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News in a Nutshell - 1 May

By Julie Magno 1 May 2016

Too busy working to pay your mortgage to read the news last week? Well here it is, in a nutshell!

39 Conduit road

39 Conduit Road – a place to buy discounted flats

1. Sharp rise in mortgage defaults

Property foreclosures were in the spotlight this week as a foreclosed flat at 39 Conduit Road, a luxury development that previously boasted the sale of Hong Kong's most expensive flat in 2015, was sold at auction at less than 20% the $134 million purchase price paid less than two years ago.Hong Kong’s housing prices have slumped about 11 per cent since peaking in September 2015, and are expected to fall a further 19 percent through to the second quarter of 2017, according to Nomura estimates. Henry Choi, a director at Century 21 Surveyors and sales agents for the property, said that foreclosed properties have doubled in Hong Kong from a year ago with about 130 foreclosed properties available for auction now, compared to 60 in the same period last year.

“As property prices fall, we see a rising number of distressed properties being offered for auction. Most of these are over HK$30 million and provide a great opportunity to bidders to snap up good property at 30 per cent below the market price.” – Henry Choi, a director at Century 21 Surveyor.

Read more: SCMP

2.  Second week in court over CY Leung glass throwing case

This court case has not disappointed when it comes to comic relief: Kowloon West lawmaker, self-proclaimed pioneer of filibustering, the man who coined the '689' moniker for CY Leung in reference to the number of votes that Leung won by in the Chief Executive election, an outspoken radio host with nicknames such as 'Mad Dog' and 'Rogue Professor',  Raymond Wong Yuk-man is on trial for allegedly throwing a glass at Chief Executive Leung in 2014. He is conducting his own defence to theatrical effect. Leung is now the first incumbent Chief Executive to take the witness stand (the non-incumbent Chief Executive is Donald Tsang for misconduct).So far we've seen squabbles over whether Leung's case against Wong is politically motivated, Leung says not; Wong mockingly ask Leung if he should address him as 'Chief Executive Leung' in reference to the airport luggage security incident; we've seen Wong humiliate a Leung witness by showing the court a montage of the witness asleep in LegCo and so much more. The trial continues.Read more: SCMP, EJ Insight

3. Disputed TV footage admissible in Umbrella Revolution Ken Tsang's police assault case

Contested video footage from ATV, which shows a masked man alleged to be Civic Party member Ken Tsang throwing liquid, reportedly smelling like urine, onto police officers during the Occupy protests, will be used as prosecution evidence in the court case where Tsang is accused of assaulting police officers and then resisting arrest. The other part to this story is that Ken Tsang was subsequently arrested and apparently assaulted by police officers, an act that was also caught on TV cameras. That court case is to follow.Read more: SCMPHong Kong Free Press

4. Test case: the Government vs Hong Kong Uber drivers

The city’s first trial of drivers from the popular but controversial car-hailing service Uber will first see a debate on the constitutionality of the Road Traffic Ordinance before the five drivers are tried separately for allegedly driving without a permit or third-party insurance, reported the SCMP.Originally arrested last August in an undercover police operation, the drivers will be tried later this year. The case has aroused interest as Uber is generally considered a popular choice for residents when compared to the licensed taxi options.Read more: The Telegraph

5. China says NO to US Navy fleet visit

The Chinese Foreign Ministry told the US on Thursday night that the Hong Kong port visit planned by the USS John C. Stennis for Friday April 29 would not be allowed to go ahead. With heightened tensions in the South China Sea, speculation is that the trigger for the refusal was a visit by Defense Secretary Ash Carter to the Stennis earlier in April while the carrier was operating in the South China Sea.Meanwhile, the Japan-based flagship of the US Seventh Fleet, the USS Blue Ridge, was permitted into Hong Kong, where it is a regular visitor.Read more: SCMP, CNN, China Daily Mail

6. Labour Day marches - naturally

It wouldn't be Labour Day without marches, and Hong Kong did not disappoint although the numbers were, surprisingly, low. SCMP reported 5,000 people took to the streets to demand legislation on standard working hours and a universal pension scheme as well as the abolition of the long service/severance offsetting against MPF payments system.

"Leung had promised workers during his election campaign four years ago that regulations on standard working hours, a universal pension scheme and scrapping the offsetting system would be realised under his leadership, but so far Leung had only set up committees to study these issues." – CTU chief executive Mung Siu-tat

7. Hong Kong launches first selfie-themed park to boost local tourism

[video width="640" height="360" mp4="We now" class="redactor-autoparser-object"> have a new tourist attraction. Ani-Com [email protected]"FUN" at Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai was opened on April 29 by Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Gregory So Kam-leung. The new attraction features 'life sized' sculptures of 30 classic local Ani-Com characters that 'reflect Hong Kong’s culture and way of life' and 'make for great photo opportunities'.Read more: China Daily

Need cheering up? Visit our home page for links to great stories on getting the most out of living in Hong Kong!