CONSULATE GENERAL OF SWITZERLAND IN HONG KONG
|A condensed press review prepared
the Consulate General of Switzerland in Hong Kong
ECONOMY & FINANCE
- HK bourse to study measures to attract more tech start-ups to raise funds in the city (SCMP, Sept. 2)
- Key HK economic index for August shows worst of downturn may be over (SCMP, Sept. 5)
- HK urged to ramp up research spending to 4 per cent of GDP to keep pace with rivals (SCMP, Sept. 9)
- HK banks warned over harsh vetting for foreign investors (SCMP, Sept. 9)
- Legco boost for opposition could damage HK’s credit rating, Moody’s warns (SCMP, Sept. 13)
- HK ranked world’s freest economy again, but recent events cast doubt over future showing (SCMP, Sept. 15)
- HK faces more elite banking job cuts, with Goldman Sachs axing about 100 posts (SCMP, Sept. 24)
- HK slips two spots in global competitiveness index, while Singapore still leads Asia-Pacific (SCMP, Sept. 28)
- 9.4pc slump in HK visitor arrivals deals blow to struggling tourism sector (SCMP, Sept. 29)
- CY Leung promises to resolve MPF offset controversy before term ends (SCMP, Sept. 30)
- Schools should not avoid discussing HK independence (SCMP, Sept. 2)
- HK Legislative Council polls: voters change the city’s political landscape (SCMP, Sept. 6)
- Rise of localists in HK polls set to bring headaches for Beijing, analysts say (SCMP, Sept. 6)
- Leung Chun-ying plays down political divide in HK as he welcomes new Legco faces (SCMP, Sept. 7)
- Ken Chow alleges Beijing trio warned him to quit HK’s Legislative Council elections (SCMP, Sept. 8)
- Afraid to go home since election day, ‘king of votes’ Eddie Chu gets round-the-clock police protection over death threat (SCMP, Sept. 9)
- Six suspected triad members arrested for tailing Eddie Chu not linked to Wang Chau housing fracas, police say (SCMP, Sept. 22)
- HK’s chief executive takes responsibility for scaling back housing project (SCMP, Sept. 22)
- ‘No independence in 1,000 years for HK’, Beijing legal expert declares (SCMP, Sept. 23)
- HK’s pan-democrats hope to play ‘kingmaker’ in election to choose city’s next leader (SCMP, Sept. 27)
- HK Occupy activists deliver upbeat message at second anniversary rally (SCMP, Sept. 29)
- HK Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying threatens to sue Apple Daily over ‘malicious’ editorial (SCMP, Sept. 30)
- New US envoy in HK Kurt Tong stresses that HK is definitely a part of China but Washington values its high degree of autonomy (SCMP, Sept. 23)
- Winning formula: ‘one country, two systems’ best option for HK, EU envoy says (SCMP, Sept. 26)
LEGAL AFFAIRS AND HUMAN RIGHTS
- SCMP reporter among five HK journalists detained, questioned by Chinese police in Wukan crackdown (Sept. 15, SCMP)
- Non-white ethnic minorities in HK most discriminated against in banking and property services, study finds (SCMP, Sept. 21)
- HK issues travel warning for Singapore on Zika virus fears (SCMP, Sept. 3)
- Fourth locally transmitted case of dengue fever this year confirmed in patient from Wong Tai Sin (SCMP, Sept. 20)
- Hospital bill scheme aims to curb dubious practices in HK’s private health care sector (SCMP, Sept. 30)
- Environment experts slam HK’s Airport Authority over coral translocation plans (SCMP, Sept. 6)
- Hongkongers willing to pay more for greener energy, environment minister insists (SCMP, Sept. 25)
CULTURE AND EDUCATION
- Five Hong Kong universities make world’s top 200, but schools in Singapore and China still rate higher (SCMP, Sept. 22)
- HK urged to boost cooperation with mainland China in scientific research (SCMP, Sept. 25)
- Revised history curriculum has greater focus on HK’s development and past roles as part of China (SCMP, Sept. 29)
- Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui arrives in Portugal to talk cooperation with China (SCMP, Sept. 11)
PRESS ARTICLES RELATED TO SWITZERLAND AND SWISS MATTERS
- Swiss voters back new surveillance law, ending ban on phone tapping and email snooping (AFP, SCMP, Sept. 26)
Economy + Finance
HK bourse to study measures to attract more tech start-ups to raise funds in the city (SCMP, Sept. 2): HK’s stock exchange said it will explore ways to encourage start-ups and technology companies to raise capital in the city, conceding the need to tweak existing listing rules to compete with Singapore and New York to be the hub for initial stock offers. HK was the world’s largest destination for IPOs from 2009 to 2011, but lost that pole position to the New York Stock Exchange in 2014, due to Alibaba’s listing. HK financial secretary John Tsang in his budget has unveiled a multibillion dollar plan to turn the city into a technology hub to nurture the development of companies including those involved in financial technology.
Key HK economic index for August shows worst of downturn may be over (SCMP, Sept. 5): HK’s private sector showed signs of stabilising in August with a key economic index marking the slowest contraction in the last 14 months. The Nikkei HK Purchasing Managers’ Index, which gauges private sector business conditions including manufacturing, services, retail and construction, rebounded to 49.0 in August – up from July’s 47.2 mark. Despite the softer rates of decline, the August figure was still below the 50 neutral mark, which meant the contraction of private businesses continued. The August PMI result prompted an optimistic outlook from some analysts who took the news as a sign that the worst of the recent economic downturn may be over.
HK urged to ramp up research spending to 4 per cent of GDP to keep pace with rivals (SCMP, Sept. 9): HK needs to step up investment in research and development (R&D) to the equivalent of 4 per cent of its gross domestic product to stay ahead of punishing competition in the region, a pro-government think tank says. Our HK Foundation, which was launched by former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, said the level of such investment in the city last year was 0.73 per cent of GDP – “significantly lagging behind” its regional peers and mainland neighbours. Singapore spends 2 per cent of GDP on research, Taiwan 3 per cent and South Korea more than 4 per cent. Beijing invested 6 per cent on R&D last year.
HK banks warned over harsh vetting for foreign investors (SCMP, Sept. 9): HK’s de facto central bank warned local lenders not to overdo it when vetting investors’ applications in the name of reducing risk, as spot checks would be conducted to ensure they followed official banking guidelines. To make it easier for foreign investors to open accounts in the city, the HK Monetary Authority also put up a list of banks willing to offer services to foreign small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups. The list of more than 20 banks – minus HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank – will be provided to investors through the government’s business promotion arm, InvestHK. The warning came as the HKMA issued a circular to all financial institutions reminding them to strike a balance between exercising anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing controls and providing business-friendly banking services to foreign investors. The Post previously reported concerns raised by the city’s 29 chambers of commerce over foreign investors encountering trouble when opening as well as retaining company bank accounts in HK. Banks say they are enforcing stricter international anti-fraud regulations to protect the city’s status as a global business centre.
Legco boost for opposition could damage HK’s credit rating, Moody’s warns (SCMP, Sept. 13): The increased presence of anti-establishment politicians in HK’s newly elected Legislative Council is likely to further bog down government policymaking and could hurt the city’s credit rating, a top international agency warned. It was the first such cautionary assessment of the political gridlock the city faces after the September 4 polls, with young localist winners vowing to ramp up the filibustering that paralysed government bills in the legislature for much of the past few years. “With these [election] results, filibustering ... is likely to continue, a credit-negative development that will result in slow and less effective policymaking,” Moody’s said in a report. The ratings agency also predicted further political friction that could intensify ahead of next year’s chief executive election.
HK ranked world’s freest economy again, but recent events cast doubt over future showing (SCMP, Sept. 15): HK has continued to beat its key rival Singapore to be ranked the most economically free market in the world, according to the Fraser Institute in Canada. The city has been ranked atop the study every year since 1970. Singapore again nailed down second. New Zealand and Switzerland ranked the third and fourth respectively. But economist Andy Kwan, director of the ACE Centre for Business and Economic Research, said political controversies in the city in recent years could harm its economic freedom. He noted in particular the case of five Hong Kong book publishers who specialised in books critical of the Chinese Communist Party and went missing, leading to fears that mainland agents had abducted them. Kwan added that, aside from the bookseller saga, a “constant tension” in the city had created many uncertainties. “Disputes do exist in free countries, but they are not as serious as those witnessed in HK,” he said.
HK faces more elite banking job cuts, with Goldman Sachs axing about 100 posts (SCMP, Sept. 24): More layoffs are expected among HK’s elite foreign investment bankers, with Goldman Sachs reportedly setting the stage by axing nearly 30 per cent of investment banking jobs in Asia, minus Japan. The city, which is home to the Wall Street giant’s largest Asian investment banking arm, can expect more job cuts in the high-profile sector, analysts say. “Such a move indicates that Goldman is having a bearish outlook on its prospects in the region, particularly at a time when its mainland rivals are grabbing a bigger market share,” said Benny Mau, chairman of the HK Securities Association.
HK slips two spots in global competitiveness index, while Singapore still leads Asia-Pacific (SCMP, Sept. 28): HK saw its competitiveness slide two notches to No. 9 in the world, trailing Singapore as it struggled to migrate from its position as a global financial centre to becoming an innovation-led economy, according to the World Economic Forum. The annual Global Competitiveness Index highlighted challenges for the city to “evolve itself from one of the world’s foremost financial hubs to an innovative powerhouse”, as innovation continued to be one of the weakest aspects in its assessment of HK. Meanwhile, Singapore once again claimed the crown as the most competitive economy in the Asia-Pacific region, and ranked second on the global index for the sixth consecutive year – surpassed only by Switzerland. Mainland China retained its 28th position, and Taiwan went up one notch from last year to take the 14th place.
9.4pc slump in HK visitor arrivals deals blow to struggling tourism sector (SCMP, Sept. 29): Despite recent talk of a recovery, the city’s tourism took an unexpected hit in August, with a 9.4 per cent drop in the number of visitors, mostly from the mainland, according to the HK Tourism Board. Mainland arrivals, accounting for three-quarters of total visitors to HK, failed to keep up momentum, slumping 11.3 per cent after a moderate 2.2 per cent growth in July. “Mainland travellers have way more choices now compared to a few years ago,” Travel Industry Council executive director Joseph Tung said. He suggested it was the result of Beijing making it easier for Chinese citizens to travel overseas, and other countries relaxing their visa restrictions to target mainlanders.
CY Leung promises to resolve MPF offset controversy before term ends (SCMP, Sept. 30): Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has promised to sort out a controversial clause in HK’s official pension scheme that is the source of much friction between employers and workers within the remaining months of his current term as the city’s leader. During a meeting with the Federation of Trade Unions, Leung discussed the possibility of scrapping the offsetting mechanism that allows employers to settle severance and long-service payments using employees’ Mandatory Provident Fund savings. The Chief Executive’s Office followed up with a written statement saying Leung would, within this term of government, “expend the greatest effort” to tackle the offsetting mechanism as promised in his election manifesto. Chief Secretary Carrie Lam also said that the unpopular arrangement was a priority for the government, but she did not expect new arrangements could be ready by the end of its term, which expires next June.
Schools should not avoid discussing HK independence (SCMP, Sept. 2): Executive councillor Bernard Chan has said schools should not avoid discussing HK independence, as misinformation could spread. Chan appeared to have taken a softer tone over the issue than Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s and Secretary for Education Eddie Ng’s tough stance, which had been criticised as discouraging a balanced discussion. Chan said although advocating the separation of HK from China was against the Basic Law, discussing the issue would not be a problem and schools should not deliberately avoid such discussions.
HK Legislative Council polls: voters change the city’s political landscape (SCMP, Sept. 6): HK’s voters have signalled a strong demand for political change and a say in the city’s future, installing in the legislature a new generation of activists who cut their teeth on the 2014 Occupy protests, and sidelining veteran pan-democrats who disappointed them. It was clear that a more fractured legislature, with new faces raring to challenge the old order, was ready to shape the next four years of politics. Six localists were among those voted into office in the first general election since the mass protests of two years ago. A record 2.2 million people, or 58 per cent of the electorate, came out to vote in the most critical legislative polls since the handover – the highest turnout since direct elections were first introduced in 1991. Localists and pan-democrats combined won 30 of 70 seats, allowing the de facto opposition camp to retain its critical minority of 24 seats needed to block constitutional changes. They grabbed 1.19 million votes (55 per cent) – more than in 2012, when they won 27 seats. The changed landscape reflected voters’ discontent with the political status quo and their willingness to give new faces a chance, Chinese University political scientist Professor Ma Ngok said. The HK and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council warned against pro-independence activities by the new lawmakers. “We resolutely oppose any form of activities for ‘HK independence’ in and out of Legco, and resolutely support the HKSAR government in punishing [offenders] according to law,” an office spokesman told the official Xinhua news agency.
Rise of localists in HK polls set to bring headaches for Beijing, analysts say (SCMP, Sept. 6): The victory of six localists and their securing of nearly 20 per cent of the vote share in the Legislative Council elections will be alarming for Beijing, two academics said. Ray Yep, a political scientist at City University, and Ivan Choy, a political analyst from Chinese University, said they believed the ground gained by localists would further strain the relationship between HK and mainland authorities. Yep said Beijing would assess the rise of localists with a negative perspective. “The winners from localist groups will certainly raise the issue of self-determination after they enter the legislature,” he said. The results look set to create more headaches for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s administration, with lobbying pro-democracy forces about to get a whole lot harder.
Leung Chun-ying plays down political divide in HK as he welcomes new Legco faces (SCMP, Sept. 7): HK’s leader put a positive spin on the results of Legislative Council elections, insisting that candidates who campaigned for his removal had been voted out and welcoming new faces, even though some of the younger ones were already planning to make life difficult for him. Leung again refused to talk about his chances of running for a second term. “The Legco election results have nothing to do with the chances of anyone who aspires to be the next chief executive of HK,” he said. But some observers accused Leung of being “delusional” and warned that Beijing would take the Legco election results into consideration when appraising his performance. Professor Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of the semi-official mainland think tank, the Chinese Association of HK and Macau Studies, said Beijing fully understood that the election results reflected deep public discontent with the Leung administration. Beijing would certainly look at the changed political landscape when deciding on the next chief executive, he said. “In the eyes of the central government, there is no Hongkonger who cannot be replaced.”
Ken Chow alleges Beijing trio warned him to quit HK’s Legislative Council elections (SCMP, Sept. 8): Election dropout Ken Chow of the Liberal Party claimed that he was threatened by “three people from Beijing” who demanded he drop out of the Legislative Council election race to improve the chances of other pro-Beijing candidates. The Liberal Party expressed shock at Chow’s disclosure and vowed to write to state leaders, including National People’s Congress chairman Zhang Dejiang and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) head Yu Zhengsheng. The party urged the Independent Commission Against Corruption to investigate the case.
Afraid to go home since election day, ‘king of votes’ Eddie Chu gets round-the-clock police protection over death threat (SCMP, Sept. 9): Police placed Eddie Chu, the biggest winner in Legislative Council elections, under round-the-clock protection after he complained of “imminent” death threats against him and his family in the past few days. The threats against Chu, a long-time environmental activist, could be linked to people he might have upset while campaigning on issues such as changes in land use in the New Territories and an illegal dumping case in Tin Shui Wai, according to sources. The Security Bureau issued a statement quoting its chief, Lai Tung-kwok, who said he was concerned and attached great importance to the case.
Six suspected triad members arrested for tailing Eddie Chu not linked to Wang Chau housing fracas, police say (SCMP, Sept. 22): Initial police investigation showed the six alleged triad members who were arrested for tailing newly elected lawmaker Eddie Chu, had no connection with the controversial Wang Chau development or with any rural strongmen, as the force continues to establish the motive and trace the mastermind behind the tailing. Li Kwai-wah, acting senior superintendent of Crime New Territories North, said the force had been providing round-the-clock protection to Chu and keeping close contact with him daily to review the latest situation.
HK’s chief executive takes responsibility for scaling back housing project (SCMP, Sept. 22): Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying took direct responsibility for the partial suspension of a housing project at the centre of a political storm, facing the media with his finance minister by his side after signs of a rift between them. Leung and his top officials took pains to explain their roles as they denied bowing to pressure from rural leaders with vested interests when they decided to phase the building of 17,000 public housing flats and defer a fat part of it in Wang Chau, Yuen Long. Pan-democrat lawmakers and their newly elected localist allies were far from satisfied, and vowed to push for a formal investigation.
‘No independence in 1,000 years for HK’, Beijing legal expert declares (SCMP, Sept. 23): HK is ill and needs medication, the legal head of Beijing’s liaison office in the city said, as he spoke of “heartbreak” caused by growing talk of independence, which he ruled out for “1,000 years and forever”. Wang Zhenmin said those advocating HK’s separation from China were acting out of fear that the mainland’s success was eclipsing the city’s. Asked whether his office had interfered in HK’s recent legislative elections, he said it was concerned with the polls but had never acted outside the law. Localist lawmaker-elect Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang, who advocates self-determination, dismissed Wang’s take on the rise of separatism as “laughable”. “When we discuss the question of independence, we are driven by the invisible hand from the Communist Party that is meddling with our rights and freedoms,” Leung said. “It has nothing to do with China’s economic strength.”
HK’s pan-democrats hope to play ‘kingmaker’ in election to choose city’s next leader (SCMP, Sept. 27): The democratic caucus is aiming to secure a bigger say in the chief executive election by grabbing a quarter of seats on the 1,200-strong committee that will pick the next HK leader in March, up by almost half on the last race. Six pan-democrats elected to the Legislative Council in functional constituencies, who recently formed an alliance called the Professionals Guild, are coordinating efforts in the Election Committee contest. But they all held reservations about fielding a candidate for chief executive – in contrast to the previous two races.
HK Occupy activists deliver upbeat message at second anniversary rally (SCMP, Sept. 29): Yellow umbrellas, pro-democracy banners and street booths reappeared in Admiralty as about 1,000 people commemorated the second anniversary of the Occupy movement. A rally was held on Tim Mei Avenue on Sept. 28 evening, and many leaders of the pro-democracy movement returned to the site protesters occupied for 79 days. Benny Tai, one of the trio who launched the Occupy Central campaign, noted that since the Legislative Council elections on September 4, in which several Occupy activists were elected, he could see hope for the future of HK’s pro-democracy movement. Demosisto’s Nathan Law, one of the student leaders and a lawmaker-elect, said that since the first anniversary of the movement he had noticed that Hongkongers were regaining their confidence and energy in fighting for democratic change.
HK Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying threatens to sue Apple Daily over ‘malicious’ editorial (SCMP, Sept. 30): HK’s leader is threatening to sue a popular local newspaper over its “malicious” allegations of bribery and “vicious intention” to harm his chances of re-election. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying issued a legal letter to Apple Daily over an editorial it published on September 8, demanding the Chinese-language paper stop making corruption allegations against him. Leung also wants Apple Daily to run a statement of retraction, pre-vetted by him, on its editorial page. The editorial in question called on newly elected lawmakers to invoke the Legislative Council’s special powers to pursue Leung over the controversial payment of HK$50 million he received from Australian firm UGL before he took office in 2012. The Independent Commission Against Corruption has been looking into allegations of corruption over the deal. The Journalists Association expressed “shock and regret” over Leung’s legal action, saying he was causing public concern over freedom of speech. Chinese University political scientist Ivan Choy said Leung’s move would do no good to his public image.
New US envoy in HK Kurt Tong stresses that HK is definitely a part of China but Washington values its high degree of autonomy (SCMP, Sept. 23): Washington’s new man in HK Kurt Tong has set up one-on-one meetings with all 70 members of the city’s newly elected legislature as a priority and employed the language of diplomacy to answer questions about its nascent independence movement. Tong repeatedly stressed what he described as HK’s “specialness”, its long-standing relationship with the US, and the need to “cherish, protect and maintain” the “one country, two systems” principle under which the city operates. Asked to give a view on the small but growing body of public opinion advocating varying degrees of autonomy for the city, from the status quo to full independence, Tong said: “The US view is crystal clear. HK is definitely a part of China, but we also value the high degree of autonomy it has under ‘one country, two systems’.
Winning formula: ‘one country, two systems’ best option for HK, EU envoy says (SCMP, Sept. 26): “One country, two systems” rather than self-determination is the best political formula for the future of HK, the European Union’s new envoy in HK says. Carmen Cano de Lasala also believes that steps should be taken to move forward electoral reform given the recent record high turnout in the Legislative Council elections showing Hongkongers are keen to take part in political life. “I’d like to underline we will continue to support and monitor the implementation of ‘one country, two systems’, which is key to the prosperity and development of HK,” Cano said in her first media interview since arriving in the city on September 1. In April, the EU issued a highly critical annual report on the city, attacking Beijing for its role in the missing booksellers case. It said the case was “the most serious challenge” to “one country, two systems” and raised serious concerns about respect for human rights. Five publishers in the city who produced books critical of mainland leaders disappeared one after another from October last year before resurfacing months later amid claims that mainland Chinese agents had abducted them. “Now it’s a moment to rebuild trust,” Cano said.
Legal affairs and human rights
SCMP reporter among five HK journalists detained, questioned by Chinese police in Wukan crackdown (Sept. 15, SCMP): A South China Morning Post reporter was among five HK journalists detained and questioned by local authorities in Wukan, Guangdong province. The journalists had been interviewing villagers involved in a violent protest that saw tear gas and rubber bullets fired at residents. The HK Journalists Association said in a statement that it “strongly condemns Chinese public security officers’ violent treatment against the HK journalists”. The association called on the HK government to look into the matter and take effective measures to protect the rights and safety of HK journalists working on the mainland. The HK News Executives’ Association also “strongly condemns” the violence, urging relevant authorities to pay attention to and ensure journalists’ safety. In its statement, the new executives’ association said it would write to the liaison office and the HK government to demand their attention on the incident and would also relay its concerns to the central government.
Non-white ethnic minorities in HK most discriminated against in banking and property services, study finds (SCMP, Sept. 21): Non-white ethnic minorities in HK encounter the most discrimination, particularly in financial and housing services, according to findings from a study by the Equal Opportunities Commission EOC. According to interviewees, discrimination in the two sectors were the most intolerable as these services affect their quality of life. About 5 per cent of HK’s population are ethnically non-Chinese. On how the results of this study could affect legislature, EOC chairperson Alfred Chan said its third and most comprehensive review of the four existing anti-discrimination ordinances was submitted to the government in March, alongside a total of 73 recommendations.
HK issues travel warning for Singapore on Zika virus fears (SCMP, Sept. 3): HK authorities issued an amber travel warning alert for Singapore over the country’s Zika virus situation. An amber travel alert in a three-tier system issued by the Security Bureau means there are signs of threat and that travellers should monitor the situation and exercise caution. A government spokesman said it was necessary to alert those travelling to Singapore given the persistent and rapid increase in the number of cases, and the close contact between the two cities.
Fourth locally transmitted case of dengue fever this year confirmed in patient from Wong Tai Sin (SCMP, Sept. 20): A HK woman has been diagnosed with dengue fever, marking the fourth locally transmitted case reported in the city this year. The Centre for Health Protection said the woman had no recent travel history. The centre immediately commenced epidemiological investigations and promptly informed the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department for vector investigation and mosquito control.
Hospital bill scheme aims to curb dubious practices in HK’s private health care sector (SCMP, Sept. 30): HK’s private hospitals have all agreed to start providing patients with bill estimates for 24 common surgical procedures before admission. The voluntary pilot scheme was announced by the health minister to increase transparency in medical charges, but patients’ rights activists remained doubtful, concerned that it was not legally binding and there were no penalties for non-compliance. The government hopes the trial scheme will pave the way for legislation aimed at curbing dubious practices in the private health care sector, such as overcharging, lack of quality control, and a reluctance to handle public complaints or deal with medical blunders.
Environment experts slam HK’s Airport Authority over coral translocation plans (SCMP, Sept. 6): The Airport Authority has come under fire again – this time from government environmental advisers – over plans to translocate just 5 per cent of rare and slow-growing coral colonies found near the construction site of its third runway. Members of the Advisory Council on the Environment questioned whether the authority had conducted proper assessment on the exact species of the coral colonies and whether they were endemic or unique to HK, with the authority claiming only that it was a common genus in the city’s western waters and of “no conservation interest”.
Hongkongers willing to pay more for greener energy, environment minister insists (SCMP, Sept. 25): The majority of people are willing to pay a price for a greener city, HK’s environment minister said, after the government revealed that households on HK Island and Lamma could expect to pay 7 per cent more for electricity once a new gas-fired generating unit is in place. The expected price rise is the result of the government’s approval of HK Electric’s construction of the new, more powerful unit at its Lamma power station at an estimated cost of HK$4.1 billion. The unit will come into operation in 2022, replacing one of the company’s three existing gas units.
Culture and Education
Five Hong Kong universities make world’s top 200, but schools in Singapore and China still rate higher (SCMP, Sept. 22): HK has the greatest number of universities in Asia to make it to the top 200 in a prominent global ranking system, but top mainland Chinese and Singapore institutions ended up higher. The University of HK – the best performing local institution – rose one place to 43rd out of 980 universities from 79 countries on the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Five HK universities made it into the top 200 – the most for any Asian country or territory, according to the survey. “Given the size of HK [compared to Asian nations], it’s an extraordinary achievement,” survey editor Phil Baty told the Post. “[HK universities] will always be magnets for talent.”
HK urged to boost cooperation with mainland China in scientific research (SCMP, Sept. 25): China’s vice science minister Li Meng has called for greater cooperation in the field between HK and the mainland as he officiated at the opening of a major innovation exhibition in the city. Former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, who was also at the event, called on Hongkongers to “assimilate into the national strategy”. Li Meng said mainland-HK cooperation had “fully sped up” and deepened in the past five years, during which 472 Hong Kong researchers took part in 143 national research projects. Li also said joint projects had been set up in biomedicine, electronic information, new energy and new materials. In addition, five national engineering research centres had established branches in HK, and 16 national key laboratories were partnering with six universities in the city, he said.
Revised history curriculum has greater focus on HK’s development and past roles as part of China (SCMP, Sept. 29): More focus will be given to HK history and its past roles as part of China in a revised junior secondary curriculum for Chinese history, which will be released to educators for consultation. Education minister Eddie Ng said that the revised curriculum could allow students to better understand the city’s background and status, as well as China’s development, while some teachers said putting more focus on the history of HK in the syllabus would better educate pro-independence activists who were not making accurate statements when comparing the current HK with the city in the past.
Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui arrives in Portugal to talk cooperation with China (SCMP, Sept. 11): Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai-on arrived in Portugal to discuss, among other issues, cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries. In his second visit to Portugal since assuming office in 2009, Chui was expected to meet President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and Prime Minister Antonio Costa. Macau-based political commentator Larry So Man-yum said the visit was “quite significant because Macau plays a role as the platform between Portuguese-speaking countries and China under the central government’s initiative ‘One Belt, One Road’.” So said that “the chief executive of Macau is going there to consolidate the deal, so the platform can actually function.”
Press articles related to Switzerland and Swiss matters
Swiss voters back new surveillance law, ending ban on phone tapping and email snooping (AFP, SCMP, Sept. 26): Swiss voters have approved a new surveillance law, in a victory for the government which argued the security services needed enhanced powers in an increasingly volatile world. The proposed law won 65.5 per cent support across the wealthy alpine nation, final results of the vote showed. Switzerland’s police and intelligence agencies have had limited investigative tools compared to other developed countries: phone tapping and email surveillance were previously banned, regardless of the circumstances. But the new law will change that. Phone or electronic surveillance of a suspect will only be triggered with approval by a federal court, the defence ministry and the cabinet, according to the law. Bern has said these measures would be used only a dozen times a year, to monitor only the highest-priority suspects, especially those implicated in terrorism-related cases.
This is a review of the Hong Kong media and does
not necessarly represent the opinion of the Consulate General
of Switzerland. The Consulate General of Switzerland in
Hong Kong does not bear any responsibility for the topicality,
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use of any information provided, including any kind of information
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