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The Hong Kong Rugby Sevens 2023

  • By: Tsz Yau CHAN、Yau To LUMEdited by: Tsz In Warren LEUNG、Ka Ki FUNG
  • 2023-03-06

The Hong Kong Rugby Sevens will be held in the Hong Kong Stadium from 31st of March to 2rd of April. This year is the first tournament after all COVID restrictions have been scrapped. The Hong Kong rugby team is looking forward to seeing rugby fans’ faces and making a comeback to their home field.


Young children adjusts to “new normal” after mask mandate ends

  • By: Jemima BadajosEdited by: Ming Min AW YONG
  • 2023-03-04

The end of mask mandates on Wednesday brings hopes to improve children’s psychological development, as the COVID-19 pandemic caused a rise in speech problems and emotional recognition in children. The removal of mask requirements was announced by Chief Executive John Lee-Ka Chiu on Wednesday due to the “trend (of COVID-19 cases) and the fact that the winter surge (of influenza)” is ending.  “We are starting to resume to normalcy comprehensively, and that will be very beneficial to economic development, our international competitiveness as well as our activities which involve everyone in Hong Kong,” he said. Mask-wearing had especially impacted the speech development and facial perception of children.  The number of children under 12 newly diagnosed with speech and language development problems grew by 25% from 2019 pre-pandemic to 2021, according to the Department of Health. Phoebe Ber, 26, a teacher at Tiny Talent Professional English Learning Centre, says that mask-wearing had raised difficulties during the pandemic in learning pronunciation, especially for similar-sounding vowels M and N. Teachers also had to exaggerate their emotions more with their eyes and voices. “(The mask mandate) is a good thing because not only it helps the younger kids to see facial expressions, they also get to see the mouth movements and as well as improve what they need to improve,” said Ber.  “Especially the kids who were born in 2019, who the moment they knew the world, they've just worn masks the entire time,” she said.  Mask-wearing has also shown a decrease in holistic processing and facial processing abilities in children, according to a scientific study done in 2022. Participants who took the Cambridge Face Memory Test had about a 20% decrease in scores when asked to remember faces with masks compared to faces without them. Faith Wong, 32, is the mother of a …


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.


HUTCHMED records US$360.8 million annual loss by slow returns on drug investments

  • By: Nga Ying LAU、Ho Yi CHEUNGEdited by: Lok Yi CHU、Bella Ding
  • 2023-02-28

HUTCHMED (China) Ltd (0013), a Hong Kong-based biopharmaceutical company, released its 2022 full-year results today, recording a net loss of US$360.8 million (about HK$2.8 billion) amid slow returns on drug investment. The operating loss climbed 24.2% to US$407.7 million (about HK$3.2 billion) affected by the increased input in research and development, driving the net loss up US$166.2 million (about HK$1.3 billion), or 85 %, year-over-year. “Our oncology and immunology operations have not generated profits and have operated at a net loss, as creating potential global first-in-class or best-in-class drug candidates requires a significant investment of resources over a prolonged period of time,” said Simon To Chi-keung, the Chairman of HUTCHMED, in the full-year results. Clinical studies and the development process of drugs were hampered in 2022 by hospital closures, travel restrictions and shipping difficulties resulting from COVID-19, according to the full-year results. The company’s revenue advanced by 19.7%, or US$70.3 million (about HK$548.3 million), to US$426.4 million (about HK$3.33 billion) in 2022, benefiting primarily from the sales of marketed products in its main businesses of oncology and immunology. It was then offset by the surge in research and development expenses of US$87.8 million (about HK$684.8 million) within the year. HUTCHMED announced its annual results after the market closed. Its stock price, increased by 2.4%, closed at HK$ 25.85 Tuesday. However, HUTCHMED’s stock price dropped 15% in February.  “The significant return would not appear until the final stage of the drug development, which is concerned by shareholders,” said Alvin Cheung Chi-wai, the stock commentator at Prudential Brokerage Limited. HUTCHMED is developing another six anti-tumour drugs in early clinical trials and plans to enter registrational trials in 2023 and early 2024, while the company also reached a US$1.1 billion (about HK$8.6 billion) deal with Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical to license its colon cancer …


2023-24 Budget: Tourism industry calls for sufficient financial support to revitalise businesses

  • By: Man TSEEdited by: Bella Ding、Zimo ZHONG、Yuchen LI
  • 2023-02-24

Hong Kong is set to spend HK$350 million in organizing international events to attract tourists and offers fully guaranteed loans to revive tourism businesses.  The funds are primarily for promoting major tourism events, including the first-ever Hong Kong Pop Culture Festival and the Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said on Wednesday. The Hong Kong Tourism Board will spend another HK$200 million hosting more international meetings, incentive travels, conventions and exhibitions in the fields of finance, innovation and technology and medicine.  “Hong Kong has long been a world‑renowned events capital. Organisation of mega events, international conferences and exhibitions is especially crucial to drawing high value-added visitors,” Chan said.  This is the first Budget under the current-term government’s administration and after the resumption of quarantine-free travel with the Mainland and the international community. Hello Hong Kong campaign, launched on Feb. 2, will distribute 500,000 free air tickets and various cash vouchers to attract worldwide tourists.  Li Wai-pong, the operation manager of Hong Kong Travel Bus Company said that Hong Kong may not have the capacity to cater for visitors due to the labour and resource shortage in the tourism industry. “It will cost me around HK$90,000 each bus to repair the travel buses before operation,” said Li, “No transport operator could afford it without the financial help from the government, especially after a three-year business suspension.” The government announced the fully guaranteed loans worthing HK$2.7 billion for transport operators and travel agents on Wednesday, to support cross-boundary passenger transport and the tourism industry. Li said that this scheme’s effectiveness in supporting companies’ reopening is limited, since many companies can no longer afford new debts. The deficiency of manpower also exists among travel agencies.  “Only 10% of our leaving bus drivers are willing to come back to …


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 …


2023-24 Budget: Government lowers decade-old ad valorem stamp duty for ordinary first-home buyers

  • By: Yuhe WANGEdited by: Bella Ding、Jiaxing Li、Rex Cheuk
  • 2023-02-23

The Hong Kong government announced the adjustment in the value band of ad valorem stamp duty to relieve the burden on ordinary families to purchase residential houses. Under the updated tax band, the threshold for the HK$100 stamp duty will increase from HK$2 million to HK$3 million while the stamp duty for houses worth between HK$6.6 million and HK$9 million will decrease from 3.75% to 3%. Only first-time ordinary buyers could be benefited. “It is anticipated that this measure will benefit 37,000 buyers,” said Paul Chan Mo-po, the Financial Secretary of Hong Kong.  Chong Tai-leung, an economics professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said that the new policy would improve the environment of the property market in 2023.  The government announced the detainment of 12 residential sites for the 2023/24 land sale programme, providing more purchasing opportunities. However, Chong said the hundred-dollar stamp duty is only for units under HK$3 million, while the stamp duty rate for flats over HK$10 million remains unchanged.  “The policy may only stimulate the property market under HK$3 million, which are usually the nano flats and remote village houses,” said Chong.  Starter Homes Pilot Scheme for Hong Kong Residents, included in the 2020-2021 Budget, intends to relieve the house-purchasing burden of ordinary families, mainly by providing low-price flats. Kenneth Chiu Hung-wan, the regional sales director of Centaline Property Agency Limited said the demand for starter homes will show gradual growth this year under the adjusted stamp duty policy.  Chiu expects the local property market will rebound by 5% to 10% this year after the city’s finance Chief announced a 15% decline in flat prices last year. The current demand-side management measures for residential properties, curbing external demand and reducing investment demand, remain unchanged.  The Hong Kong Authorities announced the full border reopening starting …


Budget 2023: Light public housing remains controversial

A few steps from the Kai Tak MTR station, an extensive but barren ground is enclosed by barbed wire, incongruent with the surrounding high-rise residences and shopping malls. The land is earmarked for the construction of light public housing. As one of eight sites designated by the government, Kai Tak is expected to provide 10,700 units for people waiting for more long-term public housing. “It’s hard to imagine over 10,000 people will flood into this area in the future. I’m afraid it’ll be a mess at that time,” said Alex Tsang, a resident living in the Kai Tak neighbourhood for three years. Anger spread among Kai Tak residents once the site selection for light public housing was announced in January. In today’s budget address, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said the government is committed to the construction of 30,000 flats by 2027. “I can understand the government's intention to build light public housing, but the site selection is wrong,” said Tsang. “Kai Tak should be a part of the CBD , but the temporary housing scheme will last seven years, nobody knows what will happen in the future.” The Light Public Housing scheme proposed by Chief Executive John Lee in his maiden policy address last year aims to give a better living environment to people waiting for permanent public houses.  “As the supply of housing land is not evenly distributed across each year, and land creation takes time, there is still a shortage of land ready for public housing development in the short run,” said Chan in today’s budget speech. The first batch of housing is expected to cost HK$14.9 billion. Building light public housing costs 25% more  than public rental housing, according to Liber Research Community, an independent think tank in Hong Kong. “Some light public housing is planned …


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 …


Vegetarian Food Asia 2023

  • By: Yee Ling TSANG、Wai Sum CHEUNGEdited by: Yu Yin WONG
  • 2023-02-20

The three-day Vegetarian Food Asia 2023 runs on its biggest scale with more than 300 exhibit booths at the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Centre. The event resumes food sampling for the first time since the pandemic.