The Young Reporter

Business

Invest for your Future: Retirement Savings should now be on Track

Retirement may seem a long way off for young people, but it is never too early to invest for better retirement life. Once entering the workforce in Hong Kong, fresh graduates will start to invest via the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) - an employment-based retirement protection system. Under the scheme, both employee and employer are required to make a monthly mandatory MPF contribution, which is equivalent to 5% of the employee's relevant income, with a cap of HKD$30,000 per month. Employees with monthly earnings less than HK$7,100 are exempt from contributing to their own MPF accounts, but their employers are still required to make a 5% contribution.  In that case, for someone who has worked for 43 years, he or she will have a minimum of $3 million of savings under the MPF Scheme.  However, MPF hasn’t made everyone feel secure enough. The Financial Literacy Monitor 2018 reveals only 34% of surveyed Hongkongersres aged 18 to 79 were confident that they were financially well-prepared for retirement. According to UN World Population Prospects 2019, the average life expectancy for Hong Kong people has reached 85 years, ranking the top in the world. As people in Hong Kong generally retire at 65, retirement can potentially last for more than 20 years. During retirement, your monthly living expenses, medical fees as well as the cost of inflation can come up to much more than you expect. According to the Census and Statistics Department, the average monthly expenditure of retired households is $22,634. However, the survey done by the University of Hong Kong shows that respondents expected an average monthly retirement living expenses of about $12,600, which is less than half the actual monthly expenditure from the census and statistics department survey. Nearly 80% of the respondents considered that the average monthly expenditure after …

Health & Environment

Fight or flight: How do Students Abroad Cope with the Global Pandemic

As schools around the world shut to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, university foreign exchange students struggle over the decision to return home or stay put.  In Europe, non-essential incoming travel was banned on March 17, stirring worries among the student community as air ticket prices shot up.  Rachel Khun, a German exchange student in the Netherlands, decided to go home, despite Germany having one of the highest numbers of confirmed cases in Europe.  "I left the country when face-to-face classes at the university were suspended. Staying at home reassures me," said the 21-year-old, adding that her home in the German countryside has fresh air and open space and she can follow the news in her mother language. "I will not return to the Netherlands unless classes or exams are resumed on campus," said Ms Khun, who was sharing a home with three other students there.  Also studying in the Netherlands, Chiara Pierucci, 21, from Italy, decided to stay as the number of confirmed cases there are fewer than in her hometown.  "My parents asked me repeatedly to go back home before all flight connections would be interrupted, but I thought that staying in the Netherlands was safer," said Ms Pierucci, who lives alone in a studio apartment with a private toilet.  Italy is the most hard hit country other than China, with case numbers reaching 64,000 and a death toll over 6,000 as of March 24. Meanwhile in the Netherlands, the number of confirmed cases is just under 4,000.  Ms Pierucci said her main concern is the spread of the virus. "The possible development of the virus is scarier than catching the actual virus," she said, though she also worries about the Dutch private healthcare system, which requires insurance. Alitalia, Italy's main carrier, requires passengers to wear …

Society

 How Overseas Chinese students react to the coronavirus outbreak?

Two weeks before starting university in February, Nathan Ng was walking to church on an overcast Sunday morning. On his way, he saw a middle-aged Caucasian woman, with her young daughter, staring at him. Both then pointed and muttered foul language directed at him and two other Chinese people on the same street.  He chose to ignore them and continued walking to church.  Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in China, there has been an increasing number of reports of discrimination against Chinese people around the world. In one case, Jonathan Mok, a 23-year-old Singaporean of Chinese descent studying in London, suffered facial injuries in a "racially aggravated assault."  "I was scared whenever I stepped out of my house. I wasn't sure how people would react and behave towards me because of everything that has happened in China and the rest of the world," says Mr Ng.  Nathan Ng, a Chinese student at the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, has gone through issues of anxiety during the coronavirus pandemic.  According to the Australian Government's Department of Health, the nation has over 2,300 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and eight reported deaths, as of March 25.   During the same journey to church, while Mr Ng was crossing the road, he saw an elderly man in his early 60s coughing. He initially thought the cough was exaggerated due to his presence. However, as he looks back at the incident today, he thinks it was just a regular cough and regrets the anger he felt at the time.  Following the incident, however, he nearly began to tear up.   "I don't think much about what happened now, but it definitely had an effect on me at the time," said Mr Ng.  Since heading back to university in early March, things have improved …

Society

An invisible wound: mental illness is troubling Hong Kong after anti-extradition bill protest

A recent study found that one-fifth of Hong Kong adults have suffered from mental illness after experiencing the half-year long anti-extradition bill protest, but few are seeking psychological counselling. The study, published by the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong in The Lancet on 9 January, looked at mental health in Hong Kong between 2009 and 2019. Researchers randomly sampled Hong Kong people aged 18 and above. They found that roughly one in five Hong Kong adults reported symptoms of probable depression or suspected post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) since the anti-extradition bill protest started in June 2019.  Among 18,000 respondents, those who suffered from probable depression went up five times from approximately 2% to 11.2% by the end of 2019. Only 5% of the respondents said they suffered from PTSD in March 2015, but that rose to more than 30% by the end of November 2019.  "The increase corresponds to an additional 1.9 million adults with PTSD symptoms," the research indicated. "This is definitely abnormal," said Gabriel Leung, Dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Hong Kong who took part in the research.  Hong Kong was embroiled in the protest movement for seven months, triggered by the now withdrawn extradition bill. The protest has since turned into a mass anti-government movement, with protesters insisting on the four remaining demands – independent commission of inquiry into the police force, retraction of the classification of "rioters", amnesty for arrested protesters and dual universal suffrage. "Seeing people suppressed by the government while there's nothing much I can do made me angry and upset," said Felicity, a university student who did not want to reveal her full name for fear of cyberbullying. She reported feeling mentally distressed during the protest.  As a student from mainland China, Felicity found …

Health & Environment

Chinese health care system facing extreme shortage of medical supplies during coronavirus outbreak

In a Wuhan gymnasium that has been transformed into a makeshift cabin hospital, nurse Ms. Shen, who does not want to give her full name, said her team of 10 nurses treats more than 100 coronavirus patients every day. Patients scramble for free supplies, sometimes tearing off health workers masks, she said. "It's impossible to manage the distribution by myself," said Ms. Shen. "The only thing I can do is stand by."  She said she often cries, and at the end of the day, her protective suit is soaked with sweat. For the last day of the Chinese New Year, she did not return to her dormitory until 11pm. "It was almost 12 after I disinfected my clothes and I hadn't had my dinner," said Ms. Shen. "It feels bad being away from my family and seeing others celebrating the Lantern Festival on social media." Ms. Shen is one of thousands of overworked health workers in the heart of China's coronavirus outbreak that has seen more than 68,000 infected and 1,665 dead as of mid-February. Medical workers from 16 provinces, including Ms Shen's group from Kunming,  have travelled to Hubei to help sick patients. But as a shortage of supplies as well as staff continues, hospitals are forced to appeal to the public for help. In Xiaogan, 60 kilometers away from Wuhan, Cinderella Yang said her aunt, who works as a nurse at Yingcheng People's Hospital, had no break during the Chinese New Year. "We didn't learn the lessons from SARS 17 years ago," said Ms. Yang. "Emergency measures aren't efficient at all." Zed Guo, whose father is a doctor in Zhongshan, where 65 cases have been diagnosed, is not allowed to leave the city. His father told him that hospitals are in short supply, especially masks and antiviral drugs. …

Health & Environment

Free period products in the UK. How about Hong Kong?

LONDON - A woman's period happens every 28 days, each time lasting about five days. According to the National Health Service in the UK, most girls would have their first period at around age 12 and most women reach menopause at 51. Throughout her life, a woman has her period for around 2535 days, that is, roughly seven years. Starting from 20 January, free sanitary products will be made available to all schools and colleges in England to combat period poverty.  The Department of Education in England launched an £11.4 million ($114 million) scheme to support campaigns to break the stigma around periods and raise awareness of menstruation. It enables more than 20,000 schools and colleges to order a range of period products for their pupils. Period poverty, the social issue concerning limited access to safe sanitary products and comprehensive menstrual hygiene education, affects more than 800 million girls and women around the world, according to a United Nations study. "It is a step in the right direction," said Priscilla Oshuremi, founder of ConveHERsation, a women empowerment platform, "if that means one girl can come to school (to) participate instead of having to make an excuse, that's great." Plan International, a development and humanitarian organisation, released its research in 2017, saying that one in ten girls across the UK has been unable to afford sanitary wear and that 49% of girls have missed an entire day of school because of their period. Unlike the UK, where the tax on tampons was once as high as 17%, Hong Kong as a free port has no customs tariffs on imported menstruation products. Therefore, sanitary towels and tampons tend to be affordable and accessible to most. A box of 12 sanitary pads costs around $23 (£2.3) in London, while in Hong Kong it …

Culture & Leisure

Dark tourism in Chernobyl

Still remember Chernobyl where the nuclear disaster happened more than 30 years ago? Nowadays, Chernobyl has become one of the main tourist attractions in Ukraine. Watch and know more about dark tourism.

Business

Hong Kong budget plan subsidizes employment programmes under weak economy

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: BellaHuang、Cynthia Lin、ShukmanSo、Sunny SunEdited by: Mark Chen、AlecLastimosa
  • 2020-02-27

The Hong Kong government will provide additional annual funding of $30 million for employment programmes of the Labour Department to relieve job loss and financial pressure on individuals and companies, said Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po in the Feb 26 budget plan. The economy in Hong Kong has been hit hard by the outbreak of the coronavirus and months of anti-government protests, which makes the labour market subject to huge pressure. According to the Census and Statistics Department, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Hong Kong has risen to 3.4% from November 2019 to January 2020.  Over the same period, the employed population has decreased by over 10,000 to 3.80 million, and the number of people available for work has dropped by around 16,300 to 3.93 million. "The labour market eased further as economic conditions continued to worsen," said Law Chi-kwong, Secretary for Labour and Welfare. "The year-on-year decline in total employment widened further," he added. Dr Law said that the dramatic fall in employment rate signified that some people may have chosen to leave the labour force after losing their jobs. In light of the worsened employment situation, Paul Chan encourages employers to hire the elderly, the disabled and young school leavers by raising the ceiling of on-the-job training allowance under different employment programmes. The Youth Employment and Training Programme is a pre-training programme for all young school leavers aged 15 to 24. Participants of the programme can apply for one-month internships provided by the government, welfare agencies and private enterprises, as well as an internship allowance of $45,800. "I came to Hong Kong last year and worked as a handyman. But our industry has been affected by anti-government protests since last September," said Wong Tsz-Hong, 23, who has been working after graduating from high school in Foshan, Guangdong. …

Business

Health sector calls for wise spending on $75 billion fund for Hospital Authority

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Tomiris Urstembayeva、Han Xu、Leone Xue、RonaldFanEdited by: Tomiris Urstembayeva、Han Xu、Leone Xue、RonaldFan
  • 2020-02-26

Financial Secretary, Paul Chan, has made the fight against COVID-19 a priority in this year's budget. In his speech in Legco on Wednesday, he promised $75 billion will be granted to the Hospital Authority, however, some professionals worried that the budget is not going to be spent wisely.  "They are not managing their money effectively. The government should be monitoring how the HA uses the money effectively and properly," said Cyrus Lau Hoi Man, a registered nurse and an officer of Hong Kong Allied Health Professionals and Nurses Association. Out of the $75 billion, $30 billion will be spent on setting up Anti-epidemic Fund to facilitate the provision of prevention supplies by sourcing them worldwide, while supporting local production to satisfy soaring demand.  "Making good use of fiscal reserves to support enterprises and relieve people's hardship is certainly in line with our people's expectations towards the government under the current difficult environment," said Financial Secretary, Paul Chan Mo-po. The Hospital Authority will get $600 million to increase manpower and improve the quality of. Services. Another $650 million will go toward supporting the District Health Centre in Kwai Tsing and to set up six more centres around Hong Kong in the coming two years.  "(We) will continue to allocate resources to promote district-based primary healthcare services, with a view to enhancing the public's capability in self-health management and providing community support for chronically ill patients," said Mr Chan.  Rehiring retired doctors and nurses is one of the ways the government is planning to solve the doctor shortage. But according to Mr Lau, this solution is only "a bottle of water to put out a big fire" as retired doctors are not as "energetic" as the younger ones. He also thinks that it's necessary to propose "punishment" to avoid any unfairness in …

Challenges that local businesses are facing

  • 2020-02-26
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: SamuelMo、Carol Mang、Moon LamEdited by: SamuelMo、Carol Mang、Moon Lam
  • 2020-02-26

Government is pumping money for businesses amid the outbreak of the coronavirus. The Financial Secretary has released measures, including reducing profit tax, waiving the rates, and subsidizing the electricity bills, to offer relief to businesses amid the coronavirus outbreak