Looking back at events in 2005

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 December, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 December, 2005, 12:00am

Tung Chee-hwa resigns as chief executive and is replaced by former chief secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen

Tung Chee-hwa formally submitted his resignation to Beijing on March 10, ending a historic and troubled reign as Hong Kong's first chief executive under Chinese rule.

Announcing his decision after 10 days of intense speculation, Mr Tung said his failing health was affecting his judgment and decisions.

Chief Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen later resigned to run for the chief executive election. He scored a landslide victory and was formally appointed by the Beijing government to Hong Kong's most powerful post on June 21.

China's second manned space mission completed successfully

Astronauts Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng were given a hero's welcome on October 17, 2005, after completing their historic five-day space mission aboard the Shenzhou VI spacecraft.

Tang Xianming, director of China's Manned Space Engineering Office, said the mission, which cost about 900 million yuan, marked the completion of the first stage of China's manned space programme. The astronauts visited the SAR for three days last month.

Worldwide outbreaks of bird flu

Up to December 14, the World Health Organisation has confirmed 89 human cases of bird flu, with 36 deaths, on the mainland and in Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand.

Millions of chickens and other poultry have been culled after a series of outbreaks of the deadly H5N1 virus in the region this year.

Bird flu outbreaks were also reported in Europe and Canada, with scientists worried that the virus may mutate into a form which can be easily passed among humans and cause a worldwide pandemic.

Hurricane Katrina leaves trail of destruction in the US

Katrina struck Louisiana on August 29, 2005, with 224 km/hr winds, while slamming into

the coasts of neighbouring Mississippi, Alabama and western Florida.

The floods knocked out electricity, contaminated New Orleans' water supply and cut off most highway routes into the city.

A million people fled before Katrina arrived, but those who stayed ran out of food and water.

Louisiana authorities later confirmed 279 fatalities.

A further 218 people died in Mississippi and 14 in Florida, where Katrina first hit. Officials said the toll would be far below the 10,000 some had initially predicted. One million people in the region were displaced.

Hong Kong hosts the Sixth World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference

The WTO conference was held from December 13 to 18 at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai. Thousands of protesters, mainly from South Korea and other countries in the region, staged mass demonstrations during the meeting.

The protests were relatively peaceful but there was chaos on December 17 when hundreds of South Korean farmers tried to storm police barricades and held a sit-in across Gloucester Road. Meanwhile, the trade ministers made limited progress, agreeing to eliminate agricultural export subsidies by 2013. But they were unable to agree on a date to end domestic farm subsidies.

Taiwan Kuomintang chairman Lien Chan makes historic visit to the mainland

Kuomintang chairman Lien Chan had a historic handshake with President Hu Jintao in Beijing on April 28, during an eight-day visit to the mainland.

It was the first meeting in more than half a century between the leaders of the

one-time civil war adversaries.

Just over a week later, James Soong Chu-yu , chairman of Taiwan's opposition People First Party, followed in Mr Lien's footsteps, visiting the mainland and meeting with leaders for nine days.

Deadly South Asia earthquake

On October 8, South Asia was sent reeling from a major earthquake that shook cities and villages across four countries, wiping out entire communities in Pakistan and leaving more than 40,000 people dead.

The dead included 250 girls crushed by rubble when their school collapsed.

The earthquake was the most powerful to hit the region in decades.

What made it unusual was the vast area affected. Tremors were felt in the capitals of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

Cancer-causing chemical malachite green found in fish

Hong Kong's food scare intensified in August when several types of freshwater fish were found to contain malachite green. This followed the discovery of the substance in eels imported from the mainland.

Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food York Chow Yat-ngok later flew to Beijing for crisis talks on food safety with senior mainland officials.

But fears over food safety continue, as the chemical was also found in canned mud carp widely available at supermarkets during routine tests conducted by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department last month.

Disneyland opens in Hong Kong

Hailed as an 'everlasting carnival' and a multibillion-dollar 'strategic investment', Hong Kong Disneyland opened on September 12 with few of the problems and complaints that plagued it during a month of teething troubles.

Amid the highest pollution levels of the year, dignitaries - including Vice-President Zeng Qinghong and Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen - gathered in front of the pink Sleeping Beauty Castle where lion dancers gave the occasion a local flavour before famous Disney characters poured out for a grand parade.

The park says it has received more than one million visitors in its first 100 days of operation - including four weeks of free trials before it opened to the public.

Seven-year-old Shum Ho-yin chopped and seriously injured Shum Ho-yin was discharged from Yan Chai Hospital two weeks after he was attacked and chopped six times on his right forearm on August 25 outside Block 5 at Lei Muk Shue estate, Tsuen Wan.

Two masked men chopped Ho-yin as he returned home with his grandmother from a tutorial centre. He suffered two bone fractures and cuts to his muscles and tendons.

Eleven people have been arrested over the attack. Six of them, including his stepmother Hung Man-yee, have been charged.

The brutal attack on the seven-year-old boy shocked the community, with Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen leading the condemnation of the attack on the innocent young child.