CONSULATE GENERAL OF SWITZERLAND IN HONG KONG
|A condensed press review prepared
the Consulate General of Switzerland in Hong Kong
ECONOMY & FINANCE
- Almost three quarters of HK's young people dream of starting a business, but say the obstacles are too great (SCMP, July 3)
- HK's top officials promote city's infrastructure financing role to AIIB (SCMP, July 6)
- Expat middle manager packages decline in value in HK as more Asian employees are imported (SCMP, July 8)
- HK land supply situation remains of 'great concern', think tank says (SCMP, July 14)
- HK senior citizens targeted with new 'Silver Bonds' offering returns double those of iBonds (SCMP, July 16)
- Unemployment in HK's construction sector down (SCMP, July 20)
- More 'balanced' mix of tourists coming to HK as more overseas visitors arrive (SCMP, July 30)
- HK activists make their voices heard at July 1 protest (SCMP, July 2)
- HK chief executive would have 'greater legitimacy' if elected by 'one man, one vote' (SCMP, July 5)
- Bookseller Lam Wing-kee could be sent to mainland China if there was a reciprocal deal with HK (SCMP, July 6)
- HK pushes for expansion of communication system with China as police offer protection to returned bookseller (SCMP, July 7)
- 'Accept HK is part of China or you can't run in Legco elections' (SCMP, July 15)
- HK Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying stands firm on accusations about his role in ICAC controversy (SCMP, July 15)
- Civic Party candidates refuse to sign new form despite head of electoral watchdog saying rule change is legal (SCMP, July 20)
- Don't let Legco elections become stage for promoting independence, warns Beijing's top man in HK (SCMP, July 21)
- More young Hongkongers back independence and are less supportive of peaceful protest, poll shows (SCMP, July 25)
- 'This is the court's decision to make': Rita Fan weighs in on Legco rule targeting HK pro-independence candidates (SCMP, July 27)
- Setback to legal challenge against new Hong Kong election rule (SCMP, July 28)
- Beijing and HK officials agree on detention notification system based on respect (SCMP, July 29)
- Double trouble for CY Leung? John Tsang announces possible bid for HK's top job soon after Jasper Tsang does the same (SCMP, July 31)
- Second HK localist candidate barred from running in Legco elections (SCMP, July 31)
- North Korean defects at HK's South Korean consulate (SCMP, July 28)
LEGAL AFFAIRS AND HUMAN RIGHTS
- HK police may issue special cards to mentally disabled after arrest blunder (SCMP, July 15)
- In echo of missing booksellers case, Shenzhen court jails two HK journalists for running illegal business (SCMP, July 26)
- 'Tyranny of minority': HK medical reform bill fails as filibuster blocks Legislative Council vote on final day (SCMP, July 16)
- Mosquito infestation in HK reaches 'alert' level, index shows, prompting fears of dengue and Zika virus transmission (SCMP, July 20)
- HK women and men enjoy world's longest life expectancy due to low smoking rates, health experts claim (SCMP, July 28)
- The toxic trail of e-waste that leads from the US to HK (SCMP, July 3)
- HK air pollution still far exceeds WHO levels and worsening, concern group finds (SCMP, July 14)
- 89pc of Hongkongers would recycle food waste if they had the facilities (SCMP, July 19)
CULTURE AND EDUCATION
- Former finance minister Antony Leung remains tight-lipped on running in election, despite unveiling proposed policy on education (SCMP, July 5)
- HK students outperform overseas counterparts in International Baccalaureate (SCMP, July 7)
- Mega performance venue scrapped at long-delayed HK arts hub (SCMP, July 21)
- Macau liaison office director Li Gang moved out, to be replaced by Wang Zhiming (SCMP, July 2)
- Two Hongkongers critically hurt in German axe attack by Afghan refugee who kept Islamic State flag at home (SCMP, July 20)
PRESS ARTICLES RELATED TO SWITZERLAND AND SWISS MATTERS
- Singapore preparing to 'name and shame' banks linked to scandal-hit 1MDB (SCMP, July 25)
- Solar Impulse 2 plane completes epic sun-powered round-world trip, without consuming one drop of fuel (AFP, SCMP, July 26)
Economy + Finance
Almost three quarters of HK's young people dream of starting a business, but say the obstacles are too great (SCMP, July 3): Almost three quarters of the city's young people have dreamed of starting their own business, but a lack of funding, fierce competition and sky-high rents are deterrents, a survey has found. Researchers at non-governmental group Youth and Professional Network said many creative young people dared not pursue their real dreams because of the difficulties they foresaw. “Encouraging and assisting young start-ups is the unavoidable responsibility of the government,” the researchers said. “It may even be the key to helping the government gain more trust.”
HK's top officials promote city's infrastructure financing role to AIIB (SCMP, July 6): In a meeting with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank AIIB president Jin Liqun, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying pitched the strengths of HK as a financial hub capable of raising funds for One Belt, One Road projects. The AIIB, backed by Beijing as an alternative version of the World Bank, was launched in January with the goal of raising funds for infrastructure projects. HK is set to join as a member by the end of this year. Leung and Financial Secretary John Tsang both gave separate keynote speeches at the Boao conference where they promoted the city as an infrastructure financing hub. The Boao forum is the first initiative of the HK Monetary Authority's newly formed Infrastructure Financing Facilitation Office (IFFO), which comprises 41 financial partners, including HSBC, with the goal of promoting HK as an infrastructure financing hub for One Belt One Road.
Expat middle manager packages decline in value in HK as more Asian employees are imported (SCMP, July 8): The total cost of a pay package for expatriate middle managers dropped by 2 per cent over the last 12 months, according to a survey by human resources consultant ECA International. The study compared expat salaries worldwide, finding that in Asia, HK had moved up the rankings to have the fourth highest pay package, up from 5th place last year despite the drop in the value of the total package. HK middle managers can expect an expat pay package totalling about HK$ 2,070,000. “One third of expats in HK are now from other Asian countries. Ten to 20 years ago the major expat groups were from the UK, Europe and North America, where there are relatively higher salaries,” said Lee Quane, regional director of ECA International.
HK land supply situation remains of 'great concern', think tank says (SCMP, July 14): HK's land supply situation in the next 10 years still warrants “great concern”, despite a surge in residential land in recent years, according to a think tank. “The lack of large-scale land development projects over a prolonged period of time in the city is one of the major constraints facing current housing supply,” said William Tsang, a senior researcher at Our Hong Kong Foundation, a think tank headed by former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa. “The government is increasingly relying on sites that need to go through time-consuming processes such as rezoning to satisfy land demand,” Tsang said. The progress is also often delayed by strong public opposition, judicial reviews and bureaucratic red tape in town planning, he said.
HK senior citizens targeted with new 'Silver Bonds' offering returns double those of iBonds (SCMP, July 16): HK authorities announced the launch of the city's first “Silver Bond” for senior citizens aged 65 or above, offering an investment product with a return double that of an iBond. The maximum size of the bond, to be issued from August 12, is HK$3 billion with a three-year tenor, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Professor Chan Ka-keung said. Bond holders are to be paid interest once every six months at a rate linked to inflation in HK, subject to a minimum rate of 2 per cent.
Unemployment in HK's construction sector down (SCMP, July 20): Employment in construction increased in the second quarter of this year, after Legislative Council filibusters subsided and infrastructure projects went ahead, one economist has said. According to the government's latest job report, the city's overall unemployment rate averaged 3.4 per cent between April and June. That number was the same as for the three months between March and May. Economists expected the jobless rate to remain steady throughout the year, as retail- and tourism-related sectors – which have weakened during the current economic downturn – showed signs of stabilising. The construction sector, in which joblessness has increased since the year began, employed 2,300 more workers in the three months to June. Its unemployment rate lessened from 5.4 per cent in the same numbers a month ago, to 4.7 per cent.
More 'balanced' mix of tourists coming to HK as more overseas visitors arrive (SCMP, July 30): The city is seeing a “more balanced” mix of tourists as the number of international visitors soared by 5 per cent in June when compared with same month last year, despite a 1.7 per cent drop in the overall number of visitors. A tourism sector lawmaker explained the growth could be partly due to cheaper hotel prices this year. Latest statistics from the Tourism Board showed that the city had 4.29 million visitors last month, around a quarter of which were international visitors. The drop in the number of mainland tourists narrowed to 3.8 per cent, while the number of overnight visitors increased by 1.4 per cent.
HK activists make their voices heard at July 1 protest (SCMP, July 2): Tens of thousands took to the streets of HK for the annual July 1 protest march as the city marked the 19th anniversary of its return to Chinese rule, but fears of orchestrated violence by breakaway radicals proved unfounded. Apart from scuffles at Government House that prompted police to use pepper spray against protesters, and the arrests of three people accused of carrying offensive weapons outside Beijing's liaison office, the mass rally was peaceful. The Civil Human Rights Front, the organiser of the annual mass rally, put the turnout at 110,000, compared with last year's 48,000. Police said the number of marchers peaked at 19,300, compared with 19,650 last year. Reasons for protesting cited by marchers ranged from the missing bookseller controversy to dissatisfaction with the government and fears about the city's future. Lam Wing-kee, the bookseller who caused a storm by detailing his eight-month detention on the mainland, was supposed to lead the march, but pulled out at the last minute citing a “serious threat” to his safety. In Beijing, HK and Macau Affairs Office director Wang Guangya accused Lam of destroying “one country, two systems” by selling books on the mainland that were banned there. Earlier the chief executive vowed to continue focusing on economic development in the coming year when he addressed the reception marking the 19th anniversary of the handover.
HK chief executive would have 'greater legitimacy' if elected by 'one man, one vote' (SCMP, July 5): Electing HK's leader by universal suffrage as soon as possible is a shared desire of citizens as well as both the city and central governments, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said as he unveiled his annual report on the administration's work. Leung said universal suffrage was “a common aspiration” of Hongkongers, the government and Beijing. One man, one vote would give the chief executive “greater legitimacy”, he added. But Leung also called for the rift between pan-democrat lawmakers and Beijing to be narrowed to enable electoral reform.
Bookseller Lam Wing-kee could be sent to mainland China if there was a reciprocal deal with HK (SCMP, July 6): The HK government could send bookseller Lam Wing-kee to the mainland if a reciprocal judicial assistance agreement was struck, Professor Song Xiaozhuang, invited by the Chinese authorities to speak on the case. But a Hong Kong lawmaker familiar with security affairs said Lam could still argue he was being prosecuted for his political opinions and be protected by local laws. At present there is no arrangement between HK and the mainland on the surrender of fugitive offenders, and discussions on a deal have stretched for nearly two decades. Fu Hualing, a Chinese criminal law professor at the University of HK, said even if an extradition deal was put in place, only suspects who had committed an offence in both jurisdictions would be surrendered. Lam is accused of operating a business dealing in illegal publications – not a crime in HK where freedom of publication is protected.
HK pushes for expansion of communication system with China as police offer protection to returned bookseller (SCMP, July 7): HK is pressing Beijing to expand the cross-border communication system for criminal investigations to cover all mainland law enforcement agencies following the bookseller controversy. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying reported progress on July 6. But he listed further goals as the justice and security ministers returned home from talks on the notification mechanism, prompted by concerns that it had failed to keep HK informed when Lam Wing-kee and four of his publishing associates were held for months on the mainland. Leung said Minister of Public Security Guo Shengkun had agreed that the 15-year-old mechanism “should be improved in view of changed circumstances and people's expectations”. He said a key achievement in the first round of talks was that both sides agreed to inform each other within 14 days if they detained the other's residents for criminal investigation. The current system only requires notification as soon as practicable, without specifying a time limit.
'Accept HK is part of China or you can't run in Legco elections' (SCMP, July 15): In a surprise move targeting independence advocates running in September's Legislative Council elections, the government will require all candidates to declare their acceptance of HK as an inalienable part of China or face disqualification. Those who sign the declaration would be bound by it to the extent that they could face criminal sanctions if found to have lied. The move drew instant criticism. While human rights groups condemned it as censorship of political thought, some pan-democrats also questioned its legality.
HK Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying stands firm on accusations about his role in ICAC controversy (SCMP, July 15): HK's top official was grilled by lawmakers from across the political spectrum over a top-level staffing controversy at the city's anti-corruption agency, but he dismissed their allegations about his involvement as “speculation”. At his last question-and-answer session before the Legislative Council ends its term, five lawmakers pressed Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on the recent turmoil at the Independent Commission Against Corruption. They raised concerns about the agency's reputation and reminded him of its contribution to the rule of law and the business-friendly environment. Their questions centred on the surprise removal of Rebecca Li, acting head of the ICAC's operations department and one of its most experienced investigators. ICAC Commissioner Simon Peh took sole responsibility this week for deciding to force Li out, offering her a de facto demotion to her previous role. But the lawmakers highlighted the Democratic Party's allegations that Leung had engineered Li's downfall over an ICAC probe into his receipt of a HK$50 million payment from Australian firm UGL. Leung maintained it was only a resignation arrangement barring him from joining a business competitor of the surveying firm he worked for before becoming the city's leader.
Civic Party candidates refuse to sign new form despite head of electoral watchdog saying rule change is legal (SCMP, July 20): Civic Party candidates will not sign the additional form required by a controversial rule change for the Legislative Council polls in September, party leader Alan Leong has declared. The Electoral Affairs Commission introduced an abrupt measure requiring candidates to sign an extra form declaring the city an inalienable part of China, on top of making the standard declaration to uphold the Basic Law. The head of the city's election watchdog Justice Barnabas Fung had insisted that there was a legal basis for the rule change after meeting a group of concerned pan-democrats, who were left confused and dissatisfied by his answers. Most pan-democrat and localist candidates, including Edward Leung of pro-independence group HK Indigenous, have refused to sign when registering for the polls.
Don't let Legco elections become stage for promoting independence, warns Beijing's top man in HK (SCMP, July 21): Zhang Xiaoming, Beijing's top representative in HK, has warned against allowing the Legislative Council elections in September to be used as a platform to promote independence in breach of the Basic Law. Zhang said it was a matter of principle, rather than a legal issue, to allow independence advocates to promote such ideas. He questioned whether allowing independence advocates to run and even enter the legislature was in line with the “one country, two systems” policy of governing HK, warning of the risk of “calamity” otherwise. At the same time, he also gave an assurance that Beijing would stick to the one country, two systems principle and not “mainlandise” HK or turn it into another Shanghai or Guangzhou. Under the changed election rules, candidates for September have to sign the standard declaration pledging allegiance to the Basic Law, as well as a new form confirming their understanding and acceptance of three articles in the mini-constitution spelling out the city's status as an inalienable part of China. Pan-democrat and localist candidates have already started boycotting the new form while handing in their nominations for September, complaining that it smacks of political censorship.
More young Hongkongers back independence and are less supportive of peaceful protest, poll shows (SCMP, July 25): Almost one in every five HK residents believe that the city should go independent after 2047, a poll conducted by the Chinese University found. The university's journalism school interviewed 1,010 residents from July 6 to 15, on their views about HK's future. It also discovered that young people are becoming less supportive of fighting for political reform in a “peaceful and non-violent” manner. Scholars warned that government officials must try to understand what caused this shift in mindset, or face more difficulties and social unrest in the years to come.
'This is the court's decision to make': Rita Fan weighs in on Legco rule targeting HK pro-independence candidates (SCMP, July 27): HK courts, rather than Beijing, should make their own judgment on the controversial new electoral rules targeting independence advocates, the city's sole deputy to China's top legislature said. Rita Fan dismissed the idea of any interference from Beijing. Fan said she had not heard if the National People's Congress Standing Committee, of which she is a member, had any plans to step in and interpret the Basic Law for the HK courts. “If the court is unclear about some clauses of the Basic Law and wants to hear other opinions, it can ask the Standing Committee at any time. But this is the court's decision to make,” said Fan.
Setback to legal challenge against new Hong Kong election rule (SCMP, July 28): The High Court refused to immediately hear the first legal challenge to a controversial new electoral rule targeting advocates of independence, even as the head of the legislature warned the government against shutting out candidates. High Court judge Mr Justice Thomas Au said he saw no urgency in dealing with pan-democrat and localist hopefuls' applications for a judicial review before the nomination period for September's Legislative Council elections ends on July 29. Even before the court decision, Legco president Jasper Tsang warned the government against banning someone simply over the new form. “If we open the floodgate for lawmakers to promote independence, it will be dangerous for HK's development,” Tsang said. “But I think we also need to stand firm on our rule of law; if the government does things that make people feel that our laws can be set aside, and that people can be barred from running, the cost would be too big for us.”
Beijing and HK officials agree on detention notification system based on respect (SCMP, July 29): HK and Beijing officials agreed to uphold the “one country, two systems” principle, each other's laws and constitutions, and human rights, as they resumed talks in Shenzhen on improving the mechanism for reporting the detention of residents across jurisdictions. After the meeting, Guangdong provincial authorities extradited a murder suspect wanted in HK. It was the second round of talks after city officials first visited the capital on July 5 to secure a provisional agreement to improve the cross-border notification system, prompted by the public outcry over the detention of five HK booksellers without the local government being informed. The official Xinhua news agency reported that the mechanism would include language on “adhering to the 'one country two systems' principle, according to the [Chinese] Constitution, the Basic Law and other laws adopted by the two sides, and upholding the principles of acting lawfully, seeking common ground while reserving differences, mutual benefits, and protecting human rights”.
Double trouble for CY Leung? John Tsang announces possible bid for HK's top job soon after Jasper Tsang does the same (SCMP, July 31): HK's choices for a new chief executive next March expanded dramatically when not one but two popular figures – Financial Secretary John Tsang and retiring Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang – declared they were prepared to take on incumbent Leung Chun-ying for the city's top job. The double trouble their ambitions could pose to Leung's strong chances of securing a second term appeared to be uncoordinated but confirmed observers' suspicions that they could be among the top contenders for the job. Looking at what the potential challenge would mean for the incumbent chief executive, City University political scientist Professor Ray Yep said: “Leung would feel some pressure because of the pair's comments ... as they showed Beijing has yet to make a decision on next year's race.”
Second HK localist candidate barred from running in Legco elections (SCMP, July 31): A second localist candidate was disqualified from running in the upcoming Legislative Council elections after he did not pledge to uphold the city's mini-constitution. The invalidation of Yeung Ke-cheong's candidacy in Kowloon West came just one day after Chan Ho-tin, convenor of the HK National Party, was banned from the race by the Electoral Affairs Commission for “violating Basic Law”, the city's mini-constitution since its handover in 1997. “We will soon launch a series of actions to subvert the elections which will largely undermine the legitimacy of the polls,” Chan warned as he vowed to challenge the decision in court via a judicial review or election petition. Crossing swords with Chan in the forum, Beijing loyalist Wong Kwan-yu, a member of the Basic Law Promotion Steering Committee, said the “reasonable” decision by the returning officer had sent a very strong message to the city: “Separatists would be banned from the political arena.” University of HK legal scholar Benny Tai, who founded the Occupy movement in 2014, said there was no clause in the Basic Law that allowed the government to ban separatist hopefuls from elections – unless the mini-constitution was amended.
North Korean defects at HK's South Korean consulate (SCMP, July 28): Security around the South Korean consulate in HK has been stepped up after a North Korean defector sought refuge there, the Post has learned. It is understood the defector was a member of a North Korean delegation that attended an academic competition at a local university about two weeks ago. Government sources revealed that since last week, police had boosted patrols around the Far East Finance Centre in Harcourt Road, Admiralty, with the focus on Seoul's mission on the fifth floor. The Post was told that the HK office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was also alerted over the incident. Sources with the knowledge of the case said police from the counter-terrorism division were liaising with the Security Bureau after the awkward diplomatic issue surfaced. The South Korean consulate in HK was not available for comment. The HK government also declined to comment.
Legal affairs and human rights
HK police may issue special cards to mentally disabled after arrest blunder (SCMP, July 15): Police may issue special cards to mentally disabled people so officers can identify them in advance, after the force made a blunder in handling an autistic suspect in May last year. Police Commissioner Stephen Lo said a working group had consulted different parties over the past year and would consider issuing “care cards” to all mentally disabled people. “We can identify the special needs of a mentally incapable person in advance so that we can protect their rights properly and use special means to handle them,” Lo said. The force was also considering issuing a notice to relatives, guardians or social workers when they were chosen as the “appropriate adult” to accompany mentally disabled suspects when they were asked to give a statement in a police station.
In echo of missing booksellers case, Shenzhen court jails two HK journalists for running illegal business (SCMP, July 26): A pair of HK journalists behind two political affairs magazines were jailed in Shenzhen for running an illegal business, the same charge that landed five booksellers from Causeway Bay Books in trouble last year. The duo's imprisonment came a month after one of the five HK booksellers, Lam Wing-kee, made explosive revelations after returning from mainland custody, claiming he had been kidnapped at the border and put through eight months of mental torture. Publisher Wang Jianmin, 62, was jailed five years and three months, while editor-in-chief Guo Zhongxiao, 40, was jailed two years and three months. They had pleaded guilty in Shenzhen's Nanshan District Court last year.
'Tyranny of minority': HK medical reform bill fails as filibuster blocks Legislative Council vote on final day (SCMP, July 16): The fate of a controversial government bill to reform the city's medical watchdog was finally sealed with the last session of the current Legislative Council term ending at midnight on July 15. The Legco medical representative and some pan-democrats managed to block a vote on the bill, which lapsed at the end of the meeting. It means the Food and Health Bureau will have to work on a new reform proposal for the Medical Council, which licences and disciplines doctors, and introduce it in the next Legco term. Chief Secretary Carrie Lam lashed out at medical representative Leung Ka-lau and some pan-democrats for delaying the final reading of the bill, condemning their opposition as “the tyranny of the minority”. Lam said the government would immediately study how to minimise the consequences of the bill failing to win endorsement.
Mosquito infestation in HK reaches 'alert' level, index shows, prompting fears of dengue and Zika virus transmission (SCMP, July 20): An index that measures growth in the numbers of a type of mosquito that could transmit dengue fever and the Zika virus has exceeded an “alert” level in eight districts and reached a new high for the city overall. Meanwhile, intensive preventive and control exercises will be carried out across the city between August 1 and October 31 by various government departments, during which time a number of people are expected to travel to Brazil for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The spokesman for the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said such actions would reduce the risk of any spread of dengue fever or the Zika virus, which could be possible if a person were infected elsewhere and bitten by a local mosquito.
HK women and men enjoy world's longest life expectancy due to low smoking rates, health experts claim (SCMP, July 28): HK's women and men enjoy the longest life expectancy in the world, according to data released by Japan's health and welfare ministry. The average lifespan for women in HK is 87.32 years, and local men on average can expect to live to 81.24. Japanese women took second place at 87.05, while Icelandic and Swiss men shared the second position in the men's category at 81 years. University of HK public health professor Lam Tai-Hing said the city's low smoking rates were the main reason for its life expectancy results.
The toxic trail of e-waste that leads from the US to HK (SCMP, July 3): In recent years a cluster of legally questionable work sites have sprung up to store and dismantle the disgorged contents of the growing number of shipping containers arriving in HK from the United States. The Basel Action Network (BAN) says HK's traditional role as a transshipment point for mainland-bound e-waste is changing. A spokeswoman for the Environmental Protection Department EPD said that the sites visited by the SCMP were under investigation. HK officials at the EPD have expressed their concerns to the US government. A spokesman for the US agency said: “We are in communication with HK's environmental protection department on the issue of electronic waste management.”
HK air pollution still far exceeds WHO levels and worsening, concern group finds (SCMP, July 14): Concentrations of nitrogen oxides in the air in HK have consistently surpassed maximum safe levels set by the World Health Organisation in the last five years, with average roadside emissions in Central, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok nearly 2.5 times higher, according to a mid-year review by a concern group. The Clean Air Network believes the source of such persistent roadside NOx pollution is traffic congestion spurred by uncontrolled growth in the number of private cars – at least 4.6 per cent per year – in the last decade. Patrick Fung, the group's chief executive, said chronically high levels of pollution were posing a significant threat to public health. He urged the government to address the threat when it formulated its planning and transportation policies.
89pc of Hongkongers would recycle food waste if they had the facilities (SCMP, July 19): Hongkongers are more willing than ever to battle the city's unpleasant food waste problem, if only homes were equipped with recycling points. Some 66 per cent of residents make no attempt to reduce or recycle food waste, according to a survey conducted by the Green Council, a local non-government organisation. This is mainly because only around 5 per cent of residential properties have food recycling schemes. Every day 3,600 tons of food waste are dumped in landfills, making up nearly 40 per cent of the city's solid municipal waste, according to a study by the Environmental Protection Department in 2011. Of the 1,288 respondents surveyed in April, almost 89 per cent said they would be willing to recycle food waste if there was a recycling point where they lived. But the survey also revealed that the most common way of handling food waste was by direct disposal. Environment Secretary Wong Kam-sing said an economic incentive was needed to reduce waste. “We must first have a fee on waste disposal, which we will propose to the new Legco,” he said.
Culture and Education
Former finance minister Antony Leung remains tight-lipped on running in election, despite unveiling proposed policy on education (SCMP, July 5): A group led by former finance minister Antony Leung, also a former education commission chairman, unveiled a list of suggestions to improve the education sector, but he denied he was already floating his policy platform. He was also evasive when asked directly whether he would join the HK's Chief Executive race. Education 2.1, comprising 17 professionals, including professors, principals and finance experts, got together about a year ago to discuss ways to prepare students for the challenges and opportunities for the new era, he said. Suggestions included changing the exam-oriented culture in HK, such as reducing the HKDSE syllabus to only the essentials so that candidates could have more flexibility. Another recommendation was to attach greater importance to other learning experiences, recommendation letters, and interviews, rather than just looking at students' examination scores for university admissions. The suggestions also touched on the topic of increasing government subsidies for post-secondary education.
HK students outperform overseas counterparts in International Baccalaureate (SCMP, July 7): HK candidates have once again outperformed their international counterparts in the International Baccalaureate (IB) examination. Of the 2,076 candidates who sat for the examination in the city in May, 96.76 per cent passed the assessment, which was higher than the global figure of 79.28 per cent. The number of students who achieved the maximum score of 45 plunged to 18, from 32 in 2015. A total of 147 received the perfect score worldwide.
Mega performance venue scrapped at long-delayed HK arts hub (SCMP, July 21): The West Kowloon Cultural District has scrapped plans for a mega performance venue in the northwestern corner of the 40-hectare development and may use the land solely for exhibitions and conventions, reducing the capacity for the prime waterfront site to hold large-scale popular music and entertainment events. The U-turn was announced by Chief Secretary Carrie Lam at a press conference to confirm the appointment of Suhanya Raffel as the next director of M+, the museum of visual culture that is opening in West Kowloon in late 2019. “We will consider the fact that HK has to continue to develop its exhibition industry and so we must review how best to use this part of the West Kowloon Cultural District as an exhibition space,” she said.
Macau liaison office director Li Gang moved out, to be replaced by Wang Zhiming (SCMP, July 2): Beijing's most senior representative in Macau, Li Gang, has been replaced in a top-level shake-up which a mainland official says is “not because he has done something wrong''. Confirming that Li had left the post to be replaced by Wang Zhiming, a deputy director of the HK and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council, a senior mainland official in Macau said the move had nothing to do with dissatisfaction over Li's performance. A source said Li would be transferred to the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office. The ministerial-level office is of equal ranking to the HK and Macau Affairs Office.
Two Hongkongers critically hurt in German axe attack by Afghan refugee who kept Islamic State flag at home (SCMP, July 20): HK had its first taste of the terror of Islamic State on July 19 when a family from the city holidaying in south Germany was attacked on a train by an Afghan refugee said to be linked to the jihadist group. The 17-year-old attacker was shot dead by German police as he fled the bloody scene after using an axe and a knife against the four Hongkongers. The two men, aged 62 and 31, suffered critical injuries and were under intensive care in the city of Wuerzburg. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying condemned the attack, hours before the jihadist group claimed responsibility. Investigators later seized a “hand-painted IS flag” in his room at his foster home in the nearby town of Ochsenfurt.
Press articles related to Switzerland and Swiss matters
Singapore preparing to 'name and shame' banks linked to scandal-hit 1MDB (SCMP, July 25): Singapore's central bank chief vowed to name and shame banks engaged in money laundering after a scandal involving Malaysian state fund 1MDB hurt the city-state's financial reputation. Allegations that billions of dollars have been improperly siphoned out of 1MDB have led to investigations across the globe – spanning from Abu Dhabi, Switzerland, and the Caribbean to HK and the US. Swiss authorities seized several paintings by Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh following a request by the US to confiscate the artworks, a spokeswoman for Switzerland's Federal Office of Justice said. Singapore in May kicked out Switzerland's BSI Bank over “gross misconduct” linked to 1MDB. Swiss financial regulators later dissolved the bank for similar reasons. Singaporean authorities last week also said investigations found that Singapore-based DBS Bank, Standard Chartered Bank's Singapore Branch and Swiss-based UBS had exhibited “undue delay in detecting and reporting suspicious transactions”. It also noted lapses by Swiss bank Falcon PBS, saying it was still investigating them.
Solar Impulse 2 plane completes epic sun-powered round-world trip, without consuming one drop of fuel (AFP, SCMP, July 26): The Solar Impulse 2 landed in the UAE, completing its epic journey to become the first sun-powered airplane to circle the globe without consuming a drop of fuel, to promote renewable energy. The flight capped a remarkable 42,000km journey across four continents, two oceans and three seas. “The future is clean, the future is you, the future is now, let's take it further,” said Swiss explorer and project director Bertrand Piccard as he disembarked. Dubbed the “paper plane”, Solar Impulse 2 has been circumnavigating the globe in stages, with 58-year-old Piccard and his compatriot Andre Borschberg taking turns at the controls of the single-seat aircraft.
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