Residents of a housing estate in Hong Kong’s Mei Foo district have been offered HK$200 (US$25.80) in travel expenses to take part in a march against the Occupy Central movement, Ming Pao Daily reported Thursday.
A woman, surnamed Kwan, said the offer was made to residents of her building by its management committee.
Robert Chow, convenor of the Alliance for Peace and Democracy which is organizing the Aug. 17 protest, said participants will receive water and t-shirts but not money and the march is strictly voluntary.
He said the alliance will investigate any complaints.
However, Chow said transport services are acceptable for people who live in remote areas.
Meanwhile, Ming Pao said it has received complaints that Nanyang Commercial Bank employees are being asked to sign petitions against Occupy Central.
Other reports said bank staff who live near Victoria Park have been told to bring friends to the march.
Nanyang said it respects its employees’ right of expression and supports actions that benefit the community.
Many mainland-funded organizations have been putting pressure on their staff to take part in the march, Apple Daily reported.
These companies have been collecting petition forms although employees are not forced to sign them, the report said.
Still, some employees have complained they are facing pressure from their bosses.
Pro-democracy activist Benny Tai said he and his co-founders of the Occupy Central movement had received an anonymous letter with a blade inside, warning them that their lives would be in danger if they carried on with the civil disobedience campaign, Apple Daily reported on Thursday.
Tai, along with Chan Kin-man and Chu Yiu-min, did not report the incident to the police so as not to worry their families, Chan said. They received the letter several months ago.
Several other volunteers of the campaign had received similar threatening notes, he said.
Meanwhile, Chan described their recent meeting with Chief Secretary Carrie Lam as meaningless, saying the official chose to ignore the opinions expressed by some 700,000 people who called for public nomination of the candidates to the 2017 chief executive election in a mock referendum organized by their group.
The chief secretary told them that the same number of people are also signing a petition against their group’s civil disobedience campaign, Chan said.
The three activists said they remain open to a meeting with central government officials, but no arrangements are being made at the moment, the report said.
Flat rents on the East Rail Line are soaring but it’s not due to speculation or end-users snapping up property.
Hint: some of Hong Kong’s top universities, such as Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Institute of Education, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University and Hong Kong Polytechnic University, are nearby.
More hint: mainland students have been flocking across the border.
The combination of convenience and proximity to these schools has made flats on the East Rail Line highly desirable to Chinese students.
And with an increasing number taking up residence in rental flats there, accommodation is in short supply. Landlords can dictate their price.
Realty agency Centaline says rents have gone up 40 percent in the past three years in the most coveted residential districts such as Shatin, Tai Po, Fo Tan, Tai Wai and Hung Hom.
A 27 square-meter shoe-box flat at Grandeur Garden, a private housing estate built in the 1980s by Sun Hung Kai Properties (00016.HK) near the Tai Wai rail station, was leased for HK$9,000 (US$1,161) a month to a mainland student last year. The rent has risen to HK$13,000 this year.
Now the tiny flat houses four students. Each has three square meters of private space, excluding the bathroom and kitchen.
An increasing number of mainland graduates opt to stay in Hong Kong to work, but with a monthly salary of HK$10,000 (US$1,290) to HK$13,000, they cannot afford the rent on a flat.
The situation has given rise to some imaginative living arrangements in which three people share a two-bedroom flat, one of whom sleeps in the living room.
They find this sort of accommodation better than anything a subdivided flat or bed space has to offer.
Others choose to live in village houses where rent could be as low as HK$3,000 a month, if they can live with transport hassles.
These include a steep walk up a muddy mountain road to access public transport.
– Contact the writer at email@example.com
Thanks to its close proximity to the East Rail Line and a number of major universities, Sha Tin has been a magnet for mainland students seeking rented accommodation.. Photo: WiNG
Eighteen people arrested after a July 1 sit-in protest in Hong Kong’s Central district have been released from police custody unconditionally after they refused to renew bail, RTHK reported Thursday.
They included Labour Party lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan, two Democratic Party councilors and six students. They challenged the government to prosecute them or release them unconditionally after refusing to extend bail.
Alex Chow, secretary general of the Federation of Students, said police lacked sufficient evidence to file formal charges.
And Johnson Yeung, convenor of Civil Human Rights Front, said the decision not to renew bail was made to prevent police from using a system which requires bailed persons to report to a police station regularly each month.
“We could not put up with that,” Yeung said.
The police could take advantage of the system to prolong the process for up to two years and prevent the protesters from taking part in any mass action.
The 18 were among 500 arrested by the police after an overnight vigil in Chater Road following the July 1 march.
Twenty-five were released on bail, mostly lawmakers and student representatives.
Their profiles were consistent with claims the police targeted specific groups, Yeung was quoted as saying.
Yum Brands Inc. said the expired meat scandal involving Shanghai Husi Food Co. has hurt same-store sales of KFC and Pizza Hut outlets in China over the last 10 days, the Wall Street Journal reported.
US-based OSI Group, which owns Shanghai Husi, was not a major supplier to Yum stores, but “extensive news coverage” has “shaken consumer confidence” and “impacted brand usage,” the fast-food chain operator was quoted as saying.
Chinese authorities have accused Shanghai Husi of intentionally selling meat beyond its shelf life to restaurant companies.
Yum said it is “too early know how quickly sales will rebound in China” but warned that if the declines continue, they could hurt full-year earnings per share, according to the newspaper.
The group said on July 20 it halted orders from Shanghai Husi.
Just days after House News shut down, another news website will come into being on Friday to keep the flame brightly burning for Hong Kong’s independent online news media.
Founded by media commentator Simon Lee, Hong Kong Citizens’ Media hopes to fill a vacuum left by the brief existence of House News. And Lee appears confident that he has the right business model to nurture his latest project.
Citizens’ Media will mainly rely on blogs as well as selected news articles and think pieces to keep readers updated on what’s going on in the city. Lee will also come out with a free sheet, partly based on the website articles, to be able to secure enough funding for the operation.
House News may have been a victim of “white terror” in the city, but another important lesson from its demise pertains to its failure to lure advertisers even if it had more than 300,000 daily hits.
Citizens’ Media understands the challenges facing an independent operation, which is why he is integrating the website into aweekly or bi-weekly publication to be distributed free of charge in the business district. The combination is intended to build up the brand, expand its reach to offline readers as well as to lure advertisers, Lee said in his blog announcing the birth of Citizens’ Media.
Seeking to match the success of Huffington Post in the United States, House News tried to establish a daring, outspoken image by supporting the pro-democracy struggles in the city, including the controversial Occupy Central movement.
By comparison, Citizens’ Media is adopting a safer approach by focusing its content on business news and analysis, while other topics and issues will be supported by bloggers and contributors.
Lee told a media briefing that about half of the content of Citizens’ Media will focus on business and technology news, as he admitted that he is getting inspiration from Business Insider, a US-based website that provides business and technology news analysis.
His choice of focus is certainly less controversial than a website purely engaged in political commentaries. As such the new website can establish a niche in the market without becoming too involved in the ragingpolitical debates.
That could be a safe bet, giving Lee a channel to lure advertisers’ support, but his stance may not convince the House News bloggers to shift their venue to Citizens’ Media as they want a completely independent platform that is deeply committed to the fight for genuine democracy and universal suffrage.
Lee understands that content is the key to success for any website. He is inviting writers and contributors, and hoping that his website will secure higher returns for their effort. Some of their articles will also be published in the print version.
Aside from leveraging on original, high-quality content and an online-to-offline strategy, Citizens’ Media also hopes to organize seminars and conferences, thus diversifying its income sources and reducing its reliance on advertising revenue.
Indeed, one of the lessons in the demise of House News is that an independent media outlet needs solid funding support in order to continue providing public service without fear or favor.