Hong Kong’s Memory Hole

The right to privacy is usurping the public right to know in Asia’s financial hub.

Financial hubs depend on the free flow of information, and nowhere more so than in Hong Kong, gateway to the opaque China market. So a recent case in which an appeals board upheld the censorship of a court judgment to protect the supposed privacy rights of the litigants sets a bad precedent. The territory is following Europe’s lead toward extreme privacy protection at the expense of access to information.

“The right to be forgotten affects more than media freedom. It prevents investors and entrepreneurs from conducting due diligence and managing business risks, and helps people hide from public scrutiny. That may be good for the reputations of the rich and powerful, but it will hurt Hong Kong’s reputation for transparency.”

Luciana Wong Wai-lan, who now serves on several government advisory panels, participated in a matrimonial case in the early 2000s. In 2010 Ms. Wong requested that the court remove the judgments from its online reference system. The court made them anonymous, but hyperlinks to the judgments placed on the website of local shareholder activist David Webb still revealed her name.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

Ms. Wong wrote to Hong Kong’s privacy commissioner for personal data in 2013, and the commissioner ordered Mr. Webb to remove the links pursuant to Data Protection Principle 3 (DPP3) of the Personal Data Privacy Ordinance. Read the rest of this entry »

Hong Kong for Paris


Hong Kong Bookstore Disappearances Shock Publishing Industry 

In a frenetic commercial district of Hong Kong, sandwiched between shops selling vitamins and clothing to tourists, the Causeway Bay Bookstore touts itself as the authority on Chinese politics.

Juliana Liu reports: The tiny shop specialises in selling gossipy paperbacks that are highly critical of China’s leadership. They are particularly popular with mainland Chinese visitors who cannot buy the banned books at home.

But two weeks ago, four men who work for the bookstore and its affiliated publishing house went missing. Their colleagues believe they have been detained by Chinese officials because of their work.

One of their associates, Mr Lee, told BBC News: “I suspect all of them were detained. Four people went missing at the same time.”

Among them is Gui Minhai, a China-born Swedish national who is the owner of Mighty Current, the publishing house that owns the bookstore.


Forthcoming book

According to Mr Lee, who declines to give his full name for fear of reprisals by Chinese officials, the publisher last communicated with colleagues via email on 15 October from the city of Pattaya in Thailand, where he owns a holiday home.

Mr Gui had written to tell printers to prepare for a new book and that he would send the material shortly. He has not been seen since.

The others are Lui Bo, general manager of Mighty Current, and Cheung Jiping, the business manager of the publishing house. Both have wives who live in Shenzhen, and were last seen there.

Lui Bo, general manager of Mighty Current publishing house

Lui Bo, general manager of Mighty Current publishing house, is among those missing

The fourth missing man is Lam Wingkei, manager of the bookstore, who was last seen in Hong Kong.

“I am quite certain that the main target was Mr Gui. They wanted to prevent him from publishing that book,” said Mr Lee, who was not privy to what the publisher had been writing about.

[Read the full text here, at BBC News]

“I think the others were taken because they thought the contents of the book had already been distributed.”

‘Deeply troubling’

Mr Lee said Mr Lam’s wife had filed a missing persons report with the Hong Kong police, who have confirmed the case to the BBC.

Calls to China’s Foreign Ministry office in Hong Kong have gone unanswered. Attempts to reach the relatives of the four men have been unsuccessful.

Banned books for sale at the Causeway Bay Bookstore

The tiny shop sells paperbacks that are highly critical of China’s leadership and banned in mainland China

The tiny shop sells paperbacks that are highly critical of China’s leadership and banned in mainland China

Sources close to the families fear international attention may hurt more than help.

Rights groups have expressed concern about the disappearances.

“We think that if the information is true, it is a deeply troubling case and it will have serious implications about the deterioration of freedom of expression in Hong Kong,” said Amnesty International‘s China researcher Patrick Poon.


Government influence?

Freedom of the press is guaranteed in Hong Kong. But many in the publishing business say the Chinese government has begun to exert its influence in the industry. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Quod me nutrit me destruit’


Liberals’ Response to Dissent: Shut Up 

shut up

Michael Baronebarone-sq writes: “‘Shut up,’ he explained.” Those words are from Ring Lardner‘s short story “The Young Immigrunts.” They’re an exasperated father’s response from the driver’s seat to his child’s question, “‘Are you lost, Daddy?’ I asked tenderly.”

They also can be taken as the emblematic response of today’s liberals to anyone questioning their certitudes. A response that at least sometimes represents the uneasy apprehension of the father in the story that they have no good answer.

“We are told that speech codes are necessary because some students may be offended by what others say. In recent years we have been warned that seemingly innocuous phrases may be ‘microaggressions’ that must be stamped out and that “trigger warnings” should be administered to warn students of possibly upsetting material.”

It was not always so. Today’s liberals, like those of Lardner’s day, pride themselves on their critical minds, their openness to new and unfamiliar ideas, their tolerance of diversity and differences. But often that characterization seems as defunct as Lardner, who died at an unhappily early age in 1935.

“Beyond the campus, liberals are also eager to restrict free speech. This is apparent in some responses to those who argue that global warming may not be as inevitable and harmful as most liberals believe, and that while increased carbon emissions would surely raise temperatures if they were the only factor affecting climate, some other factors just might be involved.”

[Read the full story here, at Washington Examiner]

Consider the proliferation of speech codes at our colleges and universities. The website of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education sets out the speech codes at 400 of the nation’s largest and most prestigious institutions of higher learning. The liberals who run these institutions — you won’t find many non-liberals among their faculties and administrations — have decided to limit their students’ First Amendment right of freedom of speech. Read the rest of this entry »

University of Hong Kong Alumni Vow Action to Stop Ex-Minister Arthur Li Taking Over as Chairman of Ruling Council

Hong Kong University Purge


Pro-Beijing Forces Target a Top School’s Leaders to Intimidate Professors.

The new school term in Hong Kong is off to a bad start. A year after university students led mass protests for democracy, the government is taking revenge against pro-democracy voices in the academy.

The crackdown is especially harsh at elite Hong Kong University, where the governing council last week blocked the appointment of former law dean Johannes Chan to the senior post of pro-vice chancellor. Mr. Chan was the only candidate recommended by a search committee.

The problem is that Mr. Chan is a human-rights and constitutional lawyer with moderate pro-democracy views. He has done academic work with his HKU law colleague Benny Tai, founder of the group Occupy Central With Love and Peace, which helped start the street protests last year.


For months Mr. Chan faced a smear campaign, with hundreds of articles in pro-Beijing newspapers condemning his “meddling in politics.” Critics accused him of mishandling a donation to Mr. Tai, but the governing council cleared him of wrongdoing earlier this year. Nevertheless the council denied his appointment last week by a 12-8 vote.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

Council deliberations are meant to be confidential, but leaks suggest Mr. Chan was supported by the council members drawn from HKU’s faculty. Read the rest of this entry »

The Future of Hong Kong: Bumpy Road Ahead 

Rising property prices in the city mean few bookshops can afford ground-floor premises - except those backed by China’s official Liaison Office. Photograph: Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images

 writes: On September 28, protesters marked the anniversary of the start of last year’s Umbrella Revolution, in which 200,000 Hong Kongers took to the streets to demand genuine democracy for their city. The demonstrations ended after over two months of occupation, with the protesters failing to achieve their ends.

Although the democratic bloc in the Hong Kong legislature blocked implementation of Beijing’s preferred plan—the Chief Executive would be directly elected, but with candidates approved by a pro-Beijing nominating committee—it marked a pyrrhic victory. In rejecting what surely amounted to sham democracy, the city was left with its extant political system intact, leaving Hong Kongers no direct say in the appointment of the city’s leader. Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Hong Kong University Staff, Students Hold Silent March in Protest

Hong Kong University Staff Defend HKU Autonomy


Right now at university of hong kong, 6 october 2015


Homeless Woman Lay Dead in Hong Kong McDonald’s for Hours 

The woman was thought to have regularly spent nights in the McDonald’s. Photograph: Anat Givon/AP

Woman aged between 50 and 60 entered the restaurant 24 hours earlier, but police were not called for several hours.

A homeless woman lay dead at a Hong Kong McDonald’s restaurant for hours surrounded by diners before authorities were called.

“The subject was certified dead at the scene.”

The woman, aged between 50 and 60, was found dead on Saturday morning and has been held up as an example of the growing number of homeless people who seek shelter in 24-hour restaurants.

“We endeavour to support street sleepers to enhance their self-reliance…the subject is a complex social problem.”

“Officers arrived upon a report from a female customer [that a person was found to have fainted],” said police in a statement.

“The subject was certified dead at the scene.”

Local media said the woman was slumped at a table, 24 hours after she first entered the restaurant in the working class district of Ping Shek.

She had not moved for seven hours before fellow diners noticed something was wrong, according to Apple Daily, citing CCTV footage.

The woman was thought to have regularly spent nights in the McDonald’s, said the South China Morning Post. Read the rest of this entry »

[PHOTOS] iPhone 6s Goes on Sale in Japan

Apple fans in Japan finally got a chance to get their hands on the iPhone 6s Friday…

Japan was among the 12 countries and territories where the iPhone 6s went on sale Friday. The new models were available by reservation only in China, Hong Kong, Japan and U.S. stores in tax-free states.

Despite the rainy weather in Tokyo, fans turned out to try the new 6s, including some wearing iPhone-shaped hats….(read more)

Source: Japan Real Time – WSJ

Hong Kong Musicians Urged to Join MTR Protest After Cello Player Stopped for Carrying ‘Oversized’ Instrument


[VIDEO] Occupy Hong Kong: Dreams Deferred 

For more than 10 weeks last fall, thousands of protesters occupied Hong Kong’s streets and demanded true democracy. A year later, the movement appears to have stalled.

Capital Flight from China

Lots of money is escaping China’s porous capital controls

The man who calls himself Jack is a caricature of a small-time gangster. Sporting a chunky Louis Vuitton belt, a gold necklace and gold-rimmed sunglasses, he chomps on a Cuban cigar. He says he has come to a pawnshop across the street from the Ponte 16 casino in Macau, a gambling Mecca and former Portuguese colony that is administered separately from the rest of China, only for its fine Cohibas. But when asked for advice about how to exchange yuan held within China for foreign currency—a transaction officially limited by China’s capital controls—he breaks into a laugh and flashes a Chinese bank card. “Just swipe it,” he says. “However much money you have in your China account, you can transfer it here.”

[Read the full text here, at The Economist]

Macau’s role as an illicit way station to move cash out of China, away from the government’s prying eyes, is nothing new. In recent months, though, things have been busier than normal. Capital outflows were already on the rise because of worries about the economy. During the summer, after the stockmarket crashed and the government let the yuan weaken, they soared. Official data indicate that more than $150 billion of capital left China in August—a record (see chart).


Faced with this exodus, the government launched a crackdown on underground banks, which run money across borders and arrange for matching onshore and offshore transactions. Police raided Macau’s pawnshops and arrested 17 people for laundering money. That appears to have slowed things down. When your correspondent visited pawnshops in Macau this week and asked whether they could help him shift 1m yuan ($157,000) out of China—three times what one can legally withdraw in a year—most demurred. Read the rest of this entry »

Market Misdirection in Hong Kong


Regulators crackdown on free speech to shield Chinese firms from criticism.

Regulators in Hong Kong have an odd way of soothing investor concerns. With global investors reeling over China’s stock-market roller coaster and weakening economic data, Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) is proceeding with unprecedented actions against the authors of two critical research reports. This crackdown threatens to chill free speech in China’s leading financial center.


In the first case, which went before an appeals tribunal last week, the SFC fined Moody’s Investors Service $3 million over a 2011 report raising “red flags” about dozens of mainland Chinese firms listed in Hong Kong. The regulator says Moody’s work was “shoddy and unprofessional,” with errors amounting to a failure of due diligence in preparing credit ratings.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

But Moody’s report didn’t offer credit ratings, merely analysis of corporate-governance and accounting concerns common among Chinese firms. It didn’t examine new information or change its debt ratings. So the SFC’s claim to jurisdiction here, relying on its authority over credit ratings, is questionable. Read the rest of this entry »

Mission Accomplished: U.S. Drops to 16th on ‘Economic Freedom’ List, Behind Canada, Chile

Obama Change Not

The top 10: Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Mauritius, Jordan, Ireland, Canada, with the United Kingdom and Chile tied at 10.

“The United States, once considered a bastion of economic freedom, now ranks 16th in the world after being as high as second in 2000.”

Paul Bedard reports: The United States, ranked second in worldwide economic freedom as recently as 2000, has plummeted to 16th, according to a new report of world economies.

“A weakened rule of law, the so-called wars on terrorism and drugs, and a confused regulatory environment have helped erode economic freedom in the United States, which remains behind Canada and other more economically free countries such as Qatar, Jordan and the U.A.E.”

— Fred McMahon, Fraser Institute

The Fraser Institute’s annual report, Economic Freedom of the World, showed that the country’s drop started in 2010, the second year of the Obama administration.

“Economic freedom breeds prosperity and economically free countries like Canada offer the highest quality of life while the lowest-ranked countries are usually burdened by oppressive regimes that limit the freedom and opportunity of their citizens.”

— Fred McMahon, Fraser Institute

The world-recognized report showed that the U.S. fell in several areas, including legal and property rights and regulation.

“The United States, once considered a bastion of economic freedom, now ranks 16th in the world after being as high as second in 2000,” said the report issued Monday morning. Read the rest of this entry »

Police Rewrite History of 1967 Red Guard Riots



The police have deleted (seen on top graphic) and modified part of the “police history” of the 1967 riots on their website.

The 1967 riots during May to December were started by leftists in Hong Kong following a labour dispute in a San Po Kong factory, after the Cultural Revolution in China started. During the year 8,074 suspected bombs were planted, of which 1,167 were real bombs; At least 51 people died during the riots, including ten police officers, and 802 were injured.

Commercial Radio host Lam Bun was burned to death in his car, and a pair of siblings aged 2 and 7 were killed by bombs during the riots. Read the rest of this entry »


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