May 31, 2016

In Hong Kong, protest over ‘Pokemon’ name change reflects fears of Chinese encroachment

By Yanan Wang Morning Mix

May 31 at 5:50 AM 

Dozens of people dressed up as Pikachu,dance with fans in suburban Tokyo, on August 16, 2015. (TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)

Children the world over have grown up with the cherubic, lightning bolt-inspired, mouse-like creature known as Pikachu, the central character of the Pokemon media franchise. Spanning television shows, trading cards and more, the company celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, and is in turn releasing two new video games: “Pokemon Sun” and “Pokemon Moon.”

In Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China, the games will be released in simplified and traditional Chinese this December, but not all fans are pleased.

The discontent stems, in essence, from the difference between the traditional Hong Kong translation of Pikachu — “Bei-kaa-chyu” — and the Mandarin translation — “Pi-ka-qiu.”

The distinction may seem trivial, but it speaks to a broader fear among Hong Kong residents: that Mandarin Chinese, the language of mainland China, is gradually replacing the Cantonese dialect most widely used in Hong Kong.

Pokemon products have long adhered to local translations. But “Pokemon Sun” and “Pokemon Moon” will introduce, for the first time, a unified translation across Greater China that privileges Mandarin, the company announced earlier this year.

This will also change the original Hong Kong name for “Pokemon” from “Little Pet Spirits” to “Pokemon Spirits,” and so on.

Quartz reported that dozens gathered outside the Japanese Consulate in Hong Kong this Monday to protest the change. The protesters, many of whom belong to the radical localist group Civic Passion, (localists worry about Hong Kong’s identity and autonomy) called for Nintendo to offer a unique Cantonese translation for the new games.

Protesters sang the Pokemon theme song in Cantonese as they raised banners that read “No Pi-ka-qiu give me Bei-kaa-chyu,” according to Quartz.

“Our culture [and] language is threatened by the Beijing government, Mandarin and simplified Chinese,” Civic Passion leader Wong Yeung-tat told Quartz. “We’re afraid Cantonese may be disappearing.”

In a statement last week, Nintendo’s Hong Kong office encouraged all Chinese Pokemon lovers, regardless of whether they spoke Cantonese or Mandarin, to adopt the global pronunciation of “Pikachu.”

The Washington Post’s Simon Denyerreported on Hong Kong’s struggles in China’s shadow in 2013, as Mandarin became the preferred language among luxury shoppers in Hong Kong.

In 2014, Hong Kong’s Education Bureauapologized after stating on its website that Cantonese is not an official language of the city. The laws list English and Chinese as the official languages, but do not specify whether “Chinese” points to Cantonese or Mandarin. In mainland China, Cantonese is often characterized as an “uncivilized” tongue in comparison to Mandarin.

Two unofficial surveys have found that a near-majority of Hong Kong schools now teach Mandarin over Cantonese.

A Facebook page dedicated to fighting the new Chinese Pokemon translations has more then 2,500 members.

Longtime fan Kenny Chu told Japan Today:”[Bei-kaa-chyu] is a collective memory of Hong Kong and I want to defend our significant local culture, which was neglected by Nintendo.”

Why some youth are becoming indifferent to June 4 -Joseph Lian Yizheng

A file photo shows a candlelight vigil at Hong Kong's Victoria Park to remember those killed in a crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Beijing in 1989. Photo: Bloomberg
A file photo shows a candlelight vigil at Hong Kong's Victoria Park to remember those killed in a crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Beijing in 1989. Photo: Bloomberg

The candlelight vigil that takes place at Victoria Park on June 4 has come in for criticism that it is nothing more than an empty annual ritual.

This year some youth groups have said that they will boycott the event.

Elders are saddened by the news, wondering why the issue of condemning the Communist Party’s atrocities in Tiananmen Square in 1989 appears to have lost resonance among the younger generation.

The chairman of the Hong Kong University Students’ Union has dismissed the vigil, saying that it doesn’t serve any purpose and that it should be wrapped up for good.

Two or three years ago, no one could have envisaged that such a thing would happen.

But now we are stuck in a generational dichotomy on the issue.

The elders cherish their decades-long attachment to the annual remembrance of the victims of China’s crackdown on democracy activists, while millennials have started questioning the relevance of the vigil on an event that didn’t take place here in Hong Kong.

Now, I’d like to propose a couple of questions to the old and young who are seemingly divided.

Why did Hongkongers, known for their political apathy, feel so bereft and indignant when the Tiananmen massacre took place 27 years ago?

What was the reason for the outrage even though the overall estimated casualty figure in the 1989 crackdown was “paltry” in comparison to the death toll during other political calamities authored by the party after the People’s Republic was established in 1949?

The Three Years of Great Chinese Famine from 1959–1961, also known as “Mao’s famine”, claimed the most lives in the history of Communist China.

Over 870,000 “counterrevolutionaries” were sentenced to death during a purge from 1949 to 1952, while around 60,000 — mostly intellectuals — died in harsh ideological reeducation labor camps in the 1957 Anti-Rightist Movement.

To top it all, up to 1.5 million people are estimated to have lost their lives between 1966 and 1971 during the height of the Cultural Revolution.

Disputes remain over the exact casualties of the 1989 crackdown, with estimates ranging anywhere from 400 to 3,000.

Given the other calamities under Communist China, some felt that Tiananmen was a “small” incident.

Still, what prompted about one-and-a-half-million people in Hong Kong, in the then British colony, to take to the streets that summer in solidarity with protesters and martyrs north of the border?

The fact is that Hongkongers back then felt they can’t be mere onlookers to the tragedy — which saw young protesters, peaceful and unarmed, massacred by soldiers in Beijing – as Hong Kong’s own fate was becoming inextricably linked to the mainland due to the looming 1997 handover.

Margaret Thatcher and Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) inked a Joint Declaration in December 1984 after London agreed to give up Hong Kong, and the second draft of the Basic Law was promulgated four months before the crackdown in Tiananmen Square.

Before the 1980s, Honkongers were nonchalant about political tumults ravaging China as a British Hong Kong provided a safe harbor.

But as the safe harbor was nearing an end, it made Hongkongers jittery. And the events at Tiananmen Square only added to peoples’ insecurity.

Taking to the streets was a natural reaction. 

Some Hongkongers genuinely hoped that their protests might help infuse democracy in the mainland, but most people were driven by fears about their very own future.

So, what has changed now and why are our youngsters becoming aloof?

Well, we can say that just like what may happen when a romance turns sour, one may have feelings of hate initially but the mood then gives way to detachment and indifference.

The seemingly “indifferent” youngsters, as I see it, abhor the Chinese Communist Party as much as oldline democrats and those participating in the June 4 vigil, if not already more.

But there is a sense of indifference creeping now as the youth focus more on issues closer home.

Now, we come to this question: which should worry Beijing more — the old democrats in Hong Kong who want a democratic China or the young lads in the city who now seem to think that events pertaining to the mainland are of no relevance to Hong Kong?

As the actions of the youth point to lack of national identity, and given the comments by some groups that they envision self-determination, or even independence, for Hong Kong, Beijing is faced with an uncomfortable reality.

As time goes by, I expect Hongkongers to care more about themselves than the issue of democracy in China.

Such sentiment is in tune with the rising nativism here.

The older people may believe that Hong Kong should continue its efforts to champion democracy in China, with the June 4 vigil seen as an important pressure tactic.

But the young — many of whom took part in the 2014 Occupy protests — feel the commemoration won’t serve any concrete purpose as Beijing will never change its ways regardless of what happens in Hong Kong.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 30.

Translation by Frank Chen

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Read more:

June 4 vigil: Here’s a venue suggestion

Why June 4 should be a reminder to stay vigilant toward PLA 

A Goddess of Democracy statue is seen at a commemoration event in Victoria Park. Photo: Bloomberg

Candles are seen from above during an annual vigil. Some young people now say they will stay away from the event as it doesn’t serve any purpose and has nothing to do with Hong Kong. Photo: Bloomberg

China fast becoming Europe’s drug wholesaler, report warns

Europol claims criminal organisations dealing in new psychoactive substances, most of which operate in the mainland, are getting more active


UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 May, 2016, 6:20pm

The drug haul of 717 kilograms of methamphetamine in May was the largest by police in Guangdong province this year. Photo: Xinhua

China has become “the chemical and pharmaceutical wholesaler and retailer of new psychoactive substances to the world”, a Europol report issued last month said.

The study, which analysed drug markets, warned authorities that given the large profits and low risk of production and distribution of new psychoactive substances, which include legal highs, “it is possible that criminal organisations will become even more active”.

The EU Drug Markets Report 2016 is the second overview of illicit drug markets in the European Union by Europol and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. Its conclusions add weight to previous reports, which singled out China – and its expanding pharmaceutical industry - as playing an increasingly important role in the international drug trade.

China’s drug watchdog on trail of black market vaccines

A UN report last year identified Hong Kong and the mainland as key players in the Asian narcotics trade, as corruption within China’s pharmaceutical industry has been pointed out as a key factor in Guangdong becoming the production centre. But China’s chemical industry, as the new study shows, is not just going big in Asia.

It only costs some €100 (HK$863) to send one kilogramme of a substance from China to Europe – which, depending on the substance, can equate to tens of thousands of individual doses.

The process, according to the 188-page report, is fast and efficient, as most of the substances go unnoticed when they cross borders. The substances are shipped from China to Europe using express mail and companies that can deliver directly to the purchasers’ door in as little as two days.

Once in Europe, such substance may be processed and packaged into a range of products, which are then made available either on the open market or directly on the illicit drug market.

Researchers noted that the combination of modern transport networks, the internet, low labour costs and the rapid growth of the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, particularly in China and India, has facilitated the development of this large market.

A Chinese solider standing guard over the confiscated items in Dongguan in Guangdong province. Photo: Xinhua

“The precursors used in the manufacture of most traditional illicit drugs are generally produced legally by legitimate firms and then diverted to illicit ends,” the study said. But the “new psychoactive substances and their precursors are predominantly made in Asia, particularly China and to a lesser extent India.”

A key characteristic of the Asian chemical sector, including China, is that it is made up of a large number of comparatively small companies. “This makes the implementation of in-country controls more difficult because of the large number of sources of chemicals and potential opportunities for diversion,” the report noted.

Two managers of pharmaceutical businesses in the mainland told the Post that drug companies are currently under strict requirements and heavy supervision by authorities.

In March last year, Polish law authorities seized 7,000 litres of BMK - a commonly used precursor to manufacture amphetamine and methamphetamine, also known as meth or Ice, which had been shipped from China. Links with an amphetamine production site in the Netherlands were later established.

‘Made in China’ drugs on the rise, rivalling multinationals as Beijing focuses on making its own medicine

The report also mentioned a website selling new substances that had been shut down and that shortly after reopened. Authorities in Hungary found that another group had cloned the original site as it had a well-established client base.

The group sold EUR 35,000–40,000 of products per week, the study described. “When one substance was banned, they quickly sold off the remaining stock and ordered new uncontrolled analogues from China,” the study read.

“Part of the challenge of new psychoactive substances is that while they are often made to mimic synthetic drugs like methamphetamine or ecstasy that are under international control, they are chemically different and so not yet controlled or illegal,” said Jeremy Douglas, regional representative for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime for the Southeast Asia and the Pacific. “Organised crime is definitely involved in new psychoactive substances’ production and trafficking, and because new psychoactive substances are such a challenge to the existing international control system they are able to stay one step ahead of the law,” he noted.

This article appeared in print on May 29.

Hong Kong tainted water scandal inquiry blames solder and collective failure for dangerous lead levels

But independent report has paragraphs redacted before Department of Justice consultation


UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 May, 2016, 6:12pm

Residents at Kai Ching Estate in Kai Tak carry empty bottles for stocking water at temporary taps after last year’s scare. Photo: Nora Tam

A “classic case of buck-passing” and a collective failure by all concerned to protect public housing tenants’ tap water from contamination was to blame for last year’s tainted water scandal, according to a version of an anticipated report on the scare.

But certain paragraphs from three pages of the independent report have been redacted, to avoid “any prejudice to the relevant criminal investigations and criminal prosecutions”, it said.

The tainted water inquiry said it was satisfied that leaded solder directly caused levels of the potentially poisonous element that exceeded World Health Organisation standards in all 11 of the affected public housing estates.

Lead balloon: Hong Kong lawmaker's strange question about possible health benefits of lead in water confounds officials

Its report said there had been, on the surface, “a perfect multi-barrier checking system” in place.

The Housing Authority specified that contractors only use lead-free solder, with similar provisions in contracts between main contractors and subcontractors. And the Water Authority introduced statutory requirements on building materials and demanded certification before allowing water supply, the report said.

“In practice, however, this multi-barrier checking system turned out to be no more than a paper system in which every party transferred the duty of supervision to the other[s], resulting in a classic case of buck-passing,” the 337-page report concluded.

Temporary distribution pipes at Kai Ching Estate, Kai Tak. Photo: May Tse

“Trust was misplaced and in the end it was residents who suffered the most.”

The commission rejected claims that the government had deliberately used a method of testing which would limit the apparent size of the problem. But it said it should test the drinking water in all public housing estates again using better methods and including testing stagnant water.

It also recommended setting up an independent body to oversee water quality in Hong Kong and keep a check on the Water Supplies Department.

Hong Kong contractor admits relying too much on subcontractor to follow rules at estates tainted by lead in water

It urged the Housing Authority to review – in consultation with the department – all materials used to build public housing estates, and create a robust system monitoring plumbing works.

The commission met its nine-month deadline for the probe on May 11 in submitting the report to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying after combing evidence from 72 witnesses during a 67-day hearing between November 2 last year and March 17.

But only its redacted report was released on Tuesday as the government needed to consult the Department of Justice’s legal advice on how the document be released and whether any redaction was necessary.

Court reserves ruling on Joshua Wong's challenge - RTHK

Joshua Wong is challenging the age limit for election candidates. File photo: RTHKJoshua Wong is challenging the age limit for election candidates. File photo: RTHK

The High Court has reserved judgment on Tuesday on whether to hear activist Joshua Wong’s challenge on the age limit for election candidates. 

Wong is seeking to have the threshold lowered from 21 to 18, arguing that the current limitation is unconstitutional. 

The 19-year-old secretary general of the newly-formed political party Demosisto has said if he wins the case, he will run in September’s Legislative Council polls. 

But this seems unlikely now, as Justice Thomas Au made it clear that even if he rules in favour of Wong, he will have to refer the case to the legislature to amend relevant laws. 

When applying for leave to a judicial review, Wong’s lawyer told the court that people can vote when they reach 18 but cannot run in an election until they turn 21. 

He said the Basic Law entitles the people the right to vote and stand in elections, so, the government has to explain the age difference. 

But, the Department of Justice argued that the right to vote and to run in an election are different. Its lawyer said the current age limits are proportionate and serves a legitimate aim.

He also said the issue is a political matter rather than a legal one, and urged the court to be careful when deciding whether to extend its powers into Legco business.

See how decadent police and pro-establishment camp have become -Aih Ching-tin

Earlier this month a police sergeant at the Wan Chai Police Station stole HK$1.07 million in bail money that had been kept in a safe and fled the city without a trace. Photo: HKEJ

Earlier this month a police sergeant at the Wan Chai Police Station stole HK$1.07 million in bail money that had been kept in a safe and fled the city without a trace. Photo: HKEJ

Once a highly respected and trusted law enforcement agency, the Hong Kong Police has degenerated into a corrupt, decadent and Gestapo-like state apparatus that is loathed by the majority of Hong Kong people.

Our police force has been engulfed by scandals and public disgrace.

Earlier this month a police sergeant at the Wan Chai Police Station stole HK$1.07 million in bail money that had been kept in a safe and fled the city without a trace.

The government just turned a blind eye to the incident.

Even more ridiculous was that, according to media reports, a 70-year-old man who went to that police station for bail extension shortly after the theft had taken place was told by police officers on duty to sign on a waiver of claims regarding the bail money which he had posted earlier, and which had gone missing along with the fugitive sergeant.

After the incident had come to light, the police management quickly came to the defense of the Wan Chai station, arguing that it was only a misunderstanding and offering a public apology.

However, the police officialdom has so far remained both equivocal and evasive about whether the Wan Chai station should be held accountable for the theft of the bail money and whether the police officers who asked the man to sign the waiver would be suspended and subject to discipline.

It is hardly the first time the police force is trying to conceal its wrongdoings.

Over the past few years the department has come under fire for showing partiality towards officers who have breached the police code of conduct or even committed criminal offenses.

For instance, almost two years on, the police department still hasn’t pressed charges against the now retired police superintendent Franklin Chu King-wai who was caught on camera beating up an innocent passer-by with a police baton in Mong Kok during the Occupy protests in 2014.

In the meantime, the Department of Justice is also dragging its feet over pressing charges against the seven plainclothes police officers who were also caught on camera beating up Ken Tsang Kin-chiu, a protester and member of the Civic Party, at a dark street corner near the Central Government Offices during the protests.

The fact that our law enforcement agency has gone to great lengths to cover up its own mistakes and harbor officers who have broken the law will not only have negative and far-reaching implications for its relations with the public, but will also further undermine the credibility of the current administration which has already hit an all-time low.

Apart from our police force which has already fallen from grace in the public eye, equally disappointing is a recent scandal involving members of the pro-establishment camp that indicates these people are no more than a bunch of low-life political thugs with no integrity whatsoever.

Last week, according to media reports, several members of a delegation representing the CA Legal Exchange Foundation on a visit to Beijing led by barrister Lawrence Ma, a member of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), were found hanging out at a karaoke hostess bar somewhere in Beijing at night during their trip, and pictures showing them cuddling bar girls have gone viral on social media.

Shortly after news and images of their “erotic safari” hit the headlines, Maria Tam Wai-chu, a member of the Basic Law Committee, and lawmaker Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, both of whom honorary advisers to the CA Legal Exchange Foundation, quickly dissociated themselves from the organization and expressed strong disapproval of the conduct of the members of its Beijing delegation.

Also rushing to disavow any connection with the foundation was former DAB chairman and lawmaker Tam Yiu-chung, who denied, on behalf of his party, any knowledge of that trip, and stressed that Lawrence Ma is just an “ordinary member” of the DAB and what he did didn’t represent the party at all.

The truth, however, is that Lawrence Ma is no ordinary DAB member as Tam claimed.

He actually used to be the deputy spokesperson of the DAB on judicial and legal affairs and is often regarded a rising star in the party.

The fact that the DAB leadership quickly dissociated themselves with Ma and his foundation without a moment’s hesitation in the wake of the scandal indicates that the so-called brotherhood and bonds of friendship among DAB members who, they often claim, share the same patriotic ideals, are indeed a load of crap.

As the old saying goes, nothing counts in politics apart from interest. Everyone is indeed just an expendable and replaceable part of the DAB party machine.

Once you are no longer useful or considered a liability by the party leadership, you will be ditched like a piece of garbage immediately.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 30.

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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What’s next after ABC? -Ben Kwok

Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang (left) and Financial Secretary John Tsang appear to be leading the race for the next chief executive, or are they? Photos: HKEJ, Bloomberg

Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang (left) and Financial Secretary John Tsang appear to be leading the race for the next chief executive, or are they? Photos: HKEJ, Bloomberg

Who is likely to become our next Chief Executive?

The election is just nine months away, but no one has yet come forward to say that he or she is up for the race.

I happened to tune in to RTHK, and heard the panelists at the radio station’s Backchatprogram provide some interesting answers.

First, the acronym ABC prevails. It stands for Anyone But CY.

We all know that Leung Chun-ying will move heaven and earth in order to clinch a second term, and the only reason why he hasn’t declared his candidacy is because Beijing, even this late, has not yet bothered to give him a clear signal that he should run.

And everyone, except perhaps CY Leung, knows the reason for Beijing’s hesitance, which has something to do about his popularity ratings.

Now, you would ask, why would Beijing bother about popularity when there’s no genuine universal suffrage in Hong Kong in the first place?

Comedian Dayo Wong Chi-wah once said he would support any Chief Executive who could “safely walk out from a public estate without a bodyguard”.

Also surprising is the case of Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who seemed to have changed her mind about retiring from government next year.

Now she is not ruling out a crack at the top post.

However, few people think that she’ll get the promotion, and we all know that the only reason she is keeping her options open is that Beijing has told her not to rule out the possibility – not yet, anyway.

So that puts the spotlight on the Double J, or the Double T, whichever way you prefer to call them – Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah and Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing.

Both score high on the popularity index, and their weekly blogs – John on Sunday and Jasper on Monday – are well read and admired.

I always think there are three factors that make a good candidate for chief executive. First, he/she wants to run. Second, he/she is capable of running. And third, people want him/her to run.

Under these three criteria, the Double Js are leading the race, although they also have their own issues.

Few would disagree that John Tsang is highly qualified for the position.

But despite his superb public relations skills and his ability to relate with the young generation, the financial secretary is seen to be no more than a protégé of former chief executive Donald Tsang Yum-kuen.

Besides, there are doubts as to whether Beijing fully trusts him, although he did score a vigorous handshake from President Xi Jinping last year.

His China card, however, was offset by state leader Zhang Dejiang, who was said to have challenged him during his recent visit to Hong Kong.

So perhaps we need a clearer signal from Beijing.

The situation may present some opportunities for the popular Jasper Tsang, who has shown that he is more than Plan B as when he was almost called up to replace Henry Tang Ying-yen in the chief executive race four years ago.

The Legco chief showed that he could walk a fine line between serving Chinese authorities and speaking for Hong Kong people, while communicating well with the pro-establishment and pan-democratic camps.

Of course, having been able to preside over a difficult Legco is not enough. We need to see more of his policy thinking and how he is able to run the administrative system left over by the colonial government.

There are also the wild cards.

The ever-ambitious Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee is still waiting for some signal from the north or the twinkling of the stars, while the less ambitious Antony Leung Kam-chung now seems less likely to leave Nan Fung Group after being promoted to chairman last month.

The road to the Government House is long and steep, and the next few months are bound to hold more surprises.

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Why are our students condemning the remembrance of June 4? -SC Yeung

Thousands hold a candlelight vigil at Victoria Park to commemorate the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989. Photo: HKEJ

Thousands hold a candlelight vigil at Victoria Park to commemorate the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989. Photo: HKEJ

Should Hong Kong people continue to commemorate the June 4 Tiananmen Square massacre?

The annual event at Victoria Park, in which hundreds of thousands of people hold a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of the heinous crackdown on pro-democracy university students in Beijing 27 years ago, has become the subject of an intense debate in the territory.

Just a few days ago, Ng Kwai-lung, head of Shue Yan University’s student union editorial board, condemned the vigil’s organizers, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, which he described as having become “pimps in a brothel after they themselves were raped”.

In an article posted on social media, Ng said the alliance’s task was to “lure young girls to be tainted, before submitting them to gangs and bandits”.

Such ferocious language comes with the rise of localism in the city.

From the viewpoint of some localists, the bloody crackdown by the People’s Liberation Army on university students in 1989 was a Chinese affair, and therefore had nothing to do with the Hong Kong people’s struggle to free themselves from Chinese rule.

But the question is, why should Hong Kong people be prevented from commemorating the event?

If there are people who think that the June 4 event is a Chinese affair and should not be the concern of Hong Kong, then they are absolutely free not to remember the incident.

That should not present any conflict with those who want to remember the infamous event, and to condemn the loss of many human lives and the brutal repression of dissent by the Chinese Communist Party.

So why should these university students want to stop others from continuing the annual remembrance of the event?

For Hong Kong people who witnessed the June 4 massacre on their television screens, the article by the university student leader must have come as a big shock as they never expected the alliance to be described as such.

If anything, the article has given rise to suspicions that those who are opposing the holding of the annual vigil are themselves the ones being manipulated by unseen forces.

Why should the article say that those who participate in the yearly event have been “kidnapped” by the alliance when they have been doing it every June 4?

In fact, the alliance has been the sole organizer of the commemorative event for the past 27 years until last year, when the University of Hong Kong student unions organized their own annual event to remember the 1989 massacre.

Most of those who join the annual vigil at Victoria Park do not necessarily support the agenda of the alliance, whatever it is, except to commemorate the June 4 incident.

They are capable of making their own decisions, and they join the annual vigil out of their own volition.

However, those who were born after 1989 obviously didn’t have an eyewitness experience of the June 4 crackdown, they didn’t see the massive march of about a million people on the streets of Hong Kong in support of the protesting students in Beijing, they didn’t feel the utter sadness and anger that Hong Kong people felt as the Chinese army killed the protesting students in Beijing.

Many of today’s students simply want to separate Hong Kong from China; they don’t want to know what China did in the past or what it will do in the future.

For them, what is important is Hong Kong’s future and nothing else’s. They want to cut all ties with China.

That’s why these students decided not to participate in any activities organized by the alliance and to avoid echoing the alliance’s slogan of “building a democratic China”.

They want to show to the public that they are pro-Hong Kong, but not pro-China.

Their stance is bound to create more division among Hong Kong people, who are now being asked to make a choice between China and Hong Kong.

Ng Kwai-lung, the Shue Yan University student leader, admitted that in writing the article, he received advice from Wan Chin, a Lingnan University scholar who is well-known for his theory of Hong Kong as a city-state.

What is apparent is that unlike most pro-democracy Hongkongers who take a negative view of Beijing authorities, the university student leaders who advocate localism seem to be avoiding to make direct criticism of Beijing.

In fact, Chin has been labeled as a respected professional by the Communist Party, and always took a critical stance toward the alliance and the pro-democracy camp.

Given that Chin is planning to run in the Legislative Council elections in September, he and his allies will have to fight it out with pan-democrats in five geographical constituencies.

It cannot be ruled out that his criticism of the June 4 candlelight vigil is part of his political campaign to cross swords with the pan-democrats who have close links with the alliance.

It may be that Chin’s camp is using local university student leaders as part of its election campaign and propaganda war against the pan-democrats.

While the students want to differentiate themselves from the alliance’s pro-China mindset, the fact remains that there is no conflict between Hong Kong localism and the annual commemoration of the June 4 massacre.

Students should not ignore the fact that the Hong Kong people’s awakening to the faults of the Communist Party could be traced to the Tiananmen Square massacre.

It’s even fair to say that the Hong Kong pan-democratic movement sprang from the June 4 event.

The commemoration of the June 4 event is a condemnation of the Communist Party’s wrongdoings in China and Hong Kong.

It is understandable that Hong Kong students, who were at the forefront of the Occupy Movement in 2014, are angry at China because their legitimate demand for genuine universal suffrage was met with both indifference and violence.

But the students should not jump to the conclusion that Hong Kong people have no responsibility in helping build a democratic China.

It seems that the students are playing a game to protect some people from responsibility in the Tiananmen Square massacre by riding on the Hong Kong independence debate.

Hong Kong people should remain vigilant.

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Motorist sends CY a message via her license plate

Chow's car with the 'NO CY' license plate (inset) is now on the road in Hong Kong. Photos: HKEJ,

Chow's car with the 'NO CY' license plate (inset) is now on the road in Hong Kong. Photos: HKEJ,

It was fifth time lucky for a motorist who has succeeded in registering her car with a license plate that is even more eye-catching than the vehicle’s orange paint. 

The plate, which reads “N0 CY”, gets a thumbs up from everyone who sees it, said the car’s owner, surnamed Chow, news website reported Tuesday.

Chow first filed an application for the license plate in September via the personalized vehicle registration marks (PVRM) scheme.

Under the scheme, applicants draw lots, and the winners can bid for their favorite marks in an open auction.

Chow was finally awarded the mark at an auction in March after having applied four times without success.

She said she wants Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, often referred to by his initials, CY, to know that those who dislike him are not confined to the less privileged in society.

It is her way of protesting against the suppression of the freedom of speech by Leung’s administration, Chow said.

She is hoping that “N0 CY1” and “N0 CY2” will soon also be seen on the road.

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Who is threatening ‘one country, two systems’ and the Basic Law? -Frank Ching

If Zhang Dejiang (right) was truly looking and listening during his trip to Hong Kong, he would have realized where the true threat to 'one country, two systems' and the Basic Law was coming from. Photo: Reuters

If Zhang Dejiang (right) was truly looking and listening during his trip to Hong Kong, he would have realized where the true threat to 'one country, two systems' and the Basic Law was coming from. Photo: Reuters

The visit by Zhang Dejiang to Hong Kong, during which he held a brief meeting with four pan-democratic legislators, was clearly an attempt by Beijing to appear to be conciliatory.

Zhang – the third-ranking official of the Communist Party of China, chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee and the top mainland official responsible for Hong Kong affairs – warned against calls for self-determination and independence for the city.

He urged the 7.3 million people of Hong Kong to “stick to the ‘one country, two systems’ principle [and] stick to the Basic Law”.

If these were abandoned, he warned, Hong Kong “would undoubtedly rot”.

The Chinese leader started his three-day visit by saying that he was in Hong Kong to see, to listen and to speak.

Hopefully, he had a chance to see things from Hong Kong’s point of view.

Most people in Hong Kong would agree that it is vital to uphold the “one country, two systems” principle and the Basic Law.

But many believe that the Chinese government has violated them while paying them lip service.

Indeed, a reminder of the reality of Beijing’s actions was provided last week when Angela Gui, the 22-year-old daughter of disappeared Hong Kong bookseller Gui Minhai, testified before the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China in Washington.

She pleaded with the US to put pressure on the Chinese government to release her father, who was apparently plucked by Chinese agents from his home in Pattaya, Thailand, and taken illegally across international borders into China.

Gui’s associate, Lee Bo, a British national, disappeared from Hong Kong in December.

Britain said in its latest six-monthly report that information indicates “Mr. Lee was involuntarily removed to the mainland without any due process”, which “undermines the principle of ‘one country, two systems’”.

Under the Basic Law, Chinese law enforcement agencies are not permitted to operate in Hong Kong without authorization.

Thus, the abduction of Lee Bo is a violation of the Basic Law.

So far, China has ignored pressure from all quarters.

In late April, the European Union, in its annual report on Hong Kong, reported on the disappearance of Gui and four other booksellers, calling this case “the most serious challenge to Hong Kong’s Basic Law and the ‘one country, two systems’ principle since Hong Kong’s handover to the PRC [People’s Republic of China] in 1997”.

“The circumstances of the disappearances were suspicious,” the report said.

“The fifth person who disappeared from Hong Kong … seems to have been abducted.”

So the EU saw China as the threat to Hong Kong’s future, not youngsters advocating localism or people calling for self-determination.

And how did China respond?

A representative of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Commission in Hong Kong, instead of commenting on the facts cited in the report, avoided the issue by saying: “Hong Kong affairs are entirely China’s internal affair. We are firmly against the interference in China’s internal affairs by any foreign government, institution or individual in whatever way.”

In May, the US State Department issued a wide-ranging annual report on American relations with Hong Kong.

Under the heading “Significant Developments”, it cited international media reports regarding the disappearance of “five men affiliated with Mighty Current Publishing House and the Causeway Bay Bookstore, known for distributing and selling books critical of the Chinese Communist Party and its leaders”.

The report said the case has raised serious concerns in Hong Kong and “represents what appears to be the most significant breach of the ‘one country, two systems’ policy since 1997.”

So the US, like the EU, saw the seriousness of the case of the five booksellers and how China’s actions had contravened its own “one country, two systems” principle.

And, like the EU, the US was told by the Chinese Foreign Ministry that “Hong Kong affairs are entirely China’s internal affair that no foreign country has any right to interfere in”.

Then, in Hong Kong, when Zhang met the pan-democrats, they specifically raised the issue.

These lawmakers certainly can’t be accused of “interfering” in Hong Kong affairs.

If Zhang didn’t know about the booksellers’ case before, he certainly does now.

So if NPC chairman Zhang was really looking and listening during his visit, he should now be in a position to report back to his comrades in the Politburo the source of the threat to “one country, two systems” and the Basic Law: the Communist Party, which has infringed on the powers of the Hong Kong government, as enshrined in the Basic Law enacted by China’s National People’s Congress.

Who would have thought it?

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Why prosecutors should not be worried about acquittal rates -Neville Sarony

The prosecutor's job is to present to the court in a fair manner all the credible evidence for an alleged crime; it is not to secure a conviction at all costs. Photo: HKEJ

The prosecutor's job is to present to the court in a fair manner all the credible evidence for an alleged crime; it is not to secure a conviction at all costs. Photo: HKEJ

Shock, horror! Hong Kong’s legal system is leaking acquittals like water out of a colander.

An ex-director of public prosecutions (DPP) recently threw up his hands in horror at what he called the “parlous state of public prosecutions” leading to “mass acquittals” in the magistrates’ courts.

The after-trial conviction rates he quoted were: 52 percent in 2015, 50.3 percent in 2014 and 47 percent in 2013.

In his opinion, what he describes as this “systemic failure” is the consequence of a failure to maintain a full establishment of government-employed paralegal court prosecutors and an overreliance on private lawyers.

But the statistics he relies on for his criticism do not provide a comparison of the percentage of acquittals as between government paralegals and fully qualified lawyers in the private sector; hence the premise for his conclusion is fundamentally flawed.

Without a fully comprehensive analysis of every acquittal in the cohort of cases upon which the data is based, what meaningful conclusion can be properly drawn?

Certainly not the oversimplistic comparison of convictions versus acquittals.

Under the common law principle of “innocent until proven guilty”, it is a grave error to assume that, simply by being charged, one is guilty.

All law enforcement agencies have a vested interest in securing a conviction; hence the necessity to divorce the investigation function from the process of trial.

This intermediary oversight is the function of the DPP.

In an ideal situation, the DPP is appointed from the private sector and reaches decisions impartially whether or not to prosecute, based on such criteria as the strength of the evidence and the interests of the public.

The current Hong Kong DPP is just such a person.

Is criticism of the private sector justified?

Every reputable lawyer versed in criminal law knows that “the prosecutor is a minister of justice”; he is not there to secure a conviction at all costs.

A passion to convict is not a quality consistent with the role of prosecutor any more than it would be in a judge or magistrate.

From my experience as a recorder [part-time judge] in the Crown Court of England and Wales, I can state that a significant percentage of acquittals were attributable to the inadequacies of the Crown Prosecution Service in the preparation of cases.

As any experienced soldier will tell you, the key to success is preparation, preparation, preparation.

If a case is ill-prepared, don’t blame the lawyer tasked to prosecute it.

The thrust of the criticism of insufficient convictions appears to be that the failure to secure a higher rate is down to the “often inexperienced” private lawyers or “novices” who are fed with taxpayer money to “cut their teeth on” prosecutions in the magistrates’ courts.

No evidence is provided to support this contention.

The gratuitously snide comment that employment of the private sector “may gratify the legal profession” is regrettable.

One must not forget that the Department of Justice has a long history of briefing the private Bar whenever a case looked more complex than usual.

Such cases have a higher probability of an acquittal.

Barristers and solicitors are bound by strict professional ethics, and without in any way detracting from the abilities of the paralegals, they do not have to answer to the ethical standards imposed on the professionally qualified lawyer.

Just how heavy a responsibility a prosecutor bears can be measured from a statement by an eminent Canadian Supreme Court judge:

“It cannot be overemphasized that the purpose of a criminal prosecution is not to obtain a conviction, it is to lay before a jury what the Crown considers to be credible evidence relevant to what is alleged to be a crime.

“Counsel have a duty to see that all available legal proof of the facts is presented: it should be done firmly and pressed to its legitimate strength, but it must also be done fairly.

“The role of prosecutor excludes any notion of winning or losing….”

Data can so easily fall prey to misuse, or as Mark Twain reminded us, there are lies, damned lies and statistics.

As Fagin sings in Oliver, “I think I’d better think it out again!”

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Why you can be blue and yellow at the same time -Benny Tai

Although the 'yellow ribbon' and 'blue ribbon' factions  represent different sets of values, many Hongkongers are, in fact, a hybrid of the two. Photos: HKEJ, AFP

Although the 'yellow ribbon' and 'blue ribbon' factions represent different sets of values, many Hongkongers are, in fact, a hybrid of the two. Photos: HKEJ, AFP

Ever since the Occupy movement in 2014, the people of Hong Kong have been divided into two opposing camps: the “blue ribbon”, or pro-establishment, faction and the “yellow ribbon”, or pro-democracy faction.

Liberal Party lawmaker James Tien Pei-chun described himself in a press interview recently as “60 percent blue and 40 percent yellow”.

I think what he said was a pretty accurate account of the relationship between being blue and being yellow.

Despite the fact that “blue ribbons” and “yellow ribbons” represent a different set of values, many Hong Kong people are in fact a hybrid of both blue and yellow, which means people from the two opposing camps often share some common or overlapping values.

Even the “deep blue” are not 100 percent against anything preached by the yellow ribbon faction, and vice versa.

So, what exactly are the values that the blue faction embraces?

And what are the values that the yellow faction stands by?

First, the blues apparently put more emphasis on social order, while the yellows lay more stress on individual rights.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the blues entirely reject the idea of individual rights, but only that they would give priority to upholding social order over protecting individual rights, because they believe more in the common good.

Second, the blues attach more importance to economic development, whereas the yellows believe more in fair distribution of public resources.

However, that doesn’t mean the yellows totally neglect economic development and insist on commune-like redistribution of wealth.

What they want is to ensure a more dignified life for the underprivileged by increasing welfare spending.

Third, the blues believe that citizens should show more respect and submit to those in power, so as to guarantee government efficiency, while the yellows are much more skeptical about the growing power of the executive branch.

Again, that doesn’t mean the yellows are totally anarchistic, only that they believe checks and balances are necessary to protect civil rights.

Fourth, while the blues believe in meritocracy and accept that social elites should enjoy more privileges, the yellows stress social equality.

As a result, most blues are in favor of preserving the functional constituencies in our legislature, whereas the yellows are pushing for the abolition of those constituencies.

However, the yellows are not entirely populist, and they also acknowledge that society does need social elites to govern.

Fifth, the blues take the view that democratization in Hong Kong must be carried out in an orderly and step-by-step manner to ensure social stability, whereas the yellows are pushing for drastic social changes and immediate universal suffrage.

Simply put, both agree that Hong Kong needs democratization, but they have a difference of opinion about the pace.

In fact, if we look more closely, we will find that the values embraced by the blues and the yellows are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

So, finding common ground between the two sides is not entirely impossible.

All it takes is good faith, reflection and the courage to take the first step toward mutual dialogue.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 28.

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Ken Tsang to appeal 5-week jail term in Occupy-related case

Civic Party's Ken Tsang says he will fight to get his name cleared in an Occupy-related case despite an adverse court ruling. Photo: HKEJ

Civic Party's Ken Tsang says he will fight to get his name cleared in an Occupy-related case despite an adverse court ruling. Photo: HKEJ

Civic Party member Ken Tsang Kin-chiu said on Monday that he will lodge an appeal against a jail term handed to him by a local court in a case related to the 2014 pro-democracy protests.

Saying that he is extremely disappointed and unhappy about the decision of the Kowloon City Court, Tsang said he will continue to fight to get his name cleared in the Occupy-related case.  

The comments came as the 40-year-old was given a five-week jail sentence after being found guilty of attacking police officers and resisting arrest during a street protest in October 2014. 

A magistrate gave the ruling on Monday but set Tsang free on bail as the activist said he intends to file an appeal.

Tsang was found guilty on one count of assaulting police officers and two counts of resisting arrest during an incident that took place in the Admiralty area during the Umbrella Movement. 

On Oct. 15, 2014, Tsang was alleged to have splashed some liquid on police officers who were trying to clear an underpass at Lung Wo Road, and also engaged in some scuffles.

Announcing the verdict, Principal Magistrate Peter Law Tak-chuen said Tsang has shown no remorse for his attack on the police.

The case is different from other cases of police assault, which generally did not involve innocent officers, Law said, adding that Tsang clearly treated the officers as punching bags.

Splashing liquid on the police officers is tantamount to spitting on them, the judge said.

Law rejected eight points raised by Tsang’s lawyer for court leniency, saying the judiciary has a responsibility to protect police officers who are executing their duties.

The alleged attack happened the same day when some police officers were caught on camera beating up Tsang in a dark corner near the main Occupy protest zone in Admiralty.

Following the court decision, some of Tsang’s supporters who witnessed the proceedings expressed dismay, shouting slogans such as “justice is dead”.

As for Tsang, he said that he respects the Hong Kong judicial system but is disappointed at the ruling, and that he will lodge an appeal within the allowed 14-day time period.

He said that he will focus now on a separate court hearing that will begin in a trial of the police officers who beat him up during the Occupy protests. 

Wednesday will mark the first day of a scheduled 20-day trial of seven police officers who allegedly beat up Tsang on the night of Oct. 15, 2014.

It is not clear if the guilty verdict on Tsang will affect his case against the seven cops, who were charged with “causing grievous bodily harm with intent”, with one officer also facing an additional charge of common assault.

The police officers have all pleaded not guilty.

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Pan-democrats find dinner round Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying’s an unappetising prospect

Democrats join Civic Party and Labour Party in rebuffing city leader’s invitation, hinting at little sign of improvement in the relationship between Leung and the pan-democratic camp


UPDATED : Monday, 30 May, 2016, 8:29pm

Democrat Emily Lau said yesterday morning that none of her ­colleagues would join the dinner as they believed there was much they could do over dinner at Government House Photo: Dickson Lee

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s dinner for all but two lawmakers yesterday night was set to become just another gathering with the pro-establishment camp as all the pan-democrats intended to boycott it.

Democratic Party leader Emily Lau Wai-hing said none of her ­colleagues believed there was much they could do over a dinner.

“It is also a political gesture ­[towards Leung],” she added.

The Democrats were the latest to confirm their absence, after Civic Party and Labour Party ­previously questioned the meaning of the gathering and decided not to accept the invitation.

It showed there was little sign of improvement in the relationship between Leung and the pan-democratic camp, even after four of them had a groundbreaking meeting with Zhang Dejiang (張德江) during the state leader’s visit to the city from May 17 to 19.

In a rare interview with TVB

on Sunday, Leung shunned the ­suggestion society had become more polarised under his reign, and highlighted the praise he earned from Beijing loyalists who recently met Zhang.

Lau said the Democrats were still open to communication with government officials, citing their previous meeting with Leung.

The gathering last night was supposed to be the first time Leung, who took office almost four years ago, had dinner with lawmakers from across the political spectrum at his Government House residence.

The invitation was sent on May 4 to 68 lawmakers – all but League of Social Democrats’ “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung and independent legislator Wong Yuk-man.

The office explained “Long Hair” Leung had previously created a disturbance at a Lunar New Year reception with the chief executive, and Wong was not ­invited because Leung Chun-ying had testified in his common assault trial.

Civic Party’s Alan Leong Kah-kit previously said even though all lawmakers from his party have been invited, they would not attend the dinner. Labour Party lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan said her party would not accept the invitation because she “has nothing to discuss with Leung”.

May 30, 2016

Medical veteran Gabriel Choi: CY, you get out! -Benny Kwok

Medical veteran Gabriel Choi: CY, you get out!

Doctors are fiercely fighting the government in the Medical Council reform battle. The powerful and outspoken doctor who is leading the fight and can determine half of the Election Committee’s medical subsector seats, says it’s time for Leung Chun-ying to go.

The Election Committee’s medical subsector is hotly contested between pan-democrats and the pro-Beijing camp. But for Gabriel Choi (蔡堅), former Chairman of the Hong Kong Medical Association (HKMA), the dominance of that organisation within the medical subsector is of even greater importance. Choi hopes to use that dominance to prevent the reelection of  Leung Chun-ying (梁振英) .

Dr Choi is coming back

The 9,000-member HKMA EC took 15 out of 30 seats in the Election Committee’s 2006 and 2011 Medical Subsector election. The powerful body’s relative political neutrality can be greatly attributed to Choi’s efforts during his three terms at its head.. As he has decided to run for a fourth term in July, his words are of no small significance for the  Chief Executive (CE) Election next March. After all, Choi supported Leung in 2011.

“I won’t support Leung anymore as he cannot maintain the peace of Hong Kong. HKMA regrets voting for Leung in 2011 as social dissatisfaction and even sentiments of Hong Kong independence have arisen during his term. Young doctors are active in showing their political opposition to the government,” explains Dr Choi.

The HKMA adopted a winner-takes-all voting strategy in both 2007 and 2012 after conducting an internal poll. This means that if he is reelected as HKMA chairman, Choi will have the power to select preferred candidates in the HKMA list. However, he reveals HKMA may withdraw the winner-takes-all strategy and let the list members choose their favourites.

“I won’t support CY Leung anymore as he cannot maintain the peace of Hong Kong,” says Gabriel Choi.

“This time the CE election is going to be very complicated, so I cannot tell if the strategy would be all-in or individual decisions until the last minute,” Dr Choi states. “I would respect the poll result if the majority of HKMA members picked Leung as their favourites, but I would say, if the medical reform bill is passed, the HKMA would consider it to be Leung’s poor policy, and he’s going to pay the price.”

“The unpopular Medical Council reform has ignited anti-Leung sentiment among doctors, and HKMA may take revenge when voting,” New Territories West LegCo member Kwok Ka-ki (郭家麒)y predicts. Kwok is a registered medical doctor who occupied the medical functional constituency from 2004 and 2012.

Louis Shih still wants a say

Dr Louis Shih (史泰祖), the co-founder and former member of Regina Ip’s (葉劉淑儀) New People’s Party, resigned from his position at the head of the HKMA on 1 May. He was forced to leave because doctors were  unsatisfied with his proposal to hold a referendum to decide whether HKMA representatives in the Medical Council should be elected by HKMA council members.

“I won’t be actively involved in any activities of the Medical Council, the HKMA or LegCo, but I’m interested in being the Election Committee’s medical subsector representative,” Dr Shih. “I will run the medical subsector campaign on my own, but I don’t mind if HKMA invites me to join their list again.”

“I haven’t decided whether or not I will support Leung again, so let’s see how it goes,” Dr Shih says.

Pan-dem aims at double

2016-05-25 14.32.23

Pan-democrat supporters among the doctors are typically the minority, but this time they may have more seats.

Kwok Ka-ki (郭家麒) reveals that pan-democrats are now looking for at least four seats.

“The Umbrella Movement in 2014 changed the political landscape of medical circles, Young doctors are more eager to voice their opinion in policies and politics,” Kwok says. “Twenty percent of Hong Kong doctors are Doctors who are 30 or younger. Pan-democrats may win at least four seats if we receive their votes.”

Dr Kwok and another pan-democrat supporter Au Yiu-kai (區耀佳) formed a five-member list in 2011, but only two of them were eligible to pick the Chief Executive.. As Kwok is likely to run for reelection in New Territories West, and will become an ex-officio Election Committee member if he is elected, the pan-democrat campaign in medical subsector will fall on the shoulders of Dr Au.

“Pan-democrats may win at least four seats if we receive their votes,” Kwok Ka-ki predicts.

“Probably I won’t be the campaign leader but leave it to Dr Au. Even so, I’ll still help coordinate the campaign behind the stage,” Kwok says.

Remainder in pro-establishment hands

“The remaining seats are likely to fall into the pocket of pro-Beijing camp under the control of the Liasion Office (i.e. Beijing’s official agency in Hong Kong). Arthur Li (李國章), the previous campaign leader of the pro-Beijing team, may take the lead again,” Kwok says.

Li, the founding dean of CUHK medical school and the chairman of the governing board of Hong Kong University, is a controversial figure who is  seen as a hardline government supporter.

Supporters boo as court jails activist Ken Tsang five weeks for assaulting police and resisting arrest

Magistrate calls act of splashing foul-smelling liquid a great insult to innocent officers


UPDATED : Monday, 30 May, 2016, 5:56pm

Ken Tsang was surrounded by supporters brandishing yellow umbrellas. Photo: Felix Wong

Activist Ken Tsang Kin-chiu was jailed for five weeks by the Kowloon City Court on Monday for causing what the magistrate called a great insult to innocent police officers by splashing a foul-smelling liquid on them during an Occupy protest in October 2014.

But he was soon freed on HK$300 cash bail after his counsel David Ma indicated that he would appeal.

The sentence was greeted by an uproar in the public gallery, with many booing and shouting “Justice is dead” as soon as the magistrate began retreating to his chambers.

Activist Ken Tsang convicted of assaulting police during Occupy protests

Tsang, 40, was convicted last Thursday of one count of police assault and two of resisting arrest in Admiralty on October 15, 2014.

His sentence came ahead of his testimony at this Wednesday’s District Court trial of seven police officers, who were accused of beating up Tsang on the same night.

Principal magistrate Peter Law Tak-chuen was told that the social worker splashed an unknown liquid that smelled like urine on 11 police officers before he resisted arrest by two others that night.

He said imprisonment was “absolutely appropriate” and the sole sentencing option.

Law compared the degree of insult and provocation invoked by the act of splashing liquid to spitting in the officers’ faces, and said Tsang’s act turned innocent officers into scapegoats for his venting behaviour.

Ken Tsang arrives at Kowloon City Court. Photo: Felix Wong

“The defendant on one hand was angry at police for losing restraint,” the magistrate said. “On the other hand, he had similarly lost restraint in splashing an unknown liquid and causing harm to innocent police offices ... It sounds ironic.”

Law also pointed out that Tsang showed no remorse, before he concluded that the potential loss of his social worker registration was not a mitigating factor.

Assaulting police and resisting arrest are both punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment, under the Offences Against the Person Ordinance.

Hong Kong policemen charged in Ken Tsang Occupy beating to plead not guilty

Tsang was jailed five weeks for assaulting police and three weeks for each count of resisting arrest, all to be served concurrently.

The afternoon hearing was attended by a full house in the public gallery, including Civic Party chairwoman Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, vice-chairwoman Tanya Chan and lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki, who were there to support their party member.

Many also gathered at the court building entrance an hour before the scheduled hearing, with dozens queuing up to sign a placard showing their support for Tsang.

The Hong Kong Social Workers’ General Union invited members to share experiences of social workers’ participation in political movements.

Media companies not obliged to hand over footage of Ken Tsang apprehension by Hong Kong police, judge says

But attention was instead drawn to a shouting match that erupted after a man in sunglasses began calling out with the help of a microphone: “The many people you’ve harmed – how could you be a social worker?”

He continued: “Why do you guys always lead the breach of law?”

Meanwhile, Tsang’s supporters brandished yellow umbrellas and retorted: “Support Tsang Kin-chiu, support Tsang Kin-chiu.”

The man left the court area about five minutes later, under the escort of a handful of police officers and a pack of three dozen journalists.

Hong Kong reclaims crown as world’s most competitive economy

City’s efforts to create business friendly environment give it edge over rival Singapore and former champion, the US


UPDATED : Monday, 30 May, 2016, 2:08pm

Professor Arturo Bris, director of the IMD, valued the city’s gateway role for foreign direct investment in mainland China. Photo: AFP

Hong Kong has reclaimed its spot as the world’s most competitive economy in 2016 thanks to its consistent commitment to make itself a favourable business environment, according to the IMD World Competitiveness Centre.

The annual survey, based on an analysis of 61 places across the world, found Hong Kong jumped one place to the top as the city had “encouraged innovation through low and simple taxation and imposed no restrictions on capital flows”.

The result came after another study released in April found Hong Kong slipping to fourth while Singapore climbed one place to third among 86 financial centres surveyed for their global competitiveness.

Hong Kong claimed the top spot in the 2012 IMD rankings, but lost it to the United States for the next three years. Rival Singapore – which ranked fourth in the same survey – was the only other Asian region to make it to the top 10 this year.

Professor Arturo Bris, director of the IMD, said the city’s efforts to create a business friendly environment had been central to its ability to defy regional challenges.

He also valued the city’s gateway role for foreign direct investment in mainland China, “the world’s newest economic superpower”, enabling business there to access global capital markets.

In contrast, former champion the US was no longer able to maintain its dominance, falling to third place in this year’s survey, behind Switzerland.

Hong Kong overtaken by Singapore as third leading global financial centre

Many major Asian countries, including Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia, suffered significant declines from their 2015 positions, dragged down by the fall in commodity prices, a strong dollar and deterioration of balance sheets in both private and public sectors, Bris said.

Despite Hong Kong reclaiming the top spot, the organisation pointed out that the city would face challenges in the coming year, such as nurturing innovation, encouraging technological adaption to upgrade productivity, and addressing the fiscal implications posed by an ageing population.

The survey, based on responses from more than 5,400 business executives, analysed over 340 criteria derived from four principle factors, including economic performance, government efficiency, business efficiency and infrastructure.

The 1967 Riots and what we need to weather the gathering storm -Ching Cheong

Members of the Royal Hong Kong Police patrol the streets after the 1967 riots that claimed 51 lives. A portrait of Mao Zedong is seen in the background, with the slogan that reads "Chairman Mao is the Red Sun in our hearts". Photo: Internet
Members of the Royal Hong Kong Police patrol the streets after the 1967 riots that claimed 51 lives. A portrait of Mao Zedong is seen in the background, with the slogan that reads "Chairman Mao is the Red Sun in our hearts". Photo: Internet

Hong Kong and Macau should think of how to guard against any spillover of a Cultural Revolution-like witch-hunt that China is now witnessing, half a century after the decade-long calamity.

Back then the British colonial authorities helped Hong Kong tide over the formidable tumult. But this time who will be our guardian if China descends into a new Cultural Revolution?

The way Hong Kong and Macau dealt with their internal unrest back then determined their vastly different destinies.   

Unlike Hong Kong, the Portuguese government in Macau knuckled under to the menace of the local leftists, or more precisely, underground members of the Chinese Communist Party in the tiny enclave.

Macau became a tamed, “liberated colony” even decades before the 1999 handover and Lisbon’s authority existed in name only.

Though it was said that the Brits once thought of the ultimate contingency plan of abandoning Hong Kong, the territory’s collective resistance forced Beijing to back down and enabled it to secure its freewheeling economic advancement since the 1970s.

Their respective actions decided their different political status post-handover: Beijing promised in the Basic Law free elections for chief executive and all lawmakers for Hong Kong but these pledges are nonexistent in Macau’s constitutional document.

Though Beijing’s promises are meant to be broken, these are evidence of Hong Kong’s higher status at least at the time of the two colonies’ handover.

The Cultural Revolution 50 years ago was never short of intrigues and clashes, and many still have vivid memories of the 1967 riots when the storm of class struggle from the north buffeted the territory.

Thankfully, London and the then Governor Sir David Trench pressed ahead with a resolute clampdown – British troops were deployed to maintain social order together with the police, and even military assault helicopters from a British aircraft carrier participated in raids targeting leftist strongholds in North Point.

The Communist Party’s bellicose local faction, the ultimate mastermind, had to call off the Hong Kong riots after the Red Guards’ subsequent arson attack at the British de facto embassy in Beijing, triggering a diplomatic crisis for which Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai (周恩來) had to issue a formal apology to London.

As the Communist Party struggle ravaged China, the majority of the Hongkongers stood by their colonial government while many in the mainland fled their hometowns in a mass exodus to the British colony.

Also in Hong Kong, local journalists and commentators – Commercial Radio and Ming Pao, in particular – covered the riots and condemned the violence.

Kuomintang members in Hong Kong – along with the shared antagonism of Western allies toward Communist regimes during the Cold War – all helped counter the leftist rioters.

Beijing’s reliance on Hong Kong for almost 80 percent of its foreign reserves amid a trade embargo was also a key factor for its last-minute decision to call it quits.

The new political purge taking place in the mainland today is somewhat covert, although instances of this veiled form of violence are already surfacing in Hong Kong:

– Local publication and sales of politically sensitive books have waned following the abduction of Lee Bo;

– Local media have stepped up self-censorship after Xi Jinping’s (習近平) “media’s surname is the party” call;

– Local churches have begun to toe Beijing’s official line and distanced themselves from social and other politically sensitive movements;

– The local intelligentsia can now only discuss and study “politically incorrect” subjects in a stealthy manner; and

– Local Maoists have called for the “vindication” of the 1967 riots and even the Cultural Revolution.

With these seismic changes quietly underway, who can we pin our hopes on, 50 years later, to fend off the ill winds from the north?

Never expect the SAR government, now Beijing’s puppet, to stand firm; it has given full display of its incompetence and cowardice throughout the Lee Bo saga.

Some locals may have also developed subtle recognition of the nationalist, patriotic sentiments whipped up by the party’s propaganda apparatus over the years, so much so that even some who fled China in the ’60s and ’70s may have made a U-turn and become Beijing supporters.

The media have been largely muzzled as well, not because we no longer have outspoken reporters but newspaper owners may now want to avoid annoying Beijing. Ming Pao’s recent axing of a revered editor has spoken volumes about the state of press freedom in Hong Kong.

The KMT has long been marginalized in the city, nor will the international community continue to keep a watchful eye while they seek economic incentives from Beijing – London’s nonchalance when Beijing voided the Joint Declaration is all that apparent.

Hong Kong’s economic irreplaceability is now almost irrelevant to Beijing as well.

Does it mean we do not stand a chance at all?

The only positive change over the decades is that Hong Kong now boasts a vibrant civil society not seen 50 years ago.

Localism is spreading like wildfire and its promotion of the city’s unique values can never be underestimated.

With our solidarity, we shall remember history, refuse to be mere onlookers and resist Beijing’s economic baits and ideological remolding.

Our city can and will sail through the storm.

Translation by Frank Chen

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Local leftists protested outside the Government House in the 1967 riots. The then Governor Sir David Trench sought military assistance from the British troops to quell the unrest. Photo: Life Magazine

Members of the Police Tactical Squad stand ready for the rioters. Photo: Internet