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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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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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A survey has found that Hong Kong people spend around HK$25 billion a year on new clothes – twice the amount spent by people in Taiwan.

It also revealed that each person in the city spends an average of HK$800 per month while those in Taiwan spent around HK$350.

The survey was conducted by Greenpeace Hong Kong. It said the cost of clothes was higher in the territory and people tended to shop more frequently.

The group said about 40 percent of the people it spoke to said they feel the urge to buy again within a week of their shopping.

 

http://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1309642-20170124.htm

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The government has ruled out making it mandatory for companies taking part in the future voluntary health insurance scheme to cover Chinese medicine as a treatment option.

Head of the Healthcare Planning and Development Office at the Food and Health Bureau, Chris Sun, said on Sunday that the government would encourage the insurance sector to recognise the increasingly popular practice, but they could not be compelled to do so.

Speaking after taking part in RTHK’s “City Forum”, Sun also said the government would restart discussions on adding a requirement for insurers to cover people deemed to be “high-risk”.

Critics say without the high-risk coverage, the voluntary scheme will not be attractive for many people.

Authorities are expected to consult the public on the proposed changes in the near future.

 

http://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1309228-20170122.htm

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Chief Executive candidate and retired judge Woo Kwok-hing has suggested passing a law to prohibit the Chinese government from intervening in Hong Kong’s internal affairs.

In a social media post on Sunday, Woo said Hongkongers should consider legislating Article 22 of the Basic Law, which stipulates that no Chinese governmental bodies may interfere in the internal affairs of Hong Kong.

 

He said the move would help regain public confidence in Hong Kong’s political system and would help the city better implement the One Country, Two Systems policy.

“To ensure Hongkongers will be able to govern Hong Kong under the Two Systems, we must not act based on rumours and what we think the higher-ups want. If things are done unfairly, if the privileged are combative and favour allies, it will lead to a political gridlock,” Woo said.

“We need to let Hong Kong people know that government officials also abide by the law and do not act lawlessly just because they are of a higher rank.”

Hold Chief Executive accountable 

Woo, who formerly chaired the Electoral Affairs Commission, added that the government should commit to establishing a fair electoral system and amend anti-corruption laws so that the Chief Executive is also bound by them. “Our anti-graft law is yet to satisfy the principle of equality before the law,” Woo wrote.

He said he made the remarks at a forum, after which some participants told him that he “spoke the mind of many Hongkongers.” In another post, Woo said Monday that a group of young researchers and professionals belonging to the think tank Roundtable were particularly interested in his suggestion of legislating Article 22.

 

‘Visible hand’

The Chinese government has historically been criticised by the pro-democracy camp for intervening in local elections. Pro-Beijing lawmaker Michael Tien also spoke out on Tuesday, revealing that he had received phone calls asking him to switch camps and support an unnamed pro-establishment candidate.

Tien criticised the “invisible hand” for becoming increasing visible and getting the political situation in Hong Kong out of hand.

Former chief secretary Carrie Lam has received wide support from the pro-Beijing camp since she indicated her intention to run for the city’s top job last week.

A political gossip column in the Ming Pao newspaper said on Tuesday that different factions in the pro-establishment camp has been told to “fully support Carrie Lam and no one else.”

 

t said some pro-establishment politicians described the “order” was handed down much sooner and “more aggressively” compared to the previous Chief Executive election.

Chief Executive candidate Regina Ip said on Monday that she hoped the election would be open and fair. She also criticised the practice of previous Chief Executive elections whereby a “chosen” candidate was guaranteed to win.

When Woo announced his candidacy last October, he had already denounced the China Liaison Office – Beijing’s organ in Hong Kong – for meddling in Hong Kong’s internal affairs by commenting on them.

He also voiced support for the legislation of Basic Law Article 23, a controversial security law that the Chinese government has for years wanted to see implemented in the city.

 

https://www.hongkongfp.com/2017/01/18/pass-a-law-to-bar-beijing-from-interfering-in-hong-kong-affairs-chief-exec-hopeful-woo-suggests/

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