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News in a Nutshell – May 8

By Julie Magno 8 May 2016
Too busy catching up in this four-day work week to read the news? Well here it is, in a nutshell.

1. Electoral office court challenge over refusal to distribute Indigenous's election leaflets

Edward Leung, spokesperson for localist party Hong Kong Indigenous, lodged an appeal with the high court, accusing the electoral office of acting unconstitutionally by refusing to support the distribution of his election pamphlets, an entitlement of election candidates. The electoral office defended its action saying the pamphlets included words such as 'self-independence' and 'resistance by force'. At issue is whether discussing independence is covered by 'freedom of speech' or is a threat to national security. Leung's meeting last week in India with the Dalai Lama, not a Beijing favorite, will likely only further fuel the fires. And all of this ahead of a planned visit by Zhang Dejiang on May 17, the first by a Chinese state leader since 2012. Read more: SCMP, Hong Kong Free Press, ABS CBN

2. Press freedom protests over Panama Papers Ming Pao firing

Hundreds of protesters gathered on Monday, May 2 outside the headquarters of the Ming Pao newspaper where a respected editor was recently sacked overnight after publishing a front-page story linking top Hong Kong businessmen and politicians to new revelations from the Panama Papers. Reporters have said the decision to sack Keung was taken by Malaysian chief editor Chong Tien Siong, who is seen as pro-Beijing, and is a further erosion of press freedoms. Read more: Hong Kong Free Press, China Digital Times

3. Cancer cure health scam arrests at beauty centre

Arrests were made at a beauty centre that had allegedly been selling cures for cancer and emotional problems. The 'cures' included inhaling oxygen, infrared light treatments and carrying a magnet. The victims, who had paid from HK$200,000 to HK$1.2 million for their 'treatments', were required to sign agreements promising not to seek other treatments at the same time, according to reports. The deaths of two patients who were treated at the centre are now being investigated. Read more: SCMP

4. Study: increases in airborne particulates raise cancer mortality by 22 percent in elderly

While it is known that increases in airborne particulates causes an increased risk of lung cancer, a 13-year HKU / University of Birmingham study has shown that increases in particulates results in significant increases in mortality from any kind of cancer, including breast cancer and cancers of organs such as the pancreas. A researcher at the HKU school of public health did highlight that diet and exercise were more significant and modifiable risk factors. A Clean Air Network spokesperson said the report highlighted the need to align the city's air quality objectives with those of the World Health Organization (WHO). Hong Kong's limits are less stringent that those recommended by WHO. Read more: HKU, SCMP

5. Retail figures show 12.5 percent drop in 1Q 2016 – worst since 1999

Although some retailers reported a slight upturn during Golden Week, with a higher-than-expected number of mainland visitors spending their cash in the city, the results of the government survey that covers 21 retail categories were the worst since 1999. January and February showed the sharpest drop in sales with the rate of decline slowing in March, providing a little ray of hope. However, SCMP reports that retailers expect worse to come in the year ahead. Read more:  SCMP

6. Gucci apologetic over copyright infringement letters sent to funeral paper tribute shops

In more retail news: Gucci sent letters  to Hong Kong funeral shops warning them not to sell fake paper Gucci products, traditionally burnt as tributes at funerals. The apology came on Friday after a flood of public uproar and ridicule.
"Does Gucci want to open branches in the underworld?" – comment shared on social media, as reported in the BBC
Read more: BBC, China Daily

7. Police sergeant suspected of HK$1 million bail money theft

A manhunt is underway for an acting station sergeant who is suspected of making off with more than HK$1 million in bail money. The cash disappeared from the Arsenal Street station's report room safe about the same time the sergeant who was in charge of the safe left the station, mid shift and after handing in his gun and changing back into his civilian clothing. Records show that the officer has since left Hong Kong for Macau. Read more: SCMP

8. Airline security: Hong Kong's own 'Catch me if You Can' plus major HK$2 million inflight theft reported

Airport security remained a hot topic with reports emerging that an 18–20-year-old man, dressed as a pilot, boarded a Dragonair flight to Malaysia in March. Taking a seat, he reportedly told aircrew he had just finished manning a flight from San Francisco. The aircrew became suspicious when he ordered a Bloody Mary, a drink that was not on the menu and subsequently, when questioned, could not provide his staff number. He was taken away by security personnel on landing in Malaysia. In a separate report, a Turkish businessman flying in to Hong Kong aboard an Emirates flight reported that he had been robbed of HK$2 million worth of foreign currency as well as two luxury watches. The bag had been stored in the overhead locker. According to the SCMP report, there were 67 reports of thefts on flights into Hong Kong in the first 10 months of 2015, compared to 48 cases in the whole of 2014. Read more: The Hong Kong Standard
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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