The Young Reporter

Policy Address 19/20: Internships and exchanges on the mainland for Hong Kong's disenchanted youth

  • 2019-10-16
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: OliviaTam、CarolMang、SunnySun、HaywoodManEdited by: Stephanie Ma、King Woo、Vimvam Tong、Cara Li、Rachel Yeo
  • 2019-10-16

For 22-year-old Eleanor Pang, a recent graduate from Chinese University of Hong Kong, her internship in mainland China last year was meaningful.After working in Beijing for 1.5 months at the State Development and Investment Corporation - the largest state-owned investment holding company in China, she now understands mainland business and social cultures and Chinese history.  This year's policy address offer Hong Kong students and university graduates like Ms. Pang, more opportunities to work and visit the mainland as part of a slew of measures aimed at connecting with young people. The government plans to spend $1 billion on the measures. "The current-term government will strive to do its best in youth development work by addressing young people's concerns about education, career pursuit and home ownership, and encouraging their participation in politics as well as public policy discussion and debate," said chief executive, Carrie Lam in her policy address supplement. Exchange and internship programmes, managed by the Youth Development Council are expected to benefit about 19,300 and 3,800 local youths respectively this year. Students can join internships at the Palace Museum in Beijing, Wolong National Nature Reserves in Yunnan, and the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The government will also continue to provide subsidies for post-secondary students who wish to go on exchange in the "Belt and Road" region. Apple Poon, 20, a third year student at the University of Hong Kong, joined an exchange programme organised by Hong Kong United Youth Association last year. She spent 1.5 months living in Beijing working at a state run online firm. "To be honest, the time of the internship is so limited that we can only do some basic work. It’s hard for us to learn about working culture in the mainland. But my boss and colleagues …

Policy Address 19/20: Policy Address fails to alleviate economic concerns of SMEs

  • 2019-10-16
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: AcaciaRedding、NicoleKo、HongshunWong、KawaiWong、AlecLastimosa、JayGanglaniEdited by: Anna Kam、Nadia Lam、Yetta Lam
  • 2019-10-16

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor expressed concern about the "pressure borne by small and medium-sized enterprises and members of the public amid an economic downturn," but unveiled no further measures to aid such enterprises in her policy address today.  Between the US-China trade war and the ongoing political conflict in Hong Kong. "The global economic growth has slowed since late 2018," said Mrs. Lam  "Violent acts in the recent months have aggravated the situation, posing an unprecedented challenge to our economy," Mrs. Lam, said in her third policy address.  "Since July this year, there have been sharp reductions in visitor arrivals due to the airport halt and retail sales, a continued decline in trade exports as well as deeply dampened businesses, investment and consumption sentiments. Certain industries have recorded the worst business performance ever," she said.  Besides assisting Hong Kong enterprises through promoting products and services to the mainland market, the government is also seeking policy support for "tax concessions for the city's enterprises that want to switch from exports to domestic sales and streamlining of the approval process" to bolster competitiveness in the Mainland domestic market.  SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED BUSINESSES  As of January 2017, 330,000 SMEs operate in Hong Kong, accounting for 98.3% of total business units and providing job opportunities to over 1.3 million people, according to the government's official website. Some retail businesses said they are not under a great deal of pressure due to a dependable amount of local customers that they know will continue to come in regularly.  A saleswoman at a folk costume shop in Tsim Sha Tsui, who did not wish to reveal her identity, said, "Our business has not been affected because our customers are mostly locals." Mr. Leung, a staff member at Japanese restaurant Betsutenjin in Tsim Sha Tsui, said …

Policy Address 19/20: Policy address offers transport subsidies, but ignores MTR closures

  • 2019-10-16
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: SamuelMo、CherryLee、CarineChow、HanXuEdited by: Karen Kwok、Jo Ng、Phoebe Lai
  • 2019-10-16

The chief executive has outlined a plan to save an average of around 280 million dollars a year in public transport fares in her policy address. That includes toll exemption for franchised buses at seven tunnels and two toll roads. Carrie Lam believes that will reduce annual fare increase in public transport systems by about three percent. About 2.2 million people are expected to benefit from $1.3 billion  in transport subsidies in the coming year. The government also pledged to commit $412 million to subsidise six outlying island ferry routes. But the chief executive has not addressed recent closures of MTR stations as a result of the unrest in recent months. Professor Carlos Lo Wing-hung, head of the Government and Public Administration Department at the Chinese University of Hong Kong thinks that the increase in travel subsidies may not satisfy the needs of Hong Kong residents. The increase may only catch up with inflation. "The subsidies cannot meet the needs of middle- and lower-class residents," he said.  Prof. Lo believes policies on livelihood outlined in the policy address are designed to draw public attention away from the extradition bill and the anti-mask law . Earlier this month, services on all 11 railway lines on the MTR were suspended due to the ongoing protests. Some stations such as Kwun Tong and Mongkok, were closed for four days.  Since 11th October, MTR services stop at 10 pm every evening.  Ms. Ku, aged 53, lives in Shatin. He said the MTR closures are"unreasonable".  "Passengers cannot estimate their traveltime," Ms. Ku said   Coey Tse, who lives in Shatin finds it inconvenient to use public transport systems other than the MTR.  "I rely on the MTR and I am not getting used to taking other means of transport," said Ms. Tse, "The waiting time has …

Society & Politics

A "Day of Thanks": Hong Kong protestors flock to pro-democracy businesses to show gratitude

Pro-democracy protesters heeded an online call to support "yellow shops" today, expressing their gratitude to businesses which have shown support for the ongoing anti-government protests that started in June.  The "Day of Thanks" was publicised on social media outlets and chat platforms, such as telegram, encouraging supporters to "say yes" to those businesses by endorsing and purchasing products from them throughout the day. The "colouring" of opposing political views was sparked by the Occupy Movement in 2014, with pro-democracy supporters labelled "yellow ribbons" and allies of the police or Chinese government classified as "blue ribbons".  The current unrest, sparked by the now-withdrawn extradition bill, has again greatly divided the city, with netizens categorising shops depending on their political stance.  Stores classified as "blue" are actively boycotted by protestors, while stores categorised as the newly emerged colours of "red" and "black" — meaning mainland financed or have suspected triad affiliation — are often graffitied and vandalized during demonstrations.  Let’s Jam, a cafe in Tsim Sha Tsui, and Lung Mun Cafe, a Hong Kong-style diner, were among the "yellow shops" listed on a poster advertising the "Day of Thanks". Supporters were urged to check into the establishments on social media with the hashtag #standwithhk. Many of the "yellow shops" have openly endorsed the pro-democracy movement through participating in strike days, posting social media as well as in-store.  Staff of Let's Jam said business has increased after they have created a “Lennon Wall” in the shop for customers to write words of encouragement to support the movement and protesters. "More people have been coming to support us for standing on the side of Hong Kong people," said Tung, staff member of Let's Jam. "Apart from the Lennon Wall, we also offer free meals to protesters who used up their money because of the movement."  Ms. Chiu is …

Society & Politics

The heart-stirring rhythm — "Glory to Hong Kong"

Dubbed the new, unofficial anthem for Hong Kong, the heart-stirring march "Glory to Hong Kong" has motivated and touched the hearts of protesters, inspiring them to join choruses in shopping malls around Hong Kong. The lyrics have been translated into different languages, including English, Japanese and Korean. Videos showing flash mob-style performances have reached more than 2 million views on Youtube in a month. The tune is the creation of a musician working under the pseudonym, Thomas, who we contacted by LIHKG. "I created this song to boost morale and to enhance cohesion among the people," Thomas said. "My faith ( in the movement) inspired me to write the song. I want people to keep their heads up together and I want everyone to know that we are fighting hard for liberty and freedom," Thomas added.  "The song not only talks about the old days when people used to chant about the 'Spirit of Lion Rock', but it also refers to a new generation of Hong Kongers, and their sacrifice for liberty and rights," he said. Thomas said the protests are no longer just about opposition to the extradition bill, but also symbolize Hong Kongers' fight for freedom, liberty and universal suffrage. "Most people in Hong Kong support the protesters by buying them safety gear such as helmets and gloves, but these gear can barely withstand the violence. As a musician, I can write a song to strengthen people’s faith because having a strong faith is invincible," he said.  Some say the song is a better way to express political aspirations than violence. "The song comes at a time when the activists want to have space to express their sentiment rather than just fighting the police. I believe people are afraid of 'Mainlandization', that is, their personal liberty and freedom will …

Society & Politics

When wardrobes are politicised: is it safe in Hong Kong to dress in black?

Since June, the streets of Hong Kong have been filled with the trademark black and yellow hues, peppered with the pink filters of their gas masks. Some even cover their entire faces with black scarves or turtle necks to hide their identities. Andy Lam, 21, is one of the black-clad demonstrators."Wearing black T-shirts represents our identity and our five demands," she says. The five demands include withdrawal of the extradition bill, an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality, not to label the unrest as "riot", release arrested protesters and universal suffrage. Anyone wearing black these days may be suspected of involvement in the protest, especially after some protesters threw petrol bombs and bricks, set fires and vandalized properties. Ms. Lam said she strangers sometimes glance at her just because she is in black. Recently, she tried to help a mainland couple to find their way around Hong Kong Baptist University, but to Ms. Lam, they seemed suspicious because she was wearing black. Christoph Li Xiaoyong, a 22-year-old mainland student from Hong Kong Baptist University, is not a protester, was mistaken for a protester on September 9 just because he was wearing black. He was actually just out to watch a movie in Mongkok that evening. "I had to hide in the alley but the riot police followed me and then found me. I then had to go back on to the main road, where I got tear-gassed along with the protesters," he recalled, "and that made me feel depressed." Another mainland student, Seven Yang, had a similar experience when she was in black.  "Coming back from Lowu, I was stopped by customs officers for inspection. They checked my bags but not my friends’ who were wearing other colours,” she said. In fact, people with different political views are split according …

In a leaderless movement, Hong Kong's student activists face local and international threats

  • 2019-10-08

In August, Zoey Leung, 19, got her first threatening phone call.  The anonymous caller accused her of being "a rioter who has ruined Hong Kong" and she was warned to "bear the consequences". Ms Leung, vice president of Hong Kong Baptist University student union and active in the ongoing pro-democracy protests, said that other student leaders got the same phone call.  Next, insulting leaflets written in abusive language that specifically targeted Ms Leung were posted all over her neighbourhood in Sai Kung district. The flyers used similar language to the phone call. Ms Leung is worried about her and her family’s safety. It also ruined her family’s relationship with their neighbours, she said. "I think I am an easy target," Ms Leung said. "There are people who would like the movement to stop because they think I am one of the leaders." Other student leaders have reported attacks. Davin Wong, the acting president of the University of Hong Kong Student Union, resigned from his post and fled the city after being attacked by masked men in Wan Chai at a bus stop on Aug. 30, he said in his resignation letter.  And in early September, the acting president of Hong Kong Polytechnic’s student union was struck in the face during an on-campus protest.  "Those thugs are threatening, and they use violence to hit us and scold us, doing whatever they like," Ms. Leung said. Ms Leung said she thinks she was followed by police in June, just after local university students held a press conference to announce a general strike.  HKBU student union president, Keith Fong, who was arrested for alleged possession of an offensive weapon, said he thought he was also being followed before his first arrest.  Local media outlet FactWire, published a report showing CCTV footage of five …

Caught in the mayhem: foreign domestic helpers are the silent victims of the protests

  • 2019-10-05

On Sundays, foreign domestic helpers from South East Asian countries usually gather next to Victoria Park for recreational activities and to share their culture delicacies. But finding a safe place to meet has become increasingly challenging since the anti-extradition bill protest in June. Organisers of Indonesian Martial Arts have been holding events every Sunday in Victoria Park since October 2009, but that stopped. "Sometimes we can't meet our friend," said Nuki, IMA's spokeswomen who only gave her first name, "we have almost 300 people in our group." she said. Nuki has  been living in Hong Kong since 2008. "I never felt scared, but this time I [am] really scared." She feels "caught in the middle" when violence erupts on weekends.  Demonstrations have spread across the city every weekend since June and the violence has intensified, forcing domestic workers to change their schedules on their only day-off to avoid high-risk areas.  The Cabinet Secretariat of Indonesian issued a travel advisory in August to Indonesians concerning Hong Kong's protests. According to the Immigration Department’s data in 2018, there were about 165,000 Indonesian domestic workers in Hong Kong. "The way of Hong Kong’s protests won’t happen in our country. The police won’t let it," said Nuki. Maya, another Indonesian helper, sat on the ground at Victoria Park, chatting and eating with her friends. "Hong Kong is too dangerous, if I have no place to go, I will just stay at home," Maya said,  "we have to work the whole week, we need to enjoy (our holiday)." Some domestic workers have had their days off cut short by the protest. On 15th August, protesters dressed in black were at a rally organized by the Civil Human Rights Front on the 15th of August, despite the march being banned by the police.  "Go quickly, otherwise you would …

Tens of thousands commemorate the Umbrella Revolution anniversary days ahead of China National Day

  • 2019-10-01

Tens of thousands gathered on Saturday night at Tamar Park in Admiralty where the police fired tear gas five years ago, which triggered the Umbrella Revolution. Amidst the anti-extradition protests that are taking this city by storm, commemorating the day that started Hong Kong's struggle for political reform and autonomy holds more significance than previous years. "We will not announce the success of the protest until the five demands are fully achieved," the convener of the Civil Human Rights Front, Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit said on stage. "We should keep on fighting for our rights and genuine 'Dual Universal Suffrage'."  The Umbrella Revolution — an 81 days long protest — occurred in 2014 when people became unsatisfied with the Standing Committee's decision on electoral reform regarding future elections of Chief Executive and Legislative Council. Citizens took to the streets to express their anger but was met by tear gas and police crackdowns. Protesters then occupied multiple crucial urban areas and brought the city to a standstill in hopes of getting genuine 'Universal Suffrage'.  Though their objective eventually did not succeed, many believe that the political awakening this city had experienced five years ago gave rise to the current wave of mass social movements. Fresh memories from the ongoing anti-extradition protests and sentiments for the Umbrella Revolution combined to create a synergy that filled Tamar Park with black-clad demonstrators of all ages and walks of life. "The Umbrella Revolution and the anti-extradition bill protest have both taught us the importance of standing together hand in hand," said Ms. Chan, an elder lady who is in her sixties and supports the protests. She declined to provide her full name and was observing aside peacefully. Concerned about being arrested by the police, she decided to dress in other colors instead of black.  Ms. Chan calls the current protests …

Carrie Lam meets public in first community dialogue, but fails to quell dissent

  • 2019-09-26
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: CarolMang、RonaldFanEdited by: Stephanie Ma、Maisy Mok、William Tsui
  • 2019-09-26

Hong Kong's embattled Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor held her first Community Dialogue Session on Thursday night at Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Wan Chai, meeting over 130 randomly picked citizens from some 20,000 applications. The public dialogue was among one of the four initiatives Lam had announced earlier on September 4 to alleviate public discontent sparked by a now-withdrawn extradition bill, as anti-government protests reach its 16th week. The two-hour session kicked off at 7pm amid heavy police presence, while hundreds of black-clad protesters gathered outside the venue -  forming human chains, holding placards and chanting slogans such as "Stand with Hong Kong, fight for freedom". Participants were banned from bringing umbrellas, gas masks or helmets - the trademark protective gear commonly used by anti-government protesters in Hong Kong's summer of discontent.  "The unrest was sparked by the government's decision to amend the bill. Therefore, this should be our biggest responsibility to initiate a direct dialogue. This is not a PR show. We want to find solutions to initiate change for the betterment of our society," said Lam in her opening remarks. The launch of an independent inquiry to investigate into the police's use of force has been at the centre of the discussion, while multiple speakers also raised concerns about allegations of police violation of human rights when detaining protestors in San Uk Ling Holding Centre. At least three participants have shown their support to Hong Kong's "One Country, Two Systems", but some said have already lost trust in the police force. "Hong Kong independence is not feasible in One Country, two systems," said Carrie Lam. She added that the five demands cannot be fulfilled as some of them violate the bottomline of "One Country, Two Systems".  A few participants don't think the dialogue session would have much …