Anson Chan to begin talks on functional constituencies
Former chief secretary and lawmaker Anson Chan Fang On-sang said yesterday she would begin communicating with the business community in coming months to hear their views on the future of functional constituencies in the Legislative Council. Mrs Chan, who has advocated the abolition of trade-based seats, said she hoped to ease any fears that the business community might lose out if this took place. During a media gathering, Mrs Chan said she also expected her Citizens' Commission on Constitutional Development to come up with a democratic-reform proposal that would be acceptable to all sectors of society. She said she hoped to make more overseas visits to brief countries on Hong Kong's situation under the 'one country, two systems' concept, and visit schools to talk about civic education.
Confidence in cross-strait reunification drops, poll finds
Confidence in cross-strait reunification has dropped 6 percentage points, a University of Hong Kong poll has found. Of the 1,016 respondents surveyed between December 9 and 12, a total of 53 per cent had confidence in reunification, compared with 59 per cent polled in September. The no-confidence level on reunification rose from 29 per cent to 35 per cent. Pollster Robert Chung Ting-yiu said it remained to be seen how the figures would change after the opening of the three direct links between the mainland and Taiwan. Support for Taiwanese and Tibetan independence remained low, at 12 and 9 per cent, respectively.
Hospital Authority to set up seven mental-health clinics
The Hospital Authority will spend HK$10 million on setting up seven special mental-health clinics, in preparation for a sudden increase in patients. It plans to set up one such clinic in each of its clusters late next month. The clinics will treat a total of 300 patients a month. There was no marked increase in the number of psychiatric patients attending specialist clinics in October, but authority chief executive Shane Solomon voiced caution over a possible time lag between the onset of the financial crisis and mental problems.
Crossings brace for Christmas
An estimated 178,000 people are expected to leave Hong Kong for the mainland at the Lo Wu checkpoint on Christmas Eve, the government says. Another 171,000 visitors are expected to enter the city from the mainland at Lo Wu between Christmas Eve and December 28. The Lok Ma Chau control point is also expected to see daily traffic of about 120,000 over the holiday period.