High Tide (December 12th 2015) – Daily political round up

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Govt to introduce congestion charge in Central; Schools told to stop TSA drilling; Alibaba buys SCMP.

Photo: Chris Lusher


 

Gov’t & LegCo

Government set to introduce congestion charge in Central
– The Government is adopting Electronic Road Pricing and motorists will be charged for entering Central between 7am and 8pm
– A three-month consultation will be launched over the mechanism, pricing and zoning of the congestion charge
– Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung said the Government was “quite determined” to put forward the pilot scheme to tackle heavy congestion
– The Government will also increase the illegal parking fines by 50% in 2017

Education Bureau: Primary schools must stop drilling students for TSA exams
– The Education Bureau issued a letter demanding all primary schools to stop arranging extra classes for students, particularly Primary 1 to Primary 3 kids, to prepare for the controversial TSA exams, and those scheduled shall be cancelled
– The letter did not mention any concrete penalty for non-compliance
– Secretary for Eddie Ng did another no-show on at a committee concerning TSA on Thursday, this time saying that he wanted to “leave the discussion to the pros (ch)”

Scrapping high-speed rail link project could cost HKD75bn, lawmakers told
– Lawmakers were told by the Transport and Housing Bureau that scrapping theover-budget Express Rail Link project would cost HKD75.6bn in a paper sent to them
– The paper, meanwhile, also noted the estimated economic return of the rail link was reduced from 6% to 4%
– Lawmakers will debate in February whether to grant an extra HKD19.6bn to the project

CY Leung: No accusation of collusion with businessmen since taking office
– Speaking as a guest at an inter-school debate competition, CY Leung said he was glad that no one had accused the Government of colluding with businessmen (ch) since he took office (Ed note: uhmmmm…New World Development)
– Leung also said the Government could not offer more public housing flats on better terms if it was not allowed to reclaim land and develop country parks
– Only Chow Yung’s HKG Pao was allowed to cover the event since it was a subsidiary to the organiser

Lack of quorum in LegCo fire drill
– About 500 people in the LegCo building were out on the pitch during a fire drill(ch), among which only 10 were lawmakers
– People Power’s Albert Chan said the drill was void as it lacked a quorum of 35
– Pan-dems and pro-est had to settle for a draw this time, each with five lawmakers taking part in the drill

Politics (General)

Alibaba buys SCMP media business, paywall to be removed
– Jack Ma’s Alibaba finally announced its decision to buy the SCMP Group’s media assets after weeks of speculation
– Joseph Tsai, the executive chairman of Alibaba, said the SCMP paywall will be removed in bid to expand its global online readership
– Tsai said the SCMP was “uniquely positioned to report on China with objectivity, depth and insight” while claiming that “the coverage about China should be balanced and fair”

Tsinghua law dean: Time to activate the ‘sleeping’ articles in the Basic Law
– Tsinghua University law dean Wang Zhenmin wrote an editorial on Bauhinia Magazine, stressing that Hong Kong “can never achieve independence” and that it should “activate those ‘sleeping’ articles in the Basic Law (ch)”
– Wang, who was said to lead the Liaison Office’s law department in the near future, argued in the editorial that Hong Kong has four issues to address, namely its relations with the mainland, conflicts between the conservatives and the radicals, complementary implementation of the Basic Law, and the balance between the current free market model and a hope of welfare state among the ordinary people