High Tide (November 26th 2015) – Daily political round up

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Gov’t confirms HZMB delay; ‘Children’s Bill’ consultation launched; New HKU Council tape leaked.

Photo: Chris Lusher


Gov’t & LegCo

Completion of cross-border bridge Hong Kong section to be delayed until end of 2017
– The Highways Department confirmed for the first time that the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) Hong Kong section construction will not meet its 2016 deadline and its completion will be delayed until late 2017
– The department attributed the delay of the HKD133bn mega-project to “construction difficulties and challenges such as the unstable supply of materials, shortage of labour, restriction in airport height, constraints in environmental protection requirement and slower than expected consolidation performance of reclamation works, etc.”
– Meanwhile, it was reported that the HKD30.4bn Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities (HKBCF) projects are unlikely to be completed before 2021, a five-year difference compared with an earlier statement by the Highways Department that it may not completed by the end of 2016

Government launches consultation on offering Hong Kong children legal representation
– The government launched a four-month consultation on proposed legislation to replace child custody to give children better legal representation during parents’ divorce proceedings
– Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung noted, “Unlike the existing law on child custody and access which defines the parent-child relationship in terms of the rights and authority that parents have over their children, the parental responsibility model emphasises the continuing responsibilities of both parents toward their children (rather than their individual parental rights), and both parents would retain their responsibilities to participate in major decisions about their children after divorce.”

KC Chan: Electricity subsidy scheme can’t last for an “unreasonably long period”
– Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury KC Chan told the LegCo the HKD22.3bn electricity subsidy scheme which has lasted for eight years cannot be extended for an “unreasonably long period”
– Government officials also rejected lawmakers’ calls to grant the unused subsidies in cash to the likes of single seniors
– The scheme was launched in 2008 with the last round set to end on June 30, 2016

PWSC approves revitalisation plan to build youth centre
– The LegCo Public Works Subcommittee approved a revitalisation project to turn the former Fanling Magistrates’ Court into the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG) Institute for Leadership Development
– During the discussion, Cyd Ho of Labour Party asked if the Audit Commission would have the authority to review the plan, in fear of the centre becoming anther hotel for Individual Visit Scheme tourists like the Youth Square in Chai Wan

Board directors blast ‘unethical’ Urban Renewal Authority
– Four lawmakers who are also non-executive directors of the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) joined forces to pressure the URA management to hold a board meeting within seven days to review a recent decision to allow single people to buy its subsidised flats
– The lawmakers, namely Ann Chiang of DAB, Wu Chi-wai of DPHK, Alice Mak of FTU and Dennis Kwok of Civic Party, slammed the URA for not consulting directors properly before making the decision

Politics (General)

Fourth HKU Council tape leaked, featuring ‘diving’ professor Lo Chung-mau
– A new recording of a closed-door meeting of the University of Hong Kong Council was leaked on a Taiwanese online forum
– The recording heard Council member professor Lo Chung-mau, who claimed injury after students stormed a Council meeting on another occasion, said, “I’m not saying I need his [Johannes Chan] sympathy. But as staff, I really feel if you are PVC [pro-vice-chancellor for] staffing and if a staff member had an injury during an event like this, should you just keep on saying it’s the council’s fault?”
– University president Peter Mathieson was heard backing Johannes Chan, saying that expressing “sympathy otherwise on anybody who is injured” was not part of the job description and that Lo was taking things “very personally”
– Lo also challenged Chan’s academic qualifications for publishing too few papers and not possessing a PhD degree – ironically, the latter was not a requirement as the university recently reopened the pro-vice-chancellor post for recruitment

Youngspiration proposes preliminary election with Civic Party, admits interest in running in LegCo by-election
– Localist group Youngspiration invited Civic Party to a primary for the LegCoNew Territories East constituency by-election in February next year
– Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, an apprentice of the resigned Ronny Tong, was said to be pan-dem’s pick to run in the by-election
– Civic Party leader Alan Leong said his party will contact Younspiration to listen to their political ideals while discussing the suggestion with other pan-dem parties beforehand