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Editorial: Hong Kong-mainland relationship further upsets

The mainland tourist, Miao Chunqi, died at Queen Elizabeth Hospital a day after the alleged assault. (Source: SCMP)


On the past Tuesday, a mainland tourist died one day after allegedly beaten unconscious by four men when he tried to mediate in a dispute between his colleague and tour guide. The first-ever incident has caught huge attention throughout the whole country and lifted the tension between mainlanders and Hong Kong people to climax, after conflicts on birth and parallel trade in recent years.

The state newspaper, Global Times, writes that this tragedy would “further damage Hong Kong’s image in mainlanders’ minds”. It seems that the state wants to drag down Hong Kong tourism so issues a warning that Hong Kong should take responsibility and remediate the conflicts with mainlanders. Other news and comments yet misunderstand the incident and blame Hong Kong people for the sole responsibility.

In fact, any incident related to mainland tourists may affect Hong Kong tourism industry which heavily relies on the Chinese market. According to statistics, mainland China is Hong Kong biggest market which occupies about 80% in tourists’ number and their expenditure is relatively higher than other countries.

However, the negative criticism would only irritate people’s emotions and worsen the disparity between both sides. At this critical state, suggestions on building a harmonious relationship are more important than blaming whose fault.

The incident has also revealed the loopholes of Hong Kong and mainland travel agencies and raised concerns on the “forced shopping” tours. The Hong Kong government and tourism board indeed need stricter monitoring system to protect tourists’ safety and Hong Kong tours’ quality and image. On the other hand, Xinhua editorial urges people to stop joining overly cheap tour. It seems that the Chinese government tries to say through its official channel that mainlanders should bear some responsibility on “forced shopping” tours.

After all, despite its seriousness, death can burst out lots of different connotations. An ought-to-be happy trip is unfortunately turned into a deadly tragedy. No matter where and who, any related incident should be avoided.


Editorial team: Crystal Tse, Jackson Ho, Joanna Wong


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Group and Academic Call for Universal Pension Scheme despite Gov’t’s Reservations

Universal pension scheme could help alleviate increasing elderly poverty in Hong Kong, according to an academic and an advocacy group. However, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has expressed reservations prior to a consultation that will start in December.

More than 430,000 elderly people in Hong Kong are living below the poverty line, according to Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor. That’s an increase of  19 per cent between 2009 and 2014.  She was speaking at the Commission on Poverty Summit on October 10.

She added that Hong Kong is “extremely fast-ageing” and to alleviating poverty would be “an uphill battle”.

Elderly poverty is a serious situation in which about three in ten old people live in poverty, says professor Nelson Chow Wing-sun.

But according to The Standard, on October 13, Ms Lam questioned the sustainability of a universal pension and the rationale in allocating public resources under the government’s welfare policy on October 13.

Elderly poverty is a serious situation in which about three in ten old people live in poverty, says professor Nelson Chow Wing-sun.
Elderly poverty is a serious situation in which about three in ten old people live in poverty, says professor Nelson Chow Wing-sun.

Nicholas Chan Hok-fung, organiser of Alliance for Universal Pension, said the issues of universal pension scheme and poverty among the elderly “have dragged on for long enough”.

“The government keeps avoiding the problem of elderly poverty,” he said.

“If you didn’t want to implement a universal pension scheme, why did you plan for a public consultation in the first place?” he said .

He suggested that it could be a “false consultation” because the government has “a preconceived stance”.

According to a 2013 Hong Kong Poverty Situation Report, the Proportion of elderly people in poverty has been “persistently higher” than the other age groups over the past five years.

The poverty line is defined as those earning less than half of the median monthly household income that means a one-person household earning less than $3,500 and a family of three earning less than $12,500 would be considered poor.

Professor Nelson Chow Wing-sun, social work professor at the University of Hong Kong, said about three in ten elderly people live in poverty and it is a serious situation that calls for a universal pension scheme.

“Now, there are a little bit over one million people who are aged 65 or above.  280,000  of them rely on Comprehensive Social Security Assistance … and 430,000 are  receiving Old Age Living Allowance.” he said.

“The goal of the scheme is to provide elderly people with a stable income,” he said. “It’s not to maintain all their daily expenses.”

He added that while a universal pension scheme would help to reduce elderly poverty, it might increase taxes  in order to fund for the scheme.


Reporting: Crystal Tse

Writing: Jackson Ho

Video and photo: Joanna Wong


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Limited freedom of speech creates a fearful China

By Joanna Wong

Thanks to the Open Door Policy in late 19th century, China’s economy has developed rapidly and gained a significant international position. This world power successfully attracts people’s eyeballs on its hard power of resources, economy, military and technology, but also its soft power of culture, livelihood and so on. The latter however is still backward in which the censorship on freedom of speech creates a fearful image of China. Ones have to be careful whenever talking about the Chinese politics, which is regarded as sensitive issue, in China. This has become a common concept, not excluding a foreigner.

On 24 September, Geoff Cutmore, anchor of CNBC, held a talk in the international media salon. He had reported in communist regimes, such as interviewing Russia’s leader Putin and former Chinese foreign minister Li Zhao-xing. Apart from global economy and international relations, he seems to be quite knowledgeable in the current situation of China and expressed his appreciation and worries.

One classmate asked him what questions he would ask if he got chance to interview Chinese President Xi Jin-ping. Hearing these questions, Mr Cutmore immediately asked the audience to turn off the camera for a moment to make sure his safe flight tomorrow. Although he said in a humorous tone, it is seen that Mr Cutmore recognized the danger of speech in China and believed the power of Chinese government in cracking down the dissent.

In fact, fearing people’s opposition towards the Communist Party of China, the Chinese government has spent much effort to avoid internal dissent and also foreign intervention, so freedom of speech is under control. On the Internet censorship, all popular websites from the West are blocked, such as Facebook in 2008, Youtube in 2009, Google Gmail and Instagram last year.

A noted example is the Nobel Peace prize winner Liu Xiao-bo, a human rights activist against communist one-party rule. He is still imprisoned due to offending the Chinese law of inciting subversion of state power. “I hope that I will be the last victim in China’s long record of treating words as crimes,” he said. His wife Liu Xia is also house arrested.

Although Mr Cutmore did not mean to bad mouth China, the reason he continued his answer may because of knowing the different system under “One country, Two systems” in Hong Kong. And that Hong Kong people has freedom of speech, which is protected by Basic Law Article 27, while Article 23 security law is not implemented. One statement in Article 23 is to “prohibit any act of subversion against the Central People’s Government”, which is similar to China’s Inciting subversion of state power.

Under single-party dictatorship, the party is the highest decision maker, and influences every aspect in the country. So, Mr Cutmore’s question is “does the current Chinese leadership believe there could be true economic reform in China without political reform?”

In order to clear its fearful image, China is still on a long road.

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Women live longer than men in all countries

By Joanna Wong

Women gain longer life expectancy at birth than men among the 187 countries, according to the latest data made by the United Nations in 2013.

The United Nations defines “life expectancy at birth” as number of years a newborn infant could expect to live. Life expectancy at birth is one of the measurements of Human Development Index (HDI). Other measurements are such as items in education, environment and health.

According to the world map, the countries with higher years of life expectancy have two characteristics, which are more developed countries and mainly located at the higher latitude. Hong Kong is one of them, which 86.4 and 80.4 of female and male life expectancy at birth respectively.

The charts clearly show the upper stage of female life expectancy at birth compared to males. A significant difference of life years is seen between the two sexes, for example the difference of six years in Albania.

Life expectancy at birth is also in relative to human development. However, in fact, female enjoy longer life span than male, regardless countries. The world average age of female life expectancy is 73 years while male is 68 years.

The highest female life expectancy at birth is Japan, accounted for 87 years, comparing 80.1 years of male. The lowest female life expectancy at birth is Sierra Leone, which is 45.8 years compared to 45.3 years of male.


World map

(Buttons represents female life expectancy. Red is 40-59 years. Blue is 60-69 years. Yellow is 70-79 years. Green is 80-89 years. The darker green of gradient color represents the higher HDI rank.)

Scatter chart

Category chart    (can only show first 100)

Gradient map of HDI

Google fusion table

Sources from the United Nations

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Departing passengers to pay up to $180 construction fee for third runway under new proposal

Departing passengers will pay the 26 billion, 18 per cent of the total 143 billion construction fee, to fund the third runway expansion projects in eight years. (by Jackson Ho)
Departing passengers will pay the 26 billion, 18 per cent of the total 143 billion construction fee, to fund the third runway expansion projects in eight years. (by Jackson Ho)

11 October

The Airport Authority Hong Kong proposes charging departing passengers airport construction fee
base on travelling distance and air ticket class to fund the 142 billion third runway.

Under the revised proposal, departing passengers will pay from $90 to $180 whilst transiting passengers will pay from $70 to $180 instead of a uniform cost of $180.

Yiu Si-wing, tourism constituency lawmaker, welcomes the new proposal.

“I dare not to say that [this price] is ideal. But it is more reasonable comparing to the $180 clean cut,” Mr Yiu said during a phone interview.

He believes the amount is small in relative to inflation and ticket cost and will not put off tourists.

The fee will be collected starting next April soonest and for eight years until 2023 when the runway is expected to be fully constructed.

Half of the funding of the third runway, about 69 billion, will come from bank borrowings, then 47 billion of the Airport Authority’s operational surplus and the 26 million construction fee collected from individual airport users of 18 per cent instead of being paid by the government which requires the Legislative Council’s approval.  

 Dr Law Cheung-kwok, Director of Policy, Aviation Policy and Research Centre at CUHK, also believes the impact on tourism is minimal and that the user-pay principle funding is reasonable and commonly used by other international airports for expansion.

“There are mainly two types of people taking flight. One is doing business. One is travelling,” Dr Law said “taking flight is not a necessity, nor do doing business or travelling.”

But the construction fee scheme is under fire for shifting the burden to the people who are enjoying the new facility.


constructionfee1, constructionfee2 (source: Hong Kong Airport Authority)
constructionfee1, constructionfee2 (source: Hong Kong Airport Authority)

“It is unreasonable for people today to subsidise the people in the future,” said Professor Chong Tai-leung, associate professor of Department of Economics in CUHK, “therefore, reducing the charge or even removing it would be the best.”  

He thinks the control of cost in building third runway is more important than how to gather capital, but suggests the construction fee charging airlines based on airport consumption according to the flight models of their planes and pollution emission.

Lee Cheuk-yan, Hong Kong confederation of Trade Unions lawmaker, says the construction fee is not the debate. 

“I think we should not discuss the construction fee, but basically whether to build the third runway or not at all,” said Mr Lee, who thinks the biggest problem is the unsolved airspace issue.

 “It’s nonsense,” said Ana Chan, a university student studying in the UK and fly back-and-forth to Hong Kong twice a year, “The third runway is actually not as useful as expected, why do we have to pay extra fee to compensate the lost of a wrong decision?”

Mr Lee added, “Basically, 1 billion can do a lot of things. Why do we have to put it in a white elephant airport?”

Written by Crystal Tse

Reported by Joanna Wong

Photos and video by Jackson Ho

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Story based on Emily Lau’s PC

Makprofilepic     Emily Lau PC

(Left) Mak Yun-pui advises young candidates to go to the constituencies and work hard.

(Right) Emily Lau Wai-hing asks candidates to work very hard to win every single vote.

Young candidates has to work hard and work long

By Joanna Wong

Fighting the upcoming district council election, politicians advise young candidates to work hard and spend time in their constituencies.

“You have to work very hard to win every single vote,” said Emily Lau Wai-hing, Legislative Council member and chairlady of the Democratic Party (DP). “There is no short cut. You have to go down there and work, not just weeks or months, you have to work a long time.”

Ms Lau has been representing the New Territories East constituency since 1991 and has never lost an election. She said every election is a “tough fight”, and one columnist described her as “wearing stars and moon”, that is working from dawn till dusk.

Dr. Wong Wai Kwok, assistant professor of Department of Government and International Studies at Hong Kong Baptist University, believes greater participation in politics by young people following a series of protests in recent years is a positive phenomenon.

“But age, to a certain extent, has been used as an excuse to condemn the youths without justification,” he added, “I don’t believe you can judge people’s abilities and aspiration according to their age.”

Ms Lau though, admitted that at age 21 years, the DP’s youngest candidate, Sin Cheuk Nam may lack experience and a bit young.

“Personally, ideally, I would like to have more mature candidates who have more experience in society,” Ms Lau said. “But members would support someone who is young but who is very keen and who wants to work hard.”

28-year-old district councilor Mak Yun-pui says building trust is most important for young candidates.

Ms Lau said most of the DP members have worked in the constituencies for two to four years.

Mr Mak has spent two and a half years in Lee On, Shatin constituency before joining the district council in 2011.

In his experience, two and a half years is the minimum time to make some achievements and let voters know the candidate.

His slogan this two year is to “do the utmost”. And he believes that his constituencies can see his works and sincerity.

But he would not say he has done something because “doing something and doing practical things are the basic requirement of a councilor”.

“There is no magic,” Ms Lau said. “You just have to work very hard.”