A local resident walks past the rear of the iconic Tin Hau Temple. (Photo: Roland Lim)
Local residents speak to the media after all finally agreed to move out of Nga Tsin Wai. (Photo: Roland Lim)
A local resident walks past the rear of the iconic Tin Hau Temple. (Photo: Roland Lim)
Local residents speak to the media after all finally agreed to move out of Nga Tsin Wai. (Photo: Roland Lim)
Apparently, Star Wars wasn’t as much of a big deal to Hongkongers as a film about… themselves (the vain bunch, we are).
“Ten Years”, a local low-budget movie portraying the bleak Hong Kong of 2025, outdid “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” at the arthouse Broadway Cinematheque, CNN reports.
And believe it or not, it looks pretty decent:
Hardly a happy-go-lucky, lightsaber-touting space scuffle with fluffy, funny aliens, the movie takes the form of a morbid representation of Hong Kong’s future.
The story opens with a scene of self-immolation, as a protester sets himself on fire outside the British Consulate.
Not quite the rosy LKF love-affair theme other producers went for recently then.
Director Chow Kwun-wai, 36, said that the alarming opening was meant to shock local audiences into taking action against the creeping influence of Beijing in Hong Kong.
Referring to the fact that Tibetans often resort to this form of protest against Beijing rule, Chow warned that Hongkongers could eventually find themselves in a similarly awful situation if resistance is not realised.
After this delightful opening, the film goes on to explore themes of political corruption and the loss of the city’s identity through 10 short features.
Another scene, “Dialect”, addresses the potential deterioration of Hong Kong identity through the marginalisation of the Cantonese language. The episode plays out the story of local taxi driver, who is made redundant once his role requires proficiency in Mandarin.
Despite the generally dark outlook of the film, Chow urged Hongkongers to recognise that the movie's very existence is a sign of hope:
"We should be grateful that we still have freedom of speech and we have to cherish and protect it,” he said.
Unsurprisingly, some actors were put off by the provocative nature of the script, fearing participation might hinder their chances of working in the mainland. These fears have perhaps been largely justified by the much publicised recent disappearance of five Hong Kong booksellers.
“Ten Years” was produced on a crazy low budget of just HKD600,000 by a predominantly volunteer cast and crew. The latest Star Wars film, on the other hand, cost a whopping USD2 million.
Maybe Hongkongers don’t only care about money after all…
Holden Chow, deputy boss of Hong Kong’s local Chinese Communist Party front, the DAB, refuses to say whether he thinks CY Leung should have a second term as the city’s Chief Executive. His reason is that CY himself hasn’t announced his own intention – which is irrelevant, or indeed all the more reason to answer the question. What he means is that he hasn’t yet been told what the official line is. The pseudo ‘election’ (outcome predetermined in Beijing) by a rigged body of 1,200 is still a year away. Expect the DAB, FTU and other United Front appendages to be ‘still to make our minds up’ for a while.
For now, Chow is running in a real competitive race: the Hong Kong Legislative Council by-election that takes place late next month in the New Territories East constituency. The seat became vacant when pro-democracy Civic Party member Ronny Tong resigned as a grand melodramatic gesture to mark the establishment of his new Path of Democracy grouping, aiming to occupy some mythical middle ground between the pro-Beijing and pro-democracy camps.
The by-election will be more interesting than it sounds, for several reasons.
First, it will be a manly, straightforward, first-past-the-post, single-seat election. Legco geographical constituencies have multiple seats fought over by party lists of candidates under a complex system of proportional representation. The system was originally designed to dilute pro-dem candidates’ success, but if anything aids fringe oddballs on the ballot and confuses everyone. So the February 28 poll offers the prospect of a plain, simple goody-versus-baddy fight in which only one person can win.
Second, as we saw in last November’s district elections, there is a youthful/middle-class backlash underway against Hong Kong’s dismal governance and malevolent interference in local affairs by Beijing’s officials. On top of Beijing’s rejected fake-democracy package, unaffordable housing, the tourist plague, attacks on university autonomy, lead in water, etc, etc, we have the case of the five missing book publishers to attract protest voters (not to mention localreasons to be miffed). Centred on Shatin, New Territories East voted over 57% pro-dem in 2012, returning only two United Front candidates, plus ‘maverick’ James Tien of the Liberals, with the other six seats won by various pro-dem figures. So it should be a pro-dem walkover to humiliate and anger all the right people.
Third, Beijing’s local agents – who take elections far more seriously than anyone else in town – will probably go to great lengths to try to micromanage a victory for Holden Chow. All other pro-Beijing groups have obediently kept off the ballot, to give the DAB a clean sweep of non-dem votes. We can expect the usual desperate measures, like dragging centenarians from their beds, to maximize the DAB’s turnout.
The very broad pro-dem camp is inevitably more splintered. The mainstream pro-dems have agreed on a candidate, namely the Civic Party’s Alvin Yeung, a smart and presentable counterpoint to the Communist running dog Holden – or as I hereby re-name him, Be-Holden. But two other pro-dems couldn’t resist getting onto the ballot, a ‘Third Side’ fantasist and a localist from Hong Kong Indigenous. The United Front forces would not be above finding ways to boost these two to reduce Alvin’s vote.
And three more candidates are running. There’s independent Christine Fong, prominent in local affairs and possibly able to lure a few votes from both camps – and sheallegedly assaulted DAB member ‘Dr’Elizabeth Quat, which is cool interesting. There’s some businessman bozo who claims to support a second term for CY. And there’s a barrister protesting his profession’s opposition to his other career in ‘body figuring’, which seems to be some sort of chiropractic-with-extra-added-voodoo baloney with Chinese characteristics, of course. Or maybe it’s the Body Figuring Association who are censuring him in disgust at his whoring as a lawyer. This is what they do to people they like…
Those of us outside NT East will just have to sit and watch.
The controversial Copyright Amendment Bill spurred more delaying tactics and filibustering in the Legislative Council on Wednesday, with the house seeing just three questions raised in two hours that was peppered with eight quorum calls.
People Power's Albert Chan said the main plan is to ask for even more quorum calls. The Basic Law stipulates that half of the legislature's 70 members must be in the chamber to make a quorum.
Lawmakers opposed to the bill say it will infringe on the freedom of internet users and demand changes to the bill. But the government has rejected the calls.
Outside the Legco also activists groups have opposed the bill while music and film industry sector backs it.
A group of students at the University of Hong Kong have started to boycott classes demanding a review of how the university's governing council is formed.
About a hundred students are taking part in a rally to kick off the campaign, which is expected to last until the council holds its next meeting on Tuesday.
They claim the government is undermining the autonomy of the university and cite the appointment of Executive Councillor Aurthur Li as the council chairman as an example. The students also say the automatic appointment of the Chief Excecutive as the chancellor of the universities should be stopped as it brings political interference.
Speaking on RTHK’s Backchat programmes earlier, Yvonne Leung – one of the protest organisers and former HKU student union president – said Li’s role as a member of the HKU Council shows that he is not fit enough to lead the council.
She also said the organising committee which has called for the class boycott has a wide base to make sure that more views are represented before a decision is taken.
Anthony Cheung talks to RTHK's Janice Wong
The Secretary for Transport and Housing, Anthony Cheung, warned on Wednesday that there will be "serious consequences" if the construction of the Hong Kong-section of the express rail link to Guangzhou is suspended.
The government is seeking lawmakers approval for an additional HK$19.6 billion in funding for the project, which has suffered delays. Cheung said if they do not approve it by the end of next month, the government will have to start thinking whether to suspend work.
He said the HK$65 billion approved earlier by legislators is expected to run out in July, and the government cannot wait until then to make a decision.
Cheung said if the government suspends work, and then decides to restart it, it will have to go through a whole new tendering process which could lead to more expenditure and longer delays.
by Raymond Tsoi
EJ Insight » Hong KongToday, 10:49
Last year’s college enrollment data shows that top students crammed into two major faculties — medicine and business.
The situation begs the question of whether these top scorers based their decision on their real interests or they were largely drawn by prospects of financial rewards.
Last year 400 of the 500 best students in Hong Kong chose to study medicine when they entered college.
“I am not questioning our students’ resolve or ability, but there is a need to query about this strange phenomenon,” Francis Chan, dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Chinese University of Hong Kong, told iknow.hkej.com.
“It’s not unusual to make choices based on practical considerations.
“Nonetheless, being a doctor is a lifetime profession. If you make a wrong decision, not only would you become unhappy, you won’t be a blessing to the patients either.”
Hong Kong’s ever-increasing population and an aging society guarantee that the demand for doctors can only go up.
A medical career probably won’t make you a billionaire, but for an experienced doctor to earn HK$1 million a year is rather common.
In fact, on average, doctors belong to the highest paid one percentile in Hong Kong. There is indeed quite a lot of financial incentives in taking up the profession.
But as Chan said, one should not embark on a medical career lightly. One needs to have the capability, the right character, proper motivation, and, most important, the desire to help and serve people.
– Contact us at email@example.com
EJ Insight » Hong KongToday, 10:25
A Hong Kong school at the center of a scandal over fast-tracked graduate degrees also cranked out diplomas for policemen.
Lifelong College gave bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice to 17 policemen through Tarlac State University (TSU), its Philippine affiliate, Apple Daily reports, citing its own investigation.
Earlier reports said Wan Chai district councilor Anna Tang and TVB actress Sisley Choi took shortened graduate courses.
Last year, Hong Kong authorities began an investigation into Lifelong for allegedly cranking out doctoral degrees by shortening the programs up to three years and helping candidates write theses for a fee.
The scandal has embroiled Herdip Singh, an associate vice president and comptroller of Lingnan University who resigned in November amid an internal investigation into reports he plagiarized his TSU thesis.
The officers, aged 24 to 45, were enrolled in TSU between January and March 2013 but Lifelong backdated their records to Oct. 29, 2012, according to Apple Daily.
In fact, TSU had halted its international program in early 2013 after Philippine media reported that Lifelong and TSU were collaborating to fast-track degrees.
The 17 policemen included five sergeants and 12 lower-ranking officers who had served between five and 25 years. Nine were in the marine police.
Some were allowed waivers in several subjects to meet entry requirements to the bachelor’s program.
And some applied for tuition refund from the government for the waived subjects, although these were not registered with the Education Bureau, the report said.
A police spokesman said officials are looking into the new revelations.
Barrister Albert Luk said the policemen may have committed forgery and conspiracy to defraud.
If convicted, they could be jailed up to 14 years for each offense.
They have little chance of getting a reduced sentence on the grounds of ignorance because they are law enforcers, Luk said.
– Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. businesses in China are voicing increased concern about unclear laws, perceived antiforeign sentiment and industrial overcapacity, adding to worries about uncertainty over the slowing Chinese economy.
Here are five charts breaking down the concerns they voiced in an annual survey of members of the American Chamber of Commerce in China released Wednesday.
1. Most companies believe antiforeign sentiment from the government is growing in China:
2. Air pollution in major Chinese cities is impeding companies’ efforts to attract senior executives:
3.Inconsistent regulatory practices and murky laws are a top challenge:
4. Companies say revenues and profits dwindled in 2015:
5. Internet censorship and online controls remain a concern:
–Laurie Burkitt and Felicia Sonmez
Sign up for CRT’s daily newsletter to get the latest headlines by email.
For the latest news and analysis, follow @ChinaRealTime
HONG KONG, CHINA--(Marketwired - Jan 19, 2016) - Commonwealth Bank of Australia(Commonwealth Bank) has today launched an Innovation Lab in Hong Kong and announced plans to launch an Innovation Lab in London later this year. This innovation network is a natural extension of the Bank's successful Innovation Lab in Sydney and creates a global approach to innovation that connects customers, employees and start-up communities to the latest FinTech developments.
Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, Group Executive, Institutional Banking and Markets, Commonwealth Bank said, "Hong Kong's highly developed financial sector, strong entrepreneurial culture and proximity to China makes it the optimal location for us to establish an innovation presence in Asia. The Hong Kong Lab will allow us to partner with the brightest minds across the city's accelerator, government, university, start-up and FinTech communities to further develop creative and innovative solutions for our clients."
The Hong Kong Lab's three main zones encourage collaboration and drive experimentation.
The incubation garage space helps cross-functional project teams work together on bringing ideas to life.The collaboration hub encourages co-creation with clients to find bespoke solutions, deep dive into specific challenges and test prototypes.The usability room provides clients with a live testing facility and the latest eye-tracking technology to improve their digital platforms.
"The strong interest in our Sydney Innovation Lab demonstrates the emphasis business and government place on innovation as an integral part to a successful future. In just one year, the Sydney Innovation Lab hosted over 40,000 guests, successfully built a live blockchain and collaborated with major Australian corporates, government organisations and universities to experiment with future technology. This innovation space has strengthened our culture of innovation and we look forward to continuing this success on a global scale," Ms Bayer Rosmarin said.
Paul Tighe, Australian Consul-General to Hong Kong said, "By launching the billion dollar National Innovation and Science Agenda last December, the Australian Government indicated that it's ready to encourage an ideas boom. We welcome the launch of the Commonwealth Bank Innovation Lab in Hong Kong, which is a demonstration that business and individuals are ready and keen to play their part in facing the challenges of the future."
For more information on the Innovation Lab visitcommbank.com.au/innovationlab
About Commonwealth Bank of Australia
Commonwealth Bank is Australia's leading provider of integrated financial services, including retail, premium, business and institutional banking, funds management, superannuation, insurance, investment and share-broking products and services.
Commonwealth Bank's Institutional Banking & Markets (IB&M) division has a strong presence in Hong Kong and Asia more broadly. IB&M has core capabilities across transactional and working capital banking, debt financing solutions, financial markets and risk management products. The business is responsible for developing and providing products to major corporate and government clients active in our specialist sectors of transport, utilities, natural resources and financial institutions. IB&M also service Australian and New Zealand clients active in cross border trades and investments. Institutional Banking & Markets' global reach extends through offices in Auckland, Beijing, Hong Kong, Houston, London, New York, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo and throughout Australia.
Commonwealth Bank's International Financial Services division is also based out of Hong Kong and manages the retail and SME business in emerging markets and has operations in Indonesia, China, Vietnam, India and South Africa.
First State Investments ('FSI'), known as CFSGAM in Australia, is the investment management business of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and has offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland, London, Edinburgh, Paris, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Singapore, Jakarta, Tokyo, New York, Louisville and Dubai. FSI provides a range of product solutions to institutional investors, pension funds, wholesale distributors, investment platforms, financial advisers and their clients globally across a diverse range of asset classes.
MEDIA FACTSHEET - LAUNCH OF HONG KONG INNOVATION LAB
Commonwealth Bank's Recent Innovation Highlights
Signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chief Scientist in Israel to collaborate on technology and innovation with Israel's start-up scene.Launched a world first touch-screen, open platform payments tablet - Albert and Pi.Opened a Sydney Innovation Lab that is actively used by start-ups, CBA staff and clients to collaborate and experiment.Built a working blockchain to experiment with opportunities and educate stakeholders on the technology.First bank in Australia to offer 'Tap and Pay' for Android phones with built-in near-field communications (NFC), such as Samsung's smartphone.Partnered with global shopping centre group, Westfield and launched a customised loyalty and offers app that uses big data to customise the retail experience by sensing when shoppers are entering a Westfield shopping centre and sending them offers from retailers in the centre to their smartphones.Built a centre of expertise in cyber securitythrough an education partnership with University of NSW.Invested in world leading research into Quantum Computing at the University of NSW.
"I admire them [Commonwealth Bank] because they are really ahead of the rest of the world in banks in stepping into the future. There are a couple of banks similar in the US, but mostly around the world, the banks are not very progressive and are not seeing the change in people's lives brought by mobile internet. Everything is becoming closer to us and so simple. Credit cards are worldwide standards, but we don't have that yet for mobile payment systems....This bank is a leader in thinking about this." Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder (Australian Financial Review, December 2014)
Hong Kong Innovation Lab design
Every aspect of the Innovation Lab has been designed to spark curiosity, invite fresh viewpoints, provide hands-on immersion. The Lab has three zones: incubation garage spaces, collaboration hub and usability room.
Incubation Garage Space
The Garage Space will be used to identify, develop and test early stage ideas, focussing on establishing customer need, and exploring viability and feasibility through a series of experiments to prove up the concepts.External parties (tech innovators and clients) are invited into this space to co-develop with Commonwealth Bank project teams and provide the resources needed to test, foster and grow ideas. Guests to the Lab are able to view the Garage in action through glass walls.
The Collaboration Hub is designed for clients to brainstorm bespoke solutions, deep dive into specific challenges, workshop future opportunities and designs, test prototypes and engage relevant stakeholders from across the organisation. The hub is equipped with interactive whiteboards allowing all participants to contribute content for dynamic, bespoke storytelling and insights.
The Usability Room is a live testing facility where clients can use the latest eye-tracking technology with customer focus groups to improve their digital platforms. Testing usability and gaining real customer insights is part of our customer-centred design philosophy.
Other features & experiences:
Products of Innovation feature allows visitors to interact with Commonwealth Bank's latest products both for our consumer and corporate clients. Using Leap technology, the feature senses a visitor and their interest based on proximity to the item.The Data Analytics wall enables visitors to drill down into Commonwealth Bank's payments data to understand how strategic decisions are supported and easier to make when big data provides real insight and leads to big answers. This interactive screen demonstrates aggregated consumer spending habits, demographic and geographic trends.The Future of Interactive is a virtual reality experience that uses gamification to demonstrate how technology and innovation will change the transport and logistics, real estate and natural resources industries as well as what the future of education and work might look like.
Blockchain interactive facilitates experiments with a variety of use cases across the bank and is also used to understand the opportunities and test the short comings of the technology.Oculus Rift experience uses virtual reality technology to engage our people and clients.
Sydney Innovation Lab
During 2015, the Sydney Innovation Lab:
Ran 812 Tours;Hosted 40,000+ visitors from more than 400 companies;Ran 28 garage projects;Engaged with 12 universities across Australia; andHosted 86 key events, including hackathons, media launches, innovation training, and TEDX live streaming.
Our commitment to co-creating with our clients in the Lab has untapped new opportunities for our clients.
Global shopping centre group, Westfield. Our ongoing partnership with Westfield has resulted in many ideas being brought to the market including a customised loyalty and offers app using big data to customise the retail experience.A Next Generation Housing consortium to look at solving affordable housing for Australia - a significant collaborative project across a number of corporate clients from insurers, property developers, superannuation companies and charities.A major Australian retailer in redefining their customer's experience for their new concept storeGovernment on enhancing online customer experiences when accessing public services and educationA significant dotcom Australian company on prototyping and experimenting new online research and purchasing scenariosA global furniture retailer to help reimagine the future of their omni channel customer experience.
The Lab has inspired future thinking in payments through the operation of our own blockchain network which is sparking interesting ideas around potential use cases.
Mobile: +61 455 074 389
Media hotline: 02 9118 691
If Hong Kong begins to look like just another Chinese city with Beijing calling the shots, why should investors differentiate?
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 January, 2016, 11:20pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 January, 2016, 11:40pm
Peter Dahlin, 35, was taken into custody on January 4. Photo: Chinese Urgent Action Working Group
A Swedish NGO worker detained on the mainland has been accused of setting up a non-profit organisation – that is registered in Hong Kong as a company – with a Chinese rights lawyer to carry out activities that “endanger state security” – including helping the teenage son of a detained lawyer flee abroad.
State security organs and police authorities jointly “smashed an illegal group which worked under the name of Chinese Urgent Action Working Group that received long-term overseas funding to train and fund many agents to carry out criminal activities that harmed state security,” state news agency Xinhua said.
It said Peter Dahlin, 35, a co-founder of the group, had been detained on “criminal coercive measures”.
Last week, the foreign ministry said Dahlin, whose group offered legal aid to Chinese citizens, had been detained for “harming the national interest”. His group said he was taken into custody on January 4.
Xinhua said Dahlin and Chinese rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang, from Beijing Fengrui law firm, who has been detained since July, registered a group called Joint Development Institute Limited in Hong Kong in 2009.
The group, which Xinhua said was not registered on the mainland, had funded activist Xing Qingxian to “collude with overseas [forces]” to smuggle detained rights lawyer Wang Yu’s son, 16, abroad. The attempt in October failed and the boy and those who helped him were repatriated to the mainland from Myanmar.
Wang and four colleagues from his firm were formally arrested this month on the charge of “subversion of state power” after being held for six months.
Critics say Beijing is cracking down on rights advocates such as lawyers to stifle a burgeoning rights defence movement.
Xinhua alleged that the Chinese Urgent Action Working Group had received funding from seven overseas groups to build a dozen legal aid organisations to fund and train lawyers, petitioners and “used them to collect negative information about our country, to twist, exaggerate and even to fabricate and provide ‘China human rights reports’ to overseas [groups].”
Xinhua further accused people who had been trained by the group of getting involved in sensitive social issues to “deliberately exacerbate conflicts that were not serious in the first place and to incite masses to confront the government and to create mass incidents”.
Business | Esther Yu 01-20
The Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority will move its offices from the International Commerce Centre to a complex in Kwai Chung, saving HK$50 million a year.
The ICC and the complex, the Kowloon Commerce Centre, are both owned by Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016), but rents in the two places differ starkly.
Estate agents said rent at the ICC is more than HK$60 per square foot, while that in the Kowloon Commerce Centre is HK$25 psf.
"We are moving there to improve efficiency since the [authority's] three offices are to be combined," said executive director Cheng Yan-chee.
He said the ICC was "barren" before they moved in eight years ago. Rents have risen a lot since then, and that is part of the reason the authority is moving out.
The three current offices in Central, Kwai Fong and ICC have a combined floor area of about 80,000 sq ft, while the area of the three floors at the new location is 10,000 sq ft less. But in the face of global economic uncertainties, Cheng believes the move will save costs and the location is also more convenient to staff.
Meanwhile, starting from next month, retiring workers can take out their benefits from their MPF accounts in separate installments instead of the whole amount at once.
Account holders can withdraw funds in installments free of charge for the first four times each year from February 1. The authority said two-thirds of the funds allow account holders to take out cash unlimited times. It has no estimation of how many people will do so, saying it depends very much on personal choice and the economic environment.
As for the progress on introducing the core fund, which requires a default plan from each of the 15 MPF trustees with a capped management fee of 0.75 percent, Cheng said it is expected to be approved by the Legislative Council during the first quarter. The plan will be launched by the end of the year at the earliest.
High Court rules surcharges did not constitute a remittance service, siding with appellant’s claim that he was just helping clients make purchases on Taobao
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 January, 2016, 7:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 January, 2016, 7:00am
A passer-by in front of an Alipay advertisement in Causeway Bay MTR station. Photo: David Wong
A man who took Hong Kong dollars from clients and helped them top up their online payment service accounts, in RMB with a surcharge, had his conviction quashed on Tuesday.
The man – whose name transliterated as Yip Wai-cheong, according to a High Court judgement – had earlier been convicted of operating a money service without a license.
Prosecutors argued that what he did on Alipay, a third-party online payment platform, virtually equaled a “money remittance service”. Yip was previously fined HK$5,000 for breaching the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (Financial Institutions) Ordinance.
But the Court of First Instance, where he lodged the appeal against his conviction, on Tuesday ruled that the man took the money simply to assist his clients in making purchases in online e-commerce platform Taobao.
“The nature of his business is therefore not in remittance service and hence he was not operating a money service,” Deputy High Court Judge Poon Siu-tung wrote.
Taobao and Alipay are owned by Jack Ma, chairman and founder of Alibaba Group, who bought all media assets of the SCMP Group, including the South China Morning Post, for HK$2.06 billion last year.
The High Court overturned the conviction, ruling that the appellant did not operate a money service. Photo: Sam Tsang
Yip stood trial earlier at Kwun Tong Court, which heard that Yip’s clients would deposit money into his Hong Kong bank account. He would charge a surcharge of 0.2 per cent for each transaction.
With the RMB from his mainland bank account, Yip would then top up his Alipay account – so that he could make purchases for his clients on Taobao as instructed – or his clients’ Alipay account, which his clients would use to make similar purchases.
Yip remitted a total sum of HK$4,656,061 from his Hong Kong bank account to his mainland one, in 63 instalments between 2012 and 2014.
Normally, independent business owners specialising in helping clients carry out overseas orders may not necessarily hold a bank account in the country where orders were placed.
Overturning the conviction yesterday, Poon ruled that the money Yip received was payment for the products his clients ordered, rather than a remittance service.
He also said the surcharge that the appellant pocketed did not vary due to the exchange rate, but was charged according to the price of the products ordered.
The surcharge was calculated in RMB, which magistrate Don So Man-lung earlier found was suggestive of a money service.
But Poon said Yip simply wanted to avoid incurring a loss caused by fluctuating exchange rates.
He therefore said the appellant’s act did not constitute a money service and that his conviction should be quashed.
Hong Kong's government has moved to play down fears that Chinese law enforcement agencies now operate freely within the city's separate jurisdiction as police in the neighboring province of Guangdong confirmed they are holding one of five Hong Kong booksellers missing since last October.
Speaking after Guangdong officials finally confirmed that Hong Kong resident Lee Bo is in mainland China, Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying dismissed criticisms that the case shows an inadequate level of communication with mainland Chinese authorities across the internal border.
Leung told reporters on Tuesday: "We shouldn't speculate. All comments made should be based on facts."
The uncertain status of Lee Bo, who manages the Causeway Bay bookstore which has seen four other employees and shareholders go missing, believed detained by Chinese police in recent weeks, sparked protests in the former British colony amid growing fears that traditional freedoms promised under the 1997 handover to China are now under threat.
Hong Kong officials have made an official request to meet with Lee to get more information, Leung said.
Lee, 65, was last seen at work on Dec. 30, the latest in a string of disappearances linked to Causeway Bay Books. He had no travel documents with him at the time, and there are no records of his having left Hong Kong.
Four of his associates, publisher Gui Minhai, general manager Lui Bo, and colleagues Cheung Jiping and Lam Wing-kei have gone missing under similar circumstances since October.
Some of the detainees have called to let their families know they are alive and well, and are now widely believed to be in detention in China, amid huge public concern that they were taken there unofficially by Chinese police.
Earlier this month, thousands of people marched to Beijing's central government liaison office in Hong Kong from government headquarters in protest at the disappearances.
On Sunday, China confirmed it had detained Lee's business associate Gui Minhai, who disappeared from a Thai beach resort in October, saying he had returned to China to hand himself over to the authorities in connection with a road accident 10 years ago.
Gui, who holds a Swedish passport, was seen on state-run television CCTV's news programme "confessing" to causing the death of a college student while driving drunk.
Gui's U.K.-based daughter, who gave only a nickname Angela, said she had never heard that her father had been involved in a road accident that killed someone.
"I don't know about this, so I have no way to comment, but I don't think that my father went willingly back to mainland China," she said. "That doesn't make any sense."
She said the family has yet to receive any formal notification of Gui's detention from Chinese authorities.
In Hong Kong, pan-democratic lawmaker and rights activist Leung Kwok-hung said he doesn't believe the "car accident" story.
"It depends how much trust we place in the Chinese government," Leung said. "All five of them were part of Causeway Bay books, and all five of them disappeared without a trace, and now they're saying he turned himself in."
"I think that's highly dubious."
Hong Kong political affairs commentator Camoes Tam agreed. "The only thing I can say about this is that I am highly suspicious," he said. "It's similar to a kidnapped person telling everyone they're OK, and what they have to do to secure their release."
"We just need to look at the fact that he is now in mainland China, and at what their human rights record is," Tam said.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong documentary filmmaker Han Yan said the taped "confession" was likely edited from more than one recording session, pointing out via her Twitter account that Gui's T-shirt had changed color from one shot to the next.
"T-shirt inconsistent in Gui Minhai interview," Han tweeted. "In film we call these goofs. Oh wait, it's not film, it's CCTV 'news'."
Meanwhile, official Chinese media denied that the one country, two systems promise made to Hong Kong, which runs a separate legal and administrative jurisdiction with its own laws and immigration controls, is under threat.
"Hong Kong and the mainland should not confront each other," the Global Timesnewspaper, which has close ties to the ruling Chinese Communist Party, said in an editorial.
"The difference of judiciary systems in the two parts should not be highlighted and distorted as a crackdown on freedom in Hong Kong," it said, adding: "Mainland society is willing to see Hong Kong exercise its independent judiciary."
Pan-democratic politicians have hit out at the Hong Kong government's handling of the case.
"The sequence of events indicates that this government seems powerless to act," Anson Chan, former second-in-command to the last colonial governor Chris Patten.
"If Mr CY Leung is not getting a satisfactory answer from his counterpart in the mainland, he needs to take this up at the highest level of authority in Beijing," Chan told Hong Kong government broadcaster RTHK.
And pan-democratic lawmaker Kenneth Chan said Hong Kong's Legislative Council should carry out its own investigation into the case of the five booksellers.
"I think a chain of enquiries and investigations must now begin, as to why any Hong Kong citizen ... [can be] 'disappeared', kidnapped, abducted by [a] mainland Chinese enforcement authority," Chan told RTHK.
Link to planned book
Fellow publisher and independent writer Meng Lang said many of Gui's friends and fellow authors are very worried.
"A lot of us are worried about Gui Minhai and about all five of the Causeway Bay Books guys," Meng told RFA. "But we have no other sources of information. All we can do is hope that the Chinese authorities tell us the truth about what really happened."
"But it seems they are making it up and editing the script as they go along."
Commentators say the men's disappearances could be linked to plans to publish a political book containing a story about an old love interest of President Xi Jinping's.
Official Chinese media commentaries have accused the store of peddling "forbidden books" deliberately targeting mainland Chinese tourists with their "malicious content."
But a Causeway Bay Books customer surnamed Hui said he sees the disappearances as part of a broader crackdown on dissent launched by President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.
"They crack down on anything that doesn't suit them," Hui said. "But it's unreasonable, because readers are curious, and there are some books you can only get in Hong Kong, that can give them knowledge they didn't have."
"Some people just want to get at the truth."
Reported by Hai Nan for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Xin Lin for the Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.