Monthly Archives: October 2014

CY evades media

Many will remember Baghdad Bob (or Comical Ali), aka as Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, Saddam Hussein’s Minister of Information, who famously proclaimed that there were no American tanks in Baghdad, when they were, in fact, right outside al-Sahhaf’s ministry. While CY shares al-Sahhaf’s skills of denial and dissembling, his current preference is to avoid the media altogether, as illustrated by his decision to suddenly change hotels in Guangzhou.

Meanwhile, various press unions have come out with a statement condemning CY’s lack of willingness to face the music. Frankly, I do not think he will ever face the music unless and until he is brought to court, and even then he will likely try to deny and dissemble.

Here is the statement by the press unions:

Press Unions Raise Strong Objections to CE

Four leading local press unions have today raised strong objections to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying selectively giving interview to one news organisation only while shunning the rest of media the world over.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association, Next Media Union, RTHK Programme Staff Union and Ming Pao Staff Association jointly demand the CE to promptly meet the local and international press to address various pressing issues currently impacting Hong Kong.

More than two weeks have gone by since the start of the Occupy Central movement and student protests on September 28. Other than speaking in a few taped video clips and speaking very briefly on two occasions, Mr Leung has yet to explain to the public in detail, for instance, the justifications for using teargas on protesters and suspending talks with student representatives.

The past few days also saw a public outcry over allegations of his accepting HK$50 million from an Australian company called UGL. Both the public and the press have been looking forward to his publicly addressing such allegations.

Earlier today, most disappointingly, he chose to appear in a 30-minute interview on TVB’s On The Record without notifying the press in advance or speaking to reporters afterwards.

To date Mr Leung has been avoiding the press on matters of such high public interest contrary to principles of transparency and accountability as well as commitments he had publicly made before taking office to respect and uphold the freedom of the press.

The unions urge the CE to promptly call a press conference to publicly address those issues and questions and, for transparency and openness in government, pledge to continue to do so on matters of high public interest and concern rather than give selective interviews or short briefings.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association

Next Media Union

RTHK Programme Staff Union

Ming Pao Staff Association

12 October 2014

CY: Master of dissembling

Those who know him will be aware that CY has mastered the art of dissembling. I have been asking him for a long time now to either confirm or deny that he unlawfully interfered with a particular employee’s contract of employment when he was university council chairman. He has so far always found a way to neither say yes, nor no.

Add to this Sunday morning’s interview with TVB in which he neither confirms nor denies that he was involved with the decision to fire tear gas at students in the early days of the protests which have since engulfed Hong Kong. Of course, he knows that if he says it had nothing to do with him, there is bound to be someone from within the administration or the police force that will leak the truth.

The Hong Kong Federation of Students, and the groups Scholarism and Occupy Central do a good job at exposing this charlatan in their response to the TVB interview:

Occupy Movement Demands Accountablity from Leung Chun-ying

Today, Leung Chun-ying described the Occupy Movement as a mass movement that has spun out of control. In fact, it is our government that is out of control – a government that fires tear-gas at unarmed citizens and unilaterally terminated dialogue with the students.

Leung was ambiguous about whether it was his decision to fire the tear-gas. On the one hand, he said it was the decision of the commander on the scene, on the other hand he said he participated in the overall situation. What was his specific role? Could it be that he decided there should be a forceful crackdown, and then left it to the commanding officer to decide the specifics? How can he, as the leader of our accountable officials, try to muddle through without explaining the truth to the public, without punishing officials guilty of dereliction of duty? If the government refuses to account for its actions, we must assume Leung Chun-ying was solely responsible, and that he should take on the responsibility wholly, by stepping down.

We hope that our demands for Leung to step down will not be futile because he has failed to directly face the people and explain himself in the fifteen days since force was used against citizens who were exercising their freedom of assembly. He has merely responded by making four pre-recorded television speeches and one television interview, this is unacceptable.

The row over political reform has its roots in the consultation report submitted by the Hong Kong government to the central leadership. It misled the central leadership into making a decision that violates the spirit of the Basic Law. The pronouncement that there need be no change to the electoral method for the 2016 Legislative Council elections and that the threshold for nomination in the 2017 Chief Executive election be raised from one eighth of the nominating committee to one half, clearly violates the principles of “gradual change”. Looking at citizens’ strong desire for democracy as shown by their participation in the civil referendum, the class boycott and the occupy movement, it is clear that the NPCSC decision does not concur with the “actual situation” in Hong Kong. The responsibility for the erroneous decision rests with the Leung Chun-ying government.

Right now, Leung Chun-ying is beset with scandal. According to the standards of a civilized society, an official mired in such scandals would have resigned long ago, lest he damage the government’s credibility and ability to govern. If Leung really had the interests of the people at heart, he should also know he needs to depart. The fact is, as the Central Government strengthens its resolve to crack down on corruption, how can Leung crave to cling onto power and drag the central leadership through the mud? We urge Hong Kong’s law enforcement agencies and legislators to act fairly, and to immediately launch an investigation. We cannot allow one person, Leung Chun-ying, to destroy the Hong Kong core values we so cherish!

HKFS, Scholarism and OCLP
12 October 2014

Message to Xi: Get rid of CY

In a shrewd move, the Hong Kong Federation of Students and the group Scholarism have written an open letter directly to China’s Xi “Eleven” Jinping, illustrating the utter futility of dealing with the liar-in-chief CY Leung. It is a well-written and powerful letter, anchoring its conclusions to statements made by Xi Jinping himself. If nothing else, it will serve to intensify Beijing’s frustrations about CY Leung.

Here is the letter in full:

President Xi Jinping,

According to the International Monetary Fund, China will soon become the world’s greatest economy. For many, they will take pride in this extraordinary economic success of China. You proclaimed to pursue “The China dream” – the dream of all people, which shall therefore be realized by the people, and for the people. We presume you would agree that real accomplishment can only be achieved from a bottom-up approach by the people. Now, Hong Kong people have made clear that the same dream for the previous 30 years: the implementation of genuine universal suffrage and the establishment of a system which respects equal rights and guards the well-being of Hong Kong people in the generations to come.

You once said, “We shall always listen to the people, respond to their expectations and ensure equal rights of participation and development, so as to maintain social justice.” Don’t Hong Kong people’s persistence for an equal system echoes with your thought? Hong Kong people’s  proposal of the abolition of Functional Constituencies and Civil Nomination within the Chief Executive electroal framework or the nominating committee aims at guaranting equal participation and rights, with a view to achieve an equal development and protect social fairness and justice.

Sadly, at this very moment, our Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is acting exactly contrary to your vision. 700 thousand Hong Kong people vowed explicitly their support for the practice of civil nomination as the direction of political reform. Nevertheless, Leung’s report to NPCSC failed to account faithfully Hong Kong people’s wishes. It is an outrage to witness how he manipulated our view to “Hong Kong people’s disagreement with the Legislative Council reform and abolition of the functional constituencies”. It is a complete disregard of public opinion and denial to Hong Kong people’s expectation. The framework of the political reform issued by the NPCSC is a result of the government’s untrue report. If the Hong Kong government had been honest about public opinion, they would have confessed to their fault, rectify and, most importantly, include Hong Kong people’s genuine wishes in the direction of electoral reform. In mainland China, voters can nominate their local governments. Civil nomination, therefore, has its legal ground. There can be no reasons for the Hong Kong government to fear practicing civil nomination.

It is an agreed fact that the current Chief Executive election system is not capable of bettering Hong Kong any further. While anti-corruption campaigns are under way in mainland China, CY Leung, who has been keeping $50M in secrecy, remains unfettered. There will only be more citizens, disillusioned with our corrupted institutions, marching and protesting, as long as no genuine democracy is practiced in this place. It is our profound hope that none of our future generations shall repeat our path, but enjoy genuine freedom and democracy, and pursue their dreams.

The occupy movement today at Hong Kong is definitely not a colour revolution or its alike, but rather a movement for democracy. The class boycott initiated by students and occupy movements across the city are our response to CY’s aversion towards public opinions. We demonstrated peacefully, but were confronted by violence; we howled, but were made silent by pepper spray and full-geared police. Yet the choking gas lingered in Central could not scare the citizens, but only triggered more to stand against this unscrupulous government and affirm justice. A genuine universal suffrage should never be drawn equivalent as subversion. It rather serves to exhibit the high degree of autonomy embodied in Basic Law. National defence and diplomatic matters have always been adminsitered by the Central Government. If the Central Government is confident of her governance, she need not be fearful of a Chief Executive elected by Hong Kong citizens. Genuine universal suffrage will only reaffirm such autonomy and be another exemplar of yours.

Our respect towards the principle of “One Country, Two Systems” is the precise reason to put forward that Hong Kong shall resolve Hong Kong’s problems and citizens’ opinion must be given heavy weight. This is precisely the reason why HKSAR government should be guilty of misunderstanding us, and shall help to rectify the political reform by urging NPC to withdraw her decision. The current situation catches attention not only from Hong Kong, but also China, Taiwan and even the rest of the world. We have high hope for you to take this matter closely. It is by no means worthy letting a corrupted official jerpardizes “One Country Two System” and blemish the grand “China Dream”.

For the sake of a democratic political system, fellow students are willing to give up their studies or even risk their lives. Only at this moment can we realise how disgraceful our city is and how terrifying she has been suppressing us. It is only when a generation is sacrificing all of their time and efforts on street protest can we notice how CY Leung has antagonised this very generation. Some twenty or thirty years later, students fighting for democracy today will then become the pillars of the city. As 2047 approaches, any decisions today will cast a significant influence in our pathway towards democracy. We believe that nobody is eager to see his succeeding generation bet their lives for democracy and a better Hong Kong.

We, as students, urge to settle these issues of Hong Kong:
1) The HKSAR government must bear the sole responsibility, be accountable to Hong Kong citizens and rectify herself
2) To establish a democratic system that affirms equal rights
3) To uphold the principle of “One Country, Two Systems”: Hong Kong problems be settled in Hong Kong; Politics to be settled by Politics

Yours sincerely,

Hong Kong Federation of Students
Scholarism
11 October, 2014

CY’s tax problem

From Australia to Hong Kong, news of CY Leung’s secret deal with UGL has hit like a bombshell. Of course, for those who know him, the news itself is not as much a surprise as that it was leaked out.

Another thing that those who know him will not have been surprised about was his reaction when asked to explain the secret deal:

“As you can imagine, we had to escalate our questions until we got some pretty fiery legal letters from his office, acknowledging receipt [of those questions] and threatening to take us to court if we publish anything”

He has a knack for threatening people with legal letters. The first question that I have is: who wrote those legal letters and who paid for them to be written? If there was any impropriety on CY Leung’s part – and it certainly seems as if there was – then this would have nothing to do with his office and, thus, the taxpayer should have nothing to do with paying for any legal advice etc. So that is worth clarifying.

While a lot of the ensuing discussion has centered around CY Leung’s fiduciary duties as director of DTZ, my second question would be about taxes. According to this piece, it seems as if he did not pay taxes on at least part of the secret payments, “saying salaries tax is applicable only to income earned in Hong Kong.”

This is news to me. According to my understanding of the relevant rules, anyone who resides in Hong Kong for more than 60 days a year is presumed to have performed the relevant services in Hong Kong. Based on my first-hand experience, the Inland Revenue will only accept that services were not performed in Hong Kong if the tax payer is able to produce documentary proof that he or she did not perform any services in Hong Kong during the subject periods.

I would hazard a guess that CY Leung cannot prove this – so the far more important question is whether he will be asked to?

It’s who watches the watchmen all over – which is really what the ongoing protests are all about, i.e. the fact that CY Leung is unaccountable to the people of Hong Kong. In other words, the real focus of the current debate is less about the exact modalities of electing leaders and more about making those leaders accountable to their constituents, rather than to Beijing.

Lecturer assaulted at HKU

Hans Mahncke

Lecturer assaulted

Shocked but not surprised that Cliff Buddle was assaulted while teaching his Media Law class over at Hong Kong University.

Apparently the perpetrator was upset that the lecturer taught in English and not in Putonghua. Interestingly, a few days ago Buddle wrote an opinion piece on the democracy movement in Hong Kong.

This all reminds me of an incident a few years ago when I caught a student, a judge from Mainland China, cheating on his exam. He did not take it too well, got physical and ended up trying to beat down the door to my office.

Why is it that some people think that they can get ahead through violence and intimidation? Sadly it is because in today’s Hong Kong, violence and intimidation succeed.