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News in a Nutshell - February 21

By Julie Magno 21 February 2016
Too busy getting back to work to read last week's news? Not to worry, here it is, in a nutshell.

1. Joshua Wong to launch a political party

In the same week Beijing branded the instigators of the fishball riot as “separatists”,  student leader Joshua Wong announced a plan to launch a political party that will push for a referendum to determine whether to split from China after 2047, according to a report in the The New York Times. The referendum would take place in about a decade. As the minimum age for an elected position in Hong Kong is 21, Wong is too young to stand himself but other candidates would be put forward in the upcoming legislative elections expected in September. The formal launch of the party is scheduled for April. In a separate report in the SCMP, the new HKU student union leader Althea Suen said independence is a "viable way" for Hong Kong.

“I’m certain the Chinese Communist Party would crack down on us, but that’s not my concern.” Joshua Wong, reported in The New York Times

2. Bras underwire Australia's biggest ice bust

[caption id="attachment_48139" align="aligncenter" width="660"]drug bust IMG_3654 Credit: Australian Federal Police[/caption] While the government urges us to think Belt & Road as a way for building economies, some Hong Kongers have been busy building an Ice road between China and Australia. This week three Hong Kongers and a mainland Chinese man were arrested in connection with the largest seizure of liquid methamphetamine, otherwise known as ice, in Australian history. The joint operation began when the Australian Border Force examined a shipping container out of Hong Kong in December 2015. The shipping container was found to contain gel bra inserts that contained 190 litres of liquid methamphetamine. An additional 530 litres of liquid methamphetamine was subsequently seized. A top United Nations anti-drug official has called on China and Hong Kong to sign up to a global initiative – already signed by Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia – to crack down on transnational drug smuggling.

3. Call for support for city's poor ahead of Budget Speech

The Society for Community Organisation (SOCO) criticised the government for providing inadequate support for the city’s poor over recent years at its press conference last Sunday, and called on Financial Secretary John Tsang to step up financial relief, especially for the elderly and those in subdivided flats. Tsang will be presenting the new budget on February 24.
The greatest problem I see now is that the government is hiding its wealth and doesn’t use it to benefit people.” Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong, Soco community organiser, reported in the SCMP

4.  Credit Card Debt in Hong Kong tops $125.6 billion

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) announced total card receivables rose by $8.4 billion or 7.2%  to $125.6 billion at end-December 2015. The HKMA said the substantial increase was mainly driven by festive spending and the payment of salaries tax using credit cards. Hong Kong's GDP is $2,144.6 billion (2014).
The average APR for credit cards in Hong Kong is around 35%; however, your actual APR will depend on your

 5.  OOCL joins shark fin transport ban

In a commitment to sustainability and best practices in the industry, OOCL (one of the world's largest shipping lines and owned by the family of former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa) said it would not accept cargo bookings for whale, shark, dolphin and their related products with immediate effect. This drew attention to Cathay Pacific who are believed to carry a substantial proportion of the shark fin air cargo. The airline recently confirmed that it had decided not to impose an outright ban similar to those introduced by other carriers and had instead set up an external panel of experts to decide on a case-by-case basis whether each shipment is from a sustainable source.
  • Of 375 traditional Chinese restaurants surveyed, over 98% offered shark fin on their year round menus
  • It is estimated over 100 million sharks are slaughtered annually, in large part driven by the demand for shark fin soup in Hong Kong and China, many shark species are being driven towards extinction. – Hong Kong Shark Foundation
"Cathay Pacific has decided to stop shipping unsustainably sourced sharks and shark-related products... The carrier expects the transition to this new policy will take approximately three months as it notifies shippers and puts the appropriate procedures in place..."  SCMP, 2012

More reading: News in a Nutshell – February 14

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