Sunday, May 29, 2016

Letter to Hong Kong -- What do you know about my hashtag?

Something is wrong about the upcoming elections in Hong Kong in 2016 and 2017, before they even have started. Our election watchdog, the Electoral Affairs Commission, apparently is telling all of us in Hong Kong to stay off the Internet and social media, or you may be breaking the law.

That may sound incredible in this day and age, when people’s lives revolve around social media, and all the messages they share among friends and strangers. 

But, just as more and more people in Hong Kong, as in other parts of the world, are beginning to engage in more and more sharing and discussing about politics and elections on popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, or popular local online services such as Hong Kong Golden, as well as messaging platforms such as Whatsapp, the EAC is telling us that such messages may be considered as advertising under the law, and unless these messages are previously approved by the candidates or their agents, those who post or share these messages may be liable to the offence of incurring costs to candidates without their consent, under election laws. 

In fact, earlier this month, the ICAC launched an investigation of a supporter of one of the candidates in the February Legco by-election for New Territories East, who reportedly shared support messages on Facebook to other users. 

According to the EAC, expressing support for a candidate to enhance his or her chances to be elected, or criticizing a candidate to lessen his or her chances to be elected, can both satisfy the definition for an election advertisement. It doesn’t matter whether you are sharing or writing a text message, creating your own graphics or videos to share, changing your profile pictures, or even adding a particular hashtag to express your view for or against a candidate, you may already be breaking the law, said the EAC. 

I’m sorry, but do any of the three members of the EAC use any of these social media platforms? Do they know what they’re talking about? Do they know that the Internet has become a critical or even deciding factor in many recent elections, from Taiwan to London, as well as the U.S. presidential election. Researchers are actively analysing between the social media engagement scores of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, measuring the effects of the likes they get, the mentions they receive, and the sharing and retweets they get with their posts. Yet in Hong Kong, our election watchdog is effectively telling us to shut up online. In terms of the threat against freedom of expression, I don’t know if threatening to sue us is worse or better than Iran shutting down social media altogether during elections, but, this still virtually guarantees Hong Kong will end up as a laughing stock of the free world. 

What’s even more laughable, but not funny, is that, our EAC also told us in their press briefing earlier in the month that while a simple “please support so-and-so” message could be deemed election advertising, if you have stated any of the candidate’s merit or demerit as reasons, that would possibly constitute a commentary, and you might be off the hook. So, don’t just say I support Mr X. But you can instead say, I support Mr X because he is handsome. I don’t know if I should laugh or cry over something so stupid.

What happens here is so common in Hong Kong these days, where we have outdated laws, rules and regulations, and instead of changing the rigid rules that can no longer apply to new conditions, our bureaucrats would still force new stuffs into their old cans. To them, the less they do, the fewer risks they would have to take. What they don’t know, they try not to learn.

Sadly, this is the government that is talking about encouraging innovation and developing technology day and night, but they don’t admit that in fact, from the Uber incident to election advertisements, our government stands right in the path of innovation, blocking progress. The government is our problem, not our solution. 

So, with two of my fellow legislators, Dennis Kwok and Alvin Yeung, we launched a Facebook campaign that we called “What do you know about my hashtag”, to highlight this gross stupidity looming over our upcoming elections. We have written to Facebook, as well as the Secretary for Justice and the Secretary for Innovation and Technology, to see if they can enlighten us about the costs of various social media actions, such as changing a profile picture, posting a status or a graphic, making a comment, tagging a user or a page, streaming a live video, or putting up a hashtag. So far, Facebook has officially replied to us that they do not consider that there would be any cost involved. 

Let’s see if our government secretaries or the EAC can shed light on any hidden costs that even Facebook doesn't know about. In the meantime, I hope each of you will submit your views and questions over this matter to the EAC during its public consultation, before June 9.  Tell them what they don't know about your hashtags. 

-- "Letter to Hong Kong," May 29, 2016

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Letter to Hong Kong -- The End of ATV

Just when many of us in Hong Kong are happily preparing for the coming of the Year of the Monkey, 300 workers of Asia Television are facing an uncertain future, with the station trimming down its broadcast to a minimal level, even ending its news broadcast altogether since Saturday. The oldest television station in Hong Kong, with almost 59 years of history in Hong Kong, may go off the air any minute now.

To many of us who to certain extent over the years grew up with ATV, or Rediffusion Television from 1957 to 1982, it is a sad moment of the passage of a part of Hong Kong’s history. But to the employees of ATV, it is much more than that. Many of them had been working unpaid since December, doing all they could to keep the station on the air, while watching the company’s owner and investors fidgeting around with a laid-back attitude as if to say it is “none of their business”, and at the same time watching our government and broadcast regulator sitting there paying lip services as if to say “there is nothing that they can do.”

Certainly, ATV by cutting its news programs or even going off the air before the end of its license period on April 1, 2016, is going to be a breach of its licensing obligation and ATV will be still subject to fines and punishment by the regulator, the Office of the Communications Authority, but that is not the most important matter now. After all, ATV’s major creditor, Wang Zheng, has made a court application to liquidate the company’s asset. With that, a likely scenario would be that the unpaid salaries of its staff might remain unpaid by the company’s investors.

We should of course condemn these deplorable and very possibly illegal acts of irresponsibility, but under layers of corporate ownership shielding and protection, the bosses may very likely get away with it completely. How much more bizarre can it get when the supposed major investors of ATV is identified as its major creditor instead, and becoming the first in line to liquidate the company? Then we must ask, why wasn’t there anything that our government and its regulator could do to prevent this almost inevitable outcome to ATV’s employees and their families?

Earlier this week, when asked about the plight of these ATV workers, the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development urged other players in the TV industry to help offer them jobs. When I heard that cold and insensitive comment, I felt my anger swelling. How did these hundreds of ATV workers end up like this? What did the government do since it announced that ATV’s free TV broadcast license would not be renewed back in April 1, 2015? Nothing. What did this Administration do to prevent new TV competition from getting their licenses so that they can invest and hire people? Well, everything.

Indeed, this Administration has done all it could on great lengths to change the previously existing “open sky” television broadcast policy, overriding the decision of the professional regulator to bar Hong Kong Television from getting its license, and continued to fight the judicial review HKTV raised, and even after the court ruled in favor of HKTV, this Administration felt it was necessary to appeal the judgment to make sure we do not get a new TV station online soon. And now, the Secretary in charge of broadcast policy is telling those “other stations” to offer jobs to ATV employees? What a shameless thing to say!

As a matter of fact, what we are witnessing is the perfect case of misguided public policy that has killed not just a few companies or their aspirations like ATV and HKTV, but a whole industry. Even after the long-overdue decision not to extend ATV’s license, what did the government do to prepare for the contingency of ATV not being able to last itself until April 1 of this year? Well, too little, too late, like, for the transfer of ATV’s analog spectrum to RTHK, so that the remaining up to 400,000 households still watching analog TV only will not be left with only TVB, the government and RTHK are still just going through a tender process now to identify a service provider to help build the transmission network, with less than two months to go before April 1. Why such procrastination?

But even more importantly, what about the digital spectrum held by ATV? One third of that has been assigned to Hong Kong Television Entertainment, which will start its broadcast service supposedly on April 1, but both that company or our government has not offered us any idea of what the initial coverage will be or how users will be able to access its programming over the fiber network. There’s still no word as to when that one-third of ATV’s digital spectrum assigned to it will be up and ready for broadcast.

And what about the other two-thirds of ATV’s current digital spectrum? We will have to wait for the next one or two TV stations to get their licenses, and although we have at least three such companies waiting in the pipeline – including Fantastic TV, Forever Top, and the second application of HKTV. Yet considering the pace of such licensing processes in recent years, it will probably take at least two to three years to get these precious public assets back in use again by anyone.

Such is the sad state of our TV industry for Hong Kong, a total disgrace for an international city with certainly the commercial, financial, technical and creative capacities, but stopped by government inaptitude and the hostility this Administration holds against the media and any more outlets for speech and news contents that it feels it can’t control.

So what can we do? In the coming years, the government will launch a once again long-delayed and overdue consultation on the merging of our broadcasting and telecommunications regulations. It will be both an opportunity to right the wrong by eliminating the overriding power held by the Chief Executive to single-handedly dictate our broadcast policies, as well as a threat that more powers will be consolidated in the hands of the Chief Executive, which we must oppose.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Speech for the motion of “strengthening the combat against the crime of wildlife smuggling”

Speech for the motion of “strengthening the combat against the crime of wildlife smuggling”

Mr President, I thank the Honorable Elizabeth Quat for moving the motion on “strengthening the combat against the crime of wildlife smuggling” to bring the attention of our society to this grave matter.

As a global citizen, for each of us, and for Hong Kong as a whole, we bear a responsibility for the earth, our environment, our fellow inhabitants of this earth, and for the future of our planet, and those we will continue to share this planet with, in a balanced and sustainable ecology. This applies to the global climate change talks happening in Paris right now, as much as it applies to the subject of our motion today, the ivory trade that is killing African elephants, and the bear gall bladder trade that is torturing and killing bears in the Mainland and other countries, as in the motion amended by the Honorable Claudia Mo.

On September 25, President Xi Jinping of China and US President Barack Obama jointly pledged to take “significant and timely steps” to halt commercial ivory trade. Today, we are calling for our government to take at least some “significant and timely steps.”

Indeed, after President Xi’s words, he followed with action on October 15 – China announced a one-year ban on the import of ivory hunting trophies from Africa, closing what was considered to be a big loophole.

From past experience in conservation, permitting sales actually always became a cover for illegal trade. In 1999 and 2008, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species allowed the sale of stockpiles of ivory from southern Africa to China. The countries claimed that the money earned would go toward conservation causes. Oh sure. The numbers in fact are telling us that such concession would fuel more smuggling and more killing of elephants. This is exactly what is happening in Hong Kong.

So, in 2010-12, about 100,000 elephants were slain. In Mozambique and Tanzania, just within the last five years, half of their elephants were killed.

As many of the members of this council who have spoken today have expressed, much of the ivory sale and trade is going to mainland buyers who buy the tusks and ivory products in Hong Kong, and then smuggle them back in to China. A survey by WildAid in May this year found that over 75% of Hong Kong’s local residents disapproved ivory sales. An investigation by a Tanzanian conservation group Save The Elephants further found that 90% of ivory buyers in Hong Kong were bought and smuggled back to China by Mainlanders.

For Hong Kong not to totally ban all ivory trading and retail sale, it is simply causing a loophole for the Mainland, and going against the stated policy for the People’s Republic of China, and fueling further corruption in China, something that our nation’s leaders have been furiously trying to stamp out. There is simply no excuse. To put it more directly, government bureaucracy is no excuse.

The Honorable Claudia Mo’s amendment put further focus on the trading of bear gall bladders and their extracts. There is a subtle difference between the trading of this and ivory. While ivory trade has to do with a small number of traders and sellers here making a lot of money from primarily buyers in China, bear gall bladder extracts are bought by Hong Kong people, imported from China. In that sense, it is even more critical for the Hong Kong government to take action for a demand generated and mistakenly allowed to continue in Hong Kong.

So, I believe it is absolutely correct and totally justified for the Honorable Claudia Mo to demand actions from our chief executive due to his empty words before he took office and his subsequent inaction. CY Leung is responsible for both stopping Hong Kong as a haven for ivory trade in to China, which is totally opposite to the policy set out by President Xi Jinping, as well as ending Hong Kong as a buyer for bear gall bladder extract, which continues to damage China’s reputation.

Saying anything otherwise is simply politicizing the issue on hand, and overprotecting our chief executive. You might as well save that loving care for the elephants, bears, rhinos, and other more lovely wildlife animals.

To close, I like to draw your attention to this picture on the cover of a Save The Elephants report – an ivory figure of the Chinese god of longevity. It is so ironic that this supposedly figure of good wishes is made from blood, gore and killing of an innocent, free animal. Let us remind ourselves, and I recap a caption I saw from a recent Economist article on the same subject, “it looks better on an elephant.” Let’s keep it there.

Thank you Mr President.

Thursday, November 26, 2015











主席,也許,陳克勤議員的議案拖到今天才到大會辯論,真的是「整定」。選前特首多番話"vote them out",當時個"them"係講明包括所有泛民議員㗎,現在見到vote唔out,又改口話只講拉布嘅議員。



Wednesday, November 18, 2015


主席,星期一晚我欣賞了一套在香港亞洲電影節放映的香港電影《十年》,是由五位年輕獨立導演,各自拍出想像香港十年之後會是怎樣的短片組成,香港到時可以有幾荒謬?價值觀會變成點?我推介今日發言嘅各位同事無論泛民或者建制都看一看,了解一下這一代年輕人所關心、擔心、痛心的是什麼。電影十二月會在戲院放映 。

五套短片裡面的題材都富有想像力而有前瞻性,主題大膽甚至有挑釁性,包括普通話打壓廣東話、學校要學生穿軍服參加活動、當權者自製恐怖活動以達致國安法立法、自焚者爭取獨立等等 。看完之後,有觀眾與導演的分享,很多觀眾的心情都很沉重,我相信這顯示出年輕人無論是觀眾或者導演們的無力感,很大程度上來自他們對香港未來、中國操控,即是「大陸化」的焦慮和不安。




嗱,主席, 香港人可以向香港隊學習,就是「沒有不可能的事」,另一點很重要,就係中國係唔係在每一方面都真係咁強,隊波都唔係好得之嘛,打咗兩場波都係咁高咁大。相反,問題是部分香港的政經界都已經被政治化,不理中國掂唔掂,乜都要"China first"!



昨天剛好在一個IT業界活動中與一些來自新加坡的朋友討論,他們都異口同聲說,十多年前甚至再早時,新加坡視香港為學習對象,今天,他們都感覺香港已經落後了,但他們並非為此感到沾沾自喜,反而是分析出來,香港的最大問題之一,是過分大陸化,什麼都"China first",是自己忽視了自己最大的競爭優勢反而是國際化,是香港自己錯誤評估中國的能力,是香港放棄了全球市場的機遇。他們說,新加坡看香港,要引以為鑑。

在資訊科技界,我亦擔心這現象會否進一步惡化。創科局還有幾天才成立,但近期聽政府和部分業界人士的言論,開口埋口就與中國市場結合,但對八萬多從業人員來說,真的幫到他們嗎?帶頭外判、壓低工資的,帶頭不買香港產品服務的,帶頭向本地公司壓價的,咪又係香港政府!我們絕對不應該盲目排斥中國,但同樣盲目地"China first",這種「大陸化」,肯定不是香港IT界的出路。



Thursday, November 12, 2015










從令一個角度,過去幾年我和IT業界亦與VTCIVE有了很多的合作,由對課程容的建議,到協助IVE成立針對業界新技術和市場需要的專科,例如數據中心、雲計算、流動應用開發等,甚至合作安排企業實習等等,所以,業界時常向我反映,認為 IVE提供的資訊科技課程,由於實用性強,畢業生的工作能力高,不遜於大學生,因為讀職業教育的學生更擅長實際應用,在工作環境中可以更快上手,而受到僱主歡迎。



新加坡嘅Skillsfuture計劃,由初入職場的年輕人到中年以上,有不同的計劃幫助他們,最基本的計分(Credit)計劃,每位25的新加坡人會獲得500坡元的資助,用了政府會不定期地top up加俾他們,至到例如一個學習獎勵計劃(Study Awards),每年計劃給2000新加坡人每人5000坡元去深化他們的專業知識。除這兩個例子,還有廿多個不同資助計劃,多數直接給市民,少數係支援企業提供培訓機會給他們的員工。



Wednesday, November 11, 2015


1. 主席,今日的議案要求將《防止賄賂條例》第3及第8條的適用範圍擴大至行政長官,其實我覺得這個動議有啲奇怪,乜咁都要辯論嘅咩?乜可以有人凌駕喺法律之上嘅咩?打擊官員貪污本來就係理所當然,中央政府近來也經常強調要嚴打貪腐。但今日嘅議案有更加重要嘅意義,就是確立行政長官應該要同其他公職人員一樣,受制於整個《防止賄賂條例》,而不是容許一個人超然於一些適用在政治委任官員和公務員的法律之上。

2. 前特首曾蔭權於2012年成立「防止及處理潛在利益衝突獨立檢討委員會」,委任李國能大法官檢討為特首及其他官員訂立防止利益衝突的規管框架,最終提出多項建議。在法律層面,香港現在至少有兩條法例監管不了行政長官。《防止賄賂條例》第三條規定,公職人員未經行政長官許可,不可索取或接受利益,但特首本人接受利益,就是「自己批自己」。大鑼大鼓揾咗法官做咗建議,跟住現任特首可以置之不理,又係不能提供任何合理理由,再一次係特首自以為可以超然於一切的例子!

3. 第八條是任何與政府有事務往來的人,向公職人員提供利益即屬犯法,但亦不涵蓋特首。前首席法官李國能曾經建議修例,將這兩條條例的適用範圍涵蓋行政長官,當時候任特首梁振英承諾會認真看待建議、盡快及嚴格落實,但他們自己做過什麼自己知道,必定心知肚明,心中有數,果然,事隔三年多,他的任期過了大半,這個承諾仍未兌現。梁振英政府只修改了部分的申報指引,其餘多項需要立法的建議都無落實,包括《防止賄賂條例》涵蓋對特首的規管。

4. 後來,真相大白啦,澳洲傳媒Fairfax Media去年10月報道,梁振英於2011年底宣佈參選特首後與澳洲企業 UGL簽約,收取400萬英鎊報酬,當時梁未當選,也辭任行會成員,不屬公職人員,但他2012年7月上任之時卻沒有申報這個應收賬(account receivable),在2012年12月跟2013年12月實際收款時他已當上特首,收取了這$5000萬,但都是不申報。梁振英如果刻意隱瞞收了這筆錢,從任何角度去看,市民都覺得係貪!

5. 更甚,前律政司長梁愛詩曾在電台節目表示,特首作為首長,若「隨便被人檢控」會影響地方穩定,她的原話是:「不是說超不超然問題,(特首)一方面位置高,一方面有危險,人家會利用條款檢控、誣告等,影響地方穩定」。她又認同特首在任時,有「非明文規定」是不會被檢控。我不能認同她的看法,因為無論基本法賦予特首多少重要權力,香港是沒有法律條文豁免特首不受刑事檢控。如果特首有豁免不受檢控嘅權利,咁佢可以超然於那些法例?我諗無人會認為特首可以傷人而不受檢控卦,咁點解特首貪污就得呢?

6. 梁愛詩講若特首嚴重違法,立法會可啟動彈劾程序,報請中央政府提出免職。嘩,喺這個議會,在功能組別和分組點票下的這個扭曲嘅,不公平嘅選舉制度選出來的議會,會可能彈劾特首咩?連行使立法會權力及特權法下賦予嘅權力去調查政府嘅過失都通過唔到啦,這支小型尚方寶劍都變咗一條大鹹魚啦!彈劾特首喎,發夢咩,點我哋香港市民咩!

7. 如果按梁愛詩所言,有「非明文規定」(可能係「非文明規定」)特首在任時是不會被檢控、不會啓動正常刑事程序,那就是違反了《基本法》第二十五條「香港居民在法律面前一律平等」。

8. 主席,今日我發言支持原議案及梁家傑、何秀蘭議員的修正案。因為UGL事件確實是一個很好的例子,凸顯了現時條例的漏洞,證明了條例是有修改的必要。梁振英遲遲唔落實修例,顯然對自己寬鬆,拖得就拖,用盡佢「超然」嘅權力自保,佢嘅做法係幾咁無法無天,幾咁不當,市民睇得清清楚楚。

9. 今日這項議案的重要性,在於行政長官應該要同其他公職人員一樣受到法律規管,並不是要針對梁振英本人,而是針對制度,不過當然,梁振英係覺得、知道如果防賄條例修訂咗嘅話佢極可能會被針對嘛!這其實已經是嚴重嘅利息衝突!

10. 法例有漏洞就應該要去處理,無論基本法賦予特首什麼權力,都不可能俾特首超然到無法無天,凌駕法律,做事不用承擔後果。主席,我謹此致辭。