The Young Reporter

Society

Policy Address 20/21: Professional Teachers' Union is skeptical of Carrie Lam's national security education plan

The government is working on plans to enhance national security education, Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng yuet-ngor said in the Policy Address 2020, given that students arrested under the social unrest lacked "law-abiding awareness" and failed to have "positive values " such as mutual respect and understanding.  However, the Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union, the largest representative body for teachers in the city, disagreed with Mrs Lam's characterization of the arrested students and expressed doubt about the vague content of her plan. Around 2,000 of the 10,000 people arrested for protests last year were primary and secondary school students. "The social unrest in the past year involved people from different walk of life. There's no evidence that children are particularly being mobilised by someone,"  Fung Wai Wah, the president of HKPTU said. Instead of accusing students for a  lack of correct values, he said,  Lam should  "review" her governance and "rectify" the mistakes. As for the national security education plan, Mr.Fung said although this plan can help improve students' awareness of the rule of law, he was sceptical due to the vagueness of the statement. He added that the initiative depends on the content that is going to be taught.  In the policy address, Mrs Lam also reiterated that the Department of Justice will implement a ten-year-initiative called  "Vision 2030 for Rule of Law", which includes educating urban youth to understand the rule of law and promote "law-abiding awareness". The initiative comes after two teachers were disqualified after a primary school teacher from Alliance Primary School in Kowloon Tong. One was accused of teaching materials that were supporting independence, and another primary school teacher from Ho Lap Primary School in Tsz Wan Shan was deregistered due to teaching a distorted history of the Sino-British opium war.  This initiative …

Business

Policy Address 20/21: Carrie Lam rolls out real estate measures, limited impact expected for most

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced a series of long term housing measures on relieving the financial burden of enterprises and boosting housing supply, as announced in her 4th policy address today. Mrs Lam said that the double stamp duty on non-residential property transactions would be revoked from tomorrow, 26 November to benefit the property owners immediately. The measure is expected to facilitate the sale of non-residential properties to meet financial problems arising from the economic downturn. Hong Kong real estate experiences a contraction in the rental market this year, with the rent index decreased by 9.4% in September compared with the same period last year.  Brilliant Properties Limited, a small-scale property company is one of the suffering businesses in the pandemic. "Tenants could not afford the rent while owners are not willing to lower the price," said Cheuk Shik-kong, 60, owner of Brilliant Properties Limited. "Therefore, contracts were terminated," he added. Mr Cheuk also said, the overall revenue of his company has dropped by 30 to 40% compared to the figures last year. Much as the government would like to invigorate the real estate market with the abolishment of double stamp duty tax, property agencies considered it as an ineffective approach. "The impact will not be significant," said Lam Wai-cheung, 43, she has been working at Cheong Shing Property for three years. "I believe the measure will have certain effects on the buying and selling of stores but it will not be obvious until the pandemic comes to an end," she added. "Many buyers have the financial ability and intention to purchase commercial properties. What halts them from making the trade happen is not the price, but the pandemic situation," Ms Lam said. However, Li Ching, 55, a real estate agent at Cheong Shing Property, has a more …

Health & Environment

COVID-19: China to reserve vaccines for Hongkongers, Carrie Lam says

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Simran Vaswani、Jasmine Tse、Janice LoEdited by: Cara Li
  • 2020-11-25

China will reserve a portion of its vaccines specifically for Hong Kongers, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in the policy address on Wednesday. "We have enough money to procure vaccines to safeguard the health of Hong Kong people," said Mrs Lam. Benjamin Cowling, division head of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Hong Kong, said he was pleased to hear about vaccinations coming in from the mainland and hoped the city would be vaccinated by the end of next year.  However, the government needs a more comprehensive vaccination plan soon. "It is not only about the vision but the details: how we will get millions of doses, who will get vaccinated first," said Prof. Cowling.  He said countries like the UK and US are expected to roll out vaccinations as soon as the next three to four weeks.  Hong Kong joined COVAX, a global vaccine initiative, along with 184 countries. The COVID-19 global vaccine alliance aims to work directly with vaccine manufacturers to provide low and middle-income countries with equitable global access to vaccines.  China is also part of the coalition and aims to provide the COVAX network with a domestically-made vaccine. With two pharmaceutical companies in the mainland undergoing clinical trials, China aims to procure a vaccine for the market by the end of this year. A one-off $5000 subsidy was announced on Monday to those who test positive for the virus. The fund is for patients that may face financial difficulties when hospitalised. The government also implemented Cap. 599J — The Prevention & Control of Disease Regulation on Nov. 14, allowing private doctors to do testing with patients with COVID-19 symptoms. Patients have to conduct the virus testing as advised by medical practitioners within 14 days. More facilities would be available for COVID-19 patients as …

Health & Environment

COVID-19: Hong Kong might see more mass testing

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Simran Vaswani、Jasmine Tse、Janice LoEdited by: Cara Li
  • 2020-11-25

Hong Kong might see wide-spread COVID-19 community testing again, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in the policy address on Wednesday, as the city sees the highest number of infections since this summer, sparking a fourth wave.  Testing would be voluntary, she said, and targeting high-risk groups and asymptotic carriers. "It is essential for us to take all necessary measures to strengthen epidemic control by guarding against the importation of cases and the resurgence of domestic infections," said Mrs. Lam.  The first large-scale universal community testing was conducted in September with 1.78 million people tested, around 20% of the city's total population. The mass testing found 42 COVID-19 infections. Vinci Chan Hei-man, a registered nurse, agreed with the government's decision. "If implemented, such a step needs to properly target high-risk groups," said Ms. Chan.  "[Testing] has to be accompanied by stringent contact tracing and a population that understands the importance of strict adherence to social distancing rules," she added. A cluster was linked to elderly care homes in July, which caused a surge in the coronavirus death toll in the city, which is now 108. Hon Pierre Chan, legislative council member from the medical sector, said in a press conference that testing for high-risk groups is a "pragmatic and ideal" measure. "Even for the seasonal influenza, not all citizens are willing to get vaccinated. It is important not to force citizens to do testing," said Dr. Chan. Dr. Chan said Hong Kongers are hoping for stricter border control. He urged the government to block loopholes in border control policies.  Travellers from high-risk places such as the US, UK and India, need to provide proof of a negative virus test before boarding planes and a hotel confirmation for their 14-day quarantine.  A quarantine-free travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore …

Politics

Policy Address 20/21: The government is drawing up plans to strengthen national security education in the city

Young people will be educated in the rule of law, the Chief Executive said in her fourth policy address on Wednesday, as part of a 10-year initiative called "Vision 2030 for Rule of Law." "Targeted public education activities will be carried out to promote law-abiding awareness, while research and related data compilation will be conducted through collaboration with various stakeholders," she said. It is important to "enhance moral, civic and national education," including the constitution, the basic law and national security, she said, adding that citizens need a "sense of social responsibility and national identity, as well as an affection for Hong Kong and international perspective."  Part of the plan includes reforming the controversial Liberal Studies in public secondary schools, though no details on the reform were given, and having stricter regulation on teachers. A task force of locally and internationally renowned "experts" has been set up to advise the government on the plan, which was announced last year. The Financial Secretary earmarked about HK$450 million in the budget plan last year for the Department of Justice to implement the project. The Democratic Party responded in the afternoon criticising Mrs Lam for overthrowing the liberal studies system, which has been implemented for ten years in Hong Kong, saying that the government will promote "brainwashing national education" in the future. "The Democratic Party calls on all of our teachers and Hong Kongers to stick with our positions, letting our students be able to access comprehensive knowledge from different aspects, building up their ability of thinking critically and independently," Wong Pik-wan, spokesperson of the Democratic Party said at a press conference. "Anti brainwashing is becoming an important point for us in the coming future." In the past few months, the government has jumped into education to assess the professionalism of teachers, the …

Policy Address 20/21: New policy to help Hong Kong aviation industry set to crash, insiders say

  • 2020-11-25

Hong Kong will invest in the Zhuhai airport to increase cooperation, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in the policy address on Wednesday, though more details on how it will happen have yet to be disclosed. Airline industry employees say this will not help to alleviate the financial problems in the industry.  The investment by the Airport Authority, which has been managing the Zhuhai airport since 2006, is part of President Xi Jinping's "dual circulation" scheme to boost the Greater Bay Area competitiveness and economy.  "By integrating the mainland aviation network of the Zhuhai Airport with the international network of the Hong Kong International Airport, it would strengthen the competitive edge of the entire GBA in aviation," Mrs. Lam said.  Persuasive as it might sound, professionals in the aviation industry said otherwise.  "This is putting the cart in front of the horse to ameliorate the pressure on the aviation industry. It may add competitiveness to the Greater Bay Area aviation industry but it certainly doesn't help struggling workers in the aviation sector," said  Queenie Tse, the former Hong Kong Airlines Human Resources manager.  She added that the collaboration seemed to be a marketing tactic for Zhuhai International Airport instead of helping airline workers who are struggling to make ends meet in Hong Kong.   The Hong Kong Airport handled around 72 million passengers in 2019 while Zhuhai Airport had only around 10 million passengers in 2018. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, the number of passengers travelling by air to and from Hong Kong has plunged dramatically.  According to the Hong Kong International Airport statistics, the number of passengers arriving in the city dropped from more than 70 million in 2019 to around 8 million in 2020. Mrs. Lam said she discussed the move with the central government on her …

Society

Policy Address 20/21: HK government to introduce cash allowance for low-income families

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor highlighted new public housing schemes for residents with plans to provide low-income families currently waiting in line for public rental housing with cash allowance over a prolonged period. In the live broadcast, Mrs Lam hopes that the new schemes will "get Hong Kong out of the impasse and restore people's confidence as soon as possible."  To meet the demand of about 301,000 public housing units, the government plans to use 330 identified hectares of land required based on the Long Term Housing Strategy Annual Progress Report 2020 to implement 316,000 flats within the next 10 years.  Locations involved the Tung Chung reclamation side, the agricultural and brownfields sides in new development areas such as Kwu Tong North, Fanling North. Other suggested areas include nine sites at Kai Tak and Anderson Road Quarry, and parts of Fanling Golf Course will also be used for public housing development.  "It is the prime time to create more land for housing," she said. Ms Leung, who has been in line for public rental housing for four years, rated the policy address one out of 10. "She [Carrie Lam] did introduce new public housing, but it seems that the majority would be sold in the market rather than being rented, which would have zero impact on shortening the waiting time for public rental housing," Leung said. Currently, the waiting time for public rental housing averages at 5.6 years, which has increased by 0.1 years compared to June this year. As of September, there are about 156,400 general applications for public rental housing and about 103,600 non-elderly one-person applications.  A new cash subsidy will roll out for people waiting for public rental housing. In the trial scheme, applicants with two or more persons, and elderly one-person applicants not living in …

Society

Policy Address 20/21: Property agents welcome but remain skeptical towards commercial property tax abolition

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Cora Zhu、Vikki Cai、Yuri KwokEdited by: KawaiWong、Olivia Tam
  • 2020-11-25

The city's leader announced today to abolish tax for commercial properties, real estate agents express positive attitudes towards the policy but some of them cast doubt on its effectiveness due to the uncertain investment environment under COVID-19. In her fourth annual policy address, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the government will abolish the Double Stamp Duty (DSD) on commercial property to facilitate businesses to cash out by selling non-residential real estate so to stay afloat during the economic downturn. The policy will take effect tomorrow. "As a result of the economic downturn and uncertainities surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, prices and demand for non-residential properties have been dropping over a period of time," said Ms Lam. "The government considers now the right time to abolish the DSD imposed on non-residential properties." Hong Kong saw its Q3 GDP decrease by 3.5% in real term on a year-on-year basis. For the net output in the real estate, professional, and business services sector, it decreased by 5.9% in real terms in 2020 Q2 from a year earlier, following a decline of 4.6% in Q1, according to the Census and Statistics Department. The DSD, formally known as the Doubled Ad Valorem Stamp Duty, was first introduced in February 2013 to deal with the surging prices of commercial properties. The rates range from 4.25% to 8.5% depending on different asset prices.  Lau Kin-ling, 59, a real estate agent said the abolishment of commercial property tax is helpful for the market but it is hard to predict the effectiveness.  "The policy may not attract a considerable amount of mainland investors since the borders remain closed," said Ms Lau. "The major factor for buyers to purchase a commercial property is field visit so that they can access the actual environment, simply presenting an advertising video would …

Society

Policy Address 20/21: A report not for our citizens": Hong Kong Pro-democrats criticise latest policy address

James To was in his office putting things away in boxes for removal while watching the live broadcast of policy address on television. On the screen is Carrie Lam, wearing the lapel pin of the Chinese and Hong Kong flag, standing in the chambers of the Legislative Council, giving her speech. The former lawmaker used to be sitting in the chambers, listening to the Chief Executive's annual address alongside many other colleagues from the opposition camp. Now, there are none of them left in the chambers. This is the first policy address ever given in the city's history without any pro-democratic lawmakers. "We used to protest in the chambers when there's [a] policy address, but right now, all the people left in the chambers are the puppets of the [the] Communist party," said Mr To, referring to the pro-Beijing lawmakers, who remained in the chambers. On November 12, the Democratic lawmakers resigned in solidarity with those who are disqualified by the government, with powers from the Beijing authorities, citing a threat to national security. That leaves the highest legislative body in the city with no dissenting voice for the first time. Claudia Mo, another lawmaker who resigned, criticised this year's address to be a report to integrate Hong Kong into the mainland, instead of having the city's best interest at heart. "The goal is to 'disappear' Hong Kong as we know it. I lost count of how many times she said Hong Kong enjoys  Beijing's 'central support', like without which we just couldn't survive on," she said as she watched the address online, with no appetite for lunch.  Wu Chi-wai, the chairman of the Democracy Party, said that the annual policy blueprint is more like a report from governors of provinces to the Beijing government. "You cannot find a word …

Politics

LIVE: Hong Kong Policy Address 2020

Live Coverage of the Hong Kong Policy Address, Nov 25 2020 1:20pm: Carrie Lam said, last year she has faced the toughest challenges in all her 40 years of public service.  This concludes the live coverage of Hong Kong Policy Address 2020, the longest policy address on record. Stay tuned for more in-depth coverage on our website and social media platforms.  #CarrieLam says she has faced the toughest challenges in all her 40 years of public service, the last year. #PolicyAddress2020 @hkbutyr — Simran Vaswani (@Simran_TYR) November 25, 2020 TYR on social media: Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/hkbutyr/ Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/hkbutyr/?hl=en Twitter: https://twitter.com/hkbutyr 1:16pm: The Hong Kong government will provide HK$300 million to address the city's growing mental health issues. Mrs. Lam said that the government will spend 300 million dollars to better support and raise public mental health awareness@hkbutyr #PolicyAddress2020 — Janice Lo (@janicelo_cl) November 25, 2020   1:10pm: More than 2000 teenagers have been arrested in the past social movement. In view of this, Carrie Lam said students need to develop a better sense of national belonging and moral development.   More than 2000 teenagers were arrested in the past social movement. In view of this, Carrie Lam said students need to have more sense of national belonging and moral development. #policyaddress @hkbutyr — Yetta Lam (@yetta0621) November 25, 2020 1:08pm: Carrie Lam says more languages regarding information from the Hong Kong Observatory will be available for ethnic minorities living in the city. 1:04 pm Carrie Lam says information on the Hong Kong Observatory will include several more languages for readability by ethnic minorities in the city. #PolicyAddress2020 @hkbutyr — Simran Vaswani (@Simran_TYR) November 25, 2020 1:06pm: Carrie Lam is delivering the policy address in the Legislative Council chamber Photo: Eunice Lam 1:02pm: Two museums in the West Kowloon Cultural District — M+ Museum and …