TIME Hong Kong

Hong Kong Anti-Littering Campaign Uses DNA From Trash to Shame People

Hong Kong produces more than 6.5 million tons of trash each year

A Hong Kong environmental group has turned to public shaming to end the city’s litter problem. The Hong Kong Cleanup Initiative used DNA collected from discarded cigarette butts, gum and condoms to create renderings of the faces of people who left their trash, the South China Morning Post reported.

The Face of Litter campaign, which launched on Earth Day, has created 27 facial composites of litterers and splashed them across billboards around the city. The samples came from a six-week challenge in which teams collected more than 4,000 tons of litter from streets. Advertising firm Ogilvy & Mather came up with the idea to shame litterers and enlisted a laboratory to analyze samples. The company says that the DNA samples provide enough information to accurately predict ethnicity as well as eye, hair and skin color.

Hong Kong produces more than 6.5 million tons of trash each year, much of which ends up on the streets and coastlines, according to the initiative.

[Morning Post]

TIME Education

Here’s Where You’re Going to Find the Best Schools in the World

Schools in Asia outperform those everywhere else

Asian countries claimed the top five spots in a global math-and-science-education ranking administered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) while the U.S. placed 28th, below much poorer countries such as the Czech Republic and Vietnam.

Singapore ranked best in the world, with Hong Kong placing second and South Korea, Japan and Taiwan rounding out top five, reports the BBC.

At sixth, Finland is the first non-Asian country to appear in the rankings; Ghana came in last place.

“The idea is to give more countries, rich and poor, access to comparing themselves against the world’s education leaders, to discover their relative strengths and weaknesses, and to see what the long-term economic gains from improved quality in schooling could be for them,” said OECD education director Andreas Schleicher.

The new rankings are different the more well-known PISA scores, which traditionally focuses on affluent nations. The latest version, based on tests taken in different regions worldwide, includes 76 countries of varying economic status.

“This is the first time we have a truly global scale of the quality of education,” said Schleicher.

Below is the top 10 as reported by the BBC.

1. Singapore

2. Hong Kong

3. South Korea

4. Japan

4. Taiwan

6. Finland

7. Estonia

8. Switzerland

9. Netherlands

10. Canada


TIME Food & Drink

The World’s First Hello Kitty Chinese Restaurant Has Opened in Hong Kong

Hello Kitty Chinese Restaurant
Hello Kitty Chinese Restaurant

These meals are just made to be Instagrammed

Never mind stationery or fashion accessories. Hello Kitty’s cute face now stares back at you from the bottom of your bowl, in the form of dumplings and other kinds of dim sum in the world’s first Chinese restaurant inspired by the cartoon character.

“Hello Kitty is more popular in Hong Kong than in [her native] Japan,” restaurant owner Man Kwong tells TIME. This may be true — the city, after all, is even home to its own Hello Kitty organic farm. Fans will squeal when looking at the Hello Kitty–shaped dim sum platters: her flour bow is colored with beetroot, her eyes dotted with squid ink, and her soft skin is made with high-quality flour. Man Kwong, who goes by his pen name, wanted to stick to all-natural ingredients because, as the founder of a Chinese-language health magazine, clean eating is important to him. He sees the restaurant as a healthy, family-friendly space.

Opening the diner, wedged into the traditional Yau Ma Tei neighborhood on the Kowloon peninsula, was an onerous process. Man Kwong, a first-time restaurateur, started negotiations with Sanrio, the company that owns Hello Kitty, in late 2013. He finally got Sanrio on board in April 2014.

Man Kwong experimented with hundreds of different iterations of dim sum and Sanrio executives had to approve each dish before the final menu was drawn up. It now consists of 37 items ranging from fresh shrimp buns to stir-fried beef and noodles. Making the items can be laborious: there are 17 different steps in creating the buns alone.

Sanrio launched Hello Kitty in 1974 as a female character living, perhaps implausibly, in England — then the romanticized travel destination of many young Japanese schoolgirls. Forty years later, the Hello Kitty brand has blossomed into a $7 billion-plus franchise, licensed to everything from commercial airliners to Italian wines.

Now, the pink-bowed fur ball is emblazoned on Chinese restaurant mirrors, faux wood screens, teapots and chopstick holders, while pictures of her as the Four Beauties of ancient China adorn the walls.

The official launch will be on June 1. Expect lots of shrieking young girls taking photos of their dinners.

TIME Nepal

One of the World’s Most Prominent Nepali Communities Mobilizes After the Quake

Prakash Singh—AFP/Getty Images A Nepali woman walks past a damaged house in Kathmandu on April 27, 2015

Hong Kong's visible and historic Nepali minority is united in its determination to help loved ones back home

On Sunday, Urmila Ghale, a 27-year-old Nepali woman working in Hong Kong’s construction sector, had only a few minutes to answer a call from her injured brother. He relayed the news that five members of her family had died in Nepal’s Gurkha district, near the epicenter of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake.

Several other members of Ghale’s family in her remote village, Manbu, remain unaccounted for, as the area remains difficult to access. “There are no roads and no hospitals there,” Ghale tells TIME. “I’m just waiting for any information at all.”

Now Ghale, like many other members of the approximately 6 million-strong Nepali diaspora, is scrambling to book a ticket home. Given that nearly half of all Nepali households send members to work overseas, expatriate Nepalis from the Middle East to East Asia have spent the past few days in a state of panic — most only able to get notifications from loved ones through short phone calls.

“It’s a maximum of couple of minutes. You don’t have a long chat. As soon as you find out they are O.K., the call shuts off,” says Teg Malla, a spokesperson for the Nepal Youth Foundation in Hong Kong.

Up to 25,000 Nepalis live in China’s most international city, according to the consulate general of Nepal. The majority are descended from the servicemen of the Brigade of Gurkhas that was stationed in Hong Kong when it was a British colony. That historical connection is unique, as is the community’s visibility. There are more Nepalis in the U.K. — some 42,000 — but they are absorbed into a general population of 64 million. The same goes for the 60,000 Nepalis in the U.S., dwarfed by the population of 318 million, or even the hundreds of thousands of Nepalis in India, lost amid the 1.25 billion members of their host country.

Hong Kong, however, has a population of just 7 million, and by virtue of its prominence in the service, hospitality and construction centers, as well as its residential concentration in the Kowloon peninsula, the Nepali community here is noticeable in a way that occurs in few other locations around the world. The only other comparisons might be the United Arab Emirates, where the population of some 9.3 million includes around 125,000 Nepalis, or Bahrain and Oman where the Nepali communities are large and growing relative to small local populations.

According to Non-Resident Nepali Association Hong Kong president Durga Bahadur Gurung, the local community has already organized through Nepal Airlines to send an emergency shipment of 1,500 blankets, 1,000 torches and 3,000 batteries to Kathmandu.

“It was a quick decision within our community. Yesterday we had a meeting of the main Nepali leaders and the Nepali consulate to send the initial relief items,” Gurung says.

But with downed power lines and torn-up roads to contend with, 29-year-old Tenzing Rai tells TIME that he is unsure if relief will make it to the communities at highest risk. Rai has been a volunteer for the Hong Kong branch of Nepal Share, making trips to Nepal’s remotest regions each winter and bringing thousands of blankets and items of clothing each time for underserved villages.

Hong Kong’s Nepali domestic workers, many of whom are from impoverished rural areas, face similar logistical hurdles contacting loved ones: “Some of the Nepali domestic helpers have not been able to get in touch with the families in the remote areas at the epicenter of the earthquake,” says Mudita Bajracharya, consul from the Nepali consulate general in Hong Kong. “They have been trying to call, but when they cannot get in touch with their family members, they call us. We tried to get the Ministry of Foreign Affairs back in Nepal, but it’s not easy to find out about individuals.”

Aruna Rana, a Nepali shop owner in Hong Kong, is starting her own initiative, collecting parcels of clothes to distribute to quake-affected Nepalis. After talking to her grandmother and sister-in-law, both of whom slept in the open in Kathmandu on Sunday for fear of aftershocks, she realized warm garments were in high demand.

“There is a 100% lack of everything in Nepal,” Rana tells TIME. “It’s heartbreaking. We never had this kind of destruction in Nepal in my life. I feel helpless to do anything.”

TIME Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolutionaries Are Slowly Coming Back to the Streets

A poster of an umbrella with the words "We'll be back" written underneath is pictured on a wall at the main "Occupy" protest site at Admiralty in Hong Kong
Bobby Yip—Reuters A poster of an umbrella with the words "We'll Be Back" written underneath is pictured on a wall at the main Occupy protest site at Admiralty in Hong Kong on Dec. 11, 2014

A small pro-democracy encampment has started to take shape ahead of a crucial vote on electoral reform

It has been 200 days since tens of thousands of Hong Kongers flooded the city’s streets demanding the right to freely elect their own leader, and 126 days since the police unceremoniously cleared the tent-filled villages after almost three months of occupation.

The movement for democracy has largely been relegated to online forums and abstract discussions, but that isn’t the only place it resides. The handful of tents that remained in front of the Central Government Offices even after the Dec. 16 clearance has steadily grown over the past three months. Currently, 146 fabric shelters line the sidewalks of Tim Mei Avenue, where the use of pepper spray and arrest of student protesters on Sept. 27 was the spark that set the movement ablaze. Some have spilled over onto the sidewalks of Harcourt Road, which the protesters knew as Umbrella Square. Some of the most endearing elements of the camp, like an organic garden and a study corner, have been re-created.

And while the fervor of lore has been replaced with a quiet resignation, the protesters that continue to call the foreground of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council Complex home are determined to make their voices — however small — be heard. “The government right now is doing many shameful things, and we want to let all the Hong Kong people know that we are still here, we will not back off,” says Thomas Hung, 57, a businessman living in the camp.

Hong Kong has been governed under the “one country, two systems” principle since it was handed back to China by the U.K. in 1997, meaning that its citizens enjoy rights like a more open economy and greater freedom of speech than their mainland counterparts. But Beijing’s refusal to allow residents full control over electing the city’s top political post of chief executive by 2017 has caused a resentment that continues to simmer long after the clearance of the streets.

Hung says he and his fellow residents want to “keep the pressure” on the government and ensure the controversial reform handed down last August — effectively allowing the Chinese Communist Party to screen candidates for chief executive — is not passed. (Protesters see this caveat as reneging on an earlier promise; Beijing retorts that this freewheeling metropolis of 7 million already enjoys significant autonomy and lacks patriotism.)

The protesters’ target, says Hung, are the 27 pro-democracy members of the city’s parliamentary body, the Legislative Council, who support the street sit-ins and have vowed to oppose the government’s effort to deny its citizens full voting rights.

“Under that sort of restriction, any election method being created will not be acceptable because it will not give the voters a genuine choice,” Emily Lau, a lawmaker from the Democratic Party and a prominent voice in the opposition, tells TIME. “This time Beijing actually said there should be universal suffrage, and if they propose something that is not and we support it, that means we are aiding and abetting. We can’t do that.”

Nevertheless, pro-government legislator Regina Ip, who represents the New People’s Party, says she is “cautiously optimistic” that the resolution — expected to be put forth within a matter of days — will pass, especially after certain moderate legislators from the democratic camp have advocated an acceptance of the reform as the lesser of two evils. “If the motion doesn’t go through I think many people will be disappointed,” Ip says, adding that “a great majority of the public will want a chance to vote albeit under a limited nomination model.”

Lau insists that the dissenting lawmakers within her party are a minority, although she admitted that she cannot speak for other parties in the pan-democratic camp.

The protesters and pro-democracy lawmakers alike are opposed to the reform even though the only alternative being presented by the government is to retain the current political system, in which a largely unrepresentative 1,200-member election committee would choose the city’s chief executive. It also represents the strong possibility of the city’s extremely unpopular chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, could return for a second five-year term.

Leung also expressed his faith in Hong Kong’s desire to implement political reform and said on Tuesday that he was “confident” that the proposal would be passed in the legislature and supported by the people, according to the South China Morning Post.

“The government is almost using it as a threat,” said Michael Davis, a political commentator and law professor at the University of Hong Kong, of the prospect of Leung’s re-election. “It’s a very interesting way to declare your campaign.”

Underlying these tensions is a distinct chauvinism among Hong Kongers regarding mainland China and its people, which manifested itself in the so-called shopping protests in February and March. The protests involved hundreds of locals gathering at shopping malls near Hong Kong–China border areas, heckling and sometimes physically abusing visitors from the mainland whom they perceived as parallel traders — individuals who come in as tourists and buy essential supplies like baby formula and diapers in bulk to resell in China. The protests were condemned last week by Leung for allegedly causing a sudden dip in mainland-visitor numbers over the usually busy Easter break. According to local media, the chief executive said the protests had “seriously tarnished” Hong Kong’s image as a tourist destination, although he admitted that the government needs to formulate policies to limit parallel trading. Concrete steps to achieve that goal were instated on Monday, with the Chinese government announcing that citizens of neighboring Shenzhen would be forbidden from visiting Hong Kong more than once a week.

“When it comes to political development, [the government] made no effort to respond to the protesters. In this area [of shopping protesters], we do see more efforts to respond,” said Davis. “They may be feeling the heat on this more than they did over democratic development.”

The struggle for democracy, on the other hand, remains trickier to address. The protesters at the camp insist they have no plans to reignite the mass sit-ins. “We have no plan to do Occupy again because it didn’t work,” says Anthony Kwok, a 50-year-old branding professional who helps manage the camp’s well-stocked library. He adds that it is more important for citizens to be educated about what’s at stake so they can use their vote more effectively.

“If the government wants to clear this area it can easily do so, right now the maximum strength is about a hundred people,” Hung says.

But the potential for those hundreds to grow to thousands always exists, depending on what the government does next.

“I think there are a lot of incidents that can potentially trigger public dissatisfaction, and that will become an opportunity for the public to regalvanize,” says Eliza Lee, head of the Department of Politics and Public Administration at the University of Hong Kong. “The sentiments [of the Occupy protesters] were very strong, and I can’t imagine that kind of strong sentiment has extinguished altogether,” Lee adds. “Some kind of large-scale confrontation or contention between the society and the government is very likely to happen within this year.”

TIME Hong Kong

Abusive Employer Given Six Years in High-Profile Domestic Worker Case

Lo Wan-Tung Returns Home Amid Accusations Of The Abuse And Torture Of Two Indonesian Maids
Lam Yik Fei—Getty Images Police escort Law Wan-tung to her home for further investigation on Jan. 21, 2014, in Hong Kong

Judge Amanda Woodcock said “the defendant had no compassion"

A Hong Kong mother of two who criminally abused her Indonesian domestic helper, Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, was sentenced to six years in prison on Friday, concluding a landmark case that drew international attention to the plight of Hong Kong’s foreign domestic workers.

Judge Amanda Woodcock said, “The defendant had no compassion for the people she considered beneath her. It is regrettable that such conduct, attitude and physical abuse is not rare.”

Law Wan-tung, 44, was also fined just under $2,000.

Earlier in February, Law was found guilty of 18 counts of abuse. Sentencing was extended because her lawyer filed for a psychological review, but no evidence of psychiatric disorder was found.

Tales of the “near daily abuse” suffered by Erwiana highlighted an international problem, with young women often leaving impoverished countries in Southeast Asia to seek out higher wages but finding themselves in vulnerable legal situations that allow agencies and employers to exercise “slavelike” employment practices.

In Erwiana’s case, she was hit so hard that her teeth fractured, had a vacuum-cleaner tube shoved down her mouth, and was starved, forcing her to escape and knock on a neighbor’s door at 2:30 a.m. to beg for help. She also never received a paycheck from Law.

The 24-year-old Erwiana was listed in the TIME 100 in 2014 for her eventual decision to speak up, despite threats made to her family by Law, and was present in court during sentencing.

Speaking afterward through an interpreter, she said, “I do hope this judgment will send a strong message to the Hong Kong government, and governments around the world, to treat migrant workers like human beings.” She added that she now planned to return to Indonesia to study.

Despite problems with illegal “placement fees” that subjugate helpers to debt bondage, a controversial law requiring workers to live with their employers (making them vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse) and multiple accounts of women working unlawful hours, Hong Kong has better legal protections than other countries where Southeast Asian foreign domestic workers are popular.

Nevertheless, in its State of the World’s Human Rights report released Thursday, Amnesty International said Hong Kong’s domestic workers were “heavily indebted” and castigated the Hong Kong government for failing “to properly monitor employment agencies.”

Judge Woodcock opined that abuses could also be curtailed “if domestic workers were not forced to live in employer’s houses.”

Widespread exploitation of domestic helpers in Asia has prompted Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to suggest that Indonesia should no longer send helpers abroad because “we should have some self-esteem and dignity.” However, the notion has been slammed by activists as unconstitutional.

TIME Hong Kong

Guilty Verdict Handed Down in Landmark Domestic-Worker-Abuse Case

Erwiana Sulistyaningsih
Kin Cheung—AP Indonesian maid Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, center, accompanied by her supporters, walks out from a court in Hong Kong on Feb. 10, 2015

The plight of Erwiana Sulistyaningsih shocked the world

A 44-year-old Hong Kong woman and mother of two was found guilty Tuesday of criminally abusing her Indonesian domestic helper, Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, whom she beat, refused to pay and even starved.

The case, tried in a Hong Kong court, has drawn global attention to plight of women from countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines, who leave home to work as domestics in other countries but are often vulnerable to abuse at the hands of unscrupulous employers.

Judge Amanda Woodcock described Erwiana as a “prisoner” of employer Law Wan-tung, who sent her home after eight months, emaciated, scarred and barely able to walk, and who threatened to have Erwiana’s family killed if she ever reported the abuse.

The 24-year-old Erwiana was listed in the TIME 100 in 2014 for her decision to speak up. The court heard that during her employment Law punched her so hard that her teeth fractured, shoved a vacuum-cleaner tube down her mouth and denied her food until she was forced to knock on a neighbor’s door at 2:30 a.m. to beg for help. Erwiana also never received a paycheck from Law.

“To employers in Hong Kong, I hope they will start treating migrant domestic workers as workers and human beings and stop treating us as slaves,” Erwiana said in a written statement after the verdict. “Because as human beings, we all have equal rights.”

If given the highest possible sentence, Law could receive up to seven years in prison, according to Detective Superintendent David Cameron of the Hong Kong police.

“The message is if you live in a society that can afford domestic helpers, they are still protected by the law and even if there are cultural differences they are still treated equally,” Cameron said.

Sentencing will be on Feb. 27.

With reporting by Yenni Kwok / Hong Kong

TIME Behind the Photos

The 10 Best Daredevil Rooftopping Photos

These adrenaline seekers are not afraid of heights

Armed with cameras, they climb, often illegally, some of the world’s tallest structures. They’re in search of new sensations — or just new vantage points from which to admire the world.

Their names are Vitaliy Raskalov, Vadim Makhorov, Daniel Lau, Tom Ryaboi, Alexander Remnev and Kirill Oreshkin, and they’re not afraid to appear in the stunning and vertigo-inducing images they snap hundreds of feet above ground, as part of a trend known as rooftopping.

“We were curious to get to where you can’t shoot,” says the Russian duo Raskalov and Makhorov, known as On the Roofs. “With our photos, we try to show people the cities they know, but from unusual angles. From the ground, you can’t see such [things].”

The pair always searches for particularly high buildings — or ones that are highly symbolic — from Shanghai to Cairo, New York to Chicago. “They should offer stunning views,” Raskalov and Makhorov tell TIME. “The quality of our images is also [an important factor]. We use the Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 6D. It may seem inconvenient to carry big cameras to such heights, but we’re used to it.”

Despite their newfound fame — many such climbers regularly receive sponsorship deals — Raskalov and Makhorov are still on the hunt for new structures to climb. “It doesn’t affect what we do.”

Myles Little, who edited this photo essay, is an associate photo editor at TIME.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent

TIME Telecommunications

Hong Kong Billionaire Li Ka-shing Eyes British O2 Telecoms Network

Li Ka-shing, Victor Li
Vincent Yu—AP Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, right, and his son Victor Li, react during a press conference in Hong Kong Friday, Jan. 9, 2015.

Acquiring O2 may allow a merger with Li's Three mobile network

Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing is negotiating to spend almost $15 billion to acquire O2, Britain’s second-largest mobile network.

Taking over O2, currently owned by Spain’s Telefonica, would allow Li, 86, to merge the company with Three mobile network, which is currently owned by his firm Hutchison Whampoa. That would create Britain’s largest mobile telecommunications group, reports the BBC.

Hutchison shares increased by 4% after reports of a potential deal emerged, but negotiations with Telefonica are expected to take weeks. The purchase may also be hampered if European industry regulators perceive the move infringes on competition protocols.

In a bid to restructure his business empire, which spans everything from telecommunications to ports, Li, who until he was overtaken by Alibaba boss Jack Ma this year was the richest man in Asia, has spent nearly $30 billion this year acquiring foreign assets to diversify his Hong Kong holdings.


TIME Gadgets

Watch the Latest Must-Have Smart Toys Unveiled at Asia’s Largest Toy Fair

Marvel at the next generation of smart toys

Asia’s biggest toy-and-game fair has just ended in Hong Kong with smart toys predictably stealing the show.

Organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), the four-day Toy and Game Fair boasted around 2,000 exhibitors hailing from over 40 countries, and is the second largest industry event in the world.

One big trend for 2015 saw traditional toys getting a high-tech makeover.

“The global trend nowadays is talking about technology and innovation,” Sophia Chong, assistant executive director for HKTDC, tells TIME. “So all buyers wanting something new are looking for technology that can be implanted or integrated with traditional play things.”

Educational toys that feature interactive learning were a big hit at the show. Learning Alphabet With Alpaca, from APPS1010, teaches kids how to spell by using augmented reality, imposing a computer-generated image on the user’s view of the real world. The app can even link up to social media so parents can become involved in their children’s play.

But the “toy” that dazzled most was the Inspire advanced drone system from DJI. It comes equipped with a professional 4K super high-resolution camera, state-of-the-art landscape positioning system and has dual controls so the pilot can focus on navigating while the camera operator simply shoots the film.

“The concept of 4K is something that’s four times better than HD, so it’s able to be shown on the big screen at the cinema,” says Lou Tze-ming, managing director for Windrider RSB Aviation, suppliers for DJI. “It’s the highest level in the industry.”

The Toy and Game Fair was run concurrently with the 2015 Baby Products Fair, the International Licensing Show and International Stationary Fair, and aims to connect businesses and buyers from all around the globe.

“The overriding element is internationality,” says Chong. “It is very important for [exporters] to get into the market place and to show to the buyers their newest products.”

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