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Help Yourself !

Self-ordering technology at restaurants has been around in the United State and Japan for at least 20 years. But here in Hong Kong, the demand for self-ordering technology has gone up over the past three years, according to Hans Paul, co-founder of a self-ordering solution provider. Profits of his company has tripled every year. Fast food chain restaurants, including McDonald's, started providing self-ordering service in mid-2015. Customers simply tap on a screen to choose their food. The automated system then charges users' credit cards and all they need to do then is just pick up the food once it is ready. Not only fast food chains but also other businesses or canteens in hospitals and universities starts to adopt this technology. For example, Citibank, Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital and City University of Hong Kong have installed self-ordering kiosks in their canteens. "As self-ordering technology becomes popular, customers will get used to it and use it efficiently. Other fast food restaurants such as Café De Coral or Fairwood will then have the confidence to develop it too," said Leung Wai-keung, Associate Professor of Marketing at City University of Hong Kong. Leung thinks the rising popularity of "self-ordering" has to do with the fast-paced lifestyle of Hong Kong. He said self-ordering service greatly reduces the waiting time for food ordering. This kind of time-saving model meets Hong Kong people's need, leading to the increasing trend of the service, he said. Leung pointed out that difficulties in hiring also contributes to the popularity of self-ordering systems. Labour cost is going up, plus few job seekers are willing to take on the heavy workload in the food and beverage industry. Paul thinks self-ordering solutions allow catering businesses to reallocate their human resources. They can cut out the cashiers and instead, hire staffs to …


The Fall and Rise of Traditional Craftsmanship

Whilst time has been slipping away, some local handiwork stay. Tucked away in Shau Kei Wan, an old fishing village on the Northeastern shore of Hong Kong Island, a small shop is all that's left of a Chinese tradition in Hong Kong. Lai Hing Kee Embroidery has been selling handcrafted quilts and Chinese wedding gowns for over half a decade. In recent years, Lai Sum, 49, who is the third owner of the 53-year-old shop, has stopped selling and renting out what he calls "obsolete" items, such as wedding dresses and towel quilts, some of which are on the First Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory of Hong Kong. "Our business has not been doing well. To be honest, if this shop(鋪位) is not owned by my family, it would have been closed down long ago," said Lai, whose grandfather bought the shop in its early years. It started off as a traditional wedding supplies store, selling bedclothes and wedding gowns. "Many fishermen in Shau Kei Wan took traditional Chinese wedding customs, such as wearing a highly embroidered red silk dress with a pair of dragon and phoenix, very seriously back then," said Lai. A few years ago, the government Intangible Cultural Heritage Office visited their shop for a week and recorded the quilt making procedures, which ended up in the First Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory of Hong Kong, said Lai. The office was set up in 2004 according to the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage adopted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. According to the convention, the aim is to safeguard heritage through "identification, documentation, research, preservation, protection, promotion, enhancement, transmission, as well as revitalization ". Yet all Lai received was a certificate from the office, which he considers of no help to his …

Health & Environment

The Online Hotbed for Illegal Drugs

Blue pills - the story ends, you wake up in your bed, believing whatever you want to believe. Red pills - you stay in Wonderland, knowing how deep the rabbit hole goes. Sixteen-year-old Amy chose a set of pills from Yanhee Hospital which promised "a safe and effective hallucination". Convinced by the photos and videos posted by an online shop on Instagram, she paid $300 to buy this medication. "On the first day, I felt dizzy after taking the medicine. My heart was pounding very fast and I was always thirsty. I couldn't fall asleep no matter how sleepy I was. The next day, I felt so weak as if I was floating. Eventually, I couldn't take it anymore. I felt like dying," Amy said. "I asked the shop owner why I was suffering through WhatsApp. The medicine had no disclaimer on its possible effects. The owner said everyone might react differently, and that I should quit if I was sick," she added. Social media has become a hotbed for illegal drug trade. By law, substances used for medical purposes must  be registered with the Pharmacy and Poisons Board of Hong Kong before sale. But this is often not the case for medicine sold online. Between 2014 and 2016, there were  23 convictions linked to illegal drug sales on social media, according to the Drug Office. Common drugs offered on social media include those that promise to improve one's appearance, such as breast enhancement or make you grow taller. They come under names such as Cosmoslim, Slim Perfect Legs and Yanhee. Input the keywords on Instagram and you get hundreds of posts of pills. Online drug sellers often claim there is no medication in their products and that they are approved by the foreign agencies. For example, an online post …


Special kids, Special Needs

Legislators call for a review of education policies to help Special Educational Needs students Becky Liu is a year three student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She was diagnosed with dyslexia when she was in kindergarten. That means Becky has a learning disability in reading, writing and speaking. Liu recalled her parents being told by the teacher that she could not tell the difference between the letters "A" and "B". "I cried every day when I was in primary school because I was not able to spell the word ‘apple' and ‘orange' properly," Becky said. There were more than 7,800 special educational needs (SEN) students like Becky in Hong Kong in 2016, according to government figures. Their conditions range from dyslexia to severe cases such as intellectual disability, visual and hearing impairments. For them to learn effectively, the Education Bureau reckons the pupil-teacher ratio cannot be more than 4.5: 1. For the first two years of Becky's school life, she had the benefited from teaching materials and a curriculum specially designed for SEN students. But the problems started when she was transferred to a mainstream school.  She fell below average and school, in general, was a struggle "Luckily my parents always tell me to focus on the process instead of the result. That alleviates my pressures and I became less resistant to new things," Becky said. Becky believes that some teachers in mainstream schools assume that students who do not have good academic results are lazy. That, she says, makes it even tougher for SEN students to adapt to school life. "What we need," Becky said, " are patience and encouragement to build our confidence." Haven of Hope Sunnyside School serves students with the severe disability. Their intelligence quotients are sometimes equivalent to that of very young kids. …

Myanmar people march to demand peace to "stop war"

  • 2017-05-24
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Holly Chik、Wing Li、Dorothy MaEdited by: Cecilia Wong、Isabella Lo
  • 2017-05-24

Thousands of citizens protested against multiple domestic wars happening in the north where most ethnic groups live on February 5, demanding a peaceful Myanmar, said a leading demonstrator. About 7,000 people marched in downtown Yangon in February, carrying toy guns and poems, to protest the long-running civil war in northern Myanmar. The protesters marched to Maha Bandula Park and distributed leaflets printed a poem titled "I Hate the War So Much", expressing their discontentment with several civil wars happening in Myanmar. Conflicts between ethnic-minority militias and government forces have been flaring high up in northern Myanmar for feuds, competition over natural resources, and demands for more autonomy, dating back to the end of the second world war and the end of British colonial rule in 1948. Myanmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been trying to forge a nation- wide peace agreement between all ethnic groups after years of war in Myanmar's many border regions, but ethnic minorities have a deep-rooted mistrust of the central government. Many student unions and volunteers from non-governmental organizations participated in the demonstration, which was organized via Facebook, while, dating back a few years ago, Myanmar has no comprehensive internet network across its boundary. "We come here because we want peace... My parents don't allow me to go, but I am here. If there is a next one, I would like to join because of peace," said Sad Un San, a 16-year old student at East Yangon University. He said he came to the demonstration to demand peace and condemn the raging wars across Myanmar with his junior classmates who are about 15 years old. "In our country, people are fighting for no reason", said Hah Eie, a law student from Dagon University who distributed food and drinks to pro- testers for free as a …


An augmented piece in the real world

Games with immersive experience are merely one dimension of AR world. In the blueprint of AR business people, classroom, retail market and advertisement will all become battlefields of AR in the future. The word Augmented Reality swept the city in 2016 with the viral game Pokémons Go. Although the game seems to be dropped by most of the people after the hit, Hong Kong entrepreneurs do not stop their attempts to go on exploiting the potential of AR industry in a diverse way. Serving education, retail, and advertising fields is the intensified direction of worldwide AR business. Figures speak out for the prospect of the market - a report of Goldman Sachs last year estimates that the value of global VR/AR application in retail and education field could reach about $12.4 billion and $5.4 billion respectively by 2025. A few Hong Kong startups woke up and smelled this opportunity these years but the whole industry is still in a primary stage. Though the technique itself sounds like a path to hyper-reality, local AR developers' role is more similar to contractors than scientists, who buy technology over- sea then offer made-to-order services to different targets. "When you scan a plan using AR, some three-dimensional kinds of stuff or videos will pop up – this is what AR could do now technically. However, the point is not what it could do but how to apply it wisely, creating fresh things", said Roy Lo, Business Director of Creote Studio. Roy and his wife Coby made a name for themselves for the innovation injecting AR into their wedding in- vitations and wedding album, which won them the HSBC Youth Business Award last year and triggered off the entrepreneurship. Now their business is trying to prove that AR marketing solution could be more vivid and …

From Accidents to Protest

  • 2017-05-24
  • 2017-05-24

What is the next step of beauty industry in Hong Kong? Desires for skin whitening, spot removal and staying young forever spur people to splurge on beauty clinics. But potential dangers and unregulated use of devices might cool them down. Hong Kong's beauty industry is a huge market. More than 82 % of women h undergone "medical beauty services" in a survey with a poll of 1004 men and women ed 15 to 64, according to Consumer Council. In this research, over 90 % of users firmly support government regulations on beauty industry. Meanwhile, the Consumer Council alre y received more than 1,000 complaints about beauty services in 2014. This year, a medical-device regulation proposal that requires supervision by doctors on the use of commonly used beauty devices, such as laser equipment, raised concerns from the entire beauty community. On January 16, more than 1,000 beauticians and beauty industry workers protested the proposal outside the Legislative Council. "They (government) are making our services subjected to control of the medical industry. This proposal will impede the development of the beauty industry," said Frances Chiu, chairperson of Federation of Beauty Industry. Chiu said lasers, for example, are a very important and basic beauty device and nearly every beauty parlor owns one laser machine; and if it is under the supervision, the beauty industry would have no space to develop further, said Chu Albert Poon Ka-fat, a professor of Practice (Biomedical Engineering) in The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said that the definition of "medical device" is based on the standard from the International Medical Device Regulators Forum and is commonly recognised. Its criteria depends on whether the devices would change cells or tissue of a human's body. Under that, quite a few beauty devices are considered to be medical devices in "high risk" …

Culture & Leisure

Different Faces, Same Values

Located in Tsim Sha Tsui, Chungking Mansions is not only a landmark but also a hub of different cultures with many ethnic minorities. Walking out from Tsim Sha Tsui station, Muhammed Hussain is used to the hustle and bustle of the crowd. Many have East Asian faces, speaking Mandarin or Korean loudly with a draw- bar box in hand. Many of these tourists with money to burn love the emporiums where they can easily find popular designer brands such as Louis Vuitton or Gucci. It's 12:03pm. Hussain looks down at his watch as he waits for the traffic light to cross busy Nathan Road. In a few hours, white-collar workers and tourists will head to the nearby historic Peninsula Hotel for afternoon tea. But neither the Peninsula nor the emporium is Hussain's destination. Instead, he steps through an inconspicuous building entrance and heads upstairs to his mobile phone shop. Everyday Hussain, a 20 year-old Pakistani man, follows the same routine. He meets 20 to 30 customers a day until he closes his shop at 9 pm. He may go for a late lunch, usually curry and rice, not because he likes it but because it is a common menu in the building. Just like other commercial buildings in the neighborhood, there are many mobile phone shops, money changers and restaurants. But unlike other buildings, restaurants here mainly sell Indian food and most shopkeepers are South Asian and African men. The building's name is Chungking Mansions, and it's history is full of mystery and lore to even locals and the tourists who know it for its cheap accommodation. Located in Tsim Sha Tsui, one of the most prosperous districts in Hong Kong, Chungking Mansions has never been seen as a part of Hong Kong, even after being chosen as a landmark …


Sugar blow your own figures

  • 2017-04-23

While the local craftmanship slowly dies out, a lady still refuses to let go of sugar-blowing, which is a part of many's childhood. Chung Choi Wan, 60, is one of the remaining three craftsmen in Hong Kong who knows how to blow sugar-coated figurine, also known as sugar- blown figure, classified as one of the Hong Kong's intangible cultural heritage according to the Hong Kong In- tangible Cultural Heritage Database. Making such figurine requires a high degree of patience and it is easy to fail during the making process. Until now, there isn't any license issued by the government to ensure the right of sugar-blowing hawkers, which becomes one of the potential obstacles for such craftsmanship to exists throughout the century, said Chung. Sugar-coated figurine have over 300 years of history and made of maltose that has been treated with secret formulas. Chung said that she could not reveal the special treatment for maltose as it can only pass on to her apprentice according to traditional rules. Craftsman can change maltose into different shapes by bare hands and using simple tools like toothpicks to carve out the pattern of animal fur. Chung can made maltose into animal shapes such as dolphin and swan. The technique of blowing a large ball shape from a droplet-like maltose is to blow it instantly when the maltose is still hot enough to change its shape. "When the maltose ball is in dumpling size, blow it slowly until it change to the size of an egg", said Chung. "Blowing ball, laughing more" is Chung's slogan, which also written in front of her movable cart. Spread- ing the joy around is why Chung starts to learn this traditional art. The colorful coatings of the figures can easily attract eyeballs. She recalled that once a four-person family …

The muted voice

  • 2017-04-23
  • 2017-04-23

In between the crowds at the Lunar New Year Fair 2017 in Victoria Park,Causeway Bay, there were three stalls which had never operated : the 33th, 199th and 200th. Thousands poured into Victoria Park in Causeway Bay this year for the Lunar New Year Fair, an annual event filled with stalls selling everything from flowers and snacks to clothing and political posters. But, this year, three stalls never opened: numbers 33, 199 and 200. On January 18, four days before the official opening of the Lunar New Year Fair, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department barred Hong Kong National Party and Youngspiration, which are pro-independence political parties, from running fundraising stall on the grounds that they posed a threat to public order. The government was afraid they would sell products supporting Hong Kong independence. It is a tradition for political parties to organize fund- raising stalls in the fair. Not only wide range of products that carry their political ideas would be sold, politicians would also use the fair as a channel to boost their popularity by giving speech and writing red couplets. An official letter said the three stalls were a safety concern as they could attract political protestors to the crowded fair. The government department exercised the power stated in clause 10 of the license agreement, which allows it to terminate a signed contract "whatever reasons as the Department finds fit to do so". In an appeal, Youngspiration provided information on their products, describing them as the work of Hong Kong artists but failed to overturn the government decision. One of the tote bags that they would like to sell illustrated people's fear of the youth sitting on priority seats and the people's moody feelings on Monday. No political party advocated Hong Kong Independence in the fair, neither …