High Tide (July 18th 2015) – Daily political round up

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Third lead task force in five days; ITB establishment before summer break unlikely; Blue cabs unhappy. Photo Credit: Chris Lusher


Politics (Gov’t & LegCo)

CY Leung appoints third commission on lead contamination in water.
– CY Leung set up a commission to conduct an independent investigation concerning lead contamination in water in public housing estates
– Leung’s independent commission was the third of the kind over the past five days, with the first and the second being led by the Water Supplies Department and the Housing Department respectively
– Leung stressed that the commission, which will focus on investigation, evaluation and recommendation on the issue, was more extensive in the areas covered and has statutory power to call witnesses
– It was reported that a member of the inter-departmental [the first] task force backed LegCo members to use their special power to probe into the affair during its first meeting
– China State Construction, the main contractor of Kai Ching Estate, issued an apology to the residents yesterday
– Meanwhile, Democratic Party revealed (ch) that lead contents were also found in a private residential building – The Austin in TST with China State Construction again as the main contractor – and three other public housing estates with one sample exceeded the maximum  tolerable level by 26 times

ITB establishment set to be postponed – again.
– Lawmakers will begin debates on the funding proposal for the establishment of the Innovation and Technology Bureau as it endorsed all remaining four livelihood-related items, including pay-rises for civil servants, at yesterday’s Finance Committee meeting
– It is however unlikely that the HKD60m proposals will be settled today as there are only four hours of meeting left while radical lawmakers may filibuster
– In that case, the funding request will only be endorsed – or rejected – when the LegCo reconvene in October after the summer break

Government reluctant to introduce taxi fuel surcharge.
– The Panel on Transport was set to conclude licence renewals for Citybus and New World First Bus while panel members expressed concerns over cases of delayed trips of Citybus
– Lee Cheuk-yan from the Labour Party and Wong Kwok-hing from FTU criticised (ch) the Government for opposing to the introduction of taxi fuel surcharge, claiming that previous fare increases only favoured licence owners rather than drivers
– Meanwhile, Civic Party’s Chan Ka-lok urged (ch) the Government to clarify the definition of “businesses that might embarrass the Government” when considering applications for the HKD300m Youth Development Fund
– Lawmakers also questioned officials over the ICAC and Hong Kong Police Force’s connection with an Italian hacker firm at the Panel on Information Technology and Broadcasting meeting

Hong Kong, Macao hold High Level Meeting.
– Financial Secretary John Tsang and Secretary for Economy and Finance of Macao Lionel Leong co-chaired the Eighth Hong Kong Macao Co-operation High Level Meeting yesterday to discuss the co-operation directions for the coming year
– It was noted that the two sides should contribute to the “One Belt, One Road” initiative while negotiation on Hong Kong and Macao Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (HK-Macao CEPA) would be launched later this year
Political (General)

Blue cab drivers protest against issuing new taxi licences in Lantau Island.
– About 25 “blue cabs” under the Lantau Taxi Association went on strike (ch) yesterday against the Government’s plan to issue 25 more licences in Hong Kong’s largest island
– The association proposed issuing 10 licences first and warned of further actions if the Government insists on the move
– There are currently 50 licensed taxis operating in the area