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Hong Kong releases electric vehicle roadmap, to ban petrol cars from 2035

Hong Kong will ban fossil-fuel powered cars from 2035 with a target of zero carbon emissions by 2050, the government announced yesterday. Up to 5,000 public charging stations and 150,000 charging facilities in private buildings will be built by 2025, Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing said in a press conference. "There are many challenges, I have to admit. But the intention is clear, we want the city to become carbon neutral, to provide clean air and to make Hong Kong a smart city."Mr Wong said. Electric vehicles in Hong Kong have increased from 180 in 2010 to more than 18,500 at the end of 2020 with around 1,200 public charging stations, including 106 fast chargers, according to the Hong Kong Electric report on installation of electric chargers. Chan Kwok-chung, 45, who has been driving a petrol car for more than 20, said the government's plan to popularise electric vehicles won’t work. “We have insufficient parking spaces right now. Where can we still get room for additional charging parking spaces for electric vehicles?” Mr Chan said. “Especially when an electric vehicle takes a very long time to charge, it will worsen the insufficient parking situation.” Popularising electric vehicles depends on the Hong Kong economy, car dealerships and the number of chargers, Fung Ho-yin, Deputy Director of the Environmental Protection department, said in a RTHK interview. “Most public charging services are medium-speed, and the waiting time is at least four to eight hours, which is not the main charging spot that car owners can rely on,” Mr Fung said to RTHK. In October last year, the government launched a $2 billion subsidy scheme to upgrade electric charging stations in private residential buildings. “We received more than 200 application forms from housing estates, with more than 60,000 parking spaces,” he said. In …

Health & Environment

Carrie Lam: More “incentives” needed for Hongkongers to get vaccinated

The Hong Kong leader addressed concerns about vaccine hesitancy in her first question and answer session at the Legislative Council today, after seven deaths were reported from Sinovac vaccine recipients. “In order to make people be really motivated to get vaccinated, in addition to trust, more incentives are needed,” Mrs Lam said.  “For example, vaccinators can enjoy certain conveniences,” she said, adding that authorities are considering relaxing social distancing measures for those who are vaccinated. The chief executive also said the incentive might include the easing of travel and border restrictions with the mainland. Hong Kong’s unemployment rate rose to 7.2% in January, the highest level since 2004, with food and entertainment venues, such as restaurants, pubs and karaoke lounges, seriously affected by the pandemic restrictions. “In addition to the government’s efforts and the assistance of experts, the full support of citizens is required,” Mrs Lam said.   “If we encourage people to get the vaccine but they don’t, and they do not follow social distancing measures such as wearing masks, we will be always fighting the virus.”  “We need to do a lot of work to contain every outbreak,” she added. Mrs. Lam said she is unable to promise another round of government subsidies. 

Health & Environment

Increase in online bookings for Covid vaccines as priority groups expand

The Covid-19 vaccination has expanded to include residents aged between 30 and 59 years old, students aged 16 years or above studying overseas and foreign domestic helpers. When the online booking system started at 9 am, the waiting time was up to 30 minutes. Bookings for the Sinovac jab at the selected General Outpatient Clinics of the Hospital Authority are full for the next two weeks. For BioNTech, the earliest available slots are now on March 20. Wang Tsz-nam, 20, who is now in Hong Kong but normally studies in the UK, says she would not take either of the vaccines. “The vaccine inoculation is still in the preliminary stage and there is insufficient data available at the moment. I need more time and information to decide before getting the vaccine,” Ms Wang said. She said she was worried about the safety of vaccines after seven people died in Hong Kong after getting the Sinovac jab. There was also a case of facial paralysis. Katie De la Cruz, a 28 year-old Filipino domestic helper, says she asked her employer to make a BioNTech vaccine appointment for her. “It’s better to receive the vaccine as soon as possible, because I always have friends gathering during the weekend. I trust its [the vaccine’s] protection,” she says. Professor Ivan Hung Fan-ngai, co-convenor of the Expert Committee on Clinical Events Assessment Following COVID-19 Immunisation, said in a press conference this afternoon that the deaths are not linked to the vaccine. People with cardiovascular diseases are still encouraged to receive the vaccines if their condition is stable.


Surge in complaints on wedding services amid Covid

The number of complaints against wedding-related services has reached a three-year high, according to the Consumer Council. Of 233 complaints the Council received last year, more than half were about catering services, and 122 had to do with wedding banquets, the Council said in an online press conference today. In January, the consumer watchdog conducted a survey on cancellation and postponement policies for Chinese wedding banquets. All 10 catering providers said they allowed special arrangements because of the pandemic, customers were guaranteed the same services or menu prices despite the cancellation. Deadlines for cancellation also varied. The sum involved in the complaints to the Council ranged from HK$250,000 to HK$400,000, according to Gilly Wong, the council’s chief executive. In one case, a couple had paid a $72,000 deposit, but when they wanted to cancel the booking after several postponements, they were asked to pay the remaining sum as compensation for terminating the contract. “The couple ended up giving 30% of the deposit to the venue”, Ms Wong said. “Don’t trust verbal contracts, this is the most important advice that we would offer to consumers,” she added. “Think of all the ‘devil in the details’, and think through before you talk to the provider.” The Council has outlined a number of guidelines for consumers before signing up for a wedding banquet contract: Understand the service terms and conditions carefully and thoroughly before signing the contract. Retain all relevant records and important information such as promotional flyers, quotations, contracts or receipts, so it can be used as evidence and for follow-up in case of future disputes. Ask the provider to put all verbal promises in writing, and request confirmation of all phone and text communications in an official company email; Should both sides agree to postpone the wedding banquet, set up a …


Baidu raises up to HK$28 billion in Hong Kong secondary listing

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Vikki Cai ChuchuEdited by: Zhou Yichen Gloria 周奕辰
  • 2021-03-12

Baidu Inc. (9888), China's search engine giant, plans to issue 95 million shares at a maximum global offering price of $38 (HK$295) each, raising up to $3.6 billion (HK$28 billion) in a Hong Kong offering starting today till 12:00 noon on Mar. 17. Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU) shares, which were listed on the Nasdaq in August 2005 in terms of American Depositary Shares (ADSs), increased 12% to $272.38 (HK$2113.82) overnight boosted by its secondary listing plan in Hong Kong. Each ADS represents eight ordinary shares to be listed in Hong Kong. The ADS hit a record of  $339.91 (HK$2637.33) on Feb. 19. The company will sell a total of 95 million shares under the global offering.  The final pricing of Hong Kong shares will be fixed on Mar. 17. Dealing in shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange is scheduled to start at 9 am on Mar. 23, Baidu said in its listing document. Baidu generated a net income of 22.5 billion yuan (HK$ 26.92 billion), 2.1 yuan billion (HK$ 2.51 billion), and 27.6 billion yuan (HK$33.02 billion) in 2020, 2019, and 2018 respectively.  The 21-year-old company has three main growth engines: mobile ecosystem, AI cloud and intelligent driving. The core of Baidu Mobile Ecosystem is Baidu App with a monthly active user of 544 million in December 2020. “We intend to pursue the following strategies to further grow our business:  continue to invest in technology; continue to scale our AI Cloud; further develop and commercialize intelligent driving and other growth initiatives; continue to grow our Mobile Ecosystem; and selectively pursue M&A and strategic investments,” said in its prospectus. Baidu’s listing will make it one of the Chinese technology companies that are listed in the US and have secondary offerings in Hong Kong, joining Alibaba, and NetEase. The joint sponsors of …

Health & Environment

Hong Kong priority groups get first doses of BioNTech vaccine today

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: AMALVY Esten Carr Claude Ole EriksenEdited by: Simran Vaswani
  • 2021-03-10

Priority group Hongkongers were given access to the German-made BioNTech vaccine today for the first time since the first 585,000 doses arrived in Hong Kong on Feb. 27.  In addition to the elderly, priority groups include food and beverages servers, food delivery workers, transportation operators, construction workers, property management staff, teachers, and tourism staff. Priority group Hongkongers can schedule bookings at any of the 29 community vaccination centres spread throughout the city, which opened their doors at 9 am.  At the EDB Kowloon Tong Education Service Center, people showed up in droves to receive their first shots. EDB Kowloon Tong Education Service Center is one of 29 vaccination centres in Hong Kong. “I got it this morning and at least for me I've had the whole morning already and I feel fine nothing feels any different I guess," said Priyanka, a local woman on site this afternoon to accompany her father to get his first vaccine.  Both Priyanka and her father opted for the BioNTech vaccine against the widely available Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine, as distrust of the Sinovac vaccine spreads among Hongkongers.  “According to all the available information, I think this is one of the most reliable, safe, and protective vaccines that we can get worldwide,” said Dr Y. K Lo, who also made his way to the Kowloon Tong Education Service Center this afternoon to receive his vaccine.  Dr Y. K Lo stands outside the Education Centre in Kowloon Tong after having received a BioNTech vaccine today. Distrust in the Sinovac vaccine started when a local woman, 55, and a man, 73, died this past week after receiving their first shot. Although Hong Kong health authorities have ruled out the vaccine as the main cause of death, Hong Kongers are not convinced.  The efficacy rate for the Chinese vaccine varies …

Culture & Leisure

Cotton trees in bloom and the best places to see them

Hong Kong’s cotton trees are in full bloom. The flame-colour flowers mark the height of Spring in the city, especially along the road named after it: Cotton Tree Drive in the mid-levels. Native to India, Malaysia and the Philippines, cotton trees are widely cultivated in South China, Taiwan, Indo-China Peninsula and Malaysia by immigrants. According to Mr. Ken K. Y. So, arborist and t Chief Executive of The Conservancy Association, cultivation of cotton trees has been recorded in Hong Kong since the Qing Dynasty. Today, there are more than 8,000 trees according to Greening, Landscape & Tree Management Section of Development Bureau. Colloquially known as “hero trees”, cotton trees get the name for their straight and sturdy trunk., They are also named after the legendary hero of the Lizu people, one of the 56 ethnic groups indigeous to Hainan island in southern China. The late Hong Kong pop icon Roman Tam also had a song called Hung Min, the Cantonese name for cotton trees, in which he used the plant as a metaphor for the lofty and unyielding character of Chinese people. It also carries the connotation of cherishing and the promise of wealth and well-being. In 2015, a Wong Tai Sin District Councillor proposed to sterilize the cotton trees around town because he thought the kapok the plants produce was a nuisance. But the proposal was eventually dropped because there was no medical evidence that the white kapok affected the respiratory system. The scientific name of cotton trees is Bombax ceiba. It can be found all over the city, and there is a cotton tree lovers map marking out more than 40 places to admire the bloom. Many are in Tuen Mun and Mei Foo. The most famous place to see cotton trees blossom is along the Shek Kong …


China Two Sessions: proposal to cancel English as a main high school subject

A member of the National People's Congress, Liu Weichao has proposed to drop English as a compulsory subject in primary and junior high schools in mainland China. In the annual meeting that is currently held in Beijing, Mr Liu said " foreign language education has a serious impact on mother tongue learning and imposes an undue pressure on students". Mr. Liu suggested that schools should only offer English subjects from high school and put more effort on training students' practical skills such as speaking and listening. The proposal has gone viral on the Chinese internet. Some netizens said it is more important to have English rather than mathematics. "As an international language, I think English is still very important now. I hope my children can learn English well and have the opportunity to explore the world in the future," Binting Cai, a mother of a four-year-old child, said on WeChat. English is currently a compulsory subject in primary and secondary schools across China. Students are required to attend at least one class everyday. "I think this is very unreasonable, because elementary and junior high schools are the golden age of learning English," said Edward Liao, an English tutor in New Oriental, one of China's biggest private tutorial centres. "If students start to learn letters and phonetic symbols from high school, this will increase the workload of high school teachers," Mr Liao added. This is not the first time deputies at the annual Two Sessions propose to cut back on English education. On March 4, Xu Jin, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) said it is unnecessary for students to learn a language that he described as "useless" for most people. In an interview with Beijing News, Mr Xu said that less than …

Health & Environment

Another Covid-19 ambush lockdown at Tsim Sha Tsui Mansion

Yet another ambush-style lockdown is being implemented tonight at Tsim Sha Tsui Mansion, Nathan Road. The lockdown comes after the Centre for Health Protection reported nine new Covid-19 cases citywide on Monday, one of which was from the building. The case from Tsim Sha Tsui Mansion is a 41-year-old housewife who developed a blocked nose on March 4 and tested positive for the virus the next day. Tsim Sha Tsui Mansion consists of many subdivided homes, guest houses, hotels, stores and restaurants.  Before Chinese New Year, several ambush-style lockdowns were implemented as a way to mass-test residents overnight in buildings with untraceable or growing cases.  In early February, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced that all lockdowns would be on hold ahead of Chinese New Year as cases decreased.  Social distancing measures were also loosened after the holidays as the fourth coronavirus wave came to a gradual end.


Ethnic minority women: race and gender in "Asia's world city"

Unkind looks on the MTR, judged for not looking like or having the same skin colour as the majority and even getting turned away from jobs solely because of ethnicity. Ethnic minorities face discrimination on almost every corner of Hong Kong's streets. More than 80% of ethnic minorities said they face discrimination on a day to day basis, such as in shops, markets or restaurants in a study done by the City University of Hong Kong. It can be even tougher for ethnic minority women, who may face both racial and gender discrimination. On top of that, the city has seen a big change over the past year from its usual buzzing atmosphere amid an ongoing pandemic and over a year of social unrest that fills the air with unwavering tension. Ethnic minority women account for more than 100,000 of the 7.4 million population, with the majority being South Asian. This excludes foreign domestic helpers, who make up a large chunk of the female population according to the 2016 Population By-Census.  Marium Fatima Awan, 22, a Hong Konger by nationality says she's been turned away from jobs because of her Pakistani ethnicity.  Born and raised in Hong Kong, with the ability to read, write and speak Cantonese fluently, Ms Awan says that’s done anything but work to her advantage. In fact, it’s proven a double standard. Employers expect her to speak more than two languages because of her ethnic background.  But not all ethnic minorities can pick up the local language that easily. Ms Awan says more needs to be done to include and inform them about what goes on in the city.  The younger generations were reported to have a better understanding of Cantonese, according to data from The Census and Statistics Department. In 2016, almost 65% of ethnic …