🌊 Free Tide: Carrie Lam speaks to the people (kind of)
Chief Executive holds open forum, NPC committee suspends anti-sanctions law vote, rural group criticises housing regulations, and more...
Hey everyone! Today’s Tide will be a lengthier one, so strap in and enjoy! (Free Tide readers can subscribe to Paid Tide for more access to in-depth content)
~ Sze Yu
Carrie Lam holds first public consultation meeting in almost 2 years
This past Sunday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam held her first public consultation session since 2019 at the Xiqu Centre in West Kowloon. The audience—consisting of 53 people attending in-person and another 53 attending virtually—were largely selected by the government.
Ninety of the total 106 were “individuals from 18 districts” invited to attend the event by the Home Affairs Department. The final 16 audience members were randomly sampled by Lingnan University’s Public Governance Programme. About half of the 28 individuals chosen to speak said they held positions in pro-establishment groups.
Lam only faced one critical question, from an audience member who opposed the Lantau Tomorrow land reclamation plan and urged the Chief Executive to protect freedom of speech.
Chief Executive Lam did not respond to Mr. Cheng’s questions.
Coronavirus in Hong Kong
New cases: 5 (imported)
Total cases: 12,063 cases so far (85 active cases, 212 total deaths, 11,766 total recovered)
Imported Delta variant sparks compulsory lockdown
An overnight lockdown at an apartment block in Tsuen Wan was ordered on Sunday evening after a case of the Delta variant was detected there. Out of the 570 residents that were tested, no new cases were found.
The Delta infection also prompted authorities to announce compulsory testing for two more apartment buildings and 11 other locations on Sunday evening.
Vote on anti-sanctions law suspended
The standing committee of China's National People's Congress suspended a vote on a bill to incorporate an anti-sanctions law into Hong Kong and Macau on Friday. The postponement has surprised many, with key political figures such as Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng and Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po having already expressed support for the legislation.
The United States has been imposing sanctions on several Hong Kong officials over the past two years. The new anti-sanctions law would allow Hong Kong to pursue countermeasures against those involved in making or implementing sanctions against its citizens—these counter measures can include refusal to issue visas, denial of entry, seizing property etc.
To read about how this might indicate Bejing’s assessment of foreign investment confidence in China, subscribe to Paid Tide!
Powerful rural group criticises government restrictions over countryside development
The head of the Heung Yee Kuk, Hong Kong’s rural powerhouse, says that New Territories villagers have become a “punching bag“ in the city’s housing shortage debate (paywalled). Kenneth Lau Ip-keung said that the government’s rigid restrictions over development of the countryside had blocked the release of more land for housing and deserved to be blamed instead.
A Hong Kong police officer is facing 2.5 years in jail (paywalled) for running an illegal poker house out of an 1,600 sq ft industrial flat in Kwun Tong. Ng Hin-fung also violated COVID restrictions on organising public gatherings. He was released on a HK$10,000 bail until the next hearing on October 11.
Pro-democracy activist Max Chung has been arrested over his alleged role in organising a banned march in Yuen Long two years ago.Max Chung had sought police permission to hold the march, which aimed to protest the notorious mob attack at Yuen Long MTR station, but after his application was rejected he said he would “march by himself” and not urge anyone else to join. Thousands chose to go to Yuen Long nonetheless.
Hong Kong’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development publicly defended the government’s decision to exempt Nicole Kidman’s quarantine. He said actor Nicole Kidman’s trip to a Central shopping boutique may have been a part of a “costume fitting.”
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