SAR residents to get improved access to mainland

The official Xinhua news agency says Beijing is looking at making it easier for Hong Kong and Macau residents to live on the mainland. President Xi Jinping has already called for such measures, and the move comes as Chief Executive Carrie Lam ended her four-day visit to the capital.

Xinhua said people from Hong Kong and Macau, who work on the mainland, will get equal rights to housing provident funds so they can buy homes and settle there. Currently, mainlanders put part of their salaries into such funds – along with a contribution from their employers – so they can get low interest home loans and other benefits.

Beijing also wants Hong Kong and Macau residents to be eligible for social security, if they are working or studying across the border. It said the Ministry of Education will ensure equal opportunities for students from the SARs to receive compulsory education.

Universities would also try to help Hong Kong and Macau students deal with the red tape they often face when trying to find a job on the mainland.

Another inconvenience faced by SAR residents – not being able to use their Return Homeland Passes at self-service ticket machines at train stations – is also being looked at.

 

http://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1347326-20170810.htm

Taiwan attends Thai fair, seeks increase in travelers

Taiwan is participating in an international travel exhibition in Bangkok to attract more visitors from Thailand, the Tourism Bureau said yesterday.

The bureau has teamed up with the Taiwan Visitors Association, hotel operators, farm resort operators and souvenir vendors to set up a Taiwan pavilion at the Thai International Travel Fair, which runs from today to Sunday at the Queen Sirikit Convention Center.

The fair is held twice a year: in February and August.

The bureau said Taiwan regards Thailand as one of the fastest-growing markets at a time when the government is pushing its New Southbound Policy.

The policy is aimed at boosting ties with Southeast Asian and South Asian nations in a bid to lessen Taiwan’s economic dependence on China.

To attract more travelers from Thailand, the government has granted visa-free privileges to Thais since Aug. 1 last year, which has boosted the number of Thai visitors to Taiwan.

Statistics compiled by the bureau showed that arrivals from Thailand from August to December last year rose 81 percent from a year earlier.

In December alone, the figure grew about 90 percent year-on-year.

For the whole of last year, the number of Thai visitors rose almost 60 percent from a year earlier, the data showed.

Participation in the fair is expected to further boost Taiwan’s visibility among Thais, it said.

The Taiwanese exhibitors will highlight the nation as a romantic destination for visitors, as well as travelers in search of a healthy and sustainable lifestyle, and shopping, the bureau said.

Visitors to the Taiwan pavilion can expect discounts and travel information that can be used when they come to Taiwan, it added.

Lam Cheuk-ting urges govt access for online media

Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting has urged Chief Executive Carrie Lam to follow through on her campaign pledge to grant online media access to government functions.

Currently, these outlets are barred from official press conferences and cannot access the government’s news system.

“So many Hong Kong people get their information or read the news from online media, so I think the government should have let all the online media have the right to interview government officials,” he said.

He told RTHK’s Jennifer Leung that the government could also consult the Hong Kong Journalists Association to define which online media should be allowed to attend government press conferences.

 

http://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1344760-20170727.htm

Taipei show remembers top ‘dangwai’ magazines

An exhibition of once banned dangwai (黨外, “outside the party”) movement magazines published between the 1970s and 1980s has opened in Taipei as part of the nation’s commemorations of the 30th anniversary of the lifting of martial law.

Featuring more than 20 different covers from Formosa (美麗島), 1980s (八十年代), Freedom Era Weekly (自由時代周刊) and other magazines, the exhibition covers several walls of To-uat Books x Cafe Philo (左轉有書x慕哲咖啡), a prominent bookstore and coffee shop operated by several labor and human-rights advocacy groups.

“Our own group was established in 1984 during the Martial Law era, so we also had to deal with the effects of government repression,” Taiwan Labor Front secretary-general Son Yu-liam (孫友聯) said. “The resistance of dangwai magazines played a crucial role in Taiwan’s democratization, so we hope to use this exhibition to help more people understand the sheer number of people involved in pushing for the end of martial law and Taiwan’s eventual democratization.”

The most notable exhibits are two editions of Freedom Era Weekly from the week before and week after the lifting of martial law on July 15, 1987, he said.

Published in numerous incarnations by democracy activist Deng Nan-jung (鄭南榕) from 1984 to 1989, the magazine repeatedly evaded attempted government bans, only ending publication after Deng immolated himself in the magazine’s offices to resist arrest for publishing a draft constitution of a proposed “Republic of Taiwan,” that challenged a ban on advocating Taiwanese independence.

Beginning this year, the April 7 anniversary of his death is to be celebrated nationally as “Freedom of Speech Day.”

National Chengchi University history professor Hsueh Hua-yuan (薛化元) said that Deng was also notable for his ability to take advantage of loopholes in magazine publication regulations to keep Freedom Era Weekly alive in the face of repeated government bans on the publication of sensitive articles.

“There were different requirements you had to meet, including having a ‘proper’ stated purpose — but you could re-register the same magazine if you changed the name and found someone who was willing to attach their name to it and Deng was able to find a lot of willing people,” he said.

According to the Nylon Cheng Liberty Foundation (whose name incorporates Deng’s English nickname) figures, the magazine was published under 23 different titles, with commemorative issues for the lifting of martial law published during a brief period in which it resumed its original title.

While alternative title issues of Freedom Era Weekly are not on display, viewers can still see the “title switch” tactic up close by examining covers of the magazines 1980s and Asian Monthly (亞洲人), a later incarnation.

It also features covers from the short-lived 1979 magazine Formosa, which had a huge impact on the nation’s after numerous staff members were arrested for organizing a pro-democracy rally in Kaohsiung.

Many staff members — including now Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) — went on to become prominent figures in the Democratic Progressive Party, as did their defense lawyers.

“At the time, you had to use magazines, because only magazines could be registered,” said Hsueh, referring to a ban on new newspaper registrations during the Martial Law era.

The exhibition runs through Sunday at 3 Hao Shaoxing N Rd in Taipei’s Zhongzheng (中正) district near Shandao Temple MRT station.

 

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2017/07/25/2003675256

Govt ‘declaring war’ on HK people: opposition

The Democratic Party on Friday accused the government of “declaring war” on pan-democratic lawmakers and the people of Hong Kong, following the disqualification of another four legislators over their oath-taking.

The party’s chairman, Wu Chi-wai, said the rights of lawmakers to express their views in Legco could be restricted, if rules on filibustering are tightened now that pan-democratic lawmakers have lost their veto power.

He warned that the “One Country, Two Systems” principle could be adversely affected, as the Beijing and Hong Kong governments can do whatever they want now.

His colleague James To said the four “are still the ones chosen by the people”.

People Power lawmaker Raymond Chan said Hong Kong people, including those who did not vote for the latest legislators to be disqualified, will not agree with the government for using the courts as a “tool” to overturn election results.

Hong Kong First lawmaker Claudia Mo, who broke down in tears during a media briefing, claimed the government’s action was “calculated”, as it wants to make sure the pan-democratic camp will not win back all the seats it has lost in upcoming by-elections.

Leung Kwok-hung said he and the other three affected by Friday’s court ruling, Nathan Law, Lau Siu-lai and Edward Yiu, all intend to appeal over their cases.

They have been given two weeks to clear their Legco offices.

 

http://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1342155-20170714.htm

Lin defends Cabinet’s budget requests

Premier Lin Chuan (林全) yesterday defended the Cabinet’s drafting of the budget for the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, saying it was neither illegal nor different from how previous administrations had drawn up their budgets.

Lin held a news conference yesterday afternoon at the Executive Yuan to explain the Cabinet’s budget requests for the program after Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers blocked him from briefing the legislature earlier in the day.

Responding to KMT accusations that the budget proposals were illegal, Lin said he was at “a complete loss” as to which act the Executive Yuan had breached.

Lin said the KMT has been boycotting the budget because it believes the Cabinet has broken the law by making budget requests that lack long-term planning, as they only cover the early stages of projects under the program, whose overall budget and time frame are set at NT$420 billion (US$13.8 billion) and four years respectively.

The KMT also believes that since the program’s budget has been cut from NT$882.49 billion to NT$420 billion, along with the time frame, following the passage of the Special Act on the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program (前瞻基礎建設特別條例) last week, the Cabinet should have updated its budget proposals before sending them to the Executive Yuan for approval, he said.

Lin said the Executive Yuan drafted and approved the special budget proposals to show the legislature that it bears full responsibility for their content — unlike special budget requests made by former administrations, which were often not capped and were criticized as “blank checks.”

As such, even though those special budget requests had been approved, they could be subject to change and became only a reference for legislators, Lin added.

The special act stipulates that the projects should be divided into several stages, so the Executive Yuan budgeted funds for the first 16 months of the projects, he said.

“The budget proposals were made in exactly the same way previous special budgets had been planned. There is nothing illegal about them,” he said.

Setting fixed budgets for each stage of the program at this point is impractical and not feasible, because the budgets could be slashed during upcoming legislative reviews, in which case the Executive Yuan would have to adjust the distribution of funds, he said.

Lin said he did not see why the proposals should be redone as the KMT had demanded.

In related news, the Presidential Office yesterday denied rumors that Lin would soon be replaced by Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德).

The Presidential Office urged the public not to take the “fabrications” seriously.

Lai said the rumor stemmed from misleading news reports, adding that he fully supports Lin and his team.

House Committee chair seeks less filibustering

The chairwoman of the Legislative Council’s House Committee, Starry Lee, says the legislature did not run as smoothly as she hoped in the past year, partly due to the opposition’s filibustering.

Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday to conclude the committee’s work in the past legislative year, Ms Lee also said chaos created by the oath-taking controversy surrounding Youngspiration localists Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching had also slowed down Legco’s work.

Looking ahead, the DAB legislator said she hopes lawmakers and the government will work together to improve their relationship, which has been “tense” in recent years.

“I hope that with the new administration, with better communication, things can be smoother,” said Lee.

But the vice-chairman of the house committee, the Civic Party’s Dennis Kwok, rebuffed Ms Lee’s criticism of the pan-democrats’ filibustering.

He said legislators must spend time scrutinizing large funding requests and complex bills.

Referring to the reasons for filibustering, Kwok said, “sometimes it’s about blocking the wrong piece of legislation, or blocking the wrong piece of public work that shouldn’t cost the Hong Kong people so much.”

Kwok said he had spoken to the Chief Secretary about filibustering and Matthew Cheung understood his explanation that legislation is becoming more complex.

Kwok said that the effectiveness of Legco’s work must be judged in its larger context.

“Overall, I think that the Legislative Council is doing its job,” Kwok added.

http://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1341497-20170711.htm