Political Animal

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 January, 2009, 12:00am

Party time as chief rings in 2009

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen kick-started the new year by joining legislator Philip Wong Yu-hong's banquet to celebrate the '130th birthday' of the lawmaker, 70, and Mr Wong's wife, 60. Mr Tsang and his wife Selina were due to arrive at the banqueting hall at the Convention and Exhibition Centre well after midnight after he officiated at the New Year countdown in Tsim Sha Tsui. One event he did not attend was the street party held by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, staged just a few blocks away from the countdown. 'Our new year wish is, of course, vindication for all those Tiananmen Square martyrs,' alliance chairman Szeto Wah said. Definitely a case of one city, two parties on New Year's Eve.

Rebels return to the airwaves

They have been charged and their equipment was confiscated only days ago, but organisers of the outlawed Citizens' Radio returned to the air last night, defying telecommunications authorities on New Year's Eve. 'We expect the government to come raiding us and arresting us anyway, this is what civil disobedience entails,' organiser Tsang Kin-shing said before his group of activists started another programme - this time featuring gay issues. They are expecting trouble after a legal setback when appeal judges last month overturned a magistrate's ruling that cleared them of unlicensed broadcasting. The magistrate's grounds - that the broadcast licensing system was unconstitutional - did not alter the fact that they were unlicensed and committing a crime, the judges said. A raid on its Chai Wan premises followed soon afterwards. Since then, Mr Tsang said, the activists had spent thousands of dollars replacing the transmitting equipment. They're used to it. The raid was the sixth they had experienced and was unlikely to be the last.

UK honours Hongkongers' contributions

Hong Kong may have been reunified with China for more than 10 years, but its people have not been forgotten by its former sovereign. In the latest new year honours list in Britain, Queen Elizabeth has made two Hongkongers members of the Order of the British Empire. While perhaps the two latest OBEs were not as well known as businessman David Tang Wing-cheung - of Shanghai Tang and China Club fame - who received a knighthood in last year's British honours list, they were nonetheless active in the social service and academic circles. The duo are retired police superintendent Ian Seabourne, who founded Operation Breakthrough which helps keep disgruntled youngsters away from trouble, and Anthony Tsui Tin-yau, director of the Croucher Foundation, a fund supporting scholars in natural science.

Pro-democracy benefits harvested

It is too soon to say whether there will be any changes to the stance of the Hong Kong Economic Journal - now owned by tycoon Richard Li Tzar-kai - after the retirement of its founder and publisher Lam Lok Yau-mui on Tuesday. But Mr Li, who proclaimed during the chief executive election in 2006 that he wanted to see 'real democracy', will at least reap some benefit from his pro-democracy friends soon. The Professional Commons will run a prominent advertisement in the January 7 edition of the Journal in which the pan-democrats will demand the scrapping of functional constituencies under universal suffrage in 2012. The same day Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, of the Civic Party, will move a motion in the Legislative Council making the same demand, complemented by a sit-in protest outside the legislature for the 20 hours and 12 minutes leading up to the debate.