23 Dec 2010

Category    One Country, Two Systems Principle
Issue CE’s duty visit to Beijing
News Content Chief Executive Donald Tsang met President Hu Jintao yesterday at Zhangnanhai on the penultimate day of his duty visit to Beijing. Hu said the central government positively appraises the enormous work done by Tsang and the SAR government in the past year. But Hu also called on the SAR government to actively respond to people’s wishes, making efforts to safeguard and improve people’s livelihood, so as to enhance social stability and harmony, pushing Hong Kong into new stages in various areas of development. During the meeting, Tsang suggested four points to be included in the national blueprint for 2011 to 2015, which will be endorsed at the next annual session of the National People’s Congress in March. The four pointes are: positing HK as the nation’s top international financial centre; as a launchpad for Chinese business seeking entry to global markets; a hub for offshore renminbi business; and greater economic integration with the mainland, particularly with GD province – extending economic cooperation measures currently being implemented in GD to mainland municipalities. Hu said: Hong Kong was welcome to raise discussion if there was any area in which there were insufficiencies on the implementation of Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement.
Questions Is the political reform settled? It is not. Hu’s relief is not grounded. Or Hu is shaping the public opinion, making people feel that political reform is no longer an issue. Tsang’s work on narrowing rich-poor gap is not satisfying.

22 Dec 2010

Category    Economics Policy
Issue Legislation of Competition Law
News Content During the meeting with Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan last week, the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce told the government the government’s draft competition law lacks detail and calls on the government to provide more details on what constitutes price-fixing and abuse of market power. Chamber chairman Anthony Wu Ting-yuk said ambiguities abounded when defining what a contravention was. He said: ‘an unclear bill means companies are forced to seek legal advice. These legal and compliance costs can be a heavy burden for small and medium-sized businesses.’ Wu also said there should be representatives from the business sector in the competition commission.
Questions Although it is widely expected the bill will be passed by the Legco before July 2012, business sector has been putting up pressure on government, fueling worries that it the lawmakers may not be able to pass the bill before July 2012. If it is the case, the legislative process will have to be restarted from scratch in the new four-year term, which means the long-awaited competition law will then be further delayed.

21 Dec 2010

Category    Freedom of expression
Issue Central Government’s Liaison Office: public or private place
News Content Six activists were acquitted of unlawful assembly inside the compound of the central government’s liaison during a protest for the release of Liu Xiaobo on Christmas Day last year. Magistrate Anthony Yuen Wai-ming said if the compound were private property, the defendants would not have a right to enter without permission; but if it were a public place, they were entitled to exercise the right of assembly. The Magistrate said the prosecution did not provide evidence that Mr. Liang Xiong, head of the liaison’s office’s administration and finance department, was authorized by the liaison office. The question of whether the office was a public or private place was still open.
Questions It is absurd to say the compound is a private place as the office is a state office. The office should respect Hong Kong people’s freedom of expression.

20 Dec 2010

Category    Party Politics
Issue 30 radical Democrats quit
News Content 30 radical members of the Democratic Party including seven district councilors in the New Territories East quit the party yesterday to protest its support to government’s electoral reforms in 2012. The departing Democrats said it would three-no’s policy towards the democrats – not comment on the Democrats’ internal affairs, not persuade its members to quit, and not compete against the Democrats in next year’s district council elections. Democrats’ chairman Albert Ho said the departure would affect their district work, but the impact won’t be big.
Questions Mr. Ivan Choy Chi-keung of CUHK said the departure would make it difficult for the party to win three seats in NTE again in 2012.

17 Dec 2010

Category    Elderly Policy
Issue Reverse Mortgage Scheme
News Content The Hong Kong Mortgage Corp announced yesterday that it is to launch a reverse mortgage pilot next year. Under the scheme, the elderly is allowed to use their non-mortgaged homes as collateral to receive monthly payments till their death. It said eligible borrowers can choose to receive monthly annuity payment over a fixed period of 10, 15, or 20 years or over their lifespan. For example, an eligible 60-year-old property owner could receive HK$1,800 a month based on a home valued at HK$1 million. HKMC refused to reveal the premium that borrowers would have to pay, saying it would refer to other markets to establish the level.
Questions It is hard to say Hong Kong’s older generation will be benefited from the proposed scheme given the tiny monthly payment they may get. Without giving the details of the scheme, such as the premium and the interest rate, it is yet to see if the scheme will serve the elderly best.