Wednesday, 21 March 2018

More Women in Higher Places

Carrie Lam at the annual Democratic Party dinner where she donated money
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has revealed some interesting surprises up her sleeve these past few days.

Yesterday she was the first city leader to donate to the Democratic Party -- Hong Kong's biggest pro-democracy party. At their annual dinner, Cheng donated HK$30,000 of her own money to sponsor former Democratic lawmaker Fred Li Wah-ming as he sang a Cantonese song. Overall the performance raised HK$320,000.

Baroness Lady Hale will be joining the Final Court of Appeal
And then today Cheng announced that for the first time, two female will join Hong Kong's top court to become the first female non-permanent judges in the city's judiciary.

Baroness Brenda Hale of the UK and Beverley McLachlan from Canada were already pioneers in their respective countries to become the first female judges in their top courts.

As a result, the Court of Final Appeal will now have 14 foreign judges. While the appointments are pending approval from the Legislative Council, it is believed local lawyers and lawmakers across the political spectrum are pleased with the news.

Alberta native McLachlan, who is 74, was the first female chief justice of any top court in the British Commonwealth. She retired last December. Lady Hale, 73, is currently president of the UK's Supreme Court. Both are known to have liberal views.

...As will Beverley McLachlan of Canada
Finally Hong Kong's top court is getting with the times and it's fantastic news to have such qualified female judges. Now do they know what they are getting into, that the judiciary is being politicized, mostly by the government, and by extension Beijing?

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

HK Housing Prices Continue to Soar

Can you live in a 209 sq ft home that costs US$1 million?
Just when you think property prices can't get any worse, they do.

A flat slightly bigger than a shipping container has been sold for HK$7.86 million (US$1 million), which is HK$37,651 per square foot. A shipping container is 165 sq ft.

The 209-square foot flat is located on Pokfulam Road in Sai Ying Pun, which is part of an 11-unit development built by Kowloon Development. So far the company has sold 60 percent of the flats at Emerald House that range from 209 sq ft to 310 sq ft and cost as much as HK$11.29 million.

The microflats are being built in Sai Ying Pun
And just as you are shaking your head in disbelief, the latest survey shows that 27 percent of Hong Kong people don't ever expect to own a flat. The survey by REA Group, a digital advertising firm that specializes in property, says of 1,003 respondents carried out by Nielsen, 16 percent have no plan to buy property at all because the prices are beyond their reach.

Home prices rose for the 22nd consecutive month in January. If the average Hong Kong person makes about HK$17,200 per month, it will take them 30 years of monthly income to afford a HK$6 million flat. That means not buying anything, let alone eating anything.

REA Group says this inability to afford housing leads to social issues like couples delaying marriage. And as young people can only afford tiny flats that minimizes the amount of stuff they can have in them, and living in tight quarters can also cause more friction between people. Also having to live in a small place long term is hardly good for one's mental health.

How much stuff can you squeeze into a microflat?
But that's the reality in Hong Kong -- the government isn't doing enough to step in to build social housing, or help young people get their foot in the door to help them towards owning a flat.

Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po isn't doing much to help this segment of people, only homeowners with a small break of not having to pay government rates for a whole year. Whoohoo.

If he helped more young people move a giant step forward closer to owning a flat, perhaps there would be more optimism in the city -- that there is hope, that they can feel proud of being in the city and feel more welcome as residents.

However it seems the government doesn't have that kind of long-term thinking. It only wants to build an even bigger war chest... for what?

Monday, 19 March 2018

Picture of the Day: Handmade Dumplings

Twenty dumplings filled with minced pork, chives, mushrooms and ginger
I made more dumplings again yesterday and resolved to use some good quality ingredients. I headed to City Super, a high-end supermarket that specializes mostly in Japanese ingredients.

Originally I was only going to get the wrappers because they are refrigerated -- the other supermarkets I have visited put the wrappers in the freezer for some reason. Once they defrost, they are surely soggy? And I've tried the wrappers in the wet market, but they are on the thick side.

I saw that minced pork was 20 percent off and bought half a kilogram that had gone through a very fine grinder. Because it was all one solid pink colour, I couldn't tell if there was any fat in it. So I went to Wellcome to buy more pork with a bit more fat in it as dumplings need that for flavour. It was also half the price...

At the wet market I bought chives, mushrooms and ginger.

It turns out over 750 grams of pork, mixed with chives and finely chopped mushrooms and grated garlic are enough to make 60 dumplings. I followed my mother's instructions and after making four of them I boiled two to check the taste. The pork was on the very lean side (ie not much taste), and unfortunately I ran out of sesame oil so I added more olive oil and Shaoxing wine for flavour.

This time I endeavored to try another method of wrapping them and watched a few YouTube videos to get the gist of how to wrap them in different ways. In the end I settled on making pleats on one side much like gyoza. The wrappers I bought were quite thin so my wrapping wasn't very even, but improved as I went along.

I can't wait to make another batch of dumplings again -- this time with a bit more fattier pork -- because I still have another 60 wrappers in the refrigerator!

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Still Wearing Skirts? It's 2018

Cathay Pacific uniforms have evolved over the years, but not the skirts
It's hard to believe but in 2018, female flight attendants on Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon are asking management to be able to wear trousers as an option for their uniform.

"The stereotype of the flight attendant is very old-style already: looking pretty, full make-up and wearing a skirt. It is a good time to have a revamp of our image," says Vera Wu Yee-mei, chairwoman of the Cathay Pacific Flight Attendants Union, representing 7,200 members.

Wearing skirts in a cold climate is hardly practical
The flight attendants have good reason to ask to wear trousers -- some destinations they fly to can be very cold in the winter -- snow even -- so wearing skirts is hardly practical. And how is wearing skirts a good idea in crisis situations? Hardly seems so.

Oh and also their blouses are on the short side so whenever they reach up, sometimes skin is revealed... it has been an ongoing complaint for years. Doesn't management listen to their concerns? Or was saving money on an extra inch of fabric per blouse an issue more important than someone's dignity?

The job of a flight attendant is hardly glamorous -- serving drinks and meals to passengers strapped in seats for hours on end. There's also the task of cleaning washrooms, and dealing with rude behaviour on the flight.

Hong Kong Airlines also has a skirt-only rule
But Cathay Pacific is hardly the only airline in Hong Kong to have the skirt-only rule -- Hong Kong Airlines and Hong Kong Express also have uniforms where women must wear skirts.

This just proves that men are ruling the boardroom and have no idea or empathy for what their female staff go through on a daily basis. When is this ignorance going to end?

North American and European airlines have allowed female flight attendants the option to wear trousers for years. Surely it's time for Hong Kong to catch up?