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June 2018 / Issue 7

PHOTO ESSAY

The Challenges Facing Indie Musicians in Hong Kong


In This Issue 04 Hong Kong Competitive eaters: The dangerous and unusual sport

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12 #MeToo @ Hong Kong’s universities Sexual harassments

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Get fit for free

Sounds in the city

Outdoor Yoga aims at popularising “no-stress” lifestyle for free

Challenges Facing Indie Musicians in Hong Kon

22 Whitewashed ? Decolonizsng Hong Kong street names obliterate the history behind

26 Bucking the trend of a throwaway fashion The dying clothing alteration industry


Letter from the Editor The Young Reporter is thrilled to welcome the summer with an exciting array of stories.

Editor-in-Chief

Editors

Holly Chik

Alexandra Lin Jade Li James Allen Kenji Chan Lloyd Hewitt-Robinson Raphael Blet Robert McGain Sammi Chan Windy Li Yolanda Gao

Deputy Editors

In the third issue of this year, we bring to you stories about indie musicians, competitive eaters and outdoor yoga in the city. After #MeToo became a global force, we are also interested in exploring how the movement has changed local universities. As our city progresses, some traditions are fading away. Read the magazine to find out more about a sunset industry - clothing alteration and the renaming of our colonial-era streets. Sincerely, Holly Chik Chiu-wai Editor-in-chief

Angie Chan Caroline Kwok Michael Shum Michelle Ng Art Directors

Candice Wong Dorothy Ma Erica Chin Erin Chan Distribution Officers

Ezra Cheung Social Media Editors

Elisa Luk Melanie Japson Sharon Pun Multimedia Editors

Elly Wu Kobie Li Maggie Liu Scout Xu Wing Li Yoyo Chow Zinnia Lee

Reporters

Amy Ho Anna Kam Cara Li Izefia Nie Katherine Li Melissa Ko Nadia Lam Oasis Li Phoebe Lai Rachel Yeo Shane Wang Tomiris Urstembayeva Vanessa Yung Wallis Wang Yetta Lam

Advisers

Jenny Lam Robin Ewing Printer The Young Reporter Volume 50 No. 7 2018

Department of Journalism School of Communication Hong Kong Baptist University


04 HEALTH & ENVIRONMENT

Hong Kong competitive eater: The dangerous and unusual sport Reported by Phoebe Lai Edited by Melanie Japson

He was struggling with the last few bites. The giant burger was almost finished. His fingers were covered in grease and his mouth was stuffed with meat. Time was ticking. He glanced at the timer as the last second passed. The timer rang but he was still chewing. “I will finish it even if the competition has ended,” Mark Li mumbled as he squashed another handful of fries into his mouth.

“I needed to finish eating nine giant waffles within 45 minutes and it was an easy task for me,” he said. “I finished it in 28 minutes.”

Mr. Li, a sports enthusiast and founder of Sai Wan Sports Club, started competitive eating because of his unusual habits at dinner.

Having succeeded in his first attempt, Mr. Li started participating in more and more eating contests. He even started to post videos of himself eating in competitions on his YouTube channel.

“I was always told I could eat a lot really quickly. For instance, I could finish one-fourth of my bowl of rice before the main dishes are served, ” said Mr. Li. “I since started wondering if I really do have a talent for eating.” Mr. Li began experimenting with ways to consume different types of food within a limited amount of time. He officially started competitive eating in 2012. His first-ever eating contest was at a dessert shop in Yau Ma Tei where he ate giant waffles.

His confidence had grown ever since his first success. “I started to find competitive eating really fun. First, the food is free. Second, I see it as a way for me to challenge myself,” said Mr. Li. “I can explore my own capabilities.”

In 2014, he met Taylor Mak Tai-loi, founder of Eatcredibles, in a ramen eating contest. Mr. Mak founded the team after his failed first attempt in a cart noodle eating contest. He started brainstorming possible ways to consuming a bowl of cart noodles quickly with his friends after the competition. Eatcredibles was initially a team of six to seven people and it has expanded to more than 40 members with five

to ten of them actively participating in both local and overseas eating contests. “Most of our members are amateur athletes. Some kick shuttlecocks while some run full marathons,” said Mr. Mak, “Like Mr. Li, he can run marathon races under extreme weather.” Mr. Li has a weekly exercise regime. He organises and conducts fitness trainings in his club every Monday at 7 pm and Wednesday at 7 am. His own usual fitness regime consists of finger pull-ups, dragon flags and air walks, which according to him, are effective exercises to tone up his abdominal muscles. “Too much in your abdomen fat will obstruct the expansion of your stomach when you are eating. Therefore, fit and muscular people can eat more theoretically,” said Mr. Mak. However, Denise Fair, Canadian registered dietitian at Central Health Medical Practice, doubted Mr. Li’s theory. “I would think the more toned around the belly the more “taunt” your belly would be and you would get


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less flexibility and ability to expand,” said Ms. Fair. Apart from physical fitness, Mr. Li emphasised the need to work on strategies targeted at different kinds of food for different eating contests. “I had participated in a spicy meatballs eating challenge earlier and I won,” said Mr. Li. “The key to success is to practise only eating seeds in chilli oil without consuming the oil.” Mr. Li explained that spiciness usually comes from seeds instead of oil so he practised for a few weeks eating more and more chilli seeds bit by bit before the competition. He further revealed one unusual thing he did that changed the game. “When the meatballs are served, instead of immediately gorging on them, I inhaled the smoke that was coming from the hot meatballs. I was preparing my body with the spiciness through inhaling the flavour in the smoke,” said Mr. Li. Mr. Mak explained another few strategies for his team to prepare for competitions. “One way is to drink water. Our stomach is stretchy. The more water you drink, the bigger your stomach gets,” said Mr. Li, “Sometimes we drink liquid with flavours, such as lightly-seasoned vegetable soup and milk. We will always drink one to two litres of water in the morning on the day of the competition.”

However, Ms. Fair said drinking too much water can cause serious health problems. “Too much water can cause water intoxication. This is when too much water dilutes the sodium in our blood and cause hyponatremia. This can cause seizures and, in severe cases, death. There can also be psychiatric implications as well over the long term,” said Ms. Fair. Mr. Li said drinking liquid required in competitions can be tricky at times, especially beer. “I personally have a low tolerance for alcohol,” said Mr. Li. “Beer can also easily give you a gag reflex and make you nauseous and puke. It is harder for me when a competition requires drinking.” Ms. Fair explained the carbonation in beer creates more gas in the stomach and increases the pressure within. “Drinking any beverage quickly causes a person to swallow more air, thereby increasing the amount of air in the stomach,” said she said. “Put the two together and that is a lot of pressure in the stomach. This can cause you to feel nauseous, bloated and feel like throwing up.” Another obstacle that Mr. Li often encounters in competitions is losing focus during the competition. Mr. Li admitted that he often

forgets his own strategies. Therefore, he needs someone experienced, like Mr. Mak, to guide him by observing what is happening around and give him reminders alongside. “The most common mistake I make during competitions is that I often forget to drink more water. If I drink less water, it will be harder for me to swallow the food,” said Mr. Li. Mr. Mak also said his team holds internal eating contests which allow members to comment on and give advice to each other. “We pass on the skillset and share experiences with each other among the team,” said Mr. Mak. According to Mr. Mak, there are international organisations for competitive eaters. For example, Major League Eating holds a lot of international eating contests in the US. In particular, the well-known Nathan’s Famous Hotdog Eating Contest is held by the organisation annually in different states across America. It attracts a lot of competitive eaters around the world. World-class champion and Japanese competitive eater, Takeru Kobayashi, had taken home the winning trophy multiple times. Ms. Fair, however, mentioned the potential dangers for the eaters when they are swallowing too quickly.


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“You would choke to death or have hypoxia. This, unfortunately, occurs more than you would think. Some food may go down the trachea rather than the oesophagus and into the lungs, causing aspiration pneumonia which can lead to death if untreated,” said Ms. Fair.

“Even the physical act of eating raising adrenaline levels can have a negative impact on the heart and thereby weaken it,” said she said, “There is also risk of oesophageal or stomach rupture which requires immediate surgery to repair and can cause sepsis and potential death.”

Ms. Fair also pointed out that competitive eating is not a medically safe thing to do over the long term because of the many health implications associated with it.

Mr. Mak pointed out that it is hard to promote competitive eating in Hong Kong. “It is easy to be criticised in Hong Kong. People see this as nonsense. I think this is really

a subjective thing to say. Some would say we are wasting food,” said Mr. Mak. “I think it is not true to say that we are wasting food because we always attempt to finish everything even after the competition is over,” said Mr. Li. “Another thing is that people should respect us. We see this as a kind of sport because the hard work needed is no different from any other kinds of sports.”


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Photo credits to Stu Hui photography


HEALTH & ENVIRONMENT

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Outdoor Yoga aims at popularising “no-stress” lifestyle for free Reported by Tomiris Urstembayeva Edited by Sharon Pun


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Photo credits to Stu Hui photography

should be friendly and available for all to try. Hong Kong also has incredible public spaces, so I thought classes outside could be really fun,” said Ms. Hagen.

Ms. Janae Hagen, the founder of HK Outdoor Yoga, assisting a session participant to improve posture when performing an asana.

A dozen of people is gathering at Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park to meet the sunrise and celebrate the wellness of both body and mind, by performing yoga asanas and meditating together. One of them is Madiya Zholdanova, a year-two student at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. This year, Ms. Zholdanova decided to shift to a healthier lifestyle but she found financial difficulties in her search for yoga clubs and centres “I think that the yoga packages are overpriced and as a student, it was nearly impossible for me to do yoga in sports centres,” she said.

Research conducted by the Quality Education Fund showed that 70% of students in Hong Kong have depression and the main reason is stress from studies. Hours sitting in front of a computer screenwriting papers and preparing for exams can tense up anyone, even those who have youth on their side. However, the average cost of single drop-in sessions at yoga studios and fitness centres is $300, which can be quite expensive for students like Ms. Zholdanova.

HK Outdoor Yoga, a team of qualified yoga teachers formed by Ms. Janae Hagen, aims at helping students and public Ms. Zholdanova thinks that who might not have the finanfree outdoor yoga classes could cial means to join paid classes. be a great solution to those who want to relieve stress and “I started offering free classes improve health. because I believe that yoga

She also regards providing free yoga sessions to the public as a chance to give back to the community. Ms. Hagen has been offering free yoga classes in Hong Kong for two years. She started HK Outdoor Yoga and expanded the team by finding more yoga teachers and reaching out to them through several fitness groups on Facebook. Today, HK Outdoor Yoga has a team of teachers who volunteer their time to offer classes in public spaces in Hong Kong. They have more than 2,000 members in the Facebook group and class sizes range from 10 to 80 participants depending on the weather, location and time of day offered.

"

I believe that yoga should be friendly and available for all to try. - Ms. Janae Hagen Founder of HK Outdoor Yoga


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Ms. Hagen also highlighted that more students should join outdoor yoga, especially during the preparation for exams to stay in tune with both body and soul. “Yoga helps to relieve stress and keep the mind at ease and quiet. A quiet mind can help students focus better on studying, as your mind won’t be racing. It can also support a good night’s rest,” she said.

In addition, practising yoga in fresh morning air provides a very different experience compared to that of inside a sports centre. Ms. Mairi Cooper, a participant of HK Outdoor Yoga classes who previously took paid yoga sessions in sports club, finds open-air yoga more beneficial because of the versatile sceneries and crisp-air that offers a full pacifying experience.

“Outdoor yoga classes are arranged in various spots and the views are usually amazing. You are not just joining a free yoga class, but also enjoying a peaceful environment. I also “I think for us [students] out- think that doing yoga outside door yoga classes also provide sharpens the senses, especially an opportunity to meet new during meditation,” she said. people from all possible backgrounds, sources of inspiration In a bustling city like Hong and make friends,” said Ms. Kong, it’s important to spend time out-of-doors and stay Zholdanova. Ms. Zholdanova said financial considerations and stress relief are not the only reasons for her to join free outdoor yoga sessions.

connected to nature. Sunrise yoga classes at scenic places as Sun Yat Sen Memorial park and beach at Repulse Bay, in a fresh morning air, could be the best stress antidote, an opportunity to cheerfully start the day and to get the energy flowing through the body, Ms Hagen said. “Since my first outdoor yoga class, I got fully motivated to attend every session arranged by HK Outdoor Yoga. I think more students should join outdoor yoga classes, as it’s a unique experience to have free yoga session in such an expensive city as Hong Kong,” said Ms. Cooper.

Photo credits to Stu Hui photography

Meet the instructors from HK Outdoor Yoga: (from left to right) Leanna Lim, Natalie Hiong, Janae Hagen, Mohammed Sam Peñafuerte Shoushi. “I love the outdoors and I love yoga so it was a good way to combine both interests. It’s also a good way to practice teaching,” says Mr. Shoushi.


POLITICS

#MeToo @ Hong Ko


ong’s universities

Reported by Izefia Nie Edited by Yolanda Gao


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In January, Gou Yuezho, an alumnus of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, sent a petition to the college’s president to call for some form of anti-sexual harassment mechanism to be set up at the university. The letter was signed by 118 current students and alumni.

local culture and social atmos- “The four substantiated cases phere are the main reasons why (of CityU) collected by the govvictims remain silent.” ernment were all reported and handled through formal proceMs. Hui, who asked not to be dures,” she said. named, is one of them. She was forced to accept a “disgusting” Last year, the Equal Opportunipunishment with a senior male ties Commission ran 55 training student when she was a fresh- sessions for about 3,000 acaman at the orientation camp of demic, administrative staff her department. members and students at tertiary education institutions. But “I had to eat the same choco- Ms. Lui said teachers and other late stick with him and my lips staff members were reluctant to almost touched his,” Ms. Hui attend the workshops because said, “I was extremely embar- they thought it had nothing to rassed and uncomfortable.” do with them.

Sexual harassment in universities across China has long been a problem. According to a report on Sexual Harassment on Chinese College Campuses 2018 conducted by the Guangzhou Gender Center, about 70% of the respondents experienced She did not think about reportsexual harassment, more than ing to the university. “I was told half of which were on campus. that it was a tradition at the orientation camp. After all, nothing In Hong Kong, the Education serious happened,” she said. Bureau, in response to legislators’ questions, revealed that Wan Chi-ho believes cases like there have been 29 complaints Ms. Hui reflect a lack of sex relating to sexual harassment education. They are uncertain filed by the University Grants whether their experiences count Committee-funded universities because they don’t know how to over the past five years. define sexual harassment. However, Wan Chi-ho, the Community Organiser of the Anti-Sexual Violence Resource Centre, thinks the number is much higher. “Many victims might only report verbally without filing a case. Others just keep quiet. I’ve held anti-sexual harassment campaign at universities many times and students came to tell me their experience of being harassed, but downplayed the severity,” Mr. Wan said. “The

Wan Chi-ho pointed out the current reporting mechanism at universities may discourage students to speak up. “Students are under the universities’ authorities,” said Mr. Wan. “They don’t dare to report because the cases will be handled process is still under the power relations between teachers and students.”

CASH, one of only two exclusive committees on sexual “They usually tell themselves harassment at the eight to ‘cool down’, because ‘it’s not University Grants Commita big deal’,” Mr. Wan said. tee-funded universities in Hong Kong, does not have any Lui Yuk-yuen, Secretary of student representatives. the Committee Against Sexual Harassment at (CASH) City “The current anti-sexual harUniversity of Hong Kong, assment mechanism isn’t explained that under UGC user-friendly enough,” Mr. guidelines, universities are Wan said. “Victims should be required to report their cases encouraged to speak up and be only if they have substantiated treated fairly.” complaints and complaints under investigation.


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17 CULTURE & LEISURE

Reported by Katherine Li and Rachel Yeo Edited by Jade Li Photos edited by Maggie Liu

As most people head home at the end of the working week, it’s just the start of yet another Friday night of jamming at MOM Live House in North Point. Multi-coloured laser slice through the music while the crowd cheer the performers with drinks in hand.

“It is very difficult to produce music without a label in Hong Kong but that is the case for most of the musicians here. There are limited venues and audience. Bands who signed with labels would get to do commercial shows at car exhibitions, etc., but we only get to do independent band shows like tonight,” Ms. Pan said

This is “The Week Hong Kong Indie Music Festival”. There are performances every night with a Speaking from her personal experience, Ms Yu different theme each week and there’s a line-up said some young indie musicians also face a lack of more than 25 acts. The performers are all of parental support. unknown local indie bands. “My parents were not too supportive at the This particular evening was “Girls’ Night”. In one beginning because they think that when you play band, After After Party, the guys wore long floral music, you usually go out very late, and they don’t dresses and neon pink wigs while two women know what kind of people you play with. But I just kept playing, and eventually, I got the chance were in suits with moustaches on their faces. to show them that this is the type of music that “We want to be funny and make people laugh. We I do. We had shows sometimes and we invited don’t want to be just a rock and roll band, but we them to show them that music is a way to help are interested in any performing art,” said Yanyan me relieve stress and a good way to balance school and work,” she said. Pan, the lead singer of the band. With Jaedyn Yu on drums and Cory Pearce on Music is not the main source of income for the bass, this band formed in 2015 and has since come band. Ms. Yu has a career in finance while Ms. up with a few numbers of their own. But building Pan works in marketing. a music career in Hong Kong, they say, is tough.


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The audience enjoys local musician Yeung Tung’s song “Marks on My Skin” as she plays in on her midi keyboard. She writes, arranges, and produces her own music, and is the first performer of the night.


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After-After Party lead singer Pan Yanyan entertains the audience with adult jokes, while also singing light-hearted songs about Tinder dates and partying.

Donned in a pink wig and a flowery dress, After-After Party male bassist Cory Pearce has aptly crossdressed to fit the theme of Girls Night. He is also the only male musician to perform that night.


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This year’s edition of The Week lasts for seven days and features 25 bands playing in different genres, ranging from hip-hop to indie music.

High-quality music is not the only way to promote indie bands. Music organisers also have to consider innovative strategies, such as arranging music festivals, to increase appreciation amongst Hong Kong people.

A band member of GDJYB (雞蛋蒸 肉餅) adjusts the amplifier on stage during the performance to give their sound more variety.


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“Indie music is different in the sense that we have the freedom of creativity, while if you do commercial music you have to go with the trend,” said Ms. Pan. “Also, in Hong Kong, to be a commercially successful musician, you have to create very karaoke-friendly songs.” As one of the main organisers of The Week Music Festival, Elaine Ip recognises the difficulties indie musicians face and the challenges in promoting a festival dedicated to them. “When your job is an artist, and you also have to market yourself, this is not what you do best. So that’s where we come in. We handle all the promotion for them, so all they have to do is come and have fun,” Ms. Ip said. This is the second year of Indie Music Festival. The organisation is on a shoestring budget, but they still do everything they can to focus on the show because they see value in promoting indie singers in Hong Kong. “I think for Hong Kong, in general, this is important, because the creative scene here tends to have a hard time,” Ms. Ip said. “It is not really in the local culture for people to attend shows featuring musicians they have never heard of, so it is our responsibility to promote and show people how good our local bands actually are.”

First name, Chikin, from the Hong Kong Music Critics Community said running music festivals in Hong Kong is tough because of limited audience and venues. “For example, Hidden Agenda, is a famous local indie music live house in an industrial area but its licence was not recognised and the fire prevention was not good enough. After they moved three times, they thought of many methods to survive. For instance, the possibility of turning their place into a coffee shop, but unfortunately, they were simply unable to continue,” Chikin explained. Other music festivals, such as Wow and Flutter, also have problems despite surviving for three years. This year the organisers said that they did not want to arrange it anymore because the government is going to turn their venue in West Kowloon into the Forbidden City Museum. “Unlike popular artists from large record labels who can earn their living through advertisements and commercial music, indie musicians rely on album sales and performances. So when the venues are so limited, the rent goes up. How could they have enough sustainability to continue their music career?” Chikin questioned.

But indie musicians are getting some exposure. Chikin noticed that Radio 903 has been playing indie music pieces. He hoped the media can do the same in order to boost the development of indie music. There will only be more and more indie musicians because the cost of producing music is decreasing. Nowadays, you can use your own instruments and recording devices to create a decent piece of work at home. Whit the lowering cost, our range of musical pursuit does not have to stay within the boundaries of popular music,” said Chikin. As for musicians who work hard at their day jobs in order to live their dream, Chikin believed they have a different mindset that makes their music beautiful. He thought that they put their souls into their music and their work should be appreciated. “I think in Hong Kong, currently, it is difficult to profit from music, especially if you think of record sales. Bands are not making money so we don’t play music for money. We play because we love it,” said Ms. Yu, the drummer. The show ended, the crowd dispersed and the musicians disappeared into the night with their guitar cases, their mutual passion sustaining them despite the challenges.


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23 POLITICS

Decolonising Hong Kong street names

obliterate the history behind Reported by Nadia Lam Edited by Raphael Blet Photos edited by Elly Wu


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West End Path, the last T-shaped street nameplate in Hong Kong.

Pottinger Street is one of many streets in Hong Kong named after the city’s past colonial rulers. Victoria Harbour itself, no less, bears the name of a British queen.

Bonham Strand was named after Sir Samuel George Bonham, Hong Kong's third governor.

Street Naming Competition for Grid Neighbourhood within Kai Tak Development” to invite the public to propose new and creative ideas of street names.

Gary Yau yick-cheung, founder of the Road Research Society, explained that changes in street names are not rare in Hong Kong. Usually, streets would be renamed to avoid public’s confusion over similar street names Mr. Shie said Hongkongers or when the translation from should start to “love the coun- Chinese is wrong. try” and suggested that the government should reduce or For example, before 1970, Houfu remove the symbols left behind Street in Tsim Sha Tsui was by the British. known as Salisbury Road. But since there was another SalisUnder existing laws, anyone can bury Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, the propose to change the name of government then renamed it. a street. The Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance But throughout history, street stipulates that the Director of names in Hong Kong have also Lands is authorised to assign changed for political reasons. During the Japanese occupastreet names in Hong Kong. tion in 1941, some streets were In 2016, the Civil Engineering renamed. For example, Queen's and Development Department Road Central became Meiji-dori, has organised the “Pedestrian after the empire of Japan. During the this year’s Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, member Shie Takchung, proposed to “decolonise” street names in Hong Kong.

Mr. Yau said this reflected Japan's ambition at the time to promote its culture in Hong Kong and to consolidate its governance of the territory. He believed that Mr. Shie too wants to emphasise China’s governance over Hong Kong by the same means. However, for Mr. Yau, the name of a street should tell a story because he enjoys knowing the story and history of Hong Kong behind every street name. “I believe that this would also arouse interest in others to understand our past,” he said. Lau Chi-pang, a history professor at Lingnan University, said it does not make sense to remove the symbols of Hong Kong’s colonial past by any means. Even though there are no official criteria for street naming, Mr. Lau said that the idea of changing street names in Hong Kong so as to reduce the


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First Street, Second Street and Third Street are the landmarks of Sai Ying Pun.

symbols left behind from Hong Kong’s colonial government was declined by both China and the United Kingdom during the Sino-British Talk in the 1980s. But Professor John Carroll, from the Department of History at the University of Hong Kong thought it is just a matter of time when the street names will change. “For example, Rennie’s Mill was changed into Tiu Keng Leng. This is a natural process so as to rationalise the English translation.” Rennie’s Mill was named in 1905 since there was a flour factory owned by a businessman called Rennie.

“Sometimes I might fail to pronounce the street names in English, but with the Chinese translation, I could have a better understanding of the street name,” she said “The street name should not be changed just for the sake of it. The original meaning behind a name should be kept,” said Lam Wut-hei, another young Hong Kong citizen. “It would be awkward for me to see ‘Xi Jinping Road’ because I have already been familiar with the current street names in Hong Kong,” she said.

She disagrees that this could arouse her sense of belongings “[Changing street names]would to the motherland. be a very complicated and controversial process,” Prof. Carroll believed. Ho Wan-na, a Hong Kong resident, said street names now could represent the uniqueness of local culture.

Dried Seafood Street, it is named because of the trading of the Chinese tonic.


26 BUSINESS

Bucking the trend of a throwaway fashion Reported by Vanessa Yung Edited by Ezra Cheung Photos edited by Zinnia Lee

Tong Ho-yee alters clothes in a 50-feet alteration store in Shek Wu Hui market.

out of the competition sometimes, she said.

A middle-aged lady sews a golden floral t-shirt under a table lamp, focusing on every detail. Surrounding her are rolls of thread of different colours, shapes and sizes and a pile of trousers waiting to for her to work on. Her sewing machine is all she needs to make a living. It is a scene right out of a 1970s Hong Kong garment factory when the hard work of young seamstresses helped to build the city’s economy.

clothes for 40 years but it is tough for her to keep her business going.

“There are only a few alteration stores in this market,” she said, “and the competition is tough.”

She charges between $20 and $300 for a job depending on how much time and effort goes into the piece. An alteration can take from a few hours to a whole day. Usually, Ms. Tong spends four to five hours on more manageable tasks, such as hemming jeans or trousers. But altering a suit, for example, can take a whole day.

Tong Ho-yee runs a 50-squarefoot clothing alteration store at Shek Wu Hui Market in Sheung Shui. She has been altering

Some customers would go for the cheapest shop because they do not know which one does the best job so she is just priced

Ms. Fung and Ms. Pau are among Ms. Tong’s loyal customers. “We ask Ms. Tong to help us alter our clothes

In these days of cheap throw away fast fashion, fewer people choose to repair or fix their clothes when they can simply throw out poorly fitted items and buy new ones.


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because we know her business is tough,” Ms. Fung said. She simply wants to help Ms Tong stay in business. Link REIT, the first real estate investment trust in Hong Kong and the largest market capitalisation in Asia, now manages about one-third of all the public markets in Hong Kong. Rising rent has forced out some of the shops such as clothing alteration services which survive on a shoestring. Money Pin, 60 years old, owns a 200-square-foot shop called Money Alteration Store at Wah Sum Shopping Centre in Fanling. She has been running her business for three decades and it’s just part of her life She spends about $20,000 per month on rent, electricity and rates. If Link REIT increases the rent, she might have to close down. “Earning less doesn’t matter,” she explained. “But I can’t run the business at a continuous loss.” Ms. Pin receives more than 30 orders every week, but the shop is still in crisis. “But thanks to the support of my customers, I still run the business until now,” Ms. Pin added, regarding all her customers as her friends because they will give her food and gifts when they come for alterations. “I will miss my customers when I close the business.”

One of Ms. Pin’s customers, Mrs. Lee, has been coming back for Ms. Pin for three years. She said that she knows most clothing chains provide after-sales alteration services, but she still wants to support local businesses because she understands they are facing massive hardships. Greenpeace released in May last year an international fashion consumption survey report, studying excessive spending practices in the mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Italy and Germany. The statistics showed that two-thirds of Hong Kong residents aged 20 to 45 years admitted they owned more clothes than necessary. Garment production worldwide has doubled between 2000 and 2014 worldwide, and sales have gone up by 80%. Data from the Environmental Protection Department shows that up to 110,000 metric tonnes of textile fabric were discarded in Hong Kong in 2015. That is equivalent to 1,400 clothes being thrown away every minute. Garment manufacturing used to be the leading industry of Hong Kong back in the 1970s. In its heydays, the industry supported over 300,000 individuals who provided alteration services. As fast fashion keeps expanding globally, alteration services seem to be getting less relevant

because buying new clothes has become too easy. Ms Fung and Ms. Pau, customers of Ms. Tong’s alteration store, believe that online shopping is the main reason that prevents people from getting their clothes altered. “People prefer online shopping to buying clothes from a store nowadays,” Ms. Pau said. “For example, clothes sold on Taobao are very cheap. People would rather get a new one on Taobao than bring it to an alteration store.” “Everyone tries to get into university for a better job in future,” Ms. Pin from Money Alteration Store said. “My daughter would not continue this business. Nobody would want to run this business.”

Up to 110,000 metric tonnes of textile fabric were discarded in Hong Kong in 2015. That is equivalent to 1,400 clothes being thrown away every minute. Environmental Protection Department


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