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Society

Art exhibition brings Hongkongers’ attention to the unattended cracks in the city

Local artist Yeung Tong-lung showcases his artwork which reminds Hong Kong people of the neglected parts of the city while COVID-19 has won all attention. Presented by Blindspot Gallery, in collaboration with a local independent bookstore -- Art and Culture Outreach, the Daily Practice is a solo art exhibition showing Mr Yeung’s artwork which was completed during 2015 - 2020. Amongst all pieces, Mount Davis, which illustrates the Yangge Dance Incident that happened in June 1950, is the featured artwork. Holding an art exhibition amid the fourth wave, though fewer visitors were expected, they believed that it was the right timing to make it happen. “In the past few months, Hong Kong people have been stressed over the pandemic,” said Wong Man-ying, one of the visitors. “Everyone seems to have their complete focus on getting themselves away from any possibility of being infected. To some extent, we became selfish. But in fact, there are people who really need help.” Although none of the art pieces demonstrates individuals being affected by the pandemic, or any pandemic-related scenes, showing the daily life of the minorities in Hong Kong could give visitors a heads up of the existence of these vulnerable groups, and that they could be suffering at this critical time, said Ms Wong. “It is rare for [Yeung] Tong-lung to hold a solo art exhibition or to display his work in any other exhibitions,” said Wong Cheng-yan, manager of Mr Yeung and gallery manager of Blindspot Gallery.  My Yeung’s last exhibition was in early 2019. Thus, even though the exhibition rolled out as the pandemic was prevailing, a lot of Mr Yeung’s friends and special guests still attended the opening reception.   Daily Practice’s opening reception was held on Jan. 19 at Blindspot Gallery in Wong Chuk Hang. The exhibition period …

Society

Mainlanders facing racism in workplace

Mainland migrants in Hong Kong face racism in the recruitment process. Since 1997, there have been 1.5 million mainland Chinese moving to Hong Kong. About 20 percent of Hong Kong's population are migrants from the Chinese mainland. But their cultural background, language, and sometimes education level makes integration into Hong Kong tough.

Politics

My day in Chungking Mansions: Disconnected "country" in Hong Kong

The elevator in this 17-storey behemoth of a building with more than 4,000 residents and hundreds of small businesses, can only hold five people. Waiting for an uncrowded one needs both patience and luck.  After 10 minutes, I give up and enter the stairwell to walk six numbers of flights downstairs. The walls are covered with graffiti. Through the window, I can see nothing but pipes with black stains.  Nearly half a century ago, Chungking Mansions was one of the most upscale buildings in Tsim Sha Tsui. But now, this complex has become a low-priced gathering place for minority groups and asylum seekers.  Before the pandemic, it used to see about 10,000 visitors every day. They come here for authentic food, affordable rooms, drugs, and prostitutes. For decades, some local people have viewed the complex filled with crimes and violence, as another "Kowloon Walled City," which was known for its high density and lawlessness. But fewer visitors amid the pandemic have made this building further disconnected from the outside world. I'm here to spend 24 hours, to get inside the look of this building and its people.  It's 5 pm on Sunday. Outside the stairwell on the ground floor, about 10 Africans are drinking beer and watching football on the television with loud music. I feel nervous in this unfamiliar place with so many corners and aisles, which are like scattered puzzle pieces. So I choose to stand still and look around to figure out the direction.  Luckily, someone is waving at me. I tell him that it is my first-time visit and ask for his advice. This 37-year-old Indian grocery shop owner, Muddassar Ahmed, is keen to give me an introduction. This five-block complex has more than 3 hundred stores. Most are run by African and Indian migrants and …

Society

Hani Halal – The Award-winning business making Hong Kong Halal-conscious

From Halal lollipops to gelatine sheets, Hani Halal's online shop sells anything Halal as the name suggests. With no artificial colours, the shop's fan favourite sweet rose lollipop is hand-decorated for its customers.  In October 2020, the business won an award for its Medjoul dates at the LOHAS Expo cum Vegetarian Food Asia 2020.  The term Halal is an Arabic word that means "permissible." In the context of food, it refers to the dietary requirements of Muslims based on their Islamic faith. Muslims cannot eat pork and have special procedures for the slaughtering of meat, according to their religious rites.  Hani Halal, officially known as 3 Hani Enterprises Limited, started two years ago, in 2018, to bring a viable option for consumers of Halal food. Ms Leung, together with two other partners and the Incorporated Trustees of the Islamic Community Fund of Hong Kong, the official body for Muslims in Hong Kong, helped make her vision become a reality. "Food is the most easy way to connect with people, especially in Hong Kong. We talk business through food. So, food is something that is easy to connect with people," she said. She added that her business sells products globally, but mainly focuses on Hong Kong and Macau.   The award-winning business has also won a Manpower Development Award for 2020 from the Employment Retraining Board (ERB) for training both Muslims and non-Muslims on the dietary requirements of Halal food. There is a considerable demand for Halal food in Hong Kong, with 65% following a strict halal diet, according to research conducted by the Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  The city has 300,000 Muslims from various backgrounds, making up 4.6% of the city's population, according to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's Home Affairs Bureau. Muslims first came to the city during the British …

Society

Islamic content in textbooks spurs discussion on religious education in Hong Kong

  When Adeel Malik, an English teacher at a local school in Kwai Chung, saw messages on social media linking terrorism with Islam, he was upset. "They are basically explaining a social issue, but then they are connecting [terrorism] to Islam in a way which [the] Islamophobes know best," Mr Malik said. Screenshots of the two books, Journey Through History: New Topic-based Series and the Liberal Studies (LS) Advanced 2020, have been circulating in Muslim WhatsApp groups. The liberal studies book said some Muslims wanted to "safeguard" Islamic doctrines and cultures and they "started wars and attacks" against Western cultures. That ignited discussions on Islamic education among members of the Muslim community in Hong Kong.  More disturbing for Muslims living in Hong Kong was that a history textbook contained false information about Islamic history.   The book, among other things, claimed that Prophet Muhammad's face was shown in several paintings in the 15th century, but were discarded later to prevent idol worship of the Prophet and to focus on Allah [God in Arabic]. That's false, according to Islamic teachings. Islam prohibits drawings of any image of human beings. Raza Nasir Razi, an LS teacher at the Islamic Kasim Tuet Memorial College, is not surprised by what's in the books. During his career as a teacher in Canada, similar misunderstandings of the religion were common in the school curriculum. He found that misunderstanding of Islam to be "universal,"  referring to the common misconceptions of Islam in the West.  "A primary mistake is that the textbook author [said] that Prophet Muhammad is the founder of Islam," Mr Nasir said. "Muslims believe that Prophet Muhammad was the final prophet and believe in all the prophets mentioned in the Abrahamic faiths." But, Mr Malik is optimistic about the city's effort towards including Islamic education in …

Business

Lunar New Year Fair stall auctions less bustle amid pandemic uncertainty

The two-day auction for Hong Kong's Victoria Park 2021 Lunar New Year Fair stalls that ended on Nov. 17 received a cold reception as pandemic's uncertainty looms over the city. Only 175 wet goods stalls selling flowers are available for auction this year, with six left unsold. Officials have banned dry goods stalls which sell handicrafts and toys, as well as snack stalls due to health concerns. Hong Kong's largest Lunar New Year market used to have around 300 dry goods stalls and three food stalls. "I'm confident about the market this year," said Lau Hoi-to, who has attended the fair for more than 40 years selling peach blossom, "It's culture. Chinese people always buy flowers on Lunar New Year." Mr Lau successfully bid for 22 stalls for the coming fair beginning on Feb.6 and lasting for six days. The single highest bid is HK$50,000, about nine times higher than the starting price HK$5,440. The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department halved the opening price for all bids from last year because of the city's economic downturn. The total revenue of the auction is about HK$2.5 million, increasing by 60% compared to the previous year.   Ha Fang-fang, an orchid vendor, successfully bid for one spot. She hoped the government could soon normalize cargo transportation procedures between Hong Kong's border with mainland China. Under the pandemic, cross-boundary goods vehicles can only enter the nine cities of the Greater Bay Area and need to return the same day.  "It'll be much more convenient then," Ms Ha said, "But I'm still confident about the fair. I expect local people will still come and buy our flower." Still, Ms Ha expressed her worries that there will be less people around in the fair due to the pandemic  The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said all …

Privacy concerns raise over government covid-tracking app

  • 2020-11-26

Privacy concerns arose among Hong Kong citizens as the government recently launched the "Leave Home Safe" mobile app for coronavirus contact tracing. The app allows citizens to record their whereabouts and the duration of staying by scanning QR codes at places they visit. Although the government said that the data would not be saved in its system and all records would be automatically deleted after 31 days, some people are concerned about the security of their private data. "I think they would save a backup behind the doors no matter what, which makes me less willing to go out as they would know where I went and who I met," said Elyse Cheng Nga-si, a university student. Jason Chan Ka-yau, an Eastern District Council member, said that the public nowadays are aware of privacy issues when the government implements policies that would potentially collect individuals' personal information. "Take the multi-functional smart lampposts as an example. Although the government claimed that the lampposts are used for collecting data such as traffic flow and air quality, there were still people asking me if they are used as surveillance cameras instead," Mr Chan said. Ng Hing Yu, 43, a shop assistant at a boutique, agreed that using the app involves the data security risks, but he said it is inevitable. "When you gain some, you would eventually lose some.  If you want to protect your health, you need to sacrifice part of your privacy," said Mr Ng. Although Mr Ng has downloaded the "Leave Home Safe" mobile app, he criticised that it  could only control the pandemic temporarily, "I am not saying that the app is not good, but the most effective way to put the situation under control is to implement mandatory testing for all citizens." Instead of relying on the mobile …

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: Zhu Zijin Cora 朱子槿、Vikki Cai Chuchu、Kwok Chiu Tung 郭昭彤Edited by: Kawai Wong、談 巧童
  • 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 …