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News in a Nutshell - March 20

By Julie Magno 19 March 2016

1. Independence for Hong Kong ‘far fetched’

Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka Shing came out saying the idea of Hong Kong’s independence from the mainland was far fetched from reality, echoing similar statements from the head of the mainland’s Law Committee and Hong Kong’s Secretary for Justice, Rimsky Yuen. Of course the topic was also discussed and dismissed before 1997. There have been several calls for independence including Joshua Wong’s planned referendum on independence, once he sets up his political party, and also this week, inside a manifesto quoted in HKU’s Undergrad student magazine. The calls for independence are seen to be a response to the lack of progress in terms of universal suffrage.
“Even though Hong Kong doesn’t have the conditions to become independent yet ... whether independence is viable or not is not our main concern.” – Undergrad magazine quoted in SCMP
Read more –  New York Times, SCMP (subscription), Time. 

2. Hong Kong still happier than China

Despite our complaints, we are still happier than our counterparts on the mainland according to the recently published annual United Nations World Happiness Report. Hong Kong ranked a cool 75th in the world, and above the mainland’s 83 ranking. Number 75 puts Hong Kong in the same class as countries like Somalia. Kosovo, Jamaica and Azerbaijan, and is a fall from our position at 72 in 2015. The criteria for happiness include freedom to make life choices, healthy life expectancy at birth, social support and GDP per capita. Need a pick up after this news? Watch this video - 'Happy in Hong Kong' United Nations Happiness Survey

3. Student suicide blame game picks up 

With the significant increase in student suicides this year, Secretary for Education Eddie Ng admitted at a special Legislative Council session that he had neglected the well-being of students. A group of legislators including 'Long Hair' Leung waved blood-stained exam papers at the education chief, calling him a heartless minister. Regina Ip, not known for having a heart, asked Ng if he had considered whether the increase in suicides was anything to do with the controversial TSA exams. The SCMP also ran a report highlighting a high level of  dissatisfaction amongst school counsellors and professionals with the structure of school counseling services. Those who spoke to the SCMP  blamed the Education Bureau's 'stingy' funding. A task force has been set up.

4. Meanwhile up in Beijing at the NPC

  • National People's Congress (NPC) standing committee member Rita Fan suggested that Beijing would consider other candidates for Chief Executive once CY Leung's current tenure was over. Another advisor commented that the person elected to lead Hong Kong next year should be better able to engage the public more vigorously than the current administration – all suggesting that CY Leung is not that popular in Beijing either.
  • Standing committee member Maria Tam said a chief executive should serve a ten-year term.
  • A Basic Law Committee member said that the mainland government could decide on locating mainland officers at the high-speed rail's West Kowloon Terminus without contravening the Basic Law, and there would therefore be no need to pass any amendment through the Legislative Council. Pan democrats fear that the location of mainland officers at the planned West Kowloon Terminus would enable officers to arrest dissidents in Hong Kong.

5. Slow down – 40 New Red-Light Cameras in Place

Forty new traffic cameras have been installed at high-risk traffic light points across Hong Kong. The locations were chosen based on the high occurrence of red-light jumping and accidents. For those readers who habitually jump lights, here's the list of new camera locations.

6. Stolen ID card used to apply for home loans of $6 million

Keep your ID card safe – police arrested a man who had used a lost ID card to apply for home loans of $6 million. The crime came to light when a finance company called the victim to confirm a loan application for $5.5 million. He reported the case to the police, who upon further investigation uncovered a second application using the same lost ID card for an additional $840,000.

8. Organic veggies not so healthy

The Consumer Council found pesticide residue in almost 40 percent of the 'organic' vegetables that it tested. Some items contained pesticide residues exceeding the Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) or heavy metals at a level approaching the threshold. The council has passed test results and sample lists to the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) for reference and to take follow up action on suspected cases of regulation contravention. Read more –  Consumer Council report. 

9. Hong Kong could see a late typhoon season

According to the Hong Kong Observatory, Hong Kong could be facing a milder summer and a late typhoon season if La Nina effect comes in to effect. At this stage the Observatory is predicting a 50 percent chance that this will happen. Read more - Hong Kong Observatory, Hong Kong Free Press

10. Hong Kong draws safe start in Hong Kong 7s

In the draw for the first-round groups in the Hong Kong rugby sevens tournament, Hong Kong was lucky enough to avoid being drawn in the same group as Japan or other heavyweights. Reference: Government Information Services, SCMPEJ Insight, Hong Kong Free Press, RTHK Now you've got the news under your belt, lift your spirits and read onLocaliiz is about getting the most out of living in Hong Kong after all! More reading: Past editions of 'News in a Nutshell'

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