not alone. Jean Lai is another lecturer at the Department of Computer Science. "I cannot see the students. I don't know if they are listening, or can understand what I am …

Society

Caught in the middle: how Hong Kong protests affect the mental state of mainland students in the city

Amy, not her real name, lives in fear of retribution by the Chinese government months after the anti-extradition bill protest in Hong Kong. She has been depressed since witnessing the siege of Hong Kong Polytechnic University back in November. "That day, I had a mental breakdown. I couldn't stop crying," Amy recalls from behind her mask, worn by most of those who took part in the protest. "Everything felt meaningless," she added. Last November, on-campus classes at universities around Hong Kong were suspended due to safety concerns about the continuous protests. Non-local students, including those from mainland China and abroad were advised by the universities to leave Hong Kong. The sudden change left many mainland students unprepared. During political tension between Hong Kong and mainland China, some mainland students were caught up in a quandary about their identities, according to a survey conducted by The Young Reporter. Q1: How long have you been living in Hong Kong? Q2: Why did you leave Hong Kong? Amy, the girl dressed in black, said that during the "most scary time," she was drowned in anger and sorrow, but she hardly trusted anyone when she wanted to share her experience. "Weibo (Chinese social media) is also one of my way out. If you can talk about it, you might feel better," she said. However, she told The Young Reporter that her Weibo account has already been blocked since she talked too much about politics. Those who didn't engage in the social movement as much as Amy also experienced mental instability. Sophia Sheng, 20, a mainland student studying at Hong Kong Baptist University, said that she has been affected by the "negative emotions" from the protests. "No one knew when it would end. The fear of the unknown caused anxiety," said Ms Sheng. Some of …

Society

 How Overseas Chinese students react to the coronavirus outbreak?

Two weeks before starting university in February, Nathan Ng was walking to church on an overcast Sunday morning. On his way, he saw a middle-aged Caucasian woman, with her young daughter, staring at him. Both then pointed and muttered foul language directed at him and two other Chinese people on the same street.  He chose to ignore them and continued walking to church.  Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in China, there has been an increasing number of reports of discrimination against Chinese people around the world. In one case, Jonathan Mok, a 23-year-old Singaporean of Chinese descent studying in London, suffered facial injuries in a "racially aggravated assault."  "I was scared whenever I stepped out of my house. I wasn't sure how people would react and behave towards me because of everything that has happened in China and the rest of the world," says Mr Ng.  Nathan Ng, a Chinese student at the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, has gone through issues of anxiety during the coronavirus pandemic.  According to the Australian Government's Department of Health, the nation has over 2,300 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and eight reported deaths, as of March 25.   During the same journey to church, while Mr Ng was crossing the road, he saw an elderly man in his early 60s coughing. He initially thought the cough was exaggerated due to his presence. However, as he looks back at the incident today, he thinks it was just a regular cough and regrets the anger he felt at the time.  Following the incident, however, he nearly began to tear up.   "I don't think much about what happened now, but it definitely had an effect on me at the time," said Mr Ng.  Since heading back to university in early March, things have improved …