PolyU students go on hunger strike against paper-covered "democracy wall"

  • 2018-10-05
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Ezra Cheung、Katherine LiEdited by: Holly Chik、Raphael Blet、Michelle Ng
  • 2018-10-05

"The university's management has pushed us to the point of desperation," said students starting a hunger strike. Two student leaders from Hong Kong Polytechnic University announced this evening they were to go on a hunger strike, to protest against the school management's decision to take control of the "democracy wall" initially managed by the university's student union. The conflict began on September 24, four days before the fourth anniversary of the mass pro-democracy Umbrella Movement, as some students stuck messages supporting the city's independence onto the notice board, commonly referred as "democracy wall". PolyU management covered half of the board with large sheets of red paper on Tuesday. Students were enraged claiming their freedom of speech was being stifled. Several dozens of students gathered when the student union held a press conference at the university's main podium at 8:30 pm on Friday following their protest on Thursday demanding the vice president an explanation as to why the management decided to cover the wall. The student union's president Wing Lam Wing-hang and the student union council chairman Victor Yuen Pak-leung announced that they were to "start their hunger strike immediately" at the podium. "The university management has pushed us to the point of desperation... They are numb to conscience," the student union said in their open letter. "The school has been dismissive to the student union council representatives." Mr. Lam said the student union had collected more than 4,000 signatures against the school's decision. "We do not compromise on freedom of speech," Mr. Lam added. Kate Liu, 24, an urban planning PolyU student from the mainland, thought the action the university took was "mild". "Students having their own views is good," she said. "But the university should be with the government in fighting against Hong Kong independence." During the press conference, a …

July 1 protest with new starting point draws less crowd

  • 2018-07-01
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Katherine Li、Vanessa Yung、Nadia LamEdited by: Michael Shum、Holly Chik、Michelle Ng
  • 2018-07-01

This is the second year the starting point of the July 1 march has been changed to the Central Lawn of the Victoria Park while the number of participants continues to drop. About 50,000 people joined the rally this year as the organiser reported, while the police claimed there are 9,800 people at peak, which was the lowest since 2003. For the second consecutive year, the organiser failed to reserve the soccer pitches as the starting point due to the handover celebration organised by The Hong Kong Celebrations Association. The application to assemble at East Point Road also failed later. Au Nok-hin, the vice-convener of the Civil Human Rights Front, called for citizens not to join the rally at East Point Road. He claimed that the participants could join at the Hysan place or Wan Chai Computer Centre instead. "I am worried that the police will find opportunities to arrests citizens in East Point Road. I know that there are already dozens of police there. The grip placed on protests have definitely tightened," Mr. Au said before the protest started. As TYR reporters observed, the participants could join or leave the rally freely during the march. However, in some places with crowd control barriers in place, people are not allowed to enter. According to the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, The Celebrations Association was given priority since it is a registered charity group under the Inland Revenue Ordinance. Different parties have different complaints towards the government. In regards to democracy, Martin Lee, founder of the Democratic Party in Hong Kong, believes that Carrie Lam is not doing enough. "My greatest complaint about the current government is that this chief executive has done nothing, nothing in this past one year, about democracy," said Mr. Lee. "The Basic Law has been interpreted by the …

Last day before Tiananmen closes for maintenance

  • 2018-06-14

The red flag with yellow stars slowly descends as the sun goes down at the Tiananmen square, marking not only the end of a day in Beijing but also the last day before the 700-year-old castle wall closes for maintenance. The Tiananmen District Management Committee announced on Tuesday that the heritage would be closed from 15 June to April next year. It is the first time Tiananmen close for repairment after its major renovation in the 1970s. The maintenance would mainly improve on waterproofing the Tiananmen tower, repairing and replacing tubings and equipments which have reached its life time, and conserving the heritage. The flag raising and lowering ceremony take place everyday at sunrise and sunset. Tourists, mostly Chinese, starts to gather on the plaza shortly after six, 90 minutes before the flag lowering ceremony. Mandy Yip, a tourist from Hong Kong said she chose to come today because the tower is closing the day after. "We didn't plan to come today, but we heard from the news that it is closing, so we came to visit before it is draped," she said. Li Feng, a Tianjin tourist who came to Beijing with his girlfriend also said they came knowing today is the last day of the building. "I do not have any special feelings about the building, but I still came knowing I could not visit it in a year." On the square, there are many cameramen who win breads by taking photos of tourists in front of the Tiananmen. "The maintenance is a catastrophe to me. It would no longer be attractive for photo-taking. I may go jobless," Wang Chao, one of the photographers said. Yet not all businesses think alike, Chen Yi-lin, who runs a vending truck said she is not worried at all. "I have never …


Catalonia's brewing independence

Spain has a new prime minister this week. Pedro Sanchez defeated his predecessor, Mariano Rajoy in a vote of no confidence. Rajoy is embroiled in a corruption scandal. Although Basque and Catalan nationalist parties voted in favour of Sanchez, it is unclear whether they will support his government. Sanchez, like Rajoy, will likely have to contend with Catalonia’s continuing fight to split from Spain. Walk past any major street in Barcelona and you will notice row upon row of flags fluttering from balconies. In Catalonia, the Senyera estelada, is a symbol of independence. Some of these yellow and red striped ensigns with a lone white star have been there for so long that the stripes have been bleached almost pink and white by the sun. But the newer polemic symbol of Catalonia’s quest to split from Spain are the yellow ribbons. These too are all over Barcelona: spray painted on pavements, tied to railings and lampposts, some of them, giant displays outside residential building stretching several storeys high. Yellow ribbons have become more common since last October when pro-independence parties claimed that most people in Catalonia chose independence from Spain in a referendum. Liz Castro is an American writer and publisher living in Barcelona. In May 2015, she was elected national secretary of the Catalan National Assembly, a grassroot movement for Catalan independence and Ms. Castro is currently chairwoman of the Assembly’s international committee. She has been writing about Catalonia’s fight for independence for years and is also an activist in the Catalan independence movement. Following last year’s referendum, Ms. Castro wrote The Street Will Always Be Ours. Ms. Castro said that Spain is actively suppressing the Catalan economy by not funding the infrastructure that the region needs. "Catalonia represents 16% of the population but Spain only allocates ten or …

Health & Environment

Virtual Healing

Researchers at the University of Barcelona have found virtual reality to be a useful tool in psychology   Virtual reality may be the buzzword in journalism and entertainment. But for a team of psychologists and computer scientists at the University of Barcelona, these are just new applications for tools that they have been researching on for some time. The Experimental Virtual Environments Lab (EVENT Lab) at the Department of Psychobiology of the University of Barcelona focuses on immersive and embodiment experiences. Researchers from the University of Barcelona, the University College London and the University of Derby help participants learn through compassion. They use avatars and computer science gaming technology to teach empathy. For example, a user can be embodied in a black avatar to experience racial discrimination, or an adult in the body of a child to empathise how it feels when parents are harsh. "We found that adults who experience the kind mother gain trust," Mel Slater, the director of EVENTS Lab explained, "but when they meet the harsh mother first followed by the kind one a week later, they tend not to trust her." To experience embodiment, the participant has to put on a black bodysuit. Sensor pompoms on the garment allow the computer to track the person's movement so that the programme can react accordingly. The signals are picked up by sensors mounted on the walls of the pitch black lab. A virtual reality headset then allows the user to immerse in the altered world. "Parents who go through the experience tend to become more empathetic toward their children afterwards," said Domna Banakou, a researcher at the lab. "Racial discrimination also tends to decrease after white people experience what it is like to be black," added Banakou. These virtual reality experiments have taken Mel Slater and his …

A 10-min mobile experience to online dating

  • 2018-06-02

More than 50 million people on earth are Tinder users. In a hustling city like Hong Kong, single millennials found it hard to look for partners because of gender imbalance, high expectation and busy schedules. LGBT communities actively use online dating apps because it is difficult for them to look for partners, while they are constantly worried that their identity and personal data will be exposed.

Death in the afternoon in Madrid

  • 2018-05-24
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Nadia Lam、Erin ChanEdited by: Holly Chik、Angie Chan、Michelle Ng
  • 2018-05-24

There are many styles of bullfighting around the world, but in Spain, death is inevitable for the beast. At around 6:30 p.m on a Sunday evening, about 20,000 people packed into Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas, a bullfighting ring in Madrid. Music started blaring from speakers around the circular spectator stands. A lone bull entered the arena. It stood quietly at the centre, seemingly at a loss. Several men then joined the beast in the ring, waving pieces of red cape known as muleta. The waving enraged the animal and soon it charged and rushed at the moving fabric. In came the matador, mounted on the back of a white horse. With a lance in his right hand, the matador started to irritate the bull by chasing it around the arena. The horse galloped to avoid being jabbed by the bull's fierce horns and after minutes of this teasing and dancing, the matador then stabbed the bull with the spear. This was just the start of the bull's suffering. The process continued until five of six lances had pierced the back of the bull's neck. It continued to charge as blood oozed from its wounds. The agony came with one sharp jab of a sword vertically into the top of its spine. The bull fell. The audience cheered and waved pieces of white cloth to show their appreciation towards the bullfighter. That was round one. The next bull, equally confused as the first then came into the ring. Its only defence against the matador's provocation was its horns. During one of the rounds, the bull simply would not be provoked. It escaped and ran into the aisle between the spectators' area and the arena, which raised a clamour among the audience. The matadors didn't give up and after the …

The United Nations headquarters of pickpocketing victims

  • 2018-05-23

It is a place where you can meet friends from around the world, who share a truly memorable experience on your journey – it is a place you definitely do NOT want to visit in Spain. At the National Police, district Madrid-Centro, a red sign reads "SATE" near the entrance. "SATE" means "Foreign Tourist Assistance Service". Follow it and you enter a  room full of people sitting in front of a blank wall. They are all victims of pickpocketing in Spain. I found myself a seat. There were 20 people this particular afternoon in May. The tourist season in Madrid has only just started. Everybody in the room looked blank and empty, just like their wallets. Five minutes later, an officer invited me to another room. He handed me a phone. There was a police officer on the line. "Tell me what happened," he said. "This afternoon I was going around Plaza Mayor with my friends. My wallet got stolen," I explained. The wallet was in a zipped up bag by my side. I had no idea how it got stolen. Perhaps just one lapsed moment was enough for a skilful thief to open my bag, spot the wallet, and snap it way – just a matter of seconds. It was day one of our trip. I had 250 Euros ($2,300) in my wallet, along with my bank card, credit card, and the key for my hotel room. Fortunately, there was no suspicious spending record on my credit card before I called to cut the service. After my account of what happened, I was told to return to the room of victims to wait for the official statement report. I asked how long would it take. "Hmm... usually a while," the officer muttered. Everyone in the room had a ticket …

Witness testifies that he heard one defendant said he murdered someone over the phone

  • 2018-04-18

The trial of three men who are charged with murder and preventing lawful burial of Cheung Man-li, a 28-year-old man whose body was buried in cement, continued. The witness heard the defendant said he had murdered someone. Witness Tong King-shing, a friend of Mr. Tsang Cheung-yan "Ah T", one of the defendants, said there were conversations that they had murdered a person in Hong Kong over the phone. Mr. Tong, when questioned whether he had asked why Mr. Tsang was in Taiwan, said Mr. Tsang mentioned that he was travelling. In March 2016, he began to continuously ask Mr. Tong to lend him a couple thousand Hong Kong dollars. When Mr. Tsang called Mr. Tong in Taiwan again to ask for money, he heard clearly that there were people in the background. "I heard three male voices, including Ah Ho, the second defendant Lau Shek-ho and KK, the third defendant Cheung Sin-hang. Furthermore, he said that someone in the background of the conversation said "the dead body was buried in cement. Even the hydraulic, air fresheners and perfumes cannot cover the smell." After being questioned by the defendant's representative whether he was absolutely sure that it was Ah Ho talking, Mr. Tong replied that he was sure that Ah Ho called Ah T ‘dumb fuck’, while he was unsure who mentioned about the smell and the burial. Mr. Tong mentioned that Ah T told him that they "powed" a person in Hong Kong. "From my understanding, "powed" means murder but because they said it in a light-hearted matter, I did not think they were serious," explained Mr. Tong. Mr. Tong said that Mr. Tsang kept pestering him about lending money. In one instance, he asked him to borrow $6,000 from someone named "Papa" in Mong Kok, then wire the money …

Filipino President makes move to improve relations with China

  • 2018-04-13
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Katherine Li、Rachel YeoEdited by: Raphael Blet、Michelle Ng
  • 2018-04-13

More than 2,000 members of the Filipino community in Hong Kong gathered in Kai Tak Cruise Terminal to meet the Filipino President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on the evening of April 12th, where he expressed his intentions on strengthening Filipino-Chinese relations and continuing to combat criminal activities. "Just like my grandfather, we are of Chinese descent. In Hong Kong especially there is a lot of Chinese descent Filipinos, so this is part of destiny." said Duterte. According to the Census and Statistics Department, there are around 222,000 Filipinos in Hong Kong, with more than 355 Filipino community organizations registered with the Philippine Consulate General, the ties run deep between the Philippines and Hong Kong. "China has being very good to us. As a matter of fact, among other things amounting to billions, I got a grant of 500 million yuan (around $625 billion) which would be about 4 billion pesos." said Duterte. He revealed that the grant from China will be used on hospitals and improving the situation in Marawi, an Islamic city in Mindanao province which was occupied by terrorists in 2017. After battling the terrorists and implementing martial law, the government besieged the city. He assured the Filipinos in Hong Kong not to worry about their country because it is doing well, while he pledges to create more work opportunities for them so that they no longer have to become domestic helpers in the future, but professionals with careers. He also made the first official apology over the Manila hostage incident in 2010 which caused eight people from Hong Kong to lose their lives, although the incident did not occur under his presidency. "There has been no official apologies regarding the August 2010 incident. May I address myself to the Chinese people. From the bottom of my heart, in behalf of …