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

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Solder joints the source of excessive lead; HyD: No EP variation required for HZMB reclamation project; Chief Justice reaffirms judicial independence.

Photo: Chris Lusher


Politics (Gov’t & LegCo)

Solder joints the cause of excessive lead in water, special task force reveals
– A special task force set up by the Government to investigate the lead-in-water scandal released its preliminary findings, attributing excessive lead level in drinking water to solder joints installed in the inside service
– The task force also found that some valves and taps installed were not those submitted to the Water Authority (WA) before the plumbing works started
– The report however did not mention which party should be held responsible nor the punishment

Highways Department’s response on controversial reclamation project: No variation to environmental permit required
– The Highways Department responded to a recent media report over changes of the seawall structure of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities (HKBCF) project
– The department stated that 2.5km of rubble mound seawalls were set up instead of the approved steel cellular seawalls since “large equipment (e.g. large lifting appliances) used in constructing steel cellular seawalls could not access to some of the seawall locations which were closer to the airport on the HKBCF artificial island until the height restriction is lifted during the closure of south/north runway”
– The department said the Environmental Protection Department had been consulted and stated there is no change to the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report and no variation to the Environmental Permit would be required “in view that both construction methods belong to non-dredged method which involves less impact on the environment”

Government proposes measures to tackle vote rigging
– The Government will seek LegCo’s advice over measures to tackle vote rigging (ch) activities
– Proposed measures include fines for those who failed to provide address proof when registering to become voters and to raise punishments of fraud to a penalty of HKD5,000 and six-month imprisonment

More on Occupy prosecutions in numbers
HT obtained a late response from the police concerning prosecutions related to the Occupy Movement – on Friday ahead of a long weekend
– “Among the 141 arrestees [out of 955] with their court proceedings completed, 100 had to bear legal consequences while 23 were acquitted, the charges against 17 were withdrawn by the prosecution and one passed away while pending trial,” the statement reads

Political (General)

Chief Justice reaffirms judicial independence
– Chairing the Ceremonial Opening of the Court of Final Appeal Building in Central, Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma reiterated the importance of judicial independence and that judges will not favour the government
– Audience included officials from Hong Kong and Beijing, such as CY Leung, mainland’s Chief Justice Zhou Qiang and Liaison office director Zhang Xiaoming
– In response to former Chief Justice Andrew Li’s remarks that “anyone, however high his position, cannot be above the law”, a spokesman for the Department of Justice stated that appointing judges from other common law jurisdictions is “is conducive to the development of the common law in Hong Kong” and that the department will handle domestic affairs in accordance with the Basic Law “as far as possible” for the NPCSC holds plenary power of interpretation of the Basic Law

Hong Kong population starts to decline in 2043, Government estimates show
– The Census and Statistics Department released the latest updates on population projections, in which it predicted the figure will reach a peak of 8.22m in 2043 and then decline to 7.81m by 2064
– A continuous net inflow of persons into the Hong Kong population throughout the entire projection period was expected, amounting 1.84m of people
– The average age for men by 2064 would be 87 and 92.5 for women

People Power to take on Civic Party in South Horizons East
– People Power’s (PP) Erica Yuen is likely to compete with Chan Ka-lok from Civic Party for a seat to represent the South Horizons East constituency (ch) in the Southern District Council after an ill-fated negotiation as PP plans to field eight to 10 candidates in the upcoming polls

– Meanwhile, the 2047 HK Monitor, formed by business professional and political activist Edward Chin, is also planning to run in three constituencies