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

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Establishment of ITB announced; HKPost review set to be completed; Govt to double working holiday quota with Korea

Photo: Chris Lusher


 

Politics (Gov’t & LegCo)

Government announces ITB establishment, new minister stresses coordination
– The controversial Innovation and Technology Bureau was finally established yesterday to “create more quality and diversified employment opportunities”, promote “Smart City initiatives” and a “connected Wi-Fi city among nine main objectives
– The Communications and Technology Branch (CTB) of the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau was retitled as the Communications and Creative Industries Branch (CCIB)
– The newly appointed Secretary for Innovation and Technology Nicholas Yang said the ITB will “support Hong Kong in leveraging the immense potential of the National 13th Five-Year Plan, making Hong Kong a ‘super-connector’ in the arena of innovation and technology”
– Yang said there was no concrete timetable for the bureau’s policies yet, and stressed the importance of coordination works underway
– Yang, meanwhile, reiterated that he did not have the right of abode in his home country, Taiwan

Hongkong Post vows to review charging system following criticism from Audit Commission
– Hongkong Post stated a study into how to collect unpaid or underpaid postagewould be completed early next year, following criticism by the Audit Commission that 86% of such mails managed to get pass the procedure in a test
– Hongkong Post lost HKD167m over the three fiscal years to last year

Senior officials visit renovated mansion subsidised by Operation Building Bright scheme
– Chief Secretary Carrie Lam visited Kwun Tong Mansion, a building renovated with subsidies granted under the Operation Building Bright scheme
– Lam was accompanied by Secretary for Development Paul Chan and Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah
– Lam said the scheme was introduced in 2009 to tackle high unemployment rate and ageing buildings, and was “extremely effective” in delivering some 48,700 jobs and rehabilitation for some 3,000 old buildings (ed. note: Read why ex-Harbour Times journalist Calvin Wong thinks this is a bold call here)
– CY Leung, meanwhile, received the visiting US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

Treasury chief expresses concern over slow progress on passing funding proposals
– Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury KC Chan expressed concerns over slow progress in the LegCo’s Finance Committee (ch) from holding 30 meetings discussing some 66 items in last year to 74 meetings and 52 items this year
– Chan said there were only three meetings left in this calendar year and the government was planning to table more than 10 items, including funding for the establishment of an Independent Insurance Authority, and extra funding for Elderly Health Care Voucher scheme and the Hong Kong-Zuhai-Macao Bridge project

Government to double Working Holiday Scheme annual quota with Korea
– The government agreed with its Korean counterpart to double the annual quota from 500 to 1000 on a reciprocal basis of the Hong Kong/Korea Working Holiday Scheme (WHS) with effect from the starting of next year “in view of the increasing popularity”
– The deal was made after a meeting between Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung and Korean Consul General Kim Kwang-Dong
– CY Leung, meanwhile, stated a new Economic and Trade Office would be set upin South Korea as soon as possible during his meeting with President Park Geun-hye at the fringe of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Manila

Politics (General)

Court rejects application by democracy activists to have their trials dropped
– Magistrate Chu Chung-keung in Eastern Court rejected an attempt by four pro-democracy activists to have their trial over police obstruction axed citing a 13-month lapse between the charges and their arrests
– A pre-trial review for the activists will take place on December 21
– Albert Chan of People Power, Scholarism convenor Joshua Wong, Federation of Students secretary general Nathan Law, and League of Social Democrats vice-chairman Raphael Wong Ho-min were charged with obstructing a police officer when protesting against a Beijing’s white paper on Hong Kong outside the liaison office on June 11 last year

HK Police’s handling of Occupy protest raised at UN’s anti-torture committee hearing
– At a hearing session of the UN Committee against Torture in Geneva, vice-chairman George Tugushi questioned representatives of the government over police’s use of force during the Occupy Movement, asking for the number of investigations and prosecutions against police officers and protesters as well as the number of those remained in detention
– Tugushi also asked if the government would introduce legislation to improve current police guidelines to enhance transparency
– Principal Assistant Secretary of Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau DC Cheung responded by stating that the seven police officers were charged with inflicting bodily injuries and that all protesters arrested during the Movement had been released under various conditions