Skip to content

Something urgent? Call us now! (852) 3416 1711

Seeking a society fit for purpose

TWENTYFOURcov PHOTO1

Seeking a society fit for purpose

Hong Kong, 2 September 2020: Health has been uppermost in my mind in recent weeks. Not just mine, you understand, but that of the community as a whole as Covid-19 brings enforced restrictions that affect our physical and mental wellbeing. As readers of my travel blog will know, being grounded for almost six months has allowed me to go on a health kick, engage a personal trainer and lose some weight. A rigorous evening walk is now part of my routine. I’m certainly feeling the benefits of all this.

The government has recently made some welcome social distancing concessions with regard to the health of Hong Kong people. The requirement to wear a mask while exercising outdoors has been lifted and certain sports such as golf and tennis have recommenced. It is reported that gyms will reopen from this coming Friday although, regrettably, it seems anyone working out in them will be required to wear a mask. More still needs to be done, however. Serious consideration should be given to the reopening of public football pitches, community sports centres, playgrounds and other venues where people enjoy exercise and socialise with friends. Simply, Hong Kong needs to be active.

This appeal comes as the so-called third wave of coronavirus continues to dwindle. Our city confirmed 12 new cases yesterday, taking the official tally to 4,822, with related fatalities up to 92. We are told to expect just eight new infections today, the lowest since five new cases were reported on 3 July.

We are on the second day of our government’s Covid-19 mass testing programme, which is being carried out with large-scale assistance from the Mainland at 141 centres across the territory. The scheme is intended to last for a week, but may be extended by another if needed. The testing is free of charge and voluntary, with the Hospital Authority confirming that anyone who returns a positive result will be sent to government quarantine facilities. Some 126,000 residents took the test yesterday. So far, around 716,000 people – just less than 10% of the population – have signed up for it.

The programme has become highly politicised, with opposition figures and a health workers union calling for a boycott, much to the frustration of our Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who insists it is people’s civic duty to be tested and they should do so “for themselves and their loved ones”. But should anyone be surprised the programme has engendered such a lukewarm response? With our society deeply polarised by last year’s civil unrest and the ensuing national security law, asking the public to be united behind a common cause is optimistic, to say the least.

Since I last wrote, it has been confirmed our schools will begin returning to classes on 23 September. The importance of this cannot be overemphasised. Online learning is failing our young people – it is simply no substitute for the classroom environment – and is even harder for disadvantaged students. The Society for Community Organisation has released the results of a survey showing some 40% of children from low-income families don’t have a computer at home. Others don’t live in an environment conducive to online learning and then there are issues regarding pupils’ mental health and deterioration of eyesight. The sooner we get all our children back to school, and keep them there, the better.

Staying on this topic, I’m concerned for tertiary students. Having studied law as a young man and now acting as an honorary lecturer at the University of Hong Kong and external examiner, I know the subject requires face-to-face interaction with tutors, debate with fellow students and collective effort in study groups and team projects. Online learning is hampering high-performing scholars and causing struggling students to fall further behind.

But I should end on a bright note. Among the social distancing measures to be eased on Friday, it appears dining in at restaurants is to be extended one hour to 10:00pm. Perhaps, in these troubled times, we should be grateful for small mercies.

Stay safe and well, everybody!

Colin Cohen
Senior Partner
Boase Cohen & Collins

35+ years of legal experience is just a click away.

Friendly and approachable, we are ready to answer your questions and offer you sound advice.

Contact us now

BC&C-contact-us

News & Knowledge

Learn more about what we do and what we say. Subscribe to our newsletter to ensure you receive our updates.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Let the quarantine games begin

Basel, 28 July 2021: As a criminal defence lawyer, my primary knowledge of “fencing” concerns the illegal practice of knowingly acquiring stolen goods and selling them for profit. Now, I’m more familiar with terms such as en-guarde, counter-parry and corps-a-corps after watching Edgar Cheung’s fencing triumph at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday. In winning the […]

Read more

Law & More: Episode 3 – Michael Hartmann

Hong Kong, 26 July 2021: We are pleased to publish the third episode of Law & More, our podcast series that explores issues in the legal world and beyond. This time, our Senior Partner Colin Cohen meets former Court of Final Appeal judge Michael Hartmann. In their wide-ranging discussion, Michael recalls his days as a […]

Read more

Anti-doxxing proposals, fair or too far?

By Arthur Chan  Hong Kong, 23 July 2021:  Hong Kong’s authorities are taking concrete steps to clamp down on doxxing. The government is proposing tough new laws that will result in penalties not only for offenders, but also the tech platforms which display such data. As well, it wants the city’s privacy watchdog to be […]

Read more

Comings and goings on Freedom Day

Basel, 21 July 2021: This week, Chief Executive Carrie Lam has shrugged off the recent exodus of residents from Hong Kong, insisting this is the “best time” to live in our city. In the past few months, a significant number of people have left for good, with many relocating to the UK under its new […]

Read more

Poised to take the quarantine penalty

London, 14 July 2021: Flight bans, quarantine measures and social distancing regulations are unfathomable to six-year-olds. They see the world in endearingly simple terms, a fact neatly illustrated by a recent video conversation with grandson Nathan. “Gung gung [grandfather], when are you coming home?” he wants to know. I say probably a few more weeks […]

Read more