CONSULATE GENERAL OF SWITZERLAND IN HONG KONG
|A condensed press review prepared
the Consulate General of Switzerland in Hong Kong
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
Back to the top of the page