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Health & Environment

Wai Lee Building in Quarry Bay with two infections, in lockdown

Wai Lee Building in Quarry Bay was locked down for mandatory COVID-19 testing in the evening.  The 23-storey building with 430 units was the second of three buildings to be locked down on Sunday, including Hoi Fu Court in Mongkok and Cheong Lok Mansions in Hung Hom.  Police officers and medical personnel arrived at the Wai Lee Building today at 7:30pm, and enforced the lockdown. A gate and several booths were placed outside the building. Every entrant had to be registered.  “Two infections were confirmed last night,” said Cheung Kwok-kwan, a district councilor assistant. “We expected this to happen.” According to  government statistics, both infected individuals are local residents. One was a 54-year-old male whose symptoms started on Feb 3 and was confirmed to have been infected on Feb 6  His case is epidemiologically related to a local case.  Another infection was a 18-year-old male who started to have signs of coronavirus on Feb 2. His infection was also confirmed on Feb 6.  “The residents wanted to have the mandatory testing,” said Annie Lee Ching-har, a district councilor. “After knowing that there are two infections in the building, they think it is best to have everyone tested in order to ensure the safety of themselves, their families and neighbor.” Both Mr Cheung and Ms Lee said, residents were expecting the lockdown to happen either today or tomorrow.  Given previous lockdowns, Wai Lee Building was expected to reopen at around 7am tomorrow, said Ms Lee. Residents would be able to go to work if the lockdown is lifted between 6 to 7am.  “I don’t think I can go to work on time tomorrow,” said Leung Fai-wing, a resident of Wai Lee Building. “I don’t know when my turn to get tested and no one could guarantee when the lockdown will end.” …

Business

Kuaishou shares triple in Hong Kong trading debut

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Cai Chuchu 蔡礎礎Edited by: Zhu Zijin Cora 朱子槿
  • 2021-02-05

Kuaishou Technology (1024), China’s short-video service provider, saw its shares nearly tripled in its trading debut in Hong Kong on Friday, boosting the company’s market valuation to a high of US$180 billion (HK$ 13.95 trillion) following its initial public (IPO) offering, the largest in Hong Kong since 2019. The stock hit a high of HK$345 in the morning before stabilising to close at HK$300, up 160.87% percent from its IPO price of HK$115 a piece. Kuaishou's share sale of  US$5.29 billion (HK$41.3 billion) is the biggest in Hong Kong following Budweiser’s Asia unit’s IPO, which raised HK$5.75 billion in 2019. Wesley Wong, a 29 year old investment banker, made a profit of HK$20,500 after selling one lot or 100 shares of Kuaishou at HK$320. He subscribed to the shares via a local brokerage and put up about HK$1 million. The stock was in hot demand with retail investors bidding for 1,204 times the amount of shares available for open subscription. Kuaishou makes its profit from providing live-streaming, online market and E-commerce and  games services, and advertising, the company said in its listing document. The successful listing of Kuaishou will bring confidence to other Chinese video service providers, including ByteDance and  Bilibili, to float their shares in the Hong Kong stock exchange, said Bloomberg Intelligence senior analyst Vey-Sern Ling in a report.  Kuaishou’s larger rival Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok owned by ByteDance, is planning to file an IPO in Hong Kong, according to Reuters. Douyin has 600 million daily active users while Kuaishou only has 262.4 million daily active users. “The markets in which we operate are highly competitive, and we face significant competition,” Kuaishou said in its prospectus. It posted a revenue of HK$49 billion in the first nine months of 2020, up 49 percent from the same …

Business

Catering industry calls for resumption of evening dine-in for fear of large-scale business closures

Bar and restaurant owners urged the government to loosen COVID-19 restrictions on dining to help the industry survive, representatives said in a press conference Wednesday, while also calling for additional government subsidies. Their demands include reopening dine-in services and bars past 6pm under conditions that businesses observe disease prevention measures and expanding the gathering limit to more than two people. The government could use the time between Chinese New Year's Eve and the third day of the holiday to "test" whether the relaxation would be practical, the group suggested.  Marcus Liu, a member of the New People's Party who spoke at the press conference, said the operational cost of a restaurant is about HK$400,000 to HK$500,000 monthly, and that so far, government subsidies have been inadequate.  The government, under the Anti-epidemic Fund, has given a one-off HK$25,000 and HK$50,000 three times to eligible liquor-licensed premises.  The Employment Support Scheme also helped employers pay salaries to staff with a maximum $9,000 per employee per month.  But business owners say the aid is insufficient and they had to choose between paying rent or employee salaries, said Joe Chan, a representative of the Hong Kong Bar & Club Association.  Some bar owners said to him they were planning to suspend business after Chinese New Year because they saw no future, Mr Chan added.  “The theory that the virus is not active during the day and gets active in the evening -- we all don’t understand,” he said, regarding the dine-in ban past 6pm.  He added that they have complied with seating capacity and hygiene practices such as checking the temperature of guests and disinfecting table surfaces after use. Around 140 bars shut down over the past three months, accounting for 10% of the sector, said the vice-president of the Hong Kong Bar and …

Society

Jordan small-business owners hit hard as the second lockdown of the week puts halt to business

With the second lockdown in two weeks hitting the Jordan neighborhood on Feb. 2, small business owners in the area say they are facing serious financial problems.  The second lockdown was announced at 7pm on Tuesday in areas of Sham Shui Po, Jordan and Tin Shui Wai. Residents must remain at home until they test negative for COVID-19.  One resident in Jordan tested positive.  The first lockdown in Jordan finished on Jan. 23 and found 13 infections. “Difference between lockdown and usual? No business and little business,” said Mana Rupa Budhathoki Magar, a South Asian grocery store owner who was in the lockdown area.  Faced with a 60% decrease in daily revenue, Ms Magar’s South Asian food and daily supplies store has suffered financial pressure since the pandemic began, with the two lockdowns making the situation worse. “I support a lockdown, but my business got affected anyway,” said Shabbir Hussan, a Halal food store owner in Jordan who was also in the lockdown. The store’s delivery service has helped he said.  Many customers in Lee Mei’s Jordan nail salon have cancelled their reservations, Ms Lee said. “Spring festival period should be the hottest season for nails; however, now I only have several customers each day,” said Ms Lee, adding that the high rent is a burden.  The Hong Kong government has provided food packages for residents in the Jordan lockdown.  

Health & Environment

Carrie Lam and government officials visit lockdown area Sham Shui Po on second day of ambush style lockdown

The government announced several more ambush-style lockdowns in Sham Shui Po, Jordan and Tin Shui Wai shortly after 7pm on Tuesday night. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, Secretary for Food and Health Sophie Chan Siu-chee and Secretary for home affairs Tsui Ying Wai visited the lockdown area in Sham Shui Po at 11pm on Tuesday night. Carrie Lam left shortly after taking to staff in testing tents and several citizens. A large number of police officers standby in the lockdown area.  17 blocks on Ki Lung Street, Nam Cheong Road, Tai Nan Street and Pei Ho Street are covered in Sham Shui Po lockdown. The testing is expected to finish by 7am Wednesday morning. Citizens are demanded to stay in until their testing results show negative for COVID-19. Ambush style lockdowns have taken citizens by surprise the last two days.  Several teenage girls were taking a tutorial class while the government announced the lockdown in Sham Shui Po, according to Apple Daily. The girls were let go after doing a COVID-19 test.  “We were racing out of the lockdown area when they sealed off the area,” Macy Leung, a housewife who lives in Sham Shui Po said. She added that the ambush-style lockdown was disturbing and she highly doubts its efficiency.  Mr Cheung Kin-chung, Chief secretary for Administration said on Monday that multiple sudden lockdowns will take place until Feb 11 ahead of Lunar New Year.

Politics

BNO passports holders face uncertainty after China’s refusal to recognise the travel document

China announced on 29 Jan it will no longer recognise the British National Overseas passport for Hongkongers as a valid travel and identity document starting 31 Jan.  Britain announced earlier that it would offer BNO passports to some 300,000 Hongkongers. Successful applicants will have a pathway to British citizenship. Including those who already have the passports, the total of BNO holders in Hong Kong will add up to 5.2 million.  Previously, BNO holders could only visit the UK for up to six months with no right to work or settle. A British media factsheet said the UK now expects roughly 153,700 BNO holders and their dependents to migrate there in the next year.  The new BNO scheme is in retaliation to the imposition of the National Security Law that came into effect in July, a year after anti-government protests in Hong Kong.  “It is expected that the Chinese government would do something in response to the BNO issues,” said a 27-year-old BNO passport holder who did not want to be named.  “But I think the refusal to recognise the BNO passport is childish,” she added. She plans to settle in Taiwan where she’s been living for two-and-a-half years and keep her BNO passport.  However, some feel more personally affected by the change.  “We weren’t prepared for such a decision,” said Aalia Shah, 23, another BNO passport holder.  “I will have to apply for a HKSAR passport for now,” Ms Shah said. “Immigrating out of Hong Kong is not really on my mind.” The BNO scheme was a part of the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China, marking the end of the British colony. 

Health & Environment

Government continues to surprise residents with sudden lockdowns

Hong Kong’s ambush-style lockdown takes residents of Ho Choi Building on 42-58A On Hing Street in Yuen Long by surprise when police and health officials surrounded the building at 7 pm. Residents of the building are subject to undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing.  A 51-year-old man residing in Ho Choi building was confirmed to have COVID-19 on 30 Jan. He belongs to the airport runway site cluster, according to the Centre for Health Protection.  “It’s unexpected but necessary,” said Karen Leung, 30, who lives in Ma Tin Road across from Ho Choi building.  The Centre for Health Protection has confirmed 34 additional Covid-19 cases amongst which, five are imported, taking Hong Kong’s total of COVID-19 cases to 10,452.  “We will intensify our operations, the so-called lockdown, targeted operations every day until February 10” said Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-Chung at a press conference this afternoon. Meanwhile, the Centre for Health Protection continues to urge the public to maintain personal hygiene and avoid social gatherings.   

Health & Environment

COVID-19 lockdown in Majestic House, Tsim Sha Tsui

Another ambush-style lockdown is being implemented at Majestic House, 80 Nathan Road at the junction with Cameron Road in Tsim Sha Tsui on Monday evening. Large groups of police officers and medical workers have cordoned off the area while getting passers-by to leave the area. A 50-year-old man in Majestic House was confirmed to have COVID on 30 Jan, according to the Centre for Health Protection. Majestic House was first occupied in 1963 and has over 60 apartments. It is one of several residential blocks where people are subject to mandatory COVID-19 testing Monday evening. Other buildings include number 42-58A, On Hing Street in Yuen Long and Loong King Building on Ma Tau Wai Road in Hung Hom, according to the Food and Health Bureau. The Centre for Health Protection reported 34 new cases of COVID-19 in Hong Kong today. This comes after multiple lockdowns in Yau Tsim Mong district over the past week. There has been a visible cluster of growing cases in Tsim Sha Tsui over the past 14 days, according to the Centre for Health Protection website.

Culture & Leisure

Tsang Fook Piano Company to close in March after 105 years in business

  Tsang Fook Piano Company, Hong Kong’s oldest musical instrument store, announced on Jan. 22 that it will end its business in March. The descendant of the Tsang Fook family revealed the decision to close was made because the next generation had limited interest in inheriting the business. The announcement mentioned how the company has witnessed the ups and downs of the city for more than a century, and it is now time to say goodbye.  Its two branches in Wan Chai and Wong Chuk Hang are putting on a clearance sale before the closure. The founder, Mr Tsang Fook, learned how to make and tune pianos in Europe and America. In 1916, he opened Tsang Fook Piano’s first branch on Morrison Hill Road in Wanchai. In the 1980s, Mr Tsang set up a factory and manufactured his own ‘made in Hong Kong’ pianos named Morrison. The street nearby was named “Kam Hong Street” (translated as “the piano company street”) to commemorate the factory building. The brand earned its prominence not only in Hong Kong but also in South East Asia, Britain and New Zealand. Later on, the company expanded its business to music instruments wholesale, retail and education. Customers expressed their regret about the closure of Tsang Fook Piano Co. This afternoon, Mr Yip, a retiree, wandered around the showroom for half an hour, trying to turn back time. When Mr Yip was young, he visited the store regularly. He was the guitarist of a band. Since the 1950s, Tsang Fook Piano Company has been one of the few stores in Hong Kong selling foreign music instrument brands, including his favourite Gibson guitar.  “At that time, Tsang Fook was far more well-known than Tom Lee and Parsons Music. And now, the online world and the chains throttled its room …

Society

Pulitzer winning journalist talks to HKBU Journalism students about Panama Papers

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: AMALVY Esten Carr Claude Ole EriksenEdited by: CHEN Bingyi
  • 2021-01-31

On Jan. 25, Frederik Obermaier, one of the two Süddeutsche Zeitung journalists who initiated and coordinated the biggest data leak in history, the Panama Papers, spoke to a class of journalism students at Hong Kong Baptist University about the entire publishing process. Mr Obermaier introduced how he worked with his colleague Bastian Obermeyer, from the first John Doe text messages that started it, all the way to publishing, and the aftermath of the Panama Papers. Mr Obermaier started the presentation by describing their first contact withJohn Doe, the whistleblower that claimed to possess insider data on the activities of a well-known Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca dating back to the 1970s.  “Hello. This is John Doe. Interested in data? I’m happy to share,” Mr Obermaier read the first anonymous messages his colleague received.  Mr Obermaier explained that these messages were not uncommon in their office. Thus, they started to investigate if any of the data was legit and trustworthy.  Upon receiving all of the data, it amounted to 2.6TB of data, the largest in history blowing all its predecessors out of the water.  “If we were to open all the files by ourselves, it would take a minimum of 10 years, not to mention read through them,” Mr Obermaier said. He added “that securing the data was the first challenge they face.” In order to safeguard the precious data, Süddeutsche Zeitung purchased a €17,000 (HK$159,000) air gapped computer placed in a lockbox chained to the floor. Glitter nail polish was layered on top of the computer screws to ensure that it had not tampered with.  Communication with John Doe was also encrypted that there was no way of knowing his or her identity. However, as Mr Obermaier explained, the biggest task still remained, publishing this story as quickly and clearly …