The end of the liberal democratic experiment

This is how it ends.

Like the fall of the Soviet Union, the liberal democratic order collapsed noiselessly in an afternoon. Western democracies, unlike the USSR, might stagger on but they lack confidence and influence. Leaders and citizens no longer believe in their system and are turning inwards. The quasi-liberal democratic global order will gradually be subsumed by rules imposed by Beijing and its allies.

In any case the era of US world leadership is over. The new president might wield hard power but will carry little authority, even should he be interested in influencing events.

We are on the downward trajectory of one of the great human experiments. The USA was founded as an Enlightenment project: a human-centred, reason-based social order with institutions that restrain the powerful and protect individual rights. Continue reading

Think tank endorses ELM, hopes Lantau will somehow stay green

A classic case of cognitive dissonance: a think tank calls for preservation of South Lantau’s natural heritage, yet also urges construction of the East Lantau Metropolis (ELM).

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All roads to ELM run through Silvermine Bay

A report by Tung Chee-wah’s Our Hong Kong Foundation on the city’s land supply says Hong Kong has had no major land development for more than a decade and the focus now should be on Lantau.

Like the government-appointed LanDAC commitee, it’s an enthusiast about Lantau’s economic potential because of its location at the centre of the Pearl River Delta.

Continue reading

Eddie Chu wins in landslide, warns of violence to come

Conservation and pro-democracy candidate Eddie Chu Hoi-dick has become the biggest election story after winning a seat with a record number of votes and warning of “a storm” of violence in rural Hong Kong.

Chu, 38, a former Ming Pao journalist, topped the poll for NT West, which runs from South Lantau north to the Shenzhen border, with 82,000 votes – a record for any single candidate. He campaigned on a platform of Heung Yee Kuk reform, Hong Kong self-determination and conservation, including opposition to the East Lantau Metropolis.

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Eddie Chu at his media conference this morning

Chu broke down in tears briefly at a press conference this morning after thanking his supporters and family. He  said he was followed on the last day of the election campaign by a car that he was told belonged to a Yuen Long landlord. Continue reading

Election ’16: The rural party line

More roads for Lantau, relocation of cattle, improved sewerage works, expansion of Mui Wo tourism.

If those seem familiar they should. They are the demands of South Lantau rural committees, so it is no surprise they should be the main planks of Leung Che-cheung’s Lantau platform.

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Leung, the sitting member for New Territories West, is a prominent Heung Yee Kuk politician as well as top of one of the DAB lists for NT West. The kuk is pro-government but not necessarily pro-DAB. Lau Wong-fat was a member of the Liberal Party for some years, and in recent years kuk leaders have canvassed setting up their own party (that would be a milestone; they already have their own LegCo seat). Continue reading

LegCo 2016: An election explainer for Lantau voters

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Whether you think Hong Kong has the world’s most “ridiculous political system or that it appropriately protects the interests of business, it takes some explaining.

As a registered voter, you have two votes in the LegCo election on September 4.

Here’s how it works.

The outgoing LegCo consists of 70 seats, of which 35 are from geographical constituencies and 35 from Hong Kong’s unique creation, “functional constituencies (FCs).” These are a frankly random and hard-to-explain assortment of sectors. To take one example: insurance, finance and financial services are all separate FCs.

Only 18 will actually be contested (fun fact: the Heung Yee Kuk seat has never been contested). Voting populations vary immensely – at one end agriculture and fisheries has 154 voters; at the other end education has 88,000. Of the 35 FCs, five are district council super-seats that we all get to vote on. More on that later. Continue reading

Yes, high-speed broadband is spreading to the islands

There’s been a bit happening in the world of islands broadband.

In Lantau the big news is that Top Express has finally started rolling out fibre in Mui Wo.

890-9080_IMGThe company suddenly appeared at the start of the year promising service by May. Not surprisingly, that didn’t happen but it now advises it will complete installation in Pak Ngan Heung and Tai Tei Tong by Sept 30 and Luk Tei Tong by Nov 30.

Top Express didn’t give a reason for the delay but most likely it was difficulty in getting access to villages.

The company is not, by the way, a telecom service provider. Its core business is building infrastructure for Hong Kong utilities, and its expertise is getting rights of way and building trenches rather than selling broadband bundles. It has all of the local telcos except HKT as customers. Continue reading

S. Lantau permit violations soar after rules eased

The number of drivers caught on South Lantau without a permit has soared since the government eased restrictions on non-local vehicles early this year.

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In the first six months of 2016, police summonsed 138 drivers in South Lantau for driving without a closed road permit, more than one and a half times the number penalised in all of 2015. The drivers were caught at traffic stops and snap checks, Lantau police say.

The level of speeding offences is also up sharply. Police issued 125 tickets in the first half, compared with 204 in 2015. Continue reading