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4.1 percent unemployment rate continues, wage worker pray to gods to keep their jobs
translated by cici@AsianEU
high unemployment rate increases in Economic downturn, and many wage earners pray to deities to keep their jobs.
top row: years
bottom row: applicant numbers
Financial crisis impact gradually emerges after another layoff in the world. The Government announces the October to December unemployment rate as 4.1 percent, representing a significant increase of 0.3 percentage points since last year, and the ranks of the unemployed increases to 141,300 people. It is expected that the period after Lunar New year will be the peak season of laidoffs, that "Will I lose my job" has become the biggest worries of wage earners. Because losing confidence in future prospect, people of Hong Kong praying to deity to ask for fortune or change names to change fortune has already become a trend. Statistics from The Immigration Department shows that as economy turns poor, the number of name change applications increase significantly. Many fortune tellers say customers asking to change name to change fortune has surged 3 folds in recent months. In addition, even the British have asked about their fortune through tarot card reading. A United Kingdom survey found that after the outbreak of the financial crisis, the number of people asking about their future remarkable surges, the people asking about their future including high paid financial elite.
The Government expects there will be negative growth in the first half of the economy, and the unemployment rate is likely to deteoriate. Yesterday, the Government announced that the latest unemployment rate was 4.1 percent in October to December last year, representing a significant increase in the previous survey of 0.3 percentage points which is similar to mid-year 2007 level. Unemployed rate increased to 141,300 people, and the underemployment rate edged up to 1.9 percent. Government expected the period after the Lunar New Year is the peak period of lay-offs and called on employers not to give layoff. Some economic analysts and academics are expecting the future unemployment rate continues to deteriorate, and the maximum is expected to rise to 6 percent.
This newspaper found that many Hong Kong people will pray in times of hardship. The Immigration Department statistics show that the number of applications for change of name will increase under economic downturn, for example, in 1997, there were more than 480 applications, as it continued to 1998 of consecutive poor economy and the number of applicants soared nearly 90 percent to more than 900 applicants. In 2003, during period of SARS, there were more than 1500 applicants. Until economic upturn in recent years, numbers have dropped, but last year name changes applicants were over a thousand people.
"There are 40 customers asking for name change each month in these 3 month, which is 30 to 40 percent more than before!" Fortune-teller Au Chong-Tak said that many customers seeked name changes because of economic downturn or poor luck in order to change luck. They were even willing to spend 4000 dollars, some people even do not hesitate to ask fortune-teller to go door-to-door to look at feng shui, "One customer has two houses, but he/she has to sell one due to bad economy, so he/she asks me look at feng shui in order to see a house with lesser feng shui."
Another fortune-teller Chow Hon-ming said overall business this year increases over 20 percent than last year. His business isn't affected by the financial crisis, but the clients have changed. Previous ratio of men and women customers are 3:7, but male customers surge over the past three months and now the ratio is 5:5, of which some customers are in banking and finance industry. "Never thought I'd suddenly have more male customers. There is one bank staff who asked me, if the aggrieved parties from Lehman division really sue me, how can I diffuse this problem!" Chow Hon-ming says customers have all kinds of strange questions, and 80 percent question their career prospects. Fortune content changes as economy turns poor, fortune-teller LEE SHING-Chak says customers asking about their marriage propspect dwindles in financial crisis because issues such as bankruptcy, name changes have replaced it. He said, "One customer asked me if there is chances of an accident this year because if there isn't then he/she will stop paying insurance to save money."
On the other hand, according to the British Association of Astrology and Psychics (The British Astrological Psychic Society) statistics, beginning last year in October, number of people seeking fortune tellers for help have increased while high-income, highly educated people of the financial sector has become a new source of customers, of which dominated by men. "Should I leave the financial industry?" "Will I become unemployed?" Has become the most popular issue in to fortune-tellers. The association also found that the past focus on marital problems has turned to career and economic outlook in recent months, and that customers will hand the right to decide their future to psychic calculation.
"People of the financial industry have sufficient analytical skills to keep an eye of the stock market, they ought not to depend on the metaphysics." Hong Kong Baptist University Department of Finance and the decision-making Associate Professor Mak said. Metaphysics can not accurately predict the stock market, so public citizens should face with calmness, and should not be over-confident that the metaphysics would solve the problem. When the stock market boom, people of the financial industry are considered to be God's favored sons. But swiped by the financial crisis, former financial analysts stressed by data and rational analysis have become helpless and even rely on fortune-telling to predict future. Clinical psychologist Yip Miu-Yin points out that rational people's self confidence can reduce even in the face of adversity because they hope to solve the problems through fate.
Seventy-years-old female volunteer died under cement truck
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police used a tent to cover the old lady's body
A retired 70 years old restaurant dim-sum staff who is passionate in being a volunteer not matter what current she is under, works at Aberdeen as a volunteer and had been awarded the Gold Outstanding Volunteer for six consecutive years. Yesterday when passing through the area in front of a cement plant entrance in the afternoon, a cement truck was backing up and she was knocked down by the vehicle rolling over by it. Her skull was burst open, and killed on the spot. District council board members who had worked with her felt extremely sad hearing her death.
Old lady died in this tragic death was Cheung Kam-ying (73 years old), and her husband died two years ago. She lived in Wah Fu Estate in Aberdeen, and she worked as a volunteer after retirement to pass the time, to help other elderly in need or she would involve in local public services, including visits to other elderly people living alone, to participate in flag activities or other activities for public interest. Those District council board members who knew her said she was eager to help others. She was the first one to arrive in each event, and was also among the last batch of volunteers to leave. She earned great respect among peers and they were upset by her death in traffic accident.
Sources at the scene said the old lady who was eager to help others had two sons, but the sons had moved back to Mainland China to settle, so she could only rely on herself. She once had an "uncle" who had keys to her premise, but theft once occurred in her home and she believed theft happened behind closed doors, since then she put all her asset, including valuables, bank books, all types of documents, in a backpack which she carried around on herself. Police later had to identify her in accordance with her voluntary work identification by contacting the relevant organization to ascertain her identity.
Fatal car accident happened at Aberdeen, Tin Wan, Hai Bong Road, in front of the entrance of a cement plant. The incident occurred at 1:59pm yesterday afternoon when a cement truck driver Chow (60 years old) driving the cement truck into the plant, passing a gate of about 5 to 6 meters, when he heard someone telling him to stop the truck because he injured a passersby.
Driver stopped and got off the truck to find a person's head crushed and burst open with the body lying in a pool of blood not far from the rear of the truck. The driver immediately reported to police, unfortunately, the old lady had been confirmed dead on the spot due to her burst skull by ambulance staffs. The police immediately blocked the main entrance of the cement plant, took a tent covering the body of the deceased, and investigated the causes of the accident.
Daughter chops father over a computer
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In order to use computers, a chopping-family-homicide case happens in Tuen Mun where the daughter is arrested and the father is sent to hospital for injuries.
At 10 pm last night, in Ding-long Building lives a 20-years-old girl with her 50 years old father. The two want to use a computer, but as the girl fights about the computer with the father that argument aggravates into a heated quarrel. The girl becoming more agitates and rushes into the kitchen picking out a kitchen knife going into the living room to chop her father in angry. Father alarmed to see a knife, he immediately raises his right hand to block the knife, and blood quickly spills on the spot. Other family members are shocked and panic but call the police. When police rushes to the scene, the girl has already calm down but the police arrests the girl on wounding charge. The girl is taken to the police station and the injured man is taken to hospital.
A family operates "cough syrup supermarket" in Cheung Chau
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Police officers took two suspects to investigate.
A family of 3 colluded with a student operating a family-style "cough syrup supermarket" in Cheung Chau because they saw how hard it was to to buy cough syrup in urban city. Some young people went to Cheung Chau to abuse cough syrup and even took a few bottles back to the urban area as "souvenirs", because the supermarket supplied a large number of goods. Yesterday, police cracked the island's largest case of cough syrup uncovering over a thousand cough syrup bottles and 12 grams of "Little K" (Ketamine), that was an estimated value of more than 80,000 dollars arresting four men and women.
On the early morning yesterday at 1 am, Marine Regional Crime Unit in conjunction with the Tactical Unit mounted an anti-crime operation in regards to serious drug abuse problem in Cheung Chau. Police searched the island's game centers, entertainment centers, Internet cafes and rental vacation homes, also distributed anti-drug pamphlets to residents and tourists. When the police patrolled to a vacation rental house to distribute leaflets to the head of the household, the person opening the door seeing a large number of police officers, appeared sly and tried to dodge police's questions. Therefore, police thought the person was suspicious, so the officers searched the house. In over a hundred square feet flat, police found more than 10 boxes of cough syrup which was a total of 1131 bottles of cough syrup, 12 grams "Little K" and packaging equipment, that worthed 86,100 dollars. Police arrested three men and a woman. Female suspect was Lam (47 years old), one of the suspect, Yeung (32 years old) was her boyfriend, and another two youths who were 19-years-old and 15 years-old who were both students. It is learned that one of them was Lam's son. The four was suspected of drug trafficking and possession of the first category of drugs, thus they were arrested. The case was followed by the Marine Police Regional Crime Headquarters.
Recently, since police raided illicit cough syrup trafficking in urban area, some young people who abuse drug turned to Cheung Chau. They would rent a holiday flat in Cheung Chau hoarding a large number of cough syrup, then sold them by a family owned style "cough medicine supermarket". This was believed to have been active for some time. A bottle of cough syrup cost about 45 dollars, but drug traffickers sold about 70 to 80 dollars earning enormous profit. Now approaching holidays, drug traffickers had stocked a large of goods. Some neighbors pointed out that the suspects rented the site for more than a year. The female head of household worked in a restaurant on the island and greeted neighbors, but the male head of household was low-profiled, and residents knew little of him.
Dr. Chan Chong-Mao, Hong Kong Chairman of the Association for Mental Health, said cough medicine contains ephedrine and codeine, to which ephedrine can be extracted into ice (drug) that is harmful to human body; codeine has a component of morphine and can be addictive, therefore excessive drinking could damage the brain which results in delusions and hallucinations such mental illness. He once had contact with a patient who had severe brain damage due to daily binge on more than 10 bottles of cough syrup, thus suffering from mental illness. According to existing legislation, cough syrup containing codeine and other ingredients that could be abused is cataloged as Part I poison, that can only be sold legally in registered pharmacies only in accordance with the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance, and under the supervision of a registered pharmacist.
5 youths trapped on cliff for 19 hours
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Liu Po-lam (left) and the two old classmates left after the rescue
Five young people challenging a difficult mountain were trapped on cliff for 19 hours. After conquering the second difficult peak in the New Territories, a mountain of Ma On Shan the day before, they strategically located a difficult terrain, The Hunch Backs, a mountain cliff of 70 degrees downhill to climb back to the ground, but ended up getting lost in a dense forest. Though rescue staffs found them, they could not get close to the young people trapped in the forest. The 5 young people prevented themselves from rolling off the slanted slope of the mountain by having their feet up against big trees, and they struggled under a cold weather of about ten degrees Celsius to yesterday morning. Finally, firefighters slided down from ropes on helicopter opening up 200 meters of dense forest to save the 5 young people from danger.
All five rescued youths were 20-years-old, one of the them was Liu Po-lam, and the rest had surname Mok, Lo, Fung, Pang, and the five people were old classmates. Liu was once chair of a hiking club, and met with friends regularly to go on hiking trails.
The day before on 8am yesterday morning, five people embarked from Ma On Shan Sai Xi Sha Road Zhangmutou, successfully climbed the second peak of the New Territories of Ma On Shan that was 702 meters above sea level. Returning in the afternoon, they proposed to challenge another more difficult mountain by climbing down The Hunch Backs, a mountain cliff at 70 degrees. The mountain was fully covered with crushed stone along the steep slopes, at mid-way, for about 400 meters away from the peak of the mountain, there was a dense forest at which they were trapped. Together with the sky getting dark, the 5 people at last called for police at six o'clock in the evening.
Fire Services and the CAS started immediately with a search and rescue operation. Along the way to keep in touch with them in order to facilitate the use of thermal detectors to find and rescue the 5 youths. Rescue personnel taught the 5 youths constantly wavering trees, and rescue staffs also called the Government Flying Service helicopter flying over the scene to assist the search. Until the morning to four o'clock yesterday, through torch light, rescue staffs finally found the trapped youths 200 meters away. Due to difficult terrain at the scene, and the youths surrounded by a vertical cliff, there was no mountain road for rescue staffs to directly reach them, so the staffs were unable to carry out the rescue. At that time, the temperature was only about 10 degrees, in addition to console the youths by telephone, rescue staffs also guided them to find boulders for shelter. But, rescue staffs warned not to start a fire for heating because they feared it would cause a hill fire. In the steep hillsides, with their feet, young people supported themselves against trees to avoid falling off the cliff. Although they were exhausted, they did not dare go to sleep, but fortunately they brought enough food and water so they were not standing on hungry belly. Eight o'clock yesterday morning, rescue personnel re-organized the search and rescue work, carrying GPS and then determined the 5 youths location again, and finally around noon they saw the five youths. Shortly after 1 pm, the helicopter flew to The Hunch Backs suspending rescue personnel and firefighters in mid air with ropes landing on the slope and firefighters slashing 200 meters of dense forest rescuing the five young people away from danger. Then, the helicopter sent the 5 young people to the Sha Tin Fire Station in two batches. Since the 5 youths had no hypothermia and other symptoms, it was not necessary for the youths to be sent to hospital for medical treatment.