High Tide (December 1st 2015) – Daily political round up

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Govt to bail MTR out for high-speed rail link; EOC criticised for ‘male discrimination’; Parents plan class boycott over TSA.

Photo: Chris Lusher


Gov’t & LegCo

Government to receive HKD19.51bn as special dividend from MTR to bail it out for high-speed rail link
– The MTR Corp agreed to accept a cap at the level of HKD84.42bn for its delayed and overbudget high-speed rail link project, HKD19.42bn more than the 2010 estimate of HKD65bn
– The Government will seek the approval of the LegCo’s Finance Committee for an extra funding of HKD19.6025bn for the project
– The MTR Corp, meanwhile, proposed to pay a special dividend with the Government receiving HKD19.51bn as the Corp’s majority shareholder
– Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung stressed the agreement “did not mean that the Government is satisfied with the Corporation’s performance as project manager” and that the Government “reserves all the rights to pursue the warranties and obligations from the Corporation in respect of project implementation, works delay and cost overrun”

Hongkong Post vows to review working hours of staff amid criticism on overtime work
– The Hongkong Post admitted that the situation of overtime work of its staff was not ideal and vowed to review the working hours following criticism by the Audit Commission
– It was revealed that the Post paid HKD1.8m to staff for 1.36m hours of overtime work last year
– Civic Party’s Alan Leong said at a LegCo hearing that the Post was named six times by the Director of Audit since 2001 and asked whether mismanagement or the operation fund financing model was the main cause of the blunder
– Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So said the current financing model was preferred and that overtime work was “necessary” to avoid redundancy

EOC’s video on sexual harassment trashed as ‘male discrimination’
– The Equal Opportunities Commission came under fire lately concerning a video the commission released on Youtube named “Fight Sexual Harassment: Speak Out” on promoting awareness of the Sexual Discrimination Ordinance
– The 31-second video saw a waitress, a flight attendant, a nurse, a beer salesgirl and a man in a suit looking troubled after being harassed
– Many viewers cried ‘male discrimination’ in the comments, failing to recognise the guy as the one being harassed owing to the unclear plot

Politics (General)

Parents rally for class boycott as TSA controversy continues
– At least 60 parents in three primary schools in Tai Po are planning to stage a three-day class boycott on next Tuesday to show their opposition to the TSA teststhat were said to be putting enormous pressure on Hong Kong’s school kids
– The three primary schools involved are HKKKWA Sun Fong Chung Primary School, Tai Po Methodist School and Sacred Heart of Mary Catholic Primary School
– The plan came after undersecretary for education Kevin Yeung said the authorities could make ‘significant changes’ to the unpopular tests

Democratic Party: Beijing behind sustained hacking on party website and email accounts a ‘reasonable assumption’
– Democratic Party sustained at least 20 hacking into its Gmail accounts during the recent district council elections, many were suspected to be originated from China and sponsored by the Chinese government, according to an article in Reuters
– “We’re the most co-ordinated opposition group on Chinese soil, (and) have a reasonable assumption that Beijing is behind the hacking,” said chief executive of DPHK Lam Cheuk-ting
– Other groups and individuals mentioned in the article included student activist group Scholarism, Occupy Central co-founder Benny Tai, and pro-democracy media firm Apple Daily
– The Hong Kong police did not respond to questions on how much information it shares with mainland Chinese authorities, the origin of the Hong Kong cyber attacks, or whether these might be a source of instability or concern

Journalists Association granted participation in HKU gag order lawsuit
– The High Court accepted the Hong Kong Journalists Association’s request to take part in the University of Hong Kong’s gag order lawsuit (ch)
– The HKJA earlier applied to take part as interveners
– The Court meanwhile turned down Apple Daily and chief editor of HKU publication ‘Undergrad’ Marcus Lau’s bid to join the case