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The three candidates vying to be Hong Kong’s next leader squared off in a feisty debate in front of hundreds of voters who peppered them with questions.

They wrangled over policy proposals for the territory and took jabs at each other at Sunday’s forum. In one particularly testy exchange, former chief secretary for administration Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥), the frontrunner, sniped at rival former secretary of finance John Tsang (曾俊華) for keeping a clean desk during his tenure, implying that he had not kept himself busy enough.

“No files, no papers, so I really envied him,” Lam said, adding that her desk was always covered in documents.

Tsang replied that “besides working hard, we have to work smart,” drawing cheers from the audience.

With the vote for Hong Kong’s next chief executive to be held on Sunday, the forum was one of the last big chances for the contenders to drum up support from among the 1,194 members of an election committee who take their cues from Beijing.

Voters from among Hong Kong’s 7.3 million residents have no say in choosing the chief executive.

Although the mustachioed Tsang, nicknamed “Pringles” or “Uncle Chips” for his resemblance to the snack food mascot, enjoys broad support, Lam is widely expected to win.

The election committee, whose members organized and attended the debate, is heavily stacked with representatives of business, trade and professional groups who vote according to the wishes of Chinese Communist Party leaders. There are also about 320 pro-democracy supporters among their ranks.

The electoral system was the main target of 2014’s massive pro-democracy street protests that gripped the city for 79 days and grabbed world headlines, altering common views of Hong Kong as a ruthlessly efficient business center with little interest in politics.

In contrast to Lam, Tsang has an affable, easygoing persona and has deftly used social media to connect with ordinary people. He earned kudos in 2015 for cheering on Hong Kong’s soccer team in World Cup qualifier matches against China, while other officials took a more politically correct noncommittal stance.

In a mock poll organized by Hong Kong University researchers, Tsang had a net support rate of 87.7 percent from about 65,000 votes cast electronically or in person. Lam had net negative support of 94.5 percent. A third candidate, retired judge Woo Kwok-hing (胡國興), had negative support of 12.3 percent.

“Nobody is in doubt that Carrie will win,” because Beijing has been heavily lobbying pro-establishment election committee members to support her, said Willy Lam (林和立), a political scientist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Willy Lam and Carrie Lam are not related.

Lam has Beijing’s backing but she has been ridiculed for gaffes that give the impression she is out of touch with ordinary people.

In one incident, Lam said she could not find toilet paper for the new apartment she moved to after vacating her official residence upon launching her campaign for chief executive. She was forced to make a late evening return to her government apartment to spend the night.

Despite that, Lam has a reputation for being a pragmatic and effective administrator. Beijing’s support for her candidacy is seen as a reward for her loyalty while serving under the deeply unpopular Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (梁振英), known by his initials “C.Y.”

Leung has passed on the opportunity to seek a second term in office, citing family reasons. His surprise announcement was seen by analysts as an indication that Beijing had asked him to step aside in favor of someone less unpopular, but who could still be trusted to carry out its agenda in Hong Kong.

The territory is supposed to have much leeway in running its own affairs, but recent incidents have stoked fears that Beijing is tightening its grip.

Analysts said Beijing wants to ensure Hong Kong’s next leader will have more support than Leung, who could never shake off his nickname “689,” a reference to the number of votes he received — barely half of the total.

“The last time it was a bit humiliating, 689 was considered to be a bit low,” Willy Lam said. “This time their top priority [in Beijing] is that Carrie must be seen as doing substantially better than C.Y., so that means at least a vote closer to 750.”

Lam has been dubbed “C.Y. 2.0,” because many Hong Kongers believe she will adopt the same hard-line policies pursued by her former boss.

Samson Yuen (袁瑋熙), a politics lecturer at the Open University of Hong Kong, predicted a Lam administration would continue to take actions that constrain the “organizational resources” of pro-democracy parties, making it difficult for them to survive.

Under Leung, the government won an unprecedented lawsuit last year disqualifying two lawmakers who advocated Hong Kong independence, for improperly taking their oaths of office. It is pursuing similar suits against four others.

Carrie Lam “will inherit the tactics of C.Y. Leung, because if Carrie wins that means C.Y. will have a lot of influence over the political system,” Yuen said. “That means such kind of repression will still go on. I do think the space for the pro-democracy movement will shrink.”

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/world/archives/2017/03/22/2003667258

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The government is hoping to completely terminate 2G telecom services by the end of August, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said, adding that none of the nation’s telecoms have indicated they plan to take up Asia-Pacific Telecom’s offer to provide a 2G voice network, after the license expires on June 30.

The nation still has about 1.46 million people using 2G mobile phones, commission spokesperson Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said.

About 940,000 of them are accessing 2G services with 3G SIM cards installed on their handsets, while about 390,000 are using 4G SIM cards to access 2G services, he said

The remaining 133,000 are using 2G SIM cards on 2G handsets, he said.

Mobile phone users accessing 2G services with 3G or 4G SIM cards would be able to swiftly migrate to new services after the government ends the 2G service, Wong said, adding that the biggest problem lies in the 133,000 remaining 2G users.

The 2G license is to expire on June 30, Wong said.

Although telecoms would be able to offer 2G services using their 4G networks until Aug. 31, Wong said that the commission hopes that the service will be removed from the market without any setbacks.

Wong added that the commission had asked Chunghwa Telecom, Far Eastone Telecommunications and Taiwan Mobile if they intended to have a shared voice communication service network to serve their remaining 2G users, which Asia Pacific-Telecom has volunteered to provide.

According to Wong, none of them had indicated that they had intentions to do so.

The three major telecom companies are using the 32.45 megahertz frequency band to provide 2G services.

After the discontinuation of 2G, that frequency is to be used to enhance the speed of 4G services, Wong said, adding that telecoms estimated that they could save more than 300 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year if they shut down the 2G network.

 

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2017/03/20/2003667125

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Minister of National Defense Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) yesterday reiterated the need for the nation to build up its self-sufficiency to minimize its dependence on foreign arms sales, saying the nation’s defense industry has fallen more than a decade behind the rest of the world in key technologies.

“We have fallen more than 10 years behind. Our achievements would have been greater had we done all we could to develop the defense industry when former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) told the nation to learn to support itself after its removal from the UN,” Feng said in a speech at the opening ceremony of the Science and Technology Exhibition Center of the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology, the military’s main research and development body.

Difficulties in acquiring foreign weapons systems highlight the need to achieve self-sufficiency in defense, as it took more than a decade for Taiwan to obtain F-16 jets from the US and it has yet to receive US assistance in developing submarines, he said.

“Do you know how difficult it will be for us to push ahead with the submarine building program?” Feng said. “Do you know how long we have been asking the US for help to build submarines? More than 15 years.”

When he served as military attache in Washington, the US government denied his request for Taiwan to purchase F-16s, telling him that it was “the 12th year in a row that Taiwan sought to buy the jets,” and that his request would be shelved, as past proposals had.

However, the US later approved the sale of 150 F-16s to Taiwan in 1992, while Feng was still attache.

The institute’s predecessor, the air force’s research center, developed the first prototype of the AIDC F-CK-1 Ching Kuo, or Indigenous Defense Fighter, a milestone for the nation’s defense industry, and the institute has since then been responsible for maintenance and upgrades of the aircraft’s combat systems, Feng said.

The exhibition center, which displays locally developed missile systems, radar systems, 5G communication technologies, aerospace technologies and combat simulation systems, is aimed at inspiring students to contribute to the nation’s defense industry, he said.

The exhibition center also features active electronically scanned array radar systems, models of the Hsiung Feng III supersonic anti-ship missile, a combat control system and a range of other military equipment.

“The institute designed all of the core technologies of the radar system, which was completely manufactured locally,” institute vice president Gao Chung-hsing (杲中興) said. “We no longer have to import radar components, as we have the ability to produce all of the advanced radar system’s parts, which is a great leap in electronics.”

The exhibition center also houses a control center that monitors the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a particle physics experiment module mounted on the International Space Station, as the institute is a supplier of electronics systems for the device.

Following the institute’s reorganization into an public entity, it has provided technological solutions to a number of industries, Gao said.

 

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2017/03/09/2003666421

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http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2017/03/05/2003666174

A draft bill aimed at reducing unlawful aggression by local organizations with known ties to China would treat certain public disturbances as “foreign aggression,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Ding-yu (王定宇) said.

Wang’s remarks come following the alleged attempted assault of Hong Kong democracy advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) in January by a group said to be led by Chang Wei (張瑋), the son of China Unification Promotion Party founder and former gang leader Chang An-le (張安樂).

Prosecutors on Friday indicted members of the group on charges of interfering with public functions.

Since the DPP took office in May last year, Chinese-influenced forces have repeatedly caused disturbances in Taiwan under the guise of legitimate demonstrations, Wang said.

There are two types of protest taking place in the nation, one represents the voice of the people and the other is under the direction of forces outside the nation’s borders, Wang said.

Wang cited the presence of a particular group at recent protests against pension reform, food imports from four Japanese prefectures, the publication of new books discussing the 228 Incident, the relocation or removal of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) statues and the visit to Taiwan by Wong in January.

“It seems the group’s interests are really all-encompassing, but actually its goal is to provoke social disturbances,” Wang said.

Wang cited investigations by a US media organization that showed that the fourth division of the Chinese Ministry of State Security is tasked with security affairs in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao.

The head of that ministry has met with Taiwanese known to have gang affiliations, he said.

Wang said the Chinese ministry makes annual payments of between 5 million yuan and 30 million yuan (US$724,375.25 and US$4.35 million) to certain groups in Taiwan to help them provoke social disturbances in the nation.

Wang called on the National Security Bureau and the Investigation Bureau to publish their findings on the issue to let the public “understand China’s intent to undermine social stability.”

The bill would amend acts covering foreign aggression to include “enemies” of the state, with “enemies” defined as “countries or organizations that wage war against, or confront with military force, the Republic of China,” Wang said.

Aside from the threat of using weapons, China regularly engages in espionage and aggressive activities against Taiwan from inside the nation’s borders, Wang said.

China is the nation’s only enemy, Wang said, adding that current laws have limited effect, as they refer to China as the “mainland area” and not a foreign country.

DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) said that public disturbances are regularly connected with the pro-unification Concentric Patriotism Association (愛國同心會) and the China Unification Promotion Party, adding that the government can trace the groups’ funding to China.

Lee said other groups such as the Blue Sky Action Alliance (藍天行動聯盟) can also be traced to the same origins, adding that the groups’ activities are organized, systematic criminal behavior, and the government must take action.

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South Horizons MTR station on the recently opened South Island Line was temporarily closed on Tuesday night after a burst water pipe caused it to flood.

Regular service resumed around 12.25am on Wednesday after the reopening of the station.

The flooding had prompted service on the South Island Line to terminate at Lei Tung station, with lower train frequencies.

Pictures circulated online by passengers showed ankle-deep water flooding the lobby and water raining down from the ceiling.

An MTR spokesman said water had leaked from the ceiling near exit B at South Horizons at about 8.45pm.

The station’s closure prompted the MTR to arrange alternative buses from Lei Tung station for passengers heading towards the South Horizons area – the last stop on the new South Island Line, which commenced services on December 28.

South Horizons resident Nick Tse said he went to catch the train from Wong Chuk Hang to the end of the line at about 9.50pm, but he was not alerted to the closure until he boarded the train.

He said he an announcement at Lei Tung station informed passengers of the alternative shuttle bus.

“There were not many people waiting for the buses. Only about 20 people on the one I took,” Tse said.

The Water Supplies Department said the private fresh water pipe which provides water to parts of South Horizons estate had been shut down by its workers.

In the meantime, two water trucks and eight tanks were sent to the affected areas.

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/education-community/article/2070847/hong-kong-train-passengers-wade-through-ankle

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Two fishing zones in Central and Tai Po – proposed by the chief executive in last year’s policy address and costing HK$5 million in total – are expected to open to the public next month, the government has said.

The announcement by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department came after the plan in Tai Po was approved only last month following a cost cut of more than half the original budget and a change in location.

Last year, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced a pilot scheme to establish angling zones in venues managed by the department in Central, Tai Po and Tsing Yi.

But the proposals in Tai Po and Tsing Yi were shot down by district councillors over concerns of high costs and water quality.

In January, the department submitted a revised plan to the Tai Po District Council, which saw the proposed cost reduced from HK$3.5 million to HK$1.5 million, and the location changed from Pak Shek Kok Promenade to a pier near Tai Po Waterfront Park.

Lau Yung-wai, a district councillor in Tai Po who opposed the initial plan, said it was “a waste of taxpayers’ money”, and that the original location was not especially popular among anglers.

But Lau said he did not reject the revised plan as the cost was reduced significantly and new facilities such as water coolers could benefit residents.

While Cheng Lai-king, a Central and Western district councillor, welcomed the additions, she raised concerns over the water quality at the fishing zone in Central Promenade, advising people not to consume the fish caught there.

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/2068529/hong-kong-government-hopes-two-new-fishing-zones

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http://www.thestandard.com.hk/breaking-news.php?id=84330

Eleven food trucks will begin selling their fare from tomorrow at eight locations popular with tourists and locals. Not every truck will begin operating from tomorrow. Some will be at designated locations on February 16, while others will operate from February 24.
Food truck operators, Chee Kei, Book Brothers, Ho Yuen Express, Princess Kitchen, Table Seven X W. Burger, Hung Fook Tong’s Food Truck, Pineapple Canteen, Mein by Maureen, Crunch Munch, Pat Chun Saucy Truck and Ma Ma Dumpling, are in the first batch approved for business.
Chee Kei offers braised pork rib, Book Brothers serves American-style barbecue meat in steamed bread, and Ho Yuen promises grilled squid. Fried rice, dumplings, pineapple bun, soup with fish maw, burgers, and fruit bowls, are among the specials that other food trucks are promising to serve.
The Tourism Commission has launched a mobile app, “HK Food Truck,” to help locals and tourists alike to trace the whereabouts of the food trucks. The mobile app is available for free download in Google Play and the Apple App Store.-The Standard

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