Mixed messages coming from free TV
On the day free-to-air television station TVB announced it would continue a fight to block the issuance of more free-TV licences, the other free-TV station ATV sent out a press statement that was equally eye-catching.
The statement starts with this: "Over the past three years, everyone can see the change in ATV. It is held in high regard among the audience and our enemies." Apparently it said "enemies" instead of "rivals", a term used with extreme caution. (Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was accused of calling pan-democrats his enemy, but he denied the claims.)
ATV continued by claiming its programmes, including ATV Focus, got a lot of attention and appreciation from audiences. Indeed, the show has gained attention. The Communications Authority received 42,000 complaints after ATV aired five episodes of unfair comments about the student group Scholarism that campaigned against the national education curriculum.
Apparently the station was so unsure of its message that it sent out three releases to newspapers in one hour, with little change except the sequence of programmes listed as popular.
Legco panels prepare to grill Timothy Tong
A scandal surrounding Executive Council member Barry Cheung Chun-yuen might have stolen the limelight from former ICAC chief Timothy Tong Hin-ming, but Tong should expect the focus to return soon, and to last for months. Tomorrow he will attend the second hearing of the Legislative Council's Public Accounts Committee - one of four panels he will face.
Of the four, a Legco select committee set up two weeks ago without special powers could have the least muscle. But it was not aiming to claim the highest prize either, Labour Party lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan said.
Ho set a precedent by triggering a clause in the Legco rules of procedure to establish the committee by filing a petition. She said it could take weeks to decide on the formation and the rules of the inquiry before requesting the relevant documents from the Independent Commission Against Corruption and beginning the probe.
"It will probably be after the summer when we invite Tong to our inquiry," she said. "But it doesn't matter since the Public Accounts Committee is taking the time to do its work, and the ICAC has launched a criminal investigation in the time being. We only need to reap their yields and work on areas that are left out, such as Tong's connection with the liaison office."
Lawmakers bemused by Cheung's business
The controversy embroiling executive councillor Barry Cheung has not only rocked the Leung Chun-ying administration, but also shocked lawmakers from across the aisle.
Referring to Cheung's education at Harvard and experience in an international consultancy, Liberal Party leader James Tien Pei-chun exclaimed on Tuesday: "I never imagined that Barry was so bad at doing business!" He also wondered how Cheung's Mercantile Exchange, as a trading platform, lost more than HK$100 million.
"It would be difficult to lose so much unless it was trading as well," Tien said.
Civic Party barrister-lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah said: "It is strange for well-educated people like Cheung to be drawn into … things like this". He suggested if Cheung could not make good business decisions, "how could he give good advice to the chief executive on Hong Kong's governance?"