Curent News

No more quarantine Hong Kong visitors happy to find coronavirus travel rules eased.

By Web desk 2nd Oct 2022

First arrivals after pandemic rules changed on Monday make the most of ‘extra days’ to explore city. No indication from first few days that more travellers are coming because restrictions have eased.

Russian student Sophia Edifanova arrived in Hong Kong on Sunday, expecting to spend three days in quarantine in a hotel. But the next day, she was free to explore the city, as Hong Kong eased its coronavirus rules for travellers, doing away with compulsory quarantine in a hotel. I went to Victoria Peak and the park near my hotel it was really beautiful, said the 19-year-old from Moscow who is headed to Guangdong University of Technology in Guangzhou.

 

National Day

Hong Kong leader John Lee vows to maintain competitiveness, boost economic vibrancy as he hails Beijing’s support.

 By Web desk 1st Oct 2022

Chief executive addresses guests at Saturday reception as part of celebrations for the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. He cites mainland help in battling fifth Covid wave earlier this year, while pledging to manage pandemic risks without ‘lying flat’

Hong Kong’s leader has pledged to maintain competitiveness and boost economic vibrancy after nearly three years of battling the coronavirus pandemic, as he hailed the city’s “irreplaceably distinct advantages” under Beijing’s support on National Day. Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu addressed some 1,400 guests, including mainland Chinese officials and diplomats at a reception on Saturday, as part of celebrations for the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, held amid heavy police presence and for the first time, without any protests. A day after the government announced the easing next week of social-distancing measures, with daily Covid-19 caseloads hovering at about 4,000, Lee vowed to keep Hong Kong competitive while managing pandemic risks without “lying flat”.

  

Is the pandemic over? Experts say no, but China still needs zero-Covid exit plan

 By Web desk 30th Sep 2022

 No official response from Beijing after US President Joe Biden declares Covid-19 ‘over’ and WHO chief says end is in sight. Observers say it’s too soon to stop fighting the virus but China should prepare to ease restrictions as public pressure and economic costs grow.

US President Joe Biden’s declaration last week that the Covid-19 pandemic is over in the United States lit a firestorm domestically and globally. Days before the bold declaration, World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters that the end of the pandemic was “in sight”, though he stressed it had not arrived yet. WHO later clarified that vaccination, testing and treatment efforts should be stepped up to make the end of the pandemic possible.

   

Hong Kong confirms November banking summit after ending quarantine. 

 Web desk 29th Sep 2022

Hong Kong confirmed Thursday it will host an international banking summit in early November, days after it lifted mandatory quarantine rules for arrivals that have battered the city's reputation as a business hub. The city has had a difficult three years, with a sweeping crackdown on political freedoms and the imposition of some of the world's strictest coronavirus pandemic controls, which have kept the city isolated even as competitors reopen. The banking summit on November 2 is expected to draw 200 participants, including the group chairpersons or Chief Executive Officers of 30 major financial institutions, according to the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA). HKMA Chief Executive Eddie Yue wrote in a blog post that the event would allow guests to meet their staff and clients in person, and establish new relationships now that travel to Hong Kong has become easier. For most of them this will only be a short visit and we need to make sure they can meet people, do business and build relationships in the kind of business-as-usual way they expect from a vibrant international city, Yue added. The gathering will include panel talks featuring Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman, Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser, as well as top executives from JPMorgan Chase, BlackRock, UBS and KKR, according to the HKMA. Hong Kong last week scrapped mandatory hotel quarantine for travelers after two-and-a-half years, amid concerns of brain drain and losing business to rivals like Singapore and London, which reopened to the world once their populations were adequately vaccinated. But the city still adheres to a version of China's zero-Covid strategy and has kept some pandemic restrictions in place, including social distancing, business hours limitations and compulsory masking. Arrivals in the city no longer have to quarantine in hotels, but they cannot enter restaurants or bars for three days after landing and must undergo regular testing. Those who test positive face being isolated in hotel rooms at their own expense. It is unclear if summit participants will be exempt from the pandemic restrictions, and the HKMA said Thursday that it was working to finalize an appropriate set of arrangements. 

 

Covid-19: Hong Kong lifting hotel quarantine won’t make much difference for international travel, IATA chief warns.

 By Web desk 28th Sep 2022

IATA director general Willie Walsh says policy change is a step in the right direction but will make little difference to international travellers and the aviation industry. Walsh says recovery will be difficult when restrictions are still in place

Hong Kong’s latest relaxation of Covid-19 regulations for arrivals is insufficient to restore air travel to the city, an aviation industry leader has warned, saying the lifting of hotel quarantine will not make a big difference for international visitors. Willie Walsh, director general of the International Air Travel Association (IATA), weighed in on the city’s new measures on Tuesday, a day after inbound travel restrictions were finally eased following two years of stringent rules that left the aviation sector reeling. As of early September, 48 carriers had suspended flights to Hong Kong, including British Airways, Air France and Etihad. Around 85 airlines had operated routes to the city before the pandemic.

 

 Coronavirus

Rule breaches, infection rebound could derail Hong Kong’s plan to further ease travel curbs, city leader warns.

By Web desk 27th Sep 2022

John Lee reveals more than 40 people breached health code since August, while 8 to 9 percent of residents subject to compulsory testing did not comply in past two months. He urges business sectors to be patient in reaping economic benefits of eased curbs, with city on second day of ‘0+3’ scheme.

Hong Kong’s plans to further ease coronavirus travel curbs could be derailed if there is widespread breaching of regulations and a resurgence in infections, the city’s leader has warned. Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu struck a cautionary tone on Tuesday with the city on its second day under a new arrangement that no longer requires overseas arrivals to serve hotel quarantine, a major step towards fully reopening to the world. “If everyone complies with our rules, our path (to resume normalcy) will be smoother. But if many keep breaching the rules, it may not be easy for us to have new considerations on (the relaxation) of measures,” he told the press before his weekly Executive Council meeting.

 

 Coronavirus

Scenes of joy at airport as Hong Kong welcomes first arrivals under "0+3" no-quarantine scheme.

By Web desk 26th Sep 2022

Hong Kong Airlines delays predawn flight just to allow passengers to land past 6am when eased measures take effect. Travellers say arrival process smooth, but they hope to see "0+0"  plan soon.

Hong Kong on Monday morning welcomed its first batch of arrivals from overseas who no longer have to undergo hotel quarantine, with the city lifting its tough Covid-19 pandemic regime after more than two years of efforts to keep out the coronavirus. There were scenes of joy at the airport before 7am as a passenger was seen hugging a loved one in a touching reunion. About nine travellers streamed into the arrival hall, fresh off their flight from Taipei and among the first to be able to get tested for Covid-19 and head straight to their hotels or homes without waiting for results. Most inbound travellers were residents or expatriates returning for work, or people visiting family in the city. There were 46 flights set to land in Hong Kong on Monday, with one airline delaying its scheduled arrival time so passengers could qualify for the non-quarantine measures, which took effect from 6am.

  

Exhibition industry insists on “0+0” quarantine measure citing fierce rivalry with Singapore.

 By Web desk 25th Sep 2022

Hong Kong must establish the “0+0” quarantine measure, a veteran from the exhibition industry said, adding that most exhibitions in the city mainly see local exhibitors, and the majority of audiences are Hongkongers. Speaking in a TV interview, Wendy Lai, the executive vice chairperson of the Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Industry Association, referred to the situation of the city’s rival Singapore, now thriving with both local and international events. In 2022, Singapore has staged a few hundred events, and some data showed the number could rise to 600 to 700, Lai said. Now, looking back at Hong Kong, the number of large-scale international events or exhibitions this year still stands at zero. There was a seafood and fisheries expo originally scheduled in Hong Kong this year. However, the organizer has moved the expo to Singapore already. They also announced that they would be staging the expo there the next year, as Hong Kong failed to give them faith and a sense of certainty, Lai added. Apart from exhibitions, sports events go the same way in this rivalry. The organizer of the Hong Kong Marathon canceled the race last week, saying they had yet to receive government approval two months before the race. A few days later, the organizer made a U-turn and rescheduled the race for February, saying they had obtained “full support from the government.” Meanwhile, the 50,000-strong Standard Chartered Marathon in Singapore will go ahead as usual. Singapore will also be staging the Singapore Grand Prix from late September to early October. The Singapore International Film Festival is set to open from November 24 to December 4, with the cocktail festival scheduled for late this year. 

  

HK introduces '0+3' quarantine measure, grants entry to unvaccinated residents

By Web desk 24th Sep 2022

Shortening the quarantine measure to 0+3 for inbound travelers and granting entry to unvaccinated Hong Kong residents are two of the four latest Covid relaxations announced by Hong Kong on Friday. The other two are replacing the PCR test with a negative RAT result valid 24 hours before boarding a plane to Hong Kong and scrapping the quota cap on the Come to Hong Kong and Return to Hong Kong schemes. The latest relaxations apply to all overseas travelers and those from Taiwan and will take effect from next Monday (Sep 26), Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu announced in a press conference. Inbound travelers still have to take a PCR test after arriving at the airport, but they can go straight to home and hotels of their choice with the latest Test and Go arrangement in place. They can also leave the airport via their own choice of transportation. As for the 0+3 measure, it means that inbound travelers only need to spend three days for medical observation after all quarantine hotels are canceled. During these three days, they will be given an Amber Health Code and can go outside. Yet, they will still be barred from certain premises restricted by health regulations, including restaurants and bars. On Day 3, with the arrival day counted as Day 0, travelers will be issued a Blue Health Code after seeing the PCR test conducted a day before returned negative. They can then enter restaurants and bars. All inbound travelers are required to take a PCR test the day they arrive at the airport, and on the second, fourth and sixth days following. As for unvaccinated residents returning to Hong Kong, they have to follow the relaxed quarantine measures but will not be granted the provisional vaccine pass. 

 

 Coronavirus

Hong Kong set to announce on Friday end to mandatory hotel quarantine for overseas arrivals.

 By Web Desk 23rd Sep 2022

 Long-awaited move signals lifting of one of the world’s toughest anti-pandemic regimes, in force for more than two years. Authorities had in August eased the week-long hotel quarantine requirement to a ‘3+4’ arrangement.

 Hong Kong is set to announce an end to mandatory hotel quarantine for arrivals, requiring people flying in to only monitor themselves for potential Covid-19 infections. Details of the new arrangement are expected to be revealed on Friday afternoon. The long-awaited lifting of quarantine signals an end to one of the world’s toughest anti-pandemic regimes, which has been in force for more than two years to shut out the coronavirus.

  

Zero-Covid has cost HK aviation hub status

 By Web desk 22nd Sep 2022

 Hong Kong has lost its position as a global aviation hub due to China's zero-Covid policy, the head of the airlines group says, warning the industry's recovery will be slowed if Beijing continues its restrictions next year. Attending an International Air Transport Association conference in the Qatari capital Doha, director general Willie Walsh said China's zero-Covid policy has devastated Hong Kong and hit airline Cathay Pacific hard. Cathay Pacific is a shadow of its former self as a result. Hong Kong has lost its position as a global hub and will struggle to regain it because other hubs have taken advantage of it, he said, blaming policies, not the virus. Hong Kong is traditionally a major hub where passengers transit between international flights and on journeys to China, and is the base of Cathay. The pace of the recovery in global passenger demand has picked up over the northern hemisphere summer, with airline executives attributing higher than expected demand to a surge of people keen to travel after two years of restrictions. But the recovery has been uneven with China continuing to enforce tight border and social curbs. Walsh said IATA is closely watching for any indications that China would ease its restrictions and said there had previously been expectations there would be changes this year. If the restrictions continue next year, the industry will suffer. It clearly will have an impact on the overall strength of the recovery, Walsh said.

 

Tourists could need fewer Covid tests and have easier access to museums and theme parks in Hong Kong, but restaurants may still be off the menu.

By Web desk 21st Sep 2022

Government source says list of no-go places for visitors could be modified to allow trips to museums and amusement parks. Hotel quarantine in Hong Kong may be replaced with seven days of home surveillance as city looks to reopen to tourists

Tourists in Hong Kong may have to take fewer Covid-19 tests and be allowed to visit attractions such as museums and amusement parks when the city returns to quarantine-free travel under options being considered. Government insiders also suggested on Tuesday that finance and tourism officials hoped to be able to further relax the rules to allow visitors to go to restaurants during the proposed seven days of home medical surveillance, in line with appeals from the hospitality sector. But it is understood that mask-off activities are still a serious concern for health authorities.

 

Coronavirus

Hong Kong leader vows to create maximum room to reconnect with world sources say hotel quarantine to end but preparation pending.

 By Web desk 20th Sep 2022

Chief Executive John Lee stresses need for ‘orderly’ approach to easing rules to avoid rollback. At media meeting before Tuesday Exco session, Lee stops short of giving a timetable and further details of new measures.

Hong Kong’s leader has pledged to create maximum room for the city to reconnect with the world, while sources have revealed top officials earlier reached a consensus to lift all quarantine measures and make an announcement only after proper preparation. The city came a step closer to the long-awaited reopening of its borders as top microbiologist and government advisor Professor Yuen Kwok-yung on Tuesday suggested Covid-19 had transformed from a highly destructive infectious disease to a milder endemic one. In a press briefing before his Executive Council meeting, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu stressed the importance of an orderly approach to easing travel rules to avoid rolling back on Covid-19 policies.

 

Coronavirus

Hong Kong may announce this month end to dreaded hotel quarantine.

By Web desk 19th Sep 2022

Source says government may soon reveal its ending the ‘3+4’ arrangement provided talks among bureaus go smoothly. Government pandemic adviser David Hui also suggests scrapping pre-boarding PCR test requirement for inbound travellers.

Hong Kong may announce this month at the earliest that it will scrap hotel quarantine for overseas arrivals, a step long sought by the business community and backed by a number of health experts. A source said authorities could reveal the relaxation soon provided talks among different government bureaus went smoothly, while another insider said an announcement that arrivals might simply be required to monitor their own health for a possible Covid-19 infection at home for seven days could be made this month. As part of the city’s efforts to control infections, inbound travellers are also required to obtain a negative result on a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test 48 hours before boarding, but even this rule should be reviewed as they are screened upon arrival anyway, according to Professor David Hui Shu-cheong, who advises the government on its pandemic response.

Coronavirus

Hong Kong ‘actively considering’ scrapping hotel quarantine, health chief says, but calls for cautious attitude towards case numbers.

By Web desk 18th Sep 2022

 Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau says opening up is ‘right direction’ for city, but warns recent festive holiday could mean fewer people got tested. Civil service chief Ingrid Yeung and home affairs minister Alice Mak join outreach programme to promote vaccine uptake among elderly.

Hong Kong’s health chief has said the government is “actively considering” scrapping hotel quarantine for overseas arrivals, sounding a cautiously optimistic note on stabilising daily Covid-19 caseloads. Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau told a radio programme on Saturday that recent infection figures and sewage samples showed encouraging signs, but also warned that a previous long weekend might mean fewer people got tested, while there was a higher risk of transmission from family gatherings. “The figures for the past week seem to have reached a trend indicating a plateau, but there was also the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday,” Lo said, adding that combined factors might still lead to fluctuations, and more scrutiny of the figures was needed.

  

Cathay Pacific Airways raises passenger capacity forecast.

 By Web desk 17th Sep 2022

Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways expects to reach a third of pre-pandemic passenger capacity by the end of the year, increasing a previous estimate of one quarter, after crew quarantine rules were lifted, it said on Friday. Hong Kong last week announced it would end onerous rules that required crew members on passenger flights to quarantine in a hotel for three days on return to the city. In August the airline's passenger capacity was only 16 percent of the same month in 2019 before the pandemic, meaning it expects that to double by the end of the year. While we will continue to add back more flights as quickly as is feasible to strengthen the network connectivity of the Hong Kong aviation hub, this will still take time as we build operational readiness and undertake a substantial amount of training and aircraft reactivation, Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam said in a statement. He added that cargo, which has contributed the bulk of the airline's revenue during the pandemic, had experienced flat demand in the summer months ahead of the peak year-end season. Cathay operated 59 percent of its pre-pandemic cargo capacity in August and forecast it would reach around two-thirds of 2019 levels by the end of the year. Earlier this month, the airline warned this year's peak cargo season may be weaker than last year's due to inflation and China's zero-Covid policies.

 

 Veg oil margarine fuels cancer fears

 By Web desk 16th Sep 2022

A consumer watchdog's test has found that over 90 percent of margarine samples contain genotoxic carcinogen glycidol - a substance that could increase the risk of having cancer. The 28 spreads tested by the Consumer Council included 12 samples of butter and 16 samples of margarine and spreads. The watchdog said of the 16 samples of margarine and spreads containing vegetable oils sold in Hong Kong, 15, or 94 percent, were all detected with glycidol at significantly disparate levels. The detected amounts of glycidol per kilogram of the sample varied by 24 times between the samples with the lowest and highest levels. A fat spread product - Earth Balance's Original Buttery Spread - was found to have the highest amount of glycidol, even exceeding the maximum European Union limit. Another genetic carcinogen, benzo (a) pyrene, is more commonly found in foods cooked at high temperatures with fat. Snow Brand's Neo Soft Spread was found to contain benzo(a)pyrene at 0.8 micrograms per kilogram, but it didn't exceed the EU limit. In addition, tests showed that 3-MCPD was detected in 13 out of 16 margarines and spreads, making more than 80 percent, but none of them exceeded the upper limit of the EU standard. According to foreign reports, long-term excessive daily intake of 3-MCPD can damage kidney functions, the central nervous system, and even affect the male reproductive system,said Kyrus Siu King-wai, head of publicity and community relations. The council said that among the 13 samples in which 3-MCPD was detected, the highest level per kilogram was found in Earth Balance's Original Buttery Spread at 1,200 micrograms, followed by Constantia's Garlic Margarine at 720 micrograms, and OraSi's Vegetable fat for spread 70 percent Margarine at 520 micrograms. Although the harmful elements were not detected in these butter samples, the council warned that its saturated fatty acid is generally higher, between 43.1 and 49.9 grams per 100 grams. In addition, the trans fat acid content of the butter tested was generally higher than that of other margarine and spread products, causing the council to caution against excessive intake of butter. As many Hongkongers use ham, fried egg and butter toast for breakfast, the findings showed the intake of saturated fatty acids and trans fat acid in one serving accounts for 45 percent and 20 percent of daily intake limits recommended by the Chinese Nutrition Society for adults. "Since about half of butter is saturated fatty acids, although saturated fatty acids are more resistant to high temperatures and less likely to deteriorate after prolonged heating, excessive intake will increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, and the amount of intake should be appropriate when eating to avoid increasing health risks, Siu said.

  

Government facility or hotel room? For arrivals who test positive in Hong Kong, choice is easy.

By Web desk 15th Sep 2022

Many travellers say they worry about the quality of government facilities like Penny’s Bay. New government measure will allow guests identified as confirmed cases to stay in their original hotel.

Travellers heading to Hong Kong have welcomed a government offer to spend their quarantine in a hotel if they test positive for Covid-19 soon after arrival, with some saying the other option of going to a government facility will be worse. Authorities late on Tuesday night said they would add new clauses to their contracts with designated hotels for the next quarantine scheme to allow confirmed cases to stay in their original hotel, with the current cycle coming to an end on October 31. The move coincides with a series of key events set to take place in the city, including the Global Financial Leaders’ Investment Summit from November 1 to 2. Many travellers said they worried about the quality of government facilities such as Penny’s Bay. While free, the reputation of Penny’s Bay when it comes to food quality, comfort, and internet access is worrying. A hotel of my choice will give me better food and better comfort. I only live once, said a 62-year-old investor who wishes to remain anonymous, and will return to Hong Kong in December. Justin Lim, 41, a wedding photographer said. Neither situation is ideal, but I’d rather be in a situation where there is at least some support from the hotel, unlike Penny’s Bay, which comes across as cold and poorly administered. Lim is currently in Thailand and will return to the city in late November. But a 36-year-old teacher, who gave his name as Peter, said he would likely choose a government quarantine facility to save money, adding that he planned to visit the United States in December and return within the same month. I would prefer the hotel and Penny’s Bay isn’t great, but it doesn’t make financial sense to me. It would be better if they simply let us quarantine at home, he said.

 

Coronavirus

Hong Kong ‘to tighten rules’ for issuing provisional vaccine passes to travellers.

 By Web desk 14th Sep 2022

Government source says authorities are now considering raising threshold for getting a temporary vaccine pass given change of circumstances. Overseas travellers currently require two jabs to qualify for pass, while those from mainland China, Macau and Taiwan can get one without being vaccinated.

Health authorities will tighten rules on issuing travellers provisional vaccine passes to enter most premises in a bid to plug any loopholes in Hong Kong’s policies to combat the coronavirus, the Post has learned. “The authorities are now considering raising the threshold for getting a temporary vaccine pass given the change of circumstances,” a government source on Tuesday said. Authorities were urged to update their policy after a woman from mainland China recently caused a stir on social media when she posted she could “travel everywhere” in Hong Kong, despite being unvaccinated against Covid-19. Overseas arrivals, who are permitted to enter the city provided they have received two shots, must apply for a temporary vaccine pass to access all venues covered under the government scheme.“Given three-dose vaccination is now widely available in many places, and most travellers are also fully vaccinated, should the government increase the number of doses required and shorten the six-month grace period? These are the areas being reviewed,” the insider said. Under Hong Kong’s vaccine pass, all eligible residents must be inoculated with three coronavirus jabs to enter various premises such as restaurants, swimming pools, sports grounds, and places of entertainment. Despite requiring eligible residents aged 12 and above to receive three shots to qualify for the vaccine pass from May, the government knew such practices were not standard across the rest of the world, the source said. As a result, local authorities opted for a two-jab requirement for inbound travellers, including returning residents, to qualify for a provisional vaccine pass, the insider said. To qualify for the temporary pass, arrivals were required to declare their non-local vaccination or recovery records at either the city’s post offices or the border.

 

 

Covid fatigue reaches tipping point

 By Web desk 13th Sep 2022

Clearly, the government is kicking the Covid can down the road despite mounting calls for an end to the quarantine policy that is increasingly isolating Hong Kong from the rest of the world. This is extremely worrying. The administration seems to be waiting for something - but what, exactly, is it waiting for? Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po wrote on his Sunday blog that boosting the vaccination rate is the key to reopening the borders. If the vaccination rate were really the key, it would have been easy to answer the question as John Lee Ka-chiu's administration would have been able to readily set a figure above which the international borders would be reopened to normal travel. Then, everyone - including tycoon Peter Woo Kwong-ching, China's CPPCC standing committee member Henry Tang Ying-yen, former commerce minister Frederick Ma Si-hang and their peers in the business sector - could have drawn up a business plan, knowing what to expect once the threshold was met. Although this would still be not as desirable as ending the policy immediately, as urged by some experts including University of Hong Kong expert Ho Pak-leung, setting a numerical target would be preferable to asking society to wait and wait without letting the people know what they have been waiting for. It's so true that, as Tang noted, the city will suffer from internal bleeding if it relies only on internal circulation. Chan could have easily filled the missing link by inserting a number in his blog. If he had done so, people - including Woo, Tang and Ma - would have felt better. But he chose not to state a target and, regrettably, neither chief executive nor Health Secretary Lo Chung-mau provided a target. That said, it may be recalled that experts had on several occasions also tried to assure that people could expect life to return to normal once a certain number of people were vaccinated. Different rates were mentioned, but people were disappointed each time those rates were achieved. Calls are mounting. Even political heavyweights and prominent businessmen who seldom commented on the Covid policy publicly have had enough with what is increasingly looking to be an endless wait for the international borders to reopen to smooth and convenient travel. Instead of a magical vaccination figure, government officials may be waiting for the outcome of the Communist Party congress in October. As the government waits for the event, it plays defensively in opposition to rising calls for an end to the current quarantine policy. If this were truly the situation, it would be most unfortunate. For one, the widely publicized financial summit organized by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority is due to be held in November. Guests invited to attend the event normally have to confirm their business schedule well in advance. Would it be too late to have the schedules confirmed if the government has to wait until after October for a clearer picture? Time is running out and the government is still kicking the can down a road that leads to nowhere.

  

Hong Kong can only fully reopen borders if Covid-19 vaccination rate improves, finance chief says.

 By Web desk 12th Sep 2022

 It has been extremely challenging to strike a balance between curbing the pandemic and facilitating travel, while preserving the economy’, Paul Chan says. Pandemic adviser to government predicts infections spread by more transmissible variants will peak in coming week.

Hong Kong can fully reopen to the world only if its Covid-19 vaccination rate improves further, the city’s finance chief has said, crediting effective pandemic control as the fundamental stabilising force of the local economy. Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po struck a cautious note on Sunday even as health officials reported the possible start of a downward trend in daily cases, and a pandemic adviser to the government predicted infections spread by more transmissible variants would peak in the coming week. It has been extremely challenging to strike a balance between curbing the pandemic and facilitating travel, while preserving the economy, Chan wrote on his official blog. Only with concerted efforts to further expand the vaccination scheme will we have more leeway to resume international travel, stabilising the economy and restarting the impetus for growth to the greatest extent possible. According to the government, 93 per cent of residents have taken a first vaccine shot, and 91 per cent have received a second, while 74 per cent have completed all three. But the rate for residents aged 80 or above remains just 67 per cent for two shots and a mere 51 per cent for three.Authorities have struggled to get those numbers up as infections have rebounded in recent weeks. Health officials on Sunday confirmed 9,033 new cases, of which 129 were imported, and 11 more deaths related to the virus. The city’s Covid-19 tally stood at 1,651,974, with 9,799 fatalities. This weekend’s Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the biggest occasions of the year for families to gather for celebratory meals, and authorities have urged residents to avoid large reunions. Professor Lau Yu-lung, chair professor of paediatrics at the University of Hong Kong and who advises the government on the pandemic, forecast new infections would crest in the next three to seven days after plateauing at about 10,000 in the past week. The viral load in sewage had also shown signs of flattening, while the number of infected patients being treated in hospital between Thursday and Saturday had declined, he noted. There might be a small rebound after the three-day holiday, Lau said, adding that as long as residents adhered to social-distancing measures, the public had no cause for concern. If the vaccination rate among the elderly and those under five years of age both reached at least 80 per cent, the government might consider laying out a timeline for easing pandemic curbs, he suggested, predicting that could happen in November. The government last week announced the vaccine pass scheme restricting access to most public places would be expanded to require children as young as five be inoculated with at least one jab by September 30 and two shots by the end of November. As of Sunday, 2,711 Covid-19 patients were in hospital, including 54 in critical condition and 57 in a serious one. Hospital Authority Chief Manager Dr Larry Lee Lap-yip described the patient numbers as having stabilised. But the number of elderly sent to the makeshift treatment facility at AsiaWorld-Expo continued to rise, Lee noted, adding a plan to increase bed capacity from 240 to 280 after the holiday remained. We dare not to let our guard down because based on our experience, changes, growth or declines in the pandemic can happen rapidly, he said. Reacting to Chan’s blog entry, Travel Industry Council chairwoman Gianna Hsu Wong Mei-lun expressed hope that the government would provide a road map to further relax the 3+4 policy that requires arrivals to spend three days in hotel quarantine and four more monitoring their health at home. Any quarantine measure is an obstacle to revitalize local tourism, Hsu said, adding the current administration had always maintained that any easing of the rule would be based on scientific data on infection numbers but stopped short of stating what numbers would be acceptable or how a lower figure could be achieved. When people travel, they need to tour around and enjoy the food. That’s how travelling should be. But if they have an amber code, even if the quarantine is cut to 0+7 or even 0+3, there is no way you could attract inbound travellers with such restrictions, she said, referring to the vaccine pass QR code given to travellers upon arrival. Ray Chui Man-wai, chairman of the food and beverage industry group Institute of Dining Art, said the strategies the government had adopted to tackle the pandemic were problematic, noting the government had failed to set a target vaccination rate. We saw serious cases and deaths decreased compared with the fifth wave of infections. However, if the government continues to pose restrictions on restaurants and residents, it will bring a huge blow to the industry, he said. Chui added many restaurants had suffered a drop of 30 to 40 per cent in business during the Mid-Autumn Festival compared with last year. He urged the government to immediately relax measures by raising the maximum number of people allowed per table from eight to 12 and banquet attendees from 120 to 240. Separately, authorities also made a change to the English-language version of information for people who tested positive posted on the website of the Centre for Health Protection. It now stated that anyone who tested positive using a rapid antigen test (RAT) have to report the results instead of only can report them. But Chuang clarified that reporting positive RAT cases was not yet compulsory by law at the moment. But, we would like the people to report so we don’t want them to feel like it’s optional, she said.

  

King Charles proclaimed Britain's monarch at historic ceremony. 

 By Web desk 11th Sep 2022

King Charles was officially proclaimed as Britain's new monarch on Saturday at a ceremony in St James's Palace where former prime ministers, bishops and a host of politicians shouted, God Save The King. The death of 96-year-old Queen Elizabeth on Thursday after 70 years on the throne set in train long-established and highly choreographed plans for days of national mourning and a state funeral that will be held in just over a week. Charles, 73, succeeded his mother immediately on Thursday but an Accession Council met on Saturday to proclaim his succession, with his son and heir William, wife Camilla and Britain's new prime minister, Liz Truss, among those to sign the proclamation. Making his personal declaration, Charles said: "In carrying out the heavy task that has been laid upon me, and to which I now dedicate what remains to me of my life, I pray for the guidance and help of Almighty God." The proclamation was also set to be read publicly in the other capital cities of the United Kingdom - Edinburgh in Scotland, Belfast in Northern Ireland, and Cardiff in Wales - and at other locations, too. The death of Elizabeth, Britain's longest-reigning monarch, has drawn an outpouring of tributes from at home and around the globe. Landmarks have been used to celebrate her life, with buildings in Europe, America and Africa lit up in the red, white and blue of the United Kingdom. In Britain, people started gathering outside royal palaces in the early hours of Saturday morning, with thousands flocking to Buckingham Palace to pay respects to the queen and Charles - who was proclaimed king at the nearby St James's Palace. It's a poignant time in our country's history, design manager Ian Bilboe, 54, said. (We're) here to be part of that and show respect to the late queen and also to the new king. Charles is king and head of state of the United Kingdom and 14 other realms including Australia, Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. Britain has declared a period of mourning until the state funeral for Elizabeth, once described by her grandson Harry as the nation's grandmother. The date for that has not been announced but it is expected in a little over a week's time. Leaders from around the world are expected in London for the funeral, including U.S. President Joe Biden, who said on Friday he would attend. Charles' coronation as king will take place at a later date - and the timing for that is not yet clear. There was a 16-month gap between Elizabeth becoming queen in 1952 and her coronation in 1953.The new king vowed on Friday to serve the nation with loyalty, respect and love in his first address to the nation as king. Earlier on Friday, returning to London from Scotland where his mother died, he was greeted with cheers, applause and a crowd singing "God Save The King" as he made his first public appearance outside Buckingham Palace. Charles also said in his address that he had made his eldest son William, 40, the new Prince of Wales, the title that had been his for more than 50 years and is traditionally held by the heir to the throne. William's wife Kate becomes Princess of Wales, a role last held by the late Princess Diana. Thousands have gathered since Thursday at royal palaces to pay their respects to the late queen, with some shedding tears as they laid flowers and others wanting to celebrate the life of a monarch who for most Britons was the only they have ever known. Elizabeth, who was the world's oldest and longest-serving head of state, came to the throne following the death of her father King George VI on Feb. 6, 1952, when she was just 25. Over the decades she witnessed a seismic change in the social, political and economic structure of her nation. She won praise for guiding the monarchy into the 21st Century and modernizing it in the process, despite intense media scrutiny and the often highly public travails of her family. Charles, who opinion polls indicate is less popular than his mother, now has the task of securing the institution's future. 

  

Hong Kong government scraps quarantine rules for air crew.

 By Web desk 10th Sep 2022

Hong Kong will scrap its quarantine rules for locally based airline crew from Saturday, the government said on Friday, a key step in unwinding draconian Covid-19 rules which have isolated the Asian financial hub. Under the new arrangements, locally based air crew can return home after obtaining a negative result of the nucleic acid test conducted at the airport, it said in a statement. Travelers leaving Hong Kong will no longer be required to go through temperature screening, the government said in a separate statement on Friday. Previously air crew had to quarantine at a hotel for three nights before returning home. The measure had resulted in many airlines including Virgin and British Airways to suspend operations in the Chinese special administrative region due to the strict rules. Other airlines have severely curtailed operations making it very difficult for people to travel to or from the city. The adjustments were made after the U.S. put Hong Kong in the Reconsider Travel advisory level late last month, warning Americans of arbitrary enforcement of local laws and Covid-19-related restrictions. Exercise increased caution in China due to wrongful detentions, the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs wrote on its website. Hong Kong has tightly controlled its border with the mainland and the rest of the world for more than two-and-a-half-years, in line with China's zero-Covid policy of stamping out outbreaks as they arise with tough restrictions. The city of 7.3 million people relies heavily on international business and travel, and the restrictions have damaged its economy and led to the exodus of tens of thousands of residents. The new rule will effectively facilitate airlines to enhance flight services between Hong Kong and other parts of the world, and enable Hong Kong to play its role as an international aviation hub, the government said. Business groups, diplomats and many residents have slammed the city's Covid-19 rules, saying they threaten Hong Kong's competitiveness and standing as a global financial centre. Masks are mandated in most places in Hong Kong and gatherings of more than four people are prohibited. Hong Kong has reported more than 1.5 million Covid infections and over 9,000 deaths since the pandemic began.

  

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth dead at 96 after 70 years on throne.

 By Web desk 9th Sep 2022

Queen Elizabeth took the throne at the age of 25 following her father’s death in 1952. The monarch had suffered ‘episodic mobility issues’ in recent months and reduced her royal duties.

Queen Elizabeth II, whose reign took Britain from the age of steam to the era of the smartphone, and who oversaw the largely peaceful breakup of an empire that once spanned the globe, has died. She was 96. "The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon," Buckingham Palace said in a statement on Thursday. "The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow." Her eldest son Charles, 73, automatically becomes king of the United Kingdom and the head of state of 14 other realms including Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

In a statement, Charles called the death of his mother “a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family,” adding: “I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.”

British Prime Minister Liz Truss, appointed by the queen just 48 hours earlier, pronounced the country “devastated” and called Elizabeth “the rock on which modern Britain was built.”

The BBC played the national anthem, “God Save the Queen,” over a portrait of her in full regalia as her death was announced, and the flag over Buckingham Palace was lowered to half-staff as the second Elizabethan age came to a close. The Queen's family had rushed to be by her side at her Scottish home, Balmoral Castle, after doctors expressed concern about her health. She had been suffering from what Buckingham Palace has called "episodic mobility problems" since the end of last year, forcing her to withdraw from nearly all her public engagements. Ascending the throne in 1952, Elizabeth led the UK through a time of political upheaval. She began her reign as head of an empire, albeit one in decline. By the time of her death, the future of the UK itself was in doubt, with recurrent calls for independence in Scotland and Britain’s exit from the European Union leading to renewed tension in Northern Ireland. Elizabeth became the UK’s longest-serving monarch in 2015, when she surpassed the record of Queen Victoria, who had ruled from 1837 to 1901. The partner whom Elizabeth described as her “strength and stay,” Prince Philip, her husband of 73 years, died in April 2021, at 99. Her eldest son, Charles, succeeds her on the throne. Elizabeth reached the end of her reign with her popularity thoroughly rehabilitated after a period of criticism in the 1990s, which culminated in media-fueled outrage at the family’s muted response to Princess Diana’s death in 1997. When she celebrated 60 years on the throne in 2012, the same year London hosted the Olympic Games, hundreds of thousands of people thronged the streets of London for four days of Diamond Jubilee events. Her Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years on the throne, took place in 2022. The celebration of her reign was marked with an appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace by a slimmed-down group comprising direct heirs to the throne and their immediate family. In another symbolic moment of the continuity of monarchy, her heir, Prince Charles, and his first son, Prince William, both paid public tributes to the queen in front of a crowd of tens of thousands who flooded the area around the palace for a live concert. One of the biggest challenges during her reign came from the media’s unrelenting focus on the private lives of her children and grandchildren. Prince Charles’ wedding to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 was seen on television by an estimated 750 million people. Archbishop Robert Runcie, who celebrated the marriage, called it the “stuff of which fairy tales are made” and the couple quickly had two children, Princes William and Harry. But within a few years the marriage was showing signs of strain as Charles and Diana openly snubbed each other on public outings and soon the tabloids were reporting their respective infidelities in minute detail. 

 Queen’s Counsel

The queen reportedly attempted to rescue her son’s marriage and, with it, the prestige of the crown, urging the couple to stay together and put on a brave face. She had little sympathy for their emotional upheavals, according to biographers. Nor did the queen have much obvious fondness for the attention-seeking and photogenic Diana, who resisted the conventions of the court and upstaged Elizabeth. “She simply did not want anything to do with that impossible girl,” Martin Charteris, the queen’s former private secretary, told Carolly Erickson for her 2004 biography, “Lilibet: An Intimate Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.” But Diana’s rapport with the public was storing up problems for Elizabeth. Compared with the charismatic princess, the queen appeared more attached to her pet corgis, her horses and her palaces than to her subjects. On a chilly November night in 1992, Windsor Castle, where she had spent part of her childhood, was set ablaze after a tungsten lamp burned a curtain in the private chapel. Some of the castle’s grandest rooms were gutted.  

 Annus Horribilis

The uninsured castle required tens of millions of pounds’ worth of repair, which the British taxpayer was in no mood to pay: The queen was already under pressure for being tax-exempt. Shortly after the fire, Buckingham Palace announced that both she and Charles would pay taxes on their private incomes. The Windsor fire came to symbolize the litany of misfortunes — including the divorces of two of her other adult children — that befell the queen in a year she would later describe as an “annus horribilis.” Journalist Andrew Morton published a tell-all biography of Princess Diana, with help from the princess herself. Another of the queen’s daughters-in-law, Sarah Ferguson, was photographed tanning in the company of a doting lover and Charles and Diana finally announced the end of their marriage. When Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris on Aug. 31, 1997, along with her lover, Dodi Al Fayed, a high-profile Egyptian billionaire’s son, an impression began to take hold of the queen as a heartless figure, cut off from the public’s concerns.

 ‘Show Us’

While the entire country went into mourning, the queen remained at her summer residence at Balmoral Castle in Scotland and initially resisted calls for a flag to be flown at half-staff over Buckingham Palace. “Show us you care,” urged the headline in the Daily Express newspaper. “Speak to Us, Ma’am,” pleaded the Mirror. “Not one word has come from the royal lip, not one tear has been shed in public from a royal eye,” the Sun wrote. The queen — who had been staying with her grandsons after the death of their mother — finally returned to London five days after the princess’s death, and delivered a televised address. She described Diana as “an exceptional and gifted human being” who had “made many, many people happy,” though she stopped short of expressing personal affection for her late daughter-in-law. Over time, Charles’s mistress, Camilla Parker-Bowles, emerged from the shadows and was accepted at court. When they married, almost eight years after Diana’s death, the queen was present at a service of blessing in Windsor Castle and hosted a reception for them, although she didn’t attend the civil ceremony. In a sign of Camilla’s full acceptance into royal life, the queen said in 2022 she should be named queen as Charles’ consort.

 Early Years

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born on April 21, 1926, in the London district of Mayfair. Initially unable to pronounce her given name, she called herself Lilibet, a nickname that became widely used by close relatives. “She has an air of authority and reflectiveness astonishing in an infant,” Winston Churchill, later to be the queen’s first prime minister, said of the two-year-old Princess Elizabeth after a visit to her parents. Schooled at home by tutors, little Lilibet was, according to governess Marion Crawford, “very lovable” and fond of horses. Elizabeth was 10 years old when her life was transformed. Her uncle, Edward VIII, gave up the crown so that he could marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee, and Elizabeth’s father, Prince Albert, reluctantly became King George VI. The family moved to Buckingham Palace and Elizabeth, his first-born, was suddenly heir to the throne. Her memories of the abdication reportedly reinforced her strong sense of public duty, which later became a hallmark of her reign.

 Wartime Life

During World War II, the king refused to send Elizabeth and her sister Margaret to Canada, keeping them instead in royal residences outside the capital. When Nazi bombers pounded the East End of London in September 1940, the royal couple visited the victims. Buckingham Palace was also hit by German air raids. In 1945, with the war drawing to a close, Elizabeth Windsor was allowed to join the Auxiliary Territorial Service, the women’s branch of the British army, as a second lieutenant, becoming the first female member of the royal family to be a full-time active member of the services. She took a six-week course in driving and vehicle maintenance, learning to steer convoy trucks and strip engines. Once the war was over, the princess made clear she was in love with Prince Philip of Greece, whom she had met in 1939 when the royal family visited Dartmouth Naval College. The two were betrothed in July 1947 and married four months later at Westminster Abbey. Philip became Duke of Edinburgh. Charles, the heir to the throne, was born a year later. 

 Becoming Queen

 In the years following the war, the British Empire was starting to come undone. India shook off British rule in August 1947, Burma, now known as Myanmar, won independence in 1948, and Ireland declared itself a republic in 1949. In 1952, on a trip to Kenya, Princess Elizabeth learned of her father’s death. She immediately flew back to Britain, to be greeted as queen by Churchill as she disembarked from her plane. Elizabeth was crowned in Westminster Abbey in June 1953 in a televised ceremony, a first for the monarchy that was watched by more than 20 million people, half of Britain’s adult population. While the monarch’s role was a largely ceremonial one and Elizabeth had next to no say in government matters, she met each of her prime ministers once a week for a confidential discussion of which no record was kept, giving her a unique perspective on the life of her nation. Her final premier, Liz Truss, was invited to form a government in a meeting at Balmoral Castle on Sept. 6. In those weekly meetings, the queen listened to concerns over domestic and foreign policy, trawled through daily red boxes of state briefings, and helped smooth diplomatic relations by hosting world leaders. She also kept up a busy schedule of events, including opening ceremonies and meetings with people across the UK and elsewhere, as well as regularly touring Commonwealth countries. In her initial years as sovereign, the queen forged close ties with Churchill. “Like her father, and her grandfather, she was a natural conservative,” wrote biographer Kenneth Harris. 

 1969 Documentary

Churchill had served her father, George VI, during the war years, and Elizabeth and her prime minister frequently exchanged admiring letters, according to Churchill biographer Martin Gilbert. As the 1960s unfolded, with the empire disintegrating, social change gripped Britain. The royal family made a conscious attempt to demystify its image, with the queen, Prince Philip and their children featuring in a fly-on-the-wall television documentary in 1969. They were seen for the first time doing everyday things, such as eating dinner and having a picnic. While the intention was to present a more modern, informal view of the family, it also opened the door to wider television and press coverage of their activities which over the following years sparked controversy. The monarchy has historically been tinged with an aura of mystery, and as Victorian journalist and economist Walter Bagehot put it: “We must not let in daylight upon magic.” Harris wrote that while the royal family “must rely on the media,” he also said that “beyond a point, the members of the royal family do not want publicity.” In the Silver Jubilee year of 1977 the decline in deference was illustrated by the release of a single by the English punk band the Sex Pistols called “God Save the Queen.” The record had a defaced picture of the monarch on its cover and contained the lyrics, “God save the queen, the fascist regime.” The BBC banned its staff from playing it on air. The queen’s relationship with Margaret Thatcher, who became Conservative prime minister in May 1979, was described in the press as cool, though Thatcher denied that in her memoir “The Downing Street Years.”  

 Two Women

 “Of course, under the circumstances, stories of clashes between ‘two powerful women’ were just too good not to make up,” Thatcher wrote. She instead emphasized the queen’s “formidable grasp of current issues and breadth of experience.” When Thatcher died in 2013, Elizabeth joined the mourners in London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral, the first time she had attended the funeral of a British prime minister since that of Churchill in 1965. By the turn of the millennium, the popularity of the royals was recovering from the dark days of the 1990s and a new generation of the family was also starting to come on the scene. William and Harry were drawing more media attention, which intensified when William started dating Catherine Middleton, whom he had met at St. Andrews University. The queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002, to mark 50 years on the throne, drew bigger crowds than expected. The eventual royal wedding in 2011, marked by a national holiday, signaled that the rehabilitation was close to complete. William and Kate, who came across as a down-to-earth couple in tune with the times, had helped soften the memories of Charles and Diana’s indiscretions. The birth of their son, George, in July 2013, also delighted the public. Two other children followed.

 New Generation

 As William and Kate, now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, took on more public roles, the queen scaled back, saying at the end of 2016 that she would give up some of her charity work. Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle, by contrast, decided to give up their duties as working members of the Royal Family and move to the US. Markle, whose mother is Black, said in an interview with Oprah Winfrey in March 2021 that an unnamed senior royal had asked how dark her unborn son’s skin color would be, prompting a rare public response from the queen, who said the issues raised by the couple would be taken very seriously. The Palace also battled to contain a controversy over Prince Andrew’s friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, with a legal settlement eventually reached in February 2022 after he had stepped down from royal duties. He was also stripped of military ranks and royal patronages, although the queen demonstrated her fondness for her second son by giving him a prominent position at Prince Philip’s memorial service. With the end of Elizabeth’s reign, the British establishment loses a figure who has been able to connect each of her prime ministers with Churchill and the wartime spirit which has become a key part of the national identity. David Cameron, the 12th premier to serve under Elizabeth, said that he valued their weekly audiences as an opportunity to draw on “her knowledge, her commitment, her time-tested wisdom” and “an abundance of what I would call ‘Great British common sense,’ the ability to cut through the fuss and see what really matters.”

 Spirit of Fun

She was also known for a quiet sense of mischief. According to one widely reported anecdote, when out walking near Balmoral, she ran into a couple of American tourists, who failed to recognize her but were delighted to learn she had a house nearby. “Have you ever met the queen?” they asked. “No,” she replied, before pointing at the plainclothes policeman accompanying her. “But he has.” That spirit of fun was on display once again at the London Olympics in 2012. The opening ceremony featured the queen in her first movie role, in a short film in which she was met by James Bond actor Daniel Craig at Buckingham Palace. “Good evening, Mr. Bond,” the queen said, before she was apparently taken by helicopter and parachuted in to the Olympic Stadium — a stunt for which she had a stand-in. “You don’t have to tell her something twice,” said the director, Danny Boyle. “She picks it up straight away, about cameras and angles. She is a good actor.” In 2022 the Queen delighted the British public when she performed a skit with a CGI version of Paddington Bear. In the sketch, the monarch showed her sense of humor by “revealing” that she kept a marmalade sandwich in her handbag, the snack favored by the fictional bear.

  

Head of Hong Kong journalists group arrested while reporting.

 By Web desk 8th Sep 2022

The leader of Hong Kong’s largest journalists group was arrested on allegations of obstructing police, in the latest case to fan concerns about press freedom in the city. Hong Kong Journalists Association Chairman Ronson Chan Ron-sing was arrested Wednesday while reporting on a story, his news outlet, Channel C, reported. Chan, a deputy assignment editor, was detained while in the area of Mong Kok while trying report on a residential estate committee meeting about a property development, the outlet said. The Hong Kong police said in a statement that a 41-year-old man named Chan was arrested in Mong Kok on suspicion of obstructing a police officer and public disorder after acting suspiciously and refusing to show his identity card. The man was being held pending further investigation, the police said. Chan said in a text message to Bloomberg News he had been released without charge, and would need to report to police later this month. In a Facebook post published at about 3am, he apologized for worrying people. The international press freedom group Reporters Without Borders called for Chan’s “immediate release” in a Twitter post late Wednesday. Hong Kong fell 68 places year on year to 148th place in Reporters Without Borders’s most recent World Press Freedom Index as China cracks down on dissent in the former British colony. Several pro-democracy media outlets have shut down in the wake of a Beijing-drafted national security law implemented in June 2020. Apple Daily, the city’s largest pro-democracy newspaper, was forced to close last year after the government seized its assets, while independent media outlets including Stand News and Citizen News have also ceased publication. Both Chan and the Hong Kong Journalists Association have come under criticism from authorities and pro-Beijing media. Security Secretary Chris Tang last year said that the organization “infiltrates” schools to attract students to journalism, a claim the HKJA has denied. 

  

Liz Truss to continue UK’s hawkish stance towards Hong Kong authorities, analysts say.

By Web desk 7th Sep 2022

But scholars also predict London will not launch any new measures targeting Hong Kong or its ministers, with UK to focus on domestic front. British pathway to citizenship scheme for Hongkongers likely to continue under Truss as means of pressuring Beijing, one adds.

New British Prime Minister Liz Truss is expected to maintain her country’s hawkish stance towards the Hong Kong government, political analysts have said, with a special UK citizenship path for migrants from the city likely to continue. But scholars on Tuesday also predicted that London would not launch any new measures targeting Hong Kong or its ministers, as the leader would be focused on soaring energy prices and living costs at home. On the international front, Truss was also expected to priorities support for Ukraine in its war against Russia, they said. Ting Wang-leung, a political lecturer at the University of Reading, said such concerns would take up the new leader’s time rather than ones relating to mainland China or Hong Kong, adding she was unlikely to have the means to drum up support for further diplomatic actions against the city.

 

 Coronavirus

Hong Kong leader John Lee says no decision made on any further easing of hotel quarantine rules.

 By Web desk 6th Sep 2022

Chief Executive John Lee also denies any internal conflict among officials during discussions on Covid-19 strategy. Focus is on boosting vaccination rate among the elderly and children, he says.

Hong Kong has not come to any decision on whether all hotel quarantine measures can be lifted by November as the current focus is on dealing with high Covid-19 infection numbers and boosting the vaccination rate among the elderly and children, the city’s leader has said. Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu on Tuesday also denied there had been any internal conflict among officials during discussions on Covid-19 strategy, contrary to claims in a news report last week. In the fight against the pandemic, the government team is united. Our working relationship is pleasant and good, we will discuss all the pros and cons during our discussion, and the team will be consistent when implementing policies, Lee told a press briefing ahead of the first Executive Council meeting since the summer recess.

  

Use consumption vouchers to boost elderly vaccinations, health expert suggests.

 By Web desk 5th Sep 2022

The consumptions vouchers should be a financial incentive for the elderly to get vaccinated, the head of Hong Kong University's Centre for Infection, Ho Pak-leung, suggested on Monday. Speaking on a radio program this morning, the microbiologist said there are currently around 300,000 elderly aged 60 or above in the city yet to receive a single dose of Covid-19 vaccine, calling on authorities to provide more incentives to encourage vaccine uptake among them. Ho proposed that extra consumption vouchers could be distributed to elderlies who received all three doses of the Covid vaccine. Meanwhile, he urged authorities to enhance the dissemination of anti-epidemic information, especially to the elderly. The health expert said a number of elderly in the city have misconceptions about the epidemic that prompt unnecessary worries, leading to problems including the elderly’s refusal to take Covid drugs or report their infections. Hong Kong should ease the hotel quarantine measures for arrivals sooner, scrapping the hotel quarantine and replacing it with seven days of medical surveillance at home. He explained that imported cases only made up a small portion of Hong Kong's daily cases, in which the easing of the quarantine measures will pose minimal effect on the tally. However, if the easing is executed in winter near the end of this year, there is a much greater risk of seeing new Covid strains entering Hong Kong, he added.

  

Hospital Authority curtails service to fight the Covid epidemic.

 By Web desk 4th Sep 2022

The Hospital Authority (HA) announced Sunday that Lady Trench General Out-Patient Clinic's evening clinic session would be suspended from tomorrow. HA spokesman said the service curtailment focuses workforce and resources on enhancing further Designated Clinic and tele-consultation services for supporting patients confirmed with Covid-19 infection. HA will continue to monitor the situation and service demand. The spokesman added that if the epidemic continues to deteriorate, further services will be curtailed to mobilise more manpower to fight the outbreak.

  

China launches campaign against online rumors ahead of party congress 

 Web desk 03 Sep 2022

China's cyberspace watchdog said on Friday it would a launch a three-month campaign to clear up (rumors and false information involving major meetings), just weeks before the ruling Communist Party holds its five-yearly congress. General Secretary Xi Jinping is poised to secure a historic third leadership term at the congress, which is due to start on Oct. 16. The weeks immediately preceding this politically sensitive event are usually busy periods for the country's sprawling public security and online police apparatus, tasked with ensuring stability at all costs. While the congress was not mentioned in the announcement on Friday, the first work task of the campaign was to deal "strictly and quickly" with (rumors and false information involving major meetings), important events, and important policy announcements, according to a statement published on the official WeChat account of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC). Xi is all but guaranteed to secure a third term as party general secretary, which will break a norm adhered to by his two predecessors to step down after 10 years, or two full terms. The CAC, which wields outsize influence in deciding what gets taken down or promoted on China's highly censored Internet, said that the campaign targeting online rumors would be "guided by General Secretary Xi Jinping's important thoughts on a strong cyberspace". It also said the campaign would increase the punishment of rumor-mongering behavior, investigate and expose typical cases to form a strong deterrent, maximize the squeezing of space for online rumors and false information. Under Xi, online speech has become further constrained, with social media platforms recently being imposed heavy fines if they fail to tackle discourse the Party considers unfavorable to its interests. Besides policing rumors about major meetings, the CAC said that other tasks in its campaign included stopping rumors about epidemics, the economy, public security, as well as the slandering of China's heroes and martyrs. It also said that it would supervise online platforms to improve technologies capable of tracing and containing active and even potential rumormongers, such as influential online accounts not affiliated with or run by the state. Do a good job of incremental containment, strengthen daily monitoring and analysis, the CAC said. When it comes information that is impactful and spread far by non-authoritative sources, take the initiative to the relevant departments for verification, swiftly identify and dispose, strive to nip new rumors and false information in the bud. 

   

Coronavirus

REVERCE QUARANTINE scheme may not bring much relief for Hong Kong travellers crossing border to mainland, say businesses and NGOs

By Web desk 2nd Sep 2022

The minimum seven-day quarantine in the city remains a big deterrent, says NGO deputy director City leader John Lee says he has secured backing from mainland authorities for the proposed scheme, to be implemented as soon as possible

The new REVERCE QUARANTINE arrangement planned by Hong Kong authorities may not provide much-needed relief to travellers heading to mainland China, businesses and NGOs have said, calling instead for sufficient quota slots and the isolation duration to be shortened. Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said on Thursday he had secured the backing of mainland authorities for the new scheme, allowing travellers to undergo Covid-19 isolation in the city before crossing the border. Under the proposal, a local makeshift Covid-19 treatment facility at the Lok Ma Chau Loop, an area near the border, could be used to quarantine travellers. A government source said a few thousand places at the centre could be set aside initially for this purpose.

Coronavirus

Back to school for tens of thousands of Hong Kong pupils as stricter Covid vaccination rules loom.

 By Web desk 1st Sep 2022

In addition to taking daily Covid-19 test on Thursday, pupils and teachers were told to provide results for the previous two days. Parents of primary school pupils glad to see their children back at school, even for half-day lessons.

Tens of thousands of pupils in Hong Kong returned to school for the start of the new academic year on Thursday amid a government decision to tighten the vaccine thresholds for full-day in-person classes to combat a surge in Covid-19 cases. The return to classrooms this month came after a turbulent year, with students from many schools forced to take some of their summer break in March, face-to-face lessons restricted to half days and coronavirus tests required on a daily basis. In addition to taking a daily rapid antigen test (RAT) before turning up at school on Thursday, pupils and teachers were told to provide results for Tuesday and Wednesday.

  

John Lee’s first visit to Guangzhou and Shenzhen cancelled amid pandemic fears, border-reopening talks to move online

 By Web desk 31st Aug 2022

The chief executive was earlier expected to meet mainland authorities to discuss cross-border travel arrangements. City fighting surge in coronavirus infections, with health authorities reporting 8,848 new cases on Tuesday.

Hong Kong’s leader will discuss cross-border arrangements with mainland Chinese authorities in an online conference on Thursday, after his first official visit to Guangzhou and Shenzhen was postponed amid pandemic fears. Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said on Wednesday the talks had moved online because of the worsening Covid-19 situations on both sides. Both the mainland and Hong Kong sides have coronavirus outbreaks to deal with. As far as anti-epidemic measures are concerned, I believe that this is the most convenient way for me to meet them and also join two opening ceremonies virtually in Nansha tomorrow.

 

China arrests hundreds in nation's biggest-ever bank fraud probe 

 By Web desk 30 Aug 2022

China arrested hundreds of people allegedly involved in the nation’s largest ever bank fraud and started repaying more victims of the US$5.8 billion scandal, in a bid to maintain social stability ahead of this year’s twice-a-decade Communist Party congress. Police in Xuchang city of Henan province arrested 234 suspects tied to the scam and made significant progress in recovering the stolen money, according to a statement late Monday. Police have said that a criminal gang led by suspect Lv Yi illegally controlled four rural lenders including Yuzhou Xinminsheng Village Bank, offering rates as high as 18 percent to attract funds that officials say amounted to 40 billion yuan (US$5.8 billion). Local authorities said they are repaying more victims, on top of the 18 billion yuan doled out as of mid-August. Investors with deposits of 400,000 yuan to 500,000 yuan will be repaid starting early Tuesday, the authorities said. Those who have lost more will be getting an initial sum of 500,000 yuan with the remainder reserved for now. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Henan earlier this year after being denied access to their deposits and investments from the rural banks. The scam dealt the biggest hit to confidence in China’s US$52 trillion banking system since 2019, when the government seized control of a lender in Inner Mongolia. The Communist Party is gearing up for its 20th congress later this year, where President Xi Jinping is expected to secure an unprecedented third term. Social stability ahead of the meeting is being put a premium as slowing economic growth, Covid lockdowns and a rumbling property crisis are creating hardships for broad swathes of the population. Regulators were urged to maintain stability in the financial markets and severely crack down on financial crimes at a Politburo meeting in late July. Although village banks aren’t allowed to seek deposits from outside their local area, the lenders involved in the scam marketed their deposits online via third-party platforms, making it a national problem. China has been trying for years to root out problems in its troubled rural banking system, a network of some 3,800 lenders which hold the lowest capital on hand against risky assets among peers. Beijing has raised 64.6 billion yuan in the first batch for a stability fund to bail out troubled financial institutions. 

 

Another Hongkonger returns home after being caught up in Southeast Asia forced labour scam.

By Web desk 29th Aug 2022

Security Bureau says man returned safely from Thailand on Sunday. Hong Kong authorities have received 42 requests for help in relation to scam since January.

One more Hong Kong victim of a job scam luring residents to Southeast Asia for forced labour has been brought back home, bringing the total number of returnees to 23. The Security Bureau said the man returned safely from Thailand on Sunday. It noted his return was a joint effort by the foreign ministry’s office in the city, Chinese embassies in Myanmar and Thailand, a bureau task force and the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Bangkok.

 

Coronavirus

Hong Kong leader John Lee to pursue reopening of border with mainland China on Guangdong trip.

 By Web desk 28th Aug 2022

Hong Kong and mainland on same page on sorting out measures to restore quarantine-free travel, he says. Chief executive says he will lay down precise strategies and target high-risk activities in combating current wave of Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s leader will pursue the reopening of the border with mainland China during an expected visit to Guangdong province next week even though Covid-19 infection numbers have surged with the overall tally breaking through 1.5 million cases. Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu on Saturday said he was very conscious of the need to maintain the city’s connectivity with both the mainland and overseas countries, pointing to his decisions to halt a flight suspension mechanism and shorten the hotel quarantine period for arrivals since taking office in July. He said Hong Kong and the mainland were on the same page on sorting out viable measures to restore quarantine-free travel.

 

Suicides among elderly increase, Hong Kong charity blames coronavirus and increased loneliness.

 By Web desk 27th Aug 2022

One in every 2.3 deaths by suicide last year involved the elderly, charity says. Executive director of Suicide Prevention Services warns problem could get worse.

One in every 2.3 deaths by suicide in Hong Kong last year involved the elderly and a suicide prevention group put part of the blame for the statistic on the long-running coronavirus pandemic. Hong Kong recorded 1,010 deaths by suicide last year, eight down on the 1,018 recorded in 2020, but an increase of 10 per cent on the 916 logged in 2017. The statistics showed 446 suicides involved people aged 60 or above, 44 per cent of the total deaths.

  

Hong Kong applications for pathway to UK citizenship fall by almost 8 per cent in second quarter, British figures reveal.

 By Web desk 26th Aug 2022

Immigration specialists say Covid-19 restrictions and demand for education in the UK continue to fuel demand. But fears over MPF pension transfers may have helped cut demand for scheme in second quarter of the year.

The number of Hongkongers who have applied for a new route to British citizenship dropped by almost 8 per cent in the second quarter compared with the first three months of the year, but immigration specialists said the city’s coronavirus restrictions continued to fuel interest in moving to the UK. British government figures released on Thursday showed there were 18,100 applications for the British National (Overseas) visa programme between April and June, down by 1,400 from the 19,500 recorded between January and March. Almost all of the applications – 96 per cent – were filed from outside Britain and the remainder were made from inside the United Kingdom.

  

Judges shut down bid for same-sex marriage.

 By Web desk 25th Aug 2022

Pan-democratic and LGBT rights activist Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit's legal bid to make Hong Kong recognize same-sex marriages registered overseas has been rejected by the Court of Appeal once again. The court said the recognition of same-sex marriage is clearly contrary to the intention of the drafters of the Basic Law, stressing that legal marriage in Hong Kong is restricted to heterosexual couples only. Sham married his husband in New York in 2013 but his marriage is not recognized in Hong Kong. He filed a judicial review in 2018 against the government's decision as he believes same-sex couples should enjoy the same rights as heterosexual couples but it was dismissed in 2020. He filed an appeal but that was also rejected by three Court of Appeal judges - Jeremy Poon Shiu-chor, Susan Kwan Shuk-hing and Carlye Chu Fun-ling. In a written judgment yesterday, the judges said current law does not mandate the authorities to take positive steps in offering equal treatment to same-sex couples, adding marriages involve complicated issues and laws governing the recognition of marriage cannot be easily changed. Same-sex marriage was only recognized legally for the first time in the world when the Netherlands provided for it in 2001, the judges said. Self-evidently, the drafters of the Basic Law must have only used the term 'marriage' in the traditional sense of it being a union between a heterosexual couple. Any suggestion otherwise is divorced from reality. The judges said the Basic Law recognizes marriages in Hong Kong of couples married both locally and overseas, but only heterosexual couples are entitled to recognition of their foreign marriage. If the same recognition is afforded to same-sex couples married overseas, they would be able to circumvent the preference enshrined in (the Basic Law) clearly contrary to the intention of the drafters of the Basic Law, the judges said. That would also create an inherent incompatibility between them and those same-sex couples who wanted to marry in Hong Kong but could not. Sham did not attend the hearing yesterday as he was in custody awaiting the primary election case. That comes on the heels of Singapore's decision to decriminalize sex between men. But Singapore will still not allow same-sex marriages.

  

Relaxed rules on overseas delegates at some Hong Kong conventions welcomed by industry

By Web desk 24th Aug 2022

 Hong Kong government to allow overseas visitors to attend business to business trade shows in city during four-day medical surveillance period. Change in regulations welcomed, but convention industry figures appeal for all isolation restrictions to be axed.

The lucrative convention sector has welcomed the Hong Kong government’s decision to allow overseas delegates to attend city trade shows in the four days after Covid-19 hotel quarantine, but appealed for an end to isolation restrictions to further boost business. The industry earlier urged the government to lift travel restrictions and said the shortened quarantine made no difference to the sector as visitors could not attend events while under medical surveillance. Relaxing restrictions for business travellers in attending business to business events is an affirmative measure supporting the exhibition and convention industry to rebound, and a positive sign to resume the MICE, or meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions, market gradually, a spokeswoman for the city’s AsiaWorld-Expo said.

  

Can Hong Kong regain its status as a leading aviation hub? Analysts optimistic about city’s prospects despite Singapore’s Changi Airport forging ahead with planned expansion

 By Web desk 23rd Aug 2022

Changi Airport’s Terminal 5 expansion underlines Singapore’s commitment to capitalize on its leading aviation hub status in Asia. Experts point to Hong Kong’s own airport expansion project, which is scheduled for completion in 2024.

Analysts are optimistic about Hong Kong’s ability to regain its role as a major aviation hub once coronavirus restrictions are lifted despite Singapore’s Changi Airport forging ahead with a planned expansion, underlining its commitment to capitalize on its leading status in Asia. Experts pointed to the city’s own airport expansion project, which is scheduled for completion in 2024, while work on Changi’s Terminal 5, which will involve new features for handling future pandemics, will not be finished until the mid-2030s. Singapore’s Ministry of Transport on Sunday released details about the new design for the terminal, saying it would be able to operate as smaller sub-terminals with space which could be converted for Covid-19 testing or separating high-risk passengers.

 

Former Hong Kong opposition lawmaker Albert Ho granted bail while facing national security charge after serving jail time for illegal assembly.

 By Web desk 22nd Aug 2022

 Former vice-chairman of now-defunct Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China was jailed in May 2021 over previous offence. He was charged with inciting others to subvert state power while behind bars and has been held till now.

Former Hong Kong opposition lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan was on Monday released on bail while facing a national security charge laid against him when he was serving time behind bars for unlawful assembly. Ho, a former vice-chairman of the now-defunct Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, was jailed in May 2021 for 18 months over an illegal gathering in October 2019.

Hong Kong’s John Lee hints at raising daily quota of residents allowed to cross into mainland China.

By Web desk 21st Aug 2022

But Lee stresses at public talk on his upcoming policy address that any increase must be gradual. He also calls for more ideas on how city can attract talent, while community leaders question him on housing shortage, youth development and national education.

Hong Kong’s leader has raised the possibility of expanding the quota of residents allowed to cross into mainland China each day from the current 2,000, but stressed any increase must be gradual and in line with Beijing’s strategy to control the Covid-19 pandemic. Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu suggested boosting traffic across the border during a talk with more than 100 residents gathered at a government school on Saturday, one of dozens of sessions the leader had planned to gather feedback from residents as he prepares to deliver his maiden policy address on October 19. Lee sought their ideas on ways to attract talent to the city, a pressing concern as waves of emigration continue to erode the population and threaten the city’s status as a business hub, while community leaders pressed the leader over how he intended to approach the housing shortage, youth development and national education, among other priorities.

 

 A new Hong Kong story

Can battered city reclaim its image amid US-China tensions?

 By Web desk 20th Aug 2022

 City leader John Lee has made winning the narrative war a key task of his administration, but experts say it is more than just a publicity exercise. Changing perceptions of the city needs to be ‘a strategic conversation about the future image of mainland China and the future image of Hong Kong together’

Hong Kong’s reputation as a global city has taken multiple hits in recent years, from protests to a sweeping national security law and strict quarantine rules, but it wants to reclaim its image. Can it succeed against the odds? When the British press reported in June that UK ministers might have subjected their judges to political pressure over unfavourable rulings, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee got behind her keyboard. What better evidence of the decline of Britain than the moral decline of British politicians? The top adviser from the Hong Kong government’s Executive Council fired away on Twitter.

  

China jails the oligarch Xiao Jianhua for 13 years, slapping an unprecedented US$8 billion fine on his Tomorrow Group

 By Web desk 19th Aug 2022

Canadian-Chinese tycoon guilty of illegally collecting public deposits, using entrusted assets in breach of trust, illegal use of funds and bribery, a Shanghai court says. Sentencing concludes a clean-up of Xiao’s financial empire, which was part of Beijing’s efforts to control financial risks.

A court in China has sentenced Xiao Jianhua, the founder of Tomorrow Group, to 13 years in prison, and slapped a fine of 55 billion yuan (US$8.1 billion) on the group, bookending the dramatic breakup of China’s largest privately owned financial empire after a five-year investigation. The Canadian-Chinese tycoon – who disappeared from a luxury hotel in Hong Kong in 2017 – was found guilty of illegally collecting public deposits, using entrusted assets in breach of trust, illegally using funds and bribery, the Global Times reported on Friday, citing the Shanghai No 1 Intermediate People’s Court. Xiao was also personally fined 6.5 million yuan. The sentencing wrapped up the cleaning up of Xiao’s financial empire with 3 trillion yuan of assets, and is part of Beijing’s ramped up efforts to control financial risks in recent years.

No-jury national security trial for Jimmy Lai, dozens more.

 By Web desk 18th Aug 2022

Three national security judges will preside without a jury over cases involving Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, founder of defunct Apple Daily newspaper, and one concerning a primary election procedure involving dozens of pro-democracy figures.

The Department of Justice said the arrangement does not undermine any legitimate rights and interests of the defendants. A case management hearing of Lai's case has been scheduled for the High Court on Monday, with security judges Esther Toh Lye-ping, Susana Maria D'Almada Remedios and Alex Lee Wan-tang involved. The hearing will start at 2.30pm and is expected to last an hour. Lai along with three companies linked to Apple Daily - Apple Daily Ltd, Apple Daily Printing and AD Internet - face charges of colluding with foreign forces to endanger national security and to "print, publish, sell, offer for sale, distribute, display and/or reproduce seditious publications." Lai was sentenced earlier to 20 months behind bars for illegal assembly cases and is now in Stanley Prison. Meanwhile, 47 politicians and activists in the primary election case are charged with conspiracy to subvert state powers under the national security law by organizing or taking part in primaries in 2020. It is understood the Department of Justice made the no-jury decision because the case involves "foreign factors" - the first time the department has cited this reason for not having a jury. Under the national security law, the secretary for justice can issue a certificate directing that the case be tried without a jury on the grounds of the protection of state secrets, involvement of foreign factors and the protection of personal safety of jurors and their families. When there is no jury for a national security case it is heard in the Court of First Instance by a panel of three judges. According to a certificate signed by Secretary for Justice Paul Lam Ting-kwok on August 13, the case should be heard without a jury because of foreign factors, juror safety and a risk justice might be impaired. The Department of Justice said, "The purpose of the relevant provisions that stipulate the arrangement for a case to be tried by a panel of three judges is precisely to ensure a fair trial and the due administration of justice." The department said Lam will take into account the circumstances of each case when considering whether to issue a certificate for the hearing to proceed without a jury. Executive Council member and lawyer Ronny Tong Ka-wah said as jurors lack legal training it would be difficult for them to discard personal political preferences and handle politically sensitive cases on an absolute legal basis. But he has confidence in Hong Kong's judicial independence, adding that justice will be better served by not having a jury in a politically based case.

 

Late arrivals face airport nightmare

 By Web desk 17th Aug 2022

Travelers arriving at the Hong Kong airport at night and testing Covid-19 positive are forced to stay there overnight for up to 12 hours as health authorities have failed to arrange night shift buses to carry them to isolation facilities, a Facebook group claims. A chat on Monday said some arrivals have complained that they suffered cold and hunger at the Hong Kong International Airport's baggage claim area. They also had to share restrooms with other travelers who tested negative for Covid, despite health experts warning of the risk of outbreaks. A traveler wrote, Heads up for families or travelers with late night flights. If you test positive on the RAT test, you will need to sleep in the baggage claim area. No joke, choose an earlier flight if you have a choice at booking. The traveler arrived about 11pm on Saturday from Tokyo but his six-year-old daughter tested positive at the airport. Staff told the family to stay at the baggage claim hall where some cots were placed and one parent could stay with the child while the rest of the family was sent to the quarantine hotel they had booked. Although the traveler said he strongly disagreed with this approach, he said had no choice but to let his wife accompany their daughter at the airport. However, instead of getting my wife and daughter on a bus to one of the three government isolation facilities we were told that they were sorry but the doctors and drivers do not work at night but would return at a time not known to them in the morning he said. Kind of unbelievable and truly avoidable and in my opinion seriously unacceptable he said, adding it was ironic that Covid patients were required to stay in the same area with other travelers and share the restroom with them. The Department of Health said last night the government will increase the frequency of transportation for transferring positive cases to isolation facilities during the small hours to reduce waiting time due to the increasing number of arrivals. It claimed that patients waiting at the airport are required to stay at a designated zone at the baggage reclaim hall with a restroom. The wife of the disappointed traveler, who has been undergoing seven-day isolation with their daughter since Sunday morning at Novotel Hong Kong Citygate in Tung Chung - one of the three free community isolation facilities - said yesterday that nobody offered anything to them at the airport. I was told that they would give us food in the morning and that a doctor would come - the reason why we had to wait. And no doctor ever came and no food was offered to us, she said. She added around eight to 10 travelers were stranded at the airport all night on Saturday. She said her daughter was almost asymptomatic with just a mild cough but still tested positive. We didn't receive any help from doctors or nurses after we landed. No one has even contacted us to see our progress with Covid. It's strange, in my opinion, she said. Another female traveler shared a similar experience when her 12-year-old daughter tested positive at the airport on Sunday night and they were trapped there from 10pm to 10am the following day. They just left us in the baggage claim area with no food, no blanket, no phone charging facilities also. The only thing the staff on duty said was, 'No, cannot and I don't know', the mother said. Once you are positive you will be taken to the baggage claim area and will be thrown there, she said. The worst is once you are positive, no one will come to check your temperature or even offer you any help. More than 24,000 travelers arrived at the airport from Friday to Monday after the hotel quarantine period was cut to three nights, from seven. The daily number of arrivals reached 7,428 on Sunday - the highest in months. Respiratory expert Leung Chi-chiu said yesterday that about two percent of inbound travelers would test positive and it was not an ideal arrangement to require Covid patients to stay at the airport overnight as they may pass the virus to other travelers and trigger clusters. It's possible that travelers who were not infected may catch the virus from them. As they only need to undergo a three-day quarantine at the hotels, the virus carried by them may not be detected and will enter the community, he said. Leung said that most imported cases now carry the highly contagious Omicron BA.5 sub variant and the arrangement for Covid patients at the airport may speed up the spread of BA.5 in the community. He said the government should arrange night shift shuttle buses for those testing positive at the airport or put them in a specific resting room. Since the Hong Kong government allows night flights to land in the city, they should set up related supporting facilities. That's what an international airport should do, he said.

  

Beijing sanctions 7 Taiwanese officials, bans them from visiting or doing business with mainland China.

 By Web desk 16th Aug 2022

Mainland’s Taiwan Affairs Office accuses seven, including six DPP members, of being pro-independence provocateurs. Sanctions announced following trips to the island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a US Congress delegation led by Democratic Senator Ed Markey.

Beijing has announced sanctions against seven Taiwanese government officials and politicians, saying they pushed a pro-independence agenda for the self-ruled island. The Taiwan Affairs Office of the Communist Party said on Tuesday those sanctioned and their family members would not be allowed to enter mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau. And organisations they were affiliated with could not cooperate with mainland organisations or individuals.

  

Why Afghanistan’s terrorism problem is bad for China – and Pakistan too.

By Web desk 15th Aug 2022

After al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahri’s killing, analysts warn instability under the Taliban could again turn Afghanistan into a terrorists’ haven. The group’s anti-Pakistan affiliate is also gathering in strength, threatening Chinese interests in a region filled with belt and road projects.

It’s not even been a full year since the chaotic US-led withdrawal from Afghanistan and already American drones are back in the war-torn country’s skies, hunting terrorists the Taliban had vowed never to allow back on Afghan soil again. Since a strike on a house in Kabul early in the morning of July 31 killed al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahri, US drones have been spotted circling over Afghanistan’s eastern provinces, seeking out more militant leaders from across the jihadist spectrum. Their presumed targets paint a murky picture, seemingly ranging from members of groups allied to the Taliban – al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – to its sworn enemies Isis-K, the so-called Islamic State’s regional affiliate.

  

Hong Kong gets its first hydrogen-powered bus but, oops, it can’t hit the road yet.

 By Web desk 14th Aug 2022

 Plans to test hydrogen vehicles stall as city has no law on its production, storage, refuelling. Bus operators, green experts ask authorities to move faster, as hydrogen is still a ‘dangerous good’

Almost two months after Citybus showed off Hong Kong’s first hydrogen-powered double-decker, the vehicle has yet to leave the company’s depot. The customized bus, designed and built in Fujian province for Hong Kong’s hilly terrain, is stranded because hydrogen is still considered a dangerous substance and it remains illegal to drive a hydrogen-powered vehicle. Under current laws we cannot put the bus into service, said Kenny So Kwok-kin, a general manager at Bravo Transport parent company of Citybus Hong Kong’s second largest bus company. The government needs to bring forward regulations vigorously so that we can test it or adopt it on a large scale. Public transport operators and energy experts have warned that Hong Kong’s regulations are not keeping up with green tech development despite the authorities pledging for years to improve sustainability in mass transit systems. KMB Hong Kong’s biggest bus operator also said it was considering hydrogen-powered vehicles for its green fleet and had discussed it with manufacturers, suppliers and government agencies. Hong Kong’s bus operators are looking at ways to build more eco-friendly fleets with a combination of electric and hydrogen vehicles. Calls to develop hydrogen power began four years ago, when former environment chief Wong Kam-sing visited a hydrogen fuel cell manufacturer and a filling station in Japan. Last year city authorities, listed green transport in the climate action plan that aims to attain zero vehicular emissions before 2050.

  

Novelist Salman Rushdie on ventilator after New York stabbing. 

By Web desk 13th Aug 2022

Salman Rushdie, the Indian-born novelist who spent years in hiding after Iran urged Muslims to kill him because of his writing was stabbed in the neck and torso onstage at a lecture in New York state on Friday and airlifted to a hospital police said. After hours of surgery Rushdie was on a ventilator and unable to speak on Friday evening after an attack. The news is not good Andrew Wylie his book agent wrote in an email. Salman will likely lose one eye the nerves in his arm were severed and his liver was stabbed and damaged. Rushdie 75, was being introduced to give a talk to an audience of hundreds on artistic freedom at western New York's Chautauqua Institution when a man rushed to the stage and lunged at the novelist who has lived with a bounty on his head since the late 1980s. Stunned attendees helped wrest the man from Rushdie who had fallen to the floor. A New York State Police trooper providing security at the event arrested the attacker. Police identified the suspect as Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old man from Fairview, New Jersey, who bought a pass to the event. A man jumped up on the stage from I don't know where and started what looked like beating him on the chest, repeated fist strokes into his chest and neck, said Bradley Fisher, who was in the audience. People were screaming and crying out and gasping. A doctor in the audience helped tend to Rushdie while emergency services arrived police said. Henry Reese the event's moderator suffered a minor head injury. Police said they were working with federal investigators to determine a motive. They did not describe the weapon used. White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan described the incident as appalling. We are thankful to good citizens and first responders for helping him so swiftly he wrote on Twitter. Rushdie who was born into a Muslim Kashmiri family in Bombay now Mumbai, before moving to the United Kingdom, has long faced death threats for his fourth novel The Satanic Verses. Some Muslims said the book contained blasphemous passages. It was banned in many countries with large Muslim populations upon its 1988 publication. A few months later Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then Iran's supreme leader, pronounced a fatwa, or religious edict, calling upon Muslims to kill the novelist and anyone involved in the book's publication for blasphemy. Rushdie, who called his novel pretty mild, went into hiding for nearly a decade. Hitoshi Igarashi, the Japanese translator of the novel, was murdered in 1991. The Iranian government said in 1998 it would no longer back the fatwa and Rushdie has lived relatively openly in recent years. Iranian organizations, some affiliated with the government, have raised a bounty worth millions of dollars for Rushdie's murder. And Khomeini's successor as supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said as recently as 2019 that the fatwa was "irrevocable." Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency and other news outlets donated money in 2016 to increase the bounty by US$600,000. Fars called Rushdie an apostate who "insulted the prophet" in its report on Friday's attack. Rushdie published a memoir in 2012 about his cloistered, secretive life under the fatwa called "Joseph Anton," the pseudonym he used while in British police protection. His second novel, "Midnight's Children," won the Booker Prize. His new novel "Victory City" is due to be published in February. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was appalled that Rushdie was stabbed while exercising a right we should never cease to defend. Rushdie was at the institution in western New York for a discussion about the United States giving asylum to artists in exile and as a home for freedom of creative expression, according to the institution's website. There were no obvious security checks at the Chautauqua Institution, a landmark founded in the 19th century in the small lakeside town of the same name staff simply checked people's passes for admission, attendees said. I felt like we needed to have more protection there because Salman Rushdie is not a usual writer, said Anour Rahmani an Algerian writer and human rights activist who was in the audience. He is a writer with a fatwa against him. Michael Hill, the institution's president said at a news conference they had a practice of working with state and local police to provide event security. He vowed the summer's program would soon continue. Our whole purpose is to help people bridge what has been too divisive of a world Hill said. The worst thing Chautauqua could do is back away from its mission in light of this tragedy and I don't think Mr. Rushdie would want that either. Rushdie became a U.S. citizen in 2016 and lives in New York City. A self-described lapsed Muslim and hard-line atheist, he has been a fierce critic of religion across the spectrum and outspoken about oppression in his native India, including under the Hindu-nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PEN America an advocacy group for freedom of expression of which Rushdie is a former president, said it was reeling from shock and horror at what it called an unprecedented attack on a writer in the United States. Salman Rushdie has been targeted for his words for decades but has never flinched nor faltered, Suzanne Nossel, PEN's chief executive said in the statement. Earlier in the morning, Rushdie had emailed her to help with relocating Ukrainian writers seeking refuge, she said. 

 

Taiwan drills

PLA sends in extra troops to back up Eastern Theatre Command

 By Web desk 12th Aug 2022

PLA brings in air force personnel and anti-submarine aircraft from neighbouring theatre commands for military exercises. Troops expected to be rotated through to work with Eastern Theatre Command for Taiwan contingency, analyst says.

PLA air force personnel from around the country were deployed to support drills led by the Eastern Theatre Command against Taiwan, with more troops expected to be deployed for regular joint combat training, according to observers. In anti-submarine and sea assault drills on Monday, several anti-submarine aircraft from the Southern Theatre Command in Guangdong province were deployed to the target waters. State broadcaster CCTV released footage showing Russian-made Ka-28 anti-sub helicopters taking part in the air and naval joint operation.

 

Airfares soar in price and flight inquiries hit highs not seen since start of pandemic after Hong Kong quarantine rules ease.

 By Web desk 11th Aug 2022

Would-be travellers struggle with expensive flights and lack of availability as quarantine period cut in Hong Kong. Travel experts say demand heavy, flights full as full quarantine cut from seven days to three.

Airfares have hit sky-high levels as the number of online searches in Hong Kong looking for flights to popular destinations such as Bangkok and Osaka jumped tenfold as pandemic regulations in the city ease. Denvy Lo, 41, head of talent acquisition at a city firm, said she struggled to find affordable flights after the Hong Kong government on Monday made travel more attractive with a cut in the hotel quarantine time for inbound travellers from seven days to three, plus four days “home medical surveillance” with limited freedom of movement. Lo, who hit her computer just after the quarantine period was cut, said she hoped to use up her air miles on a trip to Japan or London before the end of the year. But she explained that flights that allowed air miles redemption were fully booked and others were “ridiculously expensive”. “It costs HK$12,000 [US$1,529] to Narita Airport in Tokyo. Zero flights to London. It’s too ridiculous. I’ll look into other destinations or fly on a different airline,” Lo said. She highlighted that, in the past, she used to pay an average of HK$3,000 to HK$4,000 for a trip to Tokyo. Jebsen Travel, a long-established city travel agency, said the cheapest Cathay Pacific economy class round trip ticket from Hong Kong to London was HK$17,000 in August, 41 per cent higher than the minimum of HK$12,000 in June and July. The maximum cost of a round trip economy ticket to the British capital on the airline was HK$41,000 in June and July. Checks by the Post on Wednesday evening found economy class return tickets from Hong Kong to London on Cathay for next Tuesday, Thursday or Friday could cost as much as HK$35,000.

  

Easing quarantine measures won’t increase transmission risks, Hong Kong health minister says, as city logs 4,045 cases

By Web desk 10th Aug 2022

New quarantine arrangement, comprising three days in a hotel and four days at home, will be implemented from Friday. Microbiologist suggests replacing current system with seven days at home under medical surveillance

Hong Kong’s health minister has dismissed fears that the easing of quarantine measures for overseas arrivals will increase Covid-19 transmission risks in the community, but declined to lay down a time frame for the city to fully reopen for travellers. A day after the government announced it was cutting the hotel quarantine period from seven to three days, Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau on Tuesday said officials needed to assess the local epidemic situation and look into relevant data before completely scrapping the arrangement and allowing a week of home medical surveillance instead, as suggested by a leading microbiologist. We have yet to fully control the local situation and the figures are still maintained at the 4,000 mark. There is also a threat of new Covid-19 variants, he said. I believe that we cannot give such promises to scrap hotel quarantine at this moment. Hong Kong reported 4,045 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, 262 of which were imported, and three more deaths. The overall tally stands at 1,393,327 cases and 9,550 related fatalities.

Hong Kong is easing its hotel quarantine rules for overseas arrivals: here’s what you need to know

Quarantine period in lockdown hotel to be cut as Hong Kong relaxes anti-coronavirus measures from Friday. People to stay in hotel quarantine for three days instead of seven, but restricted movement for four more days if tests are clear

Hong Kong is to cut its coronavirus quarantine period for arrivals from overseas from Friday, down from seven days in lockdown in a quarantine hotel. People will instead be allowed to stay at quarantine hotels for three days and spend the remaining four at home or in other hotels, with limited freedom of movement, which will be enforced through a new health code system. Here’s what you need to know.

What is the rationale behind the ‘3+4’ measure?

Health secretary Lo Chung-mau on Monday said the decision was made after analysing scientific information, which showed most coronavirus cases could be identified in the first three days of hotel quarantine. PCR tests carried out two days after travellers entered hotel quarantine pushed the percentage of detections up to 80 per cent. For every 1,000 arrivals, only 4 per cent – 40 people – were found to be infected. A total of 20 were detected at the airport and 12 more were uncovered at quarantine hotels after two days. Only eight cases, less than 1 per cent, were detected on the third day or after.

 

 Travelers get early release as quarantine cut short

 By Web desk 9th Aug 2022

Travelers who arrived in Hong Kong last week and have completed at least three days of hotel quarantine can be released on Tuesday at the earliest. Despite the new three-day hotel quarantine arrangement coming into effect on Friday, the government said those who have already undergone three days of isolation can be released even earlier.  

For arrivals who have completed at least three days of hotel quarantine, meaning those who arrived in the SAR between August 3 and August 8, the government will arrange for them to leave the hotels between August 9 and August 12 after confirming their negative PCR testing results, the government said yesterday.  

The announcement yesterday also noted that arrivals who have booked their quarantine hotels need not make any booking changes as hotels will automatically refund their payments from the fourth to seventh days. Teddy Chung Wai-tong, chairman of one of the city’s quarantine hotels, said they have received thousands of inquiries about the refund process. Chung said those who booked their stay with credit cards may take a few weeks to receive a refund. He also said the hotel has received several requests from employers of incoming domestic helpers, hoping to allow their helpers to stay at the hotel to finish their four-day medical surveillance. Under the new measures, those who finished their three-day quarantine must leave the quarantine hotels for those who wish to complete their four-day medical surveillance at the hotel might have to book another hotel to accommodate their stay he added. Meanwhile, the executive director of the Hong Kong Tourism Association, Timothy Chui Ting-pong, said quarantine hotels have to handle more than 10,000 refunds and have to contact credit card companies for the refund arrangement. He appealed to customers to wait patiently for the refund, which is expected to take days. Even though the supply of quarantine hotel rooms in Hong Kong has doubled with the quarantine cut, Chui said the latest tweak may not attract foreign travelers as they were not allowed to visit restaurants during their four-day medical surveillance.

  

Hotel quarantine for HK arrivals reduced to three days

 By Web desk 8th Aug 2022

Chief executive John Lee Ka-chiu said on Monday that Hong Kong’s hotel quarantine for inbound travelers will be reduced from seven days to three days, with the change to take effect from Friday (Aug 12). Speaking to reporters at a press preference this morning, the Hong Kong leader announced the quarantine period for inbound travelers will be shortened to three days, plus four days of medical surveillance at home. The four days of health monitoring carry relatively loose rules, with travelers only unable to visit high-risk places like restaurants and bars. They can still leave their homes with their masks up at all times. Those undergoing medical surveillance will be allowed to take public transport to work, enter shopping malls, department stalls, and wet markets, under the premise they tested negative with the rapid antigen test each day. Authorities’ latest tweak to the quarantine rules also came with a tiered health-code system, with those people given a "yellow code" on their LeaveHomeSafe app to enforce the restrictions. Arrivals will have to take repeated PCR tests during this period and their health code will change to red if they have Covid-19, meaning they must self-isolate. If they remain negative for Covid after the entire period, the color of their health code will be changed to blue and they will be free to visit all venues again if they have the vaccine pass. Lee stressed that the shortening of the hotel quarantine period doesn't mean Hong Kong is giving up on controlling the epidemic. The government is striking a balance between controlling infection risks, allowing more economic activities and maintaining Hong Kong's competitiveness, he added.

HK$5k consumption voucher under Phase II disbursed today

 By Web desk 7 Aug 2022

The first installment of consumption voucher under Phase II has been disbursed to about 6.36 million people on Sunday. Depending on the categories of the eligible persons and whether they have received voucher under Phase I, the voucher value will be either HK$2,000 or HK$3,000. They will receive the SMS notifications or mobile app push notifications on the disbursement today. For people who have chosen to collect the voucher via AlipayHK, BoC Pay, PayMe from HSBC, Tap & Go or WeChat Pay HK, the voucher has been directly injected into their specified account, which will be separated from the existing e-wallet in the account. When making payment, people have to choose to pay with the voucher directly. For people who have chosen Octopus, they may collect the voucher by tapping the card through Octopus app or at the Subsidy Collection Points of the Public Transport Fare Subsidy Scheme at MTR stations, Light Rail Customer Service Centres, designated piers and public transport interchanges; designated convenience stores and supermarkets. The voucher will be combined with the existing value stored in the Octopus card. People can make payment using the Octopus card as usual. The government spokesman reminded people who collect the voucher via Octopus card at supermarkets or convenience stores that there is no need for them to make purchase. They just need to inform the shop assistant that they want to collect the voucher before tapping the card. The public may browse the apps and websites or call the following hotlines of the relevant stored value facility operators to enquire about how to use the vouchers, the value of the vouchers disbursed, unspent/available balance and expiry dates, etc.

 AlipayHK: 2245 3201

BoC Pay: 3988 1822
Octopus: 2969 5588
Payme from HSBC: 2996 7288
Tap & Go: 2888 0000
WeChat Pay HK: 3929 1666

 The public may visit the Consumption Voucher Scheme website or call the hotline 18 5000 for enquiries.

 

PLA turns train into mobile hospital, drones spotted over Quemoy in Taiwan war games

By Web desk 6th Aug 2022

Vehicle can handle more than 100 patients, mainland news outlet reports. In all, 49 flights from the mainland crossed the median line in the Taiwan Strait on Friday, Taiwanese military says.

The People’s Liberation Army staged medical drills on a high-speed train transformed into a mobile hospital on Friday, suggesting the military was preparing for the possibility of casualties. Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily said the train was equipped with a surgical theatre and an intensive care unit, and could accommodate more than 100 patients. The PLA launched unprecedented war games on Thursday near Taiwan in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island. They are expected to continue until noon on Sunday.

  

Quarantine reduction could be announced as soon as Monday

By Web desk 6th Aug 2022 

Hong Kong may announce a reduction in the amount of time international travelers need to spend in mandatory hotel quarantine as soon as Monday, according to people familiar with the matter, with discussions over the scale of the change still ongoing. While officials had anticipated making an announcement on Friday, it has been pushed back to Monday at the earliest since no firm decision has yet been made on the parameters of the cut, according to one person, who asked not to be identified discussing internal deliberations. A representative for the Department of Health said questions about the quarantine policy should be sent to the chief executive’s office, which didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. Hong Kong currently requires everyone arriving in the city to test negative for Covid within 48 hours of departure and on arrival, and then spend a week isolated in a hotel to ensure an infection wasn’t missed during the incubation period. The rules have put a stranglehold on visitors to the once booming Asian financial hub and made international travel difficult for those who live in the city. A briefing for Chief Executive John Lee’s advisers in the Executive Council was called off on Friday morning. A meeting with the hotels that provide quarantine services was also canceled, the paper said. One person said top officials are “still discussing” the best way forward, after conducting a scientific review of Hong Kong’s Covid figures to see which option is best. Officials have discussed cutting the hotel quarantine from seven days to three, four, or five, the person said. Travelers are expected to be told to remain largely at home, or to avoid high-risk venues, for an additional period of time that is expected to add up to the full week. More people are being diagnosed with Covid on the third day in hotel quarantine than on the fifth day since the rules changed to add the earlier testing time, according to another person familiar with the discussions. 

Beijing’s war games in Taiwan after Pelosi’s trip spark concerns in South China Sea

By Web desk 5th Aug 2022

Analysts say Pelosi’s Taipei visit was not just ‘unhelpful’ to Southeast Asia but could lead to increased aggression beyond the Taiwan Strait. The spectre of a US-China conflict over Taiwan could lead the region to be wary of holding joint drills, and cause ‘divisions’ within Asean, the observers say.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was counterproductive to Southeast Asia’s interests, analysts said, as it not only “unnecessarily” sharpened the rivalry between Washington and Beijing but also raised fears that increased Chinese aggression in the Taiwan Strait could spill over to the South China Sea. Despite warnings by China that the United States would “pay the price” should Pelosi travel to Taipei, she pressed ahead with her plans on Tuesday night. Beijing considers the self-ruled island a renegade province to be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary. China launched live-fire drills after the US congresswoman’s trip, and sent more than a 100 warplanes flying near Taiwan in an unprecedented war game deemed a de facto blockade of the island.

 

Coronavirus

Hong Kong to relax hotel quarantine rule and introduce QR codes restricting access ‘next week at earliest’

 By Web desk 4th Aug 2022

Source who attended high-level meeting with city leader John Lee says government set to announce decision on Friday. Lee was told data shows 80-90 per cent of infected arrivals test positive on fourth or fifth night of quarantine.

Hong Kong is expected to relax quarantine rules for travellers next week at the earliest after the city’s leader was told in a meeting that more than 80 per cent of arrivals infected with Covid-19 tested positive on the fourth or fifth night of their week in isolation. But Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu had yet to decide whether the city should replace its hotel quarantine rule with a 4+3 or 5+2 plan, referring to varying number of days the isolation period could be served at home, said a government source who attended the meeting on Wednesday. A final decision was likely to be announced on Friday and the relevant changes implemented next week, the insider said, adding it would take time to coordinate the changes with hotel staff and airport authorities.

 

Flight tracker indicates Taipei as the destination for Pelosi's flight

By Web desk 3rd Aug 2022

The military aircraft likely carrying the delegation led by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was spotted bypassing the South China Sea and flew close to Taiwan, where China is reportedly ratcheting up military activity ahead of her potential visit to Taiwan. The plane likely carrying Pelosi left from a Malaysian air force base at 3.42 pm (0742 GMT) on Tuesday after a brief stopover that included a lunch meeting with Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob. The plane flew east towards Borneo on a route that skirted the South China Sea. It was unclear where she was headed from Malaysia. Local media in Taiwan reported that Pelosi is expected to land at Taipei Songshan Airport in the country's capital city around 10.30pm. Pelosi would become the highest-ranking elected US official to visit the island in more than 25 years if she makes the trip. The global flight tracking service, Flightradar24, on Tuesday once recorded up to 300,000 visitors on the page that tracks SPAR19 at the same time, in order to know the whereabouts of Pelosi's plane. The map also indicates Taipei Songshan Airport (TSA) as destination for the aircraft. The estimated time of arrival will be 22.43pm Taiwan time. The plane was seen avoid flying over the South China Sea, which involves conflicting islands and maritime claims in the region by several sovereign states, including China, which is reportedly ratcheting up military activity before the mooted visit.Chinese military units across the Southern Theater Command have entered a status of high alert, according to military officials in two neighboring countries as both Taiwan and the U.S. brace themselves for a potential violent reaction from Beijing, which has warned it would “not sit by idly” if Pelosi were to visit Taiwan. Hu Xijin, former editor in chief of China's state-run newspaper Global Times and a widely followed media personality, said a military counterattack need not necessarily refer to war, and could instead come in the form of an unprecedented show of military pressure. The United Daily News, Liberty Times and China Times — Taiwan’s three largest national newspapers — cited unidentified sources as saying she would spend the night in Taiwan. Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

 

UN chief Antonio Guterres warns world is one step away from ‘nuclear annihilation’

 By Web desk 2nd Aug 2022

Guterres gave the warning to ministers, officials and diplomats attending a conference in New York to review the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Guterres cited the war in Ukraine and the threat of nuclear weapons to conflicts in the Middle East and Asia, two regions ‘edging towards catastrophe’

 The United Nations chief warned the world on Monday that “humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation”. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres gave the dire warning at the opening of the long-delayed high-level meeting to review the landmark 50-year-old treaty aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and eventually achieving a nuclear-free world. He cited especially the war in Ukraine and the threat of nuclear weapons to conflicts in the Middle East and Asia, two regions “edging towards catastrophe”.

  

Pelosi to arrive in Taiwan on Tuesday 

By Web desk 2nd Aug 2022

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi was expected to arrive in Taipei later on Tuesday, people briefed on the matter said as the United States said it would not be intimidated by Chinese saber rattling over the visit. One person familiar with Pelosi's itinerary said that most of her planned meetings including with President Tsai Ing-wen, were scheduled for Wednesday and that it was possible that her delegation would arrive in Taiwan early on Wednesday. Everything is uncertain the person said. Taiwan newspaper Liberty Times said Pelosi's delegation was due to arrive at 10:20 p.m. (1420 GMT) on Tuesday without naming sources. Pelosi was scheduled to visit Malaysia on Tuesday. She began her Asia tour in Singapore on Monday, and her office has said she will also visit South Korea and Japan. It has not mentioned a Taiwan visit. Taiwan's foreign ministry said it had no comment on reports of Pelosi's travel plans, but the White House - which would not confirm the trip - said she had the right to go. China has repeatedly warned against a Pelosi visit. Beijing's responses could include firing missiles near Taiwan large-scale air or naval activities or further spurious legal claims such as China's assertion that the Taiwan Strait is not an international waterway White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters in Washington on Monday. We will not take the bait or engage in saber rattling. At the same time, we will not be intimidated, Kirby said. The Taiwan dollar slipped to its lowest levels in more than two years on the weaker side of 30 per U.S. dollar and investor worries about a potential Pelosi visit and China's reaction appeared to be behind Tuesday's declines in China's yuan and north Asian stock markets. One source told that the United States had informed some allies about Pelosi's visit to Taiwan. Two other sources said Pelosi was scheduled to meet a small group of activists who are outspoken about China's human rights record during her stay in Taiwan possibly on Wednesday. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Monday that it would be a gross interference in China's internal affairs if Pelosi visits Taiwan and warned that it would lead to "very serious developments and consequences." We would like to tell the United States once again that China is standing by, the Chinese People's Liberation Army will never sit idly by, and China will take resolute responses and strong countermeasures to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, Zhao told a regular daily briefing. Asked what kind of measures the PLA might take, Zhao said: "if she dares to go, then let us wait and see. China views visits by U.S. officials to Taiwan, a self-ruled island claimed by Beijing, as sending an encouraging signal to the pro-independence camp in the island. Washington does not have official diplomatic ties with Taiwan but is bound by U.S. law to provide the island with the means to defend itself. A visit by Pelosi, who is second in the line of succession to the U.S. presidency and a long-time critic of China, would come amid worsening ties between Washington and Beijing. A video by the People's Liberation Army's Eastern Theater Command, which showed scenes of military exercises and preparations and was posted on state media sites on Monday evening, urged troops to "stand by in battle formation, be ready to fight upon command, bury all incoming enemies." The White House has dismissed China's rhetoric as groundless and inappropriate. Kirby said that nothing about Pelosi's possible trip changed U.S. policy toward Taiwan, and that Beijing was well aware the division of powers within the U.S. government meant Pelosi would make her own decisions about the visit. The speaker has the right to visit Taiwan, he told the White House briefing. During a phone call last Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned U.S. President Joe Biden that Washington should abide by the one-China principle and those who play with fire will perish by it. Biden told Xi that U.S. policy on Taiwan had not changed and that Washington strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. Beijing considers Taiwan to be part of its territory and has never renounced using force to bring the island under its control. Taiwan rejects China's sovereignty claims and says only its people can decide the island's future. Last Wednesday, Biden told reporters he thought the U.S. military believed a Pelosi visit to Taiwan was not a good idea right now. 

 

 Next $5,000 ready from August 7

By Web desk 1st Aug 2022

Authorities have sent phone messages to citizens eligible for their second HK$5000 consumption voucher installment, which will be ready for collection from August 7. Those opting for the five stored-value platforms - Tap & Go, AliPay HK, WeChat Pay, PayMe by HSBC and BoC Pay - will receive HK$2,000 on August 7 and the remaining HK$3,000 from October 1. Octopus users will get their HK$5,000 in three phases: HK$2,000 on August 7, another HK$2,000 on October 1 and the remaining HK$1,000 on the 16th of the month after the HK$4,000 has all been spent. Citizens who have not received the SMS will not receive the voucher on August 7, including 100,000 Hongkongers who have been disqualified from the second installment as they intend to permanently move out of the SAR or have already done so. Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said that the disqualification will save the public reserve HK$600 million.

 

Hong Kong Government May Announce Reduced Quarantine Measures , New Health Code Next Week. 

By Web desk 31st July 2022

Hong Kong’s current seven-day hotel quarantine requirement may be reduced to five days or less, and the two-colour health code may be introduced early next week. The Hong Kong government will reportedly announce a shortened hotel quarantine requirement for international arrivals as earlyas next week. The new two-colour health code is also set to be launched when the new quarantine measures come into effect. At present overseas travellers must stay at a designated quarantine hotel (DQH) for a minimum of seven days after they arrive in Hong Kong. Secretary for Health Lo Chung-Mau confirmed that authorities are reportedly considering changing this to a week-long split-quarantine arrangement by which international arrivals will spend a minimum of five days of their isolation period at a DQH and the remaining days at home. The health code will be combined with the vaccine pass system on the Leave Home Safe app. It will be issued to two categories of people in Hong Kong the first being international arrivalsundergoing home quarantine. They will get a yellow code that will prevent them from entering “high-risk areas”, such as restaurants and bars. In addition, people who have contracted Covid-19 within the city and are approved for home isolation will get a red code, in addition to the electronic tracking wristband they must currently wear to prevent them from leaving their homes during this period. This development comes after the Secretary for Health’s recent comments about the possibility of quarantine-free travel for international arrivals into Hong Kong by November 2022, and the recent suspension of the five-day flight ban on airlines that brought a certain number of Covid-positive passengers into the city. However, there have been no changes to the city’s current social distancing rules, which include various restrictions on dining and nightlife establishments, such as seating and capacity limits, ban on live performances and dancing, and regulations regarding opening hours. Hong Kong is also mulling turning some of the city’s temporary Covid-19 hospitals into isolation facilities for travellers to undergo quarantine before they enter the Mainland. The move is being considered because of the shortage of quarantine hotels on the other side of the border.

 

Chinese booster rocket makes uncontrolled return to Earth

 By Web desk 31st July 2022

A Chinese booster rocket made an uncontrolled return to Earth on Saturday, leading US officials to chide Beijing for not sharing information about the potentially hazardous object's descent. US Space Command can confirm the People's Republic of China (PRC) Long March 5B (CZ-5B) re-entered over the Indian Ocean at approx 10:45 am MDT on 7/30, the US military unit said on Twitter. We refer you to the #PRC for further details on the reentry's technical aspects such as potential debris dispersal+ impact location, it said. In a statement posted to its official WeChat profile, the China Manned Space Agency later gave coordinates for an impact area in the Sulu Sea, about 35 miles (57 kilometers) off the east coast of the Philippines' Palawan Island. Most of its devices were ablated and destroyed during re-entry, the agency said of the booster rocket which was used last Sunday to launch the second of three modules China needed to complete its new Tiangong space station. Malaysia's space agency said it detected rocket debris burning up on re-entry before falling in the Sulu Sea northeast of the island of Borneo. The debris of the rocket caught fire while entering the Earth's airspace and the movement of the burning debris also crossed Malaysian airspace and could be detected in several areas including crossing the airspace around the state of Sarawak. NASA administrator Bill Nelson criticized Beijing on Twitter saying the failure to share details of the rocket's descent was irresponsible and risky. All spacefaring nations should follow established best practices and do their part to share this type of information in advance, Nelson wrote, to allow reliable predictions of potential debris impact risk especially for heavy-lift vehicles, like the Long March 5B, which carry a significant risk of loss of life and property. He added. Doing so is critical to the responsible use of space and to ensure the safety of people here on Earth. The Tiangong space station is one of the crown jewels of Beijing's ambitious space program which has landed robotic rovers on Mars and the Moon, and made China only the third nation to put humans in orbit. The new module, propelled by the Long March 5B, successfully docked with Tiangong's core module on Monday and the three astronauts who had been living in the main compartment since June successfully entered the new lab. When China launched its first Tiangong module in April 2021, there was a similar frenzy around the possibility of damage caused by an unpredictable booster reentry. Objects generate immense amounts of heat and friction when they enter the atmosphere, which can cause them to burn up and disintegrate. But larger ones such as the Long March-5B may not be destroyed entirely. In 2020, debris from another Chinese rocket fell on villages in the Ivory Coast, causing structural damage but no injuries or deaths. China has poured billions of dollars into space flight and exploration as it seeks to build a program that reflects its stature as a rising global power.

  

Hong Kong publisher launches first English volume in chronicle of city’s 7,000-year history.

 By Web desk 30th July 2022

Title launch is part of project by think tank Our Hong Kong Foundation to produce Chinese and English accounts of various topics over city’s 7,000-year history. Chief Executive John Lee praises former leader Tung Chee-hwa for spearheading project, says English volume is opportunity to tell ‘success story of Hong Kong’.

The first English volume in an extensive chronicle covering Hong Kong’s 7,000-year history was launched on Wednesday, with the publisher planning to make its digital database available to 20,000 international organisations. The Hong Kong Chronicles, a project by think tank Our Hong Kong Foundation, a body founded by former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, aims to produce both Chinese and English accounts covering various topics over the course of the city’s history. The first Chinese volume of the series was first published in December 2020 by the Hong Kong Chronicles Institute.

 

Don't 'play with fire' over Taiwan, China's Xi warns in call with Biden

 By Web desk 29th July 2022 

Chinese leader Xi Jinping warned against playing with fire over Taiwan in a call with U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday, highlighting Beijing's concerns about a possible visit to the Chinese-claimed island by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Those who play with fire will perish by it, China's foreign ministry quoted Xi as telling Biden in their fifth call as leaders. It is hoped that the U.S. will be clear-eyed about this. Xi said Washington should abide by the one-China principle and stressed that China firmly opposes Taiwanese independence and outside interference. Biden told Xi U.S. policy on Taiwan had not changed and that Washington strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, the White House said. Following the call, Taiwan thanked Biden for his support and said it would continue to deepen its security partnership with the United States, the foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday. The White House said the long-scheduled call was part of the administration's efforts to deepen lines of communication with China and responsibly manage our differences. It has been particularly anxious to lower the temperature on Taiwan. A visit by the House speaker would be a dramatic, though not unprecedented, show of U.S. support for the island, and some analysts worry such a move at a time of fraught U.S. ties with Beijing could spur a major crisis and even unintended clashes. Scott Kennedy, a China analyst at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies, said leader-level contacts were essential to preventing this. One hopes they've done enough to avoid a collision in the near term, but it's clear there needs to be much more frequent and in-depth communication, he said. A senior U.S. official said Biden and Xi had discussed the possibility of holding a first face-to-face meeting as leaders and directed their teams to look into this. Biden stressed the importance of maintaining lines of communication on Taiwan and the two also discussed areas where there was the potential to expand cooperation, including climate change, health security and counter-narcotics, the official said. While highlighting Taiwan, Xi also stressed that the world's two largest economies needed to maintain communication on macroeconomic policies, global supply chains, and safeguarding global food and energy security, China's readout said. The senior U.S. official also emphasized the importance of macroeconomic coordination. Beijing has issued escalating warnings about repercussions should Pelosi - a Democrat like Biden - visit Taiwan. Xi has vowed to bring Taiwan under Beijing's control, by force if necessary. China has given few clues to specific responses it might make if Pelosi makes the trip, which she has yet to confirm. The U.S. official told reporters Xi had used similar language about Taiwan before and said the two sides acknowledged differing views that have existed for 40 years. The conversation between the two about Taiwan, it was direct and it was honest, the official said, while declining to offer more specific details about Biden's message to Xi. The call lasted over two hours. U.S. officials had said it would have a broad agenda, including Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which China has yet to condemn. Washington follows a one-China policy that recognizes Beijing, not Taipei, diplomatically. But it is obliged by U.S. law to provide the democratically governed Taiwan with the means to defend itself, and pressure has mounted in Congress for more explicit support. Some analysts believe Xi has an interest in avoiding escalation as he seeks an unprecedented third term in office this year. Others say playing up the Taiwan issue could serve Xi as a domestic distraction from China's slowing economy. Asked about the call, Taiwan's representative office in Washington told Reuters it was grateful to Biden for underscoring the importance of our shared interest in peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. Both Washington and Beijing have been grappling with economic difficulties. China's US$18 trillion economy has been battered by its strict COVID regulations and full urban lockdowns, while the United States is battling surging inflation amid concerns of a recession. Chinese state media said on Thursday China would try hard to achieve the best possible economic results this year, dropping previous calls that it will strive to meet its 2022 growth target. This followed a high-level Communist Party meeting chaired by Xi. Attempts at decoupling or severing supply chains in defiance of underlying patterns would not help boost the U.S. economy. They would only make the world economy more vulnerable, Xi said, referring to U.S. efforts to end reliance on China for strategic goods. The Biden administration has been debating whether to lift some tariffs on Chinese goods as a way to ease soaring inflation, but Biden did not discuss potential steps with Xi, the senior U.S. official said. When Biden last spoke to Xi in March, he warned of "consequences" if Beijing gave material support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and Washington believes this red line has not been crossed since. However, Taiwan has complained of stepped-up Chinese military maneuvers and just ahead of Thursday's call, Taiwan's military said it fired flares to warn away a drone that was possibly probing the defenses of a strategically located and heavily fortified island close to the Chinese coast. The last time a U.S. House speaker visited Taiwan was in 1997. As a co-equal branch of government, the U.S. executive has little control over congressional travel. China has grown far more powerful militarily and economically since then and the White House says the administration has been in touch with Pelosi's office to make sure she has all the context she needs to make decisions about her travel. 

  

Hong Kong to include heat index in guidelines for employers to take heat off workers

 By Web desk 28th July 2022

The Hong Kong Observatory’s heat index which reflects the city’s weather conditions may be included in the guidelines for employers to protect outdoor workers from heatstroke, the Secretary for Labour has said. Speaking on a radio program on Thursday, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Chris Sun Yuk-han said the government is planning to refer to the Hong Kong Observatory’s heat index to formulate a more comprehensive guideline to prevent heatstroke among outdoor workers. The heat index, measured by the city’s weather watchdog, monitors heat stress and considers temperature affected by moisture in air, radiation and wind. She also said authorities will step up their inspections and law enforcement actions to make sure employers are taking adequate precautions to prevent their employees from heatstorokes.

  

Hong Kong to launch HK$5 billion tech fund in August, finance chief reveals

 By Web desk 27th July 2022

Government hopes new measures will help future local unicorns reach their full potential. Entrepreneurs welcome plan, but one academic warns taxpayer dollars must not go to losing propositions.

Hong Kong will launch a fund worth HK$5 billion (US$637 million) next month to support local tech companies and attract foreign start-ups, the city’s finance chief Paul Chan. Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said the government hoped the Strategic Tech Fund would fill the gap in series A and series B financing for start-ups and help convince investors to back projects by Hong Kong tech entrepreneurs. Series A refers to a start-up’s first major venture capital financing, while Series B refers to further and larger investments from corporations or institutional investors.

  

Daily Covid case count meaningless

 By Web desk 26th July 2022

It is no longer meaningful for health authorities to announce the daily Covid case count as Hong Kong keeps moving along the path to normalcy, said the head of Hong Kong University's Centre for Infection Ho Pak-leung. Speaking on a radio program Tuesday morning, the microbiologist called on health authorities to disseminate crucial information at the daily press briefings instead of announcing the daily case count. He said health officials could compile a weekly report of cases found in the overnight lockdown operations, or give an account of the city’s asymptomatic patients or those with mild symptoms. Separately, Ho said health authorities should put their resources into good use and let expert advisors for the government attend the daily press brief, provide citizens with scientific data to help them understand the city’s Covid situation. He also suggested authorities review the outcome of its sewage testing scheme and allocate more manpower to boosting the city’s vaccination rate when required.

 

Hong Kong to closely monitor spread of monkeypox as city adds 4,250 Covid cases

By Web desk 25th July 2022

Health officials said on Sunday that authorities will closely monitor the spread of monkeypox as the city reported 4,250 new Covid-19 cases - the fourth consecutive day that the daily coronavirus tally topped the 4,000-mark. Among the cases were 4,064 local infections and 186 imported cases. Separately, eight more elderly Covid patients - aged 75 to 103 - have died, half of whom were unvaccinated. The Centre for Health Protection was informed of new Covid infections at five more residential care homes, including the Kowloon Women’s Welfare Club Wong Cheung Kin Memorial Hostel for the Elderly in Kwun Tong, Po Leung Kuk Y. C. Cheng Center in Tai Wai, Chun Shek Halfway House in Sha Tin, and the TWGHS Jockey Club Tsin Cheung Day Activity Centre cum Hostel in Aberdeen. It was said that six residents and three staffers were infected, while 28 residents were required to go into quarantine. Meanwhile, a further 172 people with the virus had been admitted to hospital, bringing the total to 1,347. Three of them are critically ill. Speaking at a daily Covid briefing, Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Centre for Health Protection said authorities are keeping a close eye on infection numbers. Based on the recent trend, the infection tally doubles every two to three weeks. We certainly hope the number won't rise too quickly to a high level, she said, calling on the general public to comply with anti-epidemic measures. Additionally, Chuang said authorities will closely monitor the spread of monkeypox as the World Health Organization declares the outbreak of the infectious disease a global health emergency. She said while it's possible that the SAR may see imported cases of monkeypox, she hopes increased surveillance can prevent the virus from spreading in the community.

 

Pakistan’s Imran Khan may yet unseat Shehbaz Sharif as prime minister. But not without the military’s help

 By Web desk 24th July 2022

 Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf stunned Sharif’s ruling coalition with a big by-election win in Punjab, raising the prospect of an early election. Analysts say a return to power can’t be ruled out, if he can get the ultimate arbiter – army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa – on his side once more.

When Imran Khan’s government was unceremoniously deposed in a vote of no-confidence in April, most political pundits wrote off his chances of ever making a comeback as Pakistan’s prime minister. But after his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) pulled off a stunning upset by-election victory last Sunday, winning 15 of 20 seats contested, many commentators now think Khan is increasingly well-positioned to force an early general election – and even win it. Imran Khan’s return to power cannot be ruled out. He is riding on a wave of anti-establishment sentiment, has heightened his populist rhetoric, and his political opponents are on the defensive and without a clear agenda to pull the country out of the current economic crisis, said Raza Rumi, editor-in-chief of Naya Daur Media, a Pakistani digital news platform.

 

Greater Bay Airlines’ first flight set to take off for Bangkok from Hong Kong 

By Web desk 23rd July 2022

City’s newest airline will begin operations with a twice weekly service to the Thai capital. Carrier is hoping to expand to Malaysia, Japan and Korea and eventually China.

Hong Kong’s Greater Bay Airlines is to launch its first scheduled commercial flight on Saturday, offering a twice weekly service to Bangkok, as it competes for customers with the city’s flagship carrier Cathay Pacific. The newcomer will begin service with two commercial flights between Hong Kong and Bangkok, its first and only destination, on Saturday, with the outbound flight leaving for the Thai capital city at 10.30am. The inbound flight is expected to arrive in Hong Kong at 5.10pm on the same day. We are very happy to launch our first flight as we hope to see planes in the air as an airline company. However, there have been a multitude of external factors we could not control along the way, and we will try our best to cooperate with the government’s pandemic measures.

 

Coronavirus

Hospital’s data dashboard cuts patient discharge time by a third

By Web desk 22nd July 2022

Command centre makes allocating resources and monitoring patients easier and more efficient, says doctor. Queen Elizabeth Hospital takes a step closer to becoming a ‘smart hospital’ with introduction of new system.

A new command centre armed with a real-time data dashboard could cut patients’ discharge time at a leading Hong Kong hospital by a third and prove instrumental in the city’s effort to avert overloading the healthcare system during a resurgent fifth coronavirus wave, medical chiefs have said. The system at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which is part of a reform initiative to modernize and digitalize, could also predict potential risks of deterioration for inpatients using artificial intelligence. We faced a sudden and unprecedented challenge during the fifth Covid-19 wave with a sharp surge in patients. The system allows us to have a real-time grasp of data, said Dr Calvin Mak, coordinator for information technology and system in the Hospital Authority’s Kowloon Central cluster.

 

 Article 23 finds new life online

By Web desk 21st July 2022

The Security Bureau said it is updating the website for article 23 legislation after the old website, created 20 years ago, was found to be in operational recently. In response to a media inquiry, it said yesterday it had closed the website temporarily in preparation for updates that will come with the anti-subversion legislation in line with article 23 of the Basic Law. Way back Machine archives and user screenshots show detailed information about the legislation of article 23, including press releases, Legislative Council documents and pamphlets. Speaking yesterday, Secretary for Justice Paul Lam Ting-kwok said the legislation of article 23 is not an undertaking that can be carried out immediately as authorities need to conduct a thorough and careful study of the law. "Since authorities are still carrying out a careful review, there isn't a concrete timeline for the legislation process yet," Lam said. "We need to make sure that the legislation can effectively deal with issues pertaining to national security, while also ensuring that people's freedoms are protected." Lam said that five of the seven article 23 offenses have not yet been "perfected," while the other two overlap with the terms of the security law. "But I can't say for certain whether article 23 legislation will be merged with the national security law," he said. Article 23 covers seven offenses - treason, secession, sedition and subversion against the central people's government, theft of state secrets, a ban on foreign political organizations conducting political activities in the city and a ban on local political bodies establishing ties with foreign counterparts. Lam also said no prosecutors have resigned following the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China's publication of a report that called on Washington to sanction Hong Kong prosecutors, calling it "baseless intimidation." "As long as the Department of Justice remains united, it won't be a problem for future hires," he said. Lam added that the Department of Justice will come up with a short-term timeline that will replace its use of key performance indicators. "The new administration is results-oriented and hopes to achieve concrete goals and see real results," he said. Deputy Secretary for Justice Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan said that he has faith that the government has enough time to complete the legislation process.

 

 Coronavirus

What is ‘hybrid immunity’ and would Hong Kong benefit as several health experts say?

 By Web desk 20th July 2022

Several public health experts have called for authorities to gradually lift social-distancing rules as part of efforts to develop hybrid immunity among residents. With serious cases and hospital admissions on the rise, government has expressed concerns about growing pressure on the healthcare system.

As Hong Kong once again reports an increase in coronavirus infections and hospitalization rates, some health experts have suggested “hybrid immunity” could be a way of preventing a repeat of the city’s fifth wave of cases. With case numbers rising, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu on Monday said a quarter of healthcare resources would be allocated to caring for Covid-19 patients by the end of this month. Several public health experts, including two government advisers, however, have called for authorities to gradually lift social-distancing measures as part of efforts to develop hybrid immunity among residents.

 

China’s global yuan goals aided by RCEP trade deal, Hong Kong’s role as “super connector” top banker says

 By Web desk 19th July 2022

Asia-Pacific trade deal will expand international use of yuan by lowering financial market barriers, says Li Haiying, managing director of renminbi business at Bank of China (Hong Kong) Under the trade deal and the Belt and Road Initiative, Hong Kong can play connecting role for yuan-related financial activities, says Li

The world’s largest free-trade agreement involving China and 14 other Asia-Pacific countries sets the stage for greater yuan internationalization according to a top banking executive who says Hong Kong can play “super connector” role among members for yuan-related financial activity. Li Haiying, managing director of renminbi business at the Bank of China (Hong Kong) said the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) had enhanced economic ties between China and other members. RCEP has lowered the entry threshold for financial markets which helps expand the use of the renminbi.

 

Hong Kong hotelier hopes for restriction-free travel as industry slowly returns to pre-pandemic heyday across the world

By Web desk 18th July 2022

The rest of the world has opened up, and that is the way to go for Hong Kong, says Ovolo Hotels founder Girish Jhunjhnuwala. Hotel rates in Hong Kong are about 35 per cent lower than in 2019, while they continue to rise in other parts of the world, according to data provider STR.

With much of the world lifting tough Covid-19 travel restrictions, a Hong Kong-based hotelier is filled with a tinge of sadness as operators in Europe and Australia brim with an influx of guests that has pushed room rates back to pre-pandemic levels. After spending five weeks travelling in Italy, France, the UK and Belgium, Girish Jhunjhnuwala, founder and executive chairman of Ovolo Hotels, could not help but feel nostalgic about pre-pandemic times, when Hong Kong was the most visited city in the world and widely regarded as the main finance and business hub in Asia. Founded in 2010, the family-run Ovolo owns and operates 13 hotels - eight in Australia, four in Hong Kong and one in Bali, Indonesia.

 

No smartphone, no entry?

Isolated by Covid-19 rules,

Hong Kong’s elderly dread changes to Leave Home Safe mobile app

 By Web desk 17th July 2022

Thousands of seniors do not own a smartphone or are clueless about coping with pandemic digital checks. Social workers warn elderly residents struggling to adapt to tech demands; seniors need help figuring out changes.

Eighty-year-old Hongkonger Chan Yim-chun owns three phones  an old-school 3G flip phone, a smartphone and a specially designed mobile phone that connects to an emergency hotline. But the mother of three, who lives alone in a subdivided unit in Sham Shui Po, said she only used the flip phone and had no idea how to use the internet. I cannot read what’s on the smartphone and it just makes me feel clumsy and confused, she said. I need to rely on other people to help me with anything that involves the internet.

US Navy destroyer asserts freedom of navigation in South China Sea 

 By Web desk 16th July 2022

The U.S. Navy in a statement the USS Benfold carried out what it calls a freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands. On July 16, USS Benfold (DDG 65) asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands, consistent with international law, it said. The USS Benfold (DDG-65) is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in the United States Navy. It boasts a multi-mission platform, capable of anti-aircraft warfare due to its Aegis Combat System and anti-aircraft missiles; it can seek and destroy enemy submarines with its towed sonar array and anti-submarine rockets. It also has surface-to-surface and land strike capabilities with a Harpoon missile launcher and Tomahawk missiles.  

  

Hong Kong is stepping up Covid fight by issuing electronic wristbands, quarantining outbound travellers. Here’s what you need to know

 By Web desk 15th July 2022

People under home quarantine will need to wear electronic wristbands while those who test positive at mainland border will be sent to isolation centres right away. Health chief Lo Chung-mau says he will approach pandemic with targeted measures to prevent repeat of fifth wave of infections.

The new Hong Kong government, now into its third week, has introduced measures to step up monitoring of Covid-19 patients on two fronts, requiring those under home quarantine to wear electronic wristbands and outbound travellers who test positive at the border with mainland China to be sent to isolation centres right away. Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau has said he will approach the pandemic with targeted measures to prevent a repeat of the fifth and deadliest wave of infections, rather than return to tightened social-distancing rules. Here’s what you need to know about the two latest moves, as well as plans in the pipeline.

 

 City sees infection rebound, should not reach previous levels, says health expert.

 By Web desk 14th July 2022

Respiratory expert David Hui Shu-cheong said Hong Kong has seen rising infections lately, but the city’s Covid situation would not return to the peak of the fifth wave, calling on residents not to worry. Hui’s comments came as the city’s health chief said earlier that internal modeling predicted a rebound in the city’s recent fifth coronavirus wave and a peak in September with up to 10,000 patients needing hospitalization. The government Covid adviser explained that up to 60 percent of Hong Kong’s population has already caught Covid, while the city’s vaccination rate has also improved. He noted there are currently 18 Covid patients in critical condition in hospitals and that the figure is way less severe than during the peak of the fifth wave. Separately, Hui called on residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible as there were plenty of untraceable cases in our community, adding that the antibodies for those who recovered from Covid will start to decline over time.

Covid health code may not be mandatory.

A planned China-style health code system in Hong Kong is likely to apply only to people who test positive to Covid and incoming travelers rather than the entire population, according to local media reports. It is understood that people who test positive to the virus will be assigned a red code, and arriving travelers will be given a yellow code, which will prohibit them from activities such as dining at restaurants or attending gyms. Such a system would allay fears of rolling out China’s mandatory code, which assigns higher-risk residents red and yellow codes -- with green for low-risk people -- based on their testing and travel records. Red-coded people have their movement restricted until they test negative over a certain period of time. The proposed Hong Kong system will possibly lean on the city’s existing vaccine pass, the reports read. Hong Kong’s new health chief this week floated the possibility of shortening hotel quarantine with measures such as medical surveillance and health codes, as the city wrestles with rising cases and impatience from businesses from more than two years of Covid restrictions, which has led to a record exodus of residents and brought into question the city’s future as a financial hub. Meanwhile, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu will propose a plan to China to open borders, but it was said that he won’t discuss it publicly before reaching a consensus with the mainland, citing Executive Council Convener Regina Ip, without elaborating on details.

  

Hong Kong’s health chief eyes quarantine-free travel by November.

 By Web desk 13th July 2022

One country, two systems’ lets Hong Kong have own Covid policies without copying mainland, quarantine-free travel expected by November, Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau says he favours a local health code and more testing to better ring-fence cases, ensure city does not have to return to tightened social measures. Lo says President Xi Jinping had stressed Hong Kong must maintain its own uniqueness and Beijing will not blindly ask city to follow its policies.

Hong Kong need not copy mainland China’s tough Covid-19 policies as it enjoys wide latitude under the “one country, two systems” principle, the new health minister has said, as he forecast that quarantine-free arrivals with conditions attached could be allowed by November in time for a global bankers summit. In an exclusive interview, Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau argued he favoured a local health code and more testing not to mimic the mainland’s approach but to better ring-fence cases and ensure the city did not have to return to tightened social measures, a move he wanted to avoid. During the wide-ranging session, he also revealed internal modelling predicted a rebound in the city’s recent fifth coronavirus wave and a peak in September with up to 10,000 patients needing hospitalization, but he vowed not to let the infections run out of control.

   

Proposed Covid-19 health code for Hong Kong will not be used for any political agenda, only pandemic purposes: John Lee

 BY Web desk 12th July 2022

Chief executive says colour-code system will be ‘very specific’ and only target ‘small numbers’ He also sounds warning on protecting high-risk groups and not repeating mistakes of fifth wave.

Hong Kong’s proposed mainland Chinese-style health code will only be used for pandemic purposes and not to restrict people’s mobility under any political agenda, the city’s leader has said. Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu, in a media briefing before his weekly Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, reassured residents the colour-code system was limited to “identifying Covid-19 patients and individuals currently in hotel quarantine”. He called on the public not to believe anyone who tried to smear the proposed health code. “Hong Kong is a very law-abiding place, so of course the government will also follow legislation.

 

Hong Kong’s use of electronic tracking wristbands not ‘foolproof’ solution to deter Covid-19 patients from breaching quarantine, experts say

 BY Web desk 12th July 2022

Experts call for rethink of Covid-19 policies given rebound in infection numbers, as new health minister reveals plans for colour-coded system for patients Strictly enforcing a seven-day home isolation for patients without proper government support could lead to unintended consequences, they warn.

Using electronic tracking wristbands to deter Covid-19 patients from breaching quarantine in Hong Kong is not a foolproof solution, IT and health experts have said. A mainland Chinese-style three-colour system was also considered fraught with loopholes as patients could still access public transport and go to work, the experts added, as they called for a deeper rethink of Hong Kong’s Covid-19 policies with the rebound in infections. The experts said strictly enforcing a seven-day home isolation for patients without proper government support could lead to unintended consequences. How can those elderly residents living alone buy food and daily necessities without leaving their home for seven days? What happens when the breadwinners in a family can’t go out to work and make a living? Not everyone can work from home, said Dr Joseph Tsang Kay-yan, co-chairman of the Medical Association’s advisory committee on communicable diseases. Since taking office on July 1, Secretary of Health Professor Lo Chung-mau has embarked on a policy blitz, including halting the city’s flight suspension mechanism and indicating a wider overhaul of its tough quarantine regime for overseas arrivals. Over the weekend, Lo said he planned to introduce a real-name registration system for the government’s Leave Home Safe risk-exposure app, a component of the vaccine pass scheme required for entry into premises such as restaurants and entertainment venues. Lo said the system would have colour codes to identify patients and high-risk individuals, with red denoting a positive Covid-19 result and yellow representing an active quarantine status for arrivals, both of which would deny users entry into high-risk venues. Everyone agrees that those who have Covid-19 should actually not go out and harm the rest of the population, Lo said on Sunday. If we  let (Covid-19 patients) roam the (city), those without Covid-19 will have their freedoms affected. On Monday, the minister revealed that electronic wristbands, most recently required for all self-isolating patients and overseas arrivals during the city’s fifth Covid-19 wave, would be reinstated as a requirement for home-isolating patients from Friday. Currently, individuals who test positive but are deemed suitable to be quarantined at home are usually required to undergo a two-week isolation period. Those with at least two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine will be allowed to leave home after testing negative for two days in a row. But Tsang said he believed the new approach was still flawed and questioned the sensitivity of the wristbands. There have long been questions about the accuracy of those wristbands, such as whether someone could just take them off and hang them at home, Tsang said. Would those wristbands be sensitive enough to detect a person leaving their home and going from the 16th floor of a building to the third floor, for example? According to the government, people starting their quarantine have to activate the wristband by walking slowly in their home for one minute. During the quarantine, the app will analyse communication signals, such as Bluetooth, Wi-fi and GPS, in the neighbourhood and their respective strengths. If a change in such signals is detected and officers judge that a person has left the quarantine place, law enforcers may conduct spot checks, make an arrest or issue a warrant. Technology experts have raised similar concerns. Francis Fong Po-kiu, honorary president of the Hong Kong Information Technology Federation, said the wristband, operated in conjunction with the government’s Stay Home Safe app, was connected to a mobile phone via Bluetooth, which depended on GPS and the service provider’s signal to position one’s location. Such positioning is very hard to determine whether an individual is going up and down within a building. Sometimes the positioning point moves by itself even if the individual is sitting still inside a room. The mobile signal is not always steady. The margin of error could range from 50 metres to 100 metres, Fong said, adding it was hard to receive GPS signals indoors. Tsang said there could be enforcement issues with regard to the scope of the app, which applied to only 23 types of premises at present. Currently you can take the MTR or other public transport and go to work without using the app, he said. Health minister Lo has said the colour-coded system would only bar patients and quarantining travellers from visiting high-risk venues. Tsang said he believed those should be limited to places where mask less activities took place such as restaurants and bars while cinemas, libraries and art galleries should be excluded. Hospitals and care homes should be included to protect the vulnerable but emergency rooms should still be accessible to the general public Tsang added. Medical and health services sector lawmaker Dr David Lam Tzit-yuen said he agreed with the principle of safeguarding the public from Covid-19 carriers, but that the precise operational details still had to be carefully thought through. Someone could easily use their friend’s phone to scan for entry, Lam said, adding that there was a possibility that some people would refrain from getting a test for fear of a strict seven-day home isolation, thereby creating more silent carriers in the community. Fong also raised a technical issue regarding the implementation of colour codes. If one person tested Covid-19 positive in Central and compulsory testing notices were issued to the few blocks nearby what colour code should all the people who got tested get? The categorizing criteria has to be precise. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data meanwhile has told that the real-name registration proposal would not contravene the existing privacy legislation, even though there would be certain legal requirements on the collection, handling and storage of data. IT lawmaker Duncan Chiu Tat-kun said the establishment of a central data bank for the Leave Home Safe app should address the privacy concerns. All user data can be encrypted and transferred to the central data bank. For anti-pandemic purposes, I think keeping the data for 30 days is more than enough before deleting it, Chiu said. We have proposed the central data bank idea several times and I don’t know whether the government would adopt it this time. It is a technological way to address the privacy issue. In that case, people don’t have to worry about whether their whereabouts are exposed or being monitored.

 

Smart bracelets for Covid patients isolating at home

 

Covid patients isolating at home will have to wear smart bracelets from Friday, Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau says, and their Leave Home Safe app will turn red when the color-coded health-code system launches to bar them from going out. According to guidelines, if an infected person has received at least two Covid shots and their rapid antigen tests results are negative on days six and seven or any two consecutive days after day seven of the home quarantine period they are allowed out of their front doors. These arrangement also apply to close contacts. Lo said the preliminary plan is a red code for people testing positive and yellow for high-risk groups including overseas arrivals under medical surveillance. That would ban them from entering no-mask premises such as restaurants and high-risk venues such as care homes and hospitals. A green code will indicate a healthy person. On the seven-day hotel quarantine for overseas arrivals for Hong Kong and non-Hongkongers, Lo said he is mulling a change with part of the confinement to be home isolation. As for those under a yellow code, they could take public transport, though details have to be confirmed. He also said authorities are working to launch the color-coded system in the Leave Home Safe mobile app under a real-name registration. But the new feature will not come with location tracking as the intention is to identify infected patients and people who are under quarantine. Lo said currently about 60 percent of Covid patients, or over 12,000 people, are under home isolation. However, there is no precise measure to monitor whether these people abided by the quarantine order. He said there were precedents for people in isolation to remove smart bracelets, so it was necessary to establish a color-coded system to ensure they followed the law. Lo said authorities want to carry out more precise anti-pandemic work and do not want to make people pay a higher price for going along with the rules. And authorities do not want to implement a general lockdown like in Shanghai and Macau. He said. Hong Kong is very different from Shanghai or Macau in terms of the total population in terms of the age distribution and also in terms of vaccination (rates) as well as the fact that Hong Kong has already had the fifth wave, which has caused widespread infections. We've paid the price. In addition, Hong Kong is an international hub. All these factors are considered when we design our policy. On long waits for travelers crossing the border via Shenzhen Bay Port Lo apologized again for failing to implement crowd-control measures when the quota was increased to 2,000. He expected around 500 quotas for humanitarian care covering eight types of travelers including seniors above 70, children under 14 and pregnant women. Lo said an online registration system for people crossing the Shenzhen Bay Port will hopefully be launched this week. Long queues remained at Shenzhen Bay port yesterday as people had to take a PCR test and await a result. If they test negative they are given a green bracelet and can enter Shenzhen. But some travelers who tested positive and were given a red bracelet have been spotted leaving the port themselves.

 

  

Daily Covid tally could double in two weeks, health expert warns

 By Web desk 11th July 2022

A health expert warned that Hong Kong's daily Covid tally could double in two weeks' time, after the city recorded two deaths and 2,992 infections, including 37 unknown-source cases of highly transmissible Omicron sub variants on Sunday. Speaking on a radio program Monday morning, University of Hong Kong microbiologist Ho Pak-Leung said Hong Kong’s current outbreak was not yet past its peak, with the city now in a post-vaccine period. He noted that the dominating strain in Hong Kong is still BA.2, but the BA.4 and BA.5 strains would slowly catch up as the two fast-spreading sub variants of Omicron triggered widespread outbreaks around the world. The daily Covid tally may also double in one to two weeks, the infectious diseases expert said. Meanwhile, commenting on the possible implementation of a mainland-style color-coded health system under real-name registration in Hong Kong, Ho said the new system could enable more relaxation of border control measures. His comments came after the city’s health chief Lo Chung-mau revealed that authorities are considering introducing a color-coded system via the Leave Home Safe mobile application, with the app having to operate under a real-name registration system. Ho said those coming into the city would have their health code changed to red in color, which limits them, as well as infected patients or people with high infection risk from entering some places. However, he said limiting residents’ use of public transport with the health code system may not be the best way to contain the epidemic, and would add uncertainties.

  

Pakistan exchanges warm Eid greetings with Bahrain, Turkey

King Hamad, President Erdogan agree with PM Shehbaz to broaden bilateral cooperation.

 By Web desk 10th July 2022

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, on behalf of the government and the people of Pakistan, conveyed warm greetings to the governments and the peoples of Bahrain and Turkey on the occasion of Eidul Azha.

After exchanging greetings, Premier Shehbaz, while speaking to Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, highlighted that close bilateral ties provided significant opportunities for deeper cooperation in diverse areas, particularly trade and investment. During the telephonic conversation on Saturday, Shehbaz reaffirmed the longstanding fraternal relations between Pakistan and Bahrain and conveyed his best wishes for the continued progress and prosperity of the people of Bahrain. Reciprocating, King Hamad also extended best wishes to the people of Pakistan on this occasion. The king expressed his resolve to broaden cooperation for the benefit of the people of the two countries. Pakistan and Bahrain enjoy longstanding cordial relations, rooted firmly in shared faith, mutual understanding, and commonality of interests. Further, talking to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the telephone, Shehbaz extended Eid’s warm greetings. Reciprocating the greetings from the prime minister, President Erdogan also extended best wishes to the government and the people of Pakistan. During the course of their conversation, the Turkish president also offered prayers for the victims of the devastating floods in Balochistan. In this context, President Erdogan reaffirmed his government's steadfast support to Pakistan during this testing time. While recalling his recent visit to Turkey and warm hospitality extended to him and his delegation, the prime minister expressed his government's firm resolve to further enhance its bilateral cooperation, especially in areas of trade, investment, energy and other important sectors. Both the leaders also exchanged views on regional and international peace and security matters, including enhancing cooperation for addressing global energy and food crises. The prime minister conveyed that he was looking forward to welcoming President Erdogan for the 7th Session of the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSCC) scheduled to be held in Pakistan in September 2022.

 

Health expert lists criteria for scrapping hotel quarantine.

BY Web desk 9th July 2022

Increased testing capacity to conduct daily PCR tests can be one of the conditions for the government to exempt returnees from hotel quarantine, health expert Ivan Hung Fan-ngai said on Saturday. Hung on a radio program this morning said canceling the flight ban mechanism won’t significantly impact the pandemic development, and it is now more important to review the testing and quarantine arrangements for returnees. Given citizens conduct regular Covid tests, the government can consider further shortening the hotel quarantine to three days, followed by four days of home isolation. If authorities can arrange daily PCR tests -- the government’s “gold standard” dubbed by health minister Lo Chung-mau -- for travelers with the results returning within four to eight hours, hotel quarantine may be canceled. Yet, whether or not his proposal work depends on the testing capacity of the contractors’ laboratories, Hung noted. He also echoed Lo’s remarks on boosting PCR testing capacity and suggested setting up more community testing centers, so citizens do not wait in long lines for a PCR test. On the other hand, Hung backed the government’s decision to keep the existing Covid curbs instead of relaxing them. He told the public to stay at ease despite the rising infection figures, saying the current pandemic has yet to threaten the public healthcare system. 

 

 Coronavirus

Hong Kong expert suggests no more hotel quarantine for arrivals if travellers undergo daily PCR tests that can deliver results in under 8 hours.

 BY Web desk 9th July 2022

Professor Ivan Hung from HKU says arrangement hinges on efficiency of tests, with isolation reduced to ‘3+4’ format, and eventually just seven days of screening. He warns about rise of Omicron BA.5 sub variant, but says cases expected to be mild or asymptomatic with city’s overall ‘hybrid immunity’ from jabs and infections.

Overseas arrivals in Hong Kong could be spared hotel quarantine if they undergo daily nucleic tests for Covid-19 with the results delivered in under eight hours, a top health expert has said. Professor Ivan Hung Fan-ngai, chief of the infectious diseases division of the University of Hong Kong (HKU), said on Saturday that enhanced efficiency of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test could first enable a “3+4” arrangement, comprising three days of hotel quarantine and four days of home isolation with regular tests. “If the situation is stable, then daily PCR testing for seven days in a row could replace the quarantine arrangement,” Hung told a radio programme, adding that this hinged on testing efficiency.

  

Health chief dismisses quarantine free travel for Hong Kong.

By Web desk 8th July 2022

Hong Kong’s new health chief has rejected calls for quarantine-free travel in the near future and to live with Covid-19, even as the city relaxes some restrictions amid a surge in cases, according to an interview with local newspaper Oriental Daily.  Lo Chung-mau, who was appointed Secretary for Health by new Chief Executive John Lee, said that it’s unreasonable to pursue a full-blown border reopening with mainland China or the rest of the world, and that the government is currently targeting reducing inconveniences to allow more people to travel. The city would see far more than 9,000 deaths if it were to live with the virus, Lo added, citing the large numbers of deaths in the US and UK after the countries reopened. Lee has said that Hong Kong must reduce travel inconveniences while curbing the spread of the virus, confirming that the city will continue to adhere to China’s Covid-Zero policy and avoid lifting travel restrictions completely. The Hong Kong government has relaxed some measures recently, including the suspension of a system that banned airlines if they carried too many infected passengers. However, local business groups have been pushing the government above all to cancel hotel quarantine, arguing the city risks losing its status as a global financial hub if travel continues to be restrictive A surge in infections will further test Hong Kong’s ability to relax travel. The city reported more than 3,000 cases on Thursday, with health officials warning that daily infections could double in two weeks. Lo said in the interview that he’s concerned that the rising tally will pressure the city’s health system, and called for more people, especially the elderly, to get vaccinated. About 89 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, but the ratio falls to 64 percent for those 80 and above. The number of Covid patients in Hong Kong’s hospitals has doubled to more than 800 from last month, health officials said earlier this week. If the situation deteriorates, hospitals may have to suspend non-essential care services to cope with the pressure, they added.

 

We have to tell people how great we are Hong Kong’s John Lee to adopt more proactive approach to promoting city on world stage.

By Web desk 7th July 2022

New leader uses Chinese proverb and Cantonese phrase in showing how his approach differs from that of his predecessor. Analysts say Lee’s strategies do not seem promising, and that efforts could hinge on whether authorities are continuing crackdown on opposition camp.

Using a Chinese proverb and a Cantonese phrase, Hong Kong’s new leader John Lee Ka-chiu on Wednesday sought to distinguish his approach to promoting the city on the international stage from that of his predecessor. Quoting a Chinese saying that musk naturally has fragrance, essentially meaning the appeal of a particular thing is obvious, Lee said such a pragmatic and conservative approach was no longer ideal under the current political climate. “Instead, when we draw a cartoon character, we should draw its intestines as well,” he continued, using a colloquial Cantonese phrase that refers to how one should offer more details about a particular thing.

 

 Hong Kong leader John Lee in Legco:

City not ‘lying flat’ in pandemic fight, PCR tests can be extended to exempt residents from restrictions.

 By Web desk 6th July 2022

Lee answers questions from legislators during his first appearance in the Legislative Council as chief executive. He also stresses positive relationship between his administration and Legco, dismissing previous era in which some used ‘two systems to resist one country’

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu made his first appearance at the Legislative Council as city leader on Wednesday in a 90-minute question and answer session with lawmakers. But Lee courted controversy before the session even began by making an unprecedented request for lawmakers to confine their questions to a handful of policy areas, sparking criticism the move would belittle the chamber.

 

John Lee, stresses cautious opening on virus

The city must balance reducing travel inconvenience with limiting the spread of Covid-19

 By Web desk 5th July 2022

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, John Lee Ka-chiu, declared the city must balance reducing travel inconvenience with limiting the spread of Covid-19, signaling a cautious virus approach. Lee's remarks came when he and the 16 non-official members of his Executive Council, as well as three top secretaries, met the press before their first weekly meeting. I have asked the health secretary to look at the evidence and statistics to see how we can on the one hand contain the spread of the pandemic and at the same time reduce the inconvenience to travelers, said Lee. One of the areas that he’s looking at is how the duration of quarantine should be handled, Lee said, adding that Health Secretary Lo Chung-mau was preparing a series of options for him. He also warned that people in Hong Kong should only be allowed to go about their normal activities once being identified as not infected, to prevent a spike in deaths. However, Lee offered no concrete solutions at the Tuesday briefing, only saying that his government was considering ways to satisfy both goals, without acknowledging the seemingly contradictory nature of simultaneously achieving those tasks. Meanwhile, the chief executive expressed his appreciation for the 16 non-official members for taking the invitation for being the Exco members, saying their vast experience in different areas will help him make important decisions. Lee also noted that veteran politician Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who will serve as the convener of the meeting, has ample political experience and understood administration works. Her concerns about social issues will also enable her to speak up for Hong Kong', said Lee. Under the Basic Law, the Exco is an organ for assisting the chief executive in policy-making. The Exco normally meets once a week and the CE presides over the meetings. Except for the appointment, removal and disciplining of officials and the adoption of measures in emergencies, the CE shall consult the Exco before making important policy decisions, introducing bills to the Legislative Council, making subordinate legislation, or dissolving the LegCo.

   

Govt refuses to comment infection related to July 1 event, HK adds 1,828 Covid cases

 By Web desk 4th July 2022

HK adds 1,828 Covid cases, as the Center for Health Protection refused to comment on the infections among people who attended Hong Kong's handover anniversary. Among the cases, 1,681 were locally transmitted while the remaining 147 were imported cases, according to the Centre for Health Protection's principal medical and health officer Albert Au Ka-wing. Eighty of the imported cases were detected at the airport, 58 at quarantine hotels and 9 were patients who tested positive after they completed the seven-day isolation. The caseload of the fifth wave now exceeded 1.239 million. Hospital Authority's chief manager for quality and standards Lau Ka-hin reported no new death and the death tally stands at 9,192.As for confirmed cases of people who attended the handover celebration ceremony, Au said he would not comment on individual cases. He also said that an investigation would be conducted in general, and people including their family members and those who had face-to-face contact during the infectious period would be classified as close contacts. Asked whether they had contacted the mainland on the incident, Au said he had maintained close contact before and had nothing to add now. He added that if a confirmed case has stayed in any of the two quarantine hotels, the hotel would be required to conduct thorough disinfection. Hotpot Foodie in Kwun Tong Kwun added three new cases, all of which were customers. The cluster has so far seen 14 customers being infected. The restaurant did not violate anti-epidemic measures, while all environment samples and staff members tested negative. As the ventilation of the restaurant has met relevant criteria, Au said it may involve BA.4 or BA.5 Omicron sub variants, which were more contagious than other sub variants. It was also the first time that the transmission of BA.4 or BA.5 was found in a restaurant. The center, on the other hand, identified 28 cases carrying the BA.4 or BA.5. Three of them were imported cases and 10 were local unknown source cases. Twenty-three cases of the BA.2.12.1 Omicron sub variant were reported today as well, of which 20 were of unknown origin. When investigating the BA.4 or BA.5 cases, the authorities found two students were enrolled in class 5A of Chiu Lut Sau Memorial Secondary School in Yuen Long. Therefore, the class has been recommended to suspend for a week. The authorities received 1,073 confirmed cases from schools between June 27 and 30, similar to the previous week, involving 899 students and 174 staff members. Four more elderly homes reported new infections, including four staffers ad one resident. Public hospitals and treatment facilities are now housing 761 patients. Eleven of them are in critical condition, 13 are in serious condition, and two are in hospital intensive care units.

  

Elahi extols SC for accepting PTI's option

 By Web desk 3rd July 2022

 Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial  paved a way for transparent polls in future

Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi on Saturday the Supreme Court's verdict on Punjab by-elections, saying CJP Umar Ata Bandial has played a bridging role to promote democracy by accepting PTI's option.

The provincial assembly speaker said, while chairing a meeting regarding the upcoming by-polls. General Secretary Punjab Senator Kamil Ali Agha, former provincial ministers Chaudhry Zaheeruddin, Mian Imran Masood as well as former MNAs Chaudhry Tahir Bashir Cheema and Shadab Jaffery were also present. Cheering the apex court's order to hold are-election for the office of chief minister of Punjab on July 22, Elahi predicted the CJP's decision will go a long way in enabling clean and transparent elections while preventing fraud. He went on to criticise the incumbent PML-N-led coalition government over its economic policies, lamenting that the skyrocketing inflation has made life difficult for the people. No one cares about the poor and the government has no policy to curb the rise in prices of petrol and other daily necessities, he said. The PML-Q speaker reiterated that his party would fully back the PTI candidates in the by-elections. Insha-Allah, there will be a clear difference from our support, after which we will also win the July 22 elections Insha-Allah. People should use their right to vote to reject the imported government, Elahi added. The Supreme Court had on Friday ruled that re-election for the Punjab chief minister’s slot will be held on July 22 after the rival parties — PML-N, PML-Q and PTI — reached consensus on the matter. A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial issued the order on PTI’s plea challenging the Lahore High Court (LHC) order. Both Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz and Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi appeared satisfied with the decision. However, political pundits see a new chapter of legal complexities, further plunging the teetering Punjab administration into quagmire.

 

No.8 Storm Signal to remain in force before 4pm Saturday.

 BY Web desk 2nd July 2022

 The No. 8 Storm Signal will remain in force before 4pm Saturday as the observatory advised the public to stay away from the shoreline and not to engage in water sports. The signal means that winds with mean speeds of 63 kilometers per hour or more are expected from the southeast quarter. At noon, Typhoon Chaba was centered about 320 kilometers west-southwest of Hong Kong and is forecast to move northwest at about 16 kilometers per hour towards the coast of western Guangdong. Chaba’s rain bands are bringing violent winds and heavy showers to the Pearl River Estuary. Gale force winds are affecting many places in the territory, while winds occasionally reach storm force offshore and on high ground. Gales associated with Chaba will continue to affect the vicinity of the Pearl River Estuary in the early afternoon. In the past hour, the maximum sustained winds recorded at Cheung Chau, Tap Mun and Sha Chau were 76, 65 and 60 kilometers per hour with maximum gusts 94, 73 and 75 kilometers per hour respectively. The public are advised to lock all windows and doors, and insert reinforced shutters and gates if available. Adhesive tape fixed to large window-panes in exposed positions will reduce damage and injury by broken glass. Meanwhile, owners of neon signs should switch off the electricity supply to the signs. 

   

7 top innovations President Xi Jinping saw at Hong Kong Science Park.

By Web desk 2nd July 2022

Chinese president visited Science Park during his busy two-day trip, meeting some of Hong Kong’s scientists, innovators and young entrepreneurs. Xi witnessed Hong Kong’s advances in AI technology, possible applications of robotics in surgery and an award-winning prenatal test for Down’s syndrome

During his busy two-day trip to Hong Kong to commemorate the 25th anniversary of its return to Chinese rule and officiate the swearing-in ceremony of the new government, President Xi Jinping opted to visit the city’s technology hub. Spending about an hour at the Science Park in Pak Shek Kok, he met some of Hong Kong’s scientists, academics, innovators and young entrepreneurs, while also familiarizing himself with the city’s seven top innovations. Readers can learn about all seven of these revolutionary creations below.

 

Hong Kong's 'true democracy' started after handover: Xi

By Web desk 1st July 2022

Chinese leader Xi Jinping said Friday that Hong Kong's true democracy started after the city's handover to China from colonial Britain 25 years ago. After reuniting with the motherland, Hong Kong's people became the masters of their own city, Xi said. Hong Kong's true democracy started from here. He added that the "One Country, Two Systems” principle has been successful for Hong Kong over the past 25 years. There is no reason to change the "One Country, Two Systems” style of governance and it will continue. He emphasized that the “One Country, Two Systems” is supported by 1.4 billion Chinese people, endorsed by Hong Kong and Macau compatriots, and has the general approval of the international community.Xi also said that national security law is beneficial for citizens' democratic rights and to ensure Hong Kong's prosperity and stability. He said that Hong Kong is a window and bridge connecting the mainland to the world. Xi’s speech also highlighted that Beijing enjoys full jurisdiction over Hong Kong and the importance of “patriots” administering the city. The regime must be in the hands of patriots. There’s no one in the world who would allow outsiders betrayers or even traitors to get hold of political power he says, adding that this principle must be upheld to ensure the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong's John Lee sworn in as city leader by Xi Jinping on day 2 of president's visit for 25th handover anniversary.

 By Web desk 1st July 2022

Xi will deliver a keynote speech, in which he is expected to lay down Beijing’s future direction for the 'one country, two systems' governing formula over the city. President on Thursday described Hong Kong as having 'risen from the ashes' after overcoming various severe challenges since his last visit in 2017.

John Lee sworn in as Hong Kong’s new leader. 

John Lee is sworn in as Hong Kong’s fifth chief executive by Xi Jinping.

Speaking in Mandarin, he says: “I, Lee Ka-chiu, swear that, in the office of chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, I will uphold the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, bear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China and serve the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region conscientiously, dutifully, in full accordance with the law, honestly and with integrity, and be held accountable to the Central People’s Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.” Lee then bows to Xi, and they take a photo together, with a round of applause from the audience.

  

Journalist Ayaz Amir attacked in Lahore

 By Web desk 1st July 2022

Unidentified assailants allegedly manhandled journalist and took away his belongings including mobile phone.

Senior journalist Ayaz Amir was attack by six unknown people, who manhandled him and torn his clothes late on Friday night after he was coming out of the office of a private TV channel in Lahore.

Amir was returning home after participating in a TV programme when unknown persons stopped his car. The attackers then manhandled him and also tortured his driver before fleeing from the scene. In a tweet later, Amir said those who attacked him did not care about his age.  “I have no personal enmity with anyone and I had no quarrel with anyone. Whoever attacked me didn't even care about my age. Is there a law of the jungle here? What will happen to a common man if a person like me is not safe?” Taking notice of the incident the top city police officer Bilal Siddique had sought report from Civil Lines police. The Civil Lines police officials later recorded statement of Amir and assured him of tracing the culprits with the help of CCTV footage. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shahbaz strongly condemned the attack on senior journalist Ayaz Amir. The prime minister also ordered a high level inquiry into the incident. Prime Minister Shehbaz said that the attackers must be brought to justice soon. He expressed sympathy with Amir and instructed that protection and safety of journalists must be ensured. Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shahbaz also condemned the incident of violence against senior journalist and columnist Ayaz Amir. He directed the police that the culprits must be arrested soon and brought to book. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in a tweet also condemned “in strongest terms the violence” against senior journalist Ayaz Amir. “Pak descending into the worst kind of fascism with violence & fake FIRS against journalists, opp politicians, citizens. When the State loses all moral authority it resorts to violence,” he said.

    

 Tightening pollution rules for classic cars, keeping exemptions for vehicles aged 30 years or more.

BY Web desk 30th June 2022

Environmental Protection Department says it has considered views from stakeholders that industry and enthusiasts’ lifestyle will be crippled. Members from community welcome changes, but some collectors of Japanese cars, which may not fall into age category for exemption, still unhappy

Hong Kong authorities have made a U-turn on tightening pollution rules for classic cars, allowing vehicles aged 30 years or more to be exempted at first registration if owners provide test reports. The decision would take immediate effect the Environmental Protection Department announced on Wednesday night. In response to the opinions and suggestions received from trade and relevant stakeholders and to strike a balance between the interests from different sectors the EPD has updated the relevant exemption arrangement the statement read, referring to an earlier decision to tighten the exemption for classic cars.

 

Coronavirus

Hong Kong business leader calls for quota boost in quarantine-free Return2HK scheme in light of mainland China easing rules for arrivals.

 By Web desk 29th June 2022

Allen Shi of the Chinese Manufacturers’ Association of Hong Kong says he expects more residents to travel to mainland China as a result of Beijing relaxing its policy. He says the daily quota should be increased from 3,000 to 5,000 for those returning via Shenzhen Bay Port.

A major business chamber in Hong Kong has urged the government to increase the daily quota of a quarantine-free scheme for residents returning from mainland China, a day after Beijing announced it would ease isolation rules for overseas arrivals. Allen Shi Lop-tak, president of the Chinese Manufacturers Association of Hong Kong, said he expected more Hongkongers to travel to the mainland as a result of the relaxed policy and called for an increase in the daily quota of the Return2HK scheme under which locals are exempt from quarantine from 3,000 to 5,000 for those returning via Shenzhen Bay Port. It has been hard for people to travel to mainland China due to the 21-day quarantine period, Shi, who represents 3,000 companies, told a radio programme on Wednesday.

  

Can Hong Kong’s next leader John Lee fix the city’s housing crisis?

By Web desk 28th June 2022

Years of policy paralysis have set Hong Kong on its way to an entrenched housing crisis, with homes growing smaller but more expensive. New political landscape offers the best chance to succeed where past administrations have failed.

Zoe But said it was the luckiest day in her life when she and her fiancé were chosen in the ballot to buy a subsidized home 25 years ago. We were really lucky. Without the flat, we would have had no way of having a home of our own to start a family, said But, now 59. Although paying up the mortgage was hard – you couldn’t travel as much as you like or eat whatever you wanted – it was worth it. She was among 89,476 applicants who bid for 10,502 flats under the Home Ownership Scheme in October 1997, three months after Hong Kong returned to China.

 

Coronavirus Hong Kong

Hospitals experience uptick in Covid-related admissions as city logs more than 1,900 cases

 By Web desk 27th June 2022

Health official says number of hospital patients admitted with mild coronavirus symptoms has ‘increased slightly’, but severe cases remain stable. City records 1,917 cases, comprising 1,799 local and 118 imported infections, and no additional deaths.

Hong Kong hospitals have experienced a slight uptick in coronavirus-related admissions but the number of serious cases is stable, a health official has said, with the daily infection tally remaining in the four-digit range for the 12th day in a row. The city on Sunday recorded 1,917 coronavirus cases, comprising 1,799 local and 118 imported infections. The figure marked an increase from Saturday’s total of 1,794. No additional virus-related deaths were reported. Hong Kong’s overall Covid-19 tally stands at 1,237,623 cases and 9,398 fatalities.

  

Business chambers urge Beijing’s liaison office to help push for removal of Covid-19 quarantine.

 By Web desk 26th June 2022

Liaison office held series of closed-door individual meetings with city’s major foreign business chambers to ‘directly’ gauge their views on issues, sources say. Business community expresses ‘valid and frank opinions’ about how quarantine rules are undermining Hong Kong’s financial hub status.

Business chambers in Hong Kong have urged Beijing’s representatives in the city to help push for the immediate relaxation of its stringent Covid-19 quarantine measures to resuscitate the economy and retain its financial hub status. Sources told on Saturday that Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong had earlier this month initiated a series of closed-door individual meetings with the city’s major foreign business chambers to gauge their views on various issues in the run-up to new leader John Lee Ka-chiu taking office on July 1st. A source said it was the first time the liaison office met the business group on a one-to-one basis to canvass their views on topics including Hong Kong’s competitiveness and the development of the Greater Bay Area, China’s scheme to link Hong Kong and Macau with nine cities in Guangdong province to create an economic powerhouse by 2035.

  

Xi Jinping to attend 25th anniversary celebrations of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty and swearing-in of new city leader John Lee.

 By Web desk 25th June 2022

State news agency Xinhua reports on Saturday morning that Xi Jinping will officiate ceremony to mark quarter-century of Chinese sovereignty over city. Outgoing leader Carrie Lam, Chief Executive-designate John Lee express gratitude for Xi’s plan to visit Hong Kong, Lee says tour has significance for transitioning city.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will officiate at the event to mark the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover and swear in the new administration of incoming leader John Lee Ka-chiu. State news agency Xinhua reported on Saturday morning that Xi will attend the ceremony to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s reunification with the motherland and to inaugurate the city’s sixth-term government. The visit will be the second time Xi has presided over the anniversary festivities and the swearing-in ceremony of a new city leader since becoming China’s president in 2013.

 

Shorten the hotel quarantine period to five days or less for overseas arrivals. 

 By Web desk 24th June 2022

Hong Kong will try to shorten the hotel quarantine period to five days or less for overseas arrivals with a closed-loop journey and home quarantine incoming health secretary Lo Chung-mau says. A closed-loop journey entails travelers to only go to places they have scheduled beforehand on their itinerary. Lo - talking on radio a day after incoming chief executive John Lee Ka-chiu said he will strive to relax quarantine curbs - said he will roll out measures to relax restrictions on travelers once he assumes office next month. Only 1 percent of inbound travelers were carrying the coronavirus, Lo said. As long as the government can identify Covid patients as quickly as possible, authorities can shorten the hotel quarantine period to five days or less. The speed quantity and accuracy of PCR tests also need to be stepped up for the relaxation to work, he said. Lo said it is not a policy shift from the anti-Covid approach as the virus still threatens the lives of the elderly and the chronically ill. The government has the responsibility to protect people's lives and health but we will roll out more measures to make lives more convenient and allow economic development to resume normally under a precise prevention of infection, Lo said. If the number of infections continues to rise it may cause the public hospital service to collapse. The next government will continue to cut down the number of infections. Lo said the policies differ among regions and Hong Kong and the mainland's standard of the virus test will have to be unified before reopening borders. Lee told that he will prioritize his work on reopening the borders between Hong Kong and the mainland as well as the rest of the world possibly by reducing the period required to undergo mandatory quarantine for travelers. “Other countries have already lifted their quarantine period”.

 

دنیا کے وہ ممالک جہاں پیٹرول مہنگا اور سستا ترین ہے

دنیا میں سب سے مہنگا پیٹرول ہانگ کانگ جبکہ کم ترین قیمت میں وینزویلا میں فراہم کیا جارہا ہے۔

By Web desk 24th June 2022

 

ایک طرف تو کورونا وبا نے دنیا کو مہنگائی کے دلدل میں دھکیلا تو دوسری طرف روس یوکرین جنگ کے

باعث مہنگائی کے جن نے بے قابو ہوکر دنیا پر اپنی گرفت مضبوط کرلی اور اب پیٹرولیم مصنوعات کی قیمتوں میں اضافے کے آفٹر شاکس بھی آرہے ہیں۔

کیا آپ جانتے ہیں دنیا میں سب سے زیادہ مہنگا اور سستا ترین پیٹرول کن ملک میں ملتا ہے اور پیٹرول کی فروخت کے حوالے سے دنیا مہنگے تیرین سستے ترین دس ممالک کون سے ہیں۔

وہ ممالک جہاں پیٹرول سب سے مہنگا فروخت کیا جارہا ہے

دنیا میں سب سے زیادہ مہنگا پیٹرول چین کے زیر انتظام برطانوی کالونی ہانگ کانگ میں ملتا ہے جہاں پیٹرول کی فی لیٹر قیمت 634 روپے ہیں۔

فن لینڈ : 562.63 روپے فی لیٹر
آئس لینڈ : 557.45 روپے فی لیٹر
ناروے : 544.48 روپے فی لیٹر
یونان : 539.30 روپے فی لیٹر
ڈنمارک : 534.11 روپے فی لیٹر
نیدرلینڈ : 526.33 روپے فی لیٹر
وسطی افریقین ریپبلک : 508.18 روپے فی لیٹر
موناکو : 503.00 روپے فی لیٹر
سنگاپور : 495.22 روپے فی لیٹر

وہ ممالک جہاں پیٹرول انتہائی کم قیمت پر عوام کو میسر ہے 

دنیا بھر میں شدید مہنگائی کے باوجود امریکی پابندیوں کا شکار ملک وینزویلا میں پیٹرول سب سے زیادہ سستا فروخت کیا جارہا ہے جہاں فی لیٹر پیٹرول کی قیمت 4.67 روپے ہے۔

خانہ جنگی کے شکار ملک لیبیا : 6.48 روپے فی لیٹر
چالیس برس سے عالمی پابندیوں کا سامنا کرنے والے ملک ایران : 11.41 روپے فی لیٹر
خانہ جنگی اور اسرائیلی و امریکی حملوں سے نبرد آزما ملک شام : 60.41 روپے فی لیٹر
الجیریا : 66.63 روپے فی لیٹر
کویت : 72.34 روپے فی لیٹر
انگولا : 78.30 روپے فی لیٹر
نائجیریا : 87.12 روپے فی لیٹر
ترکمانستان : 91.01 روپے فی لیٹر
ملائیشیا : 98.53 روپے فی لیٹر

 

 

Hong Kong border with mainland China, may reduce quarantine for arrivals, John Lee working on strategy to reopen.

 By Web desk 23rd June 2022

John Lee concedes scrapping curbs may take time to achieve but says his administration can set interim goals towards that end. He also reveals he plans to attend annual Apec leaders’ summit in Bangkok in November, despite being under US sanctions.

Incoming leader John Lee Ka-chiu is working on a strategy to reopen Hong Kong’s borders with mainland China and the rest of the world, including a possible reduction of mandatory quarantine for travellers, and also plans to attend the Apec leaders’ summit in Bangkok in November as part of a more aggressive drive to promote his home city. Lee, who has been sanctioned by Washington since 2020 over his role in the implementation of Hong Kong’s national security law, said one of his goals was to personally travel to the next meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, of which the city has been a member since 1991.

  

Unpacking Hong Kong’s laws,

25 years after handover

5 rulings on Basic Law where Beijing, not the city’s courts, had final say in key cases

By Web desk 22nd June 2022

NPC Standing Committee’s interpretations averted migrant crisis, improved grasp of Basic Law. No interpretations since 2016, but top Beijing body has issued decisions on critical issues in city.

As part of the group drafting Hong Kong’s Basic Law in the late 1980s, veteran pro-Beijing politician Tam Yiu-chung knew even then some provisions of the mini-constitution, when taken together, could trigger controversy after the city returned to Chinese rule in 1997. Article 2, for example, gave Hong Kong’s courts independent judicial power, including the final say on cases. However, Article 158 said China’s top legislative body, the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, had ultimate power of interpretation over the Basic Law. This was based on China’s constitution, which empowered the standing committee to enact laws and interpret them, Tam said.

  

Hong Kong could start quarantine-free business travel corridor with mainland China, fight for more flexible rules on border reopening, advisers urge.

 By Web desk 21st June 2022

Exco members propose allowing travellers to head to mainland China on small-scale basis, to meet employees and business partners. New administration could press Hong Kong’s case during border reopening talks by emphasizing stable streak of hospitalization and severe cases, advisers say.

Hong Kong should aim for a quarantine-free business travel corridor as a precursor to a full-scale reopening of its borders, as the city’s reconnection with mainland China and other parts of the world is ranked high among Beijing’s priorities, government advisers have said. To achieve that, the incoming administration under Chief Executive-designate John Lee Ka-chiu should fight for more flexible rules during negotiations on border reopening, analysts and medical experts added. The State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO) on Sunday laid out five expectations for Lee’s team, including tackling pressing issues such as the border reopening and strengthening the city’s role as an international hub connecting the mainland and the world.

  

Data on asylum seekers detained in Hong Kong should be disclosed more proactively, legal expert says.

 By Web desk 20th June 2022

Legal scholar Surabhi Chopra says research efforts showed public information on immigration detainees was harder to find than data for prisoners. Researchers made hundreds of access to information requests to authorities, with mixed success retrieving basic information’ regarding immigration detainees.

A legal expert studying Hong Kong’s immigration detention facilities has called on authorities to be more proactive in disclosing data, saying it is a real concern that information on those held in custody is not readily available. Surabhi Chopra, an associate professor at Chinese University who specializes in forced migration and rights of the poor, said her research led her to conclude that it was even harder to find public information on immigration detainees than on prisoners. While the Correctional Services Department (CSD) keeps basic statistics on the demographics of prisoners on its website, Chopra and her team had to dig through annual reports and file hundreds of access to information requests to try to get similar data on immigration detainees.

  

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee's cabinet approved by Beijing.

 By Web desk 19th June 2022

 Mainland China’s State Council has given the green light to John Lee Ka-chiu’s choice of key officials in cabinet. Long-time bureaucrat Eric Chan becomes chief secretary, Financial Secretary Paul Chan to stay in current post. Incoming Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu's cabinet nomination was approved by the central government on Sunday. Lee expressed gratitude to the central government for accepting and approving the 26 nominations made by him. He also thanked for its trust in and support for him and his governing team. The 21 Principal Officials appointed under the political appointment system are on non-civil service terms:

Secretaries of Departments

Chief Secretary for Administration, Chan Kwok-ki
Financial Secretary, Paul Chan
Secretary for Justice, Paul Lam Ting-kwok, SC

 Deputy Secretaries of Departments

Deputy Chief Secretary for Administration, Cheuk Wing-hing
Deputy Financial Secretary, Michael Wong
Deputy Secretary for Justice, Cheung Kwok-kwan

 Directors of Bureaux

Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism, Kevin Yeung
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Erick Tsang Kwok-wai
Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Christopher Hui
Secretary for Security, Tang Ping-keung
Secretary for Environment and Ecology, Tse Chin-wan
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Algernon Yau
Secretary for Health, Lo Chung-mau
Secretary for Transport and Logistics, Lam Sai-hung
Secretary for Development, Bernadette Linn
Secretary for Housing, Winnie Ho
Secretary for the Civil Service, Ingrid Yeung
Secretary for Education, Choi Yuk-lin
Secretary for Innovation, Technology and Industry, Sun Dong
Secretary for Home and Youth Affairs, Ms Alice Mak
Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Chris Sun.

Five Principal Officials heading the disciplined services were also appointed today. They are the Commissioner of Police, Siu Chak-yee; the Commissioner, Independent Commission Against Corruption, Woo Ying-ming; the Director of Audit, Nelson Lam; the Director of Immigration, Au Ka-wang; and the Commissioner of Customs and Excise, Louise Ho. In addition, Lee announced the appointment of Carol Yip as the Director of the Chief Executive's Office.

  

Incoming Hong Kong leader John Lee finalizes cabinet line-up, submits list to Beijing for consideration

 By Web desk 18th June 2022

Declining to give any names, Lee says he has brought in incumbent ministers, civil servants, professionals from private sector and people familiar with district work. He pledges to reveal the list once it receives the green light from Beijing.

Hong Kong’s incoming leader John Lee Ka-chiu has finalized the line-up of his cabinet and submitted it to Beijing for consideration, and has pledged to announce the list once it receives the green light. Declining to give any names, Lee on Friday said he had brought in incumbent ministers, civil servants, professionals from the private sector and people familiar with district work.

  

Hong Kong consumption vouchers, what you need to know about second batch of e-coupons, who is eligible and special offers available.

By Web desk 17th June 2022

Scheme extended to cover people in Hong Kong eligible for permanent residency while excluding locals planning to emigrate. Users of any of six service providers can look forward to host of offers including discounts and gift packs.

The Hong Kong government will hand out a second batch of HK$5,000 (US$637) in consumption vouchers from August 7 after the first round of the same amount was distributed in April. The scheme was first introduced last year in a bid to boost the city’s economy amid the Covid-19 pandemic, with each eligible resident receiving e-coupons worth HK$5,000. The second iteration of the scheme doubled the amount but split the handouts into two batches.

 

 Cathay Pacific to hire 4,000 staff by the end of 2023, as part of ambitious recruitment drive, CEO Augustus Tang 

 By Web desk 16th June 2022

 Across Cathay Pacific Group, a total of 8,000 new staff will be hired from now to the end of next year, CEO Augustus Tang says. Cathay Pacific plans to recruit 700 pilots and 2,000 cabin crew by the end of 2023.

Cathay Pacific Airways is aiming to hire 4,000 staff by the end of next year as part of an ambitious group-wide recruitment drive to take on 8,000 new workers, with Hong Kong’s flagship carrier preparing for the city’s recovery, its CEO has revealed. on Wednesday, Augustus Tang Kin-wing said the airline was very much in a growth mode and growth mentality almost two years after the company went through major restructuring during which it closed down regional carrier Cathay Dragon and laid off thousands of staff. Tang said Cathay Pacific planned to recruit 700 pilots and 2,000 cabin crew by the end of 2023, with the rest of the 4,000 new employees to be hired as airport frontline staff and for its customer service centre.

  

Whether all judges in city should be Chinese nationals ahead of 2047,

Hong Kong’s first

Chief justice Andrew Li.

By Web desk 15th June 2022

City needs to be prepared should fewer non-permanent, overseas judges be available to serve in next 10 years, he says. Li also calls on younger people to think beyond just their rights, arguing they should also focus on their responsibilities to the community and country.

Hong Kong’s first chief justice after the end of British rule expects the question of whether all judges should be Chinese citizens to emerge as among the issues to be debated in the run-up to 2047. Such matters would surface well before that year, Andrew Li Kwok-nang said, referring to the 50 year mark of the city’s handover of sovereignty from Britain to China amid a promise that its way of life would be preserved under the one country, two systems governing model. The 25th anniversary of the return to Chinese rule, Andrew Li Kwok-nang, who presided over the judiciary from 1997 to 2010, said the rule of law and judicial independence had been maintained in the past quarter century.

 

Hong Kong will not give in a single inch to requests by business chambers consulates to ease Covid rules Lam says. Citing state officials visit and transition of power.

 By Web desk 14th June 2022

Chief executive also says health authorities will announce new measures by public hospitals to deal with rising trend in coronavirus infections. She makes clear that current social-distancing rules will be maintained till the end of her term on June 30.

Hong Kong’s outgoing leader has said she will not “give in a single inch” to requests by international business chambers and consulates to ease the city’s tough pandemic measures, citing an expected visit by top state figures and the need to avoid confusion in light of the coming transition of power for the local administration. At a press briefing on Tuesday before the final regular meeting of her de facto cabinet, the Executive Council, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor also noted the recent rise in the number of Covid-19 infections from about 200 to more than 800. Lam said the health minister and other officials would soon announce plans by public hospitals to address the situation. Asked how she would ensure favourable conditions for an expected visit by President Xi Jinping for the inauguration ceremony of the new administration on July 1, Lam revealed she had turned down requests by international chambers of commerce and consulates to further relax pandemic restrictions.

 

 

Is Hong Kong a great place to live?

How quality of life changed after the handover.

By Web desk 13th June 2022

Crime has come down, city’s transport networks have grown and people have more leisure choices now. A big downside for residents is how homes have shrunk, cost much more and the queue is longer.

With more than 7 million people Hong Kong is both a bustling high-rise metropolis and a city with wide open spaces. It is a global financial centre and a place where conservation heritage and the arts have come to matter more. Since its return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 the city had more than two decades of boisterous civil society activism street processions and demonstrations. All that changed in the wake of 2019’s social unrest as Beijing introduced a national security law and sweeping electoral reforms. But has Hong Kong become more live able for residents who call the city home? The some indicators of whether life has changed for the better over the past 25 years. Has the housing situation improved? No. Just ask poor Hongkongers languishing in the queue for public rental housing and middle-class homebuyers who cannot afford the exorbitant prices of private flats. The wait for a public rental flat is almost as long today as in 1997. The average waiting time was 6.6 years in 1997, dropped to 1.8 years in 2007, but by March this year, stood at 6.1 years, the longest in more than two decades. While waiting, many of the city’s poorest live in tiny, subdivided spaces, the worst housing option. Meanwhile, private home prices soared by 136 per cent between 1997 and the first quarter of 2021. In 1997, a 430 sq ft flat on Hong Kong Island would have cost HK$2.77 million. Early last year, it was HK$7.6 million. The price of a flat of the same size in the New Territories would have gone up from HK$2.4 million to HK$6.1 million over the same period. As private homes have become pricier, living space has shrunk with the trend of nano flats. These tiny housing units, as small as 200 sq ft, rose from 0.2 per cent of total new units offered in 2010 to 10.3 per cent in 2020, according to think tank Liber Research Community. The entry price of Soyo, a new nano flat project in Mong Kok, started at HK$3.38 million for flats of 152 to 228 sq ft. Hong Kong’s housing woes are created by many layers of problems but all can be traced back to the government’s land administration housing and taxation policy. The government has conceded too much to developers in the past 25 years, and the general public as a whole has paid a heavy price by being forced to live in cramped, unaffordable space, a member said. Does it cost more to live in Hong Kong now? Yes. Although incomes have gone up that has been outpaced by the rising cost of housing, food and transport. The monthly wage average for Hongkongers for the period May to June last year was HK$18,700, up about 68 per cent from HK$11,113 in April to September 1997. The price of a Big Mac hamburger from fast food chain McDonald’s, which has more than 200 outlets across the city more than doubled from HK$10.20 in 2000 to HK$22 this year. A can of fried dace with salted black beans, a staple in the pantries of grass root homes, costs nearly five times more, rising from HK$5.60 in 1997 to HK$32.90 this year. Hong Kong has a long way to go to fix its widening wealth gap. The city’s poorest residents received some relief when the government introduced a minimum wage in 2011. Starting at HK$28 an hour, it is now HK$37.50, with calls to raise it further. Around 1.65 million people almost one in four in the city were considered to be living in poverty last year earning only half the average household income. That was the highest rate of poverty since records began in 2009.Is it easier to get around the city? Hong Kong has invested heavily in improving transport networks and connectivity especially by train slashing travel times within the city and with mainland China since the handover. Major rail projects include the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, the South Island line reaching Aberdeen, and the Sha Tin-Central line with the East Rail line extension, connecting Tuen Mun with Kowloon and New Territories East as well as Admiralty with the Northern district. The costliest of them all was the HK$90.7 billion Sha Tin-Central line which opened in mid-May as the East Rail line extension to Admiralty. In comparison, the high speed rail line connecting Hong Kong and the mainland cost HK$84.4 billion. The MTR’s local network, which carried 812 million passengers in 1997 carried 1.4 billion last year. Thanks to a fare adjustment mechanism adopted 12 years ago, rail fare increases have been regulated to stay in line with inflation. An adult travelling by MTR from Tsuen Wan to Admiralty pays HK$15.50 now, 32 per cent more than HK$11.7 in 1997. The high-speed cross-border rail from Guangdong province to the West Kowloon terminus, cut travelling time to 19 minutes to Shenzhen and 47 minutes to Guangzhou. The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, which opened in 2018 and shortened cross-border travel times by road, cost HK$120 billion and took nine years to complete. Other overland connections include the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Corridor and the Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai Border Crossing.How safe is Hong Kong? The overall crime rate in Hong Kong saw a notable decrease until the social unrest of 2019 saw widespread clashes between protesters and frontline police. While the number of hard crimes declined sharply the increasing use of technology saw more Hongkongers falling victim to online fraudsters. Between 1997 and 2021, the number of robbery cases fell from 2,914 to 123, while burglary cases slid from about 6,400 to 1,472. The number of severe violent crimes also fell in the past 25 years. Murder cases dropped from 102 in 1997 to 23 in last year, while wounding and serious assault cases went down from nearly 7,000 to around 4000. Sex crime cases went down slightly from 1,188 to 1,097. Triad-related crime dropped by nearly 30 per cent from 2,599 cases in 1997 to 1,888 last year. Soon after Hong Kong returned to China, several high-profile armed robberies and kidnappings occurred. Notorious gangster “Big Spender” Cheung Tsz-keung kidnapped property tycoon Walter Kwok Ping-sheung, then-chairman of Sun Hung Kai Properties, in 1997. Cheung was arrested and executed on the mainland in 1998. There has been no high-profile kidnapping case since. In 1998, “King of Thieves” Kwai Ping-hung hit two shops in Causeway Bay and escaped with more than HK$3 million in watches and jewellery. He was arrested in 2003, jailed and released earlier this year. More recent years have seen a sharp rise in telephone scams and cybercrime. Between 2005 and 2021, more than 11,100 people in Hong Kong lost a total of HK$1.8 billion in scams involving confidence tricksters operating easily across borders. The victims have included women and men scammed by sweet-talking online lovers they never met, individuals frightened into believing they had run afoul of the law in mainland China and families tricked into paying to get a family member out of trouble. After the handover Hong Kong allowed citizens to express their views in public gatherings processions and demonstrations. From barely around 1,000 public order events a year during the colonial era all with police approval, the number rose to 3,824 in 2007, 11,811 in 2017, and 20,859 last year. On July 1, 2003, an estimated crowd of 500,000 took to the streets, resulting in the government shelving its plan to enact national security legislation required under the Basic Law, the city’s mini constitution. The Occupy pro-democracy protests of 2014 shut down parts of the city for 79 days. Then, in 2019, there were months of anti-government protests over an extradition bill which would have allowed fugitives to be sent to the mainland, with violent clashes between demonstrators and the police. In June 2020, Beijing imposed the national security law banning acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. Dozens of political and civil society groups disbanded, and more than 100 opposition politicians, civil society activists and journalists and media owners were arrested. Have public and cultural spaces improved?  Despite intensive urban development, Hong Kong has kept most of its country parks intact. They account for 40 per cent of the city’s 1,113.76 sq km land area and drew 12.4 million visitors last year. There are 24 country parks, six marine parks and one marine reserve. Robin’s Nest in Sha Tau Kok has been approved to be the city’s 25th country park and the South Lantau marine park will be the seventh and largest marine park. In heritage conservation, a government scheme has engaged the private sector to turn more than 20 disused historic sites into new cultural spaces. Lui Seng Chun, a pre-war era Chinese-style shop house in Mong Kok, has been converted into a Chinese medicine healthcare centre, while Mei Ho House, the last surviving building of the city’s first public housing estate in Shek Kip Mei, is now a youth hostel. The city’s largest conservation project since the handover was the transformation of the former Central Police Station compound into the Tai Kwun culture venue by the Jockey Club. Completed in 2018, it now houses a museum and exhibition and event spaces. The HK$21.6 billion West Kowloon Cultural District has opened in stages, after more than a decade of construction delays, leadership shifts and budget woes since 2008. The Xiqu Centre was the first venue to open in 2019. The showpiece M+ Museum opened last November and the Palace Museum will open this summer to mark the 25th anniversary of the handover. A continuous public promenade being built around Victoria Harbour has opened new space for relaxation, jogging and other leisure activities and is expected to reach 34km by 2028. Academic Sampson Wong from Chinese University said the improvement of public spaces must go beyond providing designated public areas, as the value of these spaces depends on how residents use and enjoy them. It’s about letting people know that this space is theirs, they have ownership and can explore how to use it. If a house is yours, you will be thinking about how to use it well, Wong said. Is the air cleaner? Annual average concentrations of most major pollutants have been decreasing over the past seven years, analysis of government data on air quality in roadside and general stations found. One indication is the annual average of respirable suspended particulates (PM10), which include smoke, dust and other tiny matter in the air. Data from the Central and Western district air monitoring station showed 25 micrograms per cubic metre in 2020 half the annual limit of 50 micrograms and 51 per cent lower than the 1997 average. Among all pollutants, the decrease in sulphur dioxide was most pronounced. The annual average concentration of the chemical in various districts dropped by 60 per cent from 2013 to 2020, according to green group Clean Air Network. The improvement is attributed to various policies tackling vehicle emissions, a major cause of air pollution in Hong Kong. The government introduced a fine on idling motor vehicle engines in 2011 and began phasing out diesel vehicles by subsidising owners to switch to cleaner models in 2018. Subsidies for electric vehicles were introduced last year. The decline of manufacturing activity in southern mainland China since the early 2010s has also helped, with fewer pollutants blowing into Hong Kong from there. How does Hong Kong care for minorities? The city is home to about 580,000 non-Chinese residents from minority groups who make up 8 per cent of the population, according to the 2016 census. Filipino and Indonesian foreign domestic workers make up 57.7 per cent of Hong Kong’s ethnic minority population. Those who have settled in the city for generations include many of South Asian origin, from countries like India, Pakistan and Nepal. Hong Kong’s ethnic minority groups have faced challenges in education, disadvantaged by their lack of knowledge of Chinese, and many are trapped in low-paying jobs. The Race Discrimination Ordinance, in effect since 2009, remains the main legal protection for these residents. Complaints can be made to the Equal Opportunities Commission, which will investigate, mediate between parties or offer legal help for the complaint to go to court. There have been only three such court cases so far. Prejudice and discrimination persist. A 2016 survey by the commission found that just over half the ethnic minority respondents said they had not experienced discrimination in their daily lives. Phyllis Cheung, chief executive officer of Hong Kong Unison, an NGO helping ethnic minority groups, said current laws do not go far enough. Stereotypes of ethnic minorities continue to perpetuate and materialize into explicit and unconscious racial bias and discriminatory treatment, she said. Individuals from the city’s LGBT+ community have gone to court and persuaded the city’s judges to grant same-sex partners spousal benefits, custody rights and equal rights in home ownership. But the judges have been unmoved on recognising same-sex unions in Hong Kong. Judicial review and case law can provide guidance and be used to educate people on human rights but have their limits. Judges cannot draft the legislation necessary to protect these groups, said human rights lawyer Mark Daly, who has been involved in landmark legal victories for equal rights. There are also anti-discrimination laws covering sex, family care responsibilities and disability. Those from sexual minorities have complained of inadequate protection. Individuals from the city’s LGBT+ community have gone to court and persuaded the city’s judges to grant same-sex partners spousal benefits, custody rights and equal rights in home ownership. But the judges have been unmoved on recognising same-sex unions in Hong Kong. Judicial review and case law can provide guidance and be used to educate people on human rights but have their limits. Judges cannot draft the legislation necessary to protect these groups, said human rights lawyer Mark Daly, who has been involved in landmark legal victories for equal rights.

 

 “We will fight at all costs, and we will fight to the very end,” Wei said.

“This is the only choice for China.”

We will fight to the very end, Chinese defence chief warns on Taiwan independence.

 By Web desk 12th June 2022

Taiwan independence is a dead end General Wei Fenghe tells Shangri-La Dialogue, as he asserts Beijing’s peaceful aims and slams US threats against China. US trying to ‘hijack’ countries in the Indo-Pacific with exclusive multinational groups that target China, Wei declares.

China would fight at all costs any efforts to make Taiwan independent, Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe has warned, while saying Beijing was trying its best to peacefully reunify the self-ruled island with the mainland. Fighting to the very end when independence is pursued is China’s only option, Wei said as he set out Beijing’s vision for regional order in a speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue defence conference on Sunday.

  

More than 540,000 Hongkongers issued BN(O) passports since 2019 with most approved after UK citizenship scheme unveiled.

By Web desk 11th June 2022

Freedom of Information request to British government shows 541,873 BN(O) passports were approved for issue between 2019 and 2022, with 58 per cent granted in 2020. Immigration consultants say BN(O) pathway scheme two years ago led to ‘enormous increase’ in applications for passports over past three years.

More than half a million Hong Kong residents have received British National (Overseas) passports since 2019, with about 60 per cent of the travel documents approved for issue in 2020, when the UK announced a new pathway to citizenship scheme. Immigration consultants said the unveiling of the pathway scheme for BN(O) holders two years ago had led to an enormous increase in those renewing or applying for their passports in recent years. The initiative was announced by the United Kingdom a month after Beijing’s decision to impose a national security law on Hong Kong in June 2020. The legislation bans acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign powers.

 

Can Hong Kong become a ‘legal hub’? State official urges city to lean on strengths to aid country’s ‘foreign-related’ work in field, such as in treaties and international legislation

By Web desk 10th June 2022

Xie Feng, formerly Beijing’s top envoy in Hong Kong, says city should follow Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s thoughts on diplomacy and rule of law. He calls on Hong Kong to provide wisdom for China when ‘applying, leading and shaping’ international rules.

Hong Kong should lean on its strengths in legal services to help foster the country’s foreign-related work in the field such as in forming treaties and international law, a top state official has said. Chinese foreign vice-minister Xie Feng, formerly Beijing’s top envoy in Hong Kong, said the city should make greater contributions to the construction of China’s legal work on the global stage by following President Xi Jinping’s thoughts on diplomacy and rule of law. (Hong Kong) should use its edge in the rule of law to continue attracting international legal organisations to set up their branches in the city and hold legal conferences, and operate the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organisation Hong Kong Regional Arbitration Centre well to turn the city into a legal hub in the Asia-Pacific region,” Xie said on Thursday at a conference in the lead-up to the 25th anniversary of the city’s return to Chinese rule.

  

Moonis rejected this rumour terming it fake news in his tweet.

Chaudhry brothers seem to be parting ways, finally. Shujaat backing incumbent govt, his cousin Parvez Elahi supporting PTI.

 By Web desk 9th June 2022

The PML-Q -- led by the famous Chaudhry brothers of Gujrat – appears to be finally heading towards a split – which at one time appeared impossible -- as one of them, Shujaat Hussain, the chief of the party, seems to be closer to the current coalition government, unlike the other, his cousin, Punjab Assembly Speaker Parvez Elahi, an equally influential leader of the party, is endorsing its rival, the PTI.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday met PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain at the latter’s residence and inquired after his health. On the occasion, Shujaat presented certain suggestions regarding overseas Pakistanis and the upcoming fiscal budget. The prime minister welcomed these “public-oriented” proposals and said they would be included in the next budget. He told Shujaat that two federal ministers from the PML-Q were very hard working and honest. During the meeting, federal ministers Tariq Bashir Cheema, Salik Hussain, Khawaja Saad Rafique, provincial ministers Malik Ahmed Khan, PML-Q central leaders Chaudhry Shafay Hussain and PML-Q MNA Farrukh Khan were also present. The PML-Q president expressed the resolve to steer the country out of the financial crunch collectively. On Monday, Shujaat’s sons, federal minister Salik and Shafay Hussain called on Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz at his office, announcing their complete support to the incumbent government and reassured that their political alliance would continue in the future as well. The Punjab CM also inquired after the health of their father, Shujaat, and expressed good wishes for him. Another PML-Q leader Tariq Bashir Cheema separately met Hamza along with Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Raja Riaz. They too expressed their desire to continue their political alliance. Elahi had chosen to side with the PTI by rejecting the Sharif brothers’ offer for the Punjab chief minister’s position, while his cousin, Shujaat, preferred to shake hands with the PML-N-led government. Later, the PML-Q president’s son, Salik, was inducted into the new government’s cabinet along with  Cheema.  Salik and Cheema were appointed federal ministers for the Board of Investment and national food security and research, respectively. However, Hussain Ellahi, son of Chaudhry Wajahat Hussain -- Shujaat’s brother – wrote in a tweet that his journey with the PML-Q had to come to an end and he would decide his political future with his cousin, Moonis. I cannot be in a party that supports Shehbaz Sharif-led Imported Government, he added. Sources said Hussain Ellahi was leaving on a foreign trip and the Chaudhry family of Gujrat would make a major announcement after his return. Elahi and his son Moonis are supporting the PTI, which was ousted from power in the Centre and Punjab by the then opposition parties. The Punjab Assembly speaker has been pretty vocal against the present regime. On April 16, PMLN’s Hamza was elected as the new chief minister of Punjab securing 197 votes amid the chaos that erupted in the provincial assembly, but his rival candidate, Elahi, had declared the polls as illegal. However, after a long, drawn-out legal and political battle, Hamza was finally sworn-in as the Punjab chief minister on April 30. The oath of office was administered to him by National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, in accordance with the Lahore High Court’s order, at the Governor’s House in Lahore. Earlier, the LHC CJ had passed orders twice. The first was to President Arif Alvi to nominate anyone for administering the oath to Hamza but the order was in vain. The second time, the LHC chief justice had advised the Punjab governor to ensure the swearing-in of Hamza, but the constitutional obligation was not followed. The PML-N leader for the third time knocked the LHC doors over not being administered his oath. This time, the petitioner had requested the LHC to “nominate any person” for the administration of oath at the Governor House at a specified time calling for the (coercive arm of the state to be set in motion for the implementation of the court orders). On Monday, rumours were making rounds on social media about a possible patch up between Elahi and Hamza through Shujaat who, according to sources, wanted the two sides to come to terms with each other. However, Moonis rejected this rumour terming it fake news in his tweet. He also asked those propagating this news to check the sources.

  

I have delivered a report card I do not regret, Hong Kong's Carrie Lam says in emotional speech in last Legco session.

 By Web desk 9th June 2022

Chief executive declares a 'perfect full stop' to her 40-year career in final question and answer session in legislature. Lam ends her five-year term on June 30, with her legacy also expected to be touched on by Legco members.   

Hong Kong’s outgoing leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor attended her final question and answer session in the Legislative Council on Thursday morning, a swansong before the end of her five-year term on June 30. Lawmakers are likely to grill the chief executive on strategies for combating the Covid-19 pandemic as a potential sixth wave of cases looms over the city and progress on reopening the border with mainland China. Housing policies and a controversial proposal to increase senior civil servants’ pay by a record 7.26 per cent are also likely to be covered during the 1½-hour session. Legislators are also expected to offer their opinions on Lam’s legacy before her former No 2, John Lee Ka-chiu, takes the reins on July 1.

  

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam defends police action to close off Victoria Park on June 4, saying anniversary of Tiananmen Square crackdown could spur violent activism.

By Web desk 8th June 2022

Chief executive notes radicals have gone underground since the imposition of the national security law two years ago. Of course I support my law enforcement departments in taking this risk-oriented attitude, she says.

Hong Kong’s leader has defended a police move to shut down parts of a park used for an annual June 4 vigil commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, saying the politically sensitive date could have spurred activists to incite violence. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said on Tuesday it was the force’s responsibility to assess risks at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay as radicals had gone underground after the enactment of the Beijing-imposed national security law in June 2020. Police have always made risk assessments and conducted operations to protect Hongkongers, and as the chief executive, of course I support my law enforcement departments in taking this risk-oriented attitude, she added.

 

Malik Riaz rubbishes fake audio attributed to him.

By Web desk 7th June 2022

PML-N had shared audio clip on social media, claiming Imran, Bushra and Farah made billions during PTI’s tenure.

Bahria Town Chairman Malik Riaz on Sunday 5th June said that an audio clip attributed to him on social media was fake, stressing that it was not surprising to create a fake audio in the presence of deep-fake technology.

The audio attributed to me on the social media is the product of this (deep-fake) technology, Riaz said in a statement. I do not want to be involved in the campaign of any political party but it is a fact that my voice was misused for political gain, he added.

I have been attacked repeatedly, now my family is also targeted. I intend to initiate legal proceedings in this matter and I will approach every legal forum to track down the people behind this conspiracy, he said. Riaz’s statement came after Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders played an audio tape purportedly a conversation between the Bahria Town chief and his daughter revealing how Farah Gogi demanded a gift for former first lady Bushra Bibi. During the conversation, the woman in the audio clip was saying to her father that Farah allegedly demanded a precious diamond as a gift for the ex-first lady in return for removing locks on a project site and withdrawing a report against her father. Riaz said that the audio clip was fake and that he would approach every legal forum to track down the people behind this conspiracy. Whoever is involved in this will be taken to task, he added. Addressing a news conference, PML-N leader Attaullah Tarar alongside his party colleague Uzma Bukhari claimed that the troika of former premier Imran Khan, his wife Bushra Bibi and her friend Farhat Shahzadi alias Farah Gogi made "billions" during the tenure of the PTI government. It started in 2019, when Imran Khan gave a relief worth Rs320 million to Ahsan Jamil Gujjar Farah’s husband under an amnesty scheme, Tarar said. He added that the former PM gave the relief due to his personal relations and friendship between Bushra and Farah. Tarar alleged that Imran and his family continued to remain in corrupt practices throughout the PTI's tenure. Commission and kickbacks were given while new records of corruption were made during the PTI's tenure. He said that Farah used Bushra’s influence for appointments and transfers in Punjab. He added that Farah and her husband now owned assets worth Rs10 billion. The assets that were in millions are now in billions. They should tell the poor Pakistani (people how they did it) so that they could also use their the couple’s knowledge to come out of poverty.

 

Coronavirus

Too early to suggest arrival of sixth wave, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says amid rising number of cases.

 By Web desk 7th June 2022

Chief executive tells reporters that she will be consulting pandemic advisers later to discuss further measures. She also says city is eager to welcome state leaders for July 1 celebrations, but declines to comment on ‘closed-loop’ arrangement for local officials.

Hong Kong’s outgoing leader has said it is still too early to suggest that the city is facing a sixth Covid-19 wave despite a rising trend of infections this month. In a press briefing before the weekly meeting of her de facto cabinet the Executive Council on Tuesday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said she would be consulting government pandemic advisers later in the day on other measures to be put in place. She added that her administration would create conditions to facilitate visits by state leaders at the end of the month for the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the city’s return to Chinese rule.

 

Embattled UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson could face leadership challenge this week.

By Web desk 6th June 2022

A growing number of Johnson’s Conservative lawmakers have withdrawn their support for the British leader. It comes after a damning official report detailed a series of illegal parties at his office during Covid-19 lockdowns.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sees rebel MPs from the governing Conservative Party triggering a vote on his leadership as soon as this week, according to a key ally of the premier. Tory MPs seeking to oust Johnson may be on the cusp of securing the 54 letters required to force a confidence vote, said the person, who insisted that the prime minister is confident that he would win any ballot if it were to take place. One MP who has been mobilising against Johnson said they thought the rebels already have the numbers to call a vote.

  

Wear masks for long term to reduce antibiotics use, University of Hong Kong researchers say.

By Web desk 6th June 2022

Social-distancing rules appear to have played a role in driving down incidences of other respiratory illnesses, University of Hong Kong team finds. That in turn may have led to fewer prescriptions of antibiotics, which have been losing their effectiveness due to overuse.

Measures adopted to protect against Covid-19, including wearing masks and regularly washing hands, have led to fewer Hongkongers being infected with respiratory illnesses such as tuberculosis, and could have also reduced the need for antibiotics and lowered the resistance bacteria show to treatment, a study has found. The research, conducted by the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and published in medical journal Antibiotics on May 31, also prompted a recommendation by a government pandemic adviser for mask wearing to continue during the winter flu season even when the pandemic was over. Our findings suggested that non-pharmaceutical measures in reducing the incidence of respiratory infections may be one of the strategies to control the amount of antibiotic consumption in humans, which may impact the burden of antibacterial resistance in the long run wrote Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, HKU’s chair of infectious diseases.

 

Hong Kong government expresses ‘strong opposition’ to US criticism of religious freedom in city

 By Web desk 5th June 2022

US State Department report cites religious leaders and groups in Hong Kong as saying authorities ‘less tolerant since the passage of the national security law All enforcement actions taken under the national security law are based on evidence and have nothing to do with their political stance,’ city administration says.

The Hong Kong government has expressed strong opposition to criticism in a US State Department report of religious freedom in the city. The paper published by the State Department on Thursday cited religious leaders and organisations in Hong Kong as saying the city government had grown less tolerant since the passage of the national security law. Titled 2021 Report on International Religious Freedom details also included interviewees concerns over self-censorship and potential targeting of civil society organisations affiliated with religious groups active in the 2019 pro-democracy movement.

  

Incoming Hong Kong leader John Lee vows to uphold revamped electoral system to pave way for economic development and resolve housing, livelihood issues.

 By Web desk 4th June 2022

 He also voices ‘absolute confidence’ there will not be a repeat of the 2019 social unrest. He adds process of forming new team has been smooth and more time is needed to submit list to Beijing for approval

Hong Kong’s incoming leader John Lee Ka-chiu has vowed to uphold the city’s revamped electoral system to pave the way for economic development resolve housing woes and address livelihood issues. The chief executive-elect also expressed confidence there would not be a repeat of the 2019 social unrest saying that with national security risks largely reined in a recurrence of such political turmoil would be impossible. Lee, in an interview with Hong Kong China News Agency on Friday, insisted he would seek to maintain the Beijing-imposed political overhaul in the long term, adding the improved system was aligned with the city’s development needs.

 

Joe Biden again pleads for limits on assault weapons after US mass shootings.

By Web desk 3rd June 2022

Joe Biden urged Congress to ban assault weapons and implement other gun control measures. The United States has been shaken in recent weeks by the high-profile mass shootings.

US President Joe Biden called for a ban on sales of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, pleading with Congress to toughen gun laws following a spate of mass shootings. We need to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines, Biden said in an evening address from the White House on Thursday. But he acknowledged that Congress is unlikely to ban the weapons, adding: We should raise the age to purchase them from 18 to 21, strengthen background checks, enact safe storage laws and red-flag laws, repeal the immunity that protects gun manufacturers from liability, address the mental health crisis deepening the trauma of gun violence.

 

Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee

a lifetime of breaking royal records

By Web desk 2nd June 2022

UK hosting special tribute to Queen Elizabeth’s 70-year reign from Thursday to Sunday. At 96, Elizabeth is the oldest current monarch and head of state in the world.

Queen Elizabeth has notched up a number of landmarks in her record-breaking 70 years on the throne. Elizabeth has reigned for 70 years and nearly four months – longer than any other monarch in British history. The previous record was held by her great-great-grandmother queen Victoria, who reigned for 63 years, seven months and two days until 1901.

 Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee

a rundown of four days of festivities

UK hosting special tribute to Queen Elizabeth’s 70-year reign from Thursday to Sunday. The 96-year-old UK monarch has reigned for longer than any of her predecessors.

Celebrations for Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee will be on a truly royal scale, featuring millions of participants around Britain and climaxing in a TV spectacle expected to be watched by a billion worldwide. Here is a rundown of the four days of festivities that start Thursday to commemorate the 70-year reign of Britain’s longest-ruling monarch. Around 1,500 soldiers, 400 army musicians and 250 horses will take part in the traditional trooping the Colour parade Thursday, which returns after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid pandemic.

 

3 Hong Kong universities place in top 10 in coveted ranking of Asia’s tertiary institutions.

By Web desk 2nd June 2022

University of Hong Kong holds onto fourth place, while Chinese University came seventh and University of Science and Technology drops one spot to ninth. Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings cover 616 institutions in 31 countries and regions.

Three Hong Kong universities have placed in the top 10 of a closely watched ranking of Asia’s best tertiary institutions, with Polytechnic University coming not far behind at number 15. In the Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings 2022 released on Wednesday, the University of Hong Kong (HKU) held onto its No 4 spot for a fourth consecutive year, while Chinese University came seventh, the same as last year. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology dropped one spot to ninth, switching places with Seoul National University, which rose to eighth.

 

 قومی اسمبلی کی نشستوں میں کمی کردیگئی

 By Web desk 1st June 2022

اسلام آباد(نیوز ڈیسک) الیکشن کمیشن نے نئی حلقہ بندیوں کے بعد قومی اسمبلی کی نشستوں کی تعداد میں کمی کردی ہے۔نجی ٹی وی اے آر وائی نیوز کی رپورٹ کے مطابق الیکشن کمیشن نے حلقہ بندیوں کی ابتدائی رپورٹ شائع کردی ہے، جس کے مطابق قومی اسمبلی کی 6 نشستیں کم کردی گئی ہیں۔رپورٹ کے مطابق نئی حلقہ بندیوں میں فاٹا کی 6 نشستوں میں کمی کے بعد قومی اسمبلی کے تمام حلقوں کی تعداد 272 سے کم ہو کر 266 ہوگئی ہے۔ الیکشن کمیشن کا کہنا ہے کہ ابتدائی حلقہ بندیوں پر متعلقہ حلقے کا ووٹر 30 جون تک اعتراض دائر کرسکتا ہے، جس کے بعد الیکشن کمیشن یکم جولائی سے 30 جولائی تک اعتراضات پر فیصلے کرے گا۔خیال رہے کہ سابقہ فاٹا میں قومی اسمبلی میں نشستوں کی تعداد 12 تھی، تاہم قبائلی علاقوں کے خیبر پختون خواہ میں ضم ہونے کے بعد اس کی نشستوں میں کمی کی گئی ہے۔جاری بیان کے مطابق حلقہ بندیوں پر اعتراضات میمورنڈم کی صورت میں سیکریٹری الیکشن کمیشن کے نام جمع ہونگے، جبکہ اعتراضات اور نقشہ جات کی 8 نقول الیکشن کمیشن میں جمع کرانا ہوں گی۔الیکشن کمیشن کا کہنا ہے کہ بذریعہ کوریئر، ڈاک یا فیکس اعتراضات قابل قبول نہیں ہوں گے۔

 

Jumbo Floating Restaurant’s kitchen boat listing into waters of Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter.

 By Web desk 1st June 2022

Floating in Hong Kong’s Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter for nearly 50 years, the kitchen boat next to the city’s famous Jumbo Floating Restaurant on Tuesday night began taking on water after a suspected hull breach, listing into the waters at its home for the last several decades. Marine police and firefighters were called to the scene at around 11pm yesterday after receiving reports of the listing. It was understood that no one was on board the kitchen boat, and authorities were still investigating the cause of the list. Workers could be seen setting up oily water separators around the ship on Wednesday morning. However, there was no confirmation of any oil spills from the boat. The incident came one day after the parent company of the floating restaurant announced in a statement that the restaurant would be departing the city next month as they were running out of money to keep the structure in good condition. Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises said in a statement that there is no available dry dock for Jumbo Floating Restaurant in Hong Kong, and it is unable to carry out large-scale inspections and maintenance for the floating restaurant every three years. As a result, it has decided to move Jumbo Floating Restaurant out of Hong Kong next month for inspection, maintenance, and storage. The company said over the past year, the company had discussed with more than a dozen companies and institutions to donate the Jumbo Floating Restaurant for free as part of the Invigorating Island South project announced in the 2020 Policy Address, but all parties said operating costs were too high. It added that the expenditure of an average of millions of Hong Kong dollars every year to inspect, repair, and maintain the restaurant to meet its license and other requirements has laid a heavy burden on the company and its shareholders, especially under the current economic environment. The statement also noted that the vessel license of Jumbo Floating Restaurant will expire in June this year, and it is foreseeable that the seafood restaurant will not resume business in the short term. The restaurant has been closed since early 2020, with its owner reporting an accumulated loss in excess of HK$100 million after the pandemic devastated the tourism and catering industries.

 

Ferocious tide of educators leaving Hong Kong, association of secondary school heads warns.

By Web desk 31st May 2022

Survey by Hong Kong Association of the Heads of Secondary Schools shows 987 teachers left their jobs during 2020-21 academic year. Many principals have expressed difficulties in hiring teachers for new academic year.

Hong Kong secondary school heads have warned of a ferocious departure tide as the supply of new educators has failed to counterbalance the number of teachers leaving their jobs. The warning on Monday came as the Hong Kong Association of the Heads of Secondary Schools released the results of a survey conducted in September that showed a record number of both teachers and students departed campuses in the 2020-21 academic year. Each school lost an average of 7.1 teachers in 2020-21, with the figure standing at 3.9 in 2019-20 and 4.2 in 2018-19. Teacher turnover and the decline in student population are already indisputable facts which may undermine the development of education in Hong Kong and its future development if they are not handled properly and in time, the report concluded.

 

All Hong Kong residents to get

‘fortune bags’

containing gifts marking 25th anniversary of city’s return to Chinese rule.

 By Web desk 30th May 2022

Source says souvenir pack will contain vacuum mug, pen and paper fan. Logistics arrangement expected to be similar to when authorities handed out epidemic packs.

Hong Kong residents are set to receive a fortune bag in June containing small gifts marking the 25th anniversary of the city’s return to Chinese rule. A source said authorities planned to distribute millions of the souvenir packs in mid-June, with the Home Affairs Department taking the lead. The pack will contain souvenirs, including a vacuum mug, a pen and a paper fan, the source said. The logistic arrangements of distributing the packs will be similar to those for handing out anti-epidemic packs earlier.

  

Country needs $36b in foreign loans.

Govt not mulling acquiring debt from global market, banks.

By Web desk 29th May 2022

Finance Minister Miftah Ismail has announced that Pakistan is expected to reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in June, as the country is projected to need $36-37 billion in foreign financing in the next financial year.

He revealed that at present the government was not considering raising fresh foreign debt from the global capital market and commercial banks after the country’s international bonds lost almost one-third of their value, while their yields went up significantly. He said that instead of economic growth, controlling inflation was the top priority of the government. Inflation control will lead to economic growth, he remarked while speaking at a webinar on National Dialogue on Economy the Way forward for Pakistan organised by Nutshell Conferences and Corporate Pakistan Group on Saturday. Agriculture remains the first line of defence for Pakistan, the minister stressed. However, the country will still import 3 million tons of wheat, 4 million tons of cooking oil worth $6 billion and 5 million bales of cotton to run the economy in the next fiscal year 2022-23. Giving the breakdown of the external financing requirement, Ismail said Pakistan is to repay $21 billion in foreign debt in the next fiscal year. Besides, the country will require another $10-15 billion to finance the current account deficit. The government is also targeting to boost the country’s foreign exchange reserves by $5 billion to $15 billion next year. So, it is a must to enter the IMF loan programme (worth $6 billion) to arrange the required financing, Ismail said. The value of Pakistan’s US dollar-denominated international bonds has shrunk by around 30% - like $1 bond was trading at 70 cents when the PML-N led coalition government came to power in early April. Now it is trading at 65 cents, he said. This means we cannot float Eurobonds in the world market to raise fresh funds, nor can we go to (global) commercial banks right now, the minister said. At present, the viable option is to borrow from the multilateral and bilateral lenders. To take loans from the multilateral institutions, it is a must to be in the IMF programme. This unlocks financing from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and particularly the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank everyone is waiting for the revival of IMF programme, he said. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also went to Saudi Arabia and other friendly countries to acquire financing from them. They are ready to extend loans, but only after we enter the IMF programme. The IMF has linked the revival of its loan programme to the removal of subsidy on petroleum products. I am also in favour of ending the subsidy as the economy cannot afford to pay Rs120-140 billion per month in energy subsidy. The subsidy amount is three times the cost of Rs41-42 billion a month for running the civilian government, he pointed out. This energy subsidy is unaffordable we could become bankrupt, the finance minister remarked. Owing to that, the government initiated the process of reversing the subsidy with effect from Friday May 27. The subsidy was being consumed more by the rich running big cars and less by the poor, he said. That makes no sense. Ismail reiterated that PM Sharif announced a Rs28 billion package for the poor, under which Rs2,000 would be provided per household to protect them from the spike in inflation. Everyone earning less than Rs40,000 per month is eligible for the financial assistance of Rs2,000 per month. Achieving higher economic growth in a growing nation with young population was not a big task, but achieving sustainable economic growth without current account deficit is tough, Ismail said. He underscored the need to change focus of our policy such as no more import-led growth, manufacturing for export purposes and a revolution in the agriculture sector. The country really needed to increase agricultural yields to cut the import bill, he emphasised. The finance minister invited all political parties to frame the Charter of Economy, which could include the minimum economic agenda by setting aside the political differences. The charter may include consensus on privatising the loss-making state-owned enterprises. Speaking on the occasion, former finance minister Shaukat Tarin declared that he was also in favour of a national-level Charter of Economy. We will consider formulating the Charter of Economy only after general elections are held, he said. Tarin stressed the need to reduce the gap between import payments and export earnings with focus on IT exports, which grew fast during the previous government’s tenure. IT exports can be increased to $50 billion a year in five to six years … and reduce the gap between imports and exports.  Tarin called for fast-tracking work on the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to attract foreign investors. He also spoke about increasing agricultural yields, boosting the tax-to-GDP and savings-to-GDP ratios and adopting an appropriate rupee-dollar exchange rate for “sustainable economic growth.

Hongkongers could pay for Covid shots in future as minister reveals 600,000 eligible residents still not triple-jabbed ahead of vaccine pass update.

 By Web desk 29th May 2022

Civil service minister Patrick Nip says residents currently allowed three or possibly four Covid jabs for free, but authorities may charge for shots in future. Official data shows 55.9 per cent of city’s vaccine-eligible population aged 12 or above have received their third jab.

Hong Kong’s mass vaccination programme could cease to be free in the future, the minister in charge of the city’s inoculation drive against Covid-19 has warned, as he revealed that about 600,000 eligible residents had yet to receive their third jab. Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said on Sunday that although the programme currently allowed each resident to receive three or possibly four vaccine doses for free, authorities would decide whether to start charging for jabs later. The minister also estimated that about 600,000 people had received their second shot more than six months ago but had yet to get a third jab. The figure comes just two days ahead of the launch of the third phase of the city’s vaccine pass.

  

M Shehbaz Sharief unveils Rs28bn relief package to protect poor from inflation.

 By Web desk 28th May 2022

 Prime Minister Shehbaz unveiled a relief package of Rs28 billion to protect the poor from the impact of inflation a day after the PML-N-led government increased the prices of petroleum products by Rs30 per litre.

In his maiden speech to the nation on Friday, the PM said as part of his relief package poor families across the country will be paid Rs2,000 each to cope with the rising inflation. We took the tough decision to increase the fuel prices as global petroleum prices are rising the previous government provided subsidies on fuel for political gains, he added. This tough decision is an important step to steer the country out of crisis and stabilise. The PM said the stipend will be given to the deserving families through Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and added that the government-run utility stores across the country have been directed to sell a 10kg flour bag at Rs400. He blamed former prime minister Imran Khan’s government for destroying the country’s economy, saying that the last PTI regime accepted the tough conditions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which he said made the lives of the masses miserable. Ex-PM Imran was ousted from power on public demand and through democratic means, Premier Shehbaz added. The people of Pakistan demanded to get rid of the incompetent and corrupt rulers. That is why we accepted the challenge. He added. We are ready to make tough decisions and we will take all those decisions necessary for the prosperity of the country. Recalling the last tenure of the PML-N, the prime minister said his party built several developmental projects and ended load-shedding from the country. PM Shehbaz also lashed out at his predecessor Imran Khan, saying that Pakistan will run according to the Constitution of the country and dictation will not be accepted. Corrupt minds have poisoned politics, he said while indirectly referring to the demands of the PTI to call early elections and dissolve the assemblies. Responding to Imran’s allegations, the premier said the previous government dubbed diplomatic letter as evidence of foreign conspiracy. However, he said the National Security Committee (NSC) denied Imran’s claims that foreign conspiracy was behind his ouster from power. PM Shehbaz also said as Leader of the Opposition he proposed a 'charter of economy' to build consensus on the national issues but then the ruling party rubbished his offer. He once again offered all political parties to accept his offer to sign the charter of economy so that no government can damage the country’s interests for political gains. He also accused the previous Imran-led government of victimization of political opponents and curbing media freedom. The prime minister said that the previous government also increased the difficulties on the foreign front and angered the friendly countries. Now, we are mending ties with the friendly countries. In the address, the premier also said the government has decided to implement the National Action Plan (NAP) across the country.

 

Hong Kong’s one country two systems principle will not change after 2047.

By Web Desk 27th May 2022

Senior Beijing legal official says in latest assurance from nation’s top legislative body.

Shen Chunyao, chairman of Legislative Affairs Commission of National People’s Congress Standing Committee, makes pledge at a forum on Basic Law One country, two systems policy was a well-considered, long-term best solution to resolve historical issues involving Hong Kong, he tells forum. Hong Kong’s one country, two systems governing principle will not be altered and will not change after 2047 with its vitality and superiority maintained if it is properly upheld, a top Beijing legal official has said, marking the latest and strongest assurance from the nation’s top legislative body. The pledge was made on Friday by Shen Chunyao, chairman of both the Basic Law Committee and Legislative Affairs Commission of China’s top legislative body, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, at a legal forum hosted by Hong Kong’s Department of Justice. In his keynote speech, Shen told the Basic Law forum, themed Stability to Prosperity, that the one country, two systems policy was a well-considered, long-term best solution to resolve historical issues involving Hong Kong, which returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997 with a guarantee that the city’s way of life would be maintained for 50 years.

  

Coronavirus

 No quarantine and tests for Hongkongers.

Flying into Japan?

Country said to be considering exemptions in tourism push.

 By Web desk 26th May 2022

Source says Japan is looking to place Hong Kong on its ‘blue’ list, which will grant travel exemptions to tourists from the city. But Hong Kong tourism leaders warn measure will have limited impact if city maintains quarantine requirement, Japan refuses to recognise Sinovac jab.

Japanese authorities are considering allowing Hong Kong travellers to visit the country without undergoing any testing and quarantine requirements against Covid-19 as part of a wider policy to boost tourism. A source  said the country considered Hong Kong an important market and was looking to place the city in its blue list of regions, which grants testing and quarantine exemptions to visitors from those locations when they arrive in Japan. The Japanese government had previously announced plans to categorise countries and territories into blue, yellow and red regions from June 1. The scheme will group locations according to their coronavirus infection trends and rates of positive test results.

  

کوئی عوام کے سمندر کو روکنا چاہے تو روک کر دکھا دے، عمران خان

By Web desk 25th May 2022

چیئرمین پی ٹی آئی عمران خان کا کہنا ہے کہ فاشسٹ حکومت کی تاریخ ہمیں معلوم ہے، یہ وہی حربے استعمال کرتے ہیں جو آمر کرتے ہیں۔

چیئرمین تحریک انصاف عمران خان پشاور میں پریس کانفرنس کر رہے ہیں۔ عمران خان نے اپنی پریس کانفرنس کے دوران کہا کہ جب یہ اقتدار میں نہیں ہوتے تو انہیں جہوریت یاد آ جاتی ہے، ہمارے ساڑھے تین سال میں یہ کب سڑکوں پر نکلے؟

واضح رہے کہ پاکستان تحریک انصاف (پی ٹی آئی) کے چیئرمین اور سابق وزیراعظم عمران خان نے کل، 25 مئی کو اسلام آباد کی جانب لانگ مارچ کی کال دے رکھی ہے۔

پشاور میں پریس کانفرنس کرتے ہوئے عمران خان نے کہا کہ میں 25 مئی کو اسلام آباد میں ملوں گا، ہم سری نگر ہائی وے پر دوپہر تین بجے ملیں گے، اپنی جان کی قربانی دینے کے لیے تیار ہیں۔

عمران خان کا کہنا ہے کہ ہم کسی صورت ان کو قبول نہیں کریں گے، جتنی دیر اسلام آباد میں رہنا پڑا رہیں گے، ایکس سروس مین کو بھی اسلام آباد آنے کی دعوت دے رہا ہوں۔

  

Sri Lanka needs to print one trillion rupees to keep economy afloat, inflation could hit 40 per cent, PM says.  

By Web desk 25th May 2022

Sri Lanka is reeling from an economic crisis, as a shortage of foreign currency severely curtailed imports of essentials, triggering months of protests. Inflation could rise above 40 per cent as the government rolls back fuel subsidies and prints more money to keep the economy afloat Wickremesinghe said.

Sri Lanka’s new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Tuesday he will present an interim budget within six weeks, slashing infrastructure projects to divert funds into a two-year relief programme for the crisis-hit island nation. Wickremesinghe, who took office two weeks ago, warned inflation would rise as the government gets down to tackling the crisis, and there could be more protests. He said he hoped any unrest would not get out of hand, adding that funds would be made available to help the most vulnerable of the country’s 22 million people.

  

Deadly South Asia heatwave a once-in-3,000-year event before climate change, experts say.  

By Web desk 24th May 2022

The heatwave, which has claimed at least 90 lives across India and Pakistan in recent months, was made 30 times more likely by climate change scientists said. This is a sign of things to come, said one of the authors of the World Weather Attribution study adding it could occur every 5 years if warming continues.

The punishing heatwave that scorched India and Pakistan in recent months was made 30 times more likely by climate change, experts in quantifying the impact of global warming on extreme weather events said in a rapid-response report. Before the onset of human-caused climate change, the chances of such an event occurring would have been roughly once every 3,000 years, said senior author Friederike Otto, a scientist at Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute. Global warming to date of 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit) has shortened the so-called return period for extreme heat of similar duration and intensity in South Asia to once-a-century, her and colleagues in the World Weather Attribution (WWA) consortium found.

 

Coronavirus

Hong Kong border controls unlikely to be eased before June 30, Carrie Lam.

By Web desk 24th May 2022

Hotel quarantine, passenger vaccination and test and hold will remain in place, chief executive HKSAR. She has nothing to reveal about the possibility of a state leader visiting Hong Kong next month to celebrate the 25th anniversary of handover.

HKSAR’s strict border controls are unlikely to be relaxed before the current government’s term expires on June 30, the city’s outgoing leader has said, a relatively large proportion of imported Covid-19 cases. I would say, at this point of time it is very unlikely that during my term there will be more relaxation on border controls, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said on Tuesday. In other words, we will still have hotel quarantine, we will still require vaccinations before a passenger could board a plane to Hong Kong, and we will still impose test and hold whether at the airport or at a hotel for PCR tests.

 

لاہور کے علاقے شاد باغ سے اغوا ہونے والی دسویں جماعت کی طالبہ کو پولیس نے بازیاب کرالیا۔

  By Web desk 23rd May 2022

 پولیس ذرائع کے مطابق 17 سالہ عشا ذوالفقار کو پاکپتن سے بازیاب کرایا گیا ہے جس کے بعد پولیس بچی کو لے کر لاہور روانہ ہوگئی ہے۔ 

 ڈی پی او ساہیوال نے آئی جی پنجاب کو بازیابی کی رپورٹ پیش کر دی جبکہ سی سی پی او لاہور نے ایڈشنل ایڈووکیٹ جنرل  پنجاب کو بھی صورتحال سے آگاہ کر دیا ہے۔

 پولیس نے اغواکاری میں ملوث ملزمان عابد اور الیاس کو بھی گرفتار کرلیا ہے۔ پولیس ذرائع کا کہنا ہے کہ بچی ابھی اس وقت تفتیشی ٹیم کے ساتھ ہے اور لاہور لائی جارہی ہے۔

 اس سے قبل لاہور ہائیکورٹ نے آئی جی پنجاب کو رات 10 بجے تک بچی کی بازیابی کا حکم دیا تھا اور کہا تھا کہ اگر رات دس بجے تک بچی بازیاب نہ ہوئی تو آئی جی پنجاب اور سی سی پی او عہدے سے ہٹا دیے جائیں گے۔

  پولیس کے مطابق عشا ذوالفقار اپنے بھائی کے ساتھ دسویں کلاس کا امتحان دے کر گھر آ رہی تھی کہ گھر کے راستے میں چار مسلح اغوا کاروں نے اسلحہ کے زور پر طلبہ کو اغوا کرلیا۔

 واقعے کی سی سی ٹی وی فوٹیج  میں دیکھا جا سکتا ہے کہ سفید رنگ کی گاڑی میں سوار چار مسلح اغوا کاروں نے طالبہ کو اغوا کیا۔

 پولیس نے والد ذوالفقار علی کی مدعیت میں عابد الیاس سمیت تین افراد پر مقدمہ درج کیا تھا۔

 

Hong Kong should resume quarantine-free travel with foreign countries first, chief of leading business chamber in city urges government.

 By Web desk 23rd May 2022

Betty Yuen, new chairwoman of Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, says clear road map on travel resumption with mainland China, other places needed. Yuen warns of damage to financial opportunities in city, exit of business talent caused by Covid-19 travel curbs.

If forced to choose between first resuming quarantine-free travel with mainland China and the rest of the world, Hong Kong should pick the latter the head of one of the city’s most influential business chambers has said. Betty Yuen So Siu-mai the new chairwoman of the 4,000-member Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, also warned of the damage to financial opportunities in the city caused by Covid-19 travel curbs and called on the government to provide a clear road map on resuming travel with the mainland and other places. Hong Kong is an externally oriented and open economy, Yuen told a television programme on Sunday. Being able to resume travel is of the utmost importance, whether it is with the mainland or with foreign countries. But our strict restrictions have made us almost like a sequestered island.

  

Canada moves up to No 2 for Hong Kong students going abroad with easy migration pathways a major draw.

By Web desk 22nd May 2022

Interest in Canada shot up after news that those who study there can stay on, apply for permanent residency. More Form Six students choosing to continue their education outside Hong Kong survey shows.

Canada has leapfrogged over Australia and the United States to become the second most popular destination after Britain for Hongkongers going overseas for higher education. Britain was long the most popular choice, followed by Australia, the United States and Canada in that order. But after Canada announced its new immigration pathways for Hong Kong residents last year, 6,365 Hongkongers were granted student visas there, just behind the 6,511 student visas issued by Britain.

 

WHO calls emergency meeting.

As monkey pox cases cross 100 in Europe.

By Web desk 21st May 2022

Suspected or confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK, as well as the US, Canada and Australia. The disease typically spreads through close contact and has rarely spread outside Africa, so this series of infections has triggered concern.

The World Health Organization was due to hold an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the recent outbreak of monkey pox a viral infection more common to west and central Africa after more than 100 cases were confirmed or suspected in Europe. In what Germany described as the largest outbreak in Europe ever cases have been reported in at least eight European countries – Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom – as well as the United States, Canada and Australia. First identified in monkeys, the disease typically spreads through close contact and has rarely spread outside Africa, so this series of cases has triggered concern.

 

Coronavirus

Hong Kong rolls out fourth vaccine jab for residents aged 18 to 59, with walk-ins from Saturday until online booking system set up.

By Web desk 21st May 2022

Those who deem themselves at high risk of exposure and who received third dose at least six months prior can opt for the shot, available as Sinovac or BioNTech jab. Health expert separately joins calls to lift flight ban mechanism for city to ‘reconnect with rest of the world.

Hong Kong has rolled out fourth vaccine jabs against Covid-19 for residents aged between 18 and 59, while a health expert has suggested a flight mechanism suspending airline routes based on infected passengers should be scrapped for the city to reconnect with the rest of the world. Walk-in vaccinations opened on Saturday for individuals deeming themselves at higher risk of exposure to the coronavirus and who have received their third dose at least six months prior. Both the China-produced Sinovac shot and the German-made BioNTech jab are available. Walk-ins will continue until an online booking system is in place on May 26.

 

Ukraine war

Joe Biden welcomes Sweden, Finland leaders in push for Nato bid, despite objections from Turkey.

By Web desk 20th May 2022

Sweden and Finland, while solidly Western, have historically kept a distance from Nato as part of long-standing policies aimed at avoiding angering Russia. Turkey has voiced misgivings about membership of the two countries, accusing them of supporting ‘terrorism’ due to the presence of Kurdish militants.

US President Joe Biden on Thursday welcomed the leaders of Finland and Sweden in a strong show of support for their bids to join Nato in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. To the pomp of a red carpet and military honour guard, Biden received Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto just days after they officially said they would seek to join the US-backed alliance. Biden offered his strong support to their inclusion saying the countries meet all criteria.

 

Coronavirus

Hong Kong health chief warns of jabs hesitancy if exemptions allowed for vaccine pass, rebuking experts’ earlier proposal.

 By Web desk 20th May 2022

Health secretary Sophia Chan makes comments in newspaper column, along with pandemic adviser’s call that tough rules can only be lifted with 95 per cent inoculation rate. Chan argues vaccine pass serves as incentive for people to get jabs and should not be seen as coercive.

Hong Kong’s health minister has warned of vaccine hesitancy if some among the city’s population are exempted from a coming scheme allowing only triple-jabbed residents to enter most premises, rebuking an earlier proposal from health experts to limit the requirement to the elderly. Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee doubled down on ramped-up rules for the Covid-19 vaccine pass, in line with pandemic adviser Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, who said the scheme could only be lifted if 95 per cent of the population had received their third shot. Chan argued the vaccine pass served as an incentive for people to get vaccinated, playing an indispensable role in the city.

 

Hongkongers make plans to visit bars, karaoke lounges as Covid-19 curbs are further eased, but companies worry about staff shortages.

By Web desk 19th May 2022

City has pressed ahead with its second stage of eased restrictions, allowing bars, party rooms, karaoke lounges, mahjong parlours and more venues to open. Ben Leung, charter president of the Licensed Bar and Club Association of Hong Kong, says industry faces difficulties in hiring workers ahead of reopening.

Hong Kong residents are eagerly making plans to visit bars, karaoke lounges and other leisure venues as the city has further relaxed social-distancing curbs, but some industry leaders are worried about manpower shortages in the face of increased demand. Despite the fluctuating daily number of Covid-19 cases, the city on Thursday pressed ahead with the second stage of eased restrictions, allowing bars, party rooms, karaoke lounges, mahjong parlours, nightclubs, bathhouses and cruises to resume operations for the first time since early January. Gary Linacre is among the residents hoping to enjoy the new freedoms. He requested leave from work for Friday and plans to visit different bars in the Sai Ying Pun and Sheung Wan area with around three other friends on Thursday night. He is also looking forward to celebrating his 32nd birthday over the weekend.

 

Hong Kong government revamp

What is it and how does it affect incoming leader John Lee’s administration?

 By Web desk 18th May 2022

Chief Executive-elect John Lee’s plan follows largely that of outgoing leader Carrie Lam’s earlier proposal, but includes new deputy secretary for justice position. Deputies will share workload with secretaries, Lee adds, saying those who coordinate special projects under his purview can report to him directly.

With less than seven weeks until Hong Kong Chief Executive-elect John Lee Ka-chiu takes office on July 1, the Executive Council (Exco), outgoing leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s de facto cabinet, on Tuesday endorsed a massive plan to restructure the government. The plan, which would expand the current 13 bureaus into 15, will cost taxpayers an extra HK$95 million (US$12.1 million) every year.

  

Hong Kong’s next government should scrap quarantine for travellers, provide pandemic exit plan: European business group.

 By Web desk 17th May 2022

 Frederik Gollob, chairman of European Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, says he hopes city will provide mainland China with example of how to reopen to world. Gollob has called on incoming government to make a ‘bold move’ and present exit plan to move city out of pandemic and reopen its borders.

A European business chamber in Hong Kong has called on the government to scrap quarantine requirements for travellers and provide a clear plan to exit the Covid-19 pandemic or risk jeopardising the city’s recovery. European Chamber of Commerce chairman Frederik Gollob on Monday also said he hoped Hong Kong could provide mainland China with an example of how to reopen to the world. Gollob noted that Europeans were resuming normal life, while Hong Kong remained cut off from the rest of the world.

 

Joe Biden to plug Indo-Pacific Strategy in Japan and South Korea, with eye on China and Russia.

By Web desk 16th may 2022

The US President will seek to deepen security cooperation with both allies and encourage them to press further sanctions on Russia amid the Ukraine war. While Seoul is not a member of the Quad, its close ties with the US and support for the Indo-Pacific Strategy could see it invited to participate in working groups, an analyst says.

On Joe Biden’s first trip to Asia as US president this week, he is expected to engage Washington’s two staunchest allies in the region more closely with its Indo-Pacific Strategy and encourage them to further step up pressure on Russia and China, analysts said. From four days beginning on Friday, Biden will visit Seoul and Tokyo in a trip the White House says underscores US commitment to the region even as international attention is directed towards the Ukraine war. On top of meetings with newly-inaugurated South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Biden and Kishida will also be attending the Quad partnership summit with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian leader Scott Morrison.

  

Hong Kong welfare minister warns low quality care homes for elderly, disabled could be replaced in future under new bill for failing to meet requirements.

By Web desk 16th May 2022

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong says care homes to be given eight-year transition period for facilities to meet new requirements. Government’s recently gazetted bill proposes raising minimum area of floor space per resident and required number of staff in care homes for elderly and disabled.

Hong Kong’s welfare minister has warned that residential care homes for the elderly and disabled that do not meet new requirements could be replaced in the future. Writing on his official blog on Sunday, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong said the Residential Care Homes Legislation Bill 2022, which proposed raising the minimum area of floor space per resident and the required number of staff in care homes, allowed for an eight-year transition period divided into two stages for facilities to meet new requirements. Facilities providing a high level of care would have four years to increase their minimum area of floor space per resident from 6.5 to eight square metres, while further raising it to 9.5 square metres in the following four years, Law said.

 

 

Coronavirus

Hong Kong could be hit by sixth wave in as little as two weeks, pandemic adviser warns.

 By Web desk 15th May 2022

Public health expert has predicted the next large outbreak is more likely to arrive in October.

Professor Gabriel Leung says recent daily caseload of about 300 implies reproduction rate of virus is at 1 meaning health crisis could worsen if things tilt in the wrong direction. Public health expert Yuen Kwok-yung however, says residents need not panic as immunity barrier has formed in the city either through infection or vaccination.

A top government pandemic adviser has warned that Hong Kong could be hit by a sixth wave of the coronavirus in as little as two weeks while another public health expert has predicted the next large outbreak is more likely to arrive in October 2022. Professor Gabriel Leung, dean of the faculty of medicine at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) offered his timeline for the arrival of the next wave at a seminar for HKU doctors on Saturday according to two attendees. He presented his data and essentially told us to get to our important engagements in these two weeks before things could get worse.

 

While China stays on sidelines, pace of in-person international diplomacy quickens.

 BY Web desk 15th May 2022

Beijing’s absence from top-level, face-to-face diplomacy could exacerbate the divisions that already exist, particularly with Europe. The EU’s diplomatic efforts have picked up since last month’s summit with China, which was held via video link and was viewed in European capitals as a disaster.

Some of Europe and Asia’s most powerful leaders are clocking thousands of air miles in a flurry of diplomatic activity, but there has been one major absentee China. Chinese President Xi Jinping has not left the country since the coronavirus pandemic began in early 2020 and now, with the country fighting its worst Covid-19 outbreaks yet is left watching from the sidelines as Europe steps up its engagement with Asian rivals India and Japan. The whirlwind of diplomacy is the result of political and economic rationales combined said a senior EU official. These (rationales) have long been there but with the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine they have become more pressing.

  

India prohibits wheat exports, supplies already constrained by Russia-Ukraine conflict to be affected.

 By Web desk 14th May 2022

The world’s second-largest wheat producer made the decision to try calm local prices, following damaged yields due to record-setting heat waves. Global buyers were banking on India for wheat supplies after exports from the Black Sea region plunged since Russia invaded Ukraine. India has prohibited wheat exports with immediate effect, the government said in a notification late on Friday, saying that the nation’s food security is under threat. The world was counting on India, the second-largest wheat producer to alleviate supply constraints sparked by the war in Ukraine. Exports will still be allowed to countries that require wheat for food security needs and based on the requests of their governments, India’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade said in a notification dated May 13. All other new shipments will be banned with immediate effect.

  

Joe Biden names Yohannes Abraham as envoy to Asean stressing US attention for the region.

 By Web desk 14th May 2022

Yohannes Abraham has been nominated for a post that has been vacant since the start of Donald Trump’s administration in 2017 US-Asean summit marked the first time Asean leaders gathered as a group in Washington and their first meeting hosted by an American president since 2016.

President Joe Biden on Friday announced he is nominating one of his top national security aides as ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, aiming to underscore his administration’s commitment to the Pacific region. Biden announced his decision to nominate Yohannes Abraham, chief of staff to the White House National Security Council, to serve as the US representative to the 10-country bloc as he wrapped up talks with leaders of Asean, who gathered in Washington for a two-day special summit. Biden’s efforts to put greater emphasis on the Pacific region have been overtaken in recent months by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

 

Hong Kong’s Legislative Council expected to approve government restructuring plan by end of June.

By Web desk 14th May 2022

Plan to be submitted in mid-May, so that Legco could set up subcommittee and begin scrutiny of proposals, House Committee chairwoman Starry Lee reveals. Eric Chan, director of the Chief Executive’s Office, has said he hopes the proposals can be approved before end-June so the new cabinet can be formed sooner.

A massive plan to restructure the Hong Kong government will be submitted to the Legislative Council soon and is expected to be approved by the end of June, lawmaker has said. During a Legco House Committee session on Friday, chairwoman Starry Lee Wai-king said Eric Chan Kwok-ki, director of the Chief Executive’s Office, had mentioned the timeline in an earlier meeting with her. He said the current administration plans to submit to Legco in mid-May a resolution on the government’s restructuring. The relevant establishment and financial proposals will also be submitted to us, Lee said. He hoped that we could consider setting up a subcommittee, so that the scrutiny of the proposals can be started as soon as possible.

 

 Coronavirus

Japan expected reopen to tourists by July, may scrap tests for vaccinated visitors.

 By Web desk 13th May 2022

Japan is expected to double the number of people permitted into the country per day to 20,000 in June, may lift ban on foreign tourists the following month. Infection numbers have stabilised to about 50,000 daily cases, while bars and restaurants have recently been allowed to fully reopen after two years.

The Japanese government is expected to double the number of people permitted to enter the country per day to 20,000 in June, and talk is the ban on foreign tourists may be lifted the following month. This is the clearest indication yet that Japan is inching closer to the long-awaited return to normality as the coronavirus pandemic wanes. There are also reports the government is considering scrapping coronavirus tests for people arriving at airports who are fully vaccinated. Currently, just 10,000 Japanese nationals, permanent residents, businesspeople and foreign students are allowed to enter the country each day. Foreign tourists are banned entirely.

 

 

North Korea fires ballistic missiles in warning ahead of Joe Biden’s visit to Asia.

By Web desk 13th May 2022

Thursday’s launches were the North’s first weapons fired since the inauguration of new conservative South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on Tuesday. The White House believes that Pyongyang could test a nuclear weapon this month for the first time in almost five years.

North Korea fired three short-range ballistic missiles toward the sea on Thursday, its neighbours said, the latest in a series of weapons demonstrations this year and one that came just hours after it confirmed its first case of the coronavirus since the pandemic began. The launches could underscore North Korea’s determination to press ahead with its efforts to expand its arsenal despite the virus outbreak to rally support behind the leader, Kim Jong-un, and keep up pressure on its rivals amid long-dormant nuclear diplomacy. Thursday’s launches were the North’s first weapons fired since the inauguration of new conservative South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on Tuesday.

 

 

US sanctions risk pushed campaign team for Hong Kong’s John Lee to limit options for receiving election donations.

 By Web desk 13th May 2022

Source in Lee’s campaign team says decision was made before YouTube terminated candidate’s channel to comply with US sanction laws. Association for delegates of China’s top advisory body among locally registered organisations to donate to Lee’s campaign.

The campaign team of Hong Kong’s incoming leader John Lee Ka-chiu only accepted election donations from locally registered organisations and business chambers to avoid the risk of companies and individuals being sanctioned by the United States. The HKCPPCC (Provincial) Members Association was one of several pro-establishment groups which contributed funds to the former policeman’s campaign, donating HK$300,000 (US$38,217) in cash. They had decided to accept election donations from organisations and business chambers registered in Hong Kong because of objective factors.

 

Russian diplomats spurned in Europe’s capitals as anger boils over Ukraine war

 By Web desk 12th May 2022

Protests in Europe have prompted Russia to warn diplomats to think twice when they venture out. Russia’s ambassador to Poland was splattered with red paint by protesters.

Russian diplomat Sergiy Andreev was feeling unwelcome on the streets of Warsaw even before protesters doused him with red liquid thrown in his face at short-range this week. Soon after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Andreev, who is Moscow’s ambassador in Poland, found the embassy bank accounts had been frozen. Attempts to meet with Polish officials for any level of diplomatic discussion were impossible, he said. His regular barber refused to cut his hair. Insurance companies denied coverage for embassy cars, Andreev said.

Pakistani currency Rs190 against the US dollar for the first time in the country.

 By Web desk 12th May 2022

Pakistani currency maintained its record breaking spree, as it surpassed a major barrier of Rs190 against the US dollar for the first time in the inter-bank market mainly owing to political and economic instability in the country.

The rupee dropped 0.72% (or Rs1.36) to an all-time low at Rs190.02 against the greenback on Wednesday 11th May 2022, compared to Rs188.66 a dollar on the previous day, according to the central bank. Considering the rupee has declined significantly below its fair value, experts said that the government should support the currency by giving a clear timeframe for the next general election and elaborating on the steps it has taken or going to take to resume the IMF’s loan programme as soon as possible. “The central bank may be considering increasing the benchmark interest rate by 150-200 basis points in another emergency meeting to arrest the continuous decline of the rupee,” an expert said. Federal Ministry of Finance’s former adviser said that the government and the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) must come into action to reduce the growing pressure on the rupee. The action plan must include completion of the seventh review of Pakistan’s economy with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) restricting import of non-essential items and supporting exporters through extending bank financing, he said. The delay in the IMF loan tranche of $1 billion, China’s rollover of $2.3 billion loan as well as inflows from friendly countries has caused uncertainty in the domestic capital markets. He said that the pressure on the rupee was mounting due to the widening of current account deficit by $1.5 billion a month, depleting foreign exchange reserves that reached the critical level of $10.5 billion and the growing trade deficit, which hit a historic high at $39.2 billion in the first 10 months of current fiscal year. Another expert said the rupee may partially recover to Rs180 against the US dollar, after the IMF approves the resumption of its loan programme. The rupee has declined to Rs190 against the greenback because of concerns on both the political and economic fronts, he said. Besides, the depletion of foreign exchange reserves to the insufficient level that covers two months of imports, compared to the usual three months of import cover, has also mounted pressure on the rupee. The rupee will start stabilising as soon as the government announces removal of subsidies on petroleum products and electricity, as the measure will reduce the demand for the commodities and cut energy imports, he said. Pakistan’s non-energy import bill has continued to contract for the past two months (February-March 2022). Another expert, said that the government should give a clear timeframe for the next general election. The election should not be held before September 2023, so that the government could give an out of the political pressure budget and will have time to implement the commitments it will make through the budget for financial Year 2023, he said. A good budget and its implementation will support economic wellbeing and ease pressure on the rupee. He expected that the central bank may call an emergency meeting to revise up the benchmark interest rate. Earlier, the bank increased the key rate by 250 basis points to a two-year high at 12.25% in an emergency meeting on April 7. The downward trend in the rupee however jacked up the gold price to an all-time high at Rs135, 700 per tola (11.66 grams) according to the All Sindh Saraf and Jewellers Association (ASSJA). The bullion surged by Rs1300 to Rs1, 35,700 per tola despite its price fell $11 to $1,852 per ounce (31.10 grams) in the world market. The rupee depreciation caused the jump in gold prices as Pakistan meets its local demand for the commodity through imports, analyst said. He said that gold would have been cheaper compared to its current price (in dollar-value), if Russia-Ukraine conflict had not taken place, as the dollar is strengthening against many currencies around the world. Gold price goes down when the dollar is strengthening and vice-versa. Russia and Ukraine war has created some safe haven demand for gold globally these days. The US central bank Fed has announced increasing its benchmark interest rate by a cumulative one percentage point over the next couple of meetings scheduled in a few months to come. This will be negative for gold (in dollar value) at world markets. However, rupee-dollar parity would continue to play an important role in determining gold price in Pakistan, he said.

  

Call by US lawmakers for sanctions against Hong Kong judges and prosecutors handling national security law dismissed by judiciary as ‘absolutely unacceptable.’

 By Web desk 12th May 2022

7 Republican congressmen urge US President Biden to impose sanctions on judges and prosecutors as part of ‘more rigorous and lasting measures’. Judiciary spokesman says the suggestion amounts to a ‘direct infringement’ on Hong Kong’s rule of law.

The judiciary has labelled a call by a group of US lawmakers for sanctions against Hong Kong’s judges and prosecutors handling national security cases as “absolutely unacceptable”, saying it is a “direct infringement” on the city’s rule of law and judicial independence. Echoing similar sentiments, the Bar Association, Hong Kong’s professional body for barristers, condemned the US suggestion in its “strongest terms”, saying local judges should be allowed to exercise their adjudicating power independently much like everywhere else. Seven Republican congressmen wrote to United States President Joe Biden, urging his administration to impose sanctions as part of “more rigorous and lasting measures” to stop what they called Beijing’s crackdown on freedoms and liberties in the city.

 

China wants to take Taiwan peacefully. 

 By Web desk 11th May 2022

WASHINGTON: China would prefer to take over neighbouring Taiwan without military action but is working to get to a position where it’s military could prevail even if the United States intervenes, US intelligence chiefs said on Tuesday.

China views Taiwan, a democratically governed island, as its "sacred" territory and has never renounced the possible use of force to ensure eventual unification.

The United States, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan but is its most important international supporter and arms supplier, making it a constant source of tension between Beijing and Washington. "It's our view that they (the Chinese) are working hard to effectively put themselves into a position in which their military is capable of taking Taiwan over our intervention," Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told the Senate Armed Services Committee. Haines and Lieutenant General Scott Berrier, director of the Defence Intelligence Agency, testifying on worldwide threats to US national security, discussed the lessons China may be taking from the war in Ukraine and the international response to it. Haines said she did not believe the war was likely to accelerate China's plans on Taiwan. Berrier said using the military to achieve its objective was not Beijing's top choice. "I believe the PRC (People's Republic of China) would rather not do it by force. I think they would rather do this peacefully over time," Berrier said. China was learning "some very interesting lessons" from the Ukraine conflict including the importance of leadership and small unit tactics, as well as effective training with the right weapons systems and a strong non-commissioned officer force, Berrier said. US officials needed to work with their partners in the Indo-Pacific and Taiwan's leadership, Berrier said, "to help them understand what this conflict has been, about what lessons they can learn and where they should be focusing their dollars on defence and their training. "They have a largely conscript force. I don't believe it is where it should be," Berrier said of Taiwan.

Chinese media unveils details of US-inspired military logistics system.

 By Web desk 11th May 2022

The country has five support centres for the theatre commands with a central hub in Wuhan. The system was overhauled in 2016 as a part of a wider military modernisation drive.

Chinese state media has released details of the country’s military logistics supply networks and how they are operating under the concept of joint operations in a system analysts said was inspired by the US military’s transport command. State-owned China Central Television’s WeChat social media account on Monday published a report about the operations of the five logistic support centres of the People’s Liberation Army five theatre commands in the Central, West, East, South and North.

  

President ‘strongly’ rejects PM’s advice to remove Punjab governor.

  By Web desk 10th May 2022

 Avli says Cheema cannot be removed as there was neither any allegation of misconduct nor conviction by any court

President Dr. Arif Alvi on Monday “strongly” rejected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's advice to remove Punjab Governor Omer Sarfraz Cheema saying the head of the province cannot be removed without his approval.

Referring to clause 3 of Article 101 of the Constitution, the president stated that “the Governor shall hold office during the pleasure of the President,” read an official statement issued by the President Office. He wrote that the incumbent governor cannot be removed as there was neither any allegation of misconduct nor conviction by any court of law or of any act committed by him contrary to the Constitution of Pakistan. President Alvi stated that it was his duty as head of the state to represent the unity of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in terms of Article 41 of the Constitution. Highlighting the Constitutional role of the governor, the president said Cheema had also sent a report earlier regarding the unfortunate happenings in the Punjab Assembly, questions regarding the validity of the resignation of former Punjab chief minister Usman Buzdar, and shifting of loyalties. Rejecting the advice of the prime minister, he stated that he was convinced that the removal of the governor would be unfair and against the norms of justice. The president emphasised that it was essential that the incumbent governor should continue to stay to encourage and promote a healthy and clean democratic system “where members are not coerced or bought to bring about an illegitimate change and Article 63-A of the Constitution specifically discouraged such activities”. He further highlighted that he was committed to stand by the provisions of the Constitution of Pakistan in these difficult times and strongly rejected the advice of the prime minister to remove the Punjab governor. On May 1, PM Shehbaz sent a second summary for Cheema’s removal to President Alvi. After the second summary, the governor has 10 days left in office, after which he will stand dismissed from the office as per the law. As the controversy around Punjab CM Hamza Shehbaz’s election and oath-taking lingered on, the government tried to remove Cheema from office. The governor, however, said that the prime minister did not have the power to remove him, rather it was the president’s prerogative to appoint and dismiss governors.

 

Hong Kong chief executive-elect John Lee and incumbent leader Carrie Lam set out goals for smooth transition of power, including government restructuring.

 By Web desk 9th May 2022

Lee expresses gratitude to Lam for brief session a day after he clinched the top job, pointing out his team has a tight schedule to July 1st.  Outgoing and incoming leaders discussed issues such as the city’s pandemic work and celebrations for the 25th anniversary of the HKSAR.

Hong Kong’s chief executive-elect John Lee Ka-chiu met incumbent leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Monday morning to set out goals ensuring a smooth transition of power, including pressing ahead with a government restructuring plan. Similar to previous post-election practices, the session took place a day after Lee was voted in as Hong Kong’s next leader, securing a staggering 99.2 per cent of 1,428 valid ballots cast in a small-circle poll the highest mark ever reached in local leadership races. I am grateful to the chief executive, Mrs Carrie Lam, for meeting me today. The discussion was useful to ensure a smooth transition to the new term of government and we are working on a very tight schedule of some seven weeks from now to July 1st ” Lee said after Lam delivered a 10-minute speech.

 

Hong Kong gets its new leader without a contest. Now John Lee must deliver and can he cross that chasm of ‘us versus them’?

 By Web desk 9th May 2022

Lee is blessed by Beijing and endorsed by the Election Committee, but can he succeed in winning over Hongkongers? Hong Kong has more freedoms than mainland cities, but new leader ‘has only one master – Beijing’.

Word had it that soon after John Lee Ka-chiu completed his victory press conference on Sunday and exited left from the stage, emotions ran high for Hong Kong’s new chief executive-elect and tears were shed. As it was, when answering his last question at the presser, his voice trembled as he paid tribute to his wife of 42 years. Lee’s journey from chief secretary to chief executive within four weeks has been nothing short of extraordinary given how he was the only one to receive Beijing’s blessings to run and he had to cobble together a team and platform within days.

 

John Lee confirmed as Hong Kong's next leader with 1,416 votes, vows to recruit talent.

 By Web desk 8th May 2022

Sole candidate for top job secures 99.4 per cent of all ballots cast on 8th may 2022 Sunday by members of the Election Committee. Voting was held from 9am till 11.30am, with Lee reaching the 750 minimum mark for the top job in just three minutes of ballot-counting.

John Lee Ka-chiu, the sole candidate for Hong Kong’s leadership election, has been confirmed as the city’s next chief executive after formally announcing his intention to run less than a month ago, becoming the first former police officer in the top job. Lee secured 1,416 of 1,424 valid votes cast on Sunday, amounting to a staggering 99.4 per cent of all ballots - the highest mark ever reached in Hong Kong’s leadership races. Making a victory speech shortly after the results were announced, Lee appeared on stage with his wife, saying he will serve the city, the country and Hongkongers in this new position. “We will continue to uphold the rule of law, which is a core pillar of our sound governance, and tackle future challenges with absolute confidence, safeguarding our country’s sovereignty, national security and development interest,” he said. He also added that he would “protect Hong Kong from internal and external threats and ensure its stability will continue to be of prominent importance”. Security was tight around the venue throughout the morning with police mobilising as many as 7,000 officers to ensure the election ran smoothly and peacefully. Lee, 64, resigned from his position as the city’s No 2 official last month to run and was the only contender to secure Beijing’s blessing. Before his promotion to chief secretary, Lee was security minister and oversaw the government’s handling of 2019’s social unrest. His later involvement in implementing the Beijing-imposed national security law landed him on a US sanctions list along with several other current and former officials.

  

Hong Kong chief executive election: John Lee set to secure top job as voting closes with 97.7 per cent turnout rate.

 By Web desk 8th May 2022

 1,461-strong Election Committee tasked with picking city’s next leader, 1,428 cast their votes on Sunday. The main polling station is located at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai with voting from 9am until 11.30am.

Sole chief executive candidate John Lee Ka-chiu is expected to be elected as Hong Kong’s next leader on Sunday just under a month after formally announcing his intention to run, becoming the first former police officer in the top job. Some 1,461 members of a predominantly pro-establishment Election Committee tasked with picking the city’s next leader will get the chance to cast their ballots from 9am until polling closes at 11.30am. The main polling station is located at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai although four people are set to vote at a special polling place at the Penny’s Bay quarantine centre. Vote counting is expected to take an hour before the result is announced. Security is tight around the venue with police planning to mobilise as many as 7,000 officers to ensure the election runs smoothly and peacefully. Lee, 64, resigned from his position as the city’s No 2 official last month to run and was the only contender to secure Beijing’s blessing. He is expected to give a speech shortly after his anticipated win, following a campaign premised on his “result-oriented” approach. He has pledged to solve Hong Kong’s chronic housing problem, consolidate the city’s strengths and increase its competitiveness.

 

PM nominates MQM-P's Jalil as Sindh governor.

By Web desk 8th May 2022

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday forwarded a summary to President Arif Alvi for the appointment of Mutahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Nasreen Jalil as the governor of Sindh.

The appointment of Jalil came days after the MQM-P's Coordination Committee shared with Shehbaz a list of five names, including Jalil's, for the governorship. The Sindh governor's post had become vacant when Imran Ismail resigned in the aftermath of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) ouster from power through a vote of no-confidence. The former governor had sent his resignation to President Alvi hours before Shehbaz took oath as the prime minister of Pakistan. The president had accepted his resignation nearly a week later. In the absence of a sitting governor, Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani is currently handling additional responsibilities.

 

4 suspected core members of Hong Kong syndicate arrested over HK$600 million money-laundering case involving 750 bank accounts over 2 years.

 By Web desk 7th May 2022

Customs says suspicion sparked when it was observed the money held in suspects’ accounts was not commensurate with their incomes. Half of all the account holders involved believed to be mainlanders, with authorities still trying to track them down.

Hong Kong customs officers have arrested four alleged core members of a money-laundering syndicate behind HK$600 million (US$76.4 million) suspected to have been funnelled through more than 750 bank accounts over the past two years. An investigation revealed three of them set up e-wallets on a cryptocurrency trading platform in Singapore that were used to collect HK$50 million in tether (USDT) before transferring this into 64 local bank accounts belonging to the four. Assistant Superintendent Ryan Chan King-wai of customs’ syndicate crimes investigation bureau said on Saturday the syndicate made use of the anonymous features of cryptocurrency trading to help others transfer money from unknown overseas sources into Hong Kong to hide the origin of the funds.

  

Hong Kong chief executive election 2022

John Lee vows to make reopening borders a priority for city to remain competitive.

 By Web desk 6th May 2022

Goal is to remove obstacles to satisfy requirements for reopening even though there will be ‘lots of challenges’, Lee says. Business groups willing to work with officials, entrepreneurs help attract foreign talent, travellers to come to Hong Kong.

Chief executive Candidate John Lee Ka-chiu has vowed to make reopening Hong Kong’s borders with mainland China and the rest of the world a priority, as international business chambers warned that travel curbs had undermined the city’s competitiveness. The former chief secretary on Thursday also said he would require his ministers to head overseas to attract foreign businesses and travellers to come to Hong Kong. Lee, who is expected to win Sunday’s election as the sole candidate, said his goal was to remove the obstacles to reopening Hong Kong’s borders even though there would be lots of challenges.

  

Pakistan left reeling from Joko Widodo’s decision to ban Indonesia from exporting palm oil.

 By Web desk 5th May 2022

More than 55 per cent of Pakistan’s population of 220 million depends on Indonesia for its edible oil. Spiking international edible oil prices, following the loss of sunflower oil supplies from Russia and Ukraine have also affected Pakistan’s edible oil inventory.

Pakistan is banking that Indonesia’s government will lift  the ban it imposed on palm oil exports last week before its historically low stocks run out. Retail prices of branded edible oil in Pakistan rose by six per cent to 530 rupees (US$6.94) per litre within hours of Indonesia’s announcement on Thursday. Pakistan’s population of some 220 million depends on Indonesia for between 55 per cent and 60 per cent of the edible oil it consumes.

 

Should Hong Kong’s Christian groups be worried about national security law curbs?

 By Web desk 5th May 2022

Pro-Beijing paper’s focus on discrimination against Chinese religions an ominous sign, say church men. No sign of mainland-style religious office for city, says lawmaker and Anglican priest Peter Koon.

Over three days in January, the pro-Beijing Hong Kong newspaper Ta Kung Pao ran a series of full-page articles on the state of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism in the city. It resurfaced a discussion over whether to amend or repeal the colonial-era Chinese Temples Ordinance, saying the law discriminated against traditional “Chinese religions”. Under the 94-year-old law, all Chinese temples must register with the government. A committee headed by the secretary for home affairs can order a temple to surrender its assets and shut down if wrongdoing is discovered. There is no such law governing other religious institutions.

 

Former Hong Kong opposition lawmaker and social welfare veteran Fernando Cheung migrates to Canada, saying ‘basic freedoms’ protected there.

By Web desk 4th May 2022

His departure with family was confirmed by pollster Chung Kim-wah, who has also left city for Britain, citing ‘threats from powerful bodies’. Cheung, 65, is known for championing causes for ethnic minorities and helping the underprivileged over 12 years as a lawmaker.

Former opposition lawmaker and social welfare veteran Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung has left Hong Kong with his family to migrate to Toronto, Canada, saying at least his “basic freedoms no longer need to be granted by those in power”. Cheung’s departure on Sunday was confirmed by Chung Kim-wah, deputy executive director of the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute, who had also left the city for Britain on April 25, citing “threats from powerful bodies” and fears over crossing “moving red lines”. “I wish my respected friend Cheung Chiu-hung and his family a happy life in Canada,” Chung wrote on Facebook on Wednesday morning.

 

Coronavirus

 Hong Kong kindergartens reopen after 4-month suspension but mandatory daily Covid tests mean earlier start for some.

 By Web desk 3rd May 2022

Government earlier said a third of kindergarten pupils would be allowed to return to classrooms from Tuesday, another third on May 10 and the rest on May 16. Children have to do a daily rapid antigen test and those found to be positive must report the result to the Centre for Health Protection and their schools.

Hong Kong kindergartens finally resumed in-person classes on Tuesday after an almost four-month suspension sparked by the city’s fifth Covid-19 wave, with some parents saying they had to get up earlier to perform a rapid test for their children as required. Some parents also raised concerns over their children’s social skills, noting their young ones were reluctant to go back to school. The government previously announced that a third of kindergarten pupils would be allowed to return to classrooms from Tuesday, another third on May 10 and the rest on May 16.

  

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam vows to continue improving labour rights in final months of tenure after ‘hard-earned results’

 By Web desk 2nd May 2022

Carrie Lam says in article that an unnamed unionist praised her for resolving issues relating to workers’ rights. Lam cites introduction of five-day statutory paternity leave for men and 14-week maternity leave for women as examples of her administration’s work.

Hong Kong’s outgoing leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has pledged her government will spare no efforts in improving labour rights in the final months of her tenure. In an article published on Sunday to mark Labour Day, Lam said her administration had made exemplary achievements in respect of labour rights, adding that an unnamed unionist had praised her for resolving many issues relating to workers’ rights. She summed up her administration’s hard-earned results in the paper, citing as examples the introduction of a five-day statutory paternity leave for men and a 14-week maternity leave for women.

 

Hong Kong records coldest day in May for more than 100 years

By Web desk 2nd May 2022

Hong Kong Observatory reports minimum temperature of 16.4 degrees Celsius on Monday morning, lowest figure recorded in May since 1917. Cool weather caused by northeast monsoon and showers resulting from upper-air disturbance, forecaster say.

 Hong Kong recorded its coldest day in May for more than a century on Monday morning, according to the city’s weather forecaster. The Observatory reported a minimum temperature of 16.4 degrees Celsius (61.52 degrees Fahrenheit) in Tsim Sha Tsui, the lowest figure for May since 1917, breaking the previous record from 2013 of 16.6 degrees.

 

 

Hard to visit Hong Kong

Pandemic rules eased, but business travellers put off by quarantine, risk of cancelled flights.

By Web desk 1st May 2022

Business leaders warn that city risks losing out to rivals opening up and moving on from pandemic. Most business travellers prefer short trips, so spending seven days in quarantine a major turn-off.

The Business leader planning theirs first business trip to Hong Kong in seven months as the city reopens its doors to non-residents on May 1. The Singapore works in operations for a food and beverage company throughout the Asia-Pacific region and used to visit Hong Kong monthly before the Covid-19 pandemic struck in 2020.

 

Hong Kong chief executive election 2022

Will John Lee’s manifesto ‘open a new chapter’ for city or is he lifting from the playbooks of previous leaders?

By Web desk 30 Apr 2022

Pro-Beijing politicians, business leaders laud Lee’s great speech addressed all of city’s shortcomings. Lee’s 44-page manifesto lacks specific policy details, has not addressed sensitive topics such as universal suffrage.

Chief executive Candidate John Lee Ka-chiu’s election platform which he unveiled on Friday pledged to open a new chapter for Hong Kong together, but the dearth of bold new ideas did not assure the public there would be a breakaway from the past. Several said the elements in the manifesto felt like “old song by a new singer”. As he announced his 44-page manifesto, Lee, the city’s former No 2 official, said there was no doubt there was much we could draw upon and learn from our past.

  

What Pakistan suicide blast reveals about the Balochistan insurgency and China.

 By Web desk 30 Apr 2022

While three Chinese were killed in the attack, Beijing and its belt and road projects in Pakistan are a collateral damage of Balochistan’s separatist bid. Baloch have long demanded more control over their natural resources, and new multibillion-dollar projects such as the CPEC are deepening their resentment towards the Pakistan government.

China and its belt-and-road projects in Pakistan are a collateral casualty of the insurgency in Balochistan region, rather than the target, according to politicians, dissidents and analysts. The suicide bombing on Tuesday by a militant Baloch nationalist, which killed three Chinese academics and their Pakistani driver inside Karachi University, was a strategic move to build pressure on Pakistan’s security establishment. The Baloch dissidents’ agenda is primarily directed against the Pakistani state. The China factor became an add-on issue only after the US$60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was established in 2015.

  

Hong Kong chief executive candidate John Lee vows new 'mobilization protocol' for emergencies, command centre for government.

 By Web desk 29 Apr 2022

Lee has made three pledges since launching his campaign bid on April 9: to adopt a “result-oriented approach”; increase the city’s competitiveness; and consolidate its strengths. Campaign director Tam Yiu-chung had hinted Lee was unlikely to go into great detail for his platform.

Chief executive Candidate John Lee Ka-chiu had made three pledges since launching his campaign bid for Hong Kong’s top job on April 9 adopting a result oriented approach increasing the city’s competitiveness and consolidating its strengths. The city’s former No 2 official presented his platform at a press conference at 11am at the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Centre on Friday. The event, which lasted less than an hour, was broadcast live on television and streamed via his Facebook channel. Lee’s policy platform, focusing on five main areas, from reconnecting with mainland China and international communities to housing, youth development and benefits for the elderly. The policeman turned former chief secretary, who quit earlier this month to run for the election after securing Beijing’s blessing, had not yet provided anything more concrete in the lead-up to Friday, citing the time needed to meet different sectors before he and his team inked the manifesto. His campaign director Tam Yiu-chung, a pro-Beijing heavyweight, earlier hinted that Lee was unlikely to go into great detail with his platform, and would instead focus on an overall policy direction, concept and vision. Lee’s manifesto could offer the clearest look yet at how the former security minister, often criticized for his lack of experience in economic and social policies, plans to govern the city in the next five years on issues from housing to finance.

 

China demands results from Pakistan in deadly Confucius Institute van blast investigation.

 By Web desk 28 Apr 2022

The Chinese foreign ministry says it will continue to urge Pakistani officials to follow up, treat the injured and crack down on terror groups. Four people were killed and one injured in the attack near the University of Karachi’s Confucius Institute.

China has demanded a thorough investigation into the van explosion in Karachi that left three of its nationals dead and vowed their blood would not be shed in vain. The separatist Baloch Liberation Army’s suicide squad, the Majeed Brigade, claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack, which killed the director of the University of Karachi’s Confucius Institute, as well as a lecturer and a volunteer. The Pakistani driver also died, while a Chinese teacher was injured. In a statement on Wednesday, the Chinese foreign ministry strongly condemned the attack and vowed to crack down on terror groups. “The mastermind behind this incident will surely pay the price.”

  

Hong Kong university student admits to violating national security law after using Telegram to incite secession.

 By Web desk 28 Apr 2022

 Engineering undergraduate Lui Sai-yu pleads guilty in exchange for prosecutors dropping other charges for possession of firearms and offensive weapons Prosecutor says defendant co-administered Telegram platform, named ‘Channel of Anti-Communism and Hong Kong Independence’ to incite violence, disobedience.

A university student has admitted to violating the national security law by co-managing a Telegram channel that called for Hong Kong’s independence and resistance against the Chinese Communist Party. Engineering undergraduate Lui Sai-yu pleaded guilty on Wednesday to inciting secession before a district judge hand-picked by the city leader to adjudicate national security cases. In exchange for his admission, the prosecution dropped two other charges related to the possession of firearms and offensive weapons. The 25-year-old student from Polytechnic University is the sixth person to be convicted under the legislation imposed by Beijing in June 2020, and the third to be found guilty of inciting secession, an offence punishable by up to seven years in jail when heard before a judge of the District Court.

   

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam downplays concerns over diminishing press freedom following suspension of human rights media awards.

By Web desk 27 Apr 2022

Chief Executive Carrie Lam attributes public’s concerns to misunderstandings on the extent press freedom is covered by constitutional safeguards. Foreign Correspondents’ Club has put its annual Human Rights Press Awards on hold while an outspoken commentator recently left city worried about crossing ‘moving red lines’

Hong Kong’s leader has dismissed fresh concerns over diminishing press freedom in the city following the suspension of annual human rights media awards by a journalists’ group, labelling it and the departure of an outspoken political commentator as, isolated incidents. A day after the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) put its annual Human Rights Press Awards on hold, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Tuesday attributed the public’s concerns to misunderstandings over the extent constitutional safeguards covered media freedom.

 

 میرے اور میرے بیٹے کے خلاف پروپیگنڈا کیا جارہا ہے                     : ملک ریاض

 By Web desk 26 April 2022

 ملک ریاض نے کہا ہے کہ سوشل میڈیا پر زمین ٹرانسفر کرنے کے حوالے   سے خبریں حقائق کے منافی ہیں۔

سوشل میڈیا پر چلنے والی خبروں کے حوالے سے ملک ریاض کا موقف بھی سامنے آ گیا جس میں انہوں نے کہا کہ میرے اور بیٹے کے خلاف زمین ٹرانسفر کے حوالے سے غلط خبریں زیر گردش ہیں، زیر بحث زمین ایک یونیورسٹی اور لنگر خانے کو عطیہ کی گئی تھی۔

 انہوں نے مزید کہا کہ یونیورسٹی کا مقام تبدیل ہونے پر زمین کی منتقلی روک دی گئی تھی، ان کے اور ان کے بیٹے کے خلاف پروپیگنڈا کیا جارہا ہے،علی ملک ایک سال سے پاکستان میں نہیں ہے، ان کی زندگی کا واحد مقصد پاکستان کی ترقی ہے۔

 

  

Coronavirus

Hong Kong will stick with plan to further ease social-distancing measures in the second half of May, leader Carrie Lam says

By Web desk 26 April 2022

Carrie Lam says the government will press ahead with relaxing social-distancing measures unless there is a sudden surge in Covid-19 infections. Chief executive says city is on path to resuming normal activities after being hit hard by the fifth wave of infections

Hong Kong will stick to its plan to further relax social-distancing measures in the second half of May, the city’s leader has said, ruling out the chances of an earlier reopening despite an improving pandemic situation as daily Covid-19 infections continue to fall. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Tuesday said the government would start discussing when to proceed to the second phase of relaxation in May, and the arrangement would come in the second half of the month. “It is gratifying to know that after more than three months since the fifth wave hit us hard in Hong Kong, we are on the path to return to or resume normal activities,” she told a press briefing before the weekly meeting of her de facto cabinet.

 

 

 Hong Kong chief executive election 2022: John Lee vows to make public housing a priority as he goes on first community visits of campaign

 By Web desk 24 Apr 2022

 Housing is ‘key’ to solving many of the city’s issues, Beijing-endorsed candidate says after closed-door visits. Lee also says Hong Kong’s success hinges on diversity and welcomes suggestions to help ethnic minorities integrate with society.

 Hong Kong’s sole chief executive candidate John Lee Ka-chiu vowed on Sunday to make public housing supply a policy priority, as he visited grass-roots communities for the first time since launching his bid for the city’s top job. Without going into details, Lee pledged to expedite the acquisition of land and to compress building programmes, noting that housing was a deep-rooted problem linked to poverty and resource allocation. With two weeks to the May 8 leadership poll, Lee visited two households on Sunday and also met ethnic minority representatives, interactions that were mostly closed-door affairs carefully choreographed by his campaign office.

 

 

Militants in Afghanistan strike

Pakistan army post, kill 3

 By Web desk 24 Apr 2022

Afghanistan is reeling from a series of explosions in recent days, including the bombing of a mosque in northern Kunduz province on Friday that killed 33 people. Increase in attacks in Afghanistan, as well as in neighbouring Pakistan, highlights growing security challenge facing Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers.

Militants in Afghanistan fired heavy weapons across the border into a Pakistani military outpost overnight, killing three personnel, the army said on Saturday, in the latest violence to rattle the volatile region. A firefight ensued with the militants firing toward the army post in Pakistan’s rugged North Waziristan region, and several were killed, the statement said. It comes as Afghanistan is reeling from a series of explosions in recent days, including the bombing of a mosque in northern Kunduz province on Friday that killed 33 people, including several students of an adjacent religious school or madrasa.

  

Hong Kong to allow foreigners to fly into city starting next month, government to ease flight suspension threshold.

 By Web desk 23 April 2022

Coalition of largest travel agents in Hong Kong predicts that more than 100,000 visitors will arrive each month. Hong Kong will also relax threshold for suspending incoming flights carrying infected people starting on May 1st.

Hong Kong will allow foreigners to fly into the city starting next month, the government has announced, ending an entry ban that has kept most visitors away for more than two years and offering a potential lifeline to businesses long battered by the Covid-19 pandemic. The city will also relax the threshold for suspending incoming flights carrying infected passengers from May 1, officials said on Friday. The existing three-person threshold will be raised to five, or 5 per cent of the passengers on a single flight, whichever is greater. The length of time flight routes are suspended will be cut from seven days to five. In announcing the end of the entry ban, the Food and Health Bureau revealed the decision to reopen the city to foreigners was made after a government steering committee reviewed the situation.

  

Hong Kong government set to relax flight suspension threshold, shorten airline ban from ‘early next month’, easing curbs crippling air travel to city

 By Web desk 22 Apr 2022

Hong Kong government considers risks ‘still manageable’ and an announcement can be expected ‘very soon’ Length of time flight routes are banned will be cut from the current seven days to five, according to source.

Hong Kong is set to relax the threshold for suspending incoming flights carrying people infected with Covid-19 from early next month, from the existing three passengers to five, and will shorten the ban on airlines to five days. A source said the government would make an announcement very soon in a bid to further ease flight restrictions. Raising the threshold for suspending inbound flights that bring in passengers found to be infected with coronavirus would reduce the likelihood of suspension, the insider said. The government considers the risks brought by the relaxation of restrictions on incoming travellers since the beginning of the month as still manageable.

  

Why is Pakistan’s new PM Shehbaz Sharif so keen to accelerate the CPEC with Beijing?

By Web desk 21 Apr 2022

Sharif played a key role in setting up some infrastructure projects in the CPEC’s initial stages, and resuming work on the scheme will be like a homecoming an analyst says. But as Pakistan eyes expanding the pact to Afghanistan and Iran, there are concerns by the US and India that Beijing may use the CPEC to deepen its military ties with Islamabad.

Within minutes of being declared Pakistan’s new prime minister on Monday, Shehbaz Sharif made clear his intention to breathe new life into the estimated US$60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It was no coincidence that a Chinese embassy delegation was among the first callers on Sharif when he started work on Tuesday. Beijing’s showcase Belt and Road Initiative infrastructure programme was personally announced by President Xi Jinping when he visited Islamabad in April 2015. At the time, Zhao Lijian, now famed as a hawkish spokesman of the Chinese foreign ministry, was the deputy chief of mission at the Chinese embassy in Islamabad. Zhao was also well-acquainted with Sharif who, as the chief minister of Punjab province, was deeply involved in negotiating which infrastructure projects would be built there during the “early harvest” phase of the 15-year CPEC scheme. Zhao and Sharif went on to attend dozens of meetings on the CPEC over the three years up to 2018. So it came as no surprise when Zhao, in his current capacity as a foreign ministry spokesman, was asked by a correspondent of the official Associated Press of Pakistan news agency for China’s reaction to Sharif’s positive remarks about the CPEC. “We noted Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s remarks on the CPEC and we highly commend them,” Zhao replied.

Why is the CPEC so important to PM Shehbaz Sharif?

By the time Shehbaz’s tenure as Punjab chief minister ended in 2018, the CPEC had enabled his brother, ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif, to deliver on his promise to end Pakistan’s crippling electricity shortages. CPEC projects had added a whopping 10,400 megawatts of power in three years and more was on the way.

 

China’s defence chief tells US not to underestimate Beijing’s resolve on Taiwan

By Web desk 21 Apr 2022

Wei Fenghe restates China’s position on Taiwan in a phone call with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, which also addresses the war in Ukraine. Wei demands that the US stop using Russia’s invasion to ‘slander, frame, threaten and pressure China’, according to the defence ministry.

The United States should not underestimate China’s determination or ability to defend its national interests and dignity, Chinese defence minister Wei Fenghe told his US counterpart on Wednesday. During his telephone call with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, Wei restated China’s position on Taiwan, stressing that the self-ruled island is an inseparable part of China and that the People’s Liberation Army would “resolutely defend the national sovereign security and territorial integrity”, according to the Chinese ministry of defence. “The Taiwan issue, if not handled properly, will have a subversive impact on the relationship between the two countries,” Wei was quoted as saying.

 

 

China, India, money woes,

US conspiracy claims:

 The issues keeping Pakistan’s new PM busy.

 By Web desk 20 Apr 2022

Shehbaz Sharif says he wants to mend ties with Beijing and New Delhi, stabilize the country’s crisis-hit economy and strengthen its democratic system. But analysts say Pakistan’s ‘Mr. Fix-It’ faces an uphill battle amid Kashmir concerns, security worries – and his predecessor’s claims of American meddling.

Time is not on the side of the new coalition government that took office in Pakistan this week following the chaotic ousting of Imran Khan as prime minister. With a general election expected to be called by year’s end, Khan’s newly anointed successor, Shehbaz Sharif, has said his immediate priorities are stabilizing the country’s shaky economy and fixing its damaged diplomatic relations with all-weather friend China, as well as partners in the Middle East and an increasingly hostile West. He also announced that construction would be sped up on the US$60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – a flagship project of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative that was first put forward in 2013.

 

Pakistan assails Islamophobic incidents in Sweden, Netherlands

Islamabad says mindless provocations serve no purpose other than hurting sensitivities of over 1.5 billion Muslims

 By Web desk 19 Apr 2022

Pakistan on Monday strongly condemned recent Islamophobic incidents in Sweden and The Netherlands, saying the mindless provocative incidents serve no purpose other than hurting the sensitivities of 1.5 billion Muslims.

Pakistan strongly condemns the recent abhorrent act of desecration of the Holy Quran during rallies in Sweden, a statement issued by the Foreign Office said. It also strongly condemned the offensive remarks made by a Dutch politician, attacking Islam and the holy month of Ramadan. The Foreign Office observed that the mindless provocative Islamophobic incidents serve no purpose other than hurting the sensitivities of over 1.5 billion Muslims living all over the world. Such actions, it added, are not covered under legitimate expressions of the right to freedom of expression or opinion, which carry responsibilities under international human rights law, such as the obligation not to carry out hate speech and incite people to violence. "Muslims, including in Pakistan, unequivocally condemn the practice of insulting Islam, Christianity and Judaism alike and stand against all acts of violence on the basis of religion or belief. These principles must be equally respected and supported by all," it remarked. The Foreign Office urged the international community to show a common resolve against xenophobia, intolerance and incitement to violence on the basis of religion or belief, and to work together for promoting inter-faith harmony and peaceful co-existence. That, it observed, has been the spirit behind the OIC’s recent initiative led by Pakistan at the UN General Assembly to designate 15 March as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia. Pakistan’s concerns have been conveyed to the authorities in Sweden and The Netherlands. They have been urged to take cognizance of the sentiments of the people of Pakistan and the Muslims worldwide and take steps to prevent Islamophobic incidents, the communique said. Concluding, the Foreign Office called upon the international community to demonstrate solidarity and commitment to the ideals of building peaceful and harmonious societies for the betterment of humanity.

  

Propaganda threatens state’s integrity, needs timely response: COAS.

Gen Bajwa says army draws its strength from people, any effort to create wedge between them won’t be tolerated.

By Web desk 18 April 2022

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa has stressed that misinformation and propaganda threatened state’s integrity and required timely and unified response to effectively counter speculations and rumours.

He said this while visiting the Lahore Garrison over the weekend, military’s media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said in a statement on Sunday. The army chief maintained that the military drew its strength from people and any effort to create wedge between military and population will not be tolerated. “The hostile forces are trying this for a long time but they won’t succeed, Insha Allah,” he was quoted as saying as he interacted with garrison officers and veterans in two separate interactive sessions. Upon his arrival at the garrison, the COAS was received by Corps Commander Lieutenant General Muhammad Abdul Aziz. During the visit, the army chief appreciated Lahore Corps for maintaining high standards of operational preparedness and training. The statement comes days after the country's top military brass took serious notice of the recent propaganda campaign by some quarters to malign Pakistan Army and create a division between the institution and society. According to ISPR, General Qamar Bajwa on April 12 chaired the 79th Formation Commanders’ Conference held at General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi, where the forum expressed complete confidence in the leadership’s well-considered stance to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law at all costs. The meeting took place two days after the joint opposition ousted former Prime Minister Imran Khan through a vote of no confidence in the National Assembly. The opposition managed to bag 174 votes, two more than requirement, in the 342-strong house. Imran had claimed that there was a foreign conspiracy for regime change in Pakistan. According to ISPR, Gen Qamar also visited Combined Military Hospital Lahore (CMH) today and inquired about the well-being of Major Haris, who was manhandled and injured in a road rage incident recently. He said that law would take its course. “Perpetrators, who are under arrest, will be brought to justice. No one can be allowed to take law into their hands,” General Bajawa assured. Earlier, the army chief was received by Corps Commander Lt-Gen Muhammad Abdul Aziz upon his arrival. The COAS appreciated the Lahore Corps for maintaining high standards of operational preparedness and training,” the ISPR said.

   

No easy task to reopen mainland China border, admits Hong Kong leadership candidate, pointing to shared duty to protect against Covid-19.

 By Web desk 17 Apr 2022

John Lee notes two sides have joint responsibility to control the pandemic under ‘one country, two systems’ Lee also vows to flesh out his policies to boost innovation and technology after meeting sectors’ representatives. Hong Kong faces significant hurdles in reopening its border with mainland China, chief executive candidate John Lee Ka-chiu has admitted, noting the city shares the responsibility of containing the Covid-19 pandemic with the rest of the nation. But Lee pledged to make restoring regular travel over the border a priority if elected during a meeting with district representatives on Saturday. “Under ‘one country, two systems’, we have a joint responsibility to control the pandemic, and we hope we won’t bring unnecessary worry to our patriots on the mainland,” he said, adding “there is a solution to everything”.

  

Imran never sought military’s help to break political deadlock, Shireen Mazari

  By Web desk 16 Apr 2022

Military sought meeting with Imran through Pervaiz Khattak where they put forward three proposals, insists ex-minister.

Qasim Khan Suri had rejected the opposition’s no-trust move against Imran Khan, calling it a US-orchestrated attempt at “regime change” in Pakistan. He brandished a purported diplomatic cable which, according to him, contained evidence of the conspiracy against the PTI government. Subsequently, President Arif Alvi dissolved the National Assembly on the advice of PM Imran Khan. However, Suri’s ruling was nullified by the Supreme Court which in its landmark judgement restored the National Assembly with a direction to the speaker to conduct voting on the opposition’s no-confidence resolution. The PTI dragged its feet on the voting. This created a serious political and constitutional crisis in the country which eventually sucked in the powerful military establishment. “Let me be clear. I am stating on record PM [Imran Khan] did not call military for help on ‘breaking political deadlock’. The military sought the meeting through then defence minister [Pervaiz] Khattak and they put forward the three proposals of either the PM resigning or taking part in VNC [vote of no confidence] or fresh elections,” Shireen Mazari said in a series of tweets. “Why would Imran Khan give option of resigning when he had already stated categorically & repeatedly he would never resign! Makes no sense! Also Imran Khan had categorically rejected VNC as foreign regime change conspiracy. So why would he suggest these options. Absurd!” Mazari served as Federal Minister for Human Rights in the cabinet of Imran Khan. Her tweets came a day after the military spokesperson, Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar said that the establishment had not put forth options before Imran Khan. He, however, said that during the political deadlock, the Prime Minister’s Office had contacted the military leadership to resolve the matter. Maj Gen Babar also said in media briefing that a statement issued after the National Security Committee meeting, which pored over the diplomatic cable, did not mention the word “conspiracy”, but in the same breath he confirmed that a demarche was given over “blatant interference” in Pakistan’s affairs. The clarification was used by pro and anti-PTI supporters and media persons to vindicate their respective narratives. “Seriously! What is the difference between foreign interference and foreign conspiracy when the former refers to success of VNC or else? Message sent reflective of conspiracy. Glad DG ISPR has finally officially stated then Imran Khan’s Russia trip was undertaken after approval from all,” Mazari said after Maj Gen Babar’s briefing. Apparently, the American threat was prompted by Khan’s visit to Moscow just as President Vladimir Putin ordered invasion of Ukraine, triggering an unprecedented Western response. Maj Gen Babar, however, clarified that everyone was on board on Khan’s Moscow trip. “The question is who from Pakistan gave the impression to the United States, as claimed in the cable, that only Imran Khan had made the decision to visit Russia,” Mazari said. “Is threatening that if Imran Khan not removed there would be serious repercussions and if VNC succeeds all would be forgiven, not conspiracy?” The State Department spokesman, Ned Price, said during a press briefing on Thursday that the United States agreed with Maj Gen Babar’s statement. “Pakistan’s military spokesperson said they had no evidence to suggest that the United States had threatened or was involved in the conspiracy to seek the ouster of Imran Khan’s government. What are your comments on it?" a journalist asked Price. “We would agree with it,” Price said. In reaction to Price’s statement, Mazari said it was admission of US interference in Pakistan’s internal matters. “So finally the US admits to unacceptable interference in our internal political matters. Fact is conspiracy matures & then leads to overt interference. The words used were clearly Imran Khan if he survives will lead to his isolation from the US,” she wrote while sharing Price’s story. “[Then] the US would be compelled to take this issue ‘head on’. But if the VNC succeeds then ‘all will be forgiven’! So removal of Imran Khan as PM was the message,” she wrote. “This is conspiracy by any definition and the interference is reflection of that. Conspiracies are covert - interference is overt reflection.” Mazari said the nation should know that the US has admitted to this effort to impose a regime change through local abettors and a corrupt criminal political mafia. “Classic US playbook of regime change,” she said.

   

Chinese astronauts land back on Earth after six months on Tiangong space station.

By Web desk 16 Apr 2022

The three crew members arrived at the landing site in Inner Mongolia on Saturday morning. One of the astronauts, Zhai Zhigang, says ‘I’m feeling very good, we’ve completed our mission’

Three Chinese astronauts returned to Earth on Saturday after spending six months on the Tiangong space station. The return journey took about nine hours by using a new procedure that shortened the journey time from around 24 for the previous mission. The Shenzhou 13 capsule landed in Inner Mongolia on Saturday morning.

 

Pentagon warns China

Solomon Islands security deal could be destabilising.

 By Web desk 15 Apr 2022

 The US Defence Department said the pact could ‘set a concerning precedent for the wider Pacific Island region’ Australia this week sent a minister to Honiara in a bid to prevent the island nation from officially signing the agreement.

The US Defence Department on Thursday 14th April expressed concern over a possible security pact between China and the Solomon Islands, saying it leaves the door open for deployment of Chinese military forces to the Pacific nation. We believe that signing such an agreement could actually increase destabilisation within the Solomon Islands and could set a concerning precedent for the wider Pacific Island region, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told a press conference. “Obviously we are concerned about this,” he added.

  

Coronavirus

Hong Kong to ease social-distancing rules from April 21 with extension of dine-in services to 10pm, reopening of gyms, beauty parlors, sports venues.

By Web desk 14 Apr 2022

Premises including gyms, beauty parlors, and sports centers will reopen as dine-in services at restaurants will be extended to 10pm, with four diners allowed at each table when social distancing measures are eased starting April 21, the government announced on Thursday April 14th. The public gathering cap will also be expanded from two to four, while the ban on gatherings of more than two households at private places will be lifted. With evening dine-in set to resume after three months, catering premises will also be allowed to host banquets of no more than 20 people. Bars and pubs will remain closed. Employees at catering premises will be required to undergo rapid antigen tests every three days. Meanwhile, designated premises allowed to reopen on April 21 include gyms, beauty parlors, massage parlors, sports centers, theme parks, performance venues, cinemas, game centers, and religious premises. Except for team sports, a 4-people cap will remain on these premises, with the premises running at 50 percent of the normal capacity. On the reopening of cinemas, health officials said the ban on food and drinks can be lifted when all employees and customers have received three doses of the Covid vaccine or have recovered from Covid after receiving two jabs. Sports facilities under Leisure and Cultural Services Department will be available for online booking starting this Saturday (April 16). Museums, performance venues, and public libraries managed by the department will also reopen. However, swimming pools and barbeque sites will remain closed. Citizens will still be required to wear masks at all times, including exercising outdoors. Local tours with no more than 30 people have also received the green light, as long as tour staffers have received three doses of the Covid vaccine. The 30-people cap will be further relaxed to 100 if all participants undergo rapid antigen tests on the first day of the tour.

 

 Nation will never accept 'govt of bandits'.

Former premier says the nation is at a decisive point to either choose slavery or freedom.

 By Web desk 14 Apr 2022

Days after his ouster from power, former Prime Minister Imran Khan has told a massive crowd in Peshawar that his party doesn't approve of the new government and the nation will never accept the bandits imposed upon them.

"Today, our nation is at a decisive point and we have to decide whether we want slavery or freedom from it," he said while addressing the first power show since his ouster from the premiership. The ex-PM said he thanks the people of Peshawar for a mammoth welcome after his ouster, adding that he is also thankful to people of other parts of the country. "[Prime Minister] Shehbaz Sharif is currently facing cases of Rs40 billion corruption," he said and asked, "how can we accept him as our prime minister." He went on to add that "all others who think we will accept this regime should know that this isn't the 1970s." The PTI chief also announced to take out rallies in every city and stage more power-shows. At the stroke of midnight, Imran Khan was voted out from power through a vote of a no-confidence motion, becoming the first prime minister in the country’s history to be unseated by a parliamentary revolt. On April 3, the joint opposition's no-confidence motion, which required 172 votes in the 342-strong parliament to pass, was supported by 174 lawmakers, shaking the political earth of the country with an unprecedented ouster of the premier and seemingly bringing to an end the protracted crisis. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which stayed in power for over three-and-a-half years, had been struggling to stay in power as its allies jumped ship and joined hands with the joint opposition that had been vying for an in-house change. He added that the incumbent government’s members were “all on bail”, adding he will raise the nation against the “shameless rulers”. Imran, who is also the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), said he will force the government to hold elections. “We will remain on the streets until they accept this demand of ours,” he declared. The PTI chief asked judges to explain to him his fault as the doors of the court were opened for him at midnight. “My honourable judges, what crime had I committed for the court to be set up against me at midnight,” he questioned. “I never instigated the public against the state's institutions or the judiciary as I am bound to live and die in Pakistan.” He added: “I went behind bars during the movement for the judiciary.” “The struggle for freedom begins today,” the former premier roared to a charged crowd as he told them he won’t let their faith in him go to waste. He warned PM Shehbaz about the “crackdown against social media users”, adding, “You won’t find a place to hide if I issue one call to my supporters.” Imran also said that the Pakistani nation didn't want a pardon from the United States, referring to his talks about the ‘threatening letter’ allegedly issued by the latter. He went on to say that the Pakistani nation is now aware of everything and wouldn’t accept an "imported" government at any cost. According to him, Americans had “disrespected” Pakistan by imposing a bunch of "outlaws" on the nation. He also asked security institutions if Pakistan’s nuclear assets are going to remain safe under the incumbent government.

  

China congratulates Shahbaz on election as Prime Minister

 By Web desk 13 Apr 2022

Spokesperson says the two countries are all-weather strategic and comprehensive cooperation partners.

 China has congratulated Shahbaz Sharif on his election as the new prime minister of Pakistan and said it was looking forward to working with him to continue traditional friendship, deepen all-round cooperation and advance a high-quality building of the CPEC to build a closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in new era.

 “We congratulate Shahbaz Sharif on his election as the prime minister of Pakistan,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday. He said China and Pakistan were all-weather strategic and comprehensive cooperation partners with “rock solid and unbreakable relations”. “China looks forward to working together with the Pakistani side carrying on our traditional friendship, resolutely supporting each other, deepening cooperation in various areas, and building a high quality CPEC to build an even closer China-Pak community of shared future in the new era,” he added. Meanwhile, Chinese Charge d’ Affaires Pang Chunxue paid a courtesy call on Shahbaz at the Prime Minister’s House. She conveyed warm felicitations and good wishes of the Chinese government and leadership on the assumption of office by the premier. The charge d’ affaires emphasised that Shahbaz was viewed as a committed friend of China and enjoyed great respect and admiration in her country.

  

Hong Kong chief executive election 2022

John Lee submits 786 nominations to stand for city’s top job, representing more than half of Election Committee members.

By Web desk 13 Apr 2022

Lee declined to say whether the overwhelming number of nominations assured his victory in the May 8 poll, adding that he would continue with his campaign. While other hopefuls had declared an intention to run before the nomination period officially opened, none have formally launched bids.

Former Hong Kong No 2 official John Lee Ka-chiu has officially submitted his bid to stand in the chief executive poll in May after securing 786 nominations from the Election Committee, representing more than half of all the voters tasked with picking the city’s next leader. Lee declined to say whether the overwhelming number of nominations made him a lock for the city’s top job, adding that he would continue with his campaign and had been working hard to explain to various members what my election platform will be. It is hard at first, he said of the campaign process. For example, on a single day, I went round 10 places to explain to various members, and I have been conducting meetings online, and some were made public.

 

ECP announces delimitation schedule for next general elections.

                   Electoral body says preliminary delimitations will be published on May 28

 By Web desk 12 Apr 2022

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has announced the delimitation schedule for the national and provincial assemblies for the next general elections.

From today, no new administrative unit will be formed anywhere in the country, the electoral body said in a statement on Monday. The chief secretaries and provincial election commissioners are directed to provide required maps and other documents for demarcation work. Documents will be provided from April 11 to April 26. Training of delimitation committees will be conducted from April 20 to April 24. Preliminary delimitations will be published on May 28. From May 29 to June 28, people will present their objections and recommendations to the ECP on the initial delimitation. The ECP will hear and decide all objections from July 1 to July 30. The final list of constituencies will be published on August 3. The ECP last week decided to immediately start the delimitation exercise of all National Assembly and provincial assembly constituencies on the basis of the 2017 census and population statistics. The decision came after a landmark unanimous ruling from the Supreme Court, which set aside then National Assembly deputy speaker Qasim Suri’s ruling to dismiss the no-trust resolution against ousted premier Imran Khan and the subsequent dissolution of the lower house of parliament by President Arif Alvi on the premier’s advice.The decision was made in an important meeting of the ECP which was held under the chairmanship of Chief Election. 

 

Pakistan lawmakers elect Shehbaz Sharif

As new PM after Imran Khan ousted

By Web desk 12 Apr 2022

Sharif says forging a durable peace with India won’t be possible without a solution for the disputed Kashmir region. He says his administration will speed up construction of the US$60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Pakistan’s parliament chose a more Western-friendly politician, Shahbaz Sharif, as prime minister on Monday 11 April, completing the ousting of predecessor Imran Khan in a political crisis that has sparked street protests and a mass resignation of lawmakers. Sharif’s election brings to a close a week-long constitutional confrontation that reached its climax on Sunday when Khan lost a no-confidence vote, although the nuclear-armed nation is likely to remain prone to political and economic turbulence. Sharif, 70, who has a reputation domestically as an effective administrator more than as a politician, is the younger brother of three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

  

Ousting of Imran Khan sets Pakistan on uncertain political path.

Supporters promise return to power.

By Web desk 11 Apr 2022

Following a parliamentary no-confidence vote on Sunday, tens of thousands of Khan Supporters marched in cities across Pakistan, vowing support Khan’s successor is to be elected and sworn in by parliament on Monday. The leading contender is Shahbaz Sharif, a brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The ousting of Prime Minister Imran Khan in a parliamentary no-confidence vote early on Sunday set Pakistan on an uncertain political path, with his supporters taking to the streets in protest and the political opposition preparing to install his replacement. Tens of thousands of Khan supporters marched in cities across Pakistan, waving large party flags and vowing support. The youth, who make up the backbone of Khan’s supporters, dominated the crowds. In the southern Arabian Sea port city of Karachi more than 20,000 shouted slogans promising Khan’s return to power. In the capital of Islamabad, the lights from thousands of supporters lit up the night sky as Khan made his way through the crowd atop a brightly colored truck. Khan was brought down after a day of drama and often vitriolic remarks. His supporters accused Washington of orchestrating his ousting and his party walked out of parliament before the vote. In the end, 174 politicians in the 342-seat parliament voted to depose him, two more than the required simple majority. Khan’s successor is to be elected and sworn in by parliament on Monday. The leading contender is Shahbaz Sharif, a brother of disgraced former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Shahbaz Sharif heads the largest party in a diverse alliance of opposition factions that span the spectrum from the left to radically religious. Khan’s nominee for prime minister will be his foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. In an interview on a local television channel Qureshi said the party was still debating whether its politicians will resign from parliament after the prime minister’s vote is taken. Khan’s ousting comes amid his cooling relations with the powerful military and an economy struggling with high inflation and a plummeting Pakistani rupee. The opposition has charged Khan’s government with economic mismanagement. Khan has claimed the US worked behind the scenes to bring him down, purportedly because of Washington’s displeasure over his independent foreign policy choices, which often favour China and Russia. He has occasionally defied America and stridently criticized America’s post September 11 “war on terrorism”. Khan said America was deeply disturbed by his visit to Russia and his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24, the start of the devastating war in Ukraine. The US State Department has denied his allegations. Elizabeth Threlkeld, a Pakistan expert at the US-based The Stimson Centre, said that even as Prime Minister, Khan often played the role of opposition leader. “His removal would see him to a role he knows well, armed with a narrative of victimhood from unfounded claims of international interference,” she said. “His base will remain loyal, though I expect both his controversial attempt to remain in power and reduced military backing will lose him less committed supporters.”Khan would seem to have few options going forward. General elections are not scheduled before August 2023. Even if the new prime minister favours early elections, this would probably not happen before October. The Pakistan Election Commission, which oversees polls, told the Supreme Court last week it had still to finish realigning constituencies in line with the results of a 2017 census before polls could be held. In the aftermath of Sunday’s vote, giant steel containers stacked on top of each other blocked main roads leading to parliament and to the diplomatic enclave in the capital of Islamabad. Khan has called on his supporters to gather late on Sunday, Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Programme at the Washington-based Wilson Centre, predicted a turbulent time ahead for Pakistan. “Khan’s defeat would also leave Pakistan a bitterly partisan and divided place. He has not only intensified political rivalries, he has also defied and alienated key entities like the Army Chief and Pakistan’s foreign office,” said Kugelman. “It will take time for the country to pick up the pieces, and the coming months will be politically turbulent.” Sunday’s vote capped a week-long constitutional crisis that had mesmerised the nation. It began last Sunday when Khan sought to sidestep the no confidence vote by dissolving parliament and calling early elections. It was then left to the Supreme Court to sort, eventually ruling to reinstate parliament and demand the vote be he. Khan has won international praise for his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic opting for so called “smart lockdowns” where outbreaks occurred rather than countrywide closures that helped protect some industries like the construction sector. His reputation for fighting corruption has brought a record US$21 billion in deposits from overseas Pakistanis. But he has not been able to overcome an increasingly strained relationship with the army, which has ruled Pakistan directly for more than half its 75-year history and indirectly from the sidelines when civilian governments ruled. Khan’s opponents say the army helped him win the 2018 elections after it had fallen out with Nawaz Sharif, who was convicted of corruption after being named in the so-called Panama Papers. These papers are a collection of leaked secret financial documents showing how some of the world’s richest hide their money and involving a global law firm based in Panama. Pakistan’s Supreme Court disqualified Sharif from holding office. He lives in London in self-imposed exile after being convicted in a Pakistani court of corruption. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Fissures in Khan’s relationship with the army began last November after he squabbled with the powerful Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa over the appointment of the new intelligence chief. Last weekend, Bajwa appeared to distance himself from Khan’s anti-US attacks saying Pakistan wants good relations with Washington, its largest export trading partner and with China. He condemned Russia’s war in Ukraine.

 

 Hong Kong journalism school consultant arrested.

By national security police over sedition allegations.

 By Web desk 11 Apr 2022

 Suspect Allan Au Ka-lun was also a veteran journalist, having worked at local media outlets TVB and RTHK.A source said articles written by Au and published on the now-defunct online outlet Stand News were alleged to have incited hatred against the government.

A teaching consultant at Chinese University’s journalism school was arrested by Hong Kong national security police on Monday morning for allegedly conspiring to publish and reproduce seditious materials, according to a force insider.The suspect, Allan Au Ka-lun, was also a veteran journalist who had worked at local media outlets TVB and RTHK, and had shared his political views in columns for various publications and on social media. Au was arrested at his home in Lai Chi Kok by officers from the force’s National Security Department at about 6.30am under a colonial-era law covering conspiracy to print or distribute seditious material. The offence is punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine of HK$5,000 (US$638).

  

Pakistan’s Imran Khan urges for peaceful protest as he faces likely defeat in confidence vote.

By Web desk 9 Apr 2022

Khan said he is in a fight to protect the country’s sovereignty and called his supporters to the streets to defy opponents determined to unseat him. Khan’s plea comes on eve of a no-confidence vote, and follows a Supreme Court ruling that his move to dissolve parliament and call early elections was illegal.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan called for peaceful street protests and repeated his long-hyped assertion that the US wanted to oust his government, ahead of a no-confidence vote that could bring his opposition to power within days. The speech follows a Supreme Court decision that ordered Khan to face the vote in parliament on Saturday. “We accept the court’s decision,” Khan said in a nationally televised address to the nation late on Friday 8 April 2022, adding that he was “disappointed” that the court did not look into the proof that a foreign conspiracy by Washington was behind the move to edge out his government. The US has denied the allegation.

 

Pakistan Supreme Court rules against PM Imran Khan.

 As no-confidence vote looms.

 By Web desk 8 Apr 2022

Moves to keep the besieged leader in power by dissolving parliament and calling early elections were declared illegal in a unanimous decision. Khan vowed to keep fighting, saying he had called a cabinet meeting and would address the nation on Friday.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the restoration of the national assembly four days after it was dismissed by Prime Minister Imran Khan, bringing the embattled leader one step closer to being removed from office. A five-member bench headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial unanimously outlawed the decision by the deputy speaker of the national assembly Qasim Suri on Sunday to block a vote of no-confidence against Khan, who was certain to lose by a substantial margin. In a short order, the court ruled that the deputy speaker’s ruling was “contrary to the constitution and the law and of no legal effect”.

 

 

Hong Kong chief executive election 2022

Beijing approves resignation of John Lee, clearing way for his leadership bid.

By Web desk 8 Apr 2022

In accordance with the Basic Law and the recommendation of incumbent Carrie Lam, the State Council has decided to remove Lee from the office of chief secretary. A source previously said Lee was expected to hold a press conference on Saturday afternoon to formally announce his currently unopposed candidacy for the city’s top job.

Beijing has approved the resignation of Hong Kong chief secretary John Lee Ka-chiu, clearing the way for his leadership bid in May. In accordance with the relevant provisions of the Basic Law and the recommendation of incumbent leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the State Council has decided to remove Lee from the office of chief secretary, Xinhua reported on Friday. A source told that Lee was expected to hold a press conference on Saturday afternoon to formally announce his currently unopposed candidacy for the city’s top job and the launch of his election campaign.

 

Ukraine war

Mariupol mayor says 5,000 killed in city as Ukraine braces for Russian offensive in the east.

 By Web desk 7 Apr 2022

Mariupol’s mayor said more 5,000 civilians killed during weeks of Russian bombardment, including 50 people burned to death during the bombing of a hospital. Capturing Mariupol would allow Russia to secure a continuous land corridor to the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow seized from Ukraine in 2014.

The mayor of the besieged port city of Mariupol put the number of civilians killed there at more than 5,000 on Wednesday April 6 2022, as Ukraine collected evidence of Russian atrocities on the ruined outskirts of Kyiv and braced for what could become a climactic battle for control of the country’s industrial east. Ukrainian authorities continued gathering up the dead in shattered towns outside the capital amid telltale signs Moscow’s troops killed civilians indiscriminately before retreating over the past several days. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Moscow is now marshaling reinforcements and trying to push deeper into the country’s east, where the Kremlin has said its goal is to “liberate” the Donbas, Ukraine’s mostly Russian-speaking industrial heartland.

 

 

Hong Kong chief executive election 2022     No 2 official John Lee will be only candidate with Beijing’s blessing.

 By Web desk 6 Apr 2022

A source said Beijing’s liaison office informed Election Committee members of the decision during meetings on Wednesday morning. John Lee went to Shenzhen last Friday, the same day incumbent leader Carrie Lam had travelled there to meet state leader Xia Baolong.

Beijing officials have told Hong Kong’s political elites that the city’s No 2 official, John Lee Ka-chiu, will be the sole candidate to receive the blessing of the central government in this year’s chief executive election. Chief Secretary Lee is expected to tender his resignation on Wednesday to pave the way for a run at the city’s top job, with no other heavyweight candidates likely to challenge him, source said. Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong had told Election Committee members during meetings on Wednesday morning that Lee would be the only candidate for the post with the central government’s support. The source added that Lee would announce his candidacy soon after the central government approved his resignation. Lee emerged as the clear favourite after Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced on Monday morning that she would not seek a second term, citing family reasons. Another pro-establishment insider said Lee went to Shenzhen on Friday, the same day, according to the source, that Lam travelled to the Guangdong provincial city to meet Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office director Xia Baolong. Lee had recently consulted several core members of the pro-Beijing bloc on the make-up of his governing team. Lee had ideas on the names but Beijing has not given the green light to the list. Under the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, principal officials are nominated by the chief executive and appointed by the central government. Hong Kong opened nominations for the May 8 election on Monday, and as of Wednesday, no political heavyweights had put their names forward. Lee, 64, who led the Security Bureau for five years from 2017 before being promoted to chief secretary, was likely to throw his hat in the ring, with one insider suggesting Lee was well-equipped to take up the top job with his security background. On January 12, 2017, Carrie Lam resigned as chief secretary in order to run in the chief executive election. Her resignation was approved by the State Council four days later. According to previous practice, the government will appoint a veteran bureau chief to serve as acting chief secretary. In September 2011, then secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung was appointed chief secretary after Henry Tang Ying-yen resigned to prepare his bid for the chief executive race the following year. In January 2017, then secretary for labour and welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung was promoted as chief secretary after Lam’s resignation. Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing, who has been a minister since 2012, is tipped to be the new chief secretary if Lee resigns. Lee joined the police force as a probationary inspector at the age of 20 and went on to perform a wide range of duties. In 2012, he was appointed by then city leader Leung Chun-ying as undersecretary for security before being promoted to head of the Security Bureau in 2017.

  

Sri Lankan business owners left reeling from shortages, power cuts amid spiralling economic crisis.

By Web desk 5 Apr 2022

The island nation has imposed punishing power outages lasting half a day or more in recent weeks as it runs out of foreign currency to pay for fuel imports. A last-minute curfew over the weekend dealt a further blow to restaurants and other businesses struggling with shortages and the pandemic.

As Sri Lanka is enveloped by its worst economic crisis in living memory, restaurants and other businesses across the island nation are being pushed to the brink by acute shortages of fuel and other essentials. Most of the country’s cabinet – except President Gotabaya Rajapaska and his brother, the prime minister – offered to resign en masse on Sunday night following weeks of street protests against the government’s handling of the crisis. These continued over the weekend despite a 36-hour curfew imposed by Rajapaska on Saturday after large crowds had gathered near the president’s residence. The energy shortage, triggered by dwindling foreign currency reserves to pay for fuel imports, has caused power outages lasting up to 13 hours per day – further punishing small eateries that had already been hit hard by a shortage of cooking gas since late last year.

 

اسمبلیاں تحلیل کرنے کے فیصلوں کو کس کی تائید حاصل تھی ؟ وفاقی وزیر شیخ رشید کا بڑا دعویٰ آگیا

By Web desk 4 Apr 2022

 عوامی مسلم لیگ کے سربراہ شیخ رشید احمد نے کہا ہے کہ اسمبلیاں تحلیل کرنے کے فیصلوں کو ریاستی اداروں کی تائید حاصل ہے۔ تفصیلات کے مطابق میڈیا سے گفتگو کرتے ہوئے انہوں نے کہا کہ غیر ملکی مداخلت پر پاکستان کی سالمیت کا سوال پید اہو جائے تو سب متحد ہیں ، نئے انتخابات کے لیے آصف زرداری کے علاوہ سب تیارہیں اور میری معلومات کے مطابق ریاستی ادارے بھی انتخابات چاہتے ہیں ، وزیر اعظم نے سیاسی کمیٹی کا اجلاس بلا لیا ہے اور لڑائی گلی محلے تک پہنچ چکی ہے ، پنجاب اور خیبر پختون خوا کی اسمبلیاں بھی پیر کو توڑ دینی چاہئیں۔عوامی مسلم لیگ کے سربراہ نے کہا کہ میں تو ایمرجنسی کی خواہش رکھتا تھا میری بات نہیں مانی گئی، یہ زبردست کام ہوا ہے، عمران خان کو اتنے ووٹ ملیں گے کہ لوٹے کی ضرورت نہیں پڑے گی۔اس کے علاوہ کوئی حل نہیں تھا ہمارے محلوں میں لڑائی شروع ہوگئی تھی، لوگ عمران خان کے ساتھ ایک دم نکل آئے تھے، پنجاب اور کے پی اسمبلیاں بھی پیر کو توڑ دینی چاہئیں۔انہوں نے کہا آصف زرداری نے 3 دن سے پھڈا ڈالا ہوا تھا، ورنہ 4 دن پہلے اسمبلی ٹوٹ جاتی، صرف آصف زداری نے اسٹینڈ لیا ہوا تھا باقی دو جماعتیں ری الیکشن کے لیے تیار تھیں، آصف زرداری نئے الیکشن میں رکاوٹ تھے ، 4 دن پہلے سے طے تھا ملک الیکشن کی طرف جا سکتا ہے، آخر کار کل فیصلہ ہوا اور عمران خان نے سیاسی کمیٹی ممبران سے حلف لیا ۔ ادھر پاکستان مسلم لیگ ن کے صدر شہباز شریف نے کہا ہے کہ عمران خان نے ملک کو انتشار کی طرف دھکیل دیا ، یہ کسی غداری سے کم نہیں ہے، انہوں نے کہا کہ نیازی اور اس کے ساتھیوں کو اسکوٹ فری نہیں جانے دیا جائے گا ، آئین کی صریح اور ڈھٹائی سے خلاف ورزی کے نتائج برآمد ہوں گے ، امید ہے سپریم کورٹ آئین کو برقرار رکھنے کے لیے اپنا کردار ادا کرے گی کیوں کہ یہ کسی بڑی غداری سے کم نہیں ہے ، عمران خان نے ملک کو انتشار کی طرف دھکیل دیا ہے۔خیال رہے کہ ڈپٹی اسپیکر قومی اسمبلی قاسم سوری نے اپوزیشن کی طرف سے وزیراعظم عمران خان کے خلاف پیش کی گئی تحریک عدم اعتماد کو آئین کے منافی قرار دیتے ہوئے مسترد کر دیا اور قومی اسمبلی کا اجلاس ملتوی کر دیا ، ڈپٹی اسپیکر قومی اسمبلی قاسم خان سوری نے اپنی رولنگ میں کہا کہ کسی غیر ملکی طاقت کو حق نہیں کہ پاکستان کی حکومت کو سازش سے گرائے ، اس لیے تحریک عدم اعتماد آئین و قانون کی خلاف ورزی اور قواعد و ضابطے کے خلاف ہے ، عدم اعتماد کی تحریک کا آئین و قانون کے تحت ہونا ضروری ہے لہذا تحریک عدم اعتماد کی قرار داد کو مسترد کیا جاتا ہے۔قبل ازیں ڈپٹی اسپیکر قومی اسمبلی قاسم سوری کی سربراہی میں ہونے والے اجلاس میں وفاقی وزیر قانون فواد چوہدری نے اظہار خیال کرتے ہوئے کہا کہ 7 مارچ کو ایک میٹنگ ہوتی ہے اور اس کے ایک روز بعد 8 مارچ کو وزیراعظم کے خلاف تحریک عدم اعتماد پیش کی جاتی ہے جب کہ ہمارے سفیر کو 7 مارچ کو ایک میٹنگ میں طلب کیا جاتا ہے ، اس میں دوسرے ممالک کے حکام بھی بیٹھتے ہیں ، اس میں ہمار ے سفیر کو بتایا جاتا ہے کہ عمران خان کے خلاف تحریک عدم اعتماد پیش کی جاری ہے ، اس وقت تک پاکستان میں بھی کسی کو پتہ نہیں تھا کہ تحریک عدم اعتماد آ رہی ہے۔وفاقی وزیر نے کہا کہ ہمارے سفیر کو بتایا جاتا ہے کہ پاکستان سے ہمارے تعلقات کا دارومدار اس عدم اعتماد کی کامیابی پر ہے ، اگر تحریک عدم اعتماد کامیاب ہوتی ہے تو آپ کو معاف کر دیا جائے گا لیکن اگر اعتماد کامیاب نہیں ہوتی تو آپ کا اگلا راستہ بہت سخت ہو گا ، یہ غیر ملکی حکومت کی جانب سے حکومت کی تبدیلی کی بہت ہی متاثر کوشش ہے، بدقسمتی سے اس کے ساتھ ہی اتحادیوں اور ہمارے 22 لوگوں کا ضمیر جاگ جاتا ہے اور معاملات یہاں تک آ پہنچتے ہیں۔

 

 Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam will not seek a second term.

By Web desk 4 April 2022

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam informed her cabinet colleagues of the decision in an early morning meeting, paving the way for others to step into the ring. Sources previously said Chief Secretary John Lee will run for the city’s highest office.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has said she will not be seeking a second term, after first revealing the decision to her de facto cabinet in an early morning meeting. Lam announced the decision at her daily Covid-19 press conference on Monday 4 Apr 2022, while thanking her team, her Executive Council, lawmakers, her family and the central government for their steadfast support. She explained that her rationale in not seeking re-election was entirely about my family. “They think it is time for me to go home,” she said. “Family is the most important part of me.” It’s not a question of evaluating my performance or the performance of the Hong Kong government in this term, she added. This is a question of my personal wish and aspirations. My personal wish and aspirations are entirely based on my family’s consideration. Asked if she had received Chief Secretary John Lee Ka-chiu’s letter of resignation in advance of a bid for the city’s top job, Lam said she had yet to receive any letter of resignation from any official, adding that she could not comment on any prospective candidates. She said the most important quality for an incoming chief executive was understanding their dual accountability to both the Hong Kong people and the central government. Lam said her remaining time in office would be committed to four tasks, overseeing this year’s chief executive election, controlling the pandemic, preparing celebrations for the 25th anniversary of the city’s return to the motherland, and handing the reins to the next administration, while also pushing forward her plans for a government restructuring. Lam revealed that she had told Beijing of her intention in March of 2021 during the annual session of the National People’s Congress, but was only able to formally announce it now because it was the first working day of the official nomination period. She also cited the need to inform her de facto cabinet beforehand. I still have not thought of what I will do next, she added. The sources told. Lam met members of the Executive Council, her de facto cabinet, early on Monday morning and told them she would not run in the forthcoming chief executive race. Monday’s announcement ended months of speculation over Lam’s intentions, leaving No 2 government official Lee, who sources said earlier was putting together a bid for the top job, as the clear front runner. Lam had refused for months to say whether she would throw her hat in the ring and last Sunday gave new life to speculation she would decline to run when she said it would be up to the next administration to decide whether to investigate her government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak. The end of Lam’s term on June 30 will mark the end of her 42 years of service in the government. Lam, 64, joined the civil service in 1980 and rose through the ranks to become chief secretary in 2012 in Leung Chun-ying’s administration. In March 2017, she secured 777 votes from the 1,194-member Election Committee, beating former finance chief John Tsang Chun-wah and retired judge Woo Kwok-hing.

 

More than 6 million Hongkongers set to receive HK$5,000 in first phase of e-voucher scheme from April 7.

By Web desk 3 Apr 2022

Finance minister Paul Chan says AlipayHK, Tap & Go or WeChat Pay HK users to receive first half of e-voucher worth HK$5,000 in one instalment. Octopus users to receive e-voucher in two payments of HK$4,000 and HK$1,000, with second instalment to be disbursed as early as June 16.

More than 6.3 million Hongkongers will receive the first half of this year’s consumption vouchers worth HK$5,000 (US$638) each from April 7, the city’s financial chief announced on Sunday. Writing on his official blog, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said the government was ready to issue the first batch of e-vouchers after eligible recipients had renewed their registration and 6.2 million residents had kept their accounts active. The first batch of the consumption vouchers will be issued on April 7 with an effective period of seven months until October 31, he said.

 

All quiet on Hong Kong’s election front talk of one-horse race, but no sign yet of serious contenders to be city leader.

 By Web desk 02 April 2022

 Beijing stays quiet on favoured candidate, but more now believe it prefers a no-contest race. Former leader Leung Chun-ying said to be poised for comeback, but no ruling out bid by current city leader Carrie Lam yet.

 Hong Kong’s upcoming election for its next chief executive is turning out to be the quietest since the city’s handover to mainland China in 1997. With only a day to go before the two-week nomination period starts on Sunday, no incumbent official or political heavyweight has stepped forward and Beijing has remained quiet about its preferred choices.

  

British judge Robert Walker yet to declare stance over HK's top court row due to health issues.

By Web desk 1st Apr 2022

British judge Robert Walker has yet to declare his decision on whether he will stay on Hong Kong’s top court due to health issues, according to source. The news came after UK Supreme Court President Robert Reed and fellow judge Patrick Hodge resigned from the Court of Final Appeal on Wednesday, saying the government had departed from values of political freedom and freedom of expression. Nine of the 10 remaining overseas judges – who unlike Reed and Hodge are retired – have confirmed on Thursday that they will remain, including five from the UK, three from Australia and one from Canada. Judges from common law jurisdictions are invited to sit as non-permanent members at the Court of Final Appeal. British judge Robert Walker was undergoing treatment for a medical condition lately and was therefore unable to make an announcement of his decision. The five British judges who will stay are Leonard Hoffman, Jonathan Sumption, Lawrence Collins and two former presidents of the UK Supreme Court, Nicholas Phillips and David Neuberger. The five British judges said they were entirely satisfied with the independence and integrity of the Court of Final Appeal. At a critical time in the history of Hong Kong, it is more than ever important to support the work of its appellate courts in their task of maintaining the rule of law and reviewing the acts of the executive. Australian judges William Gummow, Anthony Murray Gleeson and Robert French as well as former Canadian chief justice Beverley McLachlin would also retain their seats. We do not intend to resign and we support the judges of the Court of Final Appeal in their commitment to judicial independence, Gummow, Gleeson and French. McLachlin also told Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper that she would remain.

 

 ایم کیوایم نے وزیراعظم کی پیٹھ میں چھرا گھونپ

دیابھاری مراعات کے بدلے اپوزیشن میں شامل

By Web desk 31 Mar 2022

 ایم کیوایم نے مشکل وقت میں وزیراعظم عمران خان کا ساتھ چھوڑتے ہوئے بھاری مراعات کے بدلے متحدہ اپوزیشن میں شمولیت کا اعلان کردیا۔متحدہ قومی موومنٹ کے2 وفاقی وزر ا امین الحق اور فروغ نسیم نے اپنے استعفے وزیراعظم عمران خان کو بھیج دیے۔ ایم کیو ایم کے مطابق حکومت سے معاملات طے نہ پانے کی وجہ ان کی سست روی ہے، وزیراعظم عمران خان انا کا شکار رہے، وہ اپنے وزرا کو بھیجتے رہے لیکن خود نہیں آئے ، جبکہ اپوزیشن کی پوری قیادت ہمارے پاس بار بار آئی۔ ایم کیو ایم نے کہا کہ عمران خان اب خود بھی آجائیں تو بہت دیر ہوچکی اور ہم فیصلہ کرچکے ہیں ۔ایم کیوایم پاکستان اور متحدہ اپوزیشن کے درمیان 18 نکات پرمشتمل معاہدہ طے پاگیاہے معاہدے کو’’چارٹرآف رائٹس ‘‘کانام دیا گیاہے معاہدے پرایم کیوایم کی جانب سے خالد مقبول صدیقی اورپیپلزپارٹی کی جانب سے بلاول زرداری نے دستخط کیے ہیں جبکہ معاہدے پر شہباز شریف، مولانافضل الرحمن،اخترمینگل اورخالد مگسی نے بطورضامن دستخط کیے۔ معاہدے کے نکات کے مطابق لوکل گورنمنٹ ایکٹ پرعدالت عظمیٰ کے فیصلے کے مطابق عمل ہوگا ۔سرکاری ملازمتوں پر طے شدہ کوٹہ شہری اوردیہی سندھ کے مطابق عمل کیا جائے گا۔جعلی ڈومیسائل پر تحقیقات کے بعد اسے منسوخ کردیاجائے گا۔ ملازمتوں کے کوٹہ کے حوالے سے کمیٹی تشکیل دی جائے گی جواسے مانیٹر کرے گی اورگریڈ ایک سے15 تک کی ملازمتوں پرسختی سے مقامی حکومتوں کے حوالے سے عمل کیاجائے گا۔معاہدے کے مطابق امن وامان کی بہتری اوراسٹریٹ کرائم کے خاتمے کے لیے مقامی پولیسنگ کانظام متعارف کرایاجائے گااور شہری اوردیہی علاقوں کی ترقی کے لیے مشترکہ کمیٹی کام کرے گی اورخصوصی پیکج کااعلان ہوگا۔ معاہدے کے مطابق کراچی کے ماسٹرپلان کے لیے فوری طورپر نوٹیفیکیشن نکال کر کام کیاجائے گا۔ دونوں جماعتوں نے کراچی ٹرانسپورٹ سسٹم کو اپ گریڈ کرنے پراتفاق کیا ہے اورسیف سٹی منصوبے کو فوری مکمل کیاجائے گا ۔معاہدے کے مطابق دونوں جماعتیں کاٹیج انڈسٹریل زون بنانے پربھی متفق ہوگئیں اوردونوں جماعتوں نے انڈسٹریل ایریاز کی حالت بہتر بنانے پر بھی اتفاق کیا۔معاہدے کے مطابق دونوں جماعتیں صحت اورتعلیم کے شعبوں میں ہنگامی بنیادوں پرسرمایہ کاری کرنے پر اتفاق کیا ہے ۔دونوں جماعتوں کے معاہدے کے تحت حیدرآباد یونی ورسٹی بنانے پربھی اتفاق کیاگیاہے جبکہ متروکہ اراضی اور زمینوں کے معاملات کے حل کے لیے کمیشن بنانے پرمتحدہ او رپی پی پی متفق ہوگئی ہیں۔ معاہدے کے مطابق تمام سیاسی ایڈمنسٹریٹو اورمعاشی فیصلوں پر قانون کے مطابق عمل کیاجائے گا۔معاہدے کے بعد اپوزیشن رہنماؤں کے ہمراہ اسلام آباد میں پریس کانفرنس کرتے ہوئے کنوینر ایم کیوایم پاکستان خالد مقبول صدیقی نے کہا کہ ہم نے اپوزیشن کے ساتھ چلنے کا فیصلہ کیا ہے، تبدیلی کے اس سفر میں اب ہم ساتھ ہیں، امید ہے آنے والی تبدیلی ملک کے لیے اچھی ثابت ہوگی۔بلاول زرداری نے کہا کہ ایم کیو ایم نے کراچی اور پاکستان کی ترقی کے لیے اچھا فیصلہ کیاوزیراعظم اپنی اکثریت کھو چکے ہیں، استعفیٰ دیں ،تمام قومی قیادت ایک صفحے پر جمع ہوچکی ہے ،تحریک عدم اعتماد پر کل ہی ووٹنگ کرائی جائے اور معاملے کو حل کرکے آگے بڑھا جائے، شہباز شریف جلد وزیراعظم منتخب ہوں گے، ہم نے غیرجمہوری طریقے سے منتخب حکومت کے جمہوری طریقے سے خاتمے کا بندوبست کیا ہے۔ ان کا کہنا تھا کہ آج جھوٹ پر مبنی سیاست کا خاتمہ ہو گیا، ڈراؤ مت، تمہیں کسی نے کوئی دھمکی نہیں دی، تمہاری حیثیت کیا ہے جو تمہیں کوئی دھمکی دے یا تمہارے خلاف سازش کرے۔شہبازشریف نے کہا کہ پاکستان کی تاریخ میں ایک اہم دن ہے، وزیراعظم استعفا دے کر نئی روایات قائم کرسکتے ہیں۔سردار اختر مینگل کاکہنا تھا کہ کافی عرصہ سے ہم نے کوشش کی وزیر اعظم ہٹ وکٹ ہوئے ہیں ،اب عالمی سازش کا چورن بکنے والا نہیں ، ہمیں وہ پاکستان چاہیے جس میں ہمارے بچے لاپتا نہ ہوں۔ آخر میں خالد مگسی نے کہا کہ ایم کیو ایم کے ساتھ ہونے معاہدے پر فوری عملدر آمد ہونا چاہیے۔

 

 

Beijing will be reminded its support for Russian war in Ukraine comes at a cost.

 By Web desk 31 Mar 2022

EU leaders doubt they can force Beijing to ‘publicly alter their stance’, but there will be warnings about aiding Moscow any further. The all-day summit will see European officials address Premier Li Keqiang in the morning and President Xi Jinping in the afternoon.

European Union officials plan to press China’s top leaders over their support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Friday during a long-delayed summit that will be dominated by discussion of the war, now in its second month. EU leaders doubt they can convince China to condemn Moscow’s actions. Nor do they believe they can force Beijing to “drastically and publicly alter their stance” towards the war, a senior EU official said. But there are hopes that a frank discussion about the economic costs of supporting Russia may help convince Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang not to do anything to further damage already strained ties with Europe.

 

South China Morning Post scoops major accolades at 2022 Digiday TV and Video Awards.

 By Web desk 31 Mar 2022

SCMP Films took the Best Facebook Watch Show gong, while the Post was also recognised for exponential growth on YouTube. Goldthread wins second Digiday award in as many years, this time beating keen competition to claim Best Original Programming.

The South China Morning Post has scooped up five major wins at the 2022 Digiday TV and Video Awards, beating back strong competition from across the international media landscape. The winners were announced on March 24 in 33 award categories highlighting some of the world’s best initiatives, strategies and video series in digital and broadcast media over the past year. Premium Post video series SCMP Films, which showcases character-driven stories from across Asia, won Best Facebook Watch Show. “This award shows that long-form video storytelling does belong in the digital space, and that SCMP Films is the brand to showcase it,” said Chieu Luu, executive producer of the series. Post food and travel video brand Goldthread followed on from its Digiday award last year with a win in the hotly contested Best Original Programming category. “The award means a lot because it recognises the effort we made to navigate constant coronavirus lockdowns in mainland China to keep our content quality consistently high,” Goldthread executive director Victoria Ho said.

The Post netted wins in two other categories for Best Production Strategy and Best Use of YouTube. Its YouTube channel has seen exponential growth over the past few years, expanding from fewer than 30,000 subscribers in 2017 to over 2.7 million today. YouTube videos produced by the Post were watched more than 1 billion times globally in 2021. Executive director of video Mat Booth also won the award for Video Executive of the Year, marking his fifth year as the driver of audiovisual coverage at the Post. “The wide success of our video offering is only possible through the dedication of our wonderful team combined with the strategy we’ve followed to provide engaging, human stories focused on issues and themes that resonate with our primary audience in Asia,” he said.

 

 

Coronavirus

Hong Kong leader concedes anti-pandemic measures contributed to brain drain, vows to uphold city’s international status.

By Web desk 30 Mar 2022

Carrie Lam reveals she had a virtual meeting with diplomats and representatives of the business community, saying she ‘fully understands their anxiety’ Insisting ‘no one’ cares more about Hong Kong’s international status, Lam says she will try to strike a balance between business concerns and anti-pandemic efforts.

Stringent anti-pandemic restrictions have contributed to the departure of business talent, Hong Kong’s leader conceded on Wednesday, Mar30th, as she pledged to uphold the city’s international status amid its fight against the coronavirus. Speaking at her regular epidemic daily press conference, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor revealed she had a virtual meeting with more than 130 diplomats and representatives of the business community on Tuesday where she sought to explain Hong Kong’s latest situation and respond to their worries. I fully understand their anxiety and concerns, she said. In recent months, I heard … talent and business executives have left the city … Maybe this is an indisputable fact, but we will try our best to keep our traditional advantage. Insisting that no one in the city cares more about the city’s international status than her, Lam said she would try to strike a balance between business concerns and anti-pandemic efforts by lifting some restrictions once the Covid-19 situation became more stable. Lam first hinted at the government’s plans to ease some of its tough pandemic restrictions on March 17, acknowledging that some of our financial institutions are losing patience about the isolated status of Hong Kong. Days later she revealed the government would lift flight bans on nine high-risk countries starting from April 1, while halving the quarantine period for all arrivals to the city from two weeks to just one. She also laid out plans for a phased relaxation of local social-distancing measures that have taken a heavy toll on local businesses. Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Christopher Hui Ching-yu said at Wednesday’s briefing that he too had met up with representatives from the business and financial sectors who welcomed the impending relaxation. The city confirmed 7,596 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, the fourth consecutive day the daily caseload was below the 10,000 mark. Hong Kong’s overall tally of confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic stands at 1,143,788, with 7,571 related deaths.

 

Apple, Google, Microsoft targeted by new EU regulations.

 By Web desk 29 Mar 2022

European Union countries approved an agreement to enforce rules to curb the powers of tech giants Google, Amazon, Apple, Meta and Microsoft, who might be required to change their core business practices in Europe. EU industry Chief Thierry Breton tweeted that the deal would ensure fair and open digital markets in Europe. Under the Digital Markets Act, tech giants must make their messaging services available across platforms and provide business users access to their data.

PARIS, France: European Union countries and their lawmakers approved an agreement this week to enforce landmark rules to curb the powers of tech giants Google, Amazon, Apple, Meta and Microsoft, who might be required to change their core business practices in Europe. In a tweet, France, which currently holds the EU presidency, said there was a provisional agreement on supervising tech giants following eight hours of talks. EU industry Chief Thierry Breton also tweeted that the deal would ensure fair and open digital markets in Europe. In a statement, EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said, "What we want is simple: fair markets also in digital. Large gatekeeper platforms have prevented businesses and consumers from the benefit of competitive digital markets." EU lawmaker Andreas Schwab added, "This means that the time of long antitrust cases, during which the authorities were lagging behind the big tech companies, is over." The Digital Markets Act sets out rules for online gatekeepers, which are companies that control data and platform access, covering gatekeepers in online intermediation services, social networks, search engines, operating systems, online advertising services, cloud computing, video-sharing services, web browsers and virtual assistants. Under the Digital Markets Act, tech giants must make their messaging services available across platforms and provide business users access to their data. Companies also cannot favor their own services over their rivals' equivalent services, or prevent users from removing pre-installed software or apps. The Digital Markets Act will apply to companies with a market capitalization of €7.5 billion euros in annual turnover and at least 45 million monthly users. If the rules are deemed to have been breached, companies could be fined up to 10 percent of their annual global turnover and up to 20 percent for repeat offenses. Apple, which has lobbied intensively against the Digital Markets Act, repeated its objections, stating, "We remain concerned that some provisions of the DMA will create unnecessary privacy and security vulnerabilities for our users." Google echoed the same sentiments, stressing, "While we support many of the DMA's ambitions around consumer choice and interoperability, we are worried that some of these rules could reduce innovation and the choices available to Europeans."

 

Estimates one to two thousands children under age 10 separated from parents in Hong Kong hospitals over past 6 weeks after catching Covid-19.

By Web desk 29 Mar 2022

Charity executive Dr. Lucy Lord estimates 1,000 to 2,000 children with Covid-19 have been separated from parents at hospitals over the past five to six weeks. Hospital Authority says crowded medical facilities have made it difficult to let parents stay with their children

A Hong Kong charity has estimated that up to 2,000 children under the age of 10 may have been separated from their parents over the past six weeks after being admitted to hospital with Covid-19, with its executive chair calling the policy “child abuse”. The Hospital Authority could not confirm the figure up to now, while lawmakers, medical personnel, legal experts and a mental health organization urged the government not to separate infected children from their parents during isolation and treatment of the coronavirus. They also called on authorities to provide clear guidance to affected families to help alleviate their stress and grief.

 

Coronavirus

Hong Kong leader asks for help to persuade Beijing to resume quarantine-free cross-border travel after outbreak subsides.

By Web desk 28 Mar 2022

Carrie Lam says in virtual meeting with pro-Beijing politicians that Hong Kong is caught ‘in a dilemma’ between meeting zero-Covid expectations and business interests. Lam calls for national lawmakers, political advisers to promote communication with mainland authorities and central government to boost chances of border reopening.

Hong Kong’s leader has asked pro-Beijing politicians in a rare virtual meeting to help persuade mainland Chinese officials to resume quarantine-free cross-border travel after the city’s current coronavirus outbreak subsides. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor conceded on March 28th Monday that Hong Kong was caught in a dilemma between meeting Beijing’s expectations and catering to the interests of foreign investors as it struggled to contain the recent fifth wave of infections. According to Lam, it is difficult for Hong Kong to meet both sides’ requirements – achieving the mainland’s goal of dynamic zero-Covid while taking care of the interests of foreign businesses. She said Hong Kong was in a dilemma and solutions were needed. Leaders of several prominent mainland organizations also took part. Some attendees described the atmosphere of the 90-minute conversation as “direct, yet non-confrontational”. Most of the 15 who were given the opportunity to speak raised practical questions about her administration’s policy direction as daily infection numbers continued to fall, but did not grill her on the mishandling of the outbreak or ask if she would seek a second term as city leader. According to a politician who attended the meeting, Lam said her administration was well aware of the concerns of local and international businesses about the city’s chances of reopening its border with the mainland, and mounting calls from overseas to further ease travel restrictions. One CEO of a large private firm applauded our recent moves, and told me they had asked their overseas colleagues to return to Hong Kong, Lam was quoted as saying, one week after she announced lifting flight bans on nine countries and shortening the hotel quarantine period for Hong Kong residents returning from abroad. Lam urged national lawmakers and political advisers to play a role in the border reopening. She said that under one country two systems Hong Kong was the most internationalized city in the nation, another politician said. The threshold for achieving border reopening is not low so she hopes we can help with that and promote communication with mainland authorities and the central government. Hong Kong’s daily infections continued to dip to 7,685 cases on Monday, while the mainland recorded 1,219 locally transmitted Covid-19 cases. NPC delegate and lawmaker Maggie Chan Man-ki was said to be one of the few lawmakers who asked critical questions by requesting Lam to explain the aircrew quarantine loophole after a Cathay Pacific pilot with the Omicron variant entered the community in December. Chan said she had asked Lam to explain how to prevent history from repeating, as well as the government’s contingency plans, with the flight ban and social-distancing measures set to be eased next month. Lam was quoted as saying authorities had managed to control the epidemic until late January when the unexpected, unfortunate outbreak in Kwai Chung Estate emerged. She took the chance to thank the central government for offering support by building makeshift hospitals and supplying fresh food to Hong Kong during the surge in infections. One attendee hoped Lam could better recognize traditional Chinese medicine in Hong Kong’s public healthcare system. Don’t just use them in the worst moment of a crisis, the politician was quoted as saying, referring to the government’s plan to deliver Chinese medicines to 3 million households next month to alleviate Covid-19 symptoms. Lam said she would review such use but did not give details. NPC deputy David Wong Yau-kar said he urged the government to continue boosting the vaccination rate, and strike a balance between economic revival and border reopening. We cannot wait until we open our border with the mainland before we revive our economy, he said. So I support the government’s plan to relax social-distancing rules in three phases over three months from April 21. I also hope that such rules can be imposed more precisely in the future, as we need to avoid the unnecessary closure of some business premises. CPPCC delegate Lai Tung-kwok, a former security chief, said he urged the government to make the most of the rapid antigen test kits in the anti-epidemic packages that would be distributed to residents next month. There are 20 test kits in each package, they should not be saved up by residents for future use. Authorities should make good use of them and initiate a three-day universal self-testing to identify more infected people as soon as possible. Lai said he also proposed a broader use of antiviral drugs molnupiravir and Paxlovid, such as encouraging private doctors to prescribe them and allowing residents in need to get them from designated government clinics or pharmacies. The Hospital Authority had earlier this month started administering the oral drugs to patients. We should strive to let patients take these drugs within the first five days of infection, this will help reduce the number of serious cases and the pressure on hospitals he added. Nick Chan Hiu-fung, a deputy to the NPC, hoped that there would be more regular, formal exchanges, saying Monday’s meeting was constructive. Some offered practical solutions while others gave sincere friendly reminders on how Hong Kong should be positioned after this wave subsides. This kind of interaction can be extended to the policy bureau as well, he said. The meeting was coordinated by NPC deputy and lawmaker Chan Yung. In a statement, he said delegates in the meeting urged Lam and all civil servants to step up efforts in fighting the pandemic even though the daily caseload had gone down, and pay attention to the socio-economic impact of the outbreak.

  Biden not getting much backup in call for Putin’s ouster.

 By Web desk 28 Mar 2022

President Biden’s impassioned demand that Russian President Vladimir Putin step down for starting the war in Ukraine — the climax of an emotional address in Poland over the weekend — is not getting much support so far from the allies Mr. Biden is trying to unify in support of Kyiv.

  

Coronavirus

 Hong Kong’s ethnic minority communities, ex-offenders say they need HK$10,000 e-vouchers too.

By Web desk 27 Mar 2022

Rigid eligibility rules for e-voucher scheme go against spirit of helping needy, says Society for Community Organisation.Families, individuals struggling to make ends meet say e-vouchers would make a big difference.

More than 50 struggling Hong Kong residents including members of ethnic minority communities and former offenders are appealing to the government to include them in the HK$10,000 e-voucher scheme. The Society for Community Organisation (SoCO), which is behind the appeal, said the rigid rules behind the handout went against the spirit of providing financial relief to residents facing hardship during the fifth wave. “To some people, the consumption vouchers are a lifesaver,” SoCO community organiser Ng Wai-tung told.

 

 Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam

 ‘To relax flight suspension rule’

 By Web desk 26 Mar 2022

Insider says pledge follows lobbying from aviation industry and Airport Authority, but extent of changes yet to be revealed City leader Carrie Lam previously said flight suspension mechanism would be reviewed, amid mounting pressure from business leaders.

 Hong Kong’s leader has promised to scale back a control measure that suspends inbound flights for carrying too many passengers infected with the coronavirus, a source has said, another move pointing to the city gradually reopening to the rest of the world. The pledge followed lobbying from the aviation industry and Airport Authority, with Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor yet to reveal the extent to which the flight suspension mechanism would be relaxed. Now the Department of Health is working out the details with relevant officials. Carrie Lam is also pushing for a prompt relaxation of the restrictions, the source said, adding the government wanted to balance preventing further infections with maintaining the operations of businesses.

  

Guessing game on potential Hong Kong chief executive candidates goes into overdrive with ministers’ names touted.

By Web desk 25 Mar 2022

With about 10 days to the start of the nomination period, speculation on likely contenders for May 8 election has grown this week City’s No 2 John Lee, finance chief Paul Chan the latest names floated in political circles; ex-leader CY Leung and Regina Ip also mentioned as potential candidates.

It is highly unlikely Hong Kong’s chief executive race scheduled for May 8 will be postponed again given the city’s declining coronavirus infections, as any further delay would cause more uncertainties Beijing does not want to see, sources told the Post. With about 10 days to the start of the nomination period, speculation on likely contenders has grown with Chief Secretary John Lee Ka-chiu and Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po being the latest names floated among the city’s political elite in recent days. Former city leader Leung Chun-ying and New People’s Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee are also among the names being touted as potential candidates.

 

چوہدری نثار پی ٹی آئی جوائن نہیں کرینگے، آزاد رہیں گے، ذرائع

By Web desk 24 Mar 2022

اسلام آباد: وزیراعظم عمران خان اور چوہدری نثار علی خان میں رابطوں کے باوجود وہ عمران خان کی پارٹی جوائن نہیں کرینگے اور آزاد حیثیت برقرار رکھیں گے ن لیگ میں ان کی واپسی کے امکانات ختم ہو چکے اور بلاول بھٹو کی سربراہی میں کام نہیں کر سکتے ۔

ذرائع کے مطابق عمران خان نے الیکشن 2018سے قبل چوہدری نثار علی خان سے ملاقات میں پارٹی جوائن کرنے اور پارٹی کا سینئر عہدیدار بنانے کی آفر کی تھی جسے چوہدری نثار نے قبول نہیں کیا تھا .

وزیر اعظم نے ان کو پنجاب کا وزیر اعلیٰ بنانے کی آفر بھی کی تھی، اس وقت انکی سوچ تھی کہ ایک ایسی اسمبلی جس میں ن لیگ اپوزیشن میں ہو اور حمزہ شہباز اپوزیشن لیڈر وہ ایوان میں شہباز شریف کیخلاف نہیں بول سکیں گے اور ایک صوبائی نشست کی بنیاد پر ان کا وزیر اعلیٰ بننا مناسب نہیں ہوگا .

وزیراعظم کے رابطوں کے باوجود انہوں نے تحریک انصاف میں شمولیت کی حامی نہیں بھری ، ان دنوں بھی وہ چکری اور حلقے کے دوسرے مقامات پر میل ملاقاتوں میں مصروف ہیں ، ان کے صاحبزادے تیمور علی خان نے بھی حلقے میں اثر و رسوخ بڑھانا شروع کیا ہے .

چوہدری نثار علی خان کے پاس مستقبل کی سیاست کیلئے آپشنز کھلے ہوئے ہیں مسلم لیگ (ن) کے اندر مریم نواز کے سوا دیگر سینئر رہنمائوں کیساتھ رابطے برقرا ر ہیں۔

 

Hong Kong aims to show top investors it means business with high-level summit, Rugby Sevens matches and mainland China visits.

 By Web desk 24 Mar 2022

Financial Secretary Paul Chan expresses confidence the city’s situation will be much improved by the end of the year. He also says Hong Kong will seek to drive economic growth by investing in the technology sector.

Hong Kong will seek to promote itself as a vibrant commercial hub by inviting up to 200 top foreign investors to attend a summit, watch rugby games and visit mainland China in November, the city’s finance chief has revealed. Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po on Wednesday also said the city would seek to drive economic growth by investing in the technology sector. Hong Kong is in the grip of an explosive fifth wave of coronavirus infections, reporting more than 1 million cases and over 6,000 deaths since January. It confirmed another 12,240 cases on Wednesday. The government this week announced plans to ease some of the most stringent anti-pandemic measures in the world. A flight ban imposed on nine countries, including the United States and Britain, will be lifted on April 1, although travellers will still need to quarantine for at least a week and only residents can gain entry to the city unless they are arriving from the mainland, Macau or Taiwan. The government has given no timeline on when it will reopen the border for all travellers. Since 2020, the city’s border with the mainland has also been closed. But in an interview with RTHK, Chan expressed confidence the situation would be much improved by the end of the year. “In November, there will be the Rugby Sevens tournament. We are using this opportunity to hold an international financial forum of the highest level. There won’t be many participants, just 100 to 200, and they are our friends from the top financial institutions from around the world and the mainland,” he said. “We’ll invite them to come and see the rugby matches, attend some exchange sessions, and let these decision makers see Hong Kong’s situation in person.” Chan said that in this way, these foreign investors would not have to rely on incomplete or misleading information in the media, and misunderstand Hong Kong. “When they come, they can see that Hong Kong is so vibrant and diverse, and has such a good living and business environment, then they will be confident of increasing their investment in Hong Kong.” Chan also said he believed the border with the mainland could be reopened by then, so that these financial leaders would be able to visit some of the other places under Beijing’s ambitious Greater Bay Area  plan to turn Hong Kong, Macau and nine Guangdong cities into a finance and technological hub. “Before the pandemic, I noticed there were foreign investors, including from Japan, Europe and the United States, who were very interested in the bay area,” he said. “If we can hold this international summit in November, and if we can include multiple destinations, they can check out Hong Kong and the bay area in one trip.” Chan hoped that through these measures, Hong Kong could regain its international competitiveness as a business hub and a tourism destination. He also said the government would increase its funding for investment agency Invest HK and the Tourism Board to promote the city overseas, in the hopes more people would visit after the pandemic subsided. Last month Chan mentioned that a global investment summit would be held in the city and last week he said at an event hosted by the Post that it would coincide with the Rugby Sevens, which will be held for the first time since 2019. In Wednesday’s interview, he further elaborated and said it could include mainland travel. In his annual budget speech on February 23, Chan had said the government would invest more in the technology sector, and seize opportunities under the bay area project. That included injecting HK$10 billion to the Future Fund, which was set up in 2016 for the government to seek higher returns over a 10-year investment period. Half of the HK$10 billion injection will be used to create a Strategic Tech Fund, through which the government will support enterprises of strategic value to the city. “We want to retain these companies and good jobs in Hong Kong … We also want to attract more tech companies to Hong Kong,” he said on Wednesday. The remaining HK$5 billion will be used to set up a GBA Investment Fund to focus on opportunities under the bay area project. To support technological innovation, Chan said he would also set up a committee for experts and industry elites to advise the government on speeding up the digitalisation of the city’s economy. He noted digitalisation was a rising trend globally, and Hong Kong needed to catch up, especially after its traditional economy had been hard hit by the pandemic.

  

No confidence motion against Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam over policy U-turn.

By Web desk 23 Mar 2022

If Junius Ho’s motion is tabled it will be first one initiated by a pro-establishment legislator against a chief executive since Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997.But his idea has received a lukewarm response so far, with no Legislative Council members openly supporting the move and one calling it a ‘political stunt’

An outspoken pro-establishment lawmaker is considering moving a no-confidence motion against Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor for what he called her flip-flopping policy on universal testing to tame the coronavirus epidemic.If Junius Ho Kwan-yiu’s motion is tabled it will be the first one initiated by a pro-establishment legislator against a chief executive since Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997.But his idea has received a lukewarm response so far, with no Legislative Council members openly supporting the move and one lawmaker, who wished not to be named, calling it “merely a political stunt”.

 

Hong Kong is revamping its travel.

 By Web desk 22 Mar 2022

 Quarantine period for Hong Kong residents returning from overseas to be cut from 14 days to seven, while in-person classes are set to resume from April 19 Social-distancing curbs will be eased starting April 21, with dine-in hours to be extended to 10pm and four customers allowed per table in first phase

 The Hong Kong government has announced a significant easing of tough pandemic-control measures from next month. The measures, covering three areas, will relax travel restrictions for Hong Kong residents returning from overseas from April 1, allow schools to resume in-person classes from April 19, and ease social-distancing curbs at restaurants and other premises in three phases from April 21. Here is what you need to know about the latest changes. Only fully inoculated Hong Kong residents with recognised vaccination records can return to the city from overseas. Those who are unfit for vaccination due to health reasons and have proof issued by a medical practitioner are also allowed to return. Travellers who are not residents cannot enter Hong Kong, except for those arriving from mainland China, Macau and Taiwan. A ban on flights from nine countries – Australia, Canada, France, India, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, the United Kingdom and the United States – will be scrapped from April 1.Returning Hong Kong residents will have to fulfil a few conditions, including being fully vaccinated, testing negative for the coronavirus no more than 48 hours before boarding and having a valid booking for seven nights at a quarantine hotel. Travellers should monitor if their flight has been prohibited to land for two weeks for breaching requirements specified under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Regulation of Cross-boundary Conveyances and Travellers) Regulation. The quarantine period for Hong Kong residents returning from overseas will be shortened from 14 days to just seven if they return a negative PCR test result on the fifth day of their stay, and negative rapid test results on the sixth and seventh. They will also need to undergo medical surveillance for seven days – but need not stay at home – and take a PCR test at a community testing centre on the 12th day of their arrival. They can also choose to remain in quarantine longer than seven days and take a PCR test on the 12th day of their stay.

If I test positive during quarantine. You will be issued an isolation order and sent to a community isolation hotel. You can leave isolation after as little as a week if you test negative on the sixth and seventh days after your infection is first identified. Children under the age of 12 – even if they are unvaccinated – can board flights to Hong Kong if they are accompanied by a fully inoculated Hong Kong resident with recognised vaccination records. A list of recognised vaccines and the number of doses to be considered fully inoculated can be found here, while residents can check whether their vaccination records are recognised. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the measures would be eased in three phases within three months starting from April 21, provided the number of infections did not rebound and continued to show a ownward trend. Authorities have not specified dates for the second and third phases. Measures such as the use of the “Leave Home Safe” risk-exposure app, “vaccine pass” restrictions for entering various premises, and wearing of masks will remain in place.

 

Coronavirus

 Hong Kong to ‘lift flight bans on 9 countries, shorten quarantine for arrivals in April 2022.

By Web desk 21 Mar 2022

City leader expected to reveal changes at morning presser on Monday 21 Mar 2022. Potential amendments come amid what she said was diminishing public tolerance for tough pandemic rules.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is expected to reveal on Monday morning a raft of changes to pandemic control measures to kick in next month, including a reduction in quarantine for arrivals into the city, as well as the lifting of flight bans on nine countries. A source familiar with the matter said the easing of restrictions on incoming travelers would be implemented “slightly earlier than April 21”.The current 14-day quarantine requirement for most travelers might be lowered to as little as seven days, depending on the country of origin and the person’s vaccination status, the source said.

  

Cut quarantine to one week, lawmaker says.

By Web desk 21 Mar 2022

Hong Kong should reduce the amount of time travelers need to quarantine to one week, but the city shouldn’t open up to the world without locking down and testing the whole population for Covid-19, lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun said. Tien said a mandatory testing blitz of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million residents should coincide with a nine-day city-wide lockdown to arrest the city’s worst Covid outbreak since the pandemic started. He also said opening the border to China should be a “secondary consideration” at the moment. “I think the hotel quarantine period for anyone coming in should be reduced to seven days,” Tien said in an interview on Monday. “At this point, I think letting come back and relaxing quarantine for overseas travelers is more important to Hong Kong than opening the border with China,” he added. The testing drive and lockdown should occur in mid-April, said Tien.

 

 

 Coronavirus

 Hong Kong’s infected elderly residents isolating alone at home feel ‘hopeless’ with little family or community support.

By Web desk 20 Mar 2022

Social workers estimate more than 100,000 elderly residents living alone or with only their spouse have been infected during the latest surge Ivan Lin, with the Society for Community Organisation, accuses government of failing to provide adequate support for vulnerable group

 Covid-stricken and isolated in her Hong Kong home for a fortnight, 72-year old Lau was kept awake on many nights by severe headaches, a sore throat and constant feelings of helplessness.“I cried. I feared every day that if anything happened to me, no one would even know,” she said. The former dim sum seller, who asked to be identified only by her surname, has been living in a public housing flat in Kowloon City alone ever since her son moved out eight years ago. She has been separated from her estranged husband for decades.

 

 Coronavirus

 Hong Kong to spruce up conditions at new isolation facilities after complaints about poor quarantine experience.

By Web desk 19 Mar 2022

Security Bureau’s anti-epidemic task force says it has been sourcing for items such as books and toys to cater to residents quarantined at isolation centres. The team has adapted to feedback from residents and the experience in the Tsing Yi facility in how the newer isolation centres are run, it adds.

Hong Kong officials have pledged to improve conditions at the new community isolation facilities, including offering bestselling books and TV dramas, after the administration was flooded with complaints from the public about their poor quarantine experience. Officers from the Security Bureau told the Post they had also hired former tourist guides and fitness coaches as housekeeping assistants to operate hotline services across quarantine facilities in Hong Kong. We are looking at stocking books, toy sets and board games for families who have to undergo quarantine here. For this facility, we have stocked an array of items such as milk formula, diapers and sanitary pads for our residents, said Keith Lau Ka-yip, a member of the Security Bureau’s anti-epidemic task force.

 

Coronavirus Hong Kong.

 Relaunch of wage subsidy scheme will benefit up to 1.3 million workers affected by fifth wave.

 By Web desk 18 Mar 2022

 The city leader has said the new round of subsidies to help employers cover payroll will adopt a more targeted approach with many larger companies excluded.Employees with salaries higher than HK$30,000 will not be eligible, and subsidies will be capped at HK$8,000 a month for each worker.

Employers affected by Hong Kong’s raging fifth wave of coronavirus infections will receive a new round of subsidies to help them cover staff salaries from May to July, the city’s leader has announced. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said on Friday 18 March that the relaunch of the Employment support scheme was expected to benefit between 1.1 million and 1.3 million employees, and would cost the government as much as HK$31 billion (US$4 billion).We will adopt a more targeted approach this time, focusing on companies directly or indirectly affected by the fifth wave, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, Lam said at her daily epidemic press conference. Chain supermarkets and property management companies will be excluded. The scheme was first launched in 2020 under the Anti-epidemic Fund to provide time-limited financial support to enable employers to retain staff who might otherwise have been made redundant. A total of HK$90 billion in wage subsidies were ultimately paid out by the government. Hong Kong’s unemployment rate in February hit a five-month high of 4.5 per cent, according to official data released on Thursday. Joblessness edged up 0.6 percentage points in the period lasting from December to February as compared with the previous three-month rolling period ending in January. This is something worrying, Lam said on Friday. We need to try our best to suppress the further rise of the unemployment rate. She noted that the number of unemployed people had increased by 22,700, pushing the city’s total to 157,900. Employees making more than HK$30,000 a month will not be eligible for the revised Employment Support Scheme, which will cover salaries from May to July. The subsidies will be capped at HK$8,000 a month for each worker, and the full amount must be spent on employees. Some business sectors that have not been heavily affected by the fifth wave will not be covered including large supermarket and pharmacy chains, property management companies, banks and other financial institutions, delivery services and telecommunications firms. Unionists have warned that the unemployment rate could bounce back to more than 7.2 per cent, the highest figure so far recorded during the pandemic, if the fifth wave is not brought under control by June. They called for a minimum of HK$10,000 (US$1,279) in temporary financial support for people who are self-employed or underemployed. An economist meanwhile has predicted that the latest round of government consumption vouchers, the first HK$5,000 of which are set to be given out in April, will do little to boost the economy, even in conjunction with other subsidies.

  

Hong Kong mulls shorter quarantine for foreign arrivals.

 By Web desk 17 Mar 2022 

There are strong grounds to shorten quarantine for overseas arrivals, with details to be announced next week, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said today in a morning press conference, Lam said the government will announce next week the latest anti-epidemic measures to last until April 20. As the government is already allowing the vaccinated who caught Covid-19 to finish their isolation if they test negative on the seventh day of their infection, it is reasonable to adjust the policy for overseas arrivals accordingly, she said. Authorities are still looking into the issue and will make an announcement soon, she added.  The CE said social distancing measures announced in mid-February are supposed to last until April 20. But she found it necessary to make further adjustments due to substantial changes regarding the pandemic this month. While infection numbers are still on a plateau, she felt that people have become increasingly intolerant to anti-epidemic policies. Financial companies are also losing their patience over Hong Kong's strict controls. The government will make sure the controls will be a balance of public health and the economy and citizens' level of tolerance, she said. Hong Kong currently bans arrivals from nine countries, including Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The policy will last until April 20. As for Hong Kong residents who visited other overseas countries, only fully vaccinated people are allowed to return, they must undergo compulsory quarantine for 14 days in a designated quarantine hotel.  This comes after a returnee voiced her frustrations to the Standard about Hong Kong forcing international arrivals to do14-day hotel quarantine when most Covid patients and close contacts are now allowed to go free after seven days of home isolation. The British expat in her early 40s, who identifies herself as Jean, was last week undergoing quarantine at a hotel on Hong Kong Island for HK$1,000 a day after going to the UK in early December for a Christmas family visit. "Perhaps the Hong Kong government is so overwhelmed with the current situation it has forgotten to consider its people who are stuck overseas and wanting to return?" she asked. "Why, when close contacts of the people who have contracted the virus are now being asked to self-isolate at home for seven days instead of 14?".  On the other hand, Hospital Authority chief executive Tony Ko Pat-sing said the number of people waiting for hospitalization at accident and emergency departments of public hospitals has dropped from a peak of 1,800 to 600 recently. Those with serious conditions have been admitted to wards. There is still a vacancy for quotas reserved at designated Covid clinics for those in high-risk groups, including the elderly, he said. A Covid oral drug Molnupiravir has already been prescribed to 6,000 people, while the other drug Paxlovid has been used on more than 100 people, he added.

 

ویکسی نیشن کے علاوہ کورونا سے متعلق تمام پابندیاں ہٹا دی گئیں

By Web desk 17 Mar 2022

اسلام آباد: نیشنل کمانڈ اینڈ آپریشن سینٹر نے ملک بھر سے ویکسی نیشن کے علاوہ کورونا سے متعلق تمام پابندیاں ہٹا دی گئیں۔

وفاقی وزیر اسد عمر نے نیوز بریفنگ میں کہا کہ ہماری آبادی کی 70 فیصد ویکسی نیشن ہو چکی ہے ، کورونا کی جتنی بھی پابندیاں لگائی گئی تھیں تمام ختم کی جا رہی ہیں، پاکستان میں کورونا وبا کا پھیلاؤ کم ہے، اب ہمیں کورونا وباء سے نکل کر معمول کی زندگی کی طرف جانا ہے ۔

وفاقی وزیر اسد عمر نے کہا کہ مذہبی اور سماجی تقریبات سمیت ہوٹلوں ، دفتروں سمیت ہر جگہ سے تمام پابندیاں ختم کر دی گئیں ہیں صرف اور صرف ویکسی نیشن کی پابندی برقرار رہے گی کہ ویکسی نیشن نہ کرانے والے افراد سے متعلق سفری پابندیاں برقرار رہیں گی ۔

اسد عمر نے کہا کہ کورونا وباء ابھی مکمل طور پر ختم نہیں ہوئی مگر ملک میں کورونا وباء کا پھیلاؤ کم ہوا ہے ، ہسپتالوں میں مریض آنے کی شرح میں کمی آئی ہے ، سوچ سمجھ کر معمول کی زندگی کی طرف جانے کا فیصلہ کیا گیا ہے ۔

 

 Why rich?

Young Chinese are less likely to spend abroad than older generations.

 By Web desk 17 Mar 2022

 Middle-class Chinese in their 20s and 30s are more focused on education, careers and building wealth at home, research shows. Meanwhile, those in the same income bracket but aged 40 and above mainly pursue global asset allocation and overseas travel.

Guangdong resident Stephen Yao used to take more than 20 overseas trips a year to buy properties for wealthy Chinese clients in popular tourist destinations like Kyoto, Bangkok, Pattaya and Kuala Lumpur. But the coronavirus pandemic brought an abrupt halt to his business, with his last overseas trip in March 2020. Unable to travel abroad due to border closures, the 46 year old and his middle-aged clients left their overseas properties vacant or rented them at rock bottom prices. Despite few signs of China loosening its travel restrictions, Yao is still hoping to restore his dream life: freedom to travel, global investment and retirement abroad – common aspirations for middle-class Chinese born in the 1970s.

 

 

Hong Kong’s Star Ferry is struggling to cover salaries.

Pay off loans after logging HK$70 million in losses over past 2 years.

By Web desk 16 Mar 2022

The company’s general manager says it has gone into negative equity and does not expect to be able to pay off its debts even after 2047. In view of the threats posed by the current environment, I am afraid I can’t be optimistic for Star Ferry to survive this wave- David Chow

Hong Kong’s iconic Star Ferry is having difficulty covering its employees’ salaries and paying down loans, saying it expects to still be in debt even after 2047 following two years of losses totalling more than HK$70 million (US$8.9 million). The Star Ferry company said it was now worth less than it owed after the economic shocks of the social unrest of 2019 and the Covid-19 pandemic, pointing out that the “catastrophic impact” of the ongoing fifth wave of the health crisis threatened its very survival. David Chow Cheuk-yin, the company’s newly appointed general manager, revealed in a statement on Monday that the firm had accumulated losses of more than HK$70 million over the past two years, saying ridership in the first two months of 2022 had plunged by 73 per cent compared with the same period in 2019.

 

روسی حملہ عالمی معشیت کے لیے تباہ کن،مہنگائی بڑھے گی

By Web desk 16 Mar 2022

عالمی مالیاتی ادارے آئی ایم ایف نے خبردار کیا ہے کہ روس یوکرین کی جنگ دنیا کی معشیت اور سیاست کو ادھیڑ کر رکھ سکتی ہے۔

فرانسیسی خبررساں ادارے اے ایف پی کے مطابق منگل کو آئی ایم ایف کے بیان میں بتایا گیا ہے کہ روس کے حملے کے اثرات دنیا کی معیشت پر ترقی کی رفتار میں کمی، مہنگائی میں اضافے کی شکل میں سامنے آنے کے ساتھ ساتھ عالمی معیشت کو لمبے عرصے کے لیے ایک نئے سانچے میں ڈھال سکتی ہے۔

آئی ایم ایف کی جانب سے ایک ویب سائٹ پر کی گئی پوسٹ میں مزید بتایا گیا ہے کہ پناہ گزینوں کی لہر اور دوسرے انسانی مسائل کے علاوہ اس جنگ سے افراط زر بڑھے گی، خوراک اور توانائی کی اشیا مہنگی جبکہ آمدنی کی قدر ہو گی۔

صورت حال کے اثرات کاروبار میں خلل، سپلائی چینز کی بندش اور یوکرین کے ہمسایہ ممالک میں ترسیلات کی کمی کی صورت میں سامنے آ سکتے ہیں۔

بیان کے مطابق ’تجارت اور کاروبار بری طرح متاثر ہوں گے، سرمایہ کاروں میں غیریقینی بڑھے گی، جس سے اثاثوں کی قیمتیں گر جائیں گی۔ مالی حالات تنگی کی طرف جائیں گے اور ابھرتی ہوئی مارکیٹس سے سرمائے کا اخراج ہو سکتا ہے۔

’تصادم عالمی معشیت کے لیے ایک زوردار دھچکا ہے جس سے پیداواری شعبہ متاثر ہو گا اور نرخ بڑھیں گے۔‘

آئی ایم ایف کے حکام پہلے ہی 2022 میں عالمی اقتصادی کے حوالے سے اس کی چار اعشاریہ چار فیصد کی پیشن گوئی میں کمی کا امکان ظاہر کر چکے ہیں۔

منگل کو کی جانے والی پوسٹ میں علاقائی اقتصادی ترقی میں بھی کمی کا خدشہ ظاہر کیا گیا ہے۔

اگلے ماہ 19 اپریل کو آئی ایم ایف اپنی نئی پیشن گوئیاں جاری کرے گا۔

ادارے کا کہنا ہے کہ تجارت، سیاحت اور دیگر معاشی میدان رکھنے والے ممالک بڑھتے ہوئے دباؤ کو محسوس کریں گے، اسی طرح افریقہ، لاطینی امریکہ، قفقاز اور وسطی ایشیا تک کے خطوں کے لیے زیادہ خطرات ہیں۔

اسی طرح افریقہ اور مشرق وسطٰی میں خوراک کے سامان کی قلت کا بھی خدشہ ہے جہاں مصر جیسے ممالک اپنی گندم کا 80 فیصد روس اور یوکرین سے درآمد کرتے ہیں۔

آئی ایم ایف نے یوکرین اور روس میں شدید کساد بازاری کی پیشن گوئی کرتے ہوئے کہا کہ یورپ کو گیس کی کمی کا سامنا ہو سکتا ہے جبکہ چین کی سپلائی چین میں رکاوٹیں پڑیں گی۔

اسی طرح مشرقی یورپ، جہاں یوکرین سے نقل مکانی کرنے والے 30 لاکھ افراد پہنچے ہیں، اس کے نتیجے میں وہاں مالیاتی اخراجات بڑھیں گے۔

خیال رہے روس نے 24 فروری کو پڑوسی ملک یوکرین پر حملہ کیا تھا اور ابھی تک لڑائی جاری ہے۔ روسی صدر کا کہنا ہے کہ یوکرین کے ہتھیار ڈالنے تک جنگ جاری رہے گی جبکہ یوکرین نے دنیا سے مطالبہ کیا ہے کہ وہ روسی حملہ رکوانے کے لیے کردار ادا کرے۔

 

 

آرمی چیف جنرل قمر جاوید باجوہ نے ہدایت کی ہے کہ 23 مارچ کی پریڈ اور اوآئی سی وزرائےخارجہ اجلاس کیلئے جامع سکیورٹی اقدامات یقینی بنائے جائیں۔

By Web desk 15 Mar 2022

پاک فوج کے شعبہ تعلقات عامہ (آئی ایس پی آر) کے مطابق آرمی چیف جنرل قمرجاوید باجوہ کی زیرصدارت کورکمانڈرز کانفرنس جنرل ہیڈکوارٹرز (جی ایچ کیو) راولپنڈی میں ہوئی۔

آئی ایس پی آر نے بتایا کہ کانفرنس میں اہم بین الاقوامی اور علاقائی صورتحال پر تفیصلی بریفنگ دی گئی۔

آئی ایس پی آر کا کہنا ہے کہ کورکمانڈرزکانفرنس نے بھارت سے میزائل فائر ہونے کے واقعے پرتشویش کا اظہار کیا اور کہا کہ بھارت نے واقعے حادثہ قراردیا جو کسی بڑی تباہی کاباعث بن سکتاتھا۔

آئی ایس پی آر کے مطابق کورکمانڈرزکانفرنس کے شرکا نے واقعے کا متعلقہ عالمی فورم سے نوٹس لینے پر زور دیا اور کہا کہ ایسےخطرناک واقعات علاقائی امن وسلامتی کیلئے سنگین خطرہ بن سکتےہیں۔

آئی ایس پی آر نے بتایا کہ  آرمی چیف نے انسداددہشتگردی کے حالیہ آپریشنز کی کامیابیوں کوسراہا اور ملکی سلامتی کیلئے تمام ضروری اقدامات کرنے کے عزم کا اظہار کیا گیا۔

پاک فوج کے شعبہ تعلقات عامہ کے مطابق آرمی چیف نے ہدایت کی کہ 23 مارچ کی پریڈ  اور اوآئی سی وزرائےخارجہ اجلاس کیلئے جامع سکیورٹی اقدامات یقینی بنائے جائیں۔

آئی ایس پی آر کا کہنا ہے کہ آرمی چیف نے فارمیشنز کی تیاریوں کی تعریف کی اور مشنزپر مرکوز ٹریننگ کی ضرورت پرزوردیا۔

 

Hong Kong government’s ‘many shortcomings’ exposed by coronavirus pandemic, former commerce minister Frederick Ma.

 By Web desk 15 Mar 2022

 This anti-epidemic battle exposed all kinds of administrative deficiencies, and weakened some people’s confidence in the government, says former commerce minister Frederick Ma.

 Ma identified executive failings, a severe housing shortage, an ageing population and an over-reliance on the financial industry as major issues facing Hong Kong. Former commerce minister Frederick Ma Si-hang has urged the Hong Kong government to reflect and improve on its “many shortcomings” exposed by the city’s surging fifth wave of coronavirus infections. Ma, who was a senior official from 2002 to 2008, also said in an interview with the (SCMP) on Tuesday that he hoped that the winner of the coming city leadership race in May could form a “competent governing team” to lead Hong Kong over the next five years. “The pandemic will pass, but I need to point out some deep-seated problems,” he said.

  

امریکا کا پاکستان میں بھارتی میزائل گرنے پر تبصرے سے انکار

By Web desk 15 Mar 2022

امریکا نے پاکستان میں بھارتی میزائل گرنے کے واقعے پر تبصرے سے انکار کردیا۔

ترجمان امریکی محکمہ خارجہ نیڈ پرائس نے کہا ہے کہ بھارتی وزارت دفاع نے واقعے کو حادثہ قرار دیا ہے، معاملے پر اس سے زیادہ کچھ نہیں کہہ سکتے۔

ان کا یہ بھی کہنا تھا کہ ہمارے پاس کوئی اشارہ نہیں ہے، جیسا کہ آپ نے بھارتی حکام سے بھی سنا کہ یہ واقعہ ایک حادثے کے علاوہ کچھ نہیں تھا۔ انہوں نے کہا کہ بھارت میں یورینیم چوری اور گرفتاریوں کا علم نہیں ہے۔

خیال رہے کہ 9مارچ کو ایک انہونا اور خطرناک واقعہ ہوا تھا، بھارت سے ایک سپرسانک میزائل 250 کلومیٹر کا فاصلہ طے کرکے پاکستان میں گرا تھا، بھارتی میزائل 40 ہزار فٹ کی بلندی پر پرواز کرتے ہوئے پاکستانی علاقے میں گرا تھا۔

 

 Coronavirus Hong Kong

 75 medical workers from mainland China to arrive on Monday to lend hand in fight against fifth wave.

 By Web desk 14 Mar 2022

 City leader Carrie Lam disclosed the impending arrival of the first batch of mainland doctors, nurses and other health professionals at her daily epidemic press conference.She also revealed that the first batch of the oral anti-Covid drug Paxlovid, from Pfizer, would arrive the same day, with more coming over the next two to three months.

 Seventy-five medical workers from mainland China are slated to arrive in Hong Kong on Monday March 14, to begin lending a hand in the city’s battle against its fifth wave of coronavirus infections, with another 300 due to arrive later this week. City leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor disclosed the impending arrival of the first batch of mainland doctors, nurses and other health professionals at her daily morning epidemic press conference on Monday, saying an advance team of 16 people from Guangdong province had visited the city last week for inspections and to liaise with the Hospital Authority. Lam also revealed that the first batch of the oral anti-Covid drug Paxlovid, from Pfizer, would arrive the same day, with more expected to come over the next two to three months.

 

Three Tuen Mun blocks among seven lockdowns declared.

By Web desk 13 Mar 2022

Hong Kong: Seven buildings including three in Tuen Mun were locked down on Saturday over Covid-positive sewage samples.The seven buildings are Oi Yee House and Oi Lok House, Yau Oi Estate and Block 1, Tsui Ning Garden in Tuen Mun; Wai Tung House, Tung Tau (II) Estate and Nga Yuen House, Chuk Yuen South Estate in Wong Tai Sin; Shun Man House, Oi Man Estate in Ho Man Tin; and Yin Tat House, On Tat Estate in Kwun Tong. The lockdowns are expected to be lifted around noon to 1pm on Sunday (Mar 13). Residents of these seven buildings must undergo compulsory testing by tonight between 8pm and 10pm. The compulsory testing requirement also applies to citizens who had been to these seven buildings for more than two hours between February 27 and today (Mar 12). They must take the Covid tests by Monday (Mar 14). As a mutant strain is involved, vaccinated citizens and those who recently tested negative must also undergo testing. Exemption will only be granted to those who tested positive for Covid-19 on or after December 31, 2021.

 

پی ٹی آئی میں ضم ہونے پر چوہدری برادران کو وزارت اعلیٰ کی پیشکش

 By Web desk 13 Mar 2022

اپوزیشن کی تحریک عدم اعتماد جمع ہونے کے بعد چوہدری برادران سے حکومتی کمیٹی کی ملاقات کی اندرونی کہانی سامنے آگئی۔۔

 اسلام آباد میں گزشتہ روز کی ملاقات میں پرویز الٰہی اور مونس الٰہی شریک تھےجبکہ چوہدری شجاعت گھر پر موجود تھے لیکن ملاقات میں شریک نہیں ہوئے۔

 ذرائع نے بتایا کہ حکومتی کمیٹی نے چوہدری برادران کی اپوزیشن قیادت سے ملاقاتوں پر شکوہ کیا جس پر پرویز الٰہی نے جواب دیا کہ آپ بھی ہمارے سیاسی مخالفین گجرات کے لیگی اراکین اسمبلی سے رابطے میں ہیں۔

 ذرائع بتاتے ہیں کہ پرویز الٰہی نے کہا کہ اپوزیشن نے ہمیں وزارت اعلیٰ کی پیشکش کی آپ کیوں نہیں دیتے؟

 اس پر حکومتی کمیٹی کا کہنا تھاکہ ق لیگ کو وزرات اعلیٰ دینے پر ہمارے اراکین اسمبلی راضی نہیں، ق لیگ پی ٹی آئی میں ضم ہو جائے تو آپ کے وزیر اعلیٰ بننے پر اعتراض نہیں۔

 حکومتی کمیٹی نے یہ بھی کہا کہ دوسرا فارمولا یہ ہے ایسا وزیر اعلیٰ لائیں جس پر آپ اور ترین گروپ متفق ہوں ۔

 ذرائع کے مطابق نئے وزیر اعلیٰ پنجاب کیلئے صوبائی وزیر میاں اسلم اقبال کا نام زیر غور ہے۔

 

 

Gift of immovable property to minor son cannot be revoked: Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Court observes that no transfer of possession is required in case of a gift by a father to his minor child.

By Web desk 12 Mar 2022

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has ruled that under Islamic law the gift of immovable property by a father in favour of his minor son could not be revoked. The court also noted that no transfer of possession is required in case of a gift by a father to his minor child or by a guardian to his ward while maintaining that sections 123 and 129 of the Transfer of Property Act did not apply to the hiba (gift) envisioned under the Muslim law. A three-judge bench of the apex court led by Justice Sajjad Ali Shah adjudicated a question regarding whether a gift of immovable property conveyed by a donor (father/natural guardian) under the Islamic law in favour of a minor child (donee) in the year 1952 could have been revoked by the father in 1970 (almost after 18 years) despite handing over the possession of the property which was accepted by the real mother on behalf of such minor. Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, while authoring the 12-page judgment, observed that when the donor and the donee are related within the prohibited degree, a gift made cannot be revoked. The judgment also said that if at the time of conveying a gift the donee was minor, the acceptance of gift could be made by his or her guardian and predominantly for the reason of the minority of donee alone, the factum of a gift made by his natural guardian does not cease to exist but remains valid on fulfilment of all ingredients of valid gift. “A minor donee may not have the capacity to understand the legal consequences as in this case where the donee was only five years of age when his father put into words the gift but minor was a person in existence and thus he was a competent donee.”  “According to all schools of thoughts under the Muslim law, a father has been recognized and acknowledged as the natural guardian of his child though, in the case in hand, the donor was father and gift was accepted by real mother of donee on his behalf. Even if the gift was not accepted by the mother, it would not have any adverse impact or effect on the gift made by a father in favour of his minor son.” The court also said that in case a guardian makes a gift in favour of his ward, he declares the gift as a donor and accepts the gift on the part of the donee, the delivery of possession is not compulsory provided that there must be a bona fide intention on the part of the guardian/real father to divest and part from his ownership and pass on it to the donee out of love and affection. According to authoritative and trustworthy texts on Muslim Law, if the donee is a minor son of the donor, then delivery of possession itself is not de rigueur or compulsory, as it is foreseeable in case of other donees under a hiba, says the order. The court also said that the possession of the guardian amounts to possession of the minor and separately no aliunde evidence is required to prove that the guardian handed over possession of the property to the minor. In this regard, a lucid exposition has been divulged by D. F. Mulla in his book “Principles of Muhammadan Law” in the annotation No.155, that no transfer of possession is required in the case of a gift by a father to his minor child or by a guardian to his ward. All that is necessary is to establish a bona fide intention to give, it adds. The court said that it is a matter of record and an undisputed fact that Makhdoom Haider Bakhsh (decd.) had two wives, Iqbal Begum and Dolat Begum. From Mst. Iqbal Begum has one daughter, Zahida Parveen, and one son, Muhammad Yousaf (the beneficiary of the gift mutation in the present list). Whereas from Dolat Begum has two daughters, namely Sajida Parveen and Khalida Parveen, and five sons, namely Alamdar Hussain, Sajid Hussain, Shoukat Hussain, Abid Hussain and Sabir Hussain. The present petitioners are from the second wife (Dolat Begum), but only three of seven legal heirs from the second wife have challenged the order of the high court passed in the second appeal. The second marriage was contracted after making the gift on 19.1.1952 and the gift was revoked by a registered indenture on 25.1.1970, after almost 18 years without any consent of the donee and without any decree of the court. The revocation, made on the pretext of non-handing over of possession, was unlawful, while in the mutation recorded on 19.1.1952, the donor specifically got recorded his statement that he has handed over the possession to donee, who at that time was obviously a minor so, on his behalf, the possession was accepted by his real mother, therefore, all subsequent proceedings or steps taken under the garb or guise of revocation of the gift were unlawful as the cancellation deed was non-est. in the eye of law and a void one. The court referred to a Hidayah, wherein it is stated, “If a person make a gift of anything to his relation within prohibited degrees, it is not lawful for him to resume it, because the Prophet has said, “When a gift is made to a prohibited relation, it must not be resumed;” and also because the object of the gift is an increase of the ties of affinity, which is thereby obtained”. The court said that presenting a gift whether grand or tiny is an act of kindness and compassion, and between the parents and children it is somewhat out of love and affection. According to Hedaya, “Hiba”, in its literal sense, signifies the donation of a thing from which the donee may derive a benefit; in the language of the Law it means a transfer of property, made immediately, and without any exchange.” While according to Ameer Ali, “A hiba, pure and simple, is the voluntary transfer, without consideration, of some specific property (whether existing in substance or as a chose in action)”. According to Mulla, “A hiba or gift is “a transfer of property, made immediately and without any exchange,” by one person to another, and accepted by or on behalf of the latter”. Whereas according to Fyzee, “Hiba” is the immediate and unqualified transfer of the corpus of the property without any return”. According to Sir Abdul Raheem, “The Muhammadan law defines hiba or a simple gift inter vivos as a transfer of a determinate property without an exchange”. A similar definition is provided by Baillie “Gift (hibut.), as it is defined in law, is the conferring of a right of property in something specific, without an exchange”. Similarly, according to Sahih Muslim, “A Hiba is defined as the transfer of possession of the property, movable and immovable, from one person to the other willingly and without reward”. The judgment said that the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, has no application to the hiba/gift envisioned and encapsulated under the Muslim Law and for this reason, Section 123 and 129 of the Transfer of Property Act can neither surpass nor outweigh or preponderate the matters of oral gifts contemplated under the Muslim law for which a registered instrument or indenture is not mandatory. All orthodox and unequivocal annotations and explications based on Islamic Jurisprudence vis-à-vis “Hiba” have unambiguously emphasized and underlined the fact that the donor should be compos mentis, meaning thereby a person who is of sound mind and has the mental capacity to understand the legal implications of his act of making a gift and he must be major and the owner of the property which is intended to be gifted; the thing gifted should be in existence at the time of hiba; the thing gifted should be such to benefit from which is lawful under the Shariat; the donor must be free from any coercion/duress or undue influence while making a gift; the thing gifted should come in the possession of the donee himself or through his representative/guardian for an effective hiba. “Under the Muslim law, the constituents and components of a valid gift are tender, acceptance and possession of the property. A Muslim can devolve his property under Muslim law by means of inter vivos (gift) or through testamentary dispositions (will). Islamic law does not make any distinction between a movable or immovable property concerning the conception of hiba, rather any property may be gifted by any person having ownership and dominion over the property intended to be gifted on fulfilling requisite formalities. “It is also obligatory that the donor divest and dissociate himself downrightly from the dominion and ownership over the property of gift and put into words his categorical intention to convey the ownership to the donee distinctly and unambiguously with the delivery of possession of the property and ensure that donee has secured physical ascendency over the property to constitute the delivery of possession."

  

 Coronavirus

 Hong Kong funeral homes fully booked until mid-April.

 By Web desk 12 Mar 2022

 Kwok Hoi-bong, chairman of the Funeral Business Association industry group, says the government has to do more to resolve bottlenecks.Hospital Authority apologises and confirms online pictures showing a number of bagged bodies being placed next to patients in wards were taken earlier.

Funeral homes are fully booked until mid-April amid Hong Kong’s rising Covid-19 death toll, with the suspension of simple farewell ceremonies at hospitals and the long processing time of death documents worsening the bottleneck, according to operators.The Hospital Authority, meanwhile, confirmed on Friday that online pictures showing a number of bagged bodies being placed next to patients in wards were taken earlier. It apologised for the stress caused to the patients and said the problem had been rectified.Kwok Hoi-bong, chairman of the Funeral Business Association industry group, said the government had to do more to resolve bottlenecks.

  

Prosecution looms for people who refuse quarantine at isolation facilities.

By Web desk 11 Mar 2022

Hong Kong’s security chief said a citizen who refused to undergo quarantine at the isolation facility may face prosecution. Speaking on a radio program this morning, Secretary for Security Chris Tang Ping-keung said officials yesterday visited 79 infected patients who were reluctant to move to an isolation site, and one of them still refused to go. We are reviewing the evidence, we may prosecute the person by issuing a summons later on. He stressed that citizens are required by law to undergo compulsory quarantine, and it was everyone's responsibility to fight the pandemic so that society can return to normal. Although some of the city’s isolation facilities are better than the others, people should not opt for any particular one. Tang added that authorities conduct risk assessments to decide if people with Covid need to be sent to a facility, adding that home isolation is only a transitional arrangement. Meanwhile, the security chief said the Fire Services Department’s Covid-reporting hotline has received 24,000 requests for help so far, with over half of them being inquiries or are cases without complete details. He said the remaining 12,000 people who reported their positive Covid results have been brought to the isolation facilities, with most of them being transferred within 24 hours.

  

 وزیراعظم عمران خان کے خلاف تحریک عدم اعتماد پر بحث اور ووٹنگ کے معاملے پر قومی اسمبلی سیکرٹریٹ نے اسپیکر کو 14مارچ کو اجلاس بلانےکی تجویز دے دی۔

 By Web desk 10 Mar 2022

 ذرائع کے مطابق قومی اسمبلی سیکرٹریٹ کی جانب سے اسپیکرکو تجویز دی گئی ہےکہ 3 دن بحث کے بعد 18 مارچ کو ووٹنگ کرادی جائے۔

 خیال رہے کہ قواعد کے مطابق ریکوزیشن پر اسمبلی اجلاس 14 دن میں بلانا ہوتا ہے۔

 لیگل برانچ قومی اسمبلی کا کہنا ہےکہ اپوزیشن ریکوزیشن کے مطابق اسپیکر اب کسی بھی وقت اجلاس بلا سکتے ہیں، اجلاس بلانے کی حد 14 روز یعنی 22 مارچ بنتی ہے۔

 لیگل برانچ حکام کا مزید کہنا ہےکہ قومی اسمبلی کا اجلاس بلانے اور تحریک عدم اعتماد پیش ہونےکے 3 سے7 روز کے درمیان اس پر ووٹنگ کرانی ہوگی، اس کے علاوہ آئین میں کہیں نہیں لکھا کہ اجلاس قومی اسمبلی ہال میں ہی ہوگا،قومی اسمبلی کا اجلاس سینیٹ ہال یا کسی اور مقام پر بھی ہو سکتا ہے۔

 

  

Coronavirus Hong Kong

Unprecedented use of new emergency alert system to publicize conversion of Queen Elizabeth Hospital saved time. Carrie Lam.

By Web desk 10 Mar 2022  

Nobody can question that we are in a public health emergency right now.Development minister Michael Wong Wai-lun and security minister Chris Tang Ping-keung are also attending to explain matters relating to the construction and management of the facilities.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has offered an update on new community isolation facilities being built for Covid-19 patients at her second-ever daily epidemic press conference. Development minister Michael Wong Wai-lun and security minister Chris Tang Ping-keung are also in attendance to explain matters relating to the construction, management and use of the isolation facilities. Today’s press briefing comes a day after the government sent out an unprecedented emergency alert via mobile phones in both English and Chinese informing residents about the conversion of Queen Elizabeth Hospital into a designated Covid-19 facility on Wednesday evening.

 

 Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy won’t be undermined by central government.

 Top Beijing official says.

 By Web desk 09 Mar 2022

 The director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office told a group of local delegates to the nation’s top advisory body that the ‘one country, two systems’ model would persist beyond 2047 another top official had pledged to improve Beijing’s system for exercising comprehensive jurisdiction over the city raising questions about the future of the governing principle. A top Beijing official has stressed that Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy will not be undermined by the central government’s jurisdiction over the city. Xia Baolong director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, also said Hong Kong would continue to be governed under the one country, two systems principle beyond 2047, half a century after its return from British rule in 1997. Xia made the remarks in a meeting with Hong Kong delegates to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the nation’s top advisory body in Beijing.

 

 

 ڈی چوک پر جلسے کی اجازت مل گئی

By Web desk 08 Mar 2022

پیپلز پارٹی کو اسلام آباد کے ڈی چوک پر جلسے کی اجازت مل گئی، ضلعی انتظامیہ نے جلسے کیلئے این او سی جاری کردیا۔ اجازت نامے میں کہا گیا ہے کہ جلسہ آج شام 4 بجے سے شروع ہوگا اور رات 8 بجے تک ختم کرنا ہوگا۔ اجازت نامے کے مطابق نجی اور سرکاری املاک کو نقصان پہنچا تو اس کی ذمہ دار پیپلز پارٹی ہوگی۔ رپورٹس کے مطابق پی ڈی ایم قیادت نے پیپلز پارٹی کے اسلام آباد جلسے میں شرکت کا فیصلہ کیا ہے، اس حوالے سے مولانا فضل الرحمٰن نے پیپلزپارٹی قیادت کو آگاہ کردیا ہے۔ دوسری جانب حکام نے ڈی چوک پر کنٹینرز پہنچا دئیے ہیں، پارلیمنٹ اور شاہراہ دستور جانے والی سڑک بند کردی گئی ہے۔ پیپلز پارٹی کے رہنما فیصل کریم کنڈی کا کہنا ہے عوامی مارچ کے لیے کشمیر اور خیبر پختونخوا سے آنے والے قافلوں کو روکنے کیلئے کنٹینرز لگا کر راستے بند کئے جارہے ہیں۔

 

Beijing to improve system for ruling Hong Kong.

 Devise legal weapons to counter foreign forces.

 By Web desk 08 Mar 2022

 Li Zhanshu, chairman of the National People’s Congress, pledged to implement the legal system and enforcement mechanism by which the city could safeguard national security. He also lauded Beijing’s patriots only overhaul of Hong Kong’s electoral system as having heralded a new age in which the city’s prosperity and stability is secured.

 Beijing will improve the system by which it rules Hong Kong while safeguarding national security and devising legal weapons for countering foreign forces the head of China’s legislature has said. Li Zhanshu, chairman of the National People’s Congress vowed the parliamentary body’s Standing Committee would remain firm on key issues and political principles as it planned for the use of legal means in international struggle. The pledges were part of Li’s annual report on the work of the NPC Standing Committee, presented during the legislature’s annual session in Beijing.

  

عالمی منڈی میں تیل کی قیمتیں 13 سال کی بلند ترین سطح پر پہنچ گئیں

By Web desk 07 Mar 2022

  عالمی منڈی میں خام تیل کی قیمت 128 ڈالر فی بیرل ہوگئی

 تاریخ میں 2008ء اور 1980ء کے بعد خام تیل کی قیمت بلند ترین سطح پر آئی ہے۔

دوران ٹریڈنگ ڈبلیو ٹی آئی خام تیل 124 ڈالر کی سطح پر موجود ہے، گیس کی قیمت 5 ڈالر فی ایم ایم بی ٹی یو کی سطح عبور کر گئی ہے۔

سونے کی قیمت میں بھی تیزی کا رحجان ہے اور فی اونس سونا 2 ہزار ڈالر تک پہنچ گیا ہے۔ گندم کی قیمت میں بھی اضافے کا رحجان ہے، دوران ٹریڈنگ 7 فیصد اضافہ ریکارڈ کیا گیا ہے۔

واضح رہے کہ وزیر اعظم عمران خان ملک میں پیٹرول کی قیمتوں میں اضافہ نہ کرنے اور موجودہ قیمتیں برقرار رکھنے کا اعلان پہلے ہی کر چکے ہیں۔

 

 

 Hong Kong’s Bauhinia think tank bows out after 16 years.

By Web desk 07 Mar 2022

 Analysts say exit underscores limited room for think tanks to develop in a city where policymaking has been dominated by officials. Researchers at centre linked to former leader Donald Tsang ‘proud and emotional’ as time runs out. The Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre, a Hong Kong think tank set up by a close aide of former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, will close by the end of March. Analysts said its exit underscored the limited room for think tanks to develop in a city where policymaking had been dominated by officials. The centre was founded in March 2006 by Norman Chan Tak-lam, who ran Tsang’s campaign to become city leader the previous year. He was director of the Chief Executive’s Office from 2007 to 2009, before becoming chief executive of the Monetary Authority.

 

Half of all beds at Hong Kong public hospitals to be set aside for coronavirus patients amid exponential growth in cases.

 By Web desk 6 Mar 202

Hospital Authority chairman Henry Fan told the Post figure had been suggested by top mainland Chinese epidemiologist Dr Liang Wannian two hospitals already designated for coronavirus cases only, with more in the pipeline, Fan says.

Hong Kong’s public hospitals have begun implementing plans to repurpose half of all their beds for the treatment of Covid-19 patients by the end of this week to cope with exponential growth in coronavirus cases during the fifth wave. Hospital Authority chairman Henry Fan Hung-ling said on Sunday the figure had been suggested by top mainland Chinese epidemiologist Dr Liang Wannian, who said in an interview on Saturday the Hospital Authority had proposed the target of converting public facilities 30 per cent of beds for Covid-19 treatment, with the option to expand to 50 per cent if necessary. Health authorities have already begun installing ventilators to convert general wards to treat Covid-19 patients, Fan said.

 

 

پشاور دھماکے میں ملوث تینوں

ملزمان تک پہنچ چکے

وفاقی وزیر داخلہ شیخ رشید نے دعویٰ کیا ہےکہ پشاور خودکش دھماکے میں ملوث تینوں ملزمان کی شناخت ہو چکی ہے۔

By Web desk 5 Mar 2022

ٹوئٹر پر جاری ویڈیو بیان میں شیخ رشید نے کہا کہ خیبر پختونخوا پولیس معاملے کی تہہ تک پہنچ چکی ہے ، ایک دو روز میں پولیس ملزمان تک پہنچ جائے گی۔

سیاسی صورتحال پر بات کرتے ہوئے انہوں  نے کہا کہ عدم اعتماد کی تحریک اورریکوزیشن علیحدہ چیزیں ہیں، عدم اعتماد سے متعلق اجلاس بلانے کی ریکوزیشن ابھی تک موصول نہیں ہوئی، ریکوزیشن موصول ہونے کے 14 دن کے اندر اسپیکر اجلاس طلب کرتاہے، اپوزیشن کو پہلے بھی شکست ہوئی تھی، اب بھی ہوگی۔

 

پاکستان کے ’ورسٹائل‘ اداکار مسعود اخترچل بسے

By Web desk 5 Mar 2022

 پاکستان کے سینیئر اداکار مسعود اختر طویل علالت کے بعد 82 برس کی عمر میں آج سنیچر کی صبح انتقال کر گئے ہیں۔

خاندانی ذرائع نے مسعود اختر کے انتقال کی تصدیق کرتے ہوئے بتایا کہ اداکار مسعود اختر گذشتہ دو ماہ سے ہسپتال میں زیر علاج تھے۔

مسعود اختر پھیپھڑوں کے کینسر کے مرض میں مبتلا تھے، انھیں گذشتہ سال اپنے جوان بیٹے کی اچانک موت کے باعث ہارٹ اٹیک بھی ہوا تھا۔

مسعود اختر نے ڈراموں کے ساتھ ساتھ فلموں ميں بھی اداکاری کے جوہر دکھاٸے۔ انہیں 2005 ميں تمغہ برائے حسن کارکردگی سے بھی نوازا گيا تھا۔

وزیراعلیٰ پنجاب عثمان بزدار نے مسعود اختر کے انتقال پر افسوس کا اظہار کرتے ہوئے کہا ہے کہ ’مسعود اختر ورسٹائل اداکار تھے، انہوں  نے فلموں اور ڈراموں میں اپنی اداکاری سے پرستاروں کو متاثر کیا۔‘

گورنر پنجاب چوہدری محمد سرور نے بھی لیجنڈری اداکار کے انتقال پر ان کے خاندان سے تعزیت کرتے ہوئے کہا کہ ’مسعود اختر کی فن ثقافت کے لیے خدمات کو ہمیشہ یاد رکھا جائے گا۔

ان کا کہنا تھا کہ ’مسعود اختر کے انتقال سے فن ثقافت میں پیداہونے والا خلا کبھی پُر نہیں ہوگا۔

 

 

  Hong Kong now has the world’s highest Covid-19 death rate. What happened, and how can this be fixed?

By Web desk 5 Mar 2022

Focus falls on elderly population, with calls for government to streamline procedures and channel resource to vulnerable, undervaccinated demographic But experts also caution against reading too much into the statistics, as other factors such as age segments and unaccounted infections should be considered.

Deaths from Covid-19 complications in Hong Kong have been crossing the 100 mark daily over the past four days such that the city now has the world’s highest fatality rate for the coronavirus, mostly among undervaccinated elderly residents. Authorities said they were funnelling more resources to senior patients, particularly those from care homes that had been ravaged by infections, but according to experts the measures were still too slow to come on stream and they warned that more grim statistics lay ahead. They suggested instead that certain treatments such as intravenous medication could be performed directly in care homes, short-circuiting cumbersome rules that existed. Several also called on the government to speed up the process of sending elderly patients to temporary isolation or care facilities to lower cross-infection risks, as well as to vaccinate seniors who had not yet caught Covid-19.

 

Russian control of Ukraine nuclear plant threatens national power supply.

 Web desk 5 Mar 2022

 Hit on Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant compromised station’s physical integrity, IAEA chief says.

 Continued electricity and water supply to cooling system essential to safe operation of the plant, analyst says The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed on Friday that a Russian projectile hit Europe’s biggest nuclear plant amid clashes in Ukraine, raising the threat to Ukraine’s power supply or the risk of a nuclear accident, according to experts.Nuclear specialists said the war could threaten Ukraine’s ability to ensure its nuclear plants operated safely and continued to supply power to the grid.  

 

 Russia accused of attacking Ukraine nuclear plant, Europe’s largest.

By Web desk 4 Mar 2022

Ukraine’s president accuses Russia of ‘nuclear terror’ after attack on Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant causes fire. The International Atomic Energy Agency says there’s been no change in reported radiation levels at the nuclear plant. Europe’s largest nuclear power plant was on fire on Friday after Russian strikes hit the Ukrainian facility, with the country’s president accusing Moscow of resorting to “nuclear terror”. Russia has intensified strikes across the country, with fresh reports of civilian casualties and devastating damage, even as Moscow agreed to a Ukrainian request for humanitarian corridors to allow terrified residents to flee. The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant near the Ukrainian city of Enerhodar was on fire after a Russian attack hit its power unit, the facility’s spokesman said.

 

 پاکستان پیپلزپارٹی کا لانگ مارچ پنجاب میں داخل

By Web desk 03 Mar 2022

  پیپلزپارٹی کا لانگ مارچ پنجاب میں داخل ہوگیا، بلاول بھٹو زرداری نے خبردار کرتے ہوئے کہا کہ اب دما دم مست قلندر ہوگا۔

قبل ازیں گھوٹکی میں عوامی لانگ مارچ سے خطاب کرتے ہوئے بلاول بھٹو زرداری کا کہنا تھا کہ عمران خان کی اُلٹی گنتی شروع ہوچکی ہے، اب جتنی بھی کوشش کریں عوام رُکنے والے نہیں۔

انہوں نے کہا کہ وزیراعظم کے خلاف تحریک عدم اعتماد لانے کا وقت آگیا ہے، جمہوری اور انسانی حقوق پر ڈاکا مارنے والے کو جانا ہوگا۔

پیکا آرڈینس پر بات کرتے ہوئے بلاول بھٹو زرداری نے کہا کہ یہ کون فرعون ہے جو عوام کی زباں بندی کررہا ہے، وہ ایسے غیر جمہوری اور غیر آئینی قانون کو نہیں مانتے۔ بلاول بھٹو زرداری اپنے قافلے سمیت رحیم یار خان پہنچ گئے ہیں۔

واضح رہے کہ پنجاب میں داخل ہونے کے بعد مبینہ طور پر عوامی لانگ مارچ کے راستے میں رکاوٹیں کھڑی کرنے پر وزیراعلیٰ سندھ سید مراد علی شاہ نے پنجاب کے وزیراعلیٰ عثمان بزدار سے ٹیلیفونک رابطہ کیا تھا۔

ترجمان پی پی کے مطابق وزیراعلیٰ پنجاب عثمان بزدار نے سید مراد علی شاہ کو رکاوٹیں ہٹانے کی یقین دہانی کروائی۔

 

Coronavirus Hong Kong

 Confirms record 56,827 cases as ‘500 sample collection centres, group bookings for families planned’ for universal testing drive.

 By Web desk 03 Mar 2022

 Thursday’s tally surpasses previous day’s total, with two cases imported. The testing will be arranged via an online booking system to minimize crowding and wait times, according to a source.

 As many as 500 testing centres will be set up across Hong Kong and families will be able to book time slots together when the government launches its universal coronavirus screening drive later this month, the Post has learned. The new details on Thursday emerged as officials confirmed a record 56,827 Covid-19 infections, surpassing the total of 55,353 logged a day ago and pushing the overall tally to 350,557. Just two of the new cases were imported. The Hospital Authority said 144 Covid-19 patients had died in the last 24 hours. Aged between 42 and 102, most of them were elderly with 56 people living in care homes and 124 without vaccination records. The death toll now stands at 1,368, including 42 other fatalities earlier.

 

 Hong Kong Bar Association’s former chairman flees city after police probe.

By Web desk 02 Mar 2022

Hong Kong Bar Association’s former chairman fled the city hours after being questioned by police under a national security law that carries sentences as long as life in prison. Paul Harris boarded a flight to the U.K. via Turkey, according to Wen Wei Po which is owned by Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong and published video of the British citizen at the airport ignoring reporters’ questions. Police had probed Harris on Tuesday in relation to Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, the non-governmental organization he founded in 1995 before the city’s handover. The veteran human rights lawyer, who is fluent in Cantonese, was branded an “anti-China politician” by Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong last April after he criticized the sentencing of some 10 pro-democracy figures for participating in two unauthorized assemblies in August 2019. After Harris was replaced as Bar Association leader in January, the Communist Party-backed Global Times newspaper said he’d used his tenure to “spread distorted remarks, to defend lawbreakers, to exculpate the violence, and to exert pressure on the judiciary.” “Harris repeatedly ranted to amend the national security law for Hong Kong, challenging the authority of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress,” it added. A representative from the Bar Association couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. Hong Kong police didn’t reply to an emailed request for a response. Hong Kong’s national security police have arrested some 160 people, including at least two foreign passport holders, mostly over crimes relating to their public statements, positions and other political activities. Beijing imposed the law barring subversion, secession, colluding with foreign forces and terrorist activities in Hong Kong in June 2020 in the wake of the previous year’s anti-government protests.

  

Coronavirus Hong Kong

9-day ‘large-scale lockdown’ expected when city launches universal testing push, source says.

By Web desk 1st March 2022

According to a source familiar with the situation, exceptions will be made for buying food, and for those providing essential services. The government is still considering whether the lockdown should be citywide or done on a rolling basis according to district. The Hong Kong government is expected to impose a “large-scale lockdown” when it requires all residents to complete three coronavirus tests as part of its universal screening drive in the second half of this month the administration was also planning to compress the testing period from a planned 15 or 21 days to just nine. “Each resident will be required to undergo three tests during the mass testing,” the source said. “The mass testing is expected to start after the middle of this month, and a large-scale lockdown will be imposed during the period.”

 

Coronavirus Hong Kong

Health chief refuses to rule out citywide lockdown for universal testing drive.

By Web desk 28 Feb 2022

From the perspective of public health, how to make the best use of universal testing, we must reduce the flow of people to a certain extent,’ says health minister Sophia Chan. The remarks represent an apparent U-turn, with the government previously saying it had no plans to impose a lockdown for the weeks-long testing drive. Hong Kong’s compulsory universal Covid-19 testing drive might entail a citywide lockdown after all, with the details of the plan still being discussed, the city’s health minister said on Monday. The government had previously said it had no plans to impose a lockdown for the testing, which is expected to kick off in March. But in an apparent U-turn, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee declined to rule out the possibility when asked, saying on Monday that a final decision had not been made. “We are still discussing [the plan]. From the perspective of public health, how to make the best use of universal testing, we must reduce the flow of people to a certain extent, and citizens should not go out,” Chan said on a radio programme.

  

Angry but holding out

Hong Kong’s vaccine pass restrictions hit unvaccinated hard, but some still refuse Covid-19 jabs.

By Web desk 27 Feb 2022

They cannot eat out or go shopping, but Hongkongers against vaccination say they are not budging.Expert says those not jabbed face risks and more must be done to persuade them especially elderly residents Mong Kok resident Agnes Wong 73, felt it right away when Hong Kong’s controversial vaccine pass scheme took effect on Thursday, barring unvaccinated people from a wide range of premises across the city.The divorcee and cancer survivor, who lives alone, was angry that she could no longer enjoy morning yum cha meals of dim sum with her friends in restaurants or go shopping in the supermarket.“I feel very offended by the way they are forcing Hong Kong people to get vaccinated. They even threaten that people will pay a heavy price for not getting vaccinated. This has put me off greatly,” she said.

 

 نیٹو آج یوکرین کے لیے فضائی دفاعی نظام سمیت مزید ہتھیاروں کا اعلان کرے گا۔

 By Web desk 26 Feb 2022

نیٹو ملکوں کے ورچوئل اجلاس کے بعد نیٹو سربراہ اسٹولٹن برگ نے کہا ہے کہ نیٹو اتحادی ملک کے دفاع اور حفاظت کیلئے جو کچھ کرنا پڑا کریں گے۔

 نیٹو سربراہ کا مزید کہنا ہے کہ نیٹو اتحاد نے اپنا دفاعی پلان گزشتہ روز فعال کردیا ہے۔

 اسٹولٹن برگ کا یہ بھی کہنا تھا کہ روس کا مقصد کیف میں حکومت کی تبدیلی ہے، نیٹو اتحادی یوکرین کو تعاون فراہم کرنے کے لیے پرعزم ہیں۔

 ان کا کہنا تھا کہ سائبر نیٹ ورک کے تحفظ کو بھی بڑھا رہے ہیں۔

 دوسری جانب روس کے صدر ولادیمیر پیوٹن نے یوکرینی صدر ولودومیر زیلینسکی کی مذاکرات کی پیشکش قبول کرلی ہے۔

 روسی صدارتی محل کریملن کے مطابق یوکرینی صدر کے بیان پر روسی صدر پیوٹن مذاکرات کیلئے رضامند ہوگئے ہیں جس کے بعد یوکرین کو منسک میں مذاکرات کرنے کی تجویز سے آگاہ کردیا۔

  

Ukraine invasion: ‘The fight is here’- President Zelensky refuses to leave as Russian troops storm Kyiv.

 By Web desk 26 Feb 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked to evacuate from capital at US behest but turns down offer as street fights break out China abstains from UN vote condemning Russian invasion, urges ‘immediate’ return to diplomatic negotiations Russian troops stormed toward Ukraine’s capital early Saturday, and street fighting broke out as city officials urged residents to take shelter. Earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was asked to evacuate from Kyiv at the behest of the US government but turned down the offer. “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride,” Zelensky said, according to a senior American intelligence official with direct knowledge of the conversation, who described the leader as upbeat.

  

Ukraine-Russia conflict day 2: missiles pound capital Kyiv as Putin’s forces close in.

By Web desk 25 Feb 2022

Russia presses on with massive a  ssault as Ukraine’s president says he’s Moscow’s ‘number one target’ Nato is meeting Friday and the UN Security Council is likely to vote on a draft resolution against Russia. A senior Ukrainian defence official warned that Russian forces would enter areas just outside the capital Kyiv later on Friday after the city and other locations were struck by Russian missiles in the early hours of the morning.Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar added that Ukrainian army units were defending positions on four fronts despite being outnumbered.Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called Russian strikes on Kyiv “horrific” as President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of targeting civilian areas.

  

Hong Kong finance chief brushes off concerns over consumption vouchers after being criticized for not offering cash. 

 By Web desk 24 Feb 2022

  Some residents have expressed worries about not receiving this year’s vouchers after making changes to the digital wallets they used last time around. Politicians, meanwhile, have faulted the financial secretary for not simply giving residents struggling amid the pandemic HK$10,000 in cash instead.

  

اسلام آباد ہائیکورٹ نےحکومت کو پیکا کی سیکشن 20 تحت گرفتاریاں نہ کرنے کا حکم جاری کر دیا

By Web desk 23 Feb 2022

اسلام آباد ہائیکورٹ نے حکومت کو پریوینش الیکٹرانک کرائم ایکٹ (پیکا) کی سیکشن 20 تحت گرفتاریاں نہ کرنے کا حکم دیتے ہوئے حکومت کو نوٹس جاری کر دیا۔ اسلام آباد ہائیکورٹ کے چیف جسٹس اطہر من اللہ پی ایف یو جے کی جانب سے پیکا آرڈیننس کے خلاف دائر درخواست پر سماعت کر رہے ہیں۔ پی ایف یو جے کی جانب سے عادل عزیز قاضی ایڈووکیٹ نے دلائل دیتے ہوئے کہا کہ 17 فروری کو سینیٹ کا سیشن ختم ہوا اور 18 فروری کو قومی اسمبلی کا اجلاس تھا، اجلاس کو صرف اس لیے ملتوی کیا گیا کہ یہ آرڈیننس لایا جا سکے۔ وکیل درخواست گزار کا کہنا تھا کہ ایسے کیا حالات تھے جن کی بنیاد پر یہ آرڈیننس جاری کرنے میں جلدی تھی؟عدالت نے ریمارکس دیے کہ ایف آئی اے پہلے ہی ایس او پیز جمع کرا چکی ہے، ایس او پیزکے مطابق سیکشن 20 کے تحت کسی شکایت پر گرفتاری نہ کی جائے، ایس او پیز پر عمل نہ ہوا تو ڈی جی ایف آئی اے اور سیکرٹری داخلہ ذمہ دار ہوں گے۔عدالت نے پیکا ایکٹ میں ترمیم کے خلاف پی ایف یو جے کی درخواست پر صدارتی آرڈی نینس کے ذریعے ترمیم کے خلاف درخواست پر اٹارنی جنرل کو معاونت کے لیے نوٹس جاری کر دیا۔

 

  The names of many politicians and officials came to light in the Swiss Lex scandal.

 By Web desk 22 Feb 2022

 ISLAMABAD: A married couple was among 44 people accused of running a scheme in and around Karachi. The husband wanted a plea bargain but the wife was hesitant. According to the NAB, the woman had secret codes for these foreign bank accounts. She believed that the sacrifice of the couple would improve the lives of the children with the wealth kept in these accounts but later the woman also gave up. The NAB was pleased with the outcome of the decision as the recovery from the confession was not possible in any other way. However, the couple fooled the NAB. In 2003, he accepted a plebiscite and paid 8 1.8 million, which was 80% of his hidden wealth in foreign banks. In this way both got freedom. But now the leaked data from Credit Suisse shows that the couple lied about the actual amount. The account was opened in 1987 at the height of the scheme and reportedly had 2 million Swiss francs as of June 2003, and the amount reported to the NAB was only 60 per cent of the total amount. The husband did not answer questions in this regard. In addition to this couple, there are many others who opened an account in Credit Suisse during or after the NAB investigation. The individuals include a Pakistani banker who operates in the Middle East and had 700 million Swiss francs in his Swiss account. Former Senator Saifullah is the second richest Pakistani account holder. He had 105 million Swiss francs in his account in 2009, a year before the NAB filed a reference against him on charges of bank fraud, and his two sons were co-accused in the case. The account was opened in 2008 during a NAB investigation and closed in 2011. The NAB apparently did not know the account. The NAB case is pending and it has hardly had any effect on the family. It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. His son Shaukat expressed ignorance about the account. Former Senator Waqar's family's Swiss account has also come to light. He and his father and brother were senators in the 2000s. At the time, he had opened a Swiss account with 9.8 million francs as of 2008. None of the three have declared assets to the Election Commission. The account was closed in 2013, revealing properties that had been mortgaged, but tax authorities in Pakistan were not notified of these properties. The FBR said when a Punjab minister and his brother also had a bank account. The account was opened in March 2011 and closed in February 2012. It contained 2.76 Swiss francs. The NAB launched an inquiry against the family in 2018, stating that their assets had increased by billions when their brother became federal minister for the first time. The inquiry found that between 2011 and 2018, the family received 8 708 million in foreign exchange. There is no indication of this and the NAB has not identified the sources of foreign exchange. There is another inquiry into the purchase of property in London. Mian's sons have been scrutinized by the FBR, the bureau wanted to know the source of funds from them. When asked by the FBR, Mian distanced himself from the deal, his sons said, adding that the Singapore-based company had taken loans from two companies. The FBR wrote a letter to the authorities, but only one of them responded, stating that the company named does not exist. Due to this situation, the whole matter became suspicious. Newly leaked data from Credit Suisse Bank shows that the company has a joint account with husband and wife, the couple had two accounts. As of 2012, the company had 18.5 million francs in its account. According to information provided by the family to the FBR, the company had received a loan of 20 million at the end of 2010, while another amount of the same amount was deposited in this account two years later. It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. Lex also has a family name, revealing individual and shared family accounts that were active from 2004 to 2010. This is immediately after the time when he had reached a loan settlement agreement with the NAB. In all, there were 60 million Swiss francs in these accounts. The family had a small bank, the family had two accounts. The first was opened in 2001 when the NAB was behind the family in the loan default case. The second account was active from 2010 to 2015.

  

The Media Joint Action Committee rejected the Pika Ordinance.

 By Web desk 21 Feb 2022

 ISLAMABAD: The Media Joint Action Committee has rejected the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Amendment (PICA) Ordinance 2022. A statement issued by the Media Joint Action Committee said the ordinance was an attempt to curtail media freedom, which would pave the way for restrictions on freedom of expression. The statement further said that all media outlets would vigorously oppose the denial of media freedom and the houses would take legal action. In a statement, the Media Joint Action Committee termed the ordinance as an attempt by the government to implement a cruel agenda. Earlier, President Dr. Arif Alvi had issued an ordinance to amend the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Amendment Ordinance (PICA) 2022 and the Election Act, according to which the punishment for attack on fake news and character of any person has been increased from 3 to 5 years. Yes, the case will be decided in 6 months while no bail can be granted in the case. The Pakistan Electronic Act Amendment Ordinance was issued by the President. The Amendment Act includes the definition of a person. Imprisonment has been increased from 3 years to 5 years and section 20 has been amended to state that the person filing the complaint will be the aggrieved party, his representative or guardian. According to the ordinance, the offense has been declared admissible, it will be non-bailable, the trial court will decide the case within 6 months, the trial court will submit the details of the case to the high court every month, if the high court deems fit. If there are obstacles in handling the case quickly then the obstacles will be removed. The ordinance states that federal, provincial governments and officials will be asked to remove obstacles, and the Chief Justice of each High Court will nominate a judge and officers for these cases. The President also issued an ordinance amending the Election Act, according to which members of all Assemblies, Senate and local governments will be able to speak during the election campaign, any public office holder and elected representative will be able to visit the constituency.

 

 Hong Kong health minister says social-distancing measures could get tougher, sows doubt for widely-anticipated vaccine pass.

 By Web desk 20 Feb 2022

 Possibility of tighter anti-pandemic measures clashes with previous government plans to ease restrictions as part of vaccine pass programme. Chief Secretary John Lee says now most critical time during two years of anti-pandemic efforts.

Hong Kong’s health minister has warned of tighter social-distancing measures to come, throwing into doubt plans to launch a widely-anticipated vaccine pass this week, as the city continues to struggle against surging Covid-19 infections. Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee told a radio programme on Sunday that certain anti-pandemic measures could be tightened, but did not go into specifics.“There is definitely no room for relaxing social-distancing measures, I can say here. In fact, we are studying how to tighten them further,” she said.

  

Hong Kong facing record 7,000 coronavirus cases as health authorities plan to open up ambulatory centers rehabs to isolate patients.

By Web desk 19 Feb 2022

Hospital Authority chief says patients outside public hospitals have been moved indoors as of 19 Feb Saturday morning.

About 27,000 coronavirus patients awaiting isolation at public facilities on Friday 18 Feb.

Hong Kong is expected to confirm 7,000 coronavirus infections on Saturday, with another 7,000 preliminary-positive cases being logged, according to medical sources.To cope with the influx of patients, Hospital Authority chief executive Tony Ko Pat-sing said on Saturday that ambulatory care centers and rehabilitation facilities would be used for isolating Covid-19 patients.Ko revealed the new measures as he said that all patients left outside public hospitals had been mostly moved indoors as of Saturday morning.

 

Slow coronavirus test results frustrate Hong Kong residents stuck at home.

 By Web desk 18 Feb 2022

 Hong Kong: Mother-of-two Mavis Li says she has called multiple hotlines to inquire about test results for her eldest child and herself, with no success Stuck at home since February 9, NGO employee Alice Lee is unable to return to office until she gets negative result.

  

Bill Gates arrives in Islamabad on a visit to Pakistan.

 By Web desk 17 Feb 2022

Microsoft founder Bill Gates arrived in the federal capital Islamabad on his first visit to Pakistan. Sources said that Bill Gates will meet President of Pakistan Dr. Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan. Bill Gates will also visit the National Command and Operations Center (NCOC) headquarters. Sources said that Bill Gates will be briefed on the measures taken to prevent polio in Corona. It is said that Bill Gates will pay a one-day visit to Pakistan and return this evening. It may be recalled that Prime Minister Imran Khan and Bill Gates had a telephone conversation several times last year in which they invited billionaire Bill Gates to visit Pakistan.

 

Hong Kong chief executive election 2022, Carrie Lam refuses yet again to say whether she will seek second term in next month’s leadership race.

By Web desk 15 Feb 2022

When asked about her intentions, Lam would only say that managing the ‘critical’ coronavirus situation was her top priority.She did, however, say that the election would still go ahead as scheduled on March 27 Hong Kong’s leader has once again refused to say whether she will seek re-election, insisting that managing the “critical” coronavirus pandemic situation is her top priority. Even as she kept the public guessing as to the line-up of the fast-approaching leadership race, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor stuck to her guns about holding the election as scheduled on March 27, despite the city confirming an unprecedented 2,000 Covid-19 cases.

 

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) took the field for the seat of Mayor of Dera Ismail Khan.

By Web desk 14 Feb 2022

 Peshawar: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) took the field in Dera Ismail Khan. Umar Amin, brother of Federal Minister Ali Amin Gandapur, succeeded. JUI is number two. The first phase of local body elections was re-polled in 13 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Votes were cast for the seats of City Mayor, Tehsil Chairman, Neighborhood, Village Councils in 13 districts. Polling at several polling stations was postponed on December 19 due to unrest in the first round of elections. The most important seat was given to PTI by City Mayor DI Khan. Umar Amin, brother of Federal Minister Ali Amin Gandapur, got the highest number of votes. Re-casting of votes at 6 polling stations in City Mayor Peshawar. Zubair Ali of JUI-F maintained his lead and got 1030 more votes, bringing his total number of votes to 63,418. Rizwan Bangash of PTI got another 736 votes, he got a total of 51,395 votes. In Pushtkhara Tehsil of Peshawar, Haroon Sifat of JUI won the seat with 26 more votes. Independent candidate Abdul Razzaq Afridi got 985 votes during the re-polling in Bara Tehsil of Khyber but lost the seat to Mufti Kafil of JUI in the total number of votes. Inayat Khattak of PTI won in Banda Daud Shah Tehsil of Karak. The seat in Domail Tehsil of Bannu remained in the name of Israr Khan Wazir of PTI. Kamran Raziq of PTI was elected in recount in Jahangira Tehsil of Nowshera.

  

Prime Minister Imran Khan took notice of the incident in Mian Channu and demanded a report from IG Punjab Police.

By Web desk 13 Feb 2022

Prime Minister Imran Khan said in a statement issued on social media that any attempt by any individual or group to take the law into their own hands would not be tolerated. Imran Khan said that the mob violence would be crushed very severely. IG Punjab has sought details of those responsible for the Mian Channu incident. The Prime Minister said that details of action against the police personnel who failed to perform their duties have also been sought.

 

Accountability court Lahore declared former Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif's clean water project clean and transparent.

By Web desk 12 Feb 2022

Accountability Court Judge Muhammad Sajid Ali issued written verdict of acquittal of 16 accused including PML-N leader Raja Qamar-ul-Islam in Saaf Pani Company reference in which it was said that NAB could not prove any violation or illegality in Saaf Pani project, survey assessment. Paper rules and regulations were fully implemented from the time the project was completed.

 

The medical board reviewing the medical report of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has once again rejected the letter of American-born Dr. Fayyaz Shaul.

 By Web desk 11 Feb 2022

 According to sources, the review board declared the reports incomplete. Has sent the medical board says there are no medical reports from any medical institution or laboratory. The medical board informed the health department in writing about Nawaz Sharif's reports. The 9-member medical board had earlier declared Nawaz Sharif's reports incomplete. It may be recalled that Nawaz Sharif's latest medical report was recently submitted in the Lahore High Court in which he was stopped from traveling by a doctor. Nawaz Sharif's medical report was prepared by Dr. Fayyaz Shaal, Director Interventional Cardiology and was submitted to the court through Amjad Pervez Advocate.

 

In a money laundering case, the court on February 18 decided to charge Shahbaz Sharif and Hamza.

By Web desk 10 Feb 2022

Lahore- Special Judge Central Lahore heard money laundering case through Sugar Mills. Other accused including Shahbaz Sharif and Hamza Shahbaz appeared before the court. During the hearing, the court ordered to provide copies of the challan to the accused. The court issued a short written verdict in the case and summoned Shahbaz Sharif and other accused on February 18 for indictment.

 

Disqualification of Faisal Wawda is not a blow for PTI, what will happen in next 50 days?  Claim of Federal Minister Sheikh Rashid.

By Web Desk, 9 Feb 2022

ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has said that 50 days are very important for the politics of the country. After 23 years, the Australian cricket team is coming to Pakistan. There is no problem here. He said that next 50 days are important for Pakistani politics. There are politicians, only our allies are holding meetings. There is no problem in this. Sheikh Rashid said that even on March 23, the opposition is not seen coming. Maulana Fazlur Rehman's politics is different, PPP and PML-N are different. Opposition has different paths, they are asking for help from our allies. Sweep and fulfill your servants, bring those who claim to bring distrust and show that they will be defeated. Establishment is with the neutral and the government. Regarding the decision of disqualification case, Lavada said that the decision of disqualification of Faisal Wawda is not a blow to PTI, they will go to the Supreme Court on disqualification of Faisal Wawda. The ECP has said that Faisal Wawda submitted false affidavit to the Election Commission. The ECP has ordered withdrawal of all privileges from Faisal Wawda. The decision in the disqualification case was reserved in 2022, which has been announced today.

 

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has suspended the disqualification order of PTI leader Umar Amin Gandapur. 

 By web desk 8 Feb 2022

  Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard the petition against the disqualification of PTI leader Umar Amin Gandapur. Barrister Ali Zafar, lawyer of Umar Amin Gandapur, appeared before the court. Lawyer Barrister Ali Zafar took the position that the Election Commission has disqualified Umar Amin Gandapur. The Election Commission issued the order without any procedure. A fine of Rs. If the code of conduct is violated then action can be taken. The lawyer took the position that neither inquiry nor report was given to the commission nor notice was given to Umar Amin. Umar Amin's brother is a federal minister. He was fined for violating the code of conduct. In case of violation, he should have been given first notice. Omar Amin is a candidate, he was disqualified. The order of the Election Commission was also read out on the direction of the court. 

  

Rs16 billion legally paid to retailers, clarifies Federal Board of Revenue.

 By web desk, 7 Feb 2022

 ISLAMABAD - The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on Sunday clarified for paying over Rs16 billion in Sales Tax refunds to hundreds of big retailers in the past five months.Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has taken a very strong exception to the news story sensationally captioned “Biggest tax scam surfaces in FBR” published in a local daily, which is, indeed, malicious in intent and suspicious in content.It has been claimed in the subject news story that a new tax scam has surfaced in FBR where tax authorities illegally paid over Rs 16 billion in Sales Tax refunds to hundreds of big retailers in the past five months, said a press release issued. Unfortunately, the information contained in the instant news story is laughably unfounded, misleading and far from facts. The scribe of the story failed to understand even the basic procedure and relevant laws involved in the issuance of refunds and deduction/disallowance of input tax adjustment.  Similarly, the said scribe failed to understand the basic difference between issuance of refund and input tax adjustment.

  

PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif has said that it has been agreed to use all constitutional, legal and political options to get rid of the government.

By Web desk, Feb 5, 2022  

Talking to media after meeting the PPP leadership, Shahbaz Sharif said that all constitutional, legal and political options must be used against the government. We will take this matter to the PDM, together with the consultation we will announce the strategy. Earlier, former president Asif Ali Zardari along with his son Bilawal Bhutto reached Model Town to meet the league leadership where they were received by Shahbaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Hamza Shahbaz while Khawaja Saad Rafique and Maryam Aurangzeb were also present on the occasion. ۔ Asif Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari met the PML-N leadership which included Shahbaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, Hamza Shahbaz, Khawaja Saad and Maryam Aurangzeb. In this important meeting, the leadership of both the parties discussed the political situation in the country and the anti-government march. The meeting also discussed the future strategy and the issue of bringing a no-confidence motion against the government.

 

  The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has declared the scheme of plots of judges and officers unconstitutional.

  By Web Desk February 3, 2022

  Islamabad:Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani delivered a safe verdict. The decision of the Islamabad High Court said that the schemes of F12, G12, F14 and 15 are unconstitutional, illegal and against the public interest, the land of the state is not for the elite, only for the public interest. Judges, officers, public office holders cannot formulate a policy for personal gain against the public interest. Judges and officers are the real stakeholders, ie serving the people. The Federal Government Employees Housing Authority cannot make any scheme against the constitution. The decision directed the Secretary Housing to submit the decision to the Cabinet within two weeks and it was expected that the Cabinet and the Prime Minister would formulate a policy in the public interest in all the four sectors.

 

  New Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial has said that the burden of pending cases should be reduced.

By Web Desk, 2nd Feb 2022

Islamabad: After taking oath as Chief Justice of Pakistan, the lawyers congratulated Justice Umar Ata bandial in the Supreme Court and said that they welcome him as Chief Justice in the court room. On which Chief Justice Omar Ata Bandial said to the lawyers, "Thank you very much. It is a source of happiness to have lawyers like you. Judges and lawyers are one family. Fortunately, our bar is very strong." The Chief Justice said that the burden of pending cases should be reduced, lawyers should come prepared and avoid adjournment. Lawyer Naeem Bukhari said that I will wait for your retirement so that I can meet you again. Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial laughed at the words of lawyer Naeem Bukhari.