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“Night Vibes Hong Kong” aims to boost local economy

  • By: Wai Yan MIUEdited by: Yixin Gao
  • 2023-09-15

The government launched the "Night Vibes Hong Kong" Campaign yesterday at 6:30 pm at the West Kowloon Cultural District M+ Museum. The campaign aims to promote the city's nighttime economy and unite different sectors of the community. “Night Vibes Hong Kong” starts from the Mid-Autumn Festival in late September and continues through early 2024. There are four highlights: art & culture, harbourfront leisure, a vibrant festival, and diversified leisure.  Art and culture buffs can look forward to discounted tickets for evening screenings. The Hong Kong Museum of Art, the Hong Kong Science Museum, and the Hong Kong Space Museum will delay their closing time till 10 pm on Fridays, weekends, and public holidays to give visitors more time to experience cultural gems. M+ will also host activities and workshops at night. A night market featuring food stalls, activities, and exhibitions will be set up along the harbourfront as part of the campaign. The iconic Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival will return to the Central Harbour Event Space, offering a wide array of global liquor assortments and tantalising delights. The campaign will bring a month-long citywide dining promotion from restaurants and bars. The festive season will be particularly vibrant with the resumption of beloved events. The Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance, a traditional dance among Tai Hang residents which was cancelled during the pandemic, will make a comeback during the Mid-Autumn Festival. The traditional dance will be accompanied by a drone show organised jointly by Hong Kong and Shenzhen.  Other activities include Cantonese operas during the Lantern Carnival at Victoria Park and the fireworks for the National Day celebration. In addition, more than 80 shopping malls will extend their operating hours, host cultural and sports events, and outdoor night markets., These malls will also offer evening entertainment performances and dining …


Chief executive demands better control towards Hong Kong budget tourism from mainland

  • By: Junzhe JIANG、Xiya RUIEdited by: Ming Min AW YONG
  • 2023-03-30

Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu has asked related officials to enhance the control of the crowds to solve the complaints from Hong Kong residents over the low-cost mainland visitors gathering on the street and in restaurants. Lee said on Tuesday that the city's tourism is recovering and has reached the first stage of returning to normality, hence making it necessary to manage the capacity. In the press conference, Lee said he had asked the related authorities, including Culture, Sport and Tourism Bureau as well as Hong Kong Tourism Authority to manage the tourism’s impact on transportation. After the three-year shutdown, many cross-border tourists have returned to the city, leading to crowding in Kowloon City, To Kwa Wan, Hung Hom and more. According to the Hong Kong Tourism Board, the number of tourists from the mainland increased to 280,525 in January, 470.8% more than the same period in 2022. Hong Kong Express announced that they would operate 400 more flights every week to cope with rising levels of flights to Hong Kong.  Cheng Xinyi, a customer manager from Donghai travel agency, said they have four to five tour groups to Hong Kong every day, and Hong Kong is the best choice for tourists with a lower budget. The tourists are usually guided by their tour conductors and travel among the districts for shopping. This caused complaints about noise, hygiene issues, and transportation congestion spark. “There are many mainland tour groups eating in my restaurant,” said Maa Hoi-ying, the owner of a local restaurant in To Kwa Wan. “I usually accept 50 customers at the same time, but I can only keep 10 to 15 seats for my neighbourhoods,” she said. Maa said although there are some complaints about the tour groups, she’s happy with them as she can earn more money. …


MTR new fares tie to property profits and an one-off 1.2% fare cut announced

  • By: Xiya RUIEdited by: Tsz Ying CHEUNG、Ming Min AW YONG
  • 2023-03-25

The Hong Kong government has approved a one-off fare reduction of  1.2%  points in MTR fares this Tuesday, which is the biggest reduction in recent years, as MTR decided to maintain stable fare prices for the public, according to Lam Sai-hung, Hong Kong Transport Secretary, at a press conference on March 21. The MTR’s Fare Adjustment Mechanism is a system regulating the fare increment of public utilities, including the Mass Transit Railway Corporation Limited (MTR). Meanwhile, the new mechanism will be directly tied to the MTR property development profits. Starting from this June, the more profit the MTR makes, the smaller the fare increases.   Lam stated that the new calculation formula of fares has a long-term effect. A decline of 1.85% for fares is expected in 2024.  “The fare should have been adjusted long ago. My monthly subway transportation fee is close to HK$400, such a big cost!” said Wong Youkum, 29, a Central agency employee.  Specifically, if the MTR property profit reaches 5 billion to 10 billion Hong Kong dollars, the special deduction will be increased by 0.1 percentage points. If the property profit exceeds 10 billion yuan, the special deduction will be increased by 0.1 percentage points, and the special deduction will be up to 0.8%. Jacob Kam Chak-pui, the CEO of MTR Corp, claimed that it is necessary for the corporation to have stable revenue sources as the railway network reaches a mature stage and the expenses of keeping, modernizing, and replacing railway assets have been steadily rising. “I saw some news that the subway doors suddenly flew out and broke down,” said Wong. “There is no reason for the MTR to charge higher and higher fares when even the most basic safety issues are worrying.”  The MTR’s Fare Adjustment Mechanism has led to an over 31% …


Tolls for two Hong Kong cross-harbour tunnels will increase to HK$30 from August 2, charges for Western Tunnel will decrease to HK$60

  • By: Kei Tung LAMEdited by: Ming Min AW YONG
  • 2023-03-22

To alleviate long-standing traffic flow issues, the Hong Kong government proposed a new toll plan for three cross-harbour tunnels in two stages.  Chan Sai-hung, the Secretary for Transport and Logistics, said that under the first stage, starting from August 2, tolls for private cars using the Western Harbour Crossing will be lowered from HK$75 to HK$60. Also, the tolls for the Cross-Harbour Tunnel and the Eastern Harbour Crossing will be increased from HK$20 to HK$30 and from HK$25 to HK$30, respectively.  Taxi fares will be standardized at HK$25 per trip for all three tunnels to discourage empty taxis from concentrating on lower-priced return trips through the Cross-Harbour and Eastern Harbour Crossings. "The lower toll rate for the Western Harbour Tunnel would encourage me to use it more often," Chan, a private car driver, said. He said that the higher toll rates for the other tunnels could help distribute traffic evenly across all three tunnels. However, not all drivers are happy with the proposed changes. Sze, a private car driver and a frequent user of the Eastern Harbour Tunnel, said that the toll increase would add to his monthly expenses. "The new charges are just a disguised increase in fares," he said. Under the proposed second stage, which is expected to start latest by the end of this year, the government plans to implement different charging schemes for different time periods.  During "non-peak hours", 7 pm to 7.30 am,  from Monday to Saturday nights, the three tunnels will charge a flat rate of HK$20 for private cars. In the morning and evening "peak hours", the fee is HK$60 for the Western Harbour Tunnel and HK$40 for the Cross-Harbour and Eastern Harbour Crossings.  On Sundays and public holidays, private cars will be charged at a flat rate of HK$20 to HK$25, depending …


Hong Kong’s mask mandate lifted after almost three years

  • By: Tsz Yin HOEdited by: Ming Min AW YONG
  • 2023-03-01

Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu has announced scrapping the COVID-19 mask mandate starting today. The lift came into effect and Hongkongers and tourists are free to not wear masks on public transport, public indoor and outdoor areas and all scheduled premises, without fines. Hong Kong is believed to be the last place on the planet to end the mask-wearing mandate according to Lee. The mask mandate has lasted for 959 days. “In order to give people a very clear message that Hong Kong is resuming to normalcy, I think this is the right time to make this decision,” said Lee. The majority of people in the city are still wearing masks, especially in crowded areas such as public transport and commercial districts. “The demand for masks will still remain in the short run,” said Zita Cheung, a salesperson at a mask shop. She said that the business of her shop is significantly worse today, as very few customers visited. Currently, her shop is providing discounts for clearance sales and the shop is no longer restocking masks. However, mask-wearing is still required for entering venues regarded as high risk, according to Lee, including medical facilities, residential care and elderly homes. The government also suggests that people with weak immunity or chronic diseases should also wear a mask. Hong Kong has axed several other major controls in recent months, including mandatory quarantine for all arrivals, social distancing and vaccine requirements.


New round of consumption vouchers and increased football betting tax centre Budget 2023’s discussion

  • By: Nga Ying LAUEdited by: Le Ha NGUYEN、Mei Ching LEE
  • 2023-02-23

Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po released the budget speech for fiscal 2023-24, the first under the administration of Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu, on Wednesday with major public concern surrounding the fresh round of consumption vouchers and raising the football betting duty of Hong Kong Jockey Club amid the government’s deficit. Eligible citizens will receive HK$5,000 electronic consumption vouchers in two instalments, HK$3,000 in April and the remaining in the middle of the year. The amount of consumption vouchers is reduced from HK$10,000 due to an expected deficit of HK$140 billion in the financial year 2022-23, said Chan. “HK$5,000 is the best we can do,” said Chan when asked why the amount of this year’s consumption voucher was lower than last year's during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.  Non-permanent residents who have come to Hong Kong through different admission schemes or to study will receive vouchers in half value, i.e. HK$2,500 in total. But whether inbound persons admitted recently to the Top Talent Pass Scheme with rich work experience and good academic qualifications are eligible to receive the vouchers is yet to be confirmed.  The budget also introduced the annual special football betting duty of HK$2.4 billion on the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) for 5 years starting from 2023/24, a cumulative total of HK$12 billion.  HKJC, a local non-profit unit providing horse racing, sporting and betting entertainment, slammed the policy in its latest statement, saying that “any permanent hike in betting duty rates will irreversibly create structural problems, which will only benefit illegal and offshore betting operators. The soccer betting duty was originally set at the rate of 50% of gross profit. According to HKJC, even the original rate is already the highest in the world. “Most importantly, such increase will adversely impact the Club’s ability …


Budget 2023: Hong Kong introduces new investment entrant scheme to attract talent

  • By: Junzhe JIANG、Yuhan WANG、Xiya RUIEdited by: Kei Tung LAM
  • 2023-02-22

Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary, Paul Chan Mo-po plans to attract capital investors to settle in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong government will introduce the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme, said Chan in his budget speech this morning.  Applicants who invest HK$10 million in Hong Kong’s asset market are eligible to apply for the scheme, but investing in property is excluded, Chan said. The Hong Kong government will establish a new committee to promote the policy and assist the applicants to start and expand their business in Hong Kong. According to IMD World Talent Ranking 2021, Hong Kong dropped from 18th to 26th in attracting and retaining talent, while Singapore rose to 15th. The scheme may have little impact to attract investors because Hong Kong lacks competition, compared to other popular immigration countries, Chung Man-kit, an economics professor from Hong Kong Baptist University, said.  “Many people believe Singapore is the greatest alternative for immigration rather than Hong Kong because of the suspension of the previous investment immigration program,” Liu Yajun, 43,  a former human resources director from the mainland who plans to migrate to Hong Kong through the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme.  Liu plans to invest HK$ 10 million to purchase financial products in Hong Kong. However, Liu said she may not spend a lot of time in Hong Kong. “I may migrate to the UK after obtaining Hong Kong permanent residence,” Liu said. “Not only me, but most of my friends also use Hong Kong's investment scheme as a springboard to apply for foreign status,” Liu added.  According to the Census and Statistics Department, Hong Kong has lost around 140,000 workers in the past two years. Chung, the economics professor, said Hong Kong has big drain because of lack of local development. Chung said the Hong Kong government should learn lessons …


Smart ID Exhibition reminds citizens renewal program is drawing to a close

  • By: Hanzhi YANG、Yiyang LIEdited by: Tsz Yin HO、Ming Min AW YONG
  • 2023-02-10

The last application date for replacement of new smart identity cards at the Smart Identity Card Replacement Centres (SIDCCs) has been extended from the original date, February 11 to March 3. Meanwhile, the identity card collection service will be maintained through to March 3, 2023. A roving exhibition by the Immigration Department has been held in PopCorn mall in Tseung Kwan O from February 8 to 9. The exhibition aimed to promote publicity on applications for smart identity cards and appeals for ID cards.  Failing to apply for a new ID card within the time limit would be against the law unless there is a reasonable excuse and could result in a maximum fine of HK $5,000. Hongkongers are also not allowed to keep their old ID cards and are required to return them to the Registration of Persons Office. Those found in possession of more than one ID card can be fined up to HK$5000 and imprisoned for two years without a reasonable excuse.  The exhibition includes showcases of ID card history, panels showing the requirements for the renewal of ID cards, and the rules for applying for the new smart ID cards. There are also staff from the immigration department stationed to help citizens with any enquiries about the replacement. According to the information shown in the exhibition, the new smart ID card uses a variety of new security features, including colourful UV patterns that appear under ultraviolet light, which improves overall security measures. The new smart ID cards are also more durable than the old ID cards. “Most of the people we helped and explained to are the elderly, and this exhibition surely provided them with what they needed to know," said Lin Si-en, a staff member of the immigration department. Neighbours staying near the mall are …


Prosecutors in Hong Kong’s largest national security trial allege unofficial political election could have harmed stability

  • By: Junzhe JIANG、Juncong SHUAIEdited by: KOO Chi Tung 顧知桐
  • 2023-02-08

Prosecutors on Tuesday said the unofficial 2020 Hong Kong pro-democracy legislative primaries diminished the city’s livelihood and stability in the trial of 47 defendants charged with subversion. Prosecutors listed the details of how defendants organized the Legco primaries in May 2020 and showed videos and posts in their opening remarks during the first two days of Hong Kong’s largest national security trial. The prosecutor said the 47 defendants were inspired by Hong Kong legal scholar Benny Tai Yiu-ting’s article outlining 10 steps of lam chau, a slogan used by democracy activists often translated as “burn together”,  to control the Legislative Council through the pre-election. Deputy director of public prosecutions Anthony Chau Tin-hang said the objective of the group was to snatch at least 35 out of 70 Legco seats and then vote down the government budgets, forcing Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to resign. Evidence shown in court on Tuesday included a statement signed by some of the accused from Kowloon East and New Territories West asking the then-Chief Executive to respond to the “five major demands”. Sixteen out 47 defendants pleaded not guilty on Monday. Of the defendants who have not pleaded guilty, six are on remand, four of whom have spent more than 700 days in custody. Former member of the Yuen Long District Council Ng Kin-wai and founder of local retail chain AbouThai Mike Lam King-nam plead guilty on Monday. Lam will testify for the prosecution with three other organizers of the primary.  In August, Security for Justice Paul Lam Ting-kwok ordered a non-jury trial because of “involvement of foreign factors” and “the protection of personal safety of jurors and their family members”.  From midnight, hundreds waited outside the court for public seats. Long queues caused the judiciary to extend the trial to the entire fourth floor and …


Five arrested after yelling in store linked to 47 democrats case

  • By: KOO Chi Tung 顧知桐Edited by: Yu Yin WONG
  • 2023-02-07

Police arrested five men over the past 48 hours for alleged disorderly behaviour at the Mong Kok branch of AboutThai grocery store. The chain store was founded by Mike Lam, one of 47 defendants currently being tried for a national security law case. The five, aged 14 to 28 years, were taken away by police on Monday night and early Tuesday morning in Kwai Chung, Kowloon City, and Hung Hom.  Staff at AbouThai told police that the five were yelling and harassing customers last Friday and two of them returned on Sunday. An online video shows one entering an AbouThai store and yelling Mike Lam King-nam’s name. “Lam King-nam, come out! Where are you, betrayer?”, the man in the video said.  Lam was charged in February 2021 with 46 other pro-democracy activists under the national security law after he stood for election in an unofficial 2020 Hong Kong pro-democracy primaries.  He pleaded guilty on Monday and has agreed to be a prosecution witness at the West Kowloon Magistrates Court.  Some businesses which claimed to be on the pro-democratic side announced that they would no longer trade with AbouThai.  “MeeApp”, an application which provides rewards for people spending at “pro-democratic” stores and restaurants, announced on their Facebook page on Monday that they would remove AbouThai from their platform.  “AbouThai is one of the most popular businesses on the platform and Mee purchased their vouchers with money for members to redeem. We have spent tens of thousands of dollars,” the statement reads. “As fellows, we could understand each other’s hardships and circumstances.” “However, this should not include pointing your knife at fellows as it is the foundation for being ‘fellows’.” Chapman To, a Hong Kong actor with a food importing business, said on Facebook that he won’t be selling his products at …