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By: Hamish CHANEdited by: Clarice Wu


Australia reopens to vaccinated travellers, while Hongkongers struggle with quarantine

After 704 days, Australia finally reopens its international border to fully vaccinated travellers, except for Western Australia, its border is scheduled to reopen on March 3. At least two jabs of vaccines are required to visit Australia. To visit State Victoria, travellers must be vaccinated with a booster on top of the two doses.  Unvaccinated travellers with medical proof of not being suitable for vaccination may need to quarantine for 14 days, while the vaccinated do not need to undergo quarantine. There will be 56 international flights landing in Australia today worldwide, including Hong Kong. “My message to tourists all around the world is: ‘Pack your bags and come and have one of the great experiences you could ever imagine,” said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.   “Don’t forget to bring your money with you because you will find plenty of places to spend it’,” he added. Karla Warner, the manager of Queensland Museum Shop, said she is excited to see visitors returning to Australia. “Finally, we can have international visitors after two years,” said Warner. She expects that more visitors will go to the museum and grab souvenirs, which can boost the shop's sales. “I am optimistic with the sales,” said Warner. She expects that visitors will bring new energy to the economy which has been affected by the pandemic. However, potential visitors from Hong Kong are struggling with the local quarantine policy. Li Chi-chung, said he wants to meet his son, who is studying in Melbourne, but the quarantine policy in Hong Kong stops him. “I want to see my son face-to-face, but I do not want to spend a month in quarantine when I come back from Australia,” said Li over the phone. Currently, Australia is one of the listed countries with flight suspension in Hong Kong. Travellers …


Hong Kong Health Code for travel to mainland launches next week along with update for LeaveHomeSafe; city still waiting for quarantine-free travel

The government said the new health code app compatible with Guangdong and Macau to facilitate travel to the mainland will be available at 9am on Dec 10, though it has not yet announced when quarantine-free travel will begin. “The government is still negotiating with the mainland authorities but said it had come to the final stage after the visit of mainland experts to Hong Kong,” Alfred Sit Wing-hang, the Secretary for Innovation and Technology, said in a press conference today. The government said it will also provide an update for the LeaveHomeSafe app, which allows users to transfer visiting records to the mainland-compatible Hong Kong Health Code app. The app will be launched as a “pilot run” before quarantine-free travel starts with no need to rush, said Sit. Users will need to provide personal information, such as their address and HKID card number, and upload the visiting record from LeaveHomeSafe. The authorities said 31 days of record will be uploaded, but only the past 21 days of record will be used to generate the code required for border crossings. Users whose records do not show visits to high-risk places and are not close contacts or household contacts of close contacts of confirmed cases in the past 21 days will get a green code. For those who have no plan to travel to the mainland, Sit said they do not need to update their LeaveHomeSafe app. “The government has no plan, and did not see the need for real-name registration for the LeaveHomeSafe App,” Sit added. Li Yan-yi, 27, said she will not use the Hong Kong Health Code app. “I have no plan to go to the mainland, and have tons of privacy concerns for the app,” said Li. “When the government launched the app, they said it is all …


Carrie Lam emphasises the central government does not “owe” Hong Kong citizens universal election

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the central government does not “owe” citizens universal suffrage stated in the Basic Law in an enrichment talk to Citizenship and Social Development teachers today.  The subject “Citizenship and Social Development” was established last year to replace the core subject “Liberal Studies”, which has been accused of leading to social unrest in 2019. The new subject requires teachers to use “reliable and authoritative sources” to teach. For example, government documents and official quotes. She said some democrats have misled the public to believe that the central government did not approve a universal election which is promised in the Basic Law. Lam said the central government did approve the Hong Kong government to political reform three times. She suggests that the increasing number of members in the election committee of the Chief Executive shows the central government is striving for democracy. Lam said the proposal of “831 decision” allowed the public to have a universal election. The “831 decision” allowed universal suffrage with a “nomination committee”, which is similar to the current election committee, to nominate the candidates for the Chief Executive election before public voting. “It was a very brave move by the central government but sadly it was banned by the opposition in the Legislative Council,” said Lam. She said the governor before the handover was also not elected by the public, and the central government wants to keep the system the same as before the handover which citizens are used to. “The idea that the central government owes citizens a universal election is wrong,” said Lam. “The British government did not give any say to Hong Kong citizens for choosing who is the governor.” Shum Pui-yee, a Secondary 4 student studying Citizenship and Social Development, said the above idea was already …


Policy Address 2021: No cork to medical brain drain; Carrie Lam's last policy address doesn't meet hopes of healthcare personnel

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Clarice Wu、Jayde Cheung、Hamish CHANEdited by: Sara Cheng、TUNG Yi Wun
  • 2021-10-06

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor 's latest policy address barely covered medical brain drain, as more doctors and nurses leave public hospitals because of poor workplace conditions and low salaries or emigrate. “I don’t have much expectation on the policy address,” said Chung Pak-chi, 20, a third-year medical student from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, adding most of her peers did not want to practice locally due to intense workload and low salary. Since July 2020, the turnover rate for full-time doctors in public hospitals has reached 4.9%, said Hospital Authority Chairman Henry Fan Hung-ling in August, and 6.7% for nurses, a 0.9% increase from 2019. Emigration contributed to staff loss, Fan said, and the situation is “concerning.” Private hospitals also poach talents from the public sector, worsening the situation there, he added. Gloria Law, 25, a nurse with three-years experience in a public hospital, said the workload she endured was “intense and heavy,” adding that each nurse had to take care of 12 patients at one time. A pay freeze announced by the Civil Service Bureau in June further widened the salary gap between nurses in the private and public sectors, Law said. Her salary after three years in a public hospital is less than what a nurse in the private sector makes in the first year. “The salary is not appealing enough as well,” she said. Despite these challenges, Lam highlighted government healthcare policies in her address, describing them as “multi‑pronged,” but stopped short of laying out new concrete measures. In September, the Hospital Authority extended retirement from 60 to 65 and created promotions for nurses to pursue specialisation. In August, the government proposed amendments to the Medical Registration Bill to allow non-locally trained doctors - regardless of their Hong Kong permanent residence status …


Apple Daily newspaper folds after a 26-year run

Long lines snaked around newsstands in Hong Kong today as supporters snapped up the last edition of the Apple Daily newspaper. Top officials of the 26-year-old tabloid-style paper have been detained or jailed. The company’s assets were frozen by the government under the National Security Law, forcing it to shut down. Its website and mobile app also stopped being updated after midnight. About a million copies of the last edition circulated around the city, about ten times its normal print run. Splashed across the front page was a photo taken from the paper’s offices in Tseung Kwan O showing a crowd outside. The headline read “ Hong Kong people bid farewell in pain”. Apple Daily’s proprietor, Jimmy Lai, is serving a 20-month jail term for taking part in illegal protests in 2019. He also faces accusations of violating the National Security Law. The newspaper has long taken an anti-communist and pro-democracy stance. Gary Sing Kai-chung, a former senior photographer of Apple Daily, who has worked at the paper for 17 years, was angry and sad about the newspaper’s closure. “It is like watching a family member get killed,” Mr Sing told The Young Reporter. He described Apple Daily as a pioneer in the Hong Kong media industry.  “They sent motorbikers to the scenes to take photos when covering breaking news. More reporters would arrive later to cover the incidents and do follow up stories. This workflow was started by Apple Daily,” said Mr Sing. He said Apple Daily was also willing to invest in equipment. “The speed of changing from film cameras to DSLR cameras was so fast at the Apple Daily,” said Mr Sing. “While other media outlets were still hesitating on whether digital cameras were good, we had already swapped to the new cameras in all divisions.” “If …


Trade Unions call for protection for workers of food delivery platforms

Delivery workers of digital food delivery platforms are not guaranteed a minimum wage and do not have reasonable work injury compensation, the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions said in a press conference today. The HKFTU asks the government to reexamine the employment status of gig workers, including delivery workers of digital platforms. All three major digital food delivery platforms, Foodpanda, Deliveroo and UberEats, recruit delivery workers under self-employed contracts.  “The platforms use algorithmic management to control the actions and quality of service when they are in fact the employers of the deliverers,” said legislator Micheal Luk Chung-hung, who worked as a deliverer for a few hours. Mr. Luk said in other countries and regions, governments recognize delivery workers as employees of the digital platforms and are not considered self-employed. In Taiwan, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the Ministry of Labour confirmed in October 2019 that workers of six food delivery platforms, including Foodpanda and Uber Eats, were employees.  In Spain, the legislation was passed in March 2021 that recognised delivery platform couriers as employees, in line with a Supreme Court judgement that confirmed a deliverer of Glove, a digital food delivery platform, was an employee. “Although we have questioned the (Hong Kong) government about this issue, they have always responded by claiming there are 'no statistics, no research and no policies at the moment’,” Mr. Luk said. He pointed out that the most significant drawback for self-employed deliverers is that they are not entitled to reasonable compensation for work injuries since the digital platforms do not need to provide labour insurance for them.  “All three major platforms in Hong Kong provide accidental insurance for deliverers,” Mr. Luk “but the coverage and the insured amount are far worse than labour insurance.” Comparing the insurance provided by the three …


Educated Immigrants Leaving Hong Kong, Research finds

University-educated mainland immigrants aren’t staying, according to research from Hong Kong Baptist University released today. Between 2007 and 2011, 40.2% of the tens of thousands of new immigrants to Hong Kong held a bachelor’s degree, but a third of them left before 2016, according to the report. “The number continues to drop,” Yuk-Shing Cheng, Head of the Department of Economics at HKBU who led the research team, said in a press conference today. “Immigrants with higher education have a higher mobility,” Lai-shan Sze, the Deputy Director of Society of Community Organisation, a local NGO that sponsored the research, said in the press conference, “They will stay if they can blend in, but leave if they cannot.”  Although the government has policies to bring talent into the city, it has failed to retain them, the report said. Prof Cheng said the government should focus on the coming generations as the research shows second and third generations have a positive impact on Hong Kong. Younger new immigrants are more likely to go to university in Hong Kong, according to the report. Around 45% of new immigrants who came to Hong Kong before age nine obtained bachelor degrees. The number drops for older immigrants. New immigrant Mandy Dai’s son, 32, is now an accountant in Hong Kong with a university degree, but it was a struggle for her to get him here, she said in the press conference.  Ms Dai, who is from the mainland, married a Hong Kong man, but it took 11 years for her to be allowed to move to the city. Her son, who gained residency in Hong Kong, attended school in the mainland until he was 11 while they waited for her one-way permit, she said. “The one-way permit system can be better allocated,” Hongliang Zhang, Associate Professor …


District councillors’ “unprecedented actions” a severe challenge to government, says Carrie Lam

Some “unprecedented actions” by the current batch of district councillors have brought severe challenges to the government, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said this morning. While she was not specific about what those “actions” were, she said the Home Affairs Department would take appropriate “reactions”, including keeping an eye on funding to the councils, councillors’ remuneration and their offices, which were paid for by the government, she said.  Mrs Lam’s remarks came after the HAD issued warning letters on June 4 to some district councillors who had distributed candles and posted contents related to the anniversary of the suppression of the student-led democracy movement in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. In the letter, HAD says it has received complaints alleging that some district council members have conducted activities which are unrelated to their duties, damaged community harmony and possibly breached the laws of Hong Kong. “These activities include, but are not limited to, distributing materials and conducting publicity to encourage and facilitate members of the public to participate in unauthorised public assemblies,” says the letter. But Ramon Yuen Hoi-man, a Sham Shui Po district council member and one of the recipients of the HAD letter, has described the chief executive’s characterisation of the councillors’ actions as “absurd”. A member of the Democratic Party, Yuen distributed candles to residents in Cheung Sha Wan on June 3 and 4.  He told The Young Reporter in a phone interview that the distributed candles did not involve public money, and he did not see how it would clash with his work as a district councillor. “Whether I am a councillor or not, I would still distribute the candles to the public,” he said. Yuen also posted the lyrics of the song “The Flower of Freedom” on his Facebook page.  The song …


Hong Kong workers suffer from mental health issues, research shows

Hongkongers are overworked and stressed out, research shows. More than 60% of workers have symptoms of “burnout,” including easily getting tired and losing interest in everything, according to research by the Mental Health Association of Hong Kong and Tung Wah College. A quarter of interviewees said they feel “extremely depressed or anxious.” More than a third work overtime with an average 48.4 hours per week despite an average contract of 41 hours per week, the research found.  “Hong Kong is starting late for promoting workplace mental health,” Lawrence Lam, Vice President of Tung Wah College, said in a press conference today.  Most surveyed said they did not have flexible working hours. “We encourage enterprises to have ‘Mental Health Workplace Policies’, including family friendly policies and flexible working hours,” Stephen Wong, the Assistant Director General of the Mental Health Association of Hong Kong, said at the press conference. Mr Wong said employees should learn more about mental health, pay attention to the mental health condition of people around them and develop a caring culture in the workplace.  It is normal to have high working pressure in Hong Kong and having workshops and online lessons is a waste of time, Steve Lam, 47, a clerk in a telecom firm, said. “The best way to release our pressure is to give us more holidays,” said Mr Lam. “It is good to have positive communications, but managers need to communicate and understand us first.”  “I think having lessons and workshops will work, it will help reduce our working pressure,” said Brook Chan, who is in his 30s and works in customer service.  The researchers interviewed 213 full-time employees from two different enterprises and plan to talk to 400 more of different backgrounds and ranks, said Prof Lam. The full report will be released at …


Tuen Ma Line to fully open on June 27

The Tuen Ma Line will be fully operational from June 27.  It is a key section of the Central-Shatin Rail link. “The government has confirmed that the new railway is in a good and safe condition, and it is ready to operate, ” said Frank Chan, the Secretary of Transport and Housing, in a press conference today. Part of the Tuen Ma line is currently operational, providing train services between  Ma On Shan and Kai Tak. From June 27, two new stations, To Kwa Wan and Sung Wong Toi, will be added to the line. Also, Ho Man Tin station of Kwun Tong Line and Hung Hom Station of East Rail Line will have new platforms in order to serve as transit stations.  Train services will run at three-minute intervals during peak hours once the entire Tuen Ma line is running. The new line will shorten travel time by up to 19 minutes. Passengers going from Kai Tak to Tsim Sha Tsui East, for example, will not need to change trains. Currently, they have to change twice. Passengers using Octopus cards at the two new stations will get a fare reduction. Adults will get a HK$1 reduction per ride, while Child and Student Octopus Card users will get a HK$0.5 reduction. The same discounts will be extended for passengers using Kai Tak and Hin Keng station, where the discounts are currently active. The discounts apply until Jan 1 2022. Passengers taking longer journeys in some stations may be cheaper. For example, a passenger travelling from Tuen Mun to Hung Hom, will pay a discounted fare around HK$20.6 using an Adult Octopus Card But if he goes one station further to Ho Man Tin, then the discounted fare will be around HK$18.9. “The fare setting has historical reasons. We need to …