Archives Pdf-version

In the wake of the December 4 pro-democracy protest rally, the government electoral reform plan, which does not include any timetable for universal suffrage, has been fuelling an intense debate on the merits of democracy for HK.
For the first time ever Switzerland has organized a promotion in Macao: throughout November the "Switzerland greets Macao" campaign presented a series of cultural, educational, business and lifestyle events in cooperation with various local partners.

Domestic politics
Vote on political reform proposal: The vote in Legco is planned for Dec. 20. In order to pass it needs 40 votes i.e. 2/3 of the House. As the debate is raging on the proposal and especially the lack of reference to any timetable for the introduction of universal suffrage, some pro-Beijing legislators have suggested to delay the vote to allow more public discussion but the government has pledged to go ahead. Religious leaders have called for a veto on what they call an autocratic and unjust reform proposal.
Beijing invites 19 democrats two days ahead of protest rally: Democrats have been invited to a seminar in Shenzhen in what some see as an 11th hour bid to dampen public sentiment ahead of the democratic reform protest rally which is expected to have a turn out of between 50'000 and 100'000 people.
Revamped Commission on Strategic Development (CSD): The Chief Executive has nominated the 153 members of the commission comprising business people, politicians, professionals and academics. He presented it as the most important advisory board in HK adding that the body would be a platform to gauge public views. It will comprise four committees covering administration, political, social and economic issues. Critics underlined that only one tenth of its members are from the pro-democracy camp and that therefore it cannot adequately reflect public opinion.
Official fears over full democracy: The CSD has been presented with a questionnaire concerning many issues about democratisation and showing, according to a top Democrat, that the government regards democracy as a “wild beast”. One of the 90 questions is: How can democratic development be taken forward without undermining economic prosperity, causing social instability, impairing the efficiency of government and undermining trust between HK and the central government?
HK must look beyond democracy, says banker: Democracy in HK is "dear to all our hearts", but the real focus should be on ensuring HK continues to benefit from the huge growth on the mainland, a top banker said. He added that domestic issues of political reform should not allow people to stray from maintaining HK's strong reputation as a launching pad for international businesses entering the mainland.

International affairs
Tsang's visit to London: Is HK a fading memory in Great Britain? The Chief Executive launched a tourism campaign as part of his international roadshow to sell the city. But most Britons have no more interest in HK according to poll. Few people are aware that he is visiting. After meeting with political leaders he assured that they backed him over his constitutional reform plan.
Confusion after terror warning to US citizens in HK: The US consulate general retracts warning of possible attack on HK hotels after Beijing labels threat a sham.
HK walking a tightrope: While being obedient to Beijing may be a political necessity, HK risks becoming simply another mainland city in American eyes and not benefit anymore any special treatment existing under the US-HK Policy Act which provisions give HK a separate treatment from China. A revocation of the Act by US Congress to punish China would be bad for HK which cannot stay out of rows between China and US as it did when it was a British colony.
HK democracy will boost Beijing: Granting HK full democracy would help support China's peaceful development as a true international player, the US consul-general said. James Cunningham renewed support for the early introduction of universal suffrage in HK, saying the city had all the advantages that made it ready for democracy now. He said it was a misconception that the United States wanted to use democratic reform in HK to destabilise the mainland.

No unnecessary force pledge by police over WTO protests: HK police will not use unnecessary force to stop protesters during the WTO December 13-18 event. The government expects about 3,000 local and 7,000 overseas activists who are restricted to smaller than requested areas and will be governed under a special ordinance.
Security 'not considered' as WTO accredits militant group: Security concerns were not considered when a South Korean militant protest group was granted accreditation to join next month's ministerial meeting in HK, the World Trade Organisation has revealed. The Korean Peasants League (KPL) will be among 1,000 non-governmental organisations allowed to enter the Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Legal Affairs and human rights
HK court orders jail for movie sharing: a HK judge sentenced a local resident to 3 months in jail for using an internet file sharing system to make three Hollywood movies available for others to download free. It is the first ever jailed sentence in that type of case. HK is trying hard to develop an image as a city where intellectual property rights are respected.

Proposal on minimum wage fails yet again: Proposal on minimum wage fails yet again: Lawmakers from the business sector again blocked a motion proposed by the labour sector on a minimum wage and maximum working hours. The Chief Executive might put the issue of minimum wages and maximum working hours on the agenda of a top government think-tank if labour advisers cannot reach agreement on it by next summer. "I hope members of the Labour Advisory Board will be able to reach a compromise by the middle of next year, so as to allow establishment of policies and legislation," Donald Tsang said.
HK banks get new rules on Yuan dealing: China's central bank released details of the expanded scope for HK banks to deal in Yuan, relaxing many of the restrictions on dealing in the mainland currency. The daily limit on Yuan exchange will rise from 6,000 to 20,000 Yuan for non-depositors. Daily remittances of 80,000 Yuan will be allowed, up from the current 50,000 Yuan. HK banks reaction to the changes was lukewarm. They said the concessions were less than expected and would yield little profit.
Brain drain to mainland could hurt local economy: More than 480,000 HK people are living or spending substantial periods of time on the mainland - nearly 200,000 of whom have virtually cut ties with the city - a Central Policy Unit survey has found.
Flat owners face price hit as banks step up rates pace: Flat prices in the secondary market will fall between 5-8% in the 4th quarter due to rising interest rate, according to developers and real estate agents.
Swiss banker says the sector will expand as overseas trusts are no longer needed: The decision by HK lawmakers last week to scrap estate duties will boost the city's private banking sector, according to Jean-Claude Erne, managing director for Asia of Switzerland-based private bank Pictet & Cie. "It is good news for private banks here, as wealthy families will no longer need to set up overseas trusts in which to invest in order to avoid estate duty. HK could now win over Singapore in this area, as the city state had not abolished estate duty, he added.
Recovery takes jobless figure to 4-year low: The number of unemployed has fallen below 200,000 for the first time in four years, and the government economist says the situation could have been even better if not for a sluggish construction sector. The jobless rate for the three months to the end of October dropped to 5.3%, down 0.2% from the July-September period.
Rising cost of food and rent pushes CPI increase to 7-year high: HK's consumer price index rose 1.8% year on year last month, the biggest increase for seven years. The Census and Statistics Department attributed the October rise, bigger than the 1.6% increase in September, to rising private housing rents and food cost.
IMF urges sales tax to widen revenue net: HK should introduce a goods and services tax (GST) and refrain from offering further tax concessions to the public, the International Monetary Fund advised. The controversial GST will not be introduced before 2009, Financial Secretary Henry Tang reaffirmed.
Rise in office rents leads region: Prime office rents in HK's financial hub rose more than twice as fast as in any other Asia-Pacific city in the third quarter compared with a year earlier, boosted by robust demand and tight supply, according to a real estate consultant company. Grade A office rents in Central District jumped 74% year on year during the period and 16.5 % from the previous quarter.
GDP grows for ninth straight quarter: HK's economy continued its more than two-year expansion, as robust exports and strong local demand helped gross domestic product grow a greater-than-expected 8.2% year- on-year. The economy grew for the ninth successive quarter, the longest growth cycle since the early 1990s. Economists in the private sector have raised their 2005 forecasts for HK's economic growth to between 7.1 and 7.5%.
Made-in-HK goods have best month in 17 years, but re-exports slow: HK reported domestic exports worth $15.7 billion (+27.6%, the highest level since February 1988) in October, which still accounted for less than 8% of total exports. Re-exports, which account for the rest, stood at $197.8 billion - just 10.5% more than a year earlier, compared with September's 16.5% growth.

Tamiflu supply stopped: With governments worldwide scrambling to purchase the antiviral drug Tamiflu, supplies have been suspended to local pharmacies, private doctors and clinics amid fears that private stockpiling of the drug could lead to dangerous shortages in the event of an avian flu pandemic. However, the supply to public hospitals and clinics will not be affected, Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food York Chow confirmed.
HK safest in a flu pandemic, official says: HK is so well prepared for an influenza outbreak that it will be the first affected place to recover health-wise and economically from any pandemic. That was the bold assertion made yesterday by Centre for Health Protection chief Leung Pak-yin. For expatriates, he believes HK "will be the safest place to be" when a human H5N1 pandemic hits, if only for the information available about the flu.
Temperature scans return at border: Health authorities said they would not hesitate to use their disease control powers if travellers failing temperature checks at the border did not seek immediate treatment. The comment came ahead of medical staff resuming temperature screening at the Lowu and Lok Ma Chau checkpoints.

HK air pollution keeping British businesses away: The British business community's main concern about setting up offices in HK is air pollution, a senior SAR official based in London said. The government should consider including an environmental blueprint containing fiscal and educational initiatives to reduce pollution when preparing the budget, the British Chamber of Commerce has suggested.
Big business boost for the clean air charter: An air quality improvement campaign has attracted a strong response from the business sector in HK. Some 178 organisations and companies have signed the Clean Air Charter, jointly organised by the HK General Chamber of Commerce and the HK Business Coalition on the Environment. The news was announced at a Clean Air Day on November 20, 2005 to mark the launch of the charter.
Critics hit out over new air quality monitoring network: A new air quality monitoring network that will provide an index of pollution in the Pearl River Delta will start operating next week - but is already being criticised for secrecy and lack of useful information for the public. The Regional Air Quality Index, developed by HK's Environmental Protection Department and the Guangdong Environmental Protection Bureau, will be released to the public. This will follow the formal opening of a regional network of 16 air quality monitoring stations.

Macao leader in democracy pledge: Macao Chief Executive Edmund Ho laid out tentative first steps towards democratic reform in his seventh annual policy address on November 15, 2005, announcing the creation of a consultation council on political reform. "We can't have any pretext for not advancing towards democracy," Ho told reporters after the address. Saying that political parties are still infeasible, Ho pledged to create a suitable environment for democratic reform over the next five years. "The system is evolving, step by step," he said.

Press articles related to Switzerland
South China Morning Post (SCMP), 27 November 2005: Relatively speaking: As celebration for the 100-year anniversary of Albert Einstein's famous equation, E = mc2, continue around the world, Keith Mundy heads to Bern, where the brilliant physicist spent seven fruitful years.
The Standard, 16.11.2005: Marcos Swiss funds missing: Much of the US$718 million (HK$5.6 billion) recovered by the Philippine government from secret Swiss bank accounts of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos has disappeared.
The Standard, 29.11.2005: Swiss back GM boycott: A clear majority of Swiss voters have defied their government in a referendum by approving a blanket five-year ban on the use of genetically modified organisms in farming. Fifty-eight percent of voters Sunday backed an initiative by farmers, environmentalists and consumer groups to strengthen restrictions introduced last year. The Swiss government had argued that the moratorium would have little practical effect on Swiss agriculture following anti-GM legislation passed last year, while already restricted food imports would be unaffected.
“Switzerland Greets Macao“ media coverage:
4 Chinese papers and 1 English paper in Macao reported an exhibition named “Swiss art on the Move“ as one of the events under “Switzerland Greets Macao“. These papers introduced the background of the 2 Swiss artists Raymond Lasserre and Aloys Perregaux and their works. There were photos of officiating guests, namely Edmund Ho (Chief Executive of Macao SAR), François Barras (Consul General of Switzerland) and representatives of UBS and the two artists.
6 Chinese articles and 1 English article in Macao reported a series of activities including a Swiss Day at the University of Macao under “Switzerland Greets Macao“. There were Tony Ho's exhibition “Melody of Switzerland“, presentation on Switzerland and its education by Deputy Consul General Johann U Müller, presentation on Swiss banking system by UBS' specialists and Swiss documentary films.
News about the Swiss food promotion were found in 2 Chinese papers and 1 English paper in Macao. The Swiss food promotion, under motto “Switzerland Greets Macao“, included a few programmes such as workshops, dinner buffet, chocolate treat, wine tasting and showcase of Swiss cuisine by chef Georg Ruis at the Institute for Tourism Studies, Macao.

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 rejected.


Back to the top of the page


Page created and hosted by SinOptic