High Tide (November 5th 2015) – Daily political round up

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Soldering material considered ‘insignificant’; Govt ‘wait-and-see’ on TPP; HK 2nd in financial secrecy.

Photo: Chris Lusher


Government & LegCo

Soldering material safety considered insignificant on Housing Authority’s checklist, inquiry into lead-in-water saga told
– Deputy Director of Housing Ada Fung Yin-suen, who earlier admitted that the Housing Authority was unaware of of the WHO’s lead-in-water standards before the outbreak of the saga in July, told the independent inquiry that soldering material was not considered “a high-risk item that needed to be inspected separately”
– Fung also explained that water quality inspections did not include lead levels as a parameter before the scandal
– Meanwhile, Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung revealed that the Government paid around HKD40m to deliver clean drinking water to some 30,000 affected households, which included paying Li Ka-shing’s AS Watson for 6.55 million bottles of water

Government in ‘wait-and-see’ mode on TPP accession
– Lawmakers were told yesterday at the LegCo meeting that the Government was in a ‘wait-and-see’ mode to examine details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership
– Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So said the Government would not rule out joining the bloc, but suggested other trade agreements were of high priority, including CEPA, TISA and the FTA with ASEAN
– Lawmakers, meanwhile, endorsed the Clearing and Settlement Systems (Amendment) Bill 2015 which would facilitate tighter surveillance over Octopus card payments and other electronic payments by the Monetary Authority

Education minister turns down request to attend public hearing on TSA, citing “personal reasons”
– Secretary for Education Eddie Ng turned down a request by the LegCo’s Panel on Education to attend a public hearing on the controversial primary school TSA tests on November 29
– Ng stated he will be out of town for “personal reasons” on the date of the meeting and reiterated that the authorities would not abandon the scheme
– Pro-est Independent lawmaker Lam Tai-fai, chairman of the panel, slammed Ng for his incompetency which saw him messing up the national education issue, the lead-in-water scandal (in schools), and then the TSA

Government issues travel alert on Maldives
– The Government issued an Amber Outbound Travel Alert (OTA) on the Maldives in wake of a state of emergency declared by the latter authorities following an ongoing political turmoil
– Just about a week ago, CY Leung posted (ch) on his newly opened Facebook page praising Maldives as THE ideal trip destination

Politics (General)

73% think Hong Kong’s anti-graft agency should look into CY Leung’s HKD50m case
– Democratic Party surveyed 815 people and 73% of them agreed that the ICAC should launch an investigation into CY Leung’s HKD50m secret payment from Australian Corporate UGL
– 88% said the CE should be regulated under the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance’s sections 3 and 8 which do not apply to the CE at the moment
– The LegCo will debate on extending the application of the ordinance today

Hong Kong ranks second in financial secrecy
– Hong Kong ranked second in financial secrecy in the Tax Justice Network’s 2015 Financial Secrecy Index topped by Switzerland alongside the US, Singapore and the Cayman Islands as the top five “worst offenders”
– The report noted that Hong Kong’s “classic see-no-evil approach to financial regulation” and “reluctance to sign up to global transparency standards” made it one of the world’s “fastest growing secrecy jurisdictions or tax havens”

China & World

Diversity in Canadian Cabinet, but no Chinese nor Hongkongers
– Justin Trudeau, the newly elected Canadian Prime Minister, announced his list of cabinet members which showcased the country’s ethnic diversity with more women, but no Chinese nor Hongkongers were named
– Conservative Alice Siu-Ping Chan Wong and Raymond Chan of the Canadian Liberal Party, both Canadian-Hongkongers, were stalwarts under the administration of Stephen Harper, Jean Chrétien and more – not anymore though