High Tide (December 2nd 2015) – Daily political round up

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LegCo to debate motions on anti-bid-rigging and ivory trade; Disputes on Express Rail, HZMB, and Third Runway.

Photo: Chris Lusher


Gov’t & LegCo

DC-loser duo move motions on combating bid-rigging and ivory trade
– Lawmakers will debate a motion moved by Christopher Chung of DAB on combating illegal acts of bid-rigging in repair works of private residential buildings
– Chung’s colleague Elizabeth Quat will also move a motion on strengthening the combat against the crime of wildlife smuggling, with measures including an increase in penalties and the inclusion of offences committed for commercial purposes under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance in the ambit of the Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance

Government disputes setting cap on MTR Corp’s compensation over high-speed rail link
– Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung said the Government did not accept MTR Corp chairman (designate) Frederick Ma’s proposal that the Corp’s compensation for mismanaging the high-speed rail link project should be capped at HKD6.69bn
– Cheung said any legal action would only commence when the Express Rail is commissioned in 2018
– Chairman of the LegCo Panel on Transport James Tien worried that the ‘double compensation’ in the forms of arbitration and special dividend could affect the Corp’s cash flow and accordingly its fare discounts

Lawmakers discuss HKD5.46bn extra funding for delayed cross-border bridge, not convinced by transport officials’ ‘no-more’ claim
– The Public Works Subcommittee discussed a HKD5.46bn extra funding for theHong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, challenging transport officials’ claim that no further increase would be needed
– Architectural and planning lawmaker Tony Tse said many people have lost confidence over the government’s assessment in wake of repeated overruns and delays of recent projects, while Lee Cheuk-yan of Labour Party proposed to pay “a moment of silence for Hong Kong taxpayers’ money”
– Director of Highways Peter Lau Ka-keung said if the funding was disapproved, the some of the facilities, such as car parks, on the artificial island built near the bridge will be cut
– Meanwhile, in another LegCo meeting, Airport Authority’s CEO Fred Lam told lawmakers that the latest estimated internal rate of return of the Third Runway Protect (ch) “differs distinctly” from the initial estimate of 3% in 2011, but refused to give the exact figure

Sneaky appointment of scholar in Hong Kong politics to Central Policy Unit criticised
– The Government’s think tank Central Policy Unit was criticised for appointing a former academic Dr Louie Kin-sheun as special project director without making any official announcement
– No details were given over the ‘special project’ Louie is handling as he assumed the role on Monday
– Democrat James To said the Government should announce the appointment if they feel it is legitimate and appropriate

CY Leung sidesteps question on Arthur Li, says no-confidence vote over former HKU council chairman ‘absolutely unfair’
– When asked about his view on a recent University of Hong Kong alumni vote which saw an overwhelming opposition to the possible appointment of Arthur Li as Council chairman alongside issues, CY Leung sidestepped the question and instead focused on another motion on no-confidence over former chairman Edward Leong
– Leung said the support of the no-confidence vote was “absolutely unfair” and that Leong had “given his all for HKU”
– Leung also raised the leakage incidents concerning a HKU Council meeting, asking if such an act was reasonable

New surveillance commissioner refuses to brief LegCo and public on annual report done by predecessor
– The new Commissioner on Interception of Communications and Surveillance (ch) A.R. Suffiad refused to brief lawmakers and the public as the LegCo’s Panel on Security discussed the organisation’s 2014 annual report
– Suffiad explained it was inappropriate for him to speak on behalf of Darryl Gordon Saw, the then commissioner when the report was written

Politics (General)

Greenpeace: Five drinking water reservoirs contain harmful substances
– A Greenpeace research found that five of Hong Kong’s biggest reservoirscontain harmful chemical compounds that could weaken immune systems
– The research also found that three of the five reservoirs holding water from the Donjiang river had higher levels of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) than the other two