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News in a Nutshell – April 17

By Julie Magno 17 April 2016
Too busy wringing out your socks to read the news last week? Well here it is, in a nutshell!

1. Hong Kong puts up a good fight against Japan – and loses again (sad face)

HK-rugbyIt already seems a distant memory: it was a rain-sodden final day at the Rugby Sevens but the crowd were there to cheer on Hong Kong in its World Series Qualifier match against Japan. Japan has been a thorn in Hong Kong's side for some time now as it has beaten Hong Kong in the last five games. However, there was a glimmer of hope early on in the match with a score on the board of 14 for Hong Kong to Japan's 12, but Japan seized the game back again winning 24-14. The ultimate tournament victors were Fiji in a cup final played against New Zealand; final score 21-7

2. Storm damage thought to be behind 149 lift stoppages

bad weatherEmergency services were busy on Sunday when a major deluge caused a voltage dip at Black Point Power Station thought to have caused 149 cases of lift stoppages; lift safety mechanisms can be triggered when there are fluctuations in the electricity current. (SCMP) Later in the week citizens were in a fist-shaking mood as the Hong Kong Observatory defended its decision not to issue a red rainstorm warning on Wednesday. The amber rainstorm warning meant that schools remained open and parents struggled to get their children to school. The issue was that the average rainfall over Hong Kong did not warrant the raising of the red rainstorm warning. Weather Underground's Clarence Fong said that the forecasters should have used discretion and the Federation of Education Workers condemned the observatory for being too bureaucratic.

3. Flat swaps and Maseratis – Home Affairs Secretary Betty Fung scandal continues to unfold

On Tuesday online news outlet HK01 reported that Home Affairs Secretary Betty Fung's husband, Wilson Fung, had taken ownership of a Maserati Coupe Cambiocorsa in 2009, previously owned by East Asia Airlines. Macau businesswoman and Stanley Ho sister-in-law Cheyenne Chan was the sole director of East Asia Airlines and is also a director of Wiseson – the company involved in the controversial Fung/Wiseson flat-swap deal that came to light last week and resulted in Betty Fung taking sick leave. Chan is also a shareholder in Sky Shuttle, the Hong Kong Macau helicopter service. Wilson Fung was a senior civil servant in the former economic development and labour bureau in charge of aviation affairs from 2003 to 2006, and according to the SCMP, at that time he allegedly pushed for expanding helicopter services between Hong Kong and Macau. Further reading: Hong Kong Free Press

4. Warnings vs. calls for tolerance over independence discussions

  • Albert Ho, Legislator, Democratic Party heavyweight and viewer of bikini-clad ladies while at work, warned the newly founded localist political parties that their call for self-determination could potentially split the vote for traditional democrats and boost the pro-Beijing camp. Hong Kong Free Press, Standard
  • Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies director Mo Jihong said the central government has the right to interfere should anyone advocate Hong Kong independence as this was not protected by freedom of speech.
  • The legal chief of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government Wang Zhenmin suggested the public should take a hard look at the Crimes Ordinance when discussing Hong Kong independence. Wang said those floating the idea of independence are not only breaching the Basic Law but are also violating the Crimes Ordinance and Societies Ordinance. (Standard)
  • Speaking at the launch of his new book on human rights law, Judge Kemal Bokhary called for tolerance for those who wish to discuss independence for Hong Kong, saying they should not be prohibited from making their voices heard. SCMP

5. Hong Kong's money for Hong Kong – legal challenge against HK$1 billion Belt & Road scholarships

A university student has mounted a legal challenge against a government HK$1 billion programme to offer scholarships to students from Beijing's "Belt & Road" countries arguing that, according to a Basic Law principle, Hong Kong should use its financial revenues exclusively for its own purposes. RTHK

6. Body-in-cement suspects sent back to Hong Kong by Taiwanese authorities

Having fled to Taiwan, the four suspects in the 'body-in-cement' murder case, a woman and three males, were returned to Hong Kong by Taiwanese authorities this week to face prosecution. No plea was made at their first court appearance, and they were remanded in custody for further investigation / identity parades. The court heard that the victim had been tied up with a plastic bag and pillowcase wrapped around his head, and had probably died of suffocation.

7. A new Zika case confirmed in the mainland

A new case of the Zika virus was reported in the mainland bringing the number of cases to 16. The girl had recently arrived from Venezuela, one of the many South American countries where the virus spread is rampant. The disease, a mosquito-borne illness that appears to cause microcephaly in babies born to infected mothers, is causing concern as it is moving so quickly that some experts estimate it could infect as many as three to four million people within 12 months (Washington Post).

8. Ladies night pricing practice sexist court rules

Representing a male claimant, Hong Kong’s Equal Opportunities Commission was awarded a provisional judgment ruling that "Ladies' Night'" pricing practices was unfair to men and contravened Hong Kong's sex discrimination laws. Bar and nightclub operators complained of interference in the free market (SCMP). 
Need cheering up? Visit our home page for links to great stories on getting the most out of living in Hong Kong!

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