High Tide (August 23rd 2015) – Daily political round up

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SHA: Harbourfront partnership “a matter of course”; Greg So blames “radical protests” for drop in tourist figures; Six private hospitals to offer blood tests. Photo Credit: Chris Lusher


Politics (Gov’t & LegCo)

Rimsky Yuen: No decision to prosecute arrested Uber staff and drivers yet.
– Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen said there was no decision yet whether to prosecute the recently arrested Uber staff and drivers
– Yuen reiterated that there “should be legal space for Uber to continue to operate in the city” through obtaining private hire-car permits

New home affairs secretary ridiculed for defending uncontested partnership in harbourfront project.
– The new Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah defended the New World Development’s uncontested partnership with the Government over a project to revamp and expand the Avenue of Stars, saying that allowing the developer to continue managing the tourist attraction is “a matter of course”
– Albert Lai Kwong-tak from the Professional Commons blasted Lau’s remarks, quoting the quasi-governmental Efficiency Unit’s 2008 guidelines, which encouraged public-private initiatives but “a competitive bidding procedure would still be required to demonstrate value for money and … probity”

Gregory So blames drop in tourist number on external market condition and radical protests 
– Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So noted the drop in number of tourists in July and the first half of August, which saw the figures dropped by 8.4% and 2.8% respectively on a yearly basis
– So attributed the decline to the “general economic climate outside of Mainland” and “radical activities in Hong Kong”
– So said he could not provide a more in-depth analysis for the second point, but stressed that mainlanders are concerned about the events
– Liberal Party’s James Tien proposed (ch) to expand the ‘one-trip-per-week’ permit to cover all first-tier city in China but put a cap on it

Private hospitals offer blood tests over ‘Lead Watergate’ scandal.
– Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man confirmed that six private hospitalswill offer places for blood tests in light of the lead-in-water scandal
– Union Hospital in Tai Wai and Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital in Happy Valley will be the first two private hospitals to provide the service with a total 100 places
– Baptist Hospital (Kowloon Tong), Tsuen Wan Adventist Hospital, St Teresa’s (Kowloon City) and St Paul’s (Causeway Bay) would join the list, providing another 100 places
– Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers expresseddisappointment (ch) that no decisive action was taken by the government over excessive lead found in a primary school
– It was hoped that the average waiting time will be shortened to two weeks

Political (General)

Youngspiration reported suspected bribery to ICAC.
– The new political group Youngspiration stated it had reported (ch) the case of suspected bribery in which it was offered HKD150,000 to target the pan-dems during the upcoming district council elections
– LegCo President Jasper Tsang stressed (ch) any attempt bribing or threatening others to standing for or withdraw from an election would already constitute a criminal offence

FactWire shoots for HKD2m more for startup capital.
– FactWire, a news agency claimed to be Hong Kong’s first investigative journalist project, will continue its crowdfunding (ch) initiative to shoot for HKD2m more by the end of September after successfully collecting HKD3m for startup capital
– FactWire boss and veteran journalist Ng Hiu-tung, meanwhile, said Hong Kong media is becoming more notorious for self-censorship