High Tide (December 23rd 2015) – Daily political round up

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Gov’t launches universal pension scheme consultation; InnoTech chief criticises Uber.

Photo: Chris Lusher


Government & LegCo

Government launches retirement scheme consultation amid criticisms
– Chief Secretary and chairperson of the Commission on Poverty Carrie Lam kick-started a long-awaited six-month universal pension scheme consultation
– The government outlined two options, namely the “regardless of rich or poor” principle and the “those with financial needs” principle, of which every elderly person over 65 years old would receive a monthly pension of HKD3230 under the former principle
– Lam said the former principle would cost the government HKD2,400bn over 50 years
– Nelson Chow Wing-sun of the University of Hong Kong, who had advised the government on retirement issues for some 30 years, blasted the administration for treating him unfairly and trying to fear taxpayers off by linking his proposal to rising taxes

InnoTech chief makes U-turn remarks on Uber
– Secretary for Innovation and Technology Nicholas Yang said Uber challenges the core value of the rule of law, saying that the taxi-hailing app company should have waited until related law amendments were implemented instead of challenging it
– Just four months ago, Yang praised Uber for its creativity and innovation

Expected return rate of third runway raised as Airport Authority takes passenger levy into calculation
– A financial report commissioned by the Airport Authority (AA) on the third runway suggested that no huge additional financial burden would be incurred on the AA even in a number of extreme scenarios
– It was estimated that the AA would have to borrow HKD3bn more than the planned HKD69bn in an adverse event like Sars
– AA chief executive Fred Lam however did not ruled out extending the period of charging passengers levies to cover the construction costs, which was included into the calculation when the AA announced that the return rate of the project increased from 3% in 2010 estimates to 8%

Information Coordinator challenges accuracy of HKUPOP’s record low public sentiment index
– Information Coordinator for the Office of the Chief Executive Andrew Fung Wai-kwong challenged the accuracy of the latest public sentiment index by the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Programme, questioning whether the research was scientific and can reflect reality
– The latest index, released on last Thursday, was at the lowest level over the past 20 years
– Fung said it was no way that today’s situation could be worse than that of July 2003

CY Leung to meet top Chinese officials
– CY Leung reportedly met Director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office Wang Guangya yesterday during his duty visit in Beijing and is expected to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang today
– A report by the Hong Kong Economic Journal wrote the government may announce the appointment of Arthur Li as University of Hong Kong’s Council Chairman (ch) by December 31, suggesting connections between the appointment and the visit

Politics (General)

Christian leaders addresses controversial family and political issues in Christmas message
– Catholic Cardinal John Tong Hon reiterated the importance of family values in his Christmas message, about a month after he called on fellow Catholics to consider candidates’ views on gay rights when voting in the district council elections
– Meanwhile, Anglican Archbishop Paul Kwong raised the issue of political uneasiness in his Christmas message, saying that the Occupy Movement divided the city and violence has become more frequent