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The Young Reporter

Society

COVID-19 quarantine and travel restrictions challenge Hong Kong’s domestic helpers

Ybañez’s 68-year old mother, living in Cebu City in the Philippines, was hospitalized for high blood pressure and diabetes for two months before her death. Ybañez, 40, who has been working in Hong Kong for almost three years, would have to quarantine in both the Philippines and upon return in Hong Kong for five weeks in total.  Employers of foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong are required to pay for one trip home for each helper every two years. In response to the pandemic, the Immigration Department mandates that prospective employers sign the undertaking of the employer document agreeing to pay for their employees’ Covid tests and all quarantine expenses upon entry to Hong Kong.  “My employer couldn't afford it," said Ybañez. "Even if I had gone, they could only wait for one week before burial and I had to do two weeks of quarantine in the Philippines, so it was impossible to see her.” Low availability of flights and quarantine hotel rooms, travel bans and vaccination requirements have made travel in and out of the city challenging for foreign domestic helpers.  In April, Hong Kong banned flights from the Philippines, and in June this year another flight ban extended to Indonesia, significantly impacting the wait time for inbound employees. Both these bans were lifted in August.  In September, the government opened Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre on Lantau Island to helpers who are fully vaccinated with non-Hong Kong available vaccinations for 21 days quarantine, allocating nearly 800 rooms with a price capped at HK$500 per night. Helpers vaccinated with either Pfizer/BioNTech or Sinovac can also quarantine in hotels upon their arrival.  The pandemic has doubled the number of foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong seeking help from local NGO Mission For Migrant Workers this year, the NGO said. More than …

A Font for Hong Kong

  • 2021-12-31

By Nicole Ko

Gender inequality under the pandemic

  • 2021-12-30

By ZHANG Zhiping

Culture Endangered

  • 2021-12-30

By Hans Xu

Society

Tai Hang Sai Estate: elderly’s struggle under redevelopment

Today, Pun Git-fong, 90, doesn't take a nap with the TV on like usual. Instead, on this cloudy afternoon, she puts on her old blouse, closes the door and starts an arduous five-minute journey down the stairs from the fifth floor to the ground floor. Her neighbours are waiting for her. They are about to rally. More than 30 residents of Tai Hang Sai Estate, Hong Kong's last private housing estate for low-income families, are protesting a redevelopment plan that has been in the works for more than six years. The residents, many of whom have lived here for decades, say both the developer and the government are ignoring their needs and failing to communicate transparently.  Residents want to be given a place to live during the redevelopment, which is expected to last five years. Currently, they’ve been told they need to find their own housing. The crowd, mostly seniors, chants: "One house for one house; relocation needs common agreement. We only want to enjoy the old age; we don't want to drift from place to place." "Don't toss about the elderly; government helps placement,” they shouted. Established in 1965, Tai Hang Sai Estate offered shelter to tenants who lost their homes during the 1953 Christmas day fire in  Shek Kip Mei. The fire, which destroyed the entire estate and caused 3 deaths and 51 injured, brought the issue of safe public housing policy to light.  However, Tai Hang Sai Estate is not qualified as one. The British Hong Kong government offered a discount to developer Hong Kong Housing Corporation Limited (HKHCL) to buy the land for estate construction in 1961, which classified the site into private property.  "Either Hong Kong Housing Authority or any other Hong Kong authorities could manage the estate," says 64-year-old Tam Kwok-kiu, the former District …

Health & Environment

No phone, no entry

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Aruzhan ZEINULLA、Le Ha NGUYEN、Yu Yin WONGEdited by: Jenny Lam
  • 2021-12-29

Since November, scanning of the Leave Home Safe app has become mandatory for visitors to government buildings. This poses a problem for many homeless people in Hong Kong who do not have mobile phones. Chloe Wong, Joana Nguyen and Aruzhan Zeinulla report on how homeless people cope and what’s being done to help them

Politics

Lowest ever turnout under revamped LegCo Election system

The first Legislative Council election under the revamped electoral system ended last night with a 30.2% turnout rate in the geographical constituency races, the lowest since the handover in 1997. About 1, 350, 680 people cast their ballots in 10 geographical constituencies, a 28% percent decrease from the last Legco election in 2016. The turnout in the Election Committee constituency was 98.5% and 32.2% for the functional constituencies, according to official statistics. Click here to see the voting rates of different districts (made by Grace Koo). “Their votes are not only for choosing their own LegCo members. They are also a show of support for the improved electoral system and their aspirations for effective enhancement of the governance efficiency of the HKSAR as well as the resulting economic development and livelihood improvements,” Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in a press release yesterday.  Beijing reformed Hong Kong’s electoral system in March, by creating an Election Committee constituency of 40 seats to be voted on by a body established in September. The electorate is made up of 1500 Election Committee members. The total number of seats in Legco also increased to 90 from 70. “The election committee is composed of elites from all walks of life,” said Allan Zeman, chairman of Lan Kwai Fong Group, and a member of the Election Committee. “I think the new system can really work.” Mr Zeman though failed to secure a seat in the Election Committee constituency. A total of 153 candidates competed for this term of LegCo. For the first time since the handover, there is more than one candidate running for every seat, including the functional constituency seats. Twenty members were directly elected in the geographical constituencies. Voting was changed to a double seat, single-vote system, which means each voter can vote …