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MTR to give fare discounts to compensate for service disruptions

Posted on 06 February 2023 No comments

 

Government investigators inspect train that lost two doors. (Photo: news.gov.hk)

The MTR will give you a discount on the fare you usually pay.

How much the discount will be has not been announced, but it can be expected soon because MTR is required to give fare cuts totalling $65.5 million, as compensation for last year’s eight serious service disruptions, which caused train delays that lasted more than 30 minutes.

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The discounts kick in automatically as part of MTR’s fare adjustment mechanism, which is tied to its performance in providing service.

In a report it submitted to the Legislative  Council’s subcommittee on railways, MTR said that of the 1.35 million train trips it made last year, 99.9% were on time.

However, it had 152 service disruptions, mostly minor, down 24% from the previous year’s 194.

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The number of serious disruptions that caused delays of more than 30 minutes also fell by half from 16 in 2021 to eight last year.

But the increase in the back pay, which more than tripled from $19 million in 2021 to $65.5 million last year, indicates that the service disruptions in 2022 were more serious, since the amount MTR has to pay depends on how long a disruption lasts.

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Two of these disruptions were noted by the Legco subcommittee – the  Tsuen Wan Line Train incident last Nov. 13 and the Tseung Kwan O Line incident on Dec. 5 December.

“Members expressed grave concern on the spate of serious MTR train incidents that have occurred in less than a month,” it said in a report.

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The November incident involved a Central-bound Tsuen Wan Line train.

It was entering the Yau Ma Tei Station when two pairs of doors were dislodged after colliding with a barrier that detached from the platform because its screws had corroded -- resulting in the front carriage jumping off the rail.

The line was back in service after 15 hours. Based on the fare adjustment formula, this incident cost the MTR $17.5 million.

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In the December incident, coupling components between the sixth and the seventh carriages failed, triggering the emergency brake and causing a blackout in the train.

Some 1,500 passengers had to leave the train and to walk through the tunnel to the Tseung Kwan O Station platform.

Service was disrupted by four hours, costing the MTR $5 million.

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Mystery surrounds death of Filipina, 2 weeks after starting work in HK

Posted on 04 February 2023 No comments

By Daisy CL Mandap

 

Glyza was two months shy of turning 29 when she passed on

Just five days after moving in with her employer on Jan. 18, 28-year-old Glyza Marie Singco started shouting in her sleep. Her employer, Mrs Tong, tried to wake her up but Glyza failed to respond so they called an ambulance.

On the way to Princess Margaret Hospital she started to twitch, still unconscious. She passed away 11 days later, never regaining consciousness, and her doctors baffled as to the cause.

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According to her employer, the Covid test done on her was negative but an X-ray of her lungs was “not clear and (was) all white in color.”

Glyza arrived in Hong Kong on Jan 15 but spent the first three days with her agency. She moved into her employer’s house in Kwai Chung three days later. On Jan 20 she told her relatives her young ward had tested positive for Covid after they went together to the child’s tutorial school.

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They now wonder whether she had unknowingly caught the virus at the same time or afterwards, but did not immediately show symptoms.

Glyza enjoying her first-and last-holiday, one day before being rushed to hospital 

On Jan. 22, a Sunday and the eve of the Lunar New Year, her kindly employer allowed her to take the day off. Glyza happily went to visit several places with a friend, and posted several pictures of them on Facebook, obviously enjoying the cold weather outdoors.

Her family and friends were thus shocked to hear of her falling so seriously ill the very next day.

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Glyza, who is single and has a degree in education, was said to have been in good health when she left her hometown in Cotabato. A cousin, Melissa, said the deceased did not have any significant medical condition, and did not definitely have epilepsy, which could have explained her twitching.

But when their family was contacted via a video call at the hospital, Melissa said the doctors told them Glyza’s body could no longer handle the spasms that had been wracking her body. They were shown a photo of her attached to various monitors in her hospital bed, no longer responsive.

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Melissa said all that their family wants now is to get the result of the autopsy on Glyza’s remains as soon as possible, so that they will know what had caused her to pass on at such a young age, and with no known ailment.

Informed of this request, Consul Paul Saret of the assistance to nationals section of the Consulate said he’d look into Glyza’s records tomorrow, and contact her next of kin as to what could be done to ease their concerns.  

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According to Hong Kong practice, the result of an autopsy could take time, even long after the remains of a deceased had been repatriated. But a medical certificate that could indicate the initial findings as to the cause of death could help allay the bereaved family's apprehensions.

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration has already been informed about the death, and has informed Glyza’s relatives that they can follow up the benefits due to her mother as her next-of-kin.

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Under Hong Kong laws, the employer, through her insurer, is obliged to pay for repatriating Glyza’s remains. Her mother stands to receive the Php100,000 death benefit and Php20,000 burial benefit from OWWA.

On top of this, she should get the US$10,000 payout from the mandatory insurance that Glyza had to take before leaving the Philippines for her first deployment as an overseas Filipino worker.

But for now, all that the grieving family could do is wait for Glyza's final journey home while they wonder what could have caused her to pass on, just as she was starting a new chapter in her life.

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Guhit Kulay holds back-to-back shows at Para Site

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  Fanatic Heart curator Cusson Cheng poses with GK members Marilyn Lopez, Christina Anire,     Cristina Cayat and Jonalyn Molina (Photo by Jonalyn Milante)


Guhit Kulay, a group made up of Filipino domestic workers, will hold the first screening of an animated film produced by its members at Para Site Hong Kong on Feb. 19. The project is in collaboration with Justyna Kabala, a curator and educator based in the United Kingdom.

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Guhit Kulay president Marilyn Lopez, along with members Maria Christina Anire, Jonalyn Molina, Marichel Tomines, and Cristina Cayat worked with Kabala through zoom for over a year to come up with the short film that focuses on the plight of domestic workers during the pandemic.

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The film touches on the workers’ mental and emotional health and how they were able to conquer their fear of uncertainty, including the possibility of losing their jobs, due to Covid.

The film runs for only 10 minutes but the event which starts at 3pm, will last for at least an hour as it will include 35 minutes of sharing with guests and moderators, and another 10 minutes of a question and answer session with the audience.

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Alongside the screening, the Fanatic Heart exhibition which is currently ongoing at Para Site art centre in Quarry Bay will continue to run until Feb. 26. Among the artists exhibiting at the invitation of curator Cusson Cheng are GK members Lopez, Anire, Molina and Cayat.

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The four are among 15 artists from Asia Pacific and the only Filipinos invited to take part in the exhibition which is Cheng’s curatorial debut.

Cheng worked with the artists involved through zoom initially, and got to see them face to face only midway through the preparation.

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The participating Filipino artists were asked to pick a topic from their personal background. Thus, Lopez created a sculpture that relates to the Black Nazarene, Anire painted a detailed art depicting a Babaylan or Filipino shaman, Molina painted a mestiza woman she called Marian Rivera, while Cayat referenced her Benguet heritage by using fabric to express her thoughts on the lost art of tattooing.

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Their works aim to interpret their understanding of the fandom culture in the Philippines.

To get to the Para Site art centre, take the MTR and get off at the Quarry Bay station, then take exit C to King’s Road. The address is 22nd floor, Wing Wah Industrial Building, 677 King’s Road, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong. 

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Non-vaccinated tourists may enter HK from Monday, no more tests to cross border

Posted on 03 February 2023 No comments

 

Starting on Monday, anyone can enter HK from abroad regardless of their vaccination status

Starting Monday, Feb. 6, anyone entering Hong Kong from overseas, including tourists, will no longer be required to show proof of vaccination. 

Currently, only Hong Kong residents are allowed to come in regardless of their vaccination status. Tourists are asked to show proof that they have taken at least two doses of a vaccine. 

However, according to a government statement issued today, the testing requirement for inbound travelers from overseas or Taiwan, will be maintained for now.

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This means, presenting a negative result for a PCR test taken within 48 hours before boarding a flight to Hong Kong, or a rapid antigen test taken 24 hours before boarding.

In reality, however, even this testing requirement is no longer being followed by most airlines, as most inbound travelers to Hong Kong since late December can attest.

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Earlier, Chief Executive John Lee also announced the much-anticipated lifting of all pre-departure testing requirements for those traveling between Hong Kong, Macau and the mainland.

But those who had been overseas places in the past seven days will still need to present a negative result for a PCR test done within 48 hours before departure from Hong Kong or Macau to the mainland.

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Travelers will also need to declare their health status when crossing the border. If they have fever they will be made to undergo testing by mainland customs – and if they test positive they can isolate at home or other places, or seek medical treatment.

Hong Kong and mainland officials also announced the scrapping of quotas for those crossing the border - and that all border crossing points, including Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau, will reopen.

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But as before, Hong Kong officials insisted that the pre-departure rapid antigen tests for travelers aged 3 and above who come from overseas and Taiwan will be kept, despite widespread reports that this is no longer being observed by airlines, or at Hong Kong airport.

They also said vaccination will continue to be a top priority, with residents being asked to undergo regular jabs in the future.

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With nearly all the pandemic restrictions about to be lifted, the only measure that remains is mandatory mask-wearing. Officials have said this will likely remain in place until after the winter, to prevent a possible rebound in Covid cases.

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14 people arrested in latest anti-illegal work raids

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Immigration officers lead some of the suspects to their vehicle following an arrest

Immigration officers rounded up nine workers and five employers in their latest anti-illegal worker operations held for four days ending Feb. 2.

Those arrested were found in some of the 60 establishments that the officers raided all over Hong Kong in operations codenamed "Lightshadow", "Rally" and "Twilight" from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2, the Immigration Department said.

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These target locations included a construction site, premises under renovation, a residential building, restaurants and retail stores.

Of the nine arrested for illegal work, four were men and five were women, aged 24 to 53.

Among them, three men and one woman were holders of recognizance forms, which prohibit them from taking any employment. These forms are issued to those claiming non-refoulement so that they will not be sent back to their countries of origin by force.

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One of the men was suspected of using a forged Hong Kong identity card and one woman was suspected of using a Hong Kong identity card in another person’s name. If convicted, they face a maximum fine of $100,000 and up to 10 years' imprisonment.

Of those arrested for employing illegal workers, two were men and three women, aged 36 to 61. If convicted, they face a fine of up to $500,000 and 10 years' imprisonment if convicted.

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Immigration said illegal workers as those not allowed to take up employment in Hong Kong because of their Immigration status.

"Any person who contravenes a condition of stay in force in respect of him or her shall be guilty of an offence,” Immigration said. “Also, visitors are not allowed to take employment in Hong Kong, whether paid or unpaid, without the permission of the Director of Immigration.”

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It added: “Offenders are liable to prosecution and upon conviction face a maximum fine of $50,000 and up to two years' imprisonment. Aiders and abettors are also liable to prosecution and penalties."

The rule also applies to illegal immigrants, or whose who are the subjects of removal or deportation orders, overstayers or those refused permission to land.

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These “offenders are liable upon conviction to a maximum fine of $50,000 and up to three years' imprisonment,” it added.

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Case vs Filipina driver in Central car crash moved to District Court

Posted on No comments

 

Magsino on her way to her first court appearance after her arrest (The Standard photo)

The case against a 44-year-old Filipina domestic helper whose parked car had killed a French woman and caused serious injuries to four other people more than a year ago in Central, was transferred to the District Court today, Feb. 3.

Eastern Court Magistrate Jason Wan ordered the transfer to the higher court after prosecutors added a second charge against Reshielle Lagurin Magsino, who was, however, allowed to remain on bail until her next court appearance on Feb.23

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Magsino is charged with causing death by dangerous driving, after the car she had parked on Peel Street in Central at about 8pm on Dec 10, 2021, rolled down backwards at a fast clip, hitting a group of people standing at the junction with Staunton Street before getting wedged on steel rails.

Among those hit was 27-year-old French woman Elodie Ma, who was rushed to Queen Mary Hospital in critical condition, and died less than 24 hours later.

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Initial police report said she was trapped under the vehicle with car plate FL9192, and had to be freed by a group of bystanders.

Dash cam in another vehicle recorded the exact moment the car hit a group of people on Staunton St

The police also said seven other people were injured, including another French woman who was also listed in critical condition initially.

But in court today, prosecutors added a second charge of “causing grievous bodily harm by dangerous driving” against Magsino and listed only four casualties: Truong Lise Pui Yee, Riachi Julien, Moroz Dean Ian and Hui Yat-yuen.

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The amended charges were translated and read out in Tagalog to Magsino, who looked distraught but answered calmly when asked if she understood what she was being accused of.

As the charges were not read out in their original English version, two court spectators, who turned out to be friends of the deceased Ma, scrambled to ask the interpreter outside court what had just transpired.

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Magistrate Wan told Magsino that because of the seriousness of the charges against her, the case would be transferred to a higher court, either for plea or for trial.

He told the defendant to attend the next court hearing at the District Court on Feb 23 at 9:30am so she can plead to the charges.

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If she planned to give an alibi, she needed to inform the prosecution at least 10 days before the next hearing. 

Meantime, if she needed a lawyer she could apply for one with the Legal Aid Department.

Magsino’s $10,000 bail was extended on the same conditions as before: that she would submit her travel document to court, not leave Hong Kong, remain at the Deepwater Bay address she had given, and report to the Aberdeen Police Station every Sunday, 6pm to 9pm.

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