监制:Diana Wan


    Hello and welcome to a new series of The Pulse.

    Since we were last here the coronavirus has hardly gone away, instead it has a habit of surging and falling back, which is where we are now but despite this dip in infections the government launched a universal voluntary testing programme with the backing of the Central government, which to date has proved to be markedly less than universal. And the programme has been criticised by health experts questioning its effectiveness but Chief Executive Carrie Lam was having none of it and castigated critics for a “smearing” attempt to damage relations between Hong Kong and the Mainland

    There is now a worldwide race to develop, manufacture and buy Covid-19 vaccines even before any of them have proved to be effective. This week and next, we’re looking at a number of issues concerning the Covid-19 vaccines, such as the political pressure to get vaccines developed and the question of who’s first in line to benefit. But, we begin with some background.

    联络: wanyt@rthk.hk


    • Gender and sexuality inclusivity in Hong Kong discussion: Eunice Yung, Dennis Philipse, and Suen Yiu-tung

      Gender and sexuality inclusivity in Hong Kong discussion: Eunice Yung, Dennis Philipse, and Suen Yiu-tung

      June is marked by large numbers of people around the world as “Pride Month”. This event is celebrated by members of the LGBTQ+ community and many others as a positive affirmation of diversity and an assertion of equality under the law for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, and, along the way, it’s a chance to have some fun. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many Pride Month events are being scaled down or are taking place online. Pride Month has been growing in size in Hong Kong and the most recent local survey on public attitudes towards members of the LGBTQ+ community conducted by the Sexualities Research Programme at the Chinese University in 2019/2020 showed increasing support for equal rights for people of all sexual orientations. Despite that, some legislators have said that they are adamantly opposed to law reform and have concerns about Hong Kong’s plans to host the first Gay Games Asia next year.

    • Interview with Ivan Hung on Covid-19 vaccines & local tours resume

      Interview with Ivan Hung on Covid-19 vaccines & local tours resume

      Despite the fact that in Hong Kong Covid-19 vaccinations are easily accessible and free, the vaccination programme, launched more than three months ago, has resulted in only about 24% of the total population receiving a first dose, with just 17% being fully vaccinated. To boost take-up, the government and the private sector are offering incentives such as lottery tickets, luxury flats, gold, cash, shopping vouchers, and cheaper holidays and flights. Incentives notwithstanding a recent survey by the Faculty of Medicine at the Chinese University shows there’s still considerable vaccine hesitance. Only one in four of those not yet vaccinated are planning to be jabbed in the coming six months. Some are concerned about possible side effects. Others say they have little confidence in government recommendations or the manufacturers of the vaccines. And then there are those who are waiting for a better vaccine to come along. We spoke to Ivan Hung, a co-convenor of the government’s Expert Committee on Clinical Events Assessment, to address some of these concerns.

      Other than the millions of dollars’ worth of cash and prizes in Covid-19 vaccine incentives offered by the private sector, the government has also been hoping to reduce vaccine hesitancy by relaxing restrictions for the fully vaccinated through introducing “vaccine bubbles” in restaurants, catering business and the tourism sector. Despite some recent exemptions and a little loosening up, Hong Kong has one of the strictest virus quarantine measures. A mandatory 14 to 21-day quarantine is required for people who have travelled outside and returned to Hong Kong, although this is now being reviewed. The tourism industry is struggling and has come up with all manner of new initiatives but they will yield no more than a fraction of earnings in more normal times.

    • Renaming of Liberal Studies to Citizenship & Social Development discussion: Lau Chi-pang of CDC-HKEAA  & Tin Fong-chak of HKPTU

      Renaming of Liberal Studies to Citizenship & Social Development discussion: Lau Chi-pang of CDC-HKEAA & Tin Fong-chak of HKPTU

      Liberal Studies was introduced in Hong Kong in 2009 as one of four senior secondary core subjects. The first liberal studies examinations were held in 2012. When introducing the subject, the government said its goals were to equip future generations “with a broad base of knowledge, high adaptability, independent thinking skills and an ability to engage in life-long learning” to face future challenges. But Liberal Studies came under scrutiny and criticism during the social unrest in 2019. In September of that year, the government said, “in view of the escalating social incidents”, it was introducing a one-off professional consultancy service to the publishers of Liberal Studies textbooks to ensure the quality of their content. In May last year, Chief Executive Carrie Lam warned that students should not be “poisoned” with “false and biased” information, and subjects such as Liberal Studies could be “infiltrated”. She urged the Education Bureau to act as gatekeepers and handle this matter. So, in the coming school year, Liberal Studies has a new name and a new focus. To talk about the revamp of Liberal Studies and the new curriculum with us are Lau Chi-pang of the Curriculum Development Council of the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authorities, and Tin Fong-chak of the Hong Kong Professional Teachers Union and currently a Liberal Studies teacher.

      For the second year in a row, the police have banned the June 4th candlelight vigil in Victoria Park citing Covid-19 restrictions. Following the introduction of the National Security Law the Security Bureau has warned that people who take part in unauthorised assemblies, advertise, or publicise them may face terms of imprisonment ranging from one to five years. The police have said they are putting 3,000 anti-riot officers on standby and will conduct checks in areas where commemorations might be held – at least a thousand may be deployed around Victoria Park - and will act swiftly against any unauthorised June 4 gatherings. Something to bear in mind.

    • The Medical Registration (Amendment) Bill discussion: EK Yeoh & David Fang

      The Medical Registration (Amendment) Bill discussion: EK Yeoh & David Fang

      Hong Kong’s public healthcare system has been under pressure for some time. A growing ageing population, seasonal flu outbreaks, SARS and now Covid-19 have exacerbated the problems of long waiting times, mainly because of insufficient manpower and a shortage of beds in public hospitals.

      By the end of last year, Hong Kong had 15,298 registered doctors, a ratio of two doctors per 1,000 population.
      The government’s is well aware that this ratio is troubling and has been looking for ways to address manpower shortages and retain medical staff in the public healthcare system. On 18th May, Secretary for Food & Health Sophia Chan announced the introduction of new legislation to solve what she described as a “severe shortage” of doctors in Hong Kong. With us to talk about the new plan are former health secretary Dr. Yeoh Eng-kiong, who is now Director of the Centre for Health Systems and Policy Research at Chinese University and Dr. David Fang, Honorary Professor at Hong Kong University’s Medical Faculty.

    • Israel-Palestine latest conflict discussion with: Roland Vogt & James Morton

      Israel-Palestine latest conflict discussion with: Roland Vogt & James Morton

      The horrific images of rockets raining down on both Arab and Jewish citizens in recent weeks represent yet another round in the seemingly unending circle of violence that has surround the Israeli Palestinian conflict for at least seven decades – and arguably more if you want to go to back to the history of hostilities in the area around Jerusalem, a crucible for three major religions. Despite numerous attempts at achieving some kind of solution, the recent unrest, which emanated from clashes in Jerusalem’s sacred Muslim locations during the holy month of Ramadan, provides strong evidence that the more intransigent elements are in the ascendancy both in Israel with an extremist nationalist government and among the Palestinians in the form of the Islamic fundamentalist Hamas government in Gaza.

      With us to talk about the latest Israel-Palestine conflict are James Morton, Assistant Professor of the Department of History at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Roland Vogt, Associate Professor of European Studies at the University of Hong Kong.

    • Covid-19 mutant variants & quarantine arrangement in HK discussion: Gilman Siu & Paul Zimmerman; testing & vaccination requirement for foreign domestic helpers

      Covid-19 mutant variants & quarantine arrangement in HK discussion: Gilman Siu & Paul Zimmerman; testing & vaccination requirement for foreign domestic helpers

      Last Saturday, police arrested two people, an Indian engineer and his girlfriend, for giving the authorities misleading and insufficient information about their contact history to health authorities after the Centre for Health Protection managed to trace the couple’s movements. They have both been charged with offences under the Prevention and Control of Disease Regulation. Interest in this case is high because the man who was charged entered Hong Kong from Dubai in March. He is the first person in Hong Kong to be confirmed as having the N501Y variant of the Covid-19 virus. His girlfriend contracted the same variant. Fears of the spread of this variant by their contacts led to more than 2,000 people being placed in quarantine. With us to talk about the mutant strains and the government’s quarantine arrangements are Gilman Siu of the Department of Health Technology and Informatics at Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Paul Zimmerman, district councillor of Southern District, representing the Pokfulam constituency.

      March 21 was the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This year, the Equal Opportunities Commission and Caritas held an online forum, “Looking Beyond the Pandemic” to talk about racial equality, inclusion, and the impact of Covid-19 on Hong Kong’s ethnic minorities. Those taking part in the seminar said there’s still a lot to be done to bridge racial divides in Hong Kong. Fears over the spread of Covid-19 among domestic helpers, and the government’s initial insistence on mandatory tests and vaccinations for foreign domestic helpers have led to accusations of racial discrimination.

    • India's second Covid-19 wave & interview with Surabhi Chopra on its impact on India

      India's second Covid-19 wave & interview with Surabhi Chopra on its impact on India

      Last Thursday, Hong Kong recorded the first local infections of the highly transmissible Covid-19 N501Y mutant strain. The first known cases involve a domestic helper and a 10-month-old baby in her care from a residential building in Tung Chung. Thousands of residents of that residential block were sent to quarantine. The government has since demanded that more than 370,000 foreign domestic helpers be tested for Covid-19 by this Sunday. With more variant cases being recorded, health experts warn that mutant strains are spreading in the community. Some caution the government against relaxing quarantine requirements for incoming travellers, which could – they worry - trigger a fifth wave of infections. Meanwhile, scientists at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University recently discovered that at least ten cases imported from India to Hong Kong in early April, involved the so-called double-mutant strain that is ravaging India. The Pulse has been talking to people on the frontline in Delhi to gain a first-hand impression of the effects of the latest wave of Covid-19.

      With us to talk more about why India’s second wave of Covid-19 is so devastating and its impact on India, is Surabhi Chopra, associate professor at the Faculty of Law at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

    • Changes to the Companies Register with David Webb & Ricky Chim and relocation of pets

      Changes to the Companies Register with David Webb & Ricky Chim and relocation of pets

      In mid-2006, the government initiated what it described as a “comprehensive rewrite” of the Companies Ordinance with the aim of modernising Hong Kong’s company law. In March 2014 the new Companies Ordinance came into effect. It has been described as one of the longest and most complex pieces of legislation enacted in Hong Kong. Much of the discussion around the legislation was about striking a balance between satisfying the public need to access information and the need to protect the privacy of company directors and secretaries. Voices from the banking sector, financial industries, media, unions, and other professional groups strongly opposed limiting access to personal information on the Companies Register. In 2013, the government shelved plans to do this. But eight years later, new legislation has again surfaced which will limit access to information on the Company’s register, as a way of enhancing privacy.

      In a survey last October by the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at Chinese University more than 43% of respondents said they would emigrate if they had the chance. Of those who want to leave, 35% said they had taken steps to prepare for the move. Census and Statistics Department figures released in February this year show that Hong Kong’s population is down 0.6% from 2019. The department says there has been a net outflow of 39,800 people, and that factors contributing to this outflow include work and study, which are conceptually different from immigration and emigration. But whether those leaving are choosing to move for work, study, or emigration purposes, many are finding themselves faced with hard choices to make regarding their pets.

    • Interview with John Burns on Covid-19 and governance & DSE Examination this year

      Interview with John Burns on Covid-19 and governance & DSE Examination this year

      It’s been more than a year since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, and despite some signs of optimism, the general situation remains volatile and unpredictable.
      Hong Kong’s average number of daily new cases has dropped to single digits, and restrictions have been relaxed. But then after the long holiday early this month, there was an increase in both local and imported cases. Last week, the government introduced a “vaccine bubble” for those who’ve been inoculated in the hope of boosting slow vaccination take up rates and with the hope of reviving a sluggish economy. It also expanded the vaccination programme to people aged 16 to 29.
      But it’s hard to predict what will happen as was seen last Saturday when Hong Kong saw its first imported case of the more infectious N501Y mutation, also known as the South African variant. So far, three major coronavirus variants have been found in the city. To talk about Hong Kong’s responses to Covid19 from a governance and economic perspective is John Burns, Emeritus Professor & Honorary Professor, Dept. of Politics and Public Administration of the University of Hong Kong.

      Covid-19 has had a considerable impact on the education sector. Face-to-face classes in kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, and universities and colleges have been suspended several times. Most have adopted online teaching since last year. Even though face-to-face classes gradually resumed in February, it is a far cry from a general return to in person teaching. This has made life difficult, both physically and psychologically, for many students taking this month’s Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education exams.

    • Hong Kong electoral changes: interview with Thomas So & audio description services for the visually impaired

      Hong Kong electoral changes: interview with Thomas So & audio description services for the visually impaired

      On Tuesday, the government unveiled more details of the proposed changes to Hong Kong’s electoral system. The Improving Electoral System Bill includes dividing the current five geographical constituencies in the Legislative Council election into ten constituencies, adding a “special queue” for the elderly and voters in need, introducing an electronic poll register, and criminalising acts such as inciting others not to vote, or to cast blank or invalid ballots. To talk more about the changes to Hong Kong’s electoral systems is Thomas So, member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and former president of the Law Society of Hong Kong.

      It’s only relatively recently that some public entertainment venues and recreational facilities have reopened after long closures due to social distancing rules to reduce Covid-19 infections.
      Over the recent long weekend, many took full advantage of the restored freedoms to pack Hong Kong’s country parks and beaches. Cinemas and auditoriums have also reopened. But the restrictions forced on us by the pandemic have had a negative effect on places of entertainment, as on so many businesses, and that’s led to the closure of one cinema chain. That may be particularly bad news for people with visual impairments who rely on narrated descriptive soundtracks, not just for movies, but also for other forms of entertainment and recreation.