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Society

Policy Address 20/21: Carrie Lam introduces a scheme to fight youth unemployment but students are hesitant amidst Hong Kong-Mainland political unrest. 

In Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor's fourth policy address today, she addressed Hong Kong's growing unemployment rate and introduced a new scheme that will open up to 2,000 places, of which some are innovation and technology positions, in the Great Bay Area for postgraduate students.  The Greater Bay Area consists of 9 cities in China, as well as Hong Kong and Macau to create a megalopolis. With aims to increase cooperation between Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macau and promote economic development.  The city's unemployment rate hit 6.4% this year, the highest it has been in 16 years according to government statistics. Especially among the youth, according to trending economics, as of September 2020, youth unemployment has skyrocketed to a staggering 12.10%.  In order to combat this worrying trend, the Hong Kong Government will introduce as part of the Greater Bay Area expansion process a new scheme officially called "The Greater Bay Area Youth Development Scheme". In hopes that Hong Kong graduates will apply and receive career opportunities in the Great Bay Area.  "Personally, I won’t work or get a job in the Mainland," said Tommy Mo, a student at Hong Kong Baptist University. He expresses his concerns about the National Security Law and the repercussions that he might face for being vocal with his political views on the CCP on social media platforms.  Mr Mo isn’t the only one to hold such opinions, 70% of Hong Kong’s youth said that they would prefer to keep their distance from mainland China and 60% were not a fan of the Greater Bay Area and that it would bring “more harm than good”, according to media reports on a survey conducted by Hong Kong Guangdong Youth Association in January.  Alice Lam Hoi-Yan, another student at HKBU expressed similar concerns but thought the …

Business

Policy Address 20/21: Carrie Lam rolls out real estate measures, limited impact expected for most

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced a series of long term housing measures on relieving the financial burden of enterprises and boosting housing supply, as announced in her 4th policy address today. Mrs Lam said that the double stamp duty on non-residential property transactions would be revoked from tomorrow, 26 November to benefit the property owners immediately. The measure is expected to facilitate the sale of non-residential properties to meet financial problems arising from the economic downturn. Hong Kong real estate experiences a contraction in the rental market this year, with the rent index decreased by 9.4% in September compared with the same period last year.  Brilliant Properties Limited, a small-scale property company is one of the suffering businesses in the pandemic. "Tenants could not afford the rent while owners are not willing to lower the price," said Cheuk Shik-kong, 60, owner of Brilliant Properties Limited. "Therefore, contracts were terminated," he added. Mr Cheuk also said, the overall revenue of his company has dropped by 30 to 40% compared to the figures last year. Much as the government would like to invigorate the real estate market with the abolishment of double stamp duty tax, property agencies considered it as an ineffective approach. "The impact will not be significant," said Lam Wai-cheung, 43, she has been working at Cheong Shing Property for three years. "I believe the measure will have certain effects on the buying and selling of stores but it will not be obvious until the pandemic comes to an end," she added. "Many buyers have the financial ability and intention to purchase commercial properties. What halts them from making the trade happen is not the price, but the pandemic situation," Ms Lam said. However, Li Ching, 55, a real estate agent at Cheong Shing Property, has a more …

Health & Environment

COVID-19: Hong Kong might see more mass testing

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Simran Vaswani、Jasmine Tse、Janice LoEdited by: Cara Li
  • 2020-11-25

Hong Kong might see wide-spread COVID-19 community testing again, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in the policy address on Wednesday, as the city sees the highest number of infections since this summer, sparking a fourth wave.  Testing would be voluntary, she said, and targeting high-risk groups and asymptotic carriers. "It is essential for us to take all necessary measures to strengthen epidemic control by guarding against the importation of cases and the resurgence of domestic infections," said Mrs. Lam.  The first large-scale universal community testing was conducted in September with 1.78 million people tested, around 20% of the city's total population. The mass testing found 42 COVID-19 infections. Vinci Chan Hei-man, a registered nurse, agreed with the government's decision. "If implemented, such a step needs to properly target high-risk groups," said Ms. Chan.  "[Testing] has to be accompanied by stringent contact tracing and a population that understands the importance of strict adherence to social distancing rules," she added. A cluster was linked to elderly care homes in July, which caused a surge in the coronavirus death toll in the city, which is now 108. Hon Pierre Chan, legislative council member from the medical sector, said in a press conference that testing for high-risk groups is a "pragmatic and ideal" measure. "Even for the seasonal influenza, not all citizens are willing to get vaccinated. It is important not to force citizens to do testing," said Dr. Chan. Dr. Chan said Hong Kongers are hoping for stricter border control. He urged the government to block loopholes in border control policies.  Travellers from high-risk places such as the US, UK and India, need to provide proof of a negative virus test before boarding planes and a hotel confirmation for their 14-day quarantine.  A quarantine-free travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore …

Politics

Policy Address 20/21: The government is drawing up plans to strengthen national security education in the city

Young people will be educated in the rule of law, the Chief Executive said in her fourth policy address on Wednesday, as part of a 10-year initiative called "Vision 2030 for Rule of Law." "Targeted public education activities will be carried out to promote law-abiding awareness, while research and related data compilation will be conducted through collaboration with various stakeholders," she said. It is important to "enhance moral, civic and national education," including the constitution, the basic law and national security, she said, adding that citizens need a "sense of social responsibility and national identity, as well as an affection for Hong Kong and international perspective."  Part of the plan includes reforming the controversial Liberal Studies in public secondary schools, though no details on the reform were given, and having stricter regulation on teachers. A task force of locally and internationally renowned "experts" has been set up to advise the government on the plan, which was announced last year. The Financial Secretary earmarked about HK$450 million in the budget plan last year for the Department of Justice to implement the project. The Democratic Party responded in the afternoon criticising Mrs Lam for overthrowing the liberal studies system, which has been implemented for ten years in Hong Kong, saying that the government will promote "brainwashing national education" in the future. "The Democratic Party calls on all of our teachers and Hong Kongers to stick with our positions, letting our students be able to access comprehensive knowledge from different aspects, building up their ability of thinking critically and independently," Wong Pik-wan, spokesperson of the Democratic Party said at a press conference. "Anti brainwashing is becoming an important point for us in the coming future." In the past few months, the government has jumped into education to assess the professionalism of teachers, the …

Policy Address 20/21: New policy to help Hong Kong aviation industry set to crash, insiders say

  • 2020-11-25

Hong Kong will invest in the Zhuhai airport to increase cooperation, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in the policy address on Wednesday, though more details on how it will happen have yet to be disclosed. Airline industry employees say this will not help to alleviate the financial problems in the industry.  The investment by the Airport Authority, which has been managing the Zhuhai airport since 2006, is part of President Xi Jinping's "dual circulation" scheme to boost the Greater Bay Area competitiveness and economy.  "By integrating the mainland aviation network of the Zhuhai Airport with the international network of the Hong Kong International Airport, it would strengthen the competitive edge of the entire GBA in aviation," Mrs. Lam said.  Persuasive as it might sound, professionals in the aviation industry said otherwise.  "This is putting the cart in front of the horse to ameliorate the pressure on the aviation industry. It may add competitiveness to the Greater Bay Area aviation industry but it certainly doesn't help struggling workers in the aviation sector," said  Queenie Tse, the former Hong Kong Airlines Human Resources manager.  She added that the collaboration seemed to be a marketing tactic for Zhuhai International Airport instead of helping airline workers who are struggling to make ends meet in Hong Kong.   The Hong Kong Airport handled around 72 million passengers in 2019 while Zhuhai Airport had only around 10 million passengers in 2018. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, the number of passengers travelling by air to and from Hong Kong has plunged dramatically.  According to the Hong Kong International Airport statistics, the number of passengers arriving in the city dropped from more than 70 million in 2019 to around 8 million in 2020. Mrs. Lam said she discussed the move with the central government on her …

Society

Policy Address 20/21: HK government to introduce cash allowance for low-income families

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor highlighted new public housing schemes for residents with plans to provide low-income families currently waiting in line for public rental housing with cash allowance over a prolonged period. In the live broadcast, Mrs Lam hopes that the new schemes will "get Hong Kong out of the impasse and restore people's confidence as soon as possible."  To meet the demand of about 301,000 public housing units, the government plans to use 330 identified hectares of land required based on the Long Term Housing Strategy Annual Progress Report 2020 to implement 316,000 flats within the next 10 years.  Locations involved the Tung Chung reclamation side, the agricultural and brownfields sides in new development areas such as Kwu Tong North, Fanling North. Other suggested areas include nine sites at Kai Tak and Anderson Road Quarry, and parts of Fanling Golf Course will also be used for public housing development.  "It is the prime time to create more land for housing," she said. Ms Leung, who has been in line for public rental housing for four years, rated the policy address one out of 10. "She [Carrie Lam] did introduce new public housing, but it seems that the majority would be sold in the market rather than being rented, which would have zero impact on shortening the waiting time for public rental housing," Leung said. Currently, the waiting time for public rental housing averages at 5.6 years, which has increased by 0.1 years compared to June this year. As of September, there are about 156,400 general applications for public rental housing and about 103,600 non-elderly one-person applications.  A new cash subsidy will roll out for people waiting for public rental housing. In the trial scheme, applicants with two or more persons, and elderly one-person applicants not living in …

Society

Policy Address 20/21: Property agents welcome but remain skeptical towards commercial property tax abolition

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Cora Zhu、Vikki Cai、Yuri KwokEdited by: KawaiWong、Olivia Tam
  • 2020-11-25

The city's leader announced today to abolish tax for commercial properties, real estate agents express positive attitudes towards the policy but some of them cast doubt on its effectiveness due to the uncertain investment environment under COVID-19. In her fourth annual policy address, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the government will abolish the Double Stamp Duty (DSD) on commercial property to facilitate businesses to cash out by selling non-residential real estate so to stay afloat during the economic downturn. The policy will take effect tomorrow. "As a result of the economic downturn and uncertainities surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, prices and demand for non-residential properties have been dropping over a period of time," said Ms Lam. "The government considers now the right time to abolish the DSD imposed on non-residential properties." Hong Kong saw its Q3 GDP decrease by 3.5% in real term on a year-on-year basis. For the net output in the real estate, professional, and business services sector, it decreased by 5.9% in real terms in 2020 Q2 from a year earlier, following a decline of 4.6% in Q1, according to the Census and Statistics Department. The DSD, formally known as the Doubled Ad Valorem Stamp Duty, was first introduced in February 2013 to deal with the surging prices of commercial properties. The rates range from 4.25% to 8.5% depending on different asset prices.  Lau Kin-ling, 59, a real estate agent said the abolishment of commercial property tax is helpful for the market but it is hard to predict the effectiveness.  "The policy may not attract a considerable amount of mainland investors since the borders remain closed," said Ms Lau. "The major factor for buyers to purchase a commercial property is field visit so that they can access the actual environment, simply presenting an advertising video would …

Society

Policy Address 20/21: A report not for our citizens": Hong Kong Pro-democrats criticise latest policy address

James To was in his office putting things away in boxes for removal while watching the live broadcast of policy address on television. On the screen is Carrie Lam, wearing the lapel pin of the Chinese and Hong Kong flag, standing in the chambers of the Legislative Council, giving her speech. The former lawmaker used to be sitting in the chambers, listening to the Chief Executive's annual address alongside many other colleagues from the opposition camp. Now, there are none of them left in the chambers. This is the first policy address ever given in the city's history without any pro-democratic lawmakers. "We used to protest in the chambers when there's [a] policy address, but right now, all the people left in the chambers are the puppets of the [the] Communist party," said Mr To, referring to the pro-Beijing lawmakers, who remained in the chambers. On November 12, the Democratic lawmakers resigned in solidarity with those who are disqualified by the government, with powers from the Beijing authorities, citing a threat to national security. That leaves the highest legislative body in the city with no dissenting voice for the first time. Claudia Mo, another lawmaker who resigned, criticised this year's address to be a report to integrate Hong Kong into the mainland, instead of having the city's best interest at heart. "The goal is to 'disappear' Hong Kong as we know it. I lost count of how many times she said Hong Kong enjoys  Beijing's 'central support', like without which we just couldn't survive on," she said as she watched the address online, with no appetite for lunch.  Wu Chi-wai, the chairman of the Democracy Party, said that the annual policy blueprint is more like a report from governors of provinces to the Beijing government. "You cannot find a word …

Politics

LIVE: Hong Kong Policy Address 2020

Live Coverage of the Hong Kong Policy Address, Nov 25 2020 1:20pm: Carrie Lam said, last year she has faced the toughest challenges in all her 40 years of public service.  This concludes the live coverage of Hong Kong Policy Address 2020, the longest policy address on record. Stay tuned for more in-depth coverage on our website and social media platforms.  #CarrieLam says she has faced the toughest challenges in all her 40 years of public service, the last year. #PolicyAddress2020 @hkbutyr — Simran Vaswani (@Simran_TYR) November 25, 2020 TYR on social media: Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/hkbutyr/ Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/hkbutyr/?hl=en Twitter: https://twitter.com/hkbutyr 1:16pm: The Hong Kong government will provide HK$300 million to address the city's growing mental health issues. Mrs. Lam said that the government will spend 300 million dollars to better support and raise public mental health awareness@hkbutyr #PolicyAddress2020 — Janice Lo (@janicelo_cl) November 25, 2020   1:10pm: More than 2000 teenagers have been arrested in the past social movement. In view of this, Carrie Lam said students need to develop a better sense of national belonging and moral development.   More than 2000 teenagers were arrested in the past social movement. In view of this, Carrie Lam said students need to have more sense of national belonging and moral development. #policyaddress @hkbutyr — Yetta Lam (@yetta0621) November 25, 2020 1:08pm: Carrie Lam says more languages regarding information from the Hong Kong Observatory will be available for ethnic minorities living in the city. 1:04 pm Carrie Lam says information on the Hong Kong Observatory will include several more languages for readability by ethnic minorities in the city. #PolicyAddress2020 @hkbutyr — Simran Vaswani (@Simran_TYR) November 25, 2020 1:06pm: Carrie Lam is delivering the policy address in the Legislative Council chamber Photo: Eunice Lam 1:02pm: Two museums in the West Kowloon Cultural District — M+ Museum and …

Society

Hong Kong's frustrated medics still on shift despite fight over COVID, social unrest with government

For Dr. Arisina Ma, alarm bells rang in late August when Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet Ngor called critics of the mass screening "the so-called doctors and experts who had political calculations and intended to smear the Central Government and damage its relationship with Hong Kong."  "I think this is the first time our officials used such strong comments about our usual, independent advice towards our healthcare policy," said Dr. Ma, the president of the Hong Kong Public Doctor's Association, the largest medical union in Hong Kong representing over 6,800 doctors and dentists. The turmoil last year -- from police brutality during pro-democracy protests to COVID-19 policies -- has amplified the frustration of public healthcare workers with the Hospital Authority and the government. Although the private sector might have greater autonomy and a lighter workload, medics are choosing to stay in the city's public hospitals.  Dr. Ma often shared professional opinions that did not align with official COVID measures. In late August, she said in an RTHK interview that she did not see the necessity of the mass screening when COVID-19 cases were slowing down and raised concerns over the test's accuracy. She published an article on Stand News in September, saying that relying on the health code, which is a proposed government policy, could put the city at risk because of "false-negatives." Non-participants might be restricted from entering public spaces and thus have their rights harmed, she also wrote.  Despite piled-up dissatisfaction, Dr. Ma continued working in United Christian Hospital, a public hospital operated by the Hospital Authority and the second public hospital she worked at after returning from the private sector in 2011.  "I stay for my patients. I don't stay for my boss or employer. I don't have any passion for my employer," Dr. Ma said.  …