Plant-based therapy helps students bloom

Horticultural Therapy can help with student suicides issue in Hong Kong

In a garden of various plants, colorful flowers with sounds from a waterfall and chirping birds, a group of six students with depression are sitting at a round, wheelchair-accessible table touching their newly grown plants, listening to the therapist’s instruction with a smile on everyone’s face.

It’s more than just gardening. It’s called Horticultural Therapy that becomes increasingly popular in Hong Kong, said the Hong Kong Registered Horticultural Therapist Tam Sau-han.

“Students nowadays face lots of stress and are more fragile,” said Ms Tam, the General Affair Director of Hong Kong Association of Therapeutic Horticulture, “The therapy can help with their mental health problems and alleviate their stress and depression.”

Since the start of academic year in September, up to 23 students have committed suicides in Hong Kong, which was much more than the past years, according to the University of Hong Kong’s Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention.

A Committee on Prevention of Student Suicides has been established by the government to examine the reasons of suicides and find appropriate preventive measures.

Research find the therapy engaging people in plant-based activities can treat developmental disabilities and mental illness such as depression and stress-related diseases, said Dr. Tong Wang-chi, a Honorary Consultant of Hong Kong Association of Therapeutic Horticulture.

Dr. Tong Wang-chi, a counseling psychologist of Adventist Hospital, has been the Honorary Consultant of Hong Kong Association of Therapeutic Horticulture for many years.

“Many people committed suicides because of the feeling of worthless”, said Dr. Tong, who is also a counseling psychologist of Adventist Hospital. He said the plants are a medium of treatment, which can make people regain self-worth.

Ms Tam said the advantage of plants over other mediums such as music was that plants were alive. “The clients feel they are responsible for a life,” she said.

Ms Tam also mentioned an “attention restoration theory” claiming that people can concentrate better after spending time in nature, or even looking at scenes of nature.

“Only in this one-hour therapy will I forget all the unhappy things,” said Wong Pui Shan, who has already attended six therapy lessons. 

“But the therapy is not only about growing plants, therapists also play a very important role”, said the experienced therapists Ms Tam.

Horticultural therapists plan several days ahead setting tasks according to the abilities and physical and mental needs of individual clients. During the treatment, they will use assessment methods to record, monitor and evaluate individual achievements.

“The key principle is people-oriented treatment,” Ms Tam said. “It doesn’t matter whether the plants grow well or not. What matters is how people can learn from the life and death.”

As for the treatment effect, Ms Tam said the changes were obvious among many participants. “A student who lacked a sense of security and seldom talked to people at first gradually started to greet and talk to people after a period of treatment”, she said.

“A particular advantage of the plant is they never judge,” she said. “It will never talk back or condemn you.”

Ms Tam said some students with depression or anxieties were very sensitive to other people’s words. Plants will be a moderate treatment to help them gain connections and re-establish trust.

Ho Kai-pong, a Project Officer and therapist of Serene Oasis, a local Horticultural Therapy centre said another advantage was people who were not willing to see the doctor for their mental problems were not very resistant to this method.

Ho Kai-pong is a Project Officer and therapist of Serene Oasis which is a local Horticultural Therapy centre.

“Because people will think it is only growing plants,” he said. “For some people, if they find it is a therapy, they will just walk away because they don’t think they’re ill.”

“Another good feature of horticultural therapy is it requires people’s involvement”, said Dr. Tong. “When people put their time and efforts into something, they will take it more seriously and attach importance to it.”

However, the therapy also has its shortcomings. Dr. Tong said the most obvious one was it would only be effective for people not resisting growing plants.

“We find the effect was not very well for those who didn’t like plants,” said veteran therapists Mr Ho. “Because they will not pay attention to the plants and are not willing to think the meanings behind the activities.”

“Another thing is the therapy is limited to its requirements, such as plants and a garden, while in the traditional psychological therapy, all the patient needs is a psychotherapist”, said Dr. Tong.

He added that different from the traditional one with clear and strict procedure of treatment, whether the effect of horticultural therapy would last after withdrawal from it was not clear.

The healing garden is a plant-dominated environment designed to facilitate the interaction with the therapeutic elements of nature.

Nevertheless, Dr. Tong said the horticultural therapy as an adjunctive therapy is a great tool to reduce the stress and anxiety of students, and many schools has already exposed their students more to this therapy to help with their mental health.

“The horticultural therapy is quite popular now,” said Mr Ho at the Serene Oasis, a 7,000-square-feet garden with over 60 plant species, “Our place is always full of people. Many schools are bringing their students here.”

Ms Tam also said the therapy became popular, although the salary of therapists remains not high. But she never regrets resigning a better-paid job for being a full-time horticultural therapist.

“There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing the smiles on those depressed students’ faces,” she said. 


Halal food: cultural bridge

A business uses food as a bridge for women empowerment and culture exchange


Home chefs are serving Chicken Beryani at a fund-raising event for Refugees in Wan Chai

“Ding.” A message came in. 40-year-old Pakistani housewife Ruby Begum smiled. She packed the halal food cooked for hours using meat and ingredients bought from a special Muslim food factory carefully into a lunchbox, making sure it wouldn’t spill out and looked good.

At a MTR Station, Ms. Begum handed it to the customer.

“How was the food yesterday?” She asked.

“That was really good. Could I order two more for my colleagues tomorrow?”

Ms. Begum smiled again. She was not only a housewife, but a home chef. That’s how Chefo! works.

Chefo! is a social enterprise in Hong Kong offering a platform for individuals to connect with ethnic minorities and order their traditional food while contributing to their livelihoods.

“What I really want to sell is not the food but the purpose,” said Yasir Naveed, 26, founder of Chefo!, “which are women empowerment and culture exchange.”

In many ethnic minority communities in Hong Kong, women don’t have the same opportunity as men, said Mr. Yasir. They cannot obtain proper education and work outside.

Pakistani women have the lowest participation rate in the workforce in Hong Kong, said a report entitled Status of Ethnic Minorities in Hong Kong 1997-2014 by the Zubin Foundation and the University of Hong Kong.

To find a solution benefiting those women and not too invasive to their normal life, Mr. Yasir set up a business they can do from home.

Before that they were cooking everyday anyway, but now it becomes a profession and a way to connect to the outside world, said Mr. Yasir.

“They feel really proud and happy,” he said, “They used to cook only for family, but now they are cooking for an audience. People appreciate them and love their food.”

“I waked up at 7.30 am, and started cooking at 8. Now I’m feeling tired,” said Ms. Ruby, “but if they think the food is good, I don’t feel tired anymore.”

Mr. Yasir also organized many events inviting people to come over and see how home chefs cook. Many people were appreciating them, saying “you are amazing” and “thank you”.

The home chefs can actually talk to people from different ethnical groups and backgrounds, he said.

“Our home chefs felt very powerful at that time,” he said, ” because they felt they were exactly the same as people sitting in the audience. But they don’t know that guy might be the director of Standard Chartered Bank in Hong Kong.”


Yasir Naveed, 26, engineer, founder and owner of Chefo!

It provides a window not only for housewives to connect to the outside world, but also for people outside to know and understand ethnical minority communities, said Mr. Yasir. He said the majority of his customers are non-Muslim local people.

Mr. Yasir said in Hong Kong, people have prejudice over minorities such as Pakistani and Nepali. He thinks the reason is they are not so well-integrated in society.

The darker the skin color (except Africans), the less accepted there are in different spheres of life, said the report conducted by the University of Hong Kong.

Only 62.6 percent of people accepted Pakistanis in their neighborhoods and less than 60 percent accepted their children mingling with
Pakistanis and Nepalese in education and daily lives, according to Racial Acceptance Survey Report 2012 by Hong Kong Unison.

But now you have a way to know about the community, said Mr. Yasir.

He said for example, you order food from an auntie and she brings it to you everyday. At first you just say “hey” and “thank you”, but gradually you talk a bit more, and finally develop a kind of friendship, he said.

“Then you start to realize that they are also humans, not some aliens, not ladies from outside world,” he said, “They also have feelings, just like us.”

Another reason for starting the business is about food availability, said Mr. Yasir. As a Muslim, he said it is hard to find food he can eat.

With about 300,000 Muslims in Hong Kong according to Religion and Custom Report by the government, there are only 62 certified halal food outlets and restaurants according to Hong Kong Tourism Board.

In September, McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut rejected a call by Hong Kong chief imam to offer halal food in their restaurants, reported by South China Morning Post.

Halal food restaurants are mostly located at Tsim Sha Tsui, Sham Shui Po and Kwai Chung, but Muslims are everywhere, so it’s difficult for them to get food, said Singh Beant, a customer of Chefo! who ordered many times.

They give good food plus the opportunity to contribute to lives of housewives and single mothers, said Mr. Beant, 29, a shipping supervisor in a trading company.

“The food is the authentic taste of my hometown,” said Mr. Beant, “and the home chefs are very kind and cheerful.”

chefo food3.jpgChefo! can have around twenty individual orders and many group orders per week, said Mr. Yasir.

“We are at our early stage,” he said, “We haven’t made profits but are close to break even.”

But the business has to pause operations by now due to licensing issue.

For working and delivering food, the housewives need a license to operate, either a restaurant license or a food factory’s, according to Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.

Mr. Yasir said they were actively finding solutions and it will be solved soon.

He said they will keep the same business model in which the biggest priorities are caring for those underprivileged women and letting people understand the social calls.

The housewives may not be cooking inside their homes but in a restaurant or food factory, he said.

Mr. Yasir said he did not consider opening a restaurant himself.

“If I open a restaurant, I would be the typical businessman, focusing on money, with no empathy towards housewives,” he said.

After pausing operation, Mr. Yasir said instead of just saying “ok, let me know when you are ready”,many customers came to them and try to help them out. “They are emotionally attached to it,” he said.

Mr. Yasir said people don’t just came to them for delicious homemade food, they also believe in the purpose. They believe Chefo! can help them contribute to another person’s livelihood who otherwise may not have the opportunity to express their talent and creativity.

“Sympathy is not good enough,” he said, ” We want to be the change we wish to see in the world.”

Bring families to disabled children 

Most unadopted kids in Hong Kong are disabled or with health issues

Torrey Ryan (third left), Gretchen Ryan (right), Jeff Ryan (left) with their family

Gretchen Ryan still remembers the phone call from her social worker, saying that she’s having a baby. 

“I felt like I was pregnant,” she said. 

When she adopted her first son Torrey, Gretchen and her husband Jeff knew there were some complications during his birth. 

Before one year old, Torrey was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Doctors said he might never walk and learn to speak, definitely never have any independence.

But Mrs Ryan trusted this was her son, and it was what meant to be. They received Torrey into their home, into their hearts and started caring for him.

“I’m grateful I have my mom and dad,” said Torrey, “because I have a life that I wouldn’t have if I was not adopted. Now I have a family.”

Torrey Ryan was a lucky one. 67 kids in Hong Kong are waiting for adoption, 44 of which are disabled and 11 are with health issues, while all normal and healthy kids are adopted, according to the Social Welfare Department.

Those who are not adopted are living in child care centers or hospitals. They will stay at different centers according to age groups, said the SWD.

Raising a child with special needs requires a lot of resources and time, said Mrs Ryan. Early intervention in the first three years is the most critical for those kids.

With a physical therapist helping Torrey constantly, she also sought help from a cerebral palsy clinic in Los Angeles at UCLA. But those resources are not usually available for kids in care centers.

Mrs Ryan, who is also a director of Mother’s Choice, one of three organizations authorized by the SWD to handle adoption issues, talked about a boy never been adopted.

He was now in his 20s and shared his story at a conference. He talked about growing up moving between foster care, institutional care and small group homes. His question at the end was why he had never been adopted.

“When he was much younger, there would be such a great hope that he could be adopted into a family,” said Mrs Ryan, “but we failed him.”

Moving from one place to the next, meeting many kind people, but no one said I would be with you for your whole life. After grown up, he realized he had nobody to support him except himself, said Mrs Ryan. 

Most disabled children were adopted by families overseas, said Mrs Ryan, who worked at Mother’s Choice for around 30 years.

The government of the United States provides financial assistance and medical care services to families embarking on adopting kids with special needs. 

Mrs Ryan said besides financial support, if Hong Kong could have adequate medical treatment, support network, special schooling and other resources provided, more kids with special needs would be adopted.

There are always resources, but they are too crowded and have long waiting lists, she said.

“If we can provide those resources, we can equip families and let them know they can be strong enough to do this,” she said.

Mrs Ryan thinks the biggest concern is education. Torrey went to a child placement center, a Christian preschool and finally was accepted into an English school foundation. 

Mrs Ryan hopes all schools could have support and resources and be equipped for kids with special needs. 

In 2014/15 school year, government expenditure on special education only consist of around 1.6 percent of spending on the whole education, according to the Education Bureau.

Another way to bring more families to disabled kids is to educate the city and increase awareness and acceptance.

Once Torrey went to swimming in neighborhood. His feet were red and swollen because he always wore orthotics. A lady in their complex saw him and said he should not swim in the swimming pool. 

Torrey was afraid and embarrassed. He went back home and smashed the wall. “I’ll never swim again!” He said.

When Mrs Ryan heard that, she tried to locate the lady and called her, saying her son said he would never swim again, and he was a good swimmer.

After a while, the doorbell ringed. The lady brought expensive chocolates and a card. 

“I’m so proud of you,” she wrote, “I hope you become a famous swimmer. Don’t give up.”

“Hong Kong is an amazing city,” said Mrs Ryan, “People care.” 

She said sometimes we just need to remind each other that we have the opportunity and power to make a difference. 

If you see a family with a child in a wheelchair, please go and say hello, approach them and say something, said Mrs Ryan.

If we can each do one thing, we can change our city and life stories of kids who are longing to belong and have their own family, she said.

Torrey is 23 now, has a girlfriend, and studying at a University in America. He may have a future in IT or technology. He did learn how to walk and speak. 

“He has surpassed every target,” said his mother, “and it’s mainly because of the tremendous support from others in his life.”

Caring for a disabled child is difficult, but there’s an equal reward, said Mrs Ryan, if we support them and push them gently with love, they can achieve their full potential.

“No matter how profound and challenging their disabilities are, every child deserves a family,” said Mrs Ryan. 


Bring More Choices to community

Hong Kong Community Cinema endeavor to stimulate community discussions and promote independent movies


More than three hundred people were sitting on the ground in rapt silence watching a movie on a white canvas projection screen, roughly set by wood poles and ropes, flapping so wildly in the wind that the audience could hardly see subtitles with Typhoon No. 1 signal hoisted, but no one talked or moved.

It was on September 28 outside Legislative Council, the same night and place at which the Umbrella Movement took place two years ago. It was also the first outdoor screening of Hong Kong Community Cinema, established by six people in September this year.

Without 3D display and stereo system, the cinema projects non-mainstream and independent movies without conforming to political pressure, aiming to promote community sharing and discussions, said one of its organizers Cheung King-fai.

“Hong Kong people don’t have the freedom to choose many things, including movies they watch,” said Mr. Cheung.

He said many high quality independent movies cannot be shown in mainstream cinemas due to political or commercial concerns.


Cheung King-fai, 31, standing outside the place where they organized the first screening

A recent award-winning independent movie Ten Years, having once beaten Star Wars at the box office according to South China Morning Post was only shown in six cinemas, after which it was screened among community at more than 45 places, attracting more than 7,000 audience, said its official Facebook page.

Inspired by large-scale community screenings of Ten Years, Mr. Cheung and five friends started a regular community cinema rather than a one-off screening.

“You can pay any amount as you like,” said Mr. Cheung. At the first screening on the second anniversary of Umbrella Movement, they received more than $3700.

They organized three smaller indoor ones at different venues in October, which were almost full-house and attracted more than 60 people, Mr. Cheung said.

“It’s a quite different experience from going to (mainstream) cinemas. No one was eating or talking,” said Lin Cheng, 30, who went to a screening on October 1 and donated $50, “The guest sharing was inspirational and offered more dimensions.”

The organizers invited a guest speaker for each screening, who were directors of those movies or scholars, said Mr. Cheung.

He said the audience actively asked questions, expressed their feelings and even connected the story with their own experiences or current social reality.

“They discussed so deeply into the movie that even the director has never imagined before,” said Mr. Cheung.

Chan Ka Lok, the guest invited for the screening of Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom on September 28, said it was a new way to introduce critical issues back to the community.

He said the audience were very engaged and keen, always coming up with good questions.

“It was an open and equal dialogue,” said the 48-year-old elected member of the Hong Kong Legislative Council representing Hong Kong Island and former Chairman of the Civic Party.

He said people felt they were not properly represented in policy making processes or any kind of public discourse. The community cinema was open and easy for everybody to be on an equal footing and discuss freely.

“Hong Kong people do deserve that,” he said.

But he was concerned the government might put in many obstacles. They might say the place is not good for watching movies or the park is not for gathering, said Mr. Chan.

“All governments would think it’s a political gathering,” he said.

He said although it had not come across such obstacles yet, if it did grow much stronger, the government would be quite nervous and might try to slow down or even shut it down altogether.

But he said the idea was still worth experiencing on. “I see it as a movement,” he said, “because you can connect dots into lines and then even into space across Hong Kong.”


More than 20 people were watching A Sunny Day at Hong Kong Community Cinema on October 1

Mr. Cheung said they might open more venues and collaborate with other community groups when their audience base grows larger.

“We might even let people vote which movie they want to watch,” said Mr. Cheung, “but that can only happen when we have larger and stable amount of audience.”

The biggest difficulty was money, he said. Appropriate venues with screening rooms charge around $200 per hour and they need at least two or three hours each time.

Owners of the three current venues agreed to receive rent by splitting the cinema’s income with the organizers, said Mr. Cheung.

“30 percent is for land owners, with 50 percent for movie makers and 20 percent for administration fee.” He said, “ The remaining might even not be enough for a boxed lunch.”

Another challenge is about movie rights. Mr. Cheung said the first few directors were their friends, which made it much easier to ask for screening permissions. However, they still have to establish networks with movie companies and producers to make sure they don’t charge a super high screening fee, he said.

Despite all those difficulties, Mr. Cheung said the audience were quite supportive. During the screening in memory of the Umbrella Movement, the electricity failed in the middle of screening.

Mr. Cheung said nobody left and people even cheered them on. They started applauding after the problem was fixed and they stayed until the security guard cleared up the venue at 11 pm, he said.

“They were just like friends who want to do something with the community.” Mr. Cheung said, “Their reaction that night were perfect.”

He said their next step was to let more people know about them and raise people’s awareness of the current social reality.

People have very limited choices of not only movies, but TV channels, transportation, property and almost everything, he said.

“You cannot just be used to that.” Mr. Cheung said, “People can only have real freedom if they have choices.”

Hong Kong Entrepreneurs step into Virtual Reality

Surrounded by modern skyscrapers in Hong Kong, you can find yourself running in a pristine Brazil jungle, with sloths and jaguars passing by.

Bearing the brunt of heat wave in India, you can find yourself skiing down a mountain in Switzerland, with trees flying fast up the slope.

Sitting in a café in a European town, you can find yourself marching with protesters of umbrella revolution in Hong Kong, with everyone shouting slogans.

These are virtual reality projects of a local startup Adventvr Limited, who will launch the first VR cloud-sharing platform for travel adventures in Hong Kong around June, said the founder Adrian Leung.

From content producers to high-tech companies, from educators to filmmakers, VR becomes a breeding ground for local entrepreneurs.

VR products revenue worldwide will increase by more than 56 times and number of active users will rise by 854 times to 171 million from 2014 to 2018, according to an online statistics portal Statista.

“VR is getting really huge this year. Hong Kong just starts to get interested in it,” said Tian Ho-yeung, Head of E-Marketing at Salon Films, a long-established content production company just stepping in the VR field.

The biggest challenge at first was low recognition of VR, he said. They have educated the market for more than a year and now start getting lots of orders, said Mr Tian.

The price of VR video production and marketing campaign is similar to the conventional ones, he said.

“The price is quite reasonable,” said Nelson Wang, owner of Fly At Work Productions, a local video production firm seeking live streaming VR devices, “because it’s already the fifth generation.”

But VR may be too expensive for educational use because every student needs to have the gear, said Pang Che-wai, manager of Educational Technology and Publishing Unit at The Open University of Hong Kong.

To let clients change to VR or make it as an add-on to existing campaigns, “what is important is to educate them that VR has more value”, said Mr Tian.

Salon Films has already done 360-degree music concerts, live event broadcast, advertisements, virtual tours and news reporting for clients from Hong Kong and Mainland China. Now they are planning for VR gaming, he said.

“VR gaming will be the most popular field,” he said. “The second is movie, TV and entertainment.”

In a 2015 survey, almost 60 per cent of potential buyers wanted to use VR devices for gaming, reported by Ask Your Target Market, a market research provider. Statista predicts VR video gaming will increase by almost 3400 per cent in sales from 2015 to 2020.

When traditional content producers step into VR field, innovative VR technology startups also emerge.

Or Yan-ching, Co-founder of Spincle Holumino, an app to create animated panoramas and generate 3D content for VR using smartphone’s camera said their technology is exclusive in the market.

Normally people use multiple cameras to capture VR videos, but their app can do it only with a smartphone, she said. They have got $100,000 Hong Kong Cyberport Creative Micro Fund to support the development.

They first developed a Motion Tracking Projection technology and thought it would be best for house selling. “It gives customers immersive experience,” Ms Or said, “but it’s hard to get trust from big property developers.”

Now they are establishing a free sharing platform where people can produce and upload VR videos using their app. “When the user base is huge enough, we will add 360 advertising videos to make money,” said Ms Or.

They became an incubate of incubation programme operated by Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation in 2015, providing them business and professional services, subsidised office space and facilities, she said.

Apart from the incubation programme having helped over 230 incubatees, the government also established initiatives such as The Innovation and Technology Fund to support ingenious technology development, according to Legislative Council 2016 Policy Address.

Mr Or said they have not launched the app yet and are minimizing stitching errors to ensure smooth shooting.

Another common technology problem of new VR products is non-uniform video formats, causing inconvenience for content users, said Mr Wang.

But Mr Leung, initiator of Adventvr said their cloud platform would resolve the format problem. Their app coming in June can convert all videos into a common format, he said.

“People can share their traveling experiences with others all over the world,” said Mr Leung.

Similar to Ms Or’s business model, Mr Leung said their platform would make profit from advertisements. They may also charge for premier contents produced by event and traveling business partners.

They are also making VR cardboards for companies like HSBC to print their advertisements on and distribute to their customers, he said.

The New York Times is giving out 300,000 Google Cardboard for promoting a new VR film. Mr Leung said their cardboard costing about $20 is much cheaper than Google’s costing more than $100.

Mr Leung said they are also developing a 360 camera. He said the current cameras are expensive and with technological problems because they try to rush into the market.

“We’ll make one to solve all the problems and cheaper,” he said.

Given VR technology growing fast, a filmmaker Ng Ka-yeung said people still lack of new thinking of how to shoot.

“Content is still the king,” said the film director of Fuse Works, “We need to find out what content works best with VR.”

Mr Ng said it requires a different way of story telling. The audience having more freedom to choose where to watch creates bigger challenges for directors to attract their attentions to the exact narrative.

Most VR films require participants to sit in a chair and spin around to explore the narrative and some allow people to walk around and interact with characters, he said.

But the uncomfortable and dizzy feeling stops many people watching it for a long time, said Mr Ng. The stories can only be five to ten minutes, limiting the content of story telling.

Mr Ng said he believed the technological problems would be solved one day and VR would change people’s way of watching.

“The real new thing is interactivity, differentiating it from 2D content,” he said.

Mr Leung, currently creating traveling VR videos said engagement is the key to success.

“It’s like teleporting yourself into an experience,” he said. “Putting on the gear, you are like walking in a jungle.”

He said VR is at the early stage but once it takes off, it will be a massive market. “We try to grow so we can be part of it,” he said.

Hong Kong legislative by-election facing rise of radical group


Thousands of Hong Kongers in the New Territories East constituency are casting their votes for a legislative by-election today, in which seven candidates are vying for a seat left vacant by a prominent democrat Ronny Tong Ka-wah.

The poll, once a battle between pro-Beijing parties and democrats who want more autonomy, now takes a new twist among the rise of Edward Leung Tin-kei, an activist who promotes independence from China and was arrested over the recent Mong Kok chaos.

Edward Leung Tin-kei, 24, a leader of a localism group Hong Kong Indigenous, has become a new choice of many freedom-loving voters who once preferred Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu of Civic Party, a rising star among the pan-democrats.

Another front-runner is Beijing loyalist Holden Chow Ho-ding, vice-chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), who has been emphasising the importance of harmony throughout the election.

Chan Ka-hei Herman, a F.6 student who supports Mr Leung said pro-democrats haven’t been successful in fighting for democracy and better policies in the past. He believes that localism would be hope for the city’s future.

“I don’t expect the candidate to do much in a seven-month period,” he said, “but I hope the winning candidate can uphold our core values and represent Hong Kong people’s voices.”

The amount of support the young activist gains will be an indicator of mainstream society’s acceptance towards localism movements and radical protest methods, both

of which are fiercely opposed by Beijing.

Tsang Tak-kit, 21, who volunteered to campaign for Mr Leung said he supports him because he does not want Hong Kong to be “engulfed” by the Mainland in 2047.

“I believe Leung can ban all the unreasonable policies if he gets elected.”

Despite having a common pro-Beijing rival, Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu stands against Mr Leung.

Mr Yeung, 34, a barrister from Civic Party jointly recommended by the pan-democratic camp, has been fighting for “the key seat”, which will determine the veto power of pan-democrats in the legislative council.

Former Legislative Council member Martin Lee Chu-ming shows his support towards Mr Yeung because he thinks violence cannot solve anything.

“Take Wong Yuk-man as an example, his chivalrous way in the Legislative Council did not achieve anything,” he said.

Lee added that Mr Yeung was logical and articulate, while there are only illogical opinions on the Internet that support Leung Tin-kei’s violent approach to politics.

Mony Chan, a former media-related worker, said she would prefer Mr Yeung because of his humble personality. She said Leung’s act does not suit Hong Kong.

“Hong Kong is not ready for the direct protest that Leung is appealing for.”

While Mr Leung and Mr Yeung are competing for the same pool of voters, Holden Chow Ho-ding of DAB seems to have a greater chance than ever.

The pro-establishment camps were almost all in support of Mr Chow’s campaign, with leaders of various organizations gathering at the campaign scene and titles of

New People’s Party, HKFTU and DAB all on the campaign flag.

Other candidates are Nelson Wong Sing-chi of The Third Side and independents Christine Fong Kwok-shan, Albert Leung Sze-ho and Lau Chi-shing.

Tsai Ing-wen elects as Taiwan’s first female president


Tsai Ing-wen of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the 2016 Taiwan General Elections in a landslide victory, defeating Chu Li-luan, presidential candidate of Kuomintang (KMT), by over three million casts.

Tsai becomes the first female president in the history, winning over 6.5 million votes, around 60 per cent of the vote to Chu’s 30 per cent.

Chu Li-luan admitted defeat when Tsai had a commanding vote count and resigned as the president of Kuomintang, saying they were not trying hard enough and failed supporter’ expectations.

“We are facing unprecedented challenges,” said Mr Chu. “We have to remember the lessons so that we can come back the next time.”

Pan-green camp, led by the DPP takes at least half the seats in parliamentary elections, wresting control of the 113-member parliament away from the Nationalists.

Chiang Wan-an, son of former president Chiang Ching-kuo, was elected as legislator of Taipei. As the first parliament member of the Chiang’s family, Chiang Wan-an said he would not let his supporters down.

Tsai Ing-wen of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the 2016 Taiwan General Elections in a landslide victory, defeating Chu Li-luan, presidential candidate of the Kuomintang (KMT), by over three million votes.

Tsai becomes the first female president of Taiwan, winning over 6.5 million votes. That’s about 60 per cent of the ballot nearly double that of Chu.

Chu Li-luan conceded defeat when Tsai had a commanding vote count and resigned as the president of the Kuomintang.

“We have not tried hard enough and failed supporter’ expectations.”

“We are facing unprecedented challenges,” said Mr Chu. “We have to remember the lessons so that we can come back the next time.”

Pan-green camp, led by the DPP takes at least half the seats in parliamentary elections, wresting control of the 113-member parliament away from the Nationalists.

Chiang Wan-an, son of former president Chiang Ching-kuo, was elected as legislator of Taipei. As the first parliament member of the Chiang’s family, Chiang Wan-an said he would not let his supporters down.

Supporters of Tsang Ing-wen, the elected candidate of Taiwan, rallying at the election headquarter of Democratic Progressive Party, are thrilling towards the result.

More than 200,000 people at the rally have used the flashlights of mobile phone to ‘Light up Taiwan.’

Tsai becomes the first-ever female president of Taiwan, with over 6.5 million votes. The DPP is also gained the largest amount of party vote.

It is the first time of transition of party in the congress, which records the largest victory of DPP in the history.

Jeffrey Chiu Shien-yu, 26, one of the supporters of the proposed president, said Tsai would be the leader who is the most willing to hear the public voices.

“She understands the needs of the minority, like LGBT, ethic minorities, indigenous people in the society.”

Jeffrey, who is holding a rainbow flag, said Tsai would support them. “We are proud that she is being elected. She is the first female president in Taiwan, as well as Asia. And therefore, there are not only men in politics.”

Polling day in Taiwan – presidential candidates express regret over the apology of the pop star

Over 18 million Taiwanese will cast their votes for a new president and legislature on

Saturday. Polls opened at 8 am and will close at 4 pm, with results announced tonight.

The turnout rate is estimated at about 70 percent, likely to be one of the lowest in the election’s history, according to the Central Election Commission (CEC).

DPP’s presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen cast her vote at 9.30 am at Xiu Lang elementary school in New Taipei, after which Eric Chu Li-luan of the Kuomintang and James Soong of People First Party voted at 10 am.

Meanwhile, outgoing President Ma Ying-jeou cast his ballot at a polling station in Taipei’s Wenshan district. Vice presidential candidate of the KMT Wang Ju-hsuan voted at about 9 am.

Presidential hopeful Tsai Ing-wen was asked to comment on the statement made by Zhou Ziyu, a pop star who publicly apologized for waving a Taiwanese flag during a performance in South Korea in October.

Beijing accused the young singer of calling for Taiwan independence. The Korean agency organizing the show asked Zhou to make an apology yesterday.

“Her comment is depressing. It seriously hurts the feelings of Taiwanese. Taiwan should now be more unified.” Tsai Ing-wen said.

Eric Chu of the KMT who finished his voting with his wife Kao Wan-ching at New Taipei Elementary School in Sanchong District said he was upset about Zhou having to apologize for being a Taiwanese.

“The Kuomintang will always defend our nation, freedom and democracy. I condemn the Korean talent agency,” Chu said.

“Voting is the right and duty of every citizen. We should be proud of our democracy. And I hope our people can come out to vote and support us with our party flag in hand,” he said.

“I believe our people will show their support to us until the last minute.”

James Soong Chu-yu of People First Party cast his ballot at New Taipei Municipal Linkou Junior High School at about 10 am, saying that he is confident about the election result.

“If I win the presidency, there are two things I will do,” Soong said after his voting. “First, the government will protect the people and love the country. Second, we will take the cross-strait relationship seriously.”

Hung Hsiu-chu, 67, Vice President of the Legislative Yuan and the ruling party’s former nominee voted at 10.45 am.

Hung said the whole thing about Zhou Ziyu was very ridiculous, she felt sorry for a 16-year-old girl being accused of Taiwan being independent and had to apologize for her behavior, which was nothing wrong.

“If DPP uses that to attack KMT, that’s very cruel to the girl. It reflexes that the cross-trait relation is a mess, that’s why foreign people and agency would get confused.”

Age-old Kung Fu meets novel 3D motion

New technology is introduced to revive endangered martial arts in Hong Kong, with a long and winding road ahead.

Dressed in a skintight black bodysuit dotted with 99 position markers, a martial arts master demonstrates his Kung Fu styles in a 3D motion-capture studio with cameras and sensors eying around.

Similar scenes may be found at shooting set of Hollywood Sci Fi films like Avatar. But in this scenario, it is to document hundreds of styles of different martial arts branches in Hong Kong, for a new “Kung Fu Bible” called The Hong Kong Martial Arts Living Archive.

The introduction of high-end technology 3D modeling was to revive the age-long martial arts which is facing an endangered situation in Hong Kong. It is believed to capture the swift movements in a more accurate, lively and precise way.

“The key point is, 3D technology brings us closer to reality,”said Hing Chao, Chief Executive of the International Guoshu Association who launched the archive in 2013.

He said 3D imaging approximates live instruction to a greater degree, in comparison with manuals, photographs or videos as references for learning the complicated martial arts.

It will be used for exhibitions, installations, mobile apps and other digital learning applications, which can broaden the scope of Kung Fu preservation as well as public promotion, according to Chao.

The novelty also fascinates the traditional martial arts master for the convenience it brings to Kung Fu lessons.

“In the old days, we followed the movements demonstrated by our instructors. It depends on whether the instructor can explain well,” said Tsang Ho-pan, a veteran master of Wing Tsun, a form of concept-driven martial art rooted in Southeast of China and Hong Kong.

The 36-year-old Kung Fu master is now a high rank instructor of International Wing Tsun Association. “With the help of 3D technologies, we will be able to check if the movements are very similar to our instructor’s by watching which muscles you should relax.”

Despite the new possibilities, four years after implementation the technology is still seeing a large room for improvements.

“If you record the movements with this technology, the movements are really shaky. It’s not really exact even with quite expensive optical motion capture equipment,” said Professor Tamás Waliczky from School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong.

He added that it may lose details of the original movements when the computer tries to stabilise the shots of swift Kung Fu actions.

The initiator Mr Chao acknowledged that the technology is still evolving. “For us at this moment, we make small steps one at a time, such as tweaking the details of how we capture, clean up and annotate data.”

He said the technology is still in bud, which takes time to be fully available to the public with affordable prices for expansion in application.

“We have to wait until the market catches up and then we can expect this immersive learning revolution, or virtual reality to transform the way we learn and interact,” he said.

However, the Kung Fu successors reckoned that what’s more difficult to tackle with lies in people’s view and understanding of martial arts preservation instead of the improvements on technology.

“Martial arts today, are no more the martial arts in Hong Kong used to be,” said Hing Chao at a TEDxHKBU talk in 2015, “because society has changed, and time has changed.”

The Kung Fu coach Mr Tsang shared the same opinion. “In the past, there were not so many entertainments. People spent much time practicing martial arts. But now we have too many ways to have fun. People find it too tiring to practice martial arts.”

Although the situation for martial arts remains grave, Mr Chao still have hope in the future. “I have a dream, a dream to make the martial arts fading away come back again.”