High Tide (August 31st 2015) – Daily political round up

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Government allowance for civil servants to hit HKD1bn; More than 1,000 join WWII commemoration events; HKU alumni group warns of proxy voting ahead of meeting. Photo Credit: Chris Lusher


Politics (Gov’t & LegCo)

Ko Wing-man: Government to review laws on online food sales.
– Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man said that the Government will conduct a full review on food safety laws to better regulate online food sales
– The remarks came after a report (ch) that five online shopping platforms, including Ricky Wong’s HKTVMall, were selling sashimi from Japan without a proper licence
– Ko also raised concerns over Taiwanese sandwiches Horng Ryen Jen, which were imported through online platforms and recently put 96 Hongkongers in hospital with suspected food poisoning

Government allowance to civil servants set to hit HKD1 billion.
– A government allowance paid to senior civil servants, the Non-Accountable Cash Allowance (NCA), is gaining attention as the annual cost is set to exceed HKD1 billion
– It was reported that there were only 85 top civil servants eligible to receive the allowance in 2005 but now the figure is 4,000
– Calls were made to examine the sustainability and transparency of the allowance, which has grown by more than a third every year since 2006
– Under current rules, government employees earning more than HKD60,000 a month automatically qualify for the monthly allowance which averages out at about HKD17,500

Political (General)

A weekend of commemorations on WWII anniversary.
– About 200 people paid tribute to soldiers and civilians died in WWII at Charter Garden while another commemoration with similar size of participants was held at Sai Wan War Cemetery
– Across the harbour, about 800 members from 14 uniformed groups and veterans’ organisations led a parade to mark Japan’s withdrawal from Hong Kong in 1945
– Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok and Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah also joined the parade
– Meanwhile, it was reported that at least 10 Hong Kong war veterans who fought under the Communist Party’s East River Column would attend the grand military parade in Beijing on Sept 3 – KMT and British-Chinese war veterans in Hong Kong reportedly received no invitation

HKU alumni group warns of forced proxy voting in upcoming special meeting.
– The HKU Alumni Concern Group alleged that some graduates were forced to pass their proxy votes to pro-establishment bosses and chamber of commerce ahead of the Convocation meeting
– The group is set to move a motion at the meeting to require the HKU Council to appoint sole candidate Johannes Chan as pro-vice-chancellor in 30 days
– Former student union chairwoman Gloria Chang will move another motion, calling for the post of council chairman to be filled by candidates deemed acceptable by staff and students
– Meanwhile, a separate group formed mainly by pro-establishment alumni tabled a resolution to back a joint statement by 10 HKU faculty deans which stressed academic autonomy while condemning the storming of an earlier council meeting

LegCo president gives thumbs up to Hong Kong’s No. 2 & 3 as CE candidates.
– LegCo president Jasper Tsang backed retired NPC deputy Ng Hong-mun who earlier named Chief Secretary Carrie Lam and Financial Secretary John Tsang as able candidates to stand for the next CE election
– But when a third name – current ExCo member and former Secretary for Security Regina Ip popped up, Tsang said he would not comment on a particular person in front of the media

NGO cries out against costly kindergarten education.
– A questionnaire conducted by an NGO, Society for Community Organisation, found that almost half of 65 grass-roots families surveyed skipped meals in order to send their children to local kindergartens
– It was found that about 30% of the 719 kindergartens under the Pre-primary Education Voucher Scheme were charging fees exceeding the amount covered by the vouchers at an annual average of HKD3,500