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News in a Nutshell – February 14

By Julie Magno 14 February 2016
Too shocked about the "fishball revolution" to read the rest of the news? We've got it for you here, in a nutshell.

1. The "fishball revolution" takes to the streets

[embed width="600px" height="400px"][/embed] Vicious rioting broke out in Mongkok on the first day of the Chinese New Year when Hong Kong's disaffected decided to use the police's clearing of illegal food hawkers as an excuse for an orgy of violence and destruction. Social media was used to give the signal for reinforcements and so the "fishball revolution" came to be. Outcomes:
  • Police officers are angry as they feel that "feeble" top-level decision making with regard to tactics, equipment and manpower left them dangerously exposed during the riots.
  • Characters playing roles in the riots were Edward Leung Tin-kei, a candidate in the up-coming Legislative Council by-election, Stephen Ku Bok-him, editor-to-be of Hong Kong University’s student magazine, Undergrad, and Ray Wong of Hong Kong Indigenous, an anarchistic group that claims to be fighting to protect the rights of the Hong Kong's indigenous population against what it perceives as a total takeover of Hong Kong by the mainland.
  • Beijing branded the instigators of the riot “separatists”; a senior member of a semi-official mainland think-tank made remarks that the controversial Article 23 of the Basic Law that deals with national security should be implemented, and Hong Kong's security chief rushed to calm the public that the riots would not lead to Article 23 being re-tabled.
  • An immigration officer was arrested over a Facebook post, which he claims was hacked, offered to donate $HK10,000 for each Hong Kong police officer killed.
As clichéd as it sounds, the root causes (of the riots) lie in Hong Kong’s acute lack of affordable housing and atrocious wealth gap. It’s so obvious that’s why there are so many angry people out there, whether the flashpoint is fishballs or football. Yonden Lhatoo, SCMP

2. The fireworks not cancelled!

Despite the riots, the fireworks to celebrate the start of the Year of the Monkey went ahead. Chief Executive CY Leung went so far as to reassure us that they would go ahead, while condemning the riots, in a public announcement on Tuesday morning. In 2014 the National Day fireworks show was cancelled due to Occupy Central protests.

3. Electronic Road Pricing to ease traffic congestion?

More than three decades after a road charging scheme was first floated in Hong Kong to resolve traffic congestion, and half way through the government's  current three-month public consultation, Paul Cowperthwaite, the general manager for congestion charging at Transport for London (TfL), told the Sunday Morning Post  that Hong Kong could succeed in changing habits and overcoming road blocks to any such scheme, but should not expect miracles. Opponents believe that electronic road pricing is just a cosmetic fix and other approaches such as curbing car ownership, subsidising the Western Harbour Tunnel fees so that people would actually use it or even getting rid of trams, would solve the problem. What do you think?

4. 2013: 1.6 million died of air pollution in China

About 1.6 million people died of air pollution in China in 2013, and the biggest contributing polluting factor was thought to be burning coal, according to a study released in Science Daily this week. In Hong Kong,  emissions from the power generation sector accounted for 47 per cent, 31 per cent and 16 per cent of the territory-wide emissions of SO2, NOx and RSP respectively in 2013 (Government Information Services). Hong Kong has a mix of coal burning and gas/diesel fueled power stations and the government is currently trying to cap emissions (by 2020) and move towards other forms of power generation. And let's not forget air pollution from traffic (see above).  We like the concept of creating fuel from landfill gas. Certainly we have no shortage of that!

5.  An embarrassing display of roses!

LED-RosesOrdinarily you can spend a fortune on roses at Valentine's, but not if you take a stroll down to Tamar Park between February 14-22. You'll find a lavish display of 25,000 white LED roses making up the Light Rose Garden Art Installation to celebrate Valentine's and Spring Lantern Festival. This is the kind of use of public spaces we can enjoy.
More reading: News in a Nutshell – February 7

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