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News in a Nutshell – March 27

1. ‘Born-again’ Lee Po back in Hong Kong

Immigration officers received Lee Po at Lok Ma Chau Control Point last week, and said that there would be no arrest at this stage as he gave no detailed information about his last departure. Further investigation is needed to establish whether he has committed any immigration offenses, according to the immigration department.

In a meeting with the police, Lee said he returned to the mainland of his own accord with the help of friends to assist in an investigation of a case relating to Gui Minhai, adding that he was not abducted. Lee noted that he was free and safe while on the mainland and repeated his request to cancel his missing person case. He repeated that he did not require assistance from the SAR Government or Police. Lee told the media he was putting the past behind him, quitting the business, and making a fresh start

2. Human smuggling syndicate caught

In a joint operation, Hong Kong and Guangdong police arrested just over one hundred people involved in smuggling and employing illegal immigrants in Hong Kong and Guangdong. According to the report in the SCMP, the group bring human cargo from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to Hong Kong. The number of illegal immigrants arrested in Hong Kong doubled last year, with most of the arrested originating from South East Asian countries.

3. CY says no to Regina Ip’s Guangdong-based refugee camp idea

Executive councillor and former Secretary for Security, Regina Ip, suggested that our illegal immigrant problems might be solved if Hong Kong were to set up a camp in Shenzhen for asylum seekers as it would act as a deterrent. However, Chief Executive CY Leung said that an offshore camp would take too long, and that Hong Kong could not afford to wait.

The numbers suggest that most illegal immigrants to Hong Kong are economic migrants rather than genuine asylum seekers; only 27 cases have been confirmed to be genuine since vetting started in 2014. The government projects the budget for handling Hong Kong’s refugees would increase from $644 million to $1.4 billion in the coming year.

4. Illegal dump protestors arrested for stealing soil

Protesting at government inaction over the Tin Shui Wai illegal dump, a group that included Labour Party’s Lee Cheuk-yan broke into the site to demonstrate, and to collect some of the waste to use in demonstrations else where.  The dump is said to occupy an area the size of two football pitches and has been described as unstable and dangerous.

A secondary demonstration took place outside the police station where the arrested demonstrators were being held, with demonstrators complaining that the police were focusing on the activists and not the landowners who were apparently ignoring a government order to shotcrete the mound. A leader of the demonstrators observed that shotcreting was not a solution.

5. High-speed rail link debate could be reopened

In response to demands from pan democrats, Finance Committee chairman Chan Kin-por is taking two weeks to consider the legal implications and wisdom of re-opening the $19 billion high-speed rail link additional funding debate. After months of debate and filibustering, the funding was approved in a controversial snap vote, a vote that the pan-democrats missed. Chan commented that the move was unprecedented and there was a risk of making a mockery of a majority vote.

6. MTR fares to be reviewed sooner than 2018

In resonse to public concerns over high MTR fares, the government has asked the MTR corporation to review its fare adjustment policy one year earlier in 2017. Perhaps we’ll see some of that $19 billion returned.

7. Investment and love scams on the rise

Malaysian and Mainland conmen took at least $32 million, double the value of the previous year, from trusting Hong Kong women looking for love last year. Posing as successful Western businessmen, the conmen use dating apps and social media to build a relationship. The sting usually takes place when the ‘lover’ is en route to Hong Kong to marry the victim, and asks the victim to send money as he has run into trouble and can’t access his own funds.

Another group of ‘successful businessmen’ took $1 billion from 748 victims in 2015. The business scams involved investments with too-good-to-be-true returns. After an initial, minor return the investor would discover that the business had closed its doors.

8. More millionaires in Hong Kong 

Despite recent financial upheavals, a Citibank study revealed that the number of multimillionaires in Hong Kong has increased by five percent to 59,000 people last year. The number of millionaires grew by nearly 10 percent to 768,000.

9. Hong Kong shows its medical ingenuity

Two stories highlighted that Hong Kong has something going for it when it comes to healthcare:

  • The skills of HKU professor Lo Chung-mau and his team came into the spotlight when a Canadian citizen flew to Hong Kong to undergo a lifesaving live liver transplant. Pioneering Lo showed that live liver transplants could be successful back in 1996, and since then hundreds of procedures have been carried out. Live liver transplants are particularly important for Hong Kong as organ donation from deceased donors is low.
  • Nurses at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital have developed a procedure that uses massage, surgical tape and vacuum dressing to significantly improve recovery times for large wounds that may have otherwise required a skin draft.

10. Hong Kong Wii Fit: Dad gives daughter DIY virtual ride

newman-chan-virtual-biking
Click to view

With 23 million Facebook views and counting, this heartwarming video shows Hong Kong dad Newman Chan giving his daughter a thrill ride on her tricycle, coordinating his movements with the mountain biking sequence on screen. As well as being the kind of dad every child might wish for, we’ve got to say that man has biceps of steel. A++ for ingenuity!

Reference: Government Information Services, SCMPEJ Insight, Hong Kong Free Press, RTHK

More reading: Past editions of ‘News in a Nutshell’


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