October 29, 2015

'One small step': Hong Kong residents of estate accused of bid-rigging see subcontractor's confession as turning point in their war with management

A subcontractor's dramatic courtroom confession of bid-rigging at the Sha Tin estate marks a milestone in a heated two-year war with management


PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 October, 2015, 12:00am

UPDATED : Thursday, 29 October, 2015, 12:00am

Garden Vista in Sha Tin, which commenced renovation works in November 2013 and has yet to see them completed. Photos: Sam Tsang

After two years of defiant campaigns, a group of Garden Vista residents tasted victory for the first time on Tuesday when they saw a contractor implicated in an alleged bid-rigging scandal affecting their home confess in court.

The group, formed by residents from all walks of life, had been taking to the streets in the middle-class Sha Tin neighbourhood near Shek Mun almost weekly.

There, counters were set up and banners displayed as they warned fellow neighbours of a controversial renovation project amounting to HK$260 million taking place at their home.

They were angry because residents of some 1,100 flats in the six residential blocks each had to shoulder a sum of between HK$200,000 and HK$300,000, depending on the size of their flat.

The group said the figure was grossly inflated, although other residents backed the estate's incorporated owners, who said the group had been spreading misinformation.

Those who refused to pay faced an encumbrance order and annual interest rates of 18 per cent for late payments, leaving some defiant owners debt-laden.

Yesterday, renovation subcontractor Yau Shui-tin admitted that he had conspired with the chairman of Garden Vista's incorporated owners, Lai Kwok-leung; the then-executive director of the estate's management company Synergis Holdings, Fan Cheuk-hung and his colleague Hui Kwan-pik; the director of consultancy firm Wong Pun and Partners, Wong Chi-Kwong; the shareholder of T.S. Tam Architects, Chung Wai-keung; and the director of engineering company Hong Dau, Yeung Wing-sun.

It was claimed Yau helped the consultancy and engineering firm secure the bid in question between 2010 and 2014.

Yau admitted at District Court that he conspired with them to offer Lai HK$26 million, Fan HK$15 million and Hui HK$2.6 million to seal deals.

Whether the parties concerned pocketed the proceeds remained unclear. No others, apart from Yau, were prosecuted.

"There is going to be a long way ahead, but at least, it was one small step," said Lee Ping-sum, a resident of the development for 25 years.

Lee added that much needed to be fixed. He said he wished to see greater transparency from the incorporated owners.

Commenced on November 2013, all works should have been finished within 420 days, according to the initial contract.

A recent site visit by the South China Morning Post, however, found that renovation was ongoing, with three of the six blocks still covered in scaffolding.

Some parts which apparently had been completed also raised questions, such as the work at the car park and the tiling work on the surface of the buildings.

Residents were also asked to chip in an extra HK$1 million for two more gurkha security guards and a project manager, to be deducted separately from their monthly management fees.

In minutes for a general meeting, it was said the contractor would be fined HK$5,000 per day for late completion, yet the expected end date had since been postponed to early next year.

The group alleged they had made enquiries, but rarely received replies from Lai and the Incorporated Owners.

Lai could not be reached for comment.

In minutes dated back to November 2013, however, he stressed that the bidding exercise had been transparent.

In addition to campaigning, the group also carried out its own investigations.

The residents found that, of the bidders, one was chaired by a person who was a director of one of the companies allegedly implicated in Yau's case.

That engineering firm, out of the 19 bidders, entered the highest bid, HK$396 million.

In June 2012, the Buildings Department introduced its mandatory building inspection scheme, covering all private buildings 30 years or older except those less than four storeys.

Under the scheme, owners are required to hire professionals to carry out safety inspections every 10 years.

The safety inspections proved one way that bid-rigging drew heightened public attention in recent years.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption said it received 494 corruption complaints regarding building maintenance and 698 regarding building management between 2013 and last year.

Lam Cheuk-ting, a Garden Vista resident as well as a former officer with the ICAC, serves as a spokesman of the Property Owners' Anti Bid-Rigging Alliance, formed in March last year.

"Bid-rigging effectively means that a group of people deliberately try to control a bidding exercise, such as by raising its price," Lam said.

At Garden Vista, the residents crossed swords with the parties concerned in several contentious court actions.

They ranged from the late payment interest rate and efforts to oust Lai to defamation charges laid against residents.

Inside the estate where residents accused the incorporated owners of a lack of transparency, posters were hung counter-accusing residents of spreading unfounded rumours.

Lam said the government afforded little protection to private residents. "They shouldn't be left fighting on their own," he said of residents' predicament.

"The government should pinpoint the problem quickly."

He said the Building Management Ordinance used a low threshold for taking action in that it only required 10 per cent of a private estate's owners to turn up at a meeting for a matter to be put to a vote.

Lam argued that the low threshold made it easy to carry out bid-rigging by proxy voting.

He also urged the government to set up a watchdog organisation to closely monitor contractors and renovation projects, while providing more information to private property owners and the public regarding the practice of bid-rigging.

"The government needs to step up its efforts in eradicating bid-rigging," the former ICAC officer added.

As for residents, a number contemplated the effectiveness of leaving Garden Vista.

"You still have to pay the fees first to lift the encumbrance order so that you can make your way out," said Fan, who was slapped with such an order for failure to pay in full.

She halted payments after shelling out 40 per cent of the HK$500,000 she was to pay for two flats. She said she now owed almost HK$100,000 in interest and legal costs.

Her neighbour Albert Lo pointed out an underlying problem that could hint at a rampant problem across the city.

He said one neighbour at Garden Vista had moved there from another housing estate in town to avoid a separate alleged bid-rigging scandal.

"So where can I move?" asked Lo rhetorically.

October 27, 2015

Govt wins appeal against former TVB chief in bribery case

EJ Insight » Hong KongToday, 10:19

The Court of Appeal has struck down the acquittal of Stephen Chan (inset) and his former assistant Edthancy Tseng. Photos: HKEJ, RTHK

An appeal court has ruled that former TVB general manager Stephen Chan Chi-wan and his former assistant Edthancy Tseng Pei-kun were guilty of taking bribes, Ming Pao Daily reported Tuesday.

On Monday, the court found in favor of the Department of Justice in the government’s second appeal against the pair’s acquittal.

Court of Appeal vice president Wally Yeung Chun-kuen directed the district judge who acquitted Chan and Tseng to sentence them on charges they accepted HK$112,000 (US$14,451) in kickbacks from contractors in 2009 without the knowledge of their employer.

The two men were granted HK$100,000 bail each and told not to leave Hong Kong before a new trial in District Court on Nov. 13.

The appeal court heard that Chan, 56, who is now chief adviser and a talk-show host for Commercial Radio Hong Kong, received payment with Tseng’s help to host his Be My Guest show on TVB during a countdown special at Olympian City shopping mall on Dec. 31, 2009.

Chan and Tseng were accused of accepting bribes in exchange for production contracts.

Both were cleared by a district judge in 2011.

The DOJ appealed in 2012, but the same judge acquitted them again in 2013.

The government immediately filed a second appeal.

Chan’s lawyer argued that TVB had not objected to Chan accepting payment from contractors several times in the past.

But Yeung said in the appeal court’s judgment that Chan’s show aired during the countdown was different, because it clearly involved TVB’s business.

Yeung also said Chan could not use “ignorance or misunderstanding” of the law to try to defend himself.

Chan left the court without saying whether he will appeal.

Commercial Radio said in a statement it believes in Chan’s integrity and he can keep his job as well as take leave any time if needed.

A legal observer said it is likely that Chan will be sentenced to community service or granted probation.

– Contact us at


Mainland media, bloggers blame low-cost tours for death – not HK

by Mark O'Neill

EJ Insight » Hong KongToday, 10:16

Many mainlanders do come to Hong Kong to shop, but some are forced by their tour leaders to make purchases in stores that pay the guides commissions. Photo: HKEJ

A debate is raging in the mainland over the death in Hong Kong last week of a visitor from Heilongjiang province.

The media and bloggers blame the failure of the authorities to curb cut-price tours and not the city itself.

The China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) issued a statement Sunday warning people not to take part in such cheap tours and said they and the travel agencies that run them could face criminal prosecution.

In an editorial Monday, the Southern Metropolis Daily in Guangzhou ran the headline, “Control the chaos of low-cost tourism, we must pay attention to the role of the tourist”.

Bloggers called for stricter regulation and for the government to play a decisive role in ending the malpractice.

The media has presented the death as the result of a dispute between mainlanders over money that happened to take place in Hong Kong – saying the city was not responsible and is not to blame.

This is very important.

Since the Occupy movement late last year, the city has received bad press in the mainland.

The media reported angry protests against mainland shoppers, including the use of words like ‘locusts’ to describe them, and the booing of the national anthem at World Cup qualifying soccer matches in Hong Kong.

All this damaged the city’s image as a tourist destination.

“I do not go there now,” said Yang Lingmei, a car salesman in Zhuhai, a city in Guangdong province next door to Macau.

“We do not feel welcome and fear that someone will curse us because we speak Putonghua.

“I can buy products I need in Macau and am looking at Thailand for my next holiday trip.

“There are many places to go.”

Hong Kong can do without a further black mark against it.

The man who died last week was Miao Chunqi, a 53-year-old construction contractor who was on a three-day shopping tour with visitors from Hubei, Heilongjiang and Shandong provinces.

The group left Shenzhen on Sunday and was also scheduled to visit Macau on Tuesday.

The dispute occurred when the group was taken to a jewelry shop in Hung Hom on Monday last week.

Miao and his partner did not spend money because they thought the jewelry was overpriced.

The tour leader had an argument with them.

Miao was trying to mediate but got into a fight during which he was dragged outside and beaten unconscious by a gang of four men.

He was certified dead the following day.

In its editorial, the Southern Metropolis Daily said that, in recent years, the CNTA had taken many measures against cut-price tourism, including conducting investigations and canceling licences, but these had not been effective.

To warn of criminal action against tourists who join such tours naturally provoked strong opposition on the internet, it said.

“This makes people suspect that the authorities are trying to hide their own ineffective supervision,” the newspaper said.

The government, the media and tourists all have a role to play in putting an end to this malpractice, the editorial said.

The CNTA defines a cut-price tour as one in which the price is 30 per cent lower than that set by the government.

It has issued minimum prices for 36 cities, including Guilin in Guangxi province, Sanya in Hainan and Lijiang in Yunnan, but not for destinations outside the mainland such as Hong Kong and Macau.

Wu Jingmin, who runs a travel agency in Shenzhen, said that two years ago the CNTA had specifically outlawed such tours but not taken effective action since.

“Everyone is offering such tours,” Wu said.

“Someone who is selling you fake goods will not tell you they are fake.

“This is the same. They have many reasons to explain it.

“The consumer must learn to protect himself and not be cheated.

“But, if that happens, the livelihood of many people will be affected – the shops, travel companies, guides and drivers.” 

In their comments, bloggers criticized the government and not Hong Kong for the death.

“Has the CNTA no responsibility in this?” asked one from Beijing.

“How was the tourist to know what was a ‘cut-price’ tour?” asked another from Shenzhen.

One from Changsha said: “This was a result of poor enforcement of the law. Now they are trying to pin the blame on the tourist.”

During these “tours” in Hong Kong, the visitors spend little time sight-seeing.

Instead they are taken to shops and are sometimes locked in rooms for hours at a time until they spend.

The buses have fake tourists planted there by the travel agency who tell the visitors what good value the products are and urge them to buy.

The tour guides use foul language and intimidation to force the visitors to make purchases.

What kind of holiday is this?

– Contact us at


Building sub-contractor admits role in HK$45m bid-rigging plots at Hong Kong private housing estates, court hears


PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 October, 2015, 10:30am

UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 October, 2015, 10:30am

Garden Vista in Sha Tin. Photo: Sam Tsang

A renovation subcontractor this morning admitted his role in two alleged bid-rigging plots for teaming up with others to offer HK$45 million in bribes – one of which involves the controversial renovation work at a private housing estate in Sha Tin.

Yau Shui-tin, 57, pleaded guilty at the District Court to four counts of conspiracy to offer an advantage to an agent.

Between 2010 and last year, Yau conspired with the chairman of Garden Vista’s incorporated owners, Lai Kwok-leung; then executive director of its management company Synergis Holdings, Fan Cheuk-hung, and his colleague Hui Pik-kwan; director of its consultancy firm Wong Pun and Partners, Wong Chi-Kwong; director of its engineering company Hong Dau, Yeung Wing-sum; and Chung Wai-keung, so that Lai, Fan and Hui would receive – respectively, 10 per cent, 6 per cent, and 1 per cent – of the Sha Tin residential estate’s HK$260 million renovation fees.

It is alleged Yau then provided information to Chung, Wong and Yeung in helping them to secure consultancy and renovation contracts.

Yau, the only one who has been charged, faces three charges for that.

The remaining charge alleges Yau conspired with at least two others to offer Ho Chi-kwong, a member of the Ravana Garden private housing estate’s incorporated owners, HK$600,000 in bribes between 2005 and 2007, in a bid to assist one of the conspirators to secure contracts.

But prosecutor Wong Hay-yiu said the prosecution would not pursue a separate charge, given Yau had pleaded guilty to the other four. The charge alleges Yau conspired with a director of a consultancy firm to offer Alico Management manager Cheng Kam-kong a sum totalling HK$96,000 for the Wa Lai Building project.

The public gallery is filled today by Garden Vista residents.

‘It looks like a warzone’: country park enclave as big as two soccer fields left bare and muddied

Excavator tracks and burnt logs found by green groups bear testimony to clearance of country park enclave partially owned by developers


PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 October, 2015, 3:21am

UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 October, 2015, 3:21am

Wong Chuk Yeung – lushly vegetated two to three years ago (above) but now exposed (below). Photos: SCMP Pictures

Swathes of vegetation have been cleared in a Sai Kung country park enclave, turning a once ecologically rich wetland inhabited by barking deer and porcupines into debris-strewn patches of scorched earth.

Aerial photographs of Wong Chuk Yeung, nestled in Ma On Shan Country Park, reveal much of the green belt area to have been destroyed, a large part of it on private land but near areas zoned for conservation.

On-site checks this month by Green Power and the Eco-Education and Resources Centre found hundreds of trees felled and burned. The banks of a stream also seemed devoid of greenery.

“It looks as if a war has just taken place,” the centre’s conservation manager Stanley Chan Kam-wai said, pointing to the excavator tracks, stones and piles of burnt logs scattered haphazardly along the muddied stream.

Wong Chuk Yeung is a key government water catchment and the green groups believe any degradation upstream can affect the surrounding wetland ecosystem and conservation areas.

According to an outline zoning plan for the area, development in Wong Chuk Yeung must be controlled strictly to maintain its water quality.

Images dating back to as recently as 2011 show the area still covered in greenery.

“The vegetation cleared is equivalent to about two soccer pitches and we estimate that to be, if not more than 1,000 trees, at least a few hundred,” Chan said.

“The wetland will start to … dry up and will pretty much disappear? after the winter.”

Green Power chief executive Dr Man Chi-sum said the case was another example of zoning plans failing to protect enclaves that encompassed private land. He said it would be better to fold the enclave into the country park.

The area is home to more than 222 species of plants and rare wildlife. It is one of the city’s few large areas of freshwater wetland and feng shui woods. The last resident of Wong Chuk Yeung’s Hakka village sold his property about two years ago, leaving the village abandoned.

More than 70 per cent of the private land is owned by developers, but four-fifths of that is part of the green belt. Plans by a developer to build luxury houses in mid-2010 were not realised.

Land search records show the major landowners are Diamonds Sun, Tonway Investment and J&W Development, all incorporated between 2008 and 2010 and led by a director named Chan Kwong-shing. The firms could not be reached for comment.

Chan is also listed as a director of Kantex Development, which bought up 23 private lots in the enclave of Lo Shue Tin, in the same country park, in 2010 for HK$104 million. Green groups raised an alarm last year after lush vegetation in Lo Shue Tin was cleared in similar fashion.

As agricultural use of land was “always permitted” under the said outline zoning plan, Man said it was no coincidence the area had been fenced off by a group calling itself the “Wong Chuk Yeung Organic Farm”.

The Planning Department confirmed agricultural use was allowed. It would send officers to check for any unauthorised development such as filling, excavation or repair works, which must be approved by town planners.

The Water Supplies Department said it was investigating if the water catchment area had been damaged illegally.

When will you die? Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s daughter joins the debate



PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 October, 2015, 7:00am

UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 October, 2015, 7:00am

Leung Chai-yan takes to her Facebook page again. Photo: SCMP Pictures

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s daughter has joined the chorus of people making fun of him, writing on her Facebook page that an internet user who asked when Leung was going to die was “too funny”.

The daughter, Leung Chai-yan, screen-grabbed a comment which stated: “Seriously, when is your father going to die?” in a post yesterday.

She then wrote on the post: “I love this guy. Too funny hahaaa”.

READ MORE: CY Leung’s daughter Chai-yan admits to ‘100 disputes’ with parents in debut TV interview 

More than 2,600 people “liked” the post.

In another post, she screen-grabbed the profile of the internet user, adding in a comment: “Everyone please give this guy a creativity award.”

That netizen is not the first person who asked the chief executive the question.

Last week, radical lawmaker Wong Yuk-man hit the chief executive with the question: “When will you die?”

The beleaguered leader – who was grilled by lawmakers from across the political spectrum over “unfulfilled” election pledges – was told he could not escape the pointed inquiry at his Legislative Council question-and-answer session.

Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing decided that since the question was political in nature, Leung should reply.

Leung sidesteppedWong’s point, instead reciting a line of poetry by Mao Zedong: “Having too many grumbles is detrimental to health.” He then wished Wong “a long life”.

Wong Yuk-man asked about Leung’s lifespan when Tsang pressed him to get to the point of a rant in which he accused the chief executive of “badmouthing” and “betraying” Hong Kong on visits to the mainland.

Wong asked the president not to interrupt, reminding him “someone” had “fixed” his brother Tsang Tak-sing – who was removed as home affairs minister in July.

Wong said he was asking the question his constituents had demanded he raise – how long did Leung have left to live?

Leung Chai-yan has had run-ins with her parents for some time. In January, she offered a glimpse into their arguments in her debut television appearance, saying they had been locked in disputes on “more than 100” occasions.

Why HK is still very much needed by mainland firms

Hong Kong’s financial, legal and other professional services help mainland firms tap overseas markets. Photo: Bloomberg

Although mainland media often downplays Hong Kong’s importance to China, our long-established legal and business infrastructure and strong ties with global markets continue to attract companies from across the border.

Chinese firms tap Hong Kong for its various needs. Here are some case studies cited in a Hong Kong Trade Development Council report that could explain the city’s unfading appeal.

Grand Future Group was incorporated in Hong Kong in 2012. The Shandong Energy Group subsidiary serves as the bridgehead for the parent’s “going out” strategy—acquisition of overseas resources, sourcing of advanced energy equipment and identification of partners in clean energy.

The company has already secured mining rights in countries like Canada and Australia. Hong Kong offers a wide range of financial expertise that can help it identify the cost-effective funding channels.

Our professionals are also familiar with conditions in foreign countries and therefore able to provide proper evaluation of overseas projects, as well as advice on suitable legal and tax arrangements to lower investment risks.

Grand Future is also making the most of Hong Kong’s liberal immigration policy to get talents from abroad. Our international and transport network comes handy when the firm deals with shipping issues.

The value of international business handled through Grand Future’s Hong Kong office is worth over 13 billion yuan (US$2.05 billion).

Grand Future is not alone in trying to secure overseas resources. In view of rising demand in China for high quality wood, Tongren Foodstuff moved into the new business of wood importing.

Tongren already owns some woodland in North America and looks to further expand its investment to ensure a steady supply.

To cope with the financing needs and foreign exchange risks that come along with its overseas expansion, the firm plans to tap Hong Kong’s financial services to raise capital and manage the FX risk.

“Funds aside, we also need to obtain timely information on foreign countries. Whenever there are transport and dock workers’ strikes in the US, if we get to know the relevant developments promptly, we can make early arrangements to alleviate any impact,” Tongren general manager Lixian Song told HKTDC.

“We also have to pay quite heavy taxes on our investment and purchasing activities in the US. We hope that Hong Kong professional service providers can help optimize our tax arrangements and reduce any unnecessary burden,” Song added.

Surging production costs and trade barriers are two issues haunting many mainland manufacturers. So there are also lots of companies going out for those reasons.

Again, Hong Kong expertise can help Chinese firms looking to relocate some of their production facilities to lower-cost regions.

Baoli Textiles, Embroidery and Drawnwork specializes in bedding, curtains and clothing. It set up a plant in Cambodia in 2013, drawn by the country’s cheaper labor and tax breaks.

Qi Hao, president and general manager of Baoli, said he can find better support from Hong Kong when it comes to understanding local investment environment, labor and environmental protection laws, while such professional services are not quite available in China.

Baoli’s first Cambodian plant was up and running last year. Professional support and financing are some of the key issues that will determine whether the company will transfer its high-end production lines to Cambodia in the future.

Qingdao KKF also went to Cambodia in 2013, not only for the cheaper costs but more importantly to dodge trade barriers through overseas investment.

The steel pipe provider said anti-dumping rules imposed by Europe and the United States are targeted at selected metal and steel products originating in China.

The company is hoping to draw on Hong Kong’s considerable familiarity with overseas markets to help it gain overseas projects as part of its long-term development.

As more Chinese enterprises, from large to small and medium-sized firms, seek to tap overseas markets for investment and sourcing of labor and materials, Hong Kong’s financial, legal and other professional services will be in demand, and our office space, too.

While there is fear that the flagging tourist industry and China’s slowing growth are going to hit Hong Kong’s economy hard, the ongoing influx of mainland firms at least gives us a reason to be more upbeat.

– Contact us at


EJ Insight writer

‘Occupy Hotel’ taken off Airbnb ‘after pressure from Hong Kong officials’

By Coconuts Hong Kong October 26, 2015 / 12:28 HKT

Hong Kong’s infamous “Occupy Hotel” – you known, that guy who was charging people to sleep in tents in his Causeway Bay apartment – has been taken off Airbnb in what the proprietor suspects is a political move.

Stephen Thompson, who has been charging guests HKD100 a night to sleep in one of two tents surrounded by memorabilia of last year’s Occupy Central protests, told the HKFP that he was recently paid a surprise visit by two officials for Hong Kong’s Licensing Authority.

The officials apparently took photos of the room and asked if Thomas had any paying guests, which he denied (while his pants caught fire).

Two days later, however, Thompson says he was contacted by Airbnb and told they were removing his listing, without providing a reason. 

The 50-year-old Brit says he believes government officials put pressure on the property sharing website to have the “Occupy Hotel” – which has been frequented by visitors from all over the world, including some from mainland China – removed.

“The Government waited until about a year to settle scores with the student leaders and other activists,” Thompson said. “I think they want to silence anybody who is a focal point for pro-democracy activism, so it is just part of the inexorable march of Chinese Leninism stamping down on Hong Kong.”

He added that Airbnb is “exercising its power like a dictatorship” in bowing to the demands.

The freelance writer also claimed the website delisted a UK property he was profiling on the site.

HKFP reached out to Airbnb for a comment but have yet to receive one.

However, the company’s Terms of Service state: “Airbnb reserves the right, at any time and without prior notice, to remove or disable access to any Listing for any reason, including Listings that Airbnb, in its sole discretion, considers to be objectionable for any reason, in violation of these Terms or Airbnb’s then-current Policies and Community Guidelines, or otherwise harmful to the Site, Application or Services.”

That's their backs covered then.

Photo: AFP

Three Ethnic Mongolians Face Trial Amid Ongoing Dispute Over Land

Radio Free AsiaToday, 00:12

Chinese authorities in the troubled northern region of Inner Mongolia are set to try three ethnic Mongolian activists who tried to defend local communities' access to local forestry land, local activists said on Monday.

Shiicayulit, Baobaozhu, and Chuangjiang face formal charges of "obstructing official business" after police in the region's Jarud banner (a county-like division) passed their cases to the state prosecution service.

The three activists were among 26 protesters detained by police in Jarud's Gahait township earlier this year amid an ongoing dispute over 5,000 mu (333 hectares) of land grabbed from them by local officials.

Local residents say the Tarabolig village party secretary and chairman of the village committee have been running the village like their own private fiefdom, after selling off and exploiting the land without consulting local people two decades ago.

"There were clashes with a neighboring village over the land dispute, and the conflict is intensifying," Tarabolig resident Saihan told RFA.

"On July 11, around 20 or 30 people went to complain outside the government's gates, and ... [the authorities] sent in the police to beat them up," Saihan said.

"Then they took them away and held them in detention," Saihan said. "There are three people who weren't released, and I heard their cases have been sent to the procuratorate [for indictment]."

Driven from their land

Meanwhile, a Tarabolig villager now resident in Japan told RFA that the party secretary took over the land and cut down the timber trees that were planted there.

"Some of it was sold to other people, while some if it he used to grow his own crops," he said.

"We have complained about this to the banner government but they won't do anything about it."

He said local people were driven off their land by people who "came from elsewhere and cut the trees down."

A third local resident, ethnic Mongolian Lin Shuangbao, said the land in question had been leased to local people for forestry purposes by the banner government in 1994, and had been illegally taken away from them.

"They detained 26 people [on July 11] and there are still three people in detention; they say it's for obstructing official business," Lin said.

Calls to the Tarabolig village government offices rang unanswered during office hours on Monday.


The New York-based rights group Southern Mongolian Human Rights and Information Center (SMHRIC) estimates that at least 160,000 ethnic Mongolians have been forcibly evicted from traditional grazing lands in recent decades, adding that the true number is likely to be far higher than that in official media reports.

Many evictions and land grabs take place in remote areas, and are never reported in the media, SMHRIC said.

According to SMHRIC, the land grabs, often by Chinese mining and forestry companies, are encouraged by the government, which has a policy of "modernizing" the region.

"Using the slogan of 'helping to modernize ethnic Mongolian’s backward primitive culture,' the forced eviction of ethnic Mongolians is really intended to complete the Chinese government’s long-term goal of eliminating the ethnic Mongolian population and traditional culture," the group said in a report on its website.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

Occupy Central co-founder Benny Tai 'loves' his employer the University of Hong Kong too much to challenge it in court

Legal scholar decides against fighting triple penalties imposed on him by governing council


PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 October, 2015, 11:24pm

UPDATED : Monday, 26 October, 2015, 11:24pm

Benny Tai insists he will not apply for a judicial review over his ban

Out of his "love" for the University of Hong Kong, Occupy Central co-founder Benny Tai Yiu-ting has made up his mind not to haul his employer to court for acting on "ulterior political motives" to punish him over donations.

Tai, an associate law professor, faces a three-year ban imposed by HKU's governing council, forbidding him from hiring researchers, receiving donations and assuming managerial posts.

The triple penalties, which Tai first received word of more than a month ago, were "illegal, irrational and procedurally improper", according to a strongly worded letter he wrote to council chairman Leong Che-hung.

Those decisions were to "punish" him for initiating the Occupy pro-democracy movement last year that resulted in 79 days of mass sit-ins, he said.

"I write not as an application for review by the council … I have reasonable suspicion that the council has been politically infiltrated," Tai wrote in the letter, which he passed to the South China Morning Post. "I believe any request to review its own politically tainted decisions will not receive any impartial and fair treatment by the council."

Tai is one of four scholars accused of impropriety over the handling of HK$1.45 million in donations in 2012 and 2013.

All four have responded to the decisions of the council, which is to meet on Tuesday, on each of them.

The donations drew attention after Tai's emails were hacked last year. Beijing-loyalist media published reports attacking him, highlighting some of the cash backed Occupy-linked activities, including a mock referendum.

READ MORE: Benny Tai banned from supervising university researchers for three years

A subsequent HKU inquiry did not find issues with the use of funds for Occupy, but claimed the scholars had not followed procedures in accepting and using the money. But while it concluded Tai had failed to meet "expected standards" in withholding an anonymous donor's identity, he said the requirement was never made known.

"I am a teacher and expert in the administrative law of Hong Kong … [The council's decisions] would definitely be invalidated by the court," Tai continued in the letter. "However, out of my love for the University of Hong Kong, I am not prepared to apply for a judicial review."

The voting exercise among students ends on Friday.Photo: Felix Wong

HKU had been "deeply hurt" by some council members and a legal challenge "will inflict more harm to the university and this is the last thing I want to see in my life", he added.

Another of the scholars, Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu - director of the HKU public opinion programme who conducted the "referendum" - wrote in his response that he could accept the penalty of being barred from receiving donations only if it was meant to help HKU move forward, but "not for the reason" that he had committed any mistake.

Tai's former boss Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun, whose candidacy for a key managerial post was voted down by council members last month, asked the council to reverse its ruling that he had committed a managerial oversight.

The fourth scholar, music professor Daniel Chua, said that asking the council to review itself was not in HKU's best interests.

Meanwhile HKU's student union on Monday began a referendum of students asking whether the controversial Professor Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, tipped as the next council chairman, was suitable for a governing role. Some 12.2 per cent of the 16,000 eligible voters took part on the first day of the five-day vote.

October 26, 2015

China's Ai Weiwei can play with Lego again as fans answer call for bricks

AFP Relax – 1 hour 35 minutes ago


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Chinese artist Ai Weiwei

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei said Monday his plan to create a Lego artwork can go ahead as donations of the toy poured in from fans after the Danish company refused his bulk order on political grounds.

The maker of the children's toy sparked a social media uproar when Ai said it had refused to supply him directly as it "cannot approve the use of Legos for political works".

Ai is China's most prominent contemporary artist. He helped design the Bird's Nest stadium for the Beijing Olympics and his work has been exhibited worldwide, but he has also run afoul of Communist authorities.

He used the bricks to create portraits of political activists from around the world for an exhibition at Alcatraz prison in the United States last year, and intended to create a Lego artwork for a show in Australia.

Expressing his surprise at Lego's reaction, Ai said at a press conference in Berlin: "I was flabbergasted as it was a perfectly respectable order."

After his appeal for bricks online, numerous fans have offered to give him their Lego blocks.

"The Internet is a place that is sort of like a modern-day church," Ai said.

"You go to church and complain to the priest about your suffering and everyone in the community can share in it and perhaps find a solution," said the artist at the press conference arranged on his guest professorship at the Berlin's University of the Arts.

To a tweet from a fan who wrote: "I am taking a Lego brick to @aiww's London exhibition and leaving it there", Ai replied on Twitter: "Every one (is) precious".

- 'Defend free speech' -

A post on his Instagram account also said Monday: "Ai Weiwei has now decided to make a new work to defend freedom of speech and 'political art'.

"Ai Weiwei Studio will announce the project description and Lego collection points in different cities."

One collection point, a car parked outside his studio in Beijing, was shown with some bricks on the sunroof.

His Instagram account also shows a picture of Lego bricks in a toilet bowl with the caption "Everything is awesome" -- the theme song of the blockbuster Lego movie.

One supporter posting on Twitter told the manufacturer: "Your execs need to go watch the @TheLEGOMovie and think about what they've done."

Another said: "I'm picturing a Lego sculpture of a giant Lego character shooting itself in the foot."

Ai also pointed out that Britain's Merlin Entertainments, which owns and operates Legoland theme parks, announced plans for a facility in Shanghai last week during a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Britain.

Lego's parent company Kirkbi owns a 30 percent stake in Merlin.

Lego spokesman Roar Rude Trangbaek told AFP that the company refrains "on a global level from actively engaging in or endorsing the use of Lego bricks in projects or contexts of a political agenda. This principle is not new."

That included making bulk sales if it is aware the product's use will have political connotations.

But he added: "We respect any individual's right to free creative expression, and we do not censor, prohibit or ban creative use of Lego bricks."

- 'Good business sense' -

Ai has been targeted by authorities for his advocacy of democracy and human rights as well as other criticisms of the government, including in the aftermath of the deadly Sichuan earthquake in 2008.

He was detained for 81 days in 2011 and subsequently placed under house arrest, with his passport taken away. The document was only returned in July this year, enabling him to travel to Europe.

An op-ed in the Chinese edition of the Global Times newspaper, affiliated with the Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily, praised Lego for "refusing to be implicated in a political statement" and being motivated by "good business sense".

It is not the first time Lego has rejected a proposal on the grounds of political context, reports say.

A Lego set of the four female members of the US Supreme Court was rejected by the Lego Ideas project, which allows members of the public to suggest new products, according to US radio network NPR.

The idea appears to contradict the company's Acceptable Project Content, which says projects related to "politics and political symbols, campaigns, or movements" will not be accepted because they "do not fit our brand values".

For $30 (27 euros) the company offers a model of the Lincoln Memorial, and a White House set costs $50.

China to Extend Military Control to Indian Ocean

By Joshua PhilippEpoch Times | October 25, 2015

Last Updated: October 25, 2015 6:28 pm

A soldier of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) navy in Hong Kong on May 1, 2007. (MN Chan/Getty Images)

Pakistan’s Gwadar Port is in construction on Feb. 12, 2013. The Chinese regime has 40-year rights to manage the port, and its naval push into the region has India on edge. (Behram Baloch/AFP/Getty Images)

China’s first aircraft carrier, a former Soviet carrier, after its handover to the People’s Liberation Army navy in Dalian, northeast China’s Liaoning Province, on Sept. 24, 2012. (AFP/Getty Images)

The Chinese regime said it’s wrapping up its construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea, and all signs suggest its next big push will be into the Indian Ocean.

Conflicts are already surfacing. India was caught off guard in May, when the Chinese regime docked a submarine in the nearby port of Karachi in Pakistan. Close to two months later, on July 1, Chinese defense spokesman senior Col. Yang Yujin tried lightening the concern by saying the Chinese navy’s activities in the Indian Ocean are “open and transparent.”

The same day, a very different announcement was made by a senior captain from China’s National Defense University. He warned India, saying they cannot view the Indian Ocean as their backyard.

It’s unlikely the Chinese will back down, according to Richard Fisher, senior fellow with the International Assessment and Strategy Center.

“An effort to break out of the South China Sea, and then project into the Indian Ocean is one of the opening moves in China’s quest for global military and economic dominance,” Fisher said in a phone interview.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is trying to build new international trade networks under its own control. Part of this will be its new Silk Road, which will include connecting China to Pakistan with roads, rails, and oil pipelines. The other side of this is its “Maritime Silk Road,” coupled with an effort to gain control or influence at all major maritime trade chokepoints.

Pakistan’s Gwadar Port is in construction on Feb. 12, 2013. The Chinese regime has 40-year rights to manage the port, and its naval push into the region has India on edge. (Behram Baloch/AFP/Getty Images)

What it’s trying to do is replicate the Pax Americana—only with a Chinese model based around selective access and strong-arming nearby countries.

The Pax Americana is the projection of U.S. military power, which secures free trade and supports a relative global peace. This includes placing military assets at all strategic sea lines of communications (SLOCs).

Experts call the Chinese version of the Pax Americana the “Pax Sinica.” To build this, the CCP plans to abandon “the traditional mentality that land outweighs sea” and begin to “protect the security of strategic SLOCs and overseas interests,” according to the Chinese military strategy white paper released on May 26.

As opposed to the U.S. system, however, the Chinese strategy is based on a version of mercantilism to control trade—as we’ve witnessed in its military push in the South China Sea, where it is beginning to deny access to other nations.

“It’s long been my conclusion that China’s ultimate goal is to become the pre-eminent global superpower, and to suppress the United States where necessary in the achievement of this goal,” Fisher said.

“China basically wants to benefit from such a pre-eminent position as has the United States for most of the period since World War II,” he said.

China’s first aircraft carrier, a former Soviet carrier, after its handover to the People’s Liberation Army navy in Dalian, northeast China’s Liaoning Province, on Sept. 24, 2012. (AFP/Getty Images)

Because of this strategy, its version of trade requires its military to subdue everyone within its trading sphere. Its push into the Indian Ocean, coupled with land routes into Pakistan and Sri Lanka, is likewise viewed by many experts in India as a move to surround India—one of the largest competitors to the Chinese economy.

The CCP’s strategy to control maritime chokepoints is already well underway. For the outlet of the Strait of Malacca, the Chinese military has pressed into the South China Sea. For the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb, they’re planning to build a military base in Djibouti. For the Turkish Straits, they’re trying to strike deals around the new Silk Road program.

They are making similar moves at nearly every other key trade chokepoint on the map—but the Indian Ocean is a different story. They’ve already struck a 40-year deal with Pakistan to manage a port in Gwadar, and India isn’t happy with the idea of Chinese warships having a constant presence in its nearby waters.

“Gwadar, of course, is tied to parallel Pakistani and Chinese ambitions,” Fisher said, noting this ties both to Pakistan’s interest in keeping separatist factions at bay in Balochistan, where the port is located, as well as to Chinese ambitions “to make multiple access routes into the Indian Ocean.”

The Next Job

The CCP announced on June 16 that its programs to build artificial islands in the South China Sea were coming to a close. While its efforts there have continued with the construction of facilities on the fake islands, the dredgers that were once hard at work pumping sand onto reefs are now free and ready for their next job.

This is where business comes into play. The dredgers used to build China’s new artificial islands are owned by state-run companies that have stakes in the Silk Road initiative. Among these companies are the Chinese Communications Construction Company (CCCC), China Merchants Holdings (International) (CMHI), and China State Construction and Engineering Company (CSCEC).

More than half of China’s dredging capacity is controlled by CCCC, which does most of its business through an overseas subsidiary, China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC), according to a Sept. 17 report from theU.S. Naval Institute.

It states, “As China expands into the Indian Ocean and wraps up construction in Southeast Asia,” the same types of assets it used to build islands in the South China Sea may be relocated to build ports in the Indian Ocean.

These ports, it states, would give the Chinese regime a “logistics chain for its naval activities in what its strategists term the Far Seas.”

MORE:Live Debate: Are China and the United States Destined to Be Enemies?

A significant portion of the projects these companies are involved in tie directly to the its Maritime Silk Road. Among these are large-scale port projects in Pakistan’s Karachi and Gwadar—as well as in nearby Sri Lanka’s Colombo Port City, Hambantota Port, and others.

While this new effort is just starting, according to Robert Haddick, an independent contractor at U.S. Special Operations Command, it’s important to remember that most observers and analysts were caught off guard by the speed of the CCP’s construction in the South China Sea.

“You couldn’t find many analysts who could have guessed where we are today with the sand piles that China has managed to build up in the South China Sea,” Haddick said, in a phone interview. “It happened pretty suddenly and in a surprising fashion.”

“We shouldn’t close our minds to the possibility of further surprises in the Indian Ocean region also,” he said.

Surrounding the Indian Ocean

The newspaper The Namibian stirred up controversy on Nov. 19, 2014, when it published a report saying the CCP is planning to build 18 naval bases surrounding the Indian Ocean. It listed these bases in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Djibouti, Yemen, Oman, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Seychelles, and Madagascar.

It emphasized these bases would give the Chinese navy a presence in the northern Indian Ocean, western Indian Ocean, and central south Indian Ocean.

The CCP initially denied the claims, yet in the time since the article was published, every country listed by The Namibian has moved forward with programs with the CCP, either granting it port access or working with it to construct new ports.

The Namibian’s source was a 2013 article in a Chinese state-run newspaper, the International Herald Leader, which allegedly proposed an additional 18 overseas Chinese military bases including at Pakistan’s Gwadar Port and Sri Lanka’s Port of Hambantota (Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port).

The Namibian came back with another report on Jan. 20, noting that less than a week after the CCP denied the paper’s claims, the Chinese regime started moving forward with the rumored plans.

The paper published a leaked confidential letter from PLA Senior Col. Geng Yansheng, dated Dec. 22, 2014, and addressed to Namibia’s Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Selma Ashipala-Musavyi by Abed. The two allegedly met to discuss “several issues of mutual interest and benefit.”

MORE:Masters of Psychological Warfare: How the Chinese Are Winning a Secret WarIndia Could Increase Presence in South China Sea With US ‘Encouragement’

The letter discussed a proposed Chinese naval base in Namibia—the likes of which Geng publicly said the PLA “currently” lacks.

The reports supported what military analysts have long suspected. In what they refer to as the “string of pearls,” they believe the Chinese regime will build a string of naval bases into the Indian Ocean, which it can use to extend its military reach.

According to Robert C. O’Brien of Real Clear Defense on March 25, the thinkers behind the CCP’s string of pearls strategy may already be eyeing the next step.

“China’s Indian Ocean-based ‘string of pearls’ naval base strategy to protect the country’s 21st century vision of a ‘maritime silk road’ looks like it may now extend all the way to the South Atlantic,” O’Brien wrote.

“For India, a Chinese naval presence in nearby waters is a dawning reality,” he  wrote.

Woman files complaint against school over son’s accident

EJ Insight » Hong KongToday, 19:15

A primary school in Sai Wan Ho has been accused of failing to respond properly to an eye injury suffered by a boy on its premises. Photos: Google Maps, Ming Pao Daily

A woman has lodged a complaint against an educational institution in connection with an injury suffered by her son in school more than three months ago.

The woman alleges that the institution failed to inform her or call an ambulance immediately when her son suffered a severe eye injury in July on the school premises, Ming Pao Daily reported.

The complaint was lodged with the government’s Education Bureau. The school in question is the Hong Kong Chinese Women’s Club Hioe Tjo Yoeng Primary School, which is located in Sai Wan Ho.

According to the woman, who bears the surname Wong, her son who was then a primary six student attended an alumni event at the school on July 11.

As the boy was playing a ball game with his peers, he accidentally tripped over and fell, hitting his face against a floor cabinet.

His eyeglasses broke into pieces due to the accident and one glass shard pierced his right eye, causing traumatic injury. Meanwhile, he was also bleeding from the nose and mouth.

The boy was in severe pain and had to be helped up by two friends. Later he was taken to the general office by the school secretary.

The boy’s mother now says that she did not receive a single call from school at the time of the accident, and that she instead got the news from another parent.

She says she rushed to the school by taxi and was then advised to take her son to a private clinic.

However, seeing blood all over the face of the boy, who was not able to open his right eye, the mother requested the school to call an ambulance.

The boy was subsequently taken to the Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital where he underwent a four-and-a-half emergency operation on his right eye.

Doctors removed a glass piece 5 millimeters long and 3 millimeters wide from the child’s eyeball.

A preliminary medical report said the boy suffered trauma due to right eyeball rupture, right upper and lower lid lacerations and right orbital floor fracture. 

The school’s vice-principal, a person named Ip Wai-man, meanwhile is said to have justified the decision to not call for an ambulance immediately.

While expressing regret over the incident, Ip insisted that the school followed the guidelines and protocol in dealing with the special situation and that the staff did their best to assist the boy and his mother.

When questioned by a reporter, Ip declined to share the details or give information on the person who first conducted an assessment of the boy’s situation and what professional qualifications that person had, Ming Pao reported.

Following a previous incident at the CCC Kei Chun Primary School in Kwai Chung, the Education Bureau has updated the administration guidelines for the 2015/16 school year.

According to the guidelines, school authorities are required to activate a crisis management mechanism and assess the situation promptly and exercise professional judgment in dealing with medical emergency situations.

The rules require school staff to dial 999 immediately for emergency assistance or call for ambulance service in case of serious or life-threatening accidents.

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Education chief defends TSA tests

  • The Secretary for Education, Eddie Ng, said it is a "misunderstanding" that TSA tests are too difficult. Photo: RTHK
    The Secretary for Education, Eddie Ng, said it is a "misunderstanding" that TSA tests are too difficult. Photo: RTHK
Eddie Ng
The Secretary for Education, Eddie Ng, on Monday has rejected criticism over an assessment system for local primary three students.

He said it was a misunderstanding that the test was "too tough", insisting that scrapping it would be "a step backwards".

The Territory-wide System Assessment – or TSA – is meant to track students' progress in learning Chinese, English and Mathematics. 

But there has been a recent outcry from parents who want to do away with the tests. More than 38,000 people have signed up to an online campaign calling to end the tests. 

They say the tests help students achieve little academically but put unnecessary pressure on children and parents. They also claim the tests are often too difficult for children at that young age. 

Ng, however, said questions for TSA tests are made public online and people can see for themselves whether they are difficult or not.

"If there are schools, or if there is a school, actually pushing [students] so hard, I would like to know. Because it would be defeating the original purpose of the TSA. [This] itself is a really good tool, when we ask opinions from schools and so on, they did tell us that this is a very important, meaningful and effective tool" to improve the teaching and learning for students, Ng added.

Ng insisted that schools are never required to report the TSA results, they are not ranked accordingly and the tests do not affect students' promotion of classes.

He was speaking as the Civic Party launched a two-week campaign to collect signatures against the assessment system.