TOP STORIES

Politics

18/19 Policy Address: Government takes lead to extend maternity leave to 14 weeks

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Vimvam Tong、Maisy Mok、Fifi TsuiEdited by: Dorothy Ma、Sammi Chan
  • 2018-10-10

Reported by Vimvam Tong, Maisy Mok, Fifi Tsui Edited by Dorothy Ma and Sammi Chan   Working mothers in Hong Kong will be able to enjoy 14 weeks of 80% paid maternity leave, that is an extra four weeks under existing labour laws. The first female chief executive of the city, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced today in her second policy address that the newly extended leave will take immediate effect for civil servants. The extension is rolled out in view of the “much lower labour participation of women compared to men” and “a lower ratio of managerial roles taken by women” in Hong Kong, said Mrs. Lam. Employers can get up to $36,822 reimbursement per employee from the government to pay the leave. For employees with a monthly income of $50,000 or below, the additional four weeks of maternity leave pay will be borne by the government in full. The proposed extended maternity leave brings Hong Kong on par with the International Labour Organisation’s suggestion after the related employment ordinance had remained unchanged for 48 years in Hong Kong. Compared with other locations in the region, the duration of maternity leave in Hong Kong is in line with Japan, but is still shorter than Singapore by two weeks. In mainland China, new mothers can enjoy 19 to 22 weeks off, depending on the province while fathers can get up to 30 days of paternity leave. Mothers in Hong Kong have mixed reaction to the 14-week leave. “ I believe 10 weeks are enough,” Katy Lam, an educator and a mother of two believes that the duration of leave should depend on the woman’s occupation. “14 weeks would be better than 10 for sure,” said Venda Lee, a 34-year-old expectant mother, who works as a movie trailer producer. She sees …

Society

"Father of fibre optics" Sir Charles Kao laid to rest

The 2009 Nobel laureate Sir Charles Kao Kuen's funeral took place at the Hong Kong funeral home this morning following a public wake yesterday evening. Read more: http://tyr.jour.hkbu.edu.hk/2018/10/07/hundreds-pay-last-tribute-to-father-of-fibre-optics/ Sir Charles's widow Gwen Kao Wong May-wan arrived at the funeral home in North Point accompanied by her family and friends at about 10 am. The farewell ceremony started half an hour later. During the ceremony, videos about Sir Charles's life were played. Chinese University of Hong Kong Chorus sang one of the late vice-chancellor's favourite songs The Moon Represents My Heart. Sir Charles Kao was the third vice-chancellor of CUHK. Several university vice-chancellors and academics gave their orations, including incumbent vice-chancellor Rocky Tuan Sung-chi and former vice-chancellor Joseph Sung Jao-yiu. "The optical fibre he invented has rewritten human history and benefited humankind," said Prof. Tuan. "His perseverance is worth learning," said Prof. Sung. Rev. Francis King, one of Sir Charles's cousins, spoke on behalf of the family. "Death does not put an end to the relationship of Charles with us," he said. "He taught me to respect every human being." CUHK political science senior lecturer Ivan Choy Chi-keung described Sir Charles as "the nicest, most magnanimous and most sincere university headmaster" he has ever met. The city's chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor was also one of the eight pallbearers apart from Prof. Tuan and Prof. Sung. Many other government officials also attended the remembrance, including financial secretary Paul Chan Mo-po, secretary for justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah. With his children, Simon and Amanda, carrying his portrait into the hearse, Sir Charles's coffin was then transferred to the Cape Collinson Crematorium. At age 84, he died in peace at Bradbury Hospice in Sha Tin on September 23 this year due to pneumonia.

Society

Thousands pay last tribute to "Father of Fibre Optics"

Thousands bade a final farewell this afternoon to the 2009 Nobel laureate Sir Charles Kao Kuen, who passed away in Hong Kong last month at the age of 84. The public wake took place at Hong Kong Funeral Home in North Point from 3 to 5 pm today. The electrical engineer and former vice-chancellor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong died in peace at Bradbury Hospice in Sha Tin on September 23 this year, having suffered from Alzheimer's disease for the past 16 years. Wearing black, mourners attended the funeral holding a white chrysanthemum on hand. "His farsightedness and perseverance in research gave rise to epoch-defining contributions to modern communications and set the pace for how humans transfer and disseminate information," the memorial booklet distributed to the guest reads. Academics, government officials and politicians came to express their respect to Sir Charles including university headmasters and senior government officials, such as chief secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung and CUHK vice-chancellor Rocky Tuan Sung-chi, as well as representatives from his secondary school St. Joseph's College. Fung Ka-keung, 39, graduated from CUHK in 2002, attended the wake as a voluntary helper. He said he came here due to "the calling as part of United College" since Professor Kao also belonged to that college before being promoted to the university's vice-chancellor. Ms. Lee, at her 70s, especially came to pay her last respects to Sir Charles. She said he had made her life more convenient thanks to his invention of the optical fibre. Polly Kwong Miu-yee was Sir Charles's painting tutor from 2013 to July this year to help him soothe his dementia. She said she admired his positivity and "willingness to communicate through painting brushes". "He loves smiling," Ms. Kwong told The Young Reporter. The renowned physicist was born in Shanghai on …

Society

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

  • 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 …

Locals and foreigners get together for the fireworks show

  • 2018-10-02
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Amy Ho、Phoebe Lai、Nadia LamEdited by: Angie Chan、Elisa Luk、Michelle Ng
  • 2018-10-02

To celebrate the 69th birthday of the People's Republic of China, 2018 National Day Fireworks Display was held in Victoria Harbour on Monday night for people from all over the world to enjoy. Visitors came early this afternoon to get the best view. They waited outside the Hong Kong Cultural Centre for the fireworks which started at 9 pm. Ms. Phan, a local Hongkonger who brought her children here to enjoy the event, arrived at 4 pm. She had planned to play with them during the hours waiting. She said this is the third time for her children to watch the fireworks and they love it very much. Other than locals who were excited about the show, visitors from different parts of the world, such as mainland China, Germany, and Indonesia joined in the celebration as well. Mr. Rui from Beijing took the opportunity of the long holiday to enjoy the fireworks celebration because he likes the beautiful view of the fireworks, as well as other things Hong Kong has to offer. "You can smell the smoke [of the fireworks] at the scene," he said. He is going to stay in Hong Kong for a week. As a nature lover, he would be going to Tung Lung Chau in the coming few days. Another visitor from Germany, Mr. Mohr and his friend, would be ending their three-day-trip in Hong Kong with the fireworks show, joining the show coincidentally. In the four hours before the show, they are going to get their luggage to prepare for their departure. The fireworks show lasted approximately 23 minutes. A total of 31, 888 firing shells were discharged from four barges. The fireworks cost around $10 million. This morning, a series of events were held to mark the 69th anniversary, the flag-raising ceremony and a …

Politics

Hundreds mark fourth year since Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement

Several hundred people gathered outside the Hong Kong government headquarters this evening marking the four-year anniversary of the start of the mass pro-democracy Umbrella Movement, as worries prevail that freedom of political expression is being increasingly muzzled by Beijing. In 2014, tens of thousands occupied major roadways in Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok for 79 days starting from September 28 rallying for "genuine universal suffrage" and democratic reform in the highly autonomous city’s leadership elections. The crowds raised yellow umbrellas, the movement's symbol, and held a three-minute silence at 5:58 pm today as audio recordings during the movement was played back on loudspeakers to commemorate the moment when the Hong Kong police began to blast 87 tear gas canisters at the unarmed protesters four years ago. "Hongkongers keep fighting," the crowds chanted. Former teacher Jenny Woo told Hong Kong people to look ahead, saying the present political climate was different from four years ago. "I joined [the remembrance event] because the youth are our future," said Ms Zeng, 55, a mainland immigrant who moved to the city just before the movement. Having participated in the Mong Kok occupation, Ms Zeng said she had been moved by a documentary she watched a week before about the movement. Supporters also applauded the nine defendants, including Occupy advocates Benny Tai Yiu-ting and Chan Kin-man, for the upcoming trial for the movement in November. "I have no regrets at all," Professor Chan told the crowds. He regarded the movement as "the most glorious moment" of his life. "We could not shake the regime," activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung said on stage. "But at least we could inspire people's hearts." In the past few days, local pro-Beijing media have continuously slammed the Umbrella Movement for crippling the city's rule of law and polarising the society. …

Typhoon Mangkhut hits Hong Kong hard

  • 2018-09-16
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Michael Shum、Vimvam Tong、Dorothy Ma、Anna Kam、Phoebe Lai、Amy Ho、Erin Chan、Wallis Wang、William TsuiEdited by: Angie Chan、Caroline Kwok、Holly Chik、Michelle Ng
  • 2018-09-16

As the hurricane signal No. 10 is in force, typhoon Mangkhut has paralysed the city with multiple reports of damage including fallen trees and smashed windows, with no death toll at the moment. Mangkhut is the strongest typhoon to hit Hong Kong in history, running through the city at the speed of 118 kilometres per hour and more. At 12 pm, the highest average wind speed at Waglan Island was 155 km/h, surpassing typhoon Wanda in 1962, and typhoon York in 1999. A crane at a construction site in Tai Kok Tsui tipped over due to strong winds and landed on the roof of the building next to it. At around 10 am, an old building also at Tai Kok Tsui had its external wall blown off on to the streets. A witness told the press that she saw the external wall of the roof began to sway in the wind, and a crack on the wall started to get bigger and bigger. At the same time, an approximately 1.6m tree fell alongside the external wall from the building's rooftop 4 metres above ground. Flooding black spot, Heng Fa Chuen, which was severely damaged by Typhoon Hato last year was again under water this time. Benches at the waterfront were in pieces and sandbags scattered as waves hit. Lots of windows have been smashed during the typhoon. At the Harbour Grand Kowloon Hotel, a witness claimed to see sundries being blown out of the window. A resident living on the 23rd floor of Lohas Park in Tseung Kwan O also found her bedroom window broken waking up right beside it. Multiple reports of fallen trees and branches have been received from all parts of the city. Traffic from the New Territories to the city has been heavily affected as fallen …

Health & Environment

Smart Barcelona

Stroll down La Rambler in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona any day and see tourists and vendors fighting for space on the walkway alongside stalls offering souvenirs. Nearly 30 million visitors each year pack down the narrow streets of the Gothic Quarter in the old part of the city, according to Euromonitor. A tour guide, Aranxia Gonzales explained that the demand for accommodation is pushing locals out of the property market. " When you buy a property in Spain, you own it for life," she said, " and that means older folks who have lived here for a long time now have to put up with tourists as neighbours." By 2017, there were 16,000 holiday rentals, as reported by Barcelona City Council. According to a 2018 study by University of Paris Sud, when Airbnb started in Barcelona, rent rocketed by 28% between 2013 and 2016. In addition, there were more than 7000 illegal hostels. The number of private flats rented out to tourists reportedly went up nine times in a year. The city government has since hired a team of inspectors to look for illegal hostels. Owners may be fined up to €60,000. Paola Santoro, an Italian expat who has been living in Barcelona for eight years, explained that the influx of tourists has bumped up the rent in even further. "The demand for accommodation by tourists meant many apartments are being converted into apartments for tourists only," Paola said. "The average salary of a person in Barcelona is approximately € 1000-1500. The average monthly rent for a flat in Barcelona is also € 1000. A person with an average salary cannot afford to rent a flat, so many people are forced to share a flat with other people to reduce expenses." Barcelona, Paola thought, has become a city for …

Society

Last day before Tiananmen closes for maintenance

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 …

Photo Essay

Gaudí's Barcelona

Sagrada Família is kind of hard to miss in Barcelona, not only because of its height and size, but it is unusual to see a seemingly old building constantly surrounded by construction cranes. On the day of visit, tourists craned their necks to gawk at the spire, some with the ice-cream they just bought from one of the mant vendors dripping down their front as they gawked at the spires.  Other posed as the crucified Christ outside the main doors. Unlike most crucifixes, the Jesus figure on this one stares down at an angle, almost as if he is flying. Such unconventional and sometimes over decorated designs are iconic of the Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926). His work defines Catalan Modernism. Between 1984 to 2005, seven of his masterpieces were listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, including Casa Batlló, Park Güell and the unfinished basilica, Sagrada Família. More than six million tourists visited Spain in April, according to the country’s government data, and Sagrada Família alone drew more than three million people. A survey by Statista indicates that other masterpieces by Gaudí, including Park Guell, La Pedrera and Casa Batlló also rank among the top destinations. In 1877, Gaudí designed his first building, Casa Vicens, under the commission of a merchant Manuel Vicens, on Passeig de Gràcia, Barcelona. Further down the boulevard stands Casa Batlló with its colourful mosaic and dragon-like balconies. The line for tickets to these building may be long, but many more people pose for selfies outside. Visiting everyone of these Gaudí site in the city will set you back more than 100 euros ($923). Gaudí conceived those richly sophisticated columns, vaults and other geometric structures abstracted from "the Great Book of Nature." He once said, "The line belongs to human beings, and the curve belongs …