High Tide (October 21st 2015) – Daily political round up

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Lead-in-water inquiry comm holds preliminary hearing; CUHK Council yet to decide on chairman candidacy.

Photo: Chris Lusher


Government & LegCo

At least three expert witnesses to be instructed in lead-in-water probe
– The Commission of Inquiry into Excess Lead Found in Drinking Water had issued letters to 15 parties, including government bodies, contractors and licensed plumbers, at the preliminary hearing to provide witness statements and information
– The Commission had also been in the process of instructing at least three expert witnesses, namely Professor Joseph Lee of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Professor David Bellinger of Harvard Medical School, and UK biologist and toxicologist Professor John Fawell, to assist in the work of the Commission

Highways Department admits deficiency in ‘checking the checker’ over high-speed rail link blunders
– Speaking at the LegCo’s select committee to investigate the delay of the construction of the high-speed rail link, Principal Government Engineer/ Railway Development of the Highways Department Henry Chan Chi-yan admitted that the authorities could have done better in “checking the checker (ch)”
– Chan also said the monitoring team lacks manpower, with just about 10 staff, and that the Government relied heavily on the information submitted by the MTR Corp since there is currently no mechanism to intervene into the operations

Government to release status report on measures to combat climate change
– Undersecretary for the environment Christine Loh Kung-wai said the Government will unveil a new “status report” outlining the authorities’ measures to combat climate change
– Meanwhile, the Business Environment Council, the EU Office to Hong Kong and Macao, and Consulates-General of France, Germany and the UK co-hosted an event on COP21 which will be held in Paris in December 2015

Use of ‘mini-segway’ could be illegal, Government warns
Ming Pao reported that the Transport Department stated it will not issue licence to electric scooters (ch) , commonly known as ‘mini-segways’ or ‘hoverboards’, to be used on roads
– The Transport Department also reportedly stated that the use of such device on pedestrians could be illegal under the the Summary Offences Ordinance but otherwise if used indoor or on other non-road places
– IT lawmaker Charles Mok suggested that the Government could look into setting up scooter tracks in future urban planning

Civic Aviation Department reaches agreement with mainland counterpart on new air routes for traffic
– The Civic Aviation Department (CAD) reached an agreement with the Air Traffic Management Bureau of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) in which new air routes would be established for flights operating between Hong Kong, Macau and the eastern part of the Mainland with effect from Jan 7, 2016
– At present, flights departing from the Hong Kong or Macau airports are going into and out of the Mainland Flight Information Regions (FIRs) on one single air route and the introduction, which will split  the flights departing from the airports, will help ease the traffic load of the existing air routes

Politics (General)

CUHK Council yet to decide on chairman candidacy as students hold protest
– The Chinese University of Hong Kong Council decided to halt the decision on chairman candidacy as members met yesterday afternoon amid protest outside the venue
– CUHK’s President Professor Joseph Sung Jao-yiu said the nomination committee set up in June had yet to select any candidate
– President of CUHK students’ union Wong Ching-fung was invited to the meeting in the closing session to make his statement to the members
– Vincent Cheng, former and first first Chinese Executive Director of HSBC Holdings, will retire from the post of Council chairman on Oct 23, 2015

More than 32,000 join petition against TSA exams
– More than 32,000 Facebook users had signed up for an online petition (ch) urging the authorities to abolish the Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) for Primary Three students
– The TSA had been widely disputed as it often resulted in extra TSA practice and after-school classes and was criticised for turning Hong Kong kids into exam machines
– The Education Bureau issued a response on Sunday, saying that schools will make adjustments in the wake of over-preparation of the tests