Art exhibition brings Hongkongers’ attention to the unattended cracks in the city

Local artist Yeung Tong-lung showcases his artwork which reminds Hong Kong people of the neglected parts of the city while COVID-19 has won all attention. Presented by Blindspot Gallery, in collaboration with a local independent bookstore -- Art and Culture Outreach, the Daily Practice is a solo art exhibition showing Mr Yeung’s artwork which was completed during 2015 - 2020. Amongst all pieces, Mount Davis, which illustrates the Yangge Dance Incident that happened in June 1950, is the featured artwork. Holding an art exhibition amid the fourth wave, though fewer visitors were expected, they believed that it was the right timing to make it happen. “In the past few months, Hong Kong people have been stressed over the pandemic,” said Wong Man-ying, one of the visitors. “Everyone seems to have their complete focus on getting themselves away from any possibility of being infected. To some extent, we became selfish. But in fact, there are people who really need help.” Although none of the art pieces demonstrates individuals being affected by the pandemic, or any pandemic-related scenes, showing the daily life of the minorities in Hong Kong could give visitors a heads up of the existence of these vulnerable groups, and that they could be suffering at this critical time, said Ms Wong. “It is rare for [Yeung] Tong-lung to hold a solo art exhibition or to display his work in any other exhibitions,” said Wong Cheng-yan, manager of Mr Yeung and gallery manager of Blindspot Gallery.  My Yeung’s last exhibition was in early 2019. Thus, even though the exhibition rolled out as the pandemic was prevailing, a lot of Mr Yeung’s friends and special guests still attended the opening reception.   Daily Practice’s opening reception was held on Jan. 19 at Blindspot Gallery in Wong Chuk Hang. The exhibition period …

Health & Environment

Unhygienic Masks Sold Online Despite Ban

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Lisa Liu、Randy Lin、Sophia Sheng、Jade ZhouEdited by: Mark Chen
  • 2020-12-30

In November, Tony Chan, a vendor on the sales platform, Carousell, was offering to sell face masks for $250 a box. He agreed to meet us at an MTR station to collect the cash. But one hour before the scheduled meeting time, Mr Chan stopped responding to our messages. The brand of mask Mr Chan was selling, Bedah Karet Masker, had been seized by Hong Kong Customs in April after tests showed it contains an excessive amount of bacteria. Carousell is a Singapore-based online platform where users can buy and sell new or second-handed products. Apart from merchandise, it also offers tutoring services, properties and jobs. Counterfeit and prohibited products are supposedly not allowed, but there are no checks or enforcement procedures. There is also no specific regulation on the sale of face masks. "For masks, certification is not required, as long as they comply with the specifications in the listing rules on Carousell,"  a customer service spokesperson from Carousell explained during a live online chat with us. The Bedah Karet Masker masks Tony Chan offered was one of 15  [identifiable] brands seized by Hong Kong Customs under "Guardian", an operation in April this year to crack down on masks that did not comply with the Trade Description Ordinance. Since January, nearly 6 million masks have been confiscated by officers.   Test results show that 10 of the 15 brands seized had excessive levels of bacteria. Most of the packaging did not list where the products were manufactured. Hong Kong Customs said in a press release that most of the masks came from Southeast Asia or Central Asia.   Still on sale Seven months after the Hong Kong Customs operation was launched, our observation indicates that four of the problematic brands are still being sold through Carousell. These include AD …


Mainlanders facing racism in workplace

Mainland migrants in Hong Kong face racism in the recruitment process. Since 1997, there have been 1.5 million mainland Chinese moving to Hong Kong. About 20 percent of Hong Kong's population are migrants from the Chinese mainland. But their cultural background, language, and sometimes education level makes integration into Hong Kong tough.


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 …


Hani Halal – The Award-winning business making Hong Kong Halal-conscious

From Halal lollipops to gelatine sheets, Hani Halal's online shop sells anything Halal as the name suggests. With no artificial colours, the shop's fan favourite sweet rose lollipop is hand-decorated for its customers.  In October 2020, the business won an award for its Medjoul dates at the LOHAS Expo cum Vegetarian Food Asia 2020.  The term Halal is an Arabic word that means "permissible." In the context of food, it refers to the dietary requirements of Muslims based on their Islamic faith. Muslims cannot eat pork and have special procedures for the slaughtering of meat, according to their religious rites.  Hani Halal, officially known as 3 Hani Enterprises Limited, started two years ago, in 2018, to bring a viable option for consumers of Halal food. Ms Leung, together with two other partners and the Incorporated Trustees of the Islamic Community Fund of Hong Kong, the official body for Muslims in Hong Kong, helped make her vision become a reality. "Food is the most easy way to connect with people, especially in Hong Kong. We talk business through food. So, food is something that is easy to connect with people," she said. She added that her business sells products globally, but mainly focuses on Hong Kong and Macau.   The award-winning business has also won a Manpower Development Award for 2020 from the Employment Retraining Board (ERB) for training both Muslims and non-Muslims on the dietary requirements of Halal food. There is a considerable demand for Halal food in Hong Kong, with 65% following a strict halal diet, according to research conducted by the Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  The city has 300,000 Muslims from various backgrounds, making up 4.6% of the city's population, according to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's Home Affairs Bureau. Muslims first came to the city during the British …


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 …


Mandy Lee: A Pioneer in Escapism Cooking

Using a finger to make a well in the flour, Mandy Lee poured in the beaten egg yolks. She added water and salt to the mix and aggressively manoeuvred it, kneading and tearing it until a silky dough was formed. She carefully flattened it through a pasta machine and unwaveringly incised it to create uniform strands.  Staring at the finished product in front of her, Ms Lee found her suppressed anger and anguish briefly consoled via the exhaustive pasta-making session. Spellbound by this sensation, she did not leave her apartment until she perfected the tonnarelli recipe two weeks later.  "Without knowing it yet, I became what I would like to call later on – an escapist cook," Ms Lee wrote in her blog Lady and Pups. The Taiwanese-Canadian, 40, moved to Beijing in 2010, where she struggled living under China's communist regime. She began cooking as a form of escapism from the torture of her reality. This later evolved into her writing an "angry food blog" and the cookbook The Art of Escapism Cooking. Ms Lee was born in Taiwan in 1980 and spent her teenage years in Canada. She dropped out of University of British Columbia after a year to pursue art school in New York. Graduating from Parsons School of Design, she then worked at an architecture firm before starting her own dog food business with a friend. Reflecting on her seven and a half years in New York, Ms Lee said the city complemented her personality the most. "I love New York for the kind of city it is and the kind of energy it has and the kind of freedom it provides," she reminisced. However, such a lifestyle was quickly uprooted when her husband had to move to Asia for a job, finding herself living in …


The New Norm: An Online World

Since COVID-19, the pandemic has altered the way that we leave the comfort of our homes and socialise with one another. Seeing different faces on what were once the crowded streets of Hong Kong are a thing of the past. Instead, we see masked faces at half-empty restaurants and meet people through our computer screens. With the implementation of social distancing measures, schools, businesses and even fitness industries have interacted digitally instead, adapting to this new norm of an online world. More and more businesses are adjusting to a permanent work-from-home state. Tech giant Microsoft initially announced that it would not open its offices till at least January 2021, but later stated that it will allow its employees to permanently work remotely, even post-pandemic.  A booming app during the pandemic, Zoom, has been crucial in allowing such arrangements to thrive. Founded in 2011, the software company has specifically gained fame this year for its accessibility in areas such as school classes or business events. In the first quarter of 2020, Zoom's revenue skyrocketed to HK$2.96 billion (US$382.2 million) and its customer growth has risen by 378% from a year earlier.  But, people are adapting differently to this new virtual phenomenon.  Schools and classrooms, once filled with the sound of students chit-chatting while teachers tried to pass their knowledge onto them, are now empty. Instead, students wake up, grab their laptops, punch in a meeting number and passcode, and take their classes for the rest of the day in the confinement of their own homes. "I need to stay up really late for my classes till three or four in the morning, it's overwhelming," says Michelle Kwong, a student enrolled at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. She chose to stay back in Hong Kong and take all her classes online because …


The New Normal of Learning: Online Classes

COVID-19 has posed great challenges to the education system in Hong Kong. Schools have to adapt to online teaching to prevent the spread of the virus.  Under the incoming fourth wave of COVID-19, Mr Lobo Ho Lik-sang, the principal of the Maryknoll Fathers' School, said that there are many challenges to overcome, while teachers and students are improving in online teaching and learning under the new normal. Under the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers have to teach by using online conference software and assess students' performances online. Students are also facing uncertainties under the pandemic. Some have lost practical learning opportunities, some have lost the precious interacting moments with teachers and friends, some are having difficulties in online learning such as completing assignments and examinations. "Online teaching is a tough challenge for teachers," said Mr Ho."Zoom is a one-way method of teaching and it is hard to build an interactive environment," he added. Mr Ho also attributed to network infrastructure and the limitations of technology as the problems in the online teaching environment. While teachers find online teaching tough, college students feel helpless in completing assignments with insufficient assistance from teachers. "I have to do my assignments and exams without any help from teachers at home. I feel helpless,", said Jeremiah Choong Hon-lam, a student from the Heng Seng University of Hong Kong. Mr Choong also added that some practical training cannot be delivered online. "My assignments include practical training, and I can't do it at home," said Mr Choong. Mr Ho also echoed the concern raised by Mr Choong. "Not every concept and knowledge can be taught online. For example, experiments and physical techniques have to be learnt in a realistic situation." Mr Choong's situation is just a tip of the iceberg. According to a survey conducted by the Lingnan University …


Live streaming commerce triggers another wave of consumption

"Don't go to sleep! Stay awake! Or you will lose hundreds of yuan!" A male live anchor yelled on the mobile phone screen, banging a gong. It was already 12 o'clock in midnight. Li Yuqing, a 20-year-old student from The Open University of Hong Kong, couldn't take her eyes off this live stream conducted by Austin Li, one of the hottest live streamers in mainland China. Meanwhile, another 100 million viewers tuned in, just like Ms Li.  Ms Li spent one thousand yuan on skin care products, pet supplies, and some luxuries from this live streamed show. It lasted seven hours and closed 8.809 million orders worth 690 million yuan. "Live streamers can provide more detailed explanations of the goods during live streaming, as well a lower price and more freebies," Ms Li said. This year's Double Eleven sales promotion activities have kicked off from Oct.21, with series of live broadcasts on the mainstream social media platform. According to the E-commerce live broadcast daily rank, the total revenue created by top 20 sales anchors from Taobao, Kuaishou, Tik Tok, reached 7.26 billion yuan on one day. This sales model releases huge consumption potential, drives the resumption of production and work, and becomes an important engine of traditional consumption and economic transformation. In February, over 30,000 sales anchors accessed to Taobao per day. The number of new anchors can see 100%. New live broadcasts as well as a 110% year-over-year growth in Gross Merchandise Volume. According to Sohu, Guangzhou Live E-commerce Research Institute and data provider Datastory jointly issued a live e-commerce trend report. The report reveals that the average of live views peaked in July at 2.4 million, but the average of each live streaming sales was at the lowest point during the same period, and turned to rise in …