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News in a Nutshell – February 7

Too busy stuffing lai see envelopes to read the news last week? Well here it is, in a nutshell.

1. Warm CNY greetings from CY

CNY-message-chief-executive
Watch the video and feel the warmth

In contrast to last year’s Chinese New Year message where Chief Executive, CY Leung suggested Hongkongers to be more like sheep, this year’s message is positively warm and fuzzy.

“My wife and I wish all children an energetic and blissful Year of the Monkey. We also wish all people, regardless of age and nationality, a healthy, happy and prosperous year ahead.” CY Leung

He also highlighted the importance of Chinese culture and arts … to maintain Hong Kong’s characteristics as a melting pot of Chinese and Western cultures.

2. Fast tracking…

high-speed-link-tunnel
Boring work on the Hong Kong to Guangzhou high-speed rail link

The government decided that the only way to get the additional HK$19.6 billion budget approved for the controversial high speed railway was to bypass the public works sub-committee, who have been debating the request since December, and present it directly to the Legislative Council Finance Committee.

This has caused quite a bit of upset. Although it was the British who first proposed the idea of a high-speed rail through to Guangzhou in 1994, there are some that feel there is too much mainland influence behind the project and that the Hong Kong government is doing whatever it takes to make it happen. That is, forging ahead despite it not being as “high speed” as originally promised, and despite the budget and scheduling over runs.

Others believe that Hong Kong will lose out badly if we don’t get a high-speed rail connection with the mainland.

“Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong high-speed railway is a national strategic project. I’m sure it’ll be completed,” Wang Mengshu, a railway expert and academician at Chinese Academy of Engineering, told National Business Daily. – China Daily

3. All 5 booksellers behind bars in the mainland

The Hong Kong police confirmed that all five of the missing Hong Kong booksellers, linked to Causeway Bay Books through publisher Mighty Current, are in custody in the mainland. While the main issue is of course how they got there, there is discussion on why. Despite Gui Minhai’s confession on China State TV to a fatal drink driving incident, there is suggestion from a report in the SCMP that Gui Minhai was operating an office in Guangzhou for the distribution of banned publications. The same report also discusses the other theory which centres around the publication of a scandalous book about premier Xi Jinping.

4. Zika becomes a global threat

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the mosquito-borne Zika virus (named for the forest in Uganda where it was first discovered) to be an international public health emergency. The Hong Kong Department of Health urged the public to pay special attention to safety during travel.  Globally, Zika virus outbreaks have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific and the WHO has described the spread as “explosive“. Note that sexual transmission is now also on the cards.

The illness caused by the virus is quite mild on the surface, but there is a strong suspected link between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly in newborn infants, as well as neurologic conditions in infected adults. The numbers are alarming with Brazil reporting  4,000 cases of infant microcephaly in 2015 , up from 147 cases in 2014.

5. Good food can come in small vehicles

In a bid to get the government to loosen up on its regimented food truck scheme, creative Hong Kongers staged a their own food truck show in Causeway Bay last Sunday to demonstrate that good food can come in small vehicles.

Food Truck Video
Some of the food trucks on show – click to view

After years of The Food & Hygiene Department ridding Hong Kong’s streets of “unlicensed” street food vendors in the name of hygiene, the government announced it would (re)introduce food trucks in a two-year pilot scheme. In a spectacular case of micro-management, the government will only allow 12 food trucks to participate, and those businesses that wish to be considered must submit a business plan and do a food competition, amongst other things.

Dennis Chan, an accountant in his 30s … said: “Hawkers have their own styles developed over years, and the government doesn’t need to teach them how to do their business.” He added that he wouldn’t like food trucks that were “standardised” by the government – SCMP


More reading: News in a Nutshell – January 31


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