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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

Border towns resume peace despite economic loss

Walking down the street of Sheung Shui, it used to be common to see a crowd of parallel traders, filling their luggage with baby formula, beauty and luxurious products in an ‘Asian squat’ outside pharmacies and shopping malls.  Located in the northern part of New Territories with direct rail access to Lo Wu border in China. Sheung Shui is an appealing place for mainland tourists and parallel traders to go on a shopping spree taking advantage of Hong Kong being a tax free haven for these items. Since the anti-extradition bill since June, the area has experienced a dramatic reduction in the number of mainland visitors. Rallies dubbed "Reclaim Sheung Shui" started to break out since 13th July, in the hope to belt out local residents' discontent over a variety of inconveniences brought by mainland visitors. Jack Lai Pak-hei, a freshman from Hong Kong Baptist University, has been living in Sheung Shui since he was a child. "The flow of people at the station is 10 to 20% less than that before the protests broke out," he estimated.   As Sheung Shui station becomes less crowded than before, he can now get on the East Rail Line without getting stuck. Mr. Lai used to be bothered when having his feet crushed because of the heavy suitcases that parallel traders carry across the border.  "Fewer mainlanders makes a better Sheung Shui." Mr. Lai said, "I think the peace of Sheung Shui is restored."  Apart from Sheung Shui, reclaiming activity also broke out in Yuen Long District, another town in the New Territories also close to the border. On the night of 21st July, a gang of white-clad mob attacked passers-by on the street and passengers in Yuen Long MTR station, leaving at least 45 injured. A week later, on 28th July, thousands …

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.  …

Policy Address 19/20: Internships and exchanges on the mainland for Hong Kong's disenchanted youth

  • 2019-10-16
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: OliviaTam、CarolMang、SunnySun、HaywoodManEdited by: Stephanie Ma、King Woo、Vimvam Tong、Cara Li、Rachel Yeo
  • 2019-10-16

For 22-year-old Eleanor Pang, a recent graduate from Chinese University of Hong Kong, her internship in mainland China last year was meaningful.After working in Beijing for 1.5 months at the State Development and Investment Corporation - the largest state-owned investment holding company in China, she now understands mainland business and social cultures and Chinese history.  This year's policy address offer Hong Kong students and university graduates like Ms. Pang, more opportunities to work and visit the mainland as part of a slew of measures aimed at connecting with young people. The government plans to spend $1 billion on the measures. "The current-term government will strive to do its best in youth development work by addressing young people's concerns about education, career pursuit and home ownership, and encouraging their participation in politics as well as public policy discussion and debate," said chief executive, Carrie Lam in her policy address supplement. Exchange and internship programmes, managed by the Youth Development Council are expected to benefit about 19,300 and 3,800 local youths respectively this year. Students can join internships at the Palace Museum in Beijing, Wolong National Nature Reserves in Yunnan, and the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The government will also continue to provide subsidies for post-secondary students who wish to go on exchange in the "Belt and Road" region. Apple Poon, 20, a third year student at the University of Hong Kong, joined an exchange programme organised by Hong Kong United Youth Association last year. She spent 1.5 months living in Beijing working at a state run online firm. "To be honest, the time of the internship is so limited that we can only do some basic work. It’s hard for us to learn about working culture in the mainland. But my boss and colleagues …

Policy Address 19/20: Policy Address fails to alleviate economic concerns of SMEs

  • 2019-10-16
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: AcaciaRedding、NicoleKo、HongshunWong、KawaiWong、AlecLastimosa、JayGanglaniEdited by: Anna Kam、Nadia Lam、Yetta Lam
  • 2019-10-16

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor expressed concern about the "pressure borne by small and medium-sized enterprises and members of the public amid an economic downturn," but unveiled no further measures to aid such enterprises in her policy address today.  Between the US-China trade war and the ongoing political conflict in Hong Kong. "The global economic growth has slowed since late 2018," said Mrs. Lam  "Violent acts in the recent months have aggravated the situation, posing an unprecedented challenge to our economy," Mrs. Lam, said in her third policy address.  "Since July this year, there have been sharp reductions in visitor arrivals due to the airport halt and retail sales, a continued decline in trade exports as well as deeply dampened businesses, investment and consumption sentiments. Certain industries have recorded the worst business performance ever," she said.  Besides assisting Hong Kong enterprises through promoting products and services to the mainland market, the government is also seeking policy support for "tax concessions for the city's enterprises that want to switch from exports to domestic sales and streamlining of the approval process" to bolster competitiveness in the Mainland domestic market.  SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED BUSINESSES  As of January 2017, 330,000 SMEs operate in Hong Kong, accounting for 98.3% of total business units and providing job opportunities to over 1.3 million people, according to the government's official website. Some retail businesses said they are not under a great deal of pressure due to a dependable amount of local customers that they know will continue to come in regularly.  A saleswoman at a folk costume shop in Tsim Sha Tsui, who did not wish to reveal her identity, said, "Our business has not been affected because our customers are mostly locals." Mr. Leung, a staff member at Japanese restaurant Betsutenjin in Tsim Sha Tsui, said …

Policy Address 19/20: Policy address offers transport subsidies, but ignores MTR closures

  • 2019-10-16
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: SamuelMo、CherryLee、CarineChow、HanXuEdited by: Karen Kwok、Jo Ng、Phoebe Lai
  • 2019-10-16

The chief executive has outlined a plan to save an average of around 280 million dollars a year in public transport fares in her policy address. That includes toll exemption for franchised buses at seven tunnels and two toll roads. Carrie Lam believes that will reduce annual fare increase in public transport systems by about three percent. About 2.2 million people are expected to benefit from $1.3 billion  in transport subsidies in the coming year. The government also pledged to commit $412 million to subsidise six outlying island ferry routes. But the chief executive has not addressed recent closures of MTR stations as a result of the unrest in recent months. Professor Carlos Lo Wing-hung, head of the Government and Public Administration Department at the Chinese University of Hong Kong thinks that the increase in travel subsidies may not satisfy the needs of Hong Kong residents. The increase may only catch up with inflation. "The subsidies cannot meet the needs of middle- and lower-class residents," he said.  Prof. Lo believes policies on livelihood outlined in the policy address are designed to draw public attention away from the extradition bill and the anti-mask law . Earlier this month, services on all 11 railway lines on the MTR were suspended due to the ongoing protests. Some stations such as Kwun Tong and Mongkok, were closed for four days.  Since 11th October, MTR services stop at 10 pm every evening.  Ms. Ku, aged 53, lives in Shatin. He said the MTR closures are"unreasonable".  "Passengers cannot estimate their traveltime," Ms. Ku said   Coey Tse, who lives in Shatin finds it inconvenient to use public transport systems other than the MTR.  "I rely on the MTR and I am not getting used to taking other means of transport," said Ms. Tse, "The waiting time has …

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 …