CONSULATE GENERAL OF SWITZERLAND IN HONG KONG
|A condensed press review prepared
the Consulate General of Switzerland in Hong Kong
Chief Executive Donald Tsang delivered his maiden Policy Address
with title "Strong Governance for the People". As spoken
in his election campaign, he pledged to secure a government which
pursues excellent governance, a harmonious community and widespread
Beijing's new tactics: Beijing's new tactics of embracing
old rivals reflects its near total control over the political sphere
in HK. The notion of "patriotism" and "democracy"
no longer functions as the dividing line in society. Most people
are patriotic democrats. Economic and livelihood issues are now
dominating the agenda. It has been pointed out that this new approach
by Beijing is still aimed at managing a difficult situation but
will not solve the problem at its roots.
Chief Executive's Policy Address: The title of Donald Tsang's
maiden speech "Strong governance for the people" indicates
a clear focus on an executive led style of government. He announced
measures to reinforce and enlarge the Executive Council (ExCo),
to strengthen the executive branch and to further develop ties with
the Mainland. Observers have underlined the contrast between the
weakness of Tung and the determination of Tsang, and have qualified
his address as a campaign speech for the 2007 Chief Executive election.
Revamped ExCo: The centrepiece of the Chief's Executive new
government structure - a revamped ExCo - was formally unveiled two
days after the policy address with few surprises. 15 unofficial
members and three top secretaries will make it and the balance is
tilted in favour of the business and financial sectors, as most
of the eight new members are upper crust, legal, business and political
figures. The appointment of Democrat Anthony Cheung is seen as an
olive branch to moderate democrats.
Electoral reform plan faces Legco fight: The Chief Secretary
submitted a plan to the legislature that calls for doubling the
committee of prominent citizens that chooses the Chief Executive
to 1600. Most of the increase would come from including 529 district
councillors. The legislature would be expanded by 10 seats to 70
with five directly elected seats and the others to be elected by
the district councillors. For the Chief Executive these proposals
approved by Beijing represent gradual steps towards full democracy
and will ultimately lead to universal suffrage. For the democratic
camp they are only cosmetic changes. Furthermore they do not include
any timetable for universal suffrage. A march is planned against
what has been called an insult to the public. The December 4 demonstration
will be a showdown of people power against the government, pro-democracy
legislators say, urging the public to take to the streets.
Appointment of a new Secretary for Justice: Wong Yan-lung
has replaced Elsie Leung. He pledged to uphold the rule of law and
avoid seeking any more interpretations of the Basic Law by Beijing.
He is a surprise choice because he joined a protest march by lawyers
last spring and he is on friendly terms with the pro democracy Article
45 Group. The reaction was positive especially from Democrats who
said that Mr. Wong's appointment was a sign the Beijing leadership
was open-minded. There are some concerns about his lack of political
Compromise culture hub plan a step forward: The initial single
developer solution for the West Kowloon Cultural District has been
dropped after months of controversy. It will be built as integrated
projects with several players. This change has been welcomed as
a sensible step to address public suspicion of collusion between
government and big business.
Fighting for transparency: Pressure is mounting on government
to enact legislation governing citizens' access to crucial documents
including the financial arrangements of secretive "public-private
partnerships" for HK Disneyland, West Kowloon Cultural District
Waterfront land must be for buildings, not open space, government
says: Commercial and residential development of waterfront land
has won out over open space as the government seeks to cash in on
HK missing trade boat: China's growing South American ties
require shift in HK's Anglo-Saxon focus. As relations are fast developing
without the United States or the US-Europe trade axis, it is feared
that HK knows too little of the world outside the Anglo-Saxon countries.
When it is said that it is Asia's World City, the world in question
is larger than just the New York London axis.
First overseas trip by Chief Executive: He is making a promotion
tour to Vancouver, New York, Washington and London. At a dinner
in Washington he said that he supported universal suffrage but that
the development of HK's political system was not up to him alone
adding that HK cannot act unilaterally in this regard although some
people naively believe it can and should.
HK to become pivot in Chinese-Indian relations: According
to a professor from Brown University the growing interaction between
the Chinese and Indian business communities will enhance HK's role
Agreement reached on WTO protest sites: Protesters will be
allowed to stage demonstrations closer to the coming WTO conference
thanks to an agreement reached with the government. The Wan Chai
Sports Ground and a cargo handling area were offered to protesters
by the government.
Police ready for attacks on WTO venue: In preparation for
the WTO meeting in December - which is expected to attract 8,000
protesters - police donned chemical protection suits during a drill
for possible chemical and biological attacks on the convention center
in Wan Chai. Senior foreign police officers will work with their
HK counterparts to analyze intelligence and provide language assistance
during the WTO meeting in December, the security chief said. Secretary
for Security Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong also revealed to Legco's security
panel that local police were already sharing intelligence with their
South Korean counterparts.
Rocky start to WTO dialogue: At the close of an NGO's roundtable
forum at HKU, protesters besieged the participants alleging government-big
business collusion. They asked for the Commerce Secretary to meet
with them which he refused. Mr. Lamy, the WTO Director General,
met with protesters giving a lesson in democracy to HK.
HK has a lot to gain from 11th plan: China's 2006-2010 11th
Five-Year Plan aims to boost HK's and Macao's economies by expediting
the development of the Pearl River delta region, said Premier Wen
Jiabao. The plan would maintain HK's status as an international
center of finance, trade, logistics and tourism.
Legal Affairs and human rights
Government appeals gay sex ruling by High Court: The ruling
had overturned a law banning some sexual acts between men aged under
21. This appeal provoked the outrage of human rights and gay groups
which describe the government as backward in its treatment of minorities.
Falun Gong anger as hotel wipes forum booking: The hotel
was accused of bowing to China's pressure.
HK ranks second (in Asia) in attracting foreign funds: HK
held its position as the second-most preferred destination for foreign
direct investment FDI in Asia in 2004, the fourth straight year,
a United Nations survey has found.
A magnet for regional operations: The number of international
companies selecting HK as a location for their regional headquarters
or offices is at an all-time high, according to a government survey.
There was a 5% increase over last year - there were 1,167 companies
that had regional headquarters and 2,631 with regional offices in
Openness urged to boost HK's business appeal: HK fell from
21st to 28th place on the competitiveness index of the World Economic
Forum, with concerns over judicial independence, rising corruption
and intellectual property rights cited. Scholars and a legislator
have therefore urged the government to improve co-ordination between
departments and efficiency in decision-making to boost HK's competitiveness.
Jobless rate: The jobless rate has fallen to a four-year
low of 5.5 per cent, with the number of people employed increasing
to a high of 3.39 million. The government expects figures to be
boosted further by an influx of more mainland tourists to HK, which
it believes will create more jobs in the retail sector.
Inflation rate: Rises in rents and oil prices helped push
HK's inflation up to 1.6% in September compared with a year earlier.
A government spokesman said the steady inflation was a natural consequence
of the economic recovery. He added while inflation rate was expected
to move up further, the overall price pressure was still likely
to remain moderate through to the year-end.
Policy Address in economic perspectives: HK's strategy is
to leverage the Mainland and face the world and to consolidate its
role as a key international financial, trading, transportation and
information hub of China, according to the Policy Address of CE
Donald Tsang. Beijing will extend scope of RMB business in HK; Beijing
and HK will sign CEPA III, extending tariff-free access to more
HK products and further liberalizing market access for services
sectors; individual visit scheme will include Chengdu, Jinan, Shenyang
and Dalian; HK will consider a new admission scheme for mainland
and overseas talents; HK will strengthen co-operation with the Pan-Pearl
River Delta and press ahead with major infrastructure projects such
as HK-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.
Mainland and HK signed Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement
CEPA III: Under CEPA III, the Mainland agrees to give all products
of HK origin tariff free treatment starting from January 1, 2006,
upon application by local manufacturers and upon the CEPA rules
of origin (ROOs) being agreed and met. On trade in services, under
CEPA III, there are 23 liberalisation measures spreading across
10 areas, namely legal, accounting, audiovisual, construction, distribution,
banking, securities, tourism, transport and individually owned stores.
Minister confident of financial hub status: A freely convertible
Yuan will inevitably increase competitive pressure on HK's status
as a financial hub, but the secretary for financial services and
the treasury believes mainland cities still have a long way to go
before they can become rivals.
Air-cargo hub: HK Airport handled 9% more air cargo in September,
reaching a record 304,000 tonnes that secured its reputation as
the world's busiest international air cargo hub. September also
saw 8.5 % jumps in passenger traffic and a 12% rise in aircraft
Minimum wage: Although the government says it will urge more
private and nongovernmental organizations to follow its minimum
pay guidelines, it has no timetable or legal means to enforce the
Tourism: HK received 1.7 million visitors in September, a
5.9% increase on a year-on-year basis. The first 9 months saw 16.9
million visitors or increase of 7.6%, year-on-year basis.
Robust trade growth: Total exports of goods surged by 17%
year on year in September to HK$ 210 billion after a 13% jump in
August. Likewise, Imports rose 15% to HK$ 214 billion last month,
following a 13% increase in August. In the first nine months, total
exports increased 12% over the same period last year. Economists
agree the outlook is uncertain and much hinges upon external demand.
Margret Chan hails HK handling of bird flu: HK's experience
in fighting bird flu and Sars is a model for the world in preparing
for a possible flu pandemic the WHO's top official in infectious
diseases said. Margret Chan Fung Fu-chun, the WHO's director of
infectious disease surveillance and response and HK's former director
of health, said the measures put in place in the city after 1997
bird flu outbreak had proved a success.
Businesses urged to prepare for bird flu pandemic: Businesses
need to prepare urgently for a bird flu pandemic to make sure HK
can recover quickly from such a crisis, a senior health official
said. Leung Pak-yin, controller of the Centre for Health Protection,
said HK should not repeat its mistakes during Sars, which had caused
an economic disaster.
Bird flu on mainland spreading: Situation grave and it's
unrealistic to expect we can completely halt outbreaks, says nations
top vet. Mainland officials admitted that bird flu was spreading
among its flocks - but stood firm in their denial of any human infections
from the deadly virus.
Public warned against stockpiling Tami flu: The health chief yesterday
warned against panic buying of the antiviral Tami flu, amid indications
that city residents have started stockpiling the drug.
Tsang puts HK on alert for "inevitable" pandemic:
A bird flu pandemic is inevitable but HK is better prepared than
many countries to deal with it, according to Chief Executive Donald
Tsang. He said the government is stockpiling medicines, preparing
flu alert drills and quarantine venues, and will soon publish an
Rethink on pledge to seal border: Government considers controls
instead of closure if bird flu strikes. The government is set to
back-pedal on the pledge by health minister York Chow Yat-ngok that
the borders will be sealed if a bird flu pandemic knocks on the
door of HK. This follows what a government source said was local
and international concern about the enormous social and economic
effects of such a move.
Liver disease still HK's silent killer: Patients in HK and
nine Asian countries have a very low level of awareness of Hepatitis
B, delaying their treatment and adversely affecting their health,
a survey has found. Up to 500,000 people in HK - 10 per cent of
the adult population - are estimated to have chronic hepatitis B,
and 30 per cent of those will develop liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.
Pig-borne disease kills second HK victim: A 43-year-old chef
has died of the pig-borne disease Streptococcus suis in the first
reported case since a scare began three months ago, the Centre for
Health Protection said last night. He worked as a cook at a social
facility for the elderly at Hong Tung Estate in Sai Wan Ho.
Beijing agrees to spot checks in food scares: HK and Beijing
have signed an agreement under which the SAR will be granted the
right to make random inspections of Mainland farms and food processing
factories. HK will also be notified should there be a food scare
in Guangdong or Shenzhen. The move follows a series of crises caused
by tainted fish, eels and pork infection in Sichuan.
The hidden danger in our air: New research has revealed that
some types of air pollution are far more dangerous (
previously thought. But despite rising levels of fine particle pollution
in HK, they are not reported as part of the City's Air Pollution
Index. The particles are now being linked to ailments as disease,
diabetes, cancer, strokes and heart disease. As the central government
this week announced sweeping new measures to combat air pollution,
an internationally respected local scientist described HK's air
quality as nothing short of a medical emergency.
Science & Technology
SAR completes genome mapping project: HK researchers were
among a team of experts from around the world who recently unveiled
the first map of human genetic variations.
Macao to set up anti-laundering unit: It will also set up
a financial intelligence unit next year and adopt rules requiring
casinos to establish programs for problem gamblers. The International
Monetary Fund recommended in 2002 that Macao set up such a unit
"as soon as possible."
Press articles related to Switzerland
HK Economic Journal, HK Economic Times, 5 October: Meeting
with the Swiss Bankers Association SBA: According to Dr. Urs Roth,
CEO, SBA, to strengthen surveillance, build up an effective database
and co-operate between governments and bankers are crucial to fight
against money laundering. In order to fight against money laundering,
Switzerland has established a huge database since the 80's. There
is no quick fix. In Switzerland, banks spend about 0.5%-5% of total
operation cost in prevention of money laundering. However, he emphasizes
that banks can provide useful data against money laundering but
cannot act as policemen. In his opinion, HK is a very competent
wealth management centre, particularly in advisory business. It
is high value-added but it also requires talents and skills. SBA
visits HK on annual basis since 2003.
The Standard, 6 October: Johnson Electric outbid Sumida to
acquire Saia: Johnson Electric JE outbid Sumida to acquire the Swiss
firm Saia Burgess. JE was in alliance talk with Sumida and an analyst
said that it indicated Saia Burgess as a valuable asset that could
offer growth potential.
The Standard, 20 October: Roche on anti-viral drug Tami flu:
Swiss pharmaceutical producer Roche, which makes Tami flu, reported
that sales of the drug had more than tripled in the first 9 months
of this year. The surge in sales had been driven mainly by increased
orders for national stockpiles.
HK Daily News, 28 October: Mutual abolition of visa requirements
between Switzerland and Macao: Switzerland and Macao will sign an
agreement on the mutual abolition of visa requirements and on the
readmission of persons with unauthorised stays on October 28. Switzerland
will organize a series of cultural, educational and business events
such as seminars, film shows and Swiss food promotion.
South China Morning Post (SCMP), 2 October 2005: Naked Woman
of Kai Tak' back home: The family of a woman found clad only in
shopping bags and suffering amnesia at the former Kai Tak airport
are optimistic that she will make a full recovery after being reunited
with them in Switzerland. She has been unable to tell her family,
police or medical staff any details of what happened.
South China Morning Post (SCMP), 23 October 2005: HK accuses
drug giant of racism: HK's medical community has accused Swiss pharmaceutical
manufacturer Roche, the producer of flu drug Tamiflu, of discrimination
against Asia. The accusation follows the pharmaceutical giant's
decision last week - widely seen as the result of pressure from
Europe and the United States - to share production of its drug with
South China Morning Post (SCMP), 27 October 2005: Roche dumping
old Tamiflu stocks, say pharmacists: Doctors and pharmacies in Guangzhou
have accused Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche of dumping Tamiflu
medicine close to the end of its shelf life on the mainland market.
South China Morning Post (SCMP), 29 October 2005: Swiss film
director Frédéric Gonseth hopes his documentary on
the extraordinary wartime experiences of a group of doctors and
nurses will raise Hongkongers' awareness of humanitarian work. Gonseth,
who is in Hong Kong for the MAX! German language film festival,
said people's support could help humanitarian organisations fight
institutions' manipulation, as illustrated in his documentary Mission
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,
correctness, completeness or quality of the information
provided. Liability claims regarding damage caused by the
use of any information provided, including any kind of information
which might be incomplete or incorrect, will therefore be
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