Establishment camp to see internal battle on new poll candidates

EJ Insight》

by Yu Kam-yin / Yesterday, 17:28Vincent Cheng (center), who won the Kowloon West  contest in last Sunday’s Legco by-elections, waves to supporters along with DAB party chairperson Starry Lee (fourth from left). Photo: HKEJ

Vincent Cheng (center), who won the Kowloon West contest in last Sunday’s Legco by-elections, waves to supporters along with DAB party chairperson Starry Lee (fourth from left). Photo: HKEJ

Following the Legislative Council by-elections, members of the pro-establishment camp have started drawing conclusions about how Vincent Cheng Wing-shun of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) was able to overcome enormous odds and defeat the pan-democrat candidate Edward Yiu Chung-yim in the Kowloon West constituency.

According to the analysis of some in the pro-establishment camp, apart from the massive material and manpower support provided by the DAB and other pro-Beijing groups, a major factor behind Cheng’s surprise victory was that his rival Yiu may have relied too much on internet campaign and neglected some of the conventional campaign methods such as visiting the communities in person and making door-to-door visits.

Besides, they explained, Yiu — perhaps on the advice of his de facto campaign manager Eddie Chu Hoi-dick –adopted an “austere and thrifty” approach to campaigning, and put up very few campaign banners on the streets.

Worse still, apart from their scarcity, Yiu’s banners were either already used before or non-descript, hence his failure to draw the attention of grass-roots or middle-class voters, who had got accustomed to conventional campaign techniques.

Meanwhile, it appears leaders of the pro-establishment camp haven’t let their victory last Sunday go to their heads, and are already setting their sights on the next by-elections, also in Kowloon West and New Territories East. 

While it remains to be seen whether the pan-dems will make the ousted “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung and Lau Siu-lai run again, the pro-establishment camp expects more difficulty in coordinating the campaign efforts in the upcoming polls.

It is because Cheng’s triumph would almost certainly inspire a lot more potential hopefuls in the camp to compete for candidacy for the upcoming race, and leaders of the pro-establishment parties would probably have their work cut out for them trying to hammer out their final list of candidates.

Nevertheless, since the DAB already dominated the by-elections on Sunday in both Kowloon West and New Territories East, some in the pro-Beijing camp believe that the DAB is likely to take a backseat in the next race and allow other pro-establishment blocs to run.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 13

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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JR king now targets ‘pro-independence DAB’ winner

Kwok Cheuk-kin says the name of the prominent pro-Beijing party shows that it wants Hong Kong to become independent. Photo: RTHK

Kwok Cheuk-kin says the name of the prominent pro-Beijing party shows that it wants Hong Kong to become independent. Photo: RTHK

The so-called “king of judicial reviews” has filed a lawsuit aiming to strip newly elected lawmaker Vincent Cheng of his seat, saying his pro-Beijing DAB party advocates Hong Kong’s independence.

Cheng won the Kowloon West race on Sunday, inflicting the first ever by-election defeat on the opposition. 

Kwok Cheuk-kin, a retired civil servant who has unsuccessfully tried to launch judicial reviews against several government policies, said in his latest bid that the name of the party – Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong – is an indicator of its secession motive.

He claimed the party aims to develop Hong Kong into a full democracy and split the SAR away from China.

Reacting to the report, DAB chairwoman Starry Lee said in Beijing that the allegation was a “joke”.

She said the DAB has 12 lawmakers in Legco and all of them respect and uphold the Basic Law.

Lawmakers meet FS to push for budget changes

Pro-government legislators put their budget ideas to Financial Secretary Paul Chan on Wednesday. Photo: RTHK

Pro-government legislators put their budget ideas to Financial Secretary Paul Chan on Wednesday. Photo: RTHK

The pro-democracy camp says it's still hoping to see cash handouts for all permanent residents. Photo: RTHK

The pro-democracy camp says it’s still hoping to see cash handouts for all permanent residents. Photo: RTHK

The DAB on Wednesday called for electricity subsidies and public flat rent waivers as it put suggestions to Financial Secretary Paul Chan, two weeks after his budget announcement. Meanwhile, the pro-democracy camp said it still wants to see cash handouts for everyone.

Chan has been looking at ways to improve his financial blueprint after critics accused him of failing to spread out a record high budget surplus fairly. To this end, he has held talks with both pro-establishment and pro-democracy figures to find out what they would like to see. 

As well as the electricity subsidies and rent waivers, the pro-government DAB told Chan he should waive university student loans, up to a maximum of HK$20,000 per person

The party also said that if the Community Care Fund is to be used to help low-income groups, as Chan has suggested, the application procedures must be kept simple.

DAB lawmaker Elizabeth Quat said all of their ideas are pragmatic.

“It’s all been done before. The procedures are already there, and it will be more easy and more practical for the government to do it immediately”, Quat said. 

The pro-democracy camp also spent half an hour talking to the financial secretary on Wednesday. Even though he has repeatedly said he doesn’t want to give a universal cash handout, camp convenor Charles Mok says this is precisely what he and his colleagues are calling for.

“If we don’t continue to make the right demands, we’re never going to be able to get what the citizens of Hong Kong would consider to be a fair deal. Because we fight for what the people really want and we will not give up simply because the government tell us that this is not what they’re going to do”, said Mok.

Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai, meanwhile, said the relief measures in this year’s budget have split society and the government needs to make changes to ensure that everyone gets a slice of the cake.


Hong Kong Focus


by Suzanne Pepper / Today, 14:54

The post-Occupy sequence did not hold. That sequence linked Hong Kong voters with the pro-democracy activists who shut down major Hong Kong thoroughfares for over two months in a show of political defiance against Beijing. The grievance then, in 2014, was the central government’s refusal to grant long-promised universal suffrage elections for Hong Kong’s Chief Executives and its Legislative Council on any terms other than Beijing’s own. Rather than the immediate crackdown many expected at the time, Beijing has responded in slow motion with a series of mandates and ultimatums that in turn produced the oath-taking saga plus the disqualification of six Legislative Councilors and a number of aspiring candidates as well.

There have been several post-Occupy elections, of varying kinds, with many candidates demonstrating the same defiant post-Occupy ideals, to the same post-Occupy effect. Conventional wisdom even among Occupy’s champions, initially held that public opinion had turned against them. As the street blockades dragged on in 2014, fewer and fewer Hong Kongers seemed inclined to contradict the government line about public opinion beingly firmly negative due to the city-wide disruption the occupation caused.

Yet each time the public was given a choice, beginning with a District Councils election in late 2015, candidates who conveyed the Occupy spirit did “better than expected.” So much so, that by the time the Legislative Council election rolled around a year later, Occupy’s champions had regained their confidence. According to the official count, 15 newly-elected councilors added some Occupy sprit to the October 2016 swearing-in ceremony by embellishing their oaths of office with pro-democracy slogans. They accounted for half the pro-democracy councilors elected that year in a 70-seat assembly. And they wanted to give voice to voters’ resentment over unfulfilled electoral reform promises as well as Bejing’s increasing presence in Hong Kong political life. By then the frustration and resentment had also evolved in new directions with names like Hong Kong independence and self-determination.

After Beijing’s ultimatum on solemn word-for-word oath-taking in November 2016, and lengthy local court proceedings thereafter, six of those 15 legislators were retroactively and selectively target for prosecution by the Hong Kong government and disqualified by the Hong Kong courts (July 20, 2017 post). Two of the six are still waiting for final appeals court judgements. Four decided not to appeal and were replaced in the special by-election held last Sunday, March 11.


On March 11, however, the spell was broken. The post-Occupy effect evaporated, and the anticipated sympathy vote for the disqualified legislators did not materialize. On the face of it, Beijing and the Hong Kong government have thus scored a major victory by winning approval at the ballot box for their political removal strategy of targeting all the most promising members of the post-Occupy political generation. Until voter turnouts and profiles are known, the reasons must remain in the realm of speculation. But nothing is more suggestive than an election result.

Of the four pro-democracy seats lost to the oath-taking saga, democratic replacements succeeded in winning back only two in the March 11 by-election. Of the four, given the political configuration of the constituency, one loss was preordained by the government’s selective prosecution of its occupant and therefore doesn’t count in the political equation. But most important for future democracy camp reference, this time its voters did not perform “better than expected.”

The election was billed informally and rhetorically as a referendum on the post-Occupy generation of legislators. Democrats called on voters to oppose the disqualifications and elect likeminded candidates to replace them. Their pro-establishment pro-Beijing opponents called on voters to prevent such like-minded candidates from ever returning to the Legislative Council, and voters responded by failing to give those candidates a ringing endorsement.

The four seats included three elected directly by voters in the Geographic Constituencies: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon West, and New Territories East. The fourth seat belonged to the indirectly-elected small-circle Functional Constituency for architects and surveyors.

Voter turnout for the Geographic seats was down significantly compared to the full Legislative Council election in 2016: 58% then in the Geographic Constituencies, compared to only 43% last Sunday. One reason for the lower turnout of course was far fewer candidates and therefore, less intense voter mobilization efforts.

Voter turnout in itself need not have been a deciding factor. But what caused dismay in the democratic camp evoked celebrations among their opponents over how well the latter did in narrowing democrats’ traditional voter advantage across the board. Democrats have always enjoyed a larger support base, but their small parties are fractious, and the voters are similarly fragmented. Getting out the vote is always a worry especially because they are no match for the pro-Beijing voter-mobilization teams that are now always on call at election time for their candidates and allies. These disciplined forces of the left include 36,000 members of the main pro-Beijing political party, the Democratic Alliance for the Determent and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) and the estimated 400,000 affiliated members of the Federation of Trade Unions (FTU). No pro-democracy party can boast even a thousand members.

Also, this was a first-past-the-post election with only one seat being contested in each of the three Geographic Constituencies. Hence proportional representation did not cut into democrats’ vote share in the manner of a regular election. That presumably is why democratic candidates have never lost in such single-seat by-elections … until now. The pro-democracy candidate in Kowloon West lost by 2,000 votes.

Results, the main contenders: Democrat (D), Beijing-Establishment (BE)

Hong Kong Island:

AU Nok-hin (D), 137,181 votes

CHAN, Judy Ka-pui (BE), 127,634 votes

Kowloon West:

Edward Yiu Chung-yim (D), 105,060 votes

Vincent Cheng Wing-shun (B), 107,479 votes

New Territories East:

Gary Fan Kwok-wai (D), 183,762 votes

Bill Tang Ka-piu (B), 152,904 votes

Functional Constituency, architects, surveyors:

Paul Zimmerman (D), 2,345 votes
Tony Tse Wai-chuen (E), 2,929 votes.


One major result of this by-election was seen at the beginning, not the end. Faction-ridden as they have always been, the disqualification crisis finally brought democrats together. Joseph Cheng Yu-shek began his self-appointed often thankless candidate-coordination effort in 2003 and he finally saw his pet project bear fruit with the preliminary straw poll in January (Jan. 22, 2018 post).

All the main pro-democracy parties took part, all agreed to campaign for the winners afterward, and all did. Unfortunately, Cheng still has his work cut out for him and because of the generation gap that has opened up, success may continue to elude him. Younger generation localist pro-independence enthusiasts were the spoilers in New Territories East where they reportedly organized a blank-vote protest against conventional democratic politician Gary Fan.

But despite the good start, a new threat erupted almost immediately. All had agreed that Agnes Chow Ting should stand as the candidate to contest the Hong Kong Island seat lost to the oath-taking saga by her party-mate Nathan Law. But the 21-year-old Chow never reached the starting line. Her candidacy was officially blocked because of her party’s call for self-determination, which Beijing insists is identical to independence. The party, Demosisto, was recently founded by Joshua Wong and other student activists (Jan. 30, 2018 post).

Again by common consent, the replacement candidate was 30-year-old Au Nok-hin. He would probably have been disqualified as well were it not for the uproar caused by Agnes Chow’s swift downgrade. Au is a 30-year-old elected member of one of Hong Kong’s 18 District Councils so he already has some experience in grassroots Hong Kong politics. He is also a career activist and arguably more radical than Agnes Chow.

Au is among the group around one-time moderate academic Brian Fong Chi-hang, who gave up his moderation after Occupy. He said Hong Kong should write its own Basic Law because the governing document China had promulgated for post-1997 Hong Kong was turning out to be full of promises Beijing would not honor (Oct. 26, 2015 post).

There were immediate challenges to Au’s candidacy and moves began to disqualify him even before he was elected. They can come from petitions, which are allowed, sponsored by anyone who voted in his constituency. Pro-Beijing partisans there quickly produced a photograph of him burning a copy of the Basic Law during a protest demonstration in 2016. The photograph was used by his pro-establishment challenger Judy Chan to challenge his patriotism during a TV debate and was published almost daily in pro-Beijing newspapers where voters were urged to begin disqualification proceedings against him if he was elected. He was, and they did. Their protest petition was submitted yesterday, March 13.

Judy Chan is a protégé of Regina Ip, democrats’ nemesis since 2003 when she presided over the government’s effort to pass its Article 23 national security legislation. Chan’s election website featured a sequence titled “The Seven Deadly Sins of Au Nok-him,” dating back to his middle school days and calculated to set patriotic blood boiling.

Also noteworthy from Chan’s campaign was her party-line defense of President Xi Jinping. She said amending constitutions, as he has done, is a common occurrence and ending term limits is good for continuity in policy implementation. China is different from Western countries. More political power is good for development (South China Morning Post, March 8, online).

The race in Kowloon West featured middle-aged academic Edward Yiu Chung-yim. His major handicap was lack of grassroots ties in neighborhoods there plus his disqualification as a legislator in the oath-taking saga. Edward Yiu’s political origins were actually in the Functional Constituencies, architects and surveyors sector, and his disqualification for oath-taking embellishments is the case that raised the most serious questions about the government’s decision to selectively prosecute some oath-takers but not others (July 20, 2017 post).

The government’s move in prosecuting him seemed related not so much to his oath-taking but to the configuration of his original constituency. Flipping that seat beck into the pro-establishment column was a foregone conclusion once he was no longer in it, and his oath was no more creative than others who were not prosecuted. Architects and surveyors are usually pro-establishment, but they fielded two candidates in the 2016 election thereby splitting their vote and allowing Edward Yiu to win. (Jan. 30, 2018 post).   It was a mistake they naturally did not repeat in this neat maneuver that allowed the “rightful” occupant to regain his seat.

The Kowloon West seat was originally won, in 2016, by Youngspiration candidate Yau Wai-ching. She was one of the first two legislators-elect whose disqualifying oath-taking embellishments were the most extreme. Democrats had originally hoped to reinstate the other four in the by-elections to follow since none of the court judgments had preempted that possibility. Ultimately the idea worked out only for Edward Yiu, who was the preferred choice in the straw poll for Kowloon West. But even so the prospect was risky because it meant parachuting him into a constituency where, as an academic and Functional Constituency politicians, he was without the grassroots support base needed to mobilize voters. His main challenger was the DAB’s Vincent Cheng, who had served for many years as a locally-based District Councilor.

Ming Pao Daily provided some useful data to illustrate the challenge Edward Yiu faced. The constituency’s three directly-elected District Councils all have pro-establishment majorities that have long since blanketed neighborhoods with well-funded community service help centers. The proportion of pro-establishment to pro-democracy councilors in two of the Kowloon West District Councils is 16:3 and 20:4. The proportion is close, 12:11, in only one of the councils.

Still, Edward Yiu’s hopes lay in the overall vote count between pro-establishment and pro-democracy voters. In the last, 2016, Legislative Council election the proportion was 37%: 63%. Except that the latter included all kinds of democrats from the most indeterminate moderates to Youngspiration and Raymond “mad Dog” Wong whose supporters were not exactly inspired by the candidacy of Edward Yiu.

The political configuration in New Territories Eastwas almost as problematic. Its empty seat had belonged to Youngspiration’s Baggio Leung, one of the two whose oaths were most extreme. The Chinese University is located in this constituency, which is a pro-democracy stronghold and home to “localist” rebels in the Youngspriation mold. They have given up on the perspective of their elders who had put their faith in the promises of the Basic Law.

The January straw poll tapped a candidate awkwardly positioned somewhere between the two orientations, which is to say Gary Fan Kwok-wai has made alot of enemies in New Territories East. These include both older and younger generation democrats. In 2010, he was a rebel himself, within the Democratic Party, which he quit over the government’s controversial Legislative Council reform package.

Fan then formed his own group, Neo-Democrats, which has gone on to win several District Council seats in the constituency. But Neo-Democrats are not necessarily good neighbors. They pursued their own factional interests to the detriment of many others during the 2016 Legislative Council election campaign. Those others returned the favor, allegedly, by boycotting his efforts and voting blank ballots in this one … despite the overall dangers the democracy camp now faces.

Urban designer Paul Zimmerman deserves credit for agreeing to serve as democrats’ substitute candidate in a contest (Functional Constituency: architects,surveyors) he was bound to lose thanks to the government maneuver that unseated Edward Yiu. Zimmerman wants to be Hong Kong’s first post-1997 non-Chinese Legislative Councilor. He even gave up his Dutch nationality and became a Chinese citizen just to qualify. He also gave up his membership in the Civic Party a few years ago after they refused to risk losing a seat by allowing him to stand as their candidate. Still, he didn’t do too badly and is laying the groundwork for future election runs.


The huge banner draped over Lion Rock just before Election Day reminded democrats of their reason to come out: “Vote to Oppose DQ.” Lion Rock is a promontory that used to mark the boundary between urban Hong Kong and its rural New Territories hinterland. The rock face has become a symbol of grassroots’ perseverance in adversity and if ever there was a time for democrats to rally in the face of political adversity it is now.

By DQ … code word for disqualifying … so many rising stars from the movement’s youngest generation, the Hong Kong government and judiciary, acting at Beijing’s behest, has attempted to force compliance with Beijing’s skillfully drawn interpretations of the original 1997 promises. Actually, Beijing is correct in its constant protestations about keeping to the letter of the “one-country, two-systems” governing principle.

If Beijing really aimed to act in the “one system” mainland way, all of Hong Kong’s young stars would be jailed for provoking quarrels and challenging state power, and none would ever be allowed to contest an election again. Instead, Beijing, acting through the Hong Kong system, has overseen their removal from the Legislative Council, the amendment of its rules to curb what little power they had, and a slow reversion to the council’s old colonial style officially-managed formalities.

The question now for Hong Kong’s democracy movement is where to go from here. The officially-managed clampdown inspired a degree of cooperation within the faction-ridden movement that had so far eluded all efforts to overcome its debilitating effects. But instead of applauding the effort, their voters let them down.
Struggling to keep the original 1997 dream alive will become an exercise in futility and it’s one the younger generation has already abandoned. Whether energies can be sustained for a holding operation to save what remains of Hong Kong rights and freedoms remains to be seen. The way forward seems to be marked by only two choices reflected in the slogans of the two main Hong Kong Island contenders … neither of which seem likely to inspire pro-democracy voters.

From pro-democracy Au Nok-him, already facing a voter disqualification petition: “Hong Kongers Don’t Lose Heart. Stand Firm for Democracy.” And from Judy Chan: “Safeguard the Rule of Law. Bring Reason Back to Politics.” Behind her stood the entire pro-Beijing patriotic community. So loyal are its members that Hong Kong’s delegation to the National People’s Congress meeting for its annual session in Beijing cancelled their plan to fly home for the March 11 poll. Instead, they announced that they wanted to remain in Beijing to show support for President Xi Jinping.

By coincidence, the congress vote formally legitimizing his amendments to China’s constitution fell on the same day as Hong Kong’s by-election. One of the amendments removes two-term time limits for China’s presidents thereby allowing Xi Jinping to remain President for life. The result in Beijing was: 2,958 votes in favor, two against, three abstentions, and one invalid vote, with 16 absentees.

Posted by Suzanne Pepper on March 14, 2018.

The post A SPECIAL POST-OCCUPY ELECTION … With Not-So-Special Results appeared first on Hong Kong Focus.

Taxi alliance threatens to flood Central with cabs in protest against Uber

Coconuts Hong Kong / Today, 11:12

Upset with Uber, a taxi driver alliance is threatening to flood Central with taxis, unless the government meets them and address their grievances.

They accuse the government of “turning a blind eye”to the ride-hailing service’s illegal services in Hong Kong, reported RTHK.

To show they mean business, drivers from the group will tomorrow hold a “drive slow” protest around the government’s headquarters in Admiralty from 8am until noon, reported Apple Daily. This should not be confused with the “refuse to pick up passengers as required by law” protests they routinely carry out on weekend nights.

Then at noon, all alliance drivers will express their feelings the best way they know how: by honking their horns in unison for 30 seconds.

They will also tie black ribbons to their cabs and hang banners in their windows, the Standard reported.

Alliance spokesman Chan Man-keung said the group had requested to meet Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan but had received no response, according to the newspaper.

They want to discuss the threat posed by drivers for Uber, which has no legal status in Hong Kong but continues to challenge often-maligned traditional taxis for customers.

According to RTHK, alliance convenor Francis Li said the government should shut Uber down immediately and boot them “back to America.”

Though the Transport and Housing Bureau said it was keeping an “open mind” about car-hailing services, the government’s current policy practically outlaws the practice.

The services, such as Uber, Ryde and Hopsee, are required to operate like traditional taxis and obtain one of the 1,500 hire-car permits allocated by the city. The permit’s strict criteria make them difficult for ride-hailing drivers to obtain one.

However, in the corner of the ride-hailing service is Hong Kong’s Consumer Council, which last year released a report criticizing the government for failing to embrace the services to increase competition and improve the industry.

The government, though cold on ride sharing, has proposed launching 600 franchised taxis to provide a “premium service” in the city.

This, too, it appears, has upset taxi drivers, with Li saying the scheme would “downgrade licensed taxis to low-quality cabs.” 

For those of you curious as to how Hong Kong’s “high-quality” cabs currently work, and why people might be apt to try ride-sharing apps, please check out the following video.

The post Taxi alliance threatens to flood Central with cabs in protest against Uber appeared first on Coconuts.

By-election winner Au Nok-hin faces disqualification case

EJ Insight》

Today, 12:39

Wong Tai-hoi (inset, center), files an application for judicial review to seek the disqualification of pan-democrat Au Nok-hin (right), who won the Legco by-election in the Hong Kong Island constituency on Sunday. Photo: HKEJ/RTHK

Wong Tai-hoi (inset, center), files an application for judicial review to seek the disqualification of pan-democrat Au Nok-hin (right), who won the Legco by-election in the Hong Kong Island constituency on Sunday. Photo: HKEJ/RTHK

Pan-democrat Au Nok-hin, who won the Legislative Council by-election in the Hong Kong Island constituency on Sunday, burned a copy of the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, during a protest in 2016.

Therefore, according to businessman Wong Tai-hoi, 46, he should be disqualified and not allowed to become a Legco member.

Wong, secretary general of the Taxi Drivers and Operators Association, on Tuesday filed an application for judicial review with the High Court seeking to disqualify Au. 

He said Au’s action showed that he never really respected or upheld the Basic law, a requirement for Legco members.

Wong, accompanied by former lawmaker Wong Kwok-hing of Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, asked the court to issue an injunction against Au’s eligibility to run and be elected for a Legco seat, and against Au taking his oath next week, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

He also asked the court to ban Anne Teng Yu-yan, the returning officer in charge of the Hong Kong Island constituency, from gazetting the election result.

Accusing Au of supporting Hong Kong independence, Wong said Teng should not have allowed him to run in the first place.

Wong said he lodged the legal challenge in the interest of justice, adding that he will pay for all related costs.

A hearing on the case is scheduled for Friday.

Au told a radio program after learning about the legal action that he has never burned a real copy of the Basic Law.

He said he only burned a prop when he joined a crowd to protest against the interpretation of the law by the National People’s Congress in 2016.

Disagreeing with Beijing’s decision does not mean he is not upholding the Basic Law, he said.

Calling Wong a sore loser, Au said the judicial review challenge against him was an attempt to overturn the voters’ decision. He said he will definitely take his oath as a lawmaker.

Au won Sunday’s by-election by securing 137,181 votes to defeat New People’s Party candidate Judy Chan Ka-pui, who obtained 127,634 votes.

Cheng Yiu-tong, honorary president of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions and a Hong Kong deputy to the National People’s Congress, said Au should forsake his eligibility because of his action in the 2016 protest.

He said even if Au only burned a prop, in his behavior and consciousness he really does not accept the Basic Law, and therefore he should not become a Legco member.

The Legco Secretariat has announced that the four winners in Sunday’s by-elections will take their oaths next Wednesday as scheduled.

Asked about the controversy surrounding Au’s eligibility, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said she will not comment on any individual case and will respect the administration of justice.

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Waiting for a slogan

by biglychee / Today, 10:35

We still don’t have a name for it, but before long the media and academics will start referring to this moment in 2017-18 as Xi Jinping’s ‘Red Restoration’, ‘Counter-Reformation’, ‘Grand Centralization’, ‘Revenge of the Princeling’, or something (presumably) catchier. It will be portrayed as the turning point that led to… whatever history brings next – the rise of China as the planet’s sole superpower, or the collapse-coup-mayhem that ended the world’s last empire.

The term-limits Emperor-for-Life thing will be part of it. But the commentators will probably put greater weight on other concentration of power. There’s the new anti-graft system – an inquisition that can purge or discipline anyone for anything with no due process. And a consolidation of ministries that enables tighter Communist Party rule, including what Anne Stevenson-Yang calls a return to a ‘pre-98 financial system that is the handmaiden of politics, re-centralizing pricing and standards management’.

While we are waiting for the zippy slogan to describe this new era, a new sub-genre of China-watching commentary has emerged, about how China is not going the way the West and other optimists supposedly expected back in the 80s and 90s (today’s contribution).

Few places are finding it as hard to come to terms with this disillusionment as Hong Kong. People in the city fervently wanted to believe that ‘One Country Two Systems’ meant complete insulation from Mainland politics and culture, that ‘high degree of autonomy’ meant self-rule in domestic affairs, and that Beijing would keep its apparent promise to allow democracy.

The mainstream pan-democrats still believe these fantasies. Beijing’s local puppet-officials and shoe-shiners awkwardly clarify or re-define the labels, or cheerfully claim everything’s fine. Grim-faced Mainland officials despise them all, and get on with converting a pluralist society into a Leninist system with as little fuss as possible.

Thus the Hong Kong Bar Association warns the Legislative Council against passing a bill to allow Mainland immigration to operate at the cross-border high-speed rail station. The lawyers’ arguments that the plan is not Basic Law-compliant look persuasive – Beijing’s (National People’s Congress) edict authorizing the arrangement contradicts and disregards the local constitution’s wording. This is neither legally nor logically possible. Unless, of course, the party-state is above the constitution (as this co-location case will end up establishing, neatly diminishing local rule of law). Which is where we came in.

Why is the world silent about Xi Jinping’s power grab?

By Kerry Brown 

Updated 9:35 AM EST, Mon February 26, 2018

(CNN)Leaders in the West have been suspiciously quiet about the expected changes to the Chinese constitution that would remove the two-term limit on the presidency — which wouldallow President Xi Jinping to rule the country unchallenged for decades to come. Why the silence?

Firstly, most countries that deal with China will have assumed that Xi was here to stay anyway.

They know China is a one-party state, and that the Communist Party holds sway over everything. So unilaterally changing the rules its gives itself would not harm anyone. Most international observers will have been baffled the restriction was ever there in the first place.

But there is also a more pragmatic reason for silence. For all the Western complaints about the parlous state of human rights, in their hearts they know they need a country which is stable and predictable — even if it is a stable and predictable autocracy.

A China that contributed to uncertainty in a world where Donald Trump is US president, the UK is trying to leave the EU, where the Middle East looks like it is perpetually inflamed by unrest, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo seems to be slipping toward yet more civil war would be a truly scary place.

A fifth of humanity could become refugees. The world’s key supply source for so many manufactured goods could be disrupted or shut down. An uncertain China would make the various crises the world faces today look tame.

For Western leaders, it is a simple calculation. Who is better to speak to about dealing with the problem of a nuclearized and threatening North Korea — a Xi Jinping strong enough to be able to maneuver a non-time limited country leadership rule change, or an uncertain, weak Beijing leadership where no one is quite certain who has final say?

For all the West’s unease about a one-party state having such dominance at the moment, because of the stability it gives over such a crucial region, the Communist Party’s total control of China is something Western leaders buy into and support.

Their mouths might say one thing, to appease critical constituencies back home. But their heads know that a China following the path of Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s would be a catastrophe.

It would destabilize a region already worryingly febrile because of Pyongyang’s antics, cause economic calamity and add to their woes back at home through impact on capital and goods flows.

Xi Jinping might find surprising sources of opposition within China — groups and people inside and outside the party that we, and he, might not know about. But one thing is almost certain. Western leaders will not be the ones he needs to fear. Strong, stable, predictable leadership in China is key for them. And to achieve this, at least as far as they are concerned, he can rewrite as many parts of the Constitution as he wants.

HK$50 billion pledged for city to catch up in fierce tech race

Financial chief Paul Chan said Hong Kong will focus its efforts on biotechnology, artificial intelligence, smart city and fintech. Photo: Bloomberg

Financial chief Paul Chan said Hong Kong will focus its efforts on biotechnology, artificial intelligence, smart city and fintech. Photo: Bloomberg

Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po on Wednesday said over HK$50 billion (US$6.4 billion) would be spent to boost the city’s long-term technology and innovation development, up from HK$10 billion the year before.

In his budget speech for fiscal year 2018/19, Chan said in order to catch up in the fierce technology race in the region, Hong Kong should optimize its resources by focusing on developing its “areas of strength”, namely biotechnology, artificial intelligence, smart city, and fintech.

“Innovation and technology is undoubtedly an economic driver in the new era,” he said.

Of the HK$50 billion allocated for the sector, the government plans to spend HK$20 billion on the first phase of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park in the Lok Ma Chau Loop, mainly for infrastructure and initial operation.

“The whole project will eventually cost far more than HK$20 billion,” Chan said, adding that the city aims to create an international innovation and technology hub in order to catch the opportunities in the Greater Bay Area along with Guangdong and Macau.

Hong Kong will also inject HK$10 billion into the Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF), up from just HK$1.5 billion last year, in support of applied R&D efforts in the city.

The government is earmarking another HK$10 billion for the establishment of two research clusters on healthcare as well as AI and robotics technologies “to attract the world’s top scientific research institutions and technology enterprises to Hong Kong”.

The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTPC) will get HK$10 billion while HK$7 billion will be used to enhance support for technology firm tenants and incubates.

Chan also highlighted in his speech the government’s continued efforts to grow e-sports, which he said “have been developing rapidly with tremendous potential”.

In this regard, HK$100 million will be allocated to Cyberport to turn the Cyberport Arcade into “a local e-sports and digital entertainment node providing a competition venue for e-sports”.

An additional HK$200 million will be granted to Cyberport to enhance its support for startups.

The financial chief noted that the wave of innovation and technology is unstoppable in the global economy.

As such, Hong Kong needs to attract companies from the new economy sectors to set up their presence in the city, he said.

Chan also acknowledged the emergence of the sharing economy, although he did not cite plans or pledge any allocation to support it.

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Pro-establishment camp dismayed at CE’s olive branch to pan-dems

Some members of the pro-establishment camp are said to have expressed concern that Chief Executive Carrie Lam (inset) is taking their support for granted, while she focuses on befriending the opposition. Photo: HKEJ

Some members of the pro-establishment camp are said to have expressed concern that Chief Executive Carrie Lam (inset) is taking their support for granted, while she focuses on befriending the opposition. Photo: HKEJ

by Yu Kam-yin / Today, 17:18

Ever since she took office in July last year, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has been working aggressively to reverse the “far-left” policy approach of her predecessor Leung Chun-ying and repair the relations between the government and the pro-democracy camp.

During a recent media interview, Lam revealed that she has been “chatting” with several pan-democratic lawmakers on WhatsApp, and that she has invited lawmakers who are members of the Professional Commons to a dinner scheduled for early April.

While Lam might be now in a honeymoon period when befriending some pan-dems, it is pretty much “sour grapes” for those in the pro-establishment camp, who are, according to sources, getting increasingly dismayed at the fact that the chief executive has been focusing almost entirely on befriending the opposition while taking their support for granted.

As some pro-Beijing camp lawmakers have lamented in private, Lam has never greeted them through WhatsApp, let alone inviting them to dinner.

Worse still, it is said that some members in the pro-establishment camp have got the impression that Lam and her bureau chiefs seem to be taking their support for government policy initiatives for granted so much so the administration has been putting very little effort into lobbying them.

It is also said that such discontent is particularly intense among supporters of the former chief executive, or the so-called “Leung fans”.

And it appears such discontent has already taken its toll on the government.

Earlier on, when the administration was pushing a bill through Legco to ban sales of alcohol to minors, a proposal to give health inspectors the power to enter private premises to collect evidence with a search warrant was, surprisingly, vetoed by the pro-establishment camp under the lead of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong.

It is believed lawmakers of the pro-Beijing camp deliberately struck down that proposed amendment as a show of protest against Lam’s cold shoulder.

Given all this, it appears Lam has her work cut out as she will need to please both the pan-dems and members of the pro-establishment camp at the same time.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb 24

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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