Leung Chun-ying is likely to come under attack as pan-democrats try to stop him being re-elected as chief executive next year
By Joyce Ng
South China Morning Post
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s administration will face a torrid time on several fronts after the inauguration of the new Legislative Council on Wednesday, with three motions to probe his role in various controversial issues, four contentious funding requests and one disputed bill high on the agenda.
A political scientist expected the relationship between the legislative and executive branches of the government to remain tense until the chief executive election in March, as the pan-democratic camp was likely to make use of every opportunity to attack Leung to stop him from being re-elected.
The three controversies involving Leung are a HK$50 million payment to Leung from Australian engineering firm UGL; the removal of Rebecca Li Bo-lan, a top investigator of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, linked to a probe into that payment; and the government’s dealings with rural forces over the decision to downsize a public housing project in Yuen Long.
The motion for the probe into the UGL payment is likely to be passed because the lawmaker moving it, Kenneth Leung of the accountancy sector, is opting for the select committee route, which needs the backing of only 20 lawmakers, as opposed to a more powerful probe that could summon witnesses and call for documents but needs pro-establishment support to invoke.
“The petition will be launched at the earliest possible time,” the lawmaker said. “A select committee can ask a lot of probing questions even without P&P [powers and privileges]. We will draw the public’s attention to the core issues and how CY failed to answer the questions we raised before.”
According to the chief executive the UGL payment was an arrangement made with his surveying firm before he ran for the top job, but opponents say it opens him to possible conflicts of interest.
The committee would summon Leung, the legislator said. “He can refuse to come and the committee will draw its conclusion without his presence.”
Another arena of confrontation centres on Legco’s Finance Committee. While the government decides which proposals are considered first, at least four disputed funding requests are pending.
These include projects deferred in the last session due to time-wasting by lawmakers: Leung’s pet project, a HK$1 billion scholarship for students from countries linked to mainland China’s “One Belt, One Road” economic plan; a HK$249 million study to build artificial islands between Hong Kong Island and Lantau to create a “metropolis”; and a HK$96 million study to reclaim land in Sunny Bay, Lantau.
The government will also submit a fresh application for engineering works in the northeastern New Territories development scheme, according to a person familiar with the council’s operations.
The first request for funding in 2014 was passed in chaos after protesters stormed the council building and the committee chairman abruptly halted filibustering by lawmakers.
Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, the activist-turned-lawmaker concerned with land issues, said he would definitely filibuster against the New Territories and artificial islands projects.
“But I won’t raise objections only at the last minute,” Chu said. “In the past, projects like these went unnoticed until they hit the last hurdle in the Finance Committee and it’s too late.”
He said he would organise talks in the communities concerned to explain the projects to residents to build support for blocking the schemes.
If Leung wants to seek a second term, the government may want to keep peace before the chief executive election
The administration also has bills for livelihood-related projects that need to pass urgently. The Private Columbarium Bill, which seeks to introduce a licensing scheme to regulate niche operators but lapsed in the last term, would be brought back this year, health minister Dr Ko Wing-man said last week.
Ko’s bureau is also seeking to revive a medical reform bill targeting the doctors’ watchdog – the subject of filibustering at the end of the last Legco term – early next year after completing a new round of consultation.
Ivan Choy Chi-keung, a political scientist at Chinese University, said he believed the democratic camp would make use of Legco to attack Leung as much as possible before the March election.
“If Leung wants to seek a second term, the government may want to keep peace before the chief executive election and table the controversial bills and funding requests to Legco after that,” Choy said.
Of those aged 18 to 30, 57 per cent of survey respondents say they want to make their home elsewhere
By Elizabeth Cheung
South China Morning Post
About 40 per cent of Hongkongers want to move away from the city, with one in 10 hopeful emigrants making actual plans to do so, a Chinese University of Hong Kong survey has found.
Respondents cited dissatisfaction with the government, crowded living conditions and major political and social disputes as the main reasons for their plan.
Though figures from an emigration agent and the government showed there was no significant rise in the number of people moving, an expert said more opportunities should be given to youngsters as the survey results partly reflected discontent.
“Hong Kong has been [engaging in more discussions] on how to attract foreign experts, but how can we also retain local talent?” University of Hong Kong professor Paul Yip Siu-fai, who specialises in population policies, said.
“Young people should be given more chances to take part in policymaking,” he added.
The poll, conducted from September 23 to 27 by the Chinese University’s Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, asked 710 local residents aged 18 and older for their views on emigrating from the city. Of the respondents, 38.9 per cent said they would move elsewhere if given the chance. But only 10.9 per cent of those who expressed this hope – or 4.2 per cent of all respondents – had made concrete plans for their departure.
The survey revealed younger people had a stronger desire to move than their older counterparts. About 57 per cent of those between 18 and 30 said they had emigration plans compared with just 26 per cent of those aged 51 and above.
Taiwan was also the most preferred destination, with 16.3 per cent of respondents picking the island. Australia and Canada came in second and third place.Many of those looking to leave Hong Kong said factors such as bigger living areas and higher democracy and freedom levels were behind their destination choices.
Almost 70 per cent of the respondents were dissatisfied with the city’s political environment while over 40 per cent were unhappy with the housing situation.
According to the Security Bureau, the estimated number of emigrants last year was 7,000, down from 9,800 in 2005.The figure was based on the number of applications for the Certificate of No Criminal Conviction, which is done for immigration purposes.
EK Immigration Consulting chairman Eddie Kwan King-hung said the number of inquiry calls has increased from about three per day in 2014 to six recently but thatthere was no actual rise in the number of customers who emigrated with the help of his firm, which maintained up to 50 families annually in the past three years.
Hong Kong’s richest earn 29 times more than poorest despite government efforts to fight poverty: report
The city’s poorest need to work two years and five months in order to obtain what the top 10 per cent earn in a single month, reveals Oxfam Hong Kong
The number of poor households in Hong Kong is on the rise with the richest in the city now earning about 29 times more than the poorest despite efforts by the government to help the impoverished, the latest poverty report by Oxfam has found.
The Hong Kong Poverty Report 2011–2015, released by aid agency Oxfam Hong Kong on Tuesday, was based on the General Household Survey conducted by the Census and Statistics Department. The report came ahead of the annual Commission on Poverty summit this Saturday.
The 2015 figures highlight a further worsening of the income disparity, as the richest 10 per cent in the city earned 28.6 times more than the poorest 10 per cent, compared to 26 times and 26.4 times recorded in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
This meant the city’s poorest would have to work two years and five months in order to obtain what the top 10 per cent earn in a single month.
The purchasing power of the current minimum wage of HK$32.5 is only equivalent to HK$26 back in 2010
The number of low-income households also jumped by 1.7 per cent from 454,100 in 2014 to 461,900 last year, despite a slight decrease in the number of people in poverty – from 1.16 million in 2014 to 1.15 million in 2015 – which the organisation dismissed as “statistically insignificant”.
The findings came just weeks after the Community Care Fund, a government body, announced its decision to end a one-off living allowance for the city’s neediest group – dubbed the “N-nothings” – who do not own property, live in public rental housing or receive Comprehensive Social Security Assistance.
Kalina Tsang of Oxfam Hong Kong said the government’s poverty alleviation policies failed to help the low-income group as any increase in their salaries resulting from the rise in minimum wage would be cancelled out by inflation.
“The purchasing power of the current minimum wage of HK$32.5 is only equivalent to HK$26 back in 2010,” she said.
The group also urged the government to take the lead in scrapping the MPF offsetting mechanism and reviewing the minimum wage annually – instead of every two years – in order to keep up with inflation.
Hong Kong poor live in metal cages amid soaring cost of housing (From February 7, 2013)
Tags: About 40 per cent of Hongkongers want to move away from the city, Australia, Canada, Community Care Fund, dissatisfied with the city’s political environment, Eddie Chu, health minister Dr Ko Wing-man, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-Ying, Hong Kong Poverty Report, Hong Kong’s credit rating, housing development, Legco’s Finance Committee, Leung Chun-ying, medical reform bill, New Territories development scheme, One Road, Oxfam, Oxfam Hong Kong, reclaim land in Sunny Bay, scholarship funf for students from countries linked to mainland China’s “One Belt, to build artificial islands between Hong Kong Island and Lantau, Wang Chau, Yuen Long