1. ‘Panama Papers’ put spotlight on Hong Kong
Hong Kong celebrity Jackie Chan, Sun Hung Kai Property’s Thomas Chan and the Kwok brothers as well as HSBC were in the spotlight in association with the worldwide ‘Panama Papers’ tax-avoidance scandal. According to reports, the Hong Kong office of the Panamanian law firm at the heart of the scandal, Mossack Fonseca, were the busiest, handling business for both Hong Kong and the mainland.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ (ICIJ) report uncovers hidden offshore accounts of more than 140 politicians and public officials from around the world. Names include the Icelandic prime minister, now resigned; UK prime minister David Cameron’s father; close associates of Russian premier Vladimir Putin and senior officials in the Chinese government. China’s Global Times publication complained that the focus was too much on non-European leaders.
2. SCMP online now free in bid to spread China news to the world
As promised when the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group announced its acquisition of the SCMP in December, the 113-year-old publication is now available free online.
“It is our firm belief that as China plays an increasingly critical role in world politics and the economy, a global community of China stakeholders will demand insightful and trusted news and commentaries from a within-the-region perspective.” – Tammy Tam, SCMP Editor in Chief, SCMP
3. Joshua Wong’s new party, Demosisto, launched
Ex Scholarism leader, Joshua Wong, has set up his new party together with other Occupy colleagues. The party hopes to field candidates in the Legislative Council elections later this year. Unlike the Hong Kong National Party, formed last week, Wong’s party does not have independence as a stated aim, but Wong is promising to hold a referendum on the subject.
In another bit of news, pro-Beijinger and potential Chief Executive candidate, Regina Ip, was reported to have tried to arrange a meeting with members of the National Party, a move seen to reflect Ip’s desire to reach out to more members of Hong Kong’s community.
4. No need to discuss independence – CY Leung
In an attempt to answer criticism that the government tends to put the mainland’s needs first, CY assured Hong Kongers that there was no need to consider independence from the mainland as ‘Hong Kongers have been the government’s priority’. And property developers.
CY was also in the news for allegedly pressuring airport staff into going against security procedures to bring a piece of luggage to his daughter so that she wouldn’t miss her flight.
Dates for your diary:
- December 11, 2016 – the electing committee of 1,200 members will be selected
- March 26, 2017 – Chief Executive elections
5. Award winning ‘Ten Years’ movie – ‘boring’ and a ‘big joke’
‘Ten Years’, the controversial political movie about Hong Kong imagined ten years from now, took the top award last Sunday at the Hong Kong Film Awards but immediately sparked heated discussion over whether the award had been political rather than based on artistic merit. Motion Picture Industry Association chairman Crucindo Hung said the award was a ‘big joke’ while James Tien, Liberal Party legislator was said to find the film ‘boring’. Others are talking about boycotting the awards next year.
“It was unfair to film makers. Politics has kidnapped the profession and politicized film awards.” Peter Lam, chairman of Media Asia, as well as being HKTB head and China advisor. – SCMP
6. No plan to extend individual visit scheme to increase tourist numbers
Despite earlier comments made by Henry Tang that suggested the China individual visit scheme would be extended to include more mainland cities in an attempt to increase the number of visitors to Hong Kong, Secretary for Commercial and Economic Development Greg So announced that the scheme would not be extended.
“We have to avoid letting too many visitors come to Hong Kong, which would affect residents’ lives.” – Greg So – SCMP
More reading – Travel Weekly Asia
7. Smiles and statistics – Hong Kong drops in yet more global rankings
The Mystery Shopper Service Association announced that in its survey of 61 countries and regions, Hong Kong scored 48%, much lower than the average of 83%.
In another survey of global financial centres by research institute Z/Yen Group, Hong Kong slipped into fourth place while Singapore stepped up into third.
8. ICAC investigates Home Affairs secretary’s conflict of interest case
The conflict of interest case involving Betty Fung, Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs, and a flat-swap property deal has broken over the last week. Betty Fung has denied wrongdoing while her husband, Wilson Fung, claimed his wife knew nothing about the ‘property dealings’. She reportedly left home with a suitcase and without her wedding ring later in the week.
9. Someone still has money as auction records broken
A hanging scroll, entitled ‘Peach Blossom Spring’, by renowned Chinese painter Zhang Daqian was sold to a Chinese museum for a record HK$271 million with more than 100 bids being made, while a very precious De Beers Millennium Jewel 4 was sold for another record breaking HK$248.29 million at a Sotheby’s sale at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
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