Following is a summary of major news and comments in the Hong Kong Economic Journal, the parent publication of EJ Insight, on Thursday, March 13:
Developers’ offers for luxury residential site fail to meet government expectation
A luxury residential site in Pak Shek Kok in Hong Kong has failed to attract bids above the government reserve price, the first time since public lands were put on offer through regular bidding over two years ago. Seven bidders, including Sino Land Co. Ltd. (00083.HK), Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd. (00001.HK) and Wheelock Properties (Hong Kong) Ltd., all fell short in meeting government expectation in a tender that was closed last Friday. Property veterans said the result reflects the fact that the government is still upholding its high land premium policy despite a softening property market and rising construction costs. They said the government must review the policy if it wants to achieve the housing supply targets.
Govt to review two major laws on providing TV programs, sources say
Hong Kong’s Commerce and Economic Development Bureau is planning to launch a comprehensive review over the existing Broadcasting Ordinance and Telecommunications Ordinance, which the authorities regarded as “outdated” amid new development in the market, sources close to the government told HKEJ a day after Hong Kong Television Network Ltd. (01137.HK) said it was stopped once again from launching television channels despite holding a mobile television license. The government required the Ricky Wong-chaired network to obtain a free television license under the Broadcasting Ordinance as its programs can reach more than 5,000 households.
Change in cargo market leads to gloomy prospect, Cathay Pacific chief warns
The cargo business outlook remains challenging as data for the first quarter continued to show weakness that may herald a structural change in the market, Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. (00293.HK) chairman Christopher Pratt warned. Given more fierce competition on Middle East and European routes, weaker Chinese export prospects and increased fuel costs, the change in the cargo market is no longer a cyclical one, Pratt added. The carrier had 1.54 million metric tons cargo turnover last year, the lowest since 2009, while load factor dropped 2.4 percentage points to a 10-year low of 61.8 percent.
Legislators tipped to hold reform talks with officials during Shanghai visit
Members of the Legislative Council, including the pan-democrats, have been invited by the central government to visit Shanghai next month as the public consultation on political reform nears its end in May. Announcing the fact-finding trip, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying did not rule out the possibility that officials from the central government would meet with the lawmakers to discuss political reform. Similar trips have been held in 2005 and 2010 in Guangdong and Shanghai respectively about the time of political reform review. Some pan-democrats have said they would not join, saying their priority was reform talk, not sightseeing.
Nine arrested in connection with Ming Pao editor attack
Hong Kong police have arrested nine people, including two who have fled to Dongguan, suspected of involvement in the brutal attack on former chief editor of Ming Pao, Kevin Lau Chun-to. Police Commissioner Tsang Wai-hung said there was no direct evidence that showed the attack was related to Lau’s work. Lau and his wife disagreed, insisting they have no personal dispute with other people. Hong Kong Journalists Association has challenged the initial finding of Tsang.
Police should catch mastermind of attack on Ming Pao former editor
The swift arrest of nine people involved with the brutal attack of former Ming Pao chief editor Kevin Lau in about two weeks has slightly eased fears among journalists about their work and restored public confidence in the police. It is most important now that the mastermind behind the attack is also caught to render justice to Lau and allay the fears of journalists as well as the public. More important, it will help send a clear message that there is no room for violence in a place with rule of law.
Government curb on HKTV plan may spur ‘Hong Kong first’ campaign, Lian says
The latest setback of Hong Kong Television Network’s plan to launch mobile television service, caused by the government’s demand for broadcasting standards, shows authorities’ determination to block the broadcaster run by Ricky Wong, former HKEJ chief editor Joseph Lian wrote. The incident has revealed that the government has given special treatment to state-owned China Mobile, which did not face similar restriction before it sold its mobile TV license to HKTV. The government’s move would fuel sentiments of support among the young people for HKTV and further boost the “Hong Kong first” campaign.
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