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Culture & Leisure

Art Basel Hong Kong full-scale returns with an objective turnover

The 11th edition of Art Basel Hong Kong was held from Mar. 28 to 30 at the Convention and Exhibition Center, with more than 80,000 visitors and totaling $39.4 million, recording a 4% increase in global turnover. Art Basel 2024 showcased the work from 242 of the world's leading galleries from 40 countries and territories.  Lu Caiyun, Chairman of UBS Wealth Management Asia, said in a public address that art market sales in Mainland China and Hong Kong reached approximately US$12.2 billion, a 9% increase year-on-year. "While the cloud of high interest rates, inflation and political instability continues to slow down growth at the top end of the market, buyers are particularly active in the lower price points,” said Clare McAndrew, the founder of Arts Economics.  This year, 23 galleries from Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas exhibited in Hong Kong for the first time, with an increase of 65 galleries over 2023, according to Art Basel Hong Kong. “Our goal is to connect visitors from around the world with our home, Hong Kong, through the collaboration and innovation inspired by art and artists," said the director of Art Basel Hong Kong Sylvia Lok in public address.  

Society

Sales at Lunar New Year Fairs fail to match pre-pandemic level

  Hong Kong’s biggest Lunar New Year's Fair at Victoria Park is selling hot food and dry goods again after four years of restrictions, but some vendors said sales are not as good as they were before the pandemic. The fairs launched on Sunday at 15 locations across the city, such as Kwai Chung and Kwun Tong, are surrounded by crowds. Candice Li Man-shuen, a vendor selling dog accessories who joined the fair several years before the pandemic, said the atmosphere was less lively than she had expected. “People are here today mainly because it is Sunday and there are other nearby events, but they didn’t come here intentionally,” Li added. Wong Kin-fan, a vendor from the mochi stall who has had a stall at the fair for several years, had sold half of her mochi by the afternoon of the first day. That brought her roughly HK$10,000 in sales revenue by the afternoon of the first day.   “Sales aren’t what they were before 2020,” Wong said. “However, the rental cost of the stall is correspondingly low. My boss decided to return to this fair again because it is cheaper.” Shirley Lau, 51, a local retailer visiting the fair every year, said there were fewer fast food stalls than before COVID-19. According to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, the size of the fast food stalls in 2019 was 56.48 square metres, compared to 40 square metres this year at Victoria Park. Liu Wing-ting, currently working in the hospitality industry, said she felt the variety of goods and food at this fair was less compared to last time when there were fast food stalls. Liu has visited Lunar New Year fairs many times in other districts, but it’s her first time at Victoria Park. She thought people weren’t buying much …

Society

Siamese fighting fish competition adds a punch to Hong Kong Pet Show

  • By: YANG Shuyi、NG Natasha Goa ShengEdited by: Yau To LUM
  • 2024-01-27

The “Hong Kong Pet Show 2024" returns on Jan. 25 with Hong Kong’s first-ever “IBC International Betta Show 2024” organized by the International Betta Congress, a worldwide union of Betta-lovers and breeders.  Over 600 Siamese rumble fish from different countries are displayed at this year’s Hong Kong Pet Show for the global competition. The event is supposed to raise awareness on the conservation of fighting fish, otherwise known as rumble fish or betta. Eddy, one of the staff members in charge of the “IBC International Betta Show 2024”, said that Betta competition in the world has changed. “Nowadays Betta competition is no longer the same as before. We are now focusing more on their appearance,” he said.  Before the start of the competition, all fish are separated into different groups based on their fins, breed, and colour. Then, a demerit point system is used to grade their score. It is expected to have 600-700 competitors before the registration deadline. “We hope that through this competition people could be aware of the increase of Betta breeds now and more people will know about them,” he said. Hong Kong Pet Show 2024 is bigger than in previous years, with more than 650 booths and offering all kinds of products, pet food, and pet insurance. But Gary Chiu Wai-lam, the Management Director of one of the exhibitors, Kangaroo Pet Nutrition, thought there were 10 percent fewer visitors to this year’s pet show on day one compared with last year. “Since we are agents for other pet shops, joining the pet show gives us a channel to tell our customers what our products are about and the advantages of different products.” Daisy Pun, the director of 1363 Natural Pet Home, is an exhibitor who hasn’t joined the pet show before. “Big exhibitions can help …

Society

Hong Kong officials advise caution after Seoul Halloween tragedy

Revellers gathered in the popular night spot, Lan Kwai Fong, to celebrate Halloween today. There is a special traffic arrangement in the area until early Tuesday morning. Several roads including D’Aguilar Street between Wyndham Street and Wellington Street, Wing Wah Lane, and Wo On Lane are closed from 2.00 pm on Sunday till 5.00 am on Tuesday, according to the government press release. Special traffic arrangement in Lan Kwai Fong during festivals was introduced after the 1993 New Year's Eve stampede in which  21 people were killed  and 63 others were injured.  This year, local officials have warned revellers in Hong Kong to be careful with safety after 154 people were killed in a stampede during Halloween celebrations in Seoul. On Sunday, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu extended his condolences to the families of the victims and wished the injured a speedy recovery. He added that the government will pay close attention to the incident. Secretary for Security, Chris Tang Ping-keung said the Immigration Department will provide full help to Hong Kong residents abroad who seek assistance. “I believe the Itaewon tragedy will not happen ( in Hong Kong) because the crowd control is good, the people are disciplined and follow the directions made by the police,” said Cheng Wai-hing, a visitor to Lan Kwan Fong. who was there with his six-year-old son. Party-goers dressed up as different characters, such as Chinese hopping vampires and Covid-19 rapid antigen test indicator to celebrate Halloween. Kwok Ka-chuen, Regional Commander for Hong Kong Island said that the police will pay extra attention to crowd movement in response to the recent fatal stampede in Seoul. Chow Kwok-cheung, bar owner of J1 Pub said that business is quite good today. His bar has been fully-booked since last Friday. “It has been a while since we …

Society

Largest outdoor cinema in Hong Kong reopens after one-year closure

Hong Kong’s biggest outdoor cinema, The Grounds, welcomed guests again on Thursday after Covid-19 rules forced its suspension a year ago. The cinema is at Central AIA Vitality Park. “It’s very challenging to build this event and put it together in Hong Kong. We just try to reopen this cinema as soon as we can,” said Simon Wilson, managing director and co-founder of The Grounds. The government announced a relaxation of social distance measures starting from Oct. 20, including allowing live performances and outdoor eating at some premises such as theme parks. This cinema can accommodate up to 380 people in 100 upgraded private garden pods. The audience can remove face masks in their booths. But only up to four people are allowed in each booth in order to comply with social distancing rules. Guests can order food from a web-based app. The menu offers Vietnamese food, tacos and wines. Three different types of tickets are available, depending on the location and the types of seats, with prices ranging from HK$200 to HK$900. Only classic and nostalgic movies are playing this season, including Forrest Gump and the Harry Potter series.  Wilson said that movies in different Languages would be shown this season. The Grounds collaborated with Golden Scene Cinema to start the outdoor shows in 2021, and has shown  local movies, including Suk Suk. The cinema is opened for three months each year and the current season will end on Dec. 30. “Actually I have seen today’s movie before. It is a good romantic comedy,”  said Angela Shih, who invited four of her friends along. “ We just planned to spend our girls’ night here. I am really excited and looking forward to it.” Wilson said they had a great response in ticket sales, especially for musicals and blockbuster films. …

Ghost nets haunt Hong Kong waters, killing marine life and endangering divers

  • 2021-12-09

It took Harry Chan Tin-ming and a group of ten divers two hours under the sea in Tai Po to find and haul out 800 kilograms of abandoned fishing nets.  “90% of the time I go diving, I see ghost nets and it’s a big problem for marine life including fish, crabs, sea turtles and other marine life,” said Chan.  The large number of abandoned fishing nets, also known as “ghost nets”, is alarming and has become a major issue for marine life, its habitat and even commercial fishermen.  Chan, 68, known in Hong Kong as the “ghost net hunter”, has been diving for over 30 years and started regularly hunting for these nets more than eight years ago. “The ocean is a mystery,” he said.  Ghost nets are dangerous because marine life becomes entangled, affecting the health of the ocean and even divers who try removing them. They haunt the oceans and are a major contributor to the wider ocean plastic crisis. Made from a range of synthetic fibers, including nylon, polystyrene and other plastic compounds, ghost nets can travel vast distances.  "From the biggest fishing nets to the tiniest pellets, plastic pollution is impacting the ocean," said Dana Winograd, Director of Operations for Plastic Free Seas, a charity focused on solution-oriented awareness about plastic pollution in the ocean. It is also involved in regular beach cleanups around Hong Kong. In October, Winograd and a group of volunteers found ghost nets washed up on beaches in two of their last three beach cleanups at Butterfly Beach in Tuen Mun and Cheung Sha Lan on Lantau Island.  "It's not easy to recycle the nets if they have been in the ocean for a long time. Most companies claiming to use recycled fishing nets in their products are only using a …

Business

Greater transparency needed as Hong Kong aims to transform into a green finance hub

    “Greenwashing” is a new buzzword featured at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. It’s part of the slogan of teeanger climate activist, Greta Thunberg. Greenwashing refers to a false impression or providing misleading information about how environmentally friendly a business of a product might be. Hong Kong has been trying to reposition itself as an international green financial hub since 2018. But the process finally stepped out this year as the government and industries seek to address disclosure issues in the green and sustainable investment market as a way to stamp out “greenwashing”. Stephen Phillips, director-general of investment promotion in InvestHK, a department of the government responsible for foreign investment in Hong Kong, told The Young Reporter that  the city “has an important role to play as a green finance centre”. “A number of listed companies also, very strongly committed to both raising green capital, but also being compliant around bringing standards,” he said, “ and Hong Kong obviously serves not only Hong Kong and the rest of China, but also a place in which companies raise money from across the whole of Asia.” A report conducted by Standard Chartered Bank in 2020 found that among 1085 respondents from Hong Kong, Singapore, the United Arab Emirate and the United Kingdom, 59% of them who put money in sustainable investment said they would consider investing 5% to 10% in sustainable investing, and 75% said they would consider increasing their investment to 25% or more due to the pandemic. However, Alvin Li, Group Financial Consultant of TAL Group, said many investors may take a wait-and-see attitude towards green investment mainly because it is still under development. “The green bond market is still relatively new, still in the embryonic stage, and the secondary market is not fully developed. Investors have doubts …

Hong Kong top cyclists eager to join next week’s Nations Cup ahead of the Olympics

  • 2021-05-06

Next week’s track cycling Nations Cup, the city’s biggest international sporting event since the outbreak of COVID-19, will be a good “warm-up match” for the Tokyo Olympics, Hong Kong cycling coach Shen Jinkang said in an online press conference today. In April, the government approved a COVID-19 safety plan from UCI, the worldwide governing body for cycling, for the event, which will be held in the Hong Kong Velodrome in Tseung Kwan O. The plan, which UCI calls a “life bubble,” includes no audience during the competition and no quarantine for the 100 athletes arriving from overseas, who are required to have a negative COVID-19 test before boarding. The Hong Kong team will send five cyclists to participate in the competition, including Sarah Lee Wai-sze and Jessica Lee Hoi-yan, who will join the Tokyo Olympics. “We are very eager to join this competition,” Mr Shen said at the conference, adding that this is the best chance for the Hong Kong team to learn about possible competitors before the Olympics, especially for Sarah Lee, who is competing for the first time in 14 months. Sarah Lee, who won Hong Kong’s first Olympic medal in cycling in 2012, will participate in sprint, keirin and team sprint in this competition. She set the goal to become the top three in individual competitions and help the team for the top eight. “In the past, there were crowds of audience in Hong Kong, and I remember their faces and cheers so this time I will know they are there for me,” she said in a recorded video at the press conference. Cyclist Jessica Lee said the “life bubble” is an advantage as it will help the team get familiar with a similar model for the Olympics. The first international athletes will arrive in Hong Kong …

Politics

Hong Kong Trump supporters urge US to be harsh on China as Biden takes office

Since immigrating to the United States from Hong Kong more than 20 years ago, Matthew, a 44-year-old actuary living in Virginia, has voted four times in the presidential election. Twice for Barack Obama and then for Hillary Clinton. In 2020, it was Donald Trump.  Pro-democracy Hongkongers, like Matthew, have seen government crackdowns on the city's autonomy and freedoms during the anti-extradition protests and after the passage of a draconian national security law. Feeling desperate, some projected their hope onto former President Mr. Trump, who they thought gave China a hard time.  But as that hope is extinguished when Joe Biden came to office as the 46th US President on Wednesday, Hong Kong Americans who sided with Mr. Trump wait and see how the country’s relationship with China may develop in a new era.   "I hope the new cabinet would understand the so-called 'cooperation with the CCP' and a 'win-win' will only make the CCP win twice and do no good to the US in the long term,” Matthew said in a text interview on the day of the inauguration. He did not want his surname to be shown for fear of being targeted by authorities.   Though Matthew recognised the Democrats' effort in pushing forward the Human Rights and Democracy Act last year -- a bill that requires the US to assess Hong Kong's autonomy and allows punishing officials violating human rights -- he found the tariffs imposed by Mr. Trump more effective in weakening China and doubted if Democrat Mr. Biden would endorse them.  Mr. Biden’s aide said in August that the president "would re-evaluate the tariffs upon taking office" but had not committed to lifting them, the Washington Post reported, after Mr. Biden blamed the taxes for harming America’s economy.  When asked if he would make China pay for …

Politics

Airport protests fail to take off with enhanced police presence and limited transport

Heavy police presence, stringent checks and limited public transport has made it harder for protesters to stage a sit-in protest at the Hong Kong International Airport. Initiated online by netizens, dubbed as "Airport Traffic Stress Testing", they called for the public to go to the airport to create disrupt traffic and airport operations. Dozens of riot police were stationed at every entrance and exit of the transport hub and demanded people wandering at the airport to leave. Passengers needed to provide valid air tickets and travel documents for checking at the entrance of the departure halls before entering the terminal buildings. Some thought the police's behaviour was inappropriate. A Belgian tourist who only wishes to be known as Hazma, was in the bus on the way to the airport when police conducted bag searches checkpoints at the toll plaza. He added that the police asked for his passport. "It's a little intimidating, I am not used to this situation (riot police patrolling everywhere at the airport)," he said. Students known as Mr. Ha and Ms. Wong, aged 21 and 23 respectively, were spotted at the bus terminus holding up their mobile screens showing slogans that said "Fight for freedom, Stand with Hong Kong" and "5 Demands Not One Less". Both criticised the act of clearing people out as “over the line”. "People are just voicing out their opinions. The police are stamping out Hong Kong citizens' freedom to do so. I highly doubt that they know what they are doing," said Ha. A 59-year-old woman, who gave her surname as Chin, was arrested this afternoon. She claimed she was sitting by at the bus terminus finding her way home when a female police officer suddenly ordered her to leave. "I was just here to dine out," said Chin, having no clue …