Legislative Assistant (議員助理)
Writing and preparing public policy related speeches, papers and submissions
Liaising with other LegCo members, political parties, interest groups and media
Initiating and conducting public policy research
Handling public complaints and cases
Degree holder or above;
Strong interpersonal, communication and presentation skills
Good command of spoken and written English and Chinese
Proficient in PC applications including MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Chinese word processing
Willing to work outside office hours
Salary will be commensurate with skills, academic credentials and prior experience. Anyone interested is requested to email the full CV (with current and expected salaries) at Ms Wong at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please specify “Application for the post of Legislative Assistant” in the email subject.
All information provided will be kept strictly confidential and used for the sole purpose of applying for the aforementioned position
Community Coordinator (社區統籌幹事)
Assist in organizing community involvement activities;
Assist in handling complaints, enquiries and requests;
Assist in preparing publicity materials such as leaflets, posters and banners
Any other ancillary duties
Good communication skills, fluency in Cantonese and English, ability to speak Mandarin is a plus
Outgoing and proactive personality and ability to work independently
Strong awareness of Hong Kong’s current affairs
Willingness to work in non-office settings, in the evenings and on weekends
Proficiency in use of computer and word processing (including the input of Chinese characters, Microsoft Word, Excel, Photoshop)
Relevant work experience preferred
Salary will be commensurate with skills, academic credentials and prior experience. Anyone interested is requested to email the full CV (with current and expected salaries) at email@example.com. Please specify “Application for the post of Community Coordinator”.
Hong Kong financial secretary’s hands were tied – but he got at least one thing right
Financial Secretary Paul Mo-po Chan had few palatable options before him when he drew up the 2024-25 budget.
The government has been running a fiscal deficit almost every financial year since 2019, and the forecast deficit for 2023-24 would have widened to HK$173 billion (US$22.1 million) but for a bond issue of HK$72.5 billion. Measures to balance the budget, whether cutting back on welfare expenditure or raising taxes, are sure to generate a substantial backlash from a public accustomed to low taxation and generous handouts.
To raise revenue, the government had toyed with the idea of introducing new taxes, but backed off given the adverse market reaction. Even after Chan ruled out introducing a capital gains tax on January 17, the Hang Seng Index still experienced a steep decline that day as his clarification was seen as being not categorical enough.
Raising government fees and charges on a “user-pays” basis had also been floated. Water and sewage charges, and more, are indeed long overdue for an increase. But any such increase is bound to hit the grass roots hardest, and raise business costs at a time when the economic recovery is fragile.
Chan trod extremely carefully and he confined tax increases to limited items – a modest increase in business registration fees by HK$200, a 1 per cent increase in salary tax for an estimated 12,000 taxpayers whose net income exceeds HK$5 million, a progressive rating system for domestic premises from the fourth quarter of 2024-25, and resumed collection of the hotel accommodation tax, at a rate of 3 per cent, effective next year.
Altogether they are estimated to generate no more than HK$3.16 billion in the coming year, a pittance compared to the forecast deficit of HK$143 billion before bond issuance. Chan cannot be faulted for reckless tax hikes that could rock the boat.
Chan’s hands are tied when it comes to boosting the economy, given that most of the negative factors weighing on the economy – high interest rates, the strong US dollar, ongoing geopolitical tensions – are out of his control. Despite these constraints, Chan got one key policy right: the scrapping of all “demand management” property transaction stamp duties that had been introduced since 2010 to rein in skyrocketing home prices.
The debate over these stamp duties – Special Stamp Duty to curb speculation, Buyer’s Stamp Duty to dampen external demand, and the New Residential Stamp Duty to counter market exuberance – tells a poignant story about how the government battled rising angst about runaway home prices through fiscal intervention. The stamp duties brought the government a windfall of land revenue, and the buoyant property market led many to believe that the sun would never set on the property sector.
To address deep-rooted discontent about the concentration of wealth among homeowners and young people’s inability to own their own homes, the government doubled down on its efforts to step up land and housing supply.
As the result of the government’s determined efforts, Chan was able to announce in the budget that it had identified land for meeting the supply target of 308,000 public housing units in the next decade, and would be able to achieve completion of 19,000 private residential units in the next five years, a 15 per cent increase over the annual average of the past five years.
The unexpected economic downturn resulting from the pandemic, the rapid ratcheting up of interest rates and abundant supply coming on stream sent the property market into a nosedive. Louis Chan Wing-kit, vice-chairman of Centaline, one of Hong Kong’s largest property agencies, said last month that compared to the market peak in September 2021, second-hand home prices had plunged nearly 24 per cent in less than two-and-a-half years. Chan estimated that the value of Hong Kong’s property market had dropped below HK$10 trillion, representing an evaporation of wealth equivalent to HK$2.6 trillion.
The negative wealth effect of such a sharp fall in property values sent ripples across the economy, depressing consumption and investment, creating drags on the economy that the financial secretary had to address. With the property sector having been a key driver of Hong Kong’s growth for decades, the government had no choice but to eliminate the stamp duties. Otherwise, continuing pessimism could have led to a collapse of confidence.
Soon after the announcement, there were reports of homeowners asking for higher prices, and brisker transactions returned. With weak growth, it is unlikely that there will be a surge in demand in the near future, but the abolition of the stamp duties will ensure property prices don’t end up in a free fall.
The government is determined to broaden Hong Kong’s economic structure by making a belated move to promote “high-quality growth” through scientific innovation and technology. In recent years, the government has poured billions into building the infrastructure for technological development, making land available for tech parks and funds for tech investment.
Substantially enlarged science parks in the planned Northern Metropolis at the border with Shenzhen are intended to be flagship developments that will jump-start Hong Kong’s tech-based industries. Hong Kong started late, and it will be a while before investments generate the desired returns.
In the absence of near-term gains from its tech investments, the property sector and tourism remain Hong Kong’s chief engines of growth. It is to Chan’s credit that he managed to steer clear of controversies that would raise the political decibel levels at a time when the government’s top priority is to ensure the passing of national security legislation in accordance with Hong Kong’s constitutional obligation under Article 23 of the Basic Law. There is no promise of immediate economic turnaround, but Chan’s cautious navigation should ensure a soft landing.
Hong Kong financial secretary’s hands were tied – but he got at least one thing right
Article 23 legislation will ensure stability / 《基本法》二十三條立法將保障香港穩定
The relaunch of legislation to implement Article 23 of the Basic Law to prohibit national security offenses, after a pause of more than 21 years, has sparked remarkably few controversies in the local community. In the light of the political upheaval in 2019, and evidence of dangerous activities emerging from cases currently on trial, the general public appears to have accepted the need for legislation to safeguard national security.
Yet there remain nagging doubts on whether offenses relating to "official secrets", "sedition" and "foreign interference" would curtail freedom of expression and other fundamental freedoms. Such concerns are understandable. To maintain Hong Kong's competitiveness as a premier global financial, trading and business hub, it is of paramount importance to maintain Hong Kong's openness to the world and its web of international connections. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's value as China's gateway to the world and key intermediary will be greatly reduced if the new national security law resulted in a diminution of Hong Kong's freedoms.
Scrutiny of the proposals in the HKSAR government's consultation document published on Jan 30 will show such concerns to be overblown. For example, take offenses relating to "official secrets". Laws prohibiting unlawful disclosure of official secrets are nothing new. Such legislation, inherited from the British, has been in force for many years.
The Official Secrets Ordinance, which is a localized version of the United Kingdom's Official Secrets Act, requires six categories of official information to be protected. These six categories are information relating to security and intelligence; defense; international relations; commission of offenses and criminal investigation; information entrusted in confidence; and information relating to territories, states or international organizations. Under this ordinance, unlawful disclosure of such information is a criminal offense punishable on indictment to a fine of HK$500,000 ($63,900) and two years' imprisonment.
In my almost half-century of public service, I am not aware of any member of the public having been prosecuted for unauthorized disclosure of official information. The reason is very simple: The six categories of information protected under the Official Secrets Ordinance are not information that an ordinary member of the public would easily have access to in the normal course of his or her life.
A common concern raised by the media is that they might fall foul of the law if they report on certain sensitive information, say information relating to technological development, which is regarded as a State secret under proposals in the consultation document. The short answer is if journalists report on something that is already in the public arena, such information is, by definition, no longer secret, and they cannot possibly be guilty of unauthorized disclosure. It is a different story if journalists obtained protected information to which they have no authorized access and they did so by unlawful means.
One of the changes proposed to the existing law on official secrets is a terminological one. Although the term jimi is used in the Basic Law, the government proposes to adopt the same terminology as in the nation's law on safeguarding national secrets, in which the term mimi is used.
The government also proposes to align the categories of official secrets with those listed in the nation's law safeguarding national secrets. The seven categories are listed in paragraph 5.8 of the consultation document. Concerns have also been raised that some of the categories of State secret proposed in the consultation document may be too broad. A frequently cited example is "secrets concerning the economic and social development of our country or the HKSAR". It is hard to think of any such "secret", but the threshold for prosecution is high. All national security offense prosecutions must be authorized by the secretary for justice. In the case of prosecution of unauthorized disclosure of State secrets, the secretary for justice must be able to prove that the secret was disclosed "without lawful authority", and that the disclosure "would likely endanger national security". These ingredients, together with the common law requirement of mens rea, that is, the criminal intention element of an offense, must be present for a prosecution to proceed.
Complaints have also frequently been raised about definitions of national security offenses being too broad or vague. The truth is that Hong Kong laws, whether existing provisions or improved versions proposed in the consultation document, are not broader or vaguer than similar provisions in many common law jurisdictions.
The National Security Act 2023 enacted by the UK Parliament last July is a good example. It makes frequent references to actions "prejudicial to the safety or interests of the United Kingdom". The UK authorities have never defined or explained in detail what "the safety or interests of the United Kingdom" entail. The wording is deliberately broad, so that the law is flexible enough to deal with any eventuality which might "prejudice the safety or interest" of the country. Ultimately it will be for the courts to determine whether any alleged criminal actions do indeed "prejudice the interests or security" of the country, depending on a mixture of law and facts.
Article 23 legislation will ensure stability (Authored by Regina Ip, posted on China Daily)
時至今日，海運業對香港的經濟貢獻仍不可忽視。根據運流局去年12 月發表的《海運及港口發展策略行動綱領》，海運及港口業的經濟貢獻佔本地生產總值的4.1% 及總就業人數的2.1%。