Don't be surprised if Jade Bird blows up in the next few months.
Don't be surprised if Jade Bird blows up in the next few months.
Despite high legal costs and a Singapore court ruling against her in a defamation suit filed by a surgeon, Serene Tiong has no intention of giving up the fight.
Hong Kong authorities are warning of an even more severe fourth wave of coronavirus infections after identifying a new group of cases at three restaurants that may be linked to the ever-expanding “super-spreader” dance venue cluster.More than 10 servers, cleaners and patrons at the three restaurants – Stellar House in Wan Chai, 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana in Central, and Chuen Cheung Kui in Sheung Wan – have been confirmed sick, with authorities adding the venues to the mandatory testing list.The city recorded 115 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, the highest daily increase since August 1, when it saw 125 new infections. Of those, 62 were linked to the dance venue cluster, bringing the city's largest coronavirus outbreak so far to 479 cases.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.“We have yet to find any epidemiological links between the cases from the three restaurants, but we won’t rule out the possibility that we have not found infected people who visited these places,” said Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the Centre for Health Protection’s communicable disease branch.“We are very concerned, because both staff and customers have been infected,” she added.It was difficult to determine exactly how the virus had spread within the restaurants, but authorities have classified the cases as a cluster because front-of-house servers, chefs, cleaners and patrons had all been infected, indicating an outbreak.It was possible for staff and customers to pass the coronavirus to each other, especially if they had been chatting, Chuang said.Hongkongers face hefty fines for ignoring Covid-19 test note from doctorChuang also did not rule out the possibility that the restaurant infections could be linked to the still-growing dance venue cluster, which is being regarded as a “super-spreader” group.“The dance cluster is so big, it is also likely the [restaurant cases] came from them, but we would still have to wait for the genetic analysis to be sure,” she said.“Looking at the situation now, it seems the fourth wave will be more severe than the previous one.”Chuang noted that people from the dance venue cluster also took part in other activities outside of dancing, such as teaching piano or classes at community centres, meaning they could have spread the virus to a wide range of people in society.Separately, a staff member at the Fong Shu Chuen Day Activity Centre and Hostel, operated by the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, was also among Sunday’s infections, while a resident also tested preliminarily positive, prompting the evacuation of nearly 50 residents.The centre provides day training for people with intellectual disabilities, and Chuang said the situation sometimes made mask-wearing on the premises difficult. Dance off: the niche Hong Kong social scene behind city’s biggest Covid-19 clusterA staff member at another centre run by the Tung Wah Group in Tai Kok Tsui, the Ho Yuk Ching Willow Lodge, which provides care services to the elderly, has also tested preliminary positive for the coronavirus.Health authorities are still unsure if residents at the homes had left the centres at any time.Several schools will also have to shut down, including Saint Clare’s Primary School in Sai Ying Pun, where all staff and students must undergo testing after a 10-year-old student tested positive.St. Paul’s Co-educational College and Cho Yiu Catholic Primary School will also have to be closed temporarily, as they were attended by close contacts of confirmed infections.Sunday’s confirmed infections also included 24 with unknown origins, among them housewives who did not leave home much, and other individuals who had attended many social gatherings, Chuang said.She urged people to reduce any unnecessary gatherings and cancel dining events to minimise the chances of catching or spreading the virus to more people.More from South China Morning Post: * Hong Kong fourth wave: schools to close until after Christmas holidays as city confirms 115 new Covid-19 cases * Coronavirus: infection fears among Hong Kong’s wealthy as cases emerge in private clubs * Covid-19 patients in Hong Kong spreading infection to more people, expert warns, as new cases surge to 92 amid hospital outbreak fearsThis article Hong Kong’s fourth coronavirus wave ‘will be more severe’ than the last, authorities warn, as new restaurant cluster emerges first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) has confirmed another five COVID-19 cases in Singapore as of noon on Monday (30 November), taking the total to 58,218.
US President Donald Trump's administration wages its last major policy fight before the Supreme Court Monday as it seeks to exclude undocumented immigrants from the population count used to determine states' representation in Congress.
Iran said that Israel and an exiled opposition group used new and "complex" methods to assassinate its leading nuclear scientist, as it buried him Monday in a funeral befitting a top "martyr".
Superstar Cher welcomed "the world's loneliest elephant" to Cambodia Monday to begin a new life at a specialised sanctuary after the creature was rescued from grim conditions in a Pakistani zoo.
She is back to her old self, confident in her leadership, unapologetic about what she has done to restore order, and more resolute than ever about fixing Hong Kong’s problems her way, regardless of the polarisation in society and the blame many continue to place on her for last year’s social turmoil.That was the crux of the message from Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in a wide-ranging interview with the Post on Sunday.Beginning with the escalating fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, on a day when the city reported an alarming surge of 115 new cases, Lam made it clear that her government would enforce stricter containment measures and impose tougher penalties on those who breached social-distancing rules.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.“Having seen what we have seen in this latest wave, I do feel quite strongly that this is a time really to get tough,” she said, warning that the next two weeks would be “very critical”. How do I relax? I don’t. Hong Kong leader’s life of no hobbies, only work“In getting tougher with the people’s behaviour, with the business behaviour, I think there’s still room, whether the law can be enhanced to make certain things compulsory.”As an example, she cited the current fine for breaking social-distancing rules: “I do feel that a HK$2,000 [US$258] fixed penalty ticket is no longer effective.”Lam admitted that Hong Kong had been a “bit unlucky” to be hit by the pandemic following a long period of social unrest sparked by her extradition bill.The political and social polarisation, mistrust of the government and non-compliant behaviour had an impact on the city’s anti-epidemic work, she noted.“Our strategy is we roll out measures one after another and try to adjust as we go on,” Lam said. “If you impose a very strong deterrent from day one, we could end up with some of the things that we are now seeing in central or western Europe. People went on the streets to protest, ‘you are taking away my freedoms, my rights’, and so on.”She said civil servants were already working from home to some extent, but the government would have to take the lead for the private sector to follow.“We could be more aggressive and we would have something to tell the civil servants maybe in a day or two about more extensive work from home, or perhaps going back to the toughest period that we have seen,” she said.On the political front, Lam dismissed the notion of showing remorse for her part in triggering the city’s worst political and social upheaval since its 1997 return to Chinese sovereignty by trying to bulldoze through with her ill-fated extradition bill last year. The bill would have allowed the transfer of fugitives between Hong Kong and mainland China, but opponents fearing it would be abused to crack down on dissidents in the city took to the streets in a massive backlash that was marked by violent street protests.The bill was withdrawn, but it led to Beijing’s imposition of a sweeping national security law that fundamentally changed the city, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces – offences that anti-government activists are now being arrested and prosecuted for. Hong Kong’s ‘zero infection’ target in Covid-19 fight stirs doubts“I do not feel guilty. What wrong have I done? I have introduced a piece of legislation for very good reasons,” she said, insisting that her administration’s only fault was in its failure to fully explain the bill and effectively counter the narrative against it.“Hong Kong has changed for the good. Hong Kong now has a national security law that ensures safety and security that would not make Hong Kong a gaping hole for national security for the People’s Republic of China,” she argued.“So the central government could have higher confidence in allowing Hong Kong to better integrate into the national development … hence there would be more opportunities for Hong Kong people, especially the younger generation, and they will have a better future.”The brunt of public hatred directed at her and the isolation she found herself in at the height of the anti-government protests had been tough, she said, but she had emerged more resolute and confident.“I could only say that I have regained confidence. After having gone through such a traumatic period, when the whole society seemed to be saying that the government wasn’t doing the right thing, when people, or even friends and colleagues around you, were pressing me to do things that I did not feel [were] right … but under that sort of undue pressure, anyone, any human being will lose a bit of confidence, let alone all those personal attacks and intimidation on myself, on my family and so on,” she said. Hong Kong’s leader in her own words on protests, turmoil and the future“So I could only tell that now, I’m back to my old self.”While Beijing has been calling for judicial reform in Hong Kong, which has sparked concerns about what that would mean for the city’s much-prized judicial independence, Lam did not see a conflict.“Now judicial reform and judicial independence are two separate things. The judiciary is an institution in Hong Kong’s political structure under the Basic Law. So for any institution, if there’s any room for improvement, you could always reform,” she said.“But under no circumstances would independence of the judiciary in terms of adjudicating cases be interfered with, because that is in the Basic Law, so nobody should contemplate to tell the judges how to adjudicate, not even the chief executive.”Lam did not seem to be expecting any immediate change in Hong Kong’s strained relationship with the US under President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration, given the wider context of Sino-American trade and political tensions.While she has become the city’s first leader to avoid travelling to the US after being sanctioned by Washington for her role in implementing the national security legislation, she said she would continue to do her utmost in engaging with the international community, regardless of the presidency. ‘Return of peace’ to Legco restores Lam’s faith in Hong Kong political system“We did try to engage, but they still did this to us, these unjustified sanctions. Sometimes, I feel bad because Hong Kong people did not have that – I don’t know how to describe – to resist and counter these sanctions on Hong Kong, as if they have nothing to do with it,” she said.“They are affecting Hong Kong’s trade. They are seriously affecting Hong Kong’s shipping. I’m still trying to find solutions to the damage done to Hong Kong’s shipping industry as a result of the US administration unilaterally pulling out of a bilateral agreement that we signed.”The chief executive tried to downplay the trend of Hongkongers emigrating to other countries in what could be the largest scale since 1997.“After all this social unrest, violence on the streets, closure of the airport and the epidemic, the residential property prices have perhaps moderated by [only] 3 or 4 per cent. That is the proxy of confidence in this city,” she said.“Even if there are more people leaving Hong Kong for good, that is a personal choice. I hope that people will be able to objectively look at the situation and ask themselves, is that the Hong Kong they like to see, as of last year, or do they want to see a Hong Kong which is still stable, prosperous and able to move forward?” Hong Kong policy address ‘wasn’t exactly a confidence booster’Lam refused to be drawn into answering whether she would seek a second term as chief executive, but agreed that anyone with such ambitions was in for a rough ride.“This is one of the toughest jobs for any leader in the world by virtue because of ‘one country, two systems’,” she said. “I can’t think of another place where the leader has dual accountability. He or she is accountable to the people of Hong Kong and to the Central People’s Government. Especially when the system in Hong Kong is so very different from the system on the mainland … So who would like to, or who is willing to do this tough job?”Additional reporting by Cheryl HengMore from South China Morning Post: * Carrie Lam interview: Hong Kong’s leader in her own words on protests, political turmoil and what next for the city * Plan to expand voting for Hong Kong residents living in mainland China may not take shape by next year, Chief Executive Carrie Lam says * Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam defends liberal studies reform, and says subject was not meant to be debate exercise on current affairsThis article Unapologetic over last year’s unrest and ready to get tough on the pandemic, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam is ‘back to her old self’ first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.
CareShield Life covers some long-term care costs, but not all. With comprehensive benefits and higher payouts, rest easy knowing that you’re sufficiently covered by these top-notch CareShield Life supplements. When misfortune strikes and you are faced with disability, the last thing you need is financial […]The post Best CareShield Life Supplement Plans In Singapore (2020) appeared first on SingSaver Blog - We Compare, You Save.
A "mourning" Napoli honoured their club legend Diego Maradona on Sunday with a 4-0 victory over Roma, as AC Milan extended their lead in Serie A by beating Fiorentina.
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the Iranian nuclear scientist whose assassination the Islamic republic has blamed on Israel, was little known before his death, but one thing is certain: he was important.
Britain has announced a new partnership with the Japanese telecoms firm NEC following its decision to ban the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies from its 5G network.On Monday, Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said the British operators “must stop installing any Huawei equipment” from September next year — an earlier date than had been expected.The decision is part of Downing Street’s road map for the complete removal of high-risk vendor equipment from the UK’s 5G networks, alongside a new £250 million (US$333 million) strategy to diversify the telecoms market with plans for a National Telecoms Lab and trials with NEC.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.Next year the UK will hold the presidency of the Group of Seven nations, a platform it has hopes will expand to include South Korea, India and Australia. It has identified 5G technology as a promising field for collaboration between the 10 democracies, or D10.“Today I am setting out a clear path for the complete removal of high-risk vendors from our 5G networks,” Dowden said. Britain commits US$333 million to help carriers replace Huawei 5G“This will be done through new and unprecedented powers to identify and ban telecoms equipment which poses a threat to our national security. We are also publishing a new strategy to make sure we are never again dependent on a handful of telecoms vendors for the smooth and secure running of our networks,” he added.NEC is expected to deliver live 5G open radio access network (RAN) – a new way of building telecoms networks where components from different suppliers can be used in a single mobile network – within the UK in 2021.The British government decided to ban Huawei in July amid heightened tension with Beijing over the issue of Hong Kong and pressure from Washington, which views the firm as a security risk.Under the British government’s 5G plan, domestic phone companies will not be able to buy any new Huawei components for their 5G networks after the end of this year. All existing equipment made by the Shenzhen-based company will be removed from the 5G infrastructure by 2027.This article Britain turns to Japanese telecoms firm NEC after banning China’s Huawei from 5G network first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.
A war of words between Australia and China has intensified, with the Chinese foreign ministry refusing to remove a tweet featuring a meme-like illustration of an Australian soldier appearing to murder a child.The image was posted on Twitter on Monday morning by Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, accompanied by the text: “Shocked by murder of Afghan civilians & prisoners by Australian soldiers. We strongly condemn such acts, & call for holding them accountable.”Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she stood by her subordinate Zhao over the post, which drew an immediate and furious response from Canberra. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also demanded the removal of the tweet.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.“Australia has already confirmed that their soldiers have committed serious war crimes in Afghanistan ... The details are shocking and their brutal behaviour has been strongly condemned by the international community,” Hua said.“Australia has shown a strong response to my colleague ... and said the Chinese government should feel ashamed. Shouldn’t Australia feel ashamed for sending their soldiers to commit such atrocities and killing innocent civilians in Afghanistan?” War crimes: Australian troops unlawfully killed 39 Afghans, report findsAsked whether the tweet should be deleted, Hua said it was between Twitter and Australia. She also asked for China’s comments not to be perceived as a result of the downward spiral in Sino-Australian relations.Twitter has not responded to an email inquiry from the South China Morning Post. The tweet has been pinned to the top of Zhao’s tweets.The Chinese ambassador to Australia, Cheng Jingye, has been summoned for a meeting with Australian officials, while Morrison also said Canberra’s embassy in China would make representations.In a press conference shortly after the tweet was posted, Morrison described the tweet as “falsified”, “repugnant” and “utterly outrageous”.Zhao’s tweet was referring to a war crimes inquiry finding earlier this month that Australian troops had killed civilians in Afghanistan. China and Russia have condemned Canberra over the Brereton report and called the Australian government hypocritical.The report found evidence Australian special forces committed at least 39 unlawful killings during the Afghanistan war in 2009-2013.Morrison said his government had reached out to Beijing and contacted Twitter to have the post removed. “Australia is seeking an apology from the Chinese government for this outrageous post,” he said. “We’re also seeking its removal immediately.”Morrison said the tweet could not be justified “on any basis whatsoever” and said the Chinese government should be “totally ashamed” of the post. China-Australia trade at ‘freezing point’ as 200 per cent wine duty looms“There are undoubtedly tensions that exist between China and Australia, but this is not how you deal with them,” he added.Sino-Australia relations have been in an intense downward spiral. Trade has been the most serious focus lately, with China taking a range of informal actions on a series of Australian products, including coal, timber, cotton, beef and wine.Zhao has become known for heated confrontations on Twitter with China’s critics. He earlier insinuated the US military may be responsible for the deadly coronavirus outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the first cases were reported.This article China strikes back at Australian fury over war crime tweet first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.
Following years of public outcry and campaigning by American pop star Cher, the "world's loneliest elephant" embarked Sunday on a mammoth move from Pakistan to retirement in a Cambodian sanctuary.
The series is dedicated to inspirational men and women in Singapore leading healthy and active lifestyles. This week: presenter Jade Seah.
Measures cooling Hong Kong’s residential property market should stay in place given it remains strong and prices continue to leave home ownership beyond the reach of many, according to the city’s finance minister.Paul Chan Mo-po on Sunday made the case not to cut the stamp duties on buying and selling homes after the city leader last Wednesday abolished similar taxes for non-residential properties in response to falling prices and demand during the coronavirus-fuelled economic downturn.Confirming in her policy address that double stamp duty would be scrapped from last Thursday for commercial properties, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said there would however be no changes to the government’s market-cooling strategy for the residential sector.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China. Hong Kong to abolish double stamp duty on commercial property to help small firmsThat means interventions such as the special and buyer’s stamp duties will be kept, on the basis that housing supply remains tight and property prices are still beyond the reach of average households.The double stamp duty, introduced to tackle speculative practices in February 2013, subjected both buyers and sellers to a tax rate of up to 8.5 per cent for non-residential properties valued at more than HK$21.8 million.Echoing Lam’s rationale for leaving the duties in place, Chan said on Sunday that current home prices remained high due to genuine demand and low interest rates.They were also more than double the level before a range of market-cooling measures started to be introduced in 2010, he added.That year the government imposed the special stamp duty to discourage short-term buyers or investors.Despite being in its fifth straight quarter of negative economic growth, Hong Kong’s cumulative drop in home prices within that period was below 3 per cent.Chan said: “These trends and data show that the residential property market has remained firm. Home prices remain far beyond the affordable level for the general public.“There is no room to relax the demand-side management measures for the residential property market at this stage.”The finance chief reiterated that the government must consider four factors when assessing the ongoing suitability of the market-cooling measures: the range and rate of decline in prices, number of transactions, future supply of residential flats and the overall economic situation.“We will closely monitor the market situations and perform ongoing assessments. But there is no need to set a fixed target or time limit for the withdrawal of the cooling measures,” Chan concluded.As for commercial property, Chan said high prices and speculation were no longer an issue since last year’s social unrest and the pandemic.Office sale prices had only risen by about 21 per cent from 2013, while those for retail premises dropped by 1 per cent, while transactions were down by 80 to 90 per cent, Chan said.The government therefore believed that under the current economic downturn, the removal of double stamp duty for non-residential property would not herald a return to the speculation previously witnessed, making it a good time for its withdrawal, he added.Lam said on Wednesday that abolishing the duty would help those commercial flat owners deciding to sell to cope with the financial difficulties caused by the economic downturn.A government source previously said sales of commercial properties had dropped by up to 19 per cent this year, from 4,666 deals last year.Property agents said the move would probably stimulate acquisitions and economic activity, with the potential to spill over to the residential sector and boost home sales.More from South China Morning Post: * Hong Kong to abolish double stamp duty on commercial property in move designed to boost small firms’ cash flows * Hong Kong budget: property cooling measures to remain despite developers’ calls for withdrawalThis article Measures cooling Hong Kong’s residential property market should remain with homes so expensive and sector’s resilience, finance chief says first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.
Prodding her cows forward with a long stick, Asya Petrosyan drives the herd along the snow-covered Lachin corridor, the last road out of Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia.
After years of fiery rhetoric from outgoing President Donald Trump, Mexico is bracing for more discreet but steadfast pressure from Joe Biden's administration to fulfill its trade obligations to the letter, analysts say.
PM Lee Hsien Loong said this on the first day of his defamation suit against The Online Citizen’s chief editor Terry Xu on Monday (30 November).
A decoupling between China and Europe is not a policy option for Germany, but Beijing should ensure equal footing for market competition and address concerns about human rights, Germany’s ambassador to China, Clemens von Goetze, said.In an interview with the South China Morning Post, von Goetze called on Beijing to engage in open dialogue with Europe about Hong Kong while deepening cooperation on global issues, including the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.China reached out to European leaders after the United States election as hopes surged across the Atlantic for better US-Europe bilateral relations during the upcoming presidency of Atlanticist Joe Biden, which may in turn lead to more coordinated pressure on Beijing.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.“The EU and Germany have and do pursue policies both towards the US and China that are based on our own German and European interests and values,” said the ambassador, who has served as Berlin’s envoy in Beijing since September 2018.He said the US was a key partner on economy, security and values for Germany, but relations with China also mattered.“Also with China, we have developed close and good relations over the past 40 years and it is rather clear that for Germany and Europe a decoupling between China and Europe is not in our interest,” he said.“Together with China, we want to work on common solutions for global challenges like fighting climate change and shaping global trade relations. That is our position and will continue in that way.”After the US election, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his German counterpart Heiko Maas published a rare joint opinion piece in The Washington Post that the EU and the US should consult each other to coordinate an approach to China on human rights, digital infrastructure and fair trade. Xi calls for Germany, Europe to ‘remain open to Chinese companies’Beijing – from President Xi Jinping to Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Beijing’s envoys in the bloc – has assured the European Union that it will still be a key partner and that China supports the EU to seek strategic autonomy.Despite the close economic engagement, Beijing has faced difficult bilateral challenges with the European Union and its member states since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.China’s pandemic-control narrative and combative diplomacy fuelled a backlash in the bloc and conflicts have escalated over the national security law in Hong Kong and alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang.“Our bilateral relations are always embedded in our membership of the European Union. Germany acts also in solidarity and in close coordination with the European institutions and with our European partners,” von Goetze said. In his own words: German ambassador on Hong Kong, economy and Indo-PacificGermany, which holds the presidency of the European Union for the second half of the year, has criticised China’s deteriorating human rights record during bilateral dialogues and at the United Nations Assembly.He said the two countries differed in political systems and values and such differences should be discussed in “an open manner”.“We have repeatedly addressed issues over Hong Kong and Xinjiang, together with our European and international partners,” he said.“This is not only something that concerns our German-Chinese relations, but Europe as a whole.”The national security legislation in Hong Kong, effective on June 30, has met a growing backlash in the West which deems it detrimental to autonomy of the city. The disqualification of opposition members of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council is “a further severe blow to the political pluralism and freedom of opinion” in the city.“Our objective remains to keep the principle of ‘one country, two systems’ with autonomy for Hong Kong, with political pluralism and the freedom of opinion guaranteed, and that China keeps the obligations made in this respect. And we will continue to engage in that direction,” he said.Von Goetze called for China to open market access and level the playing field for European companies, which are key issues in bilateral investment treaty talks. Coronavirus: Germany questions need for extra test for China flightsBeijing and Brussels held the 34th round of the bilateral talks, and the next round is scheduled for the second week in December, although both sides remain committed to concluding the deal by the end of 2020.“Whether the deal can be reached by the end of the year depends on the political will of both sides to find the necessary common ground,” he said, adding that a level playing field for European companies should be guaranteed.“That is why we have to insist that the Chinese market is as open for European companies as the European market is for Chinese companies, that they are not disadvantaged in competition and that they have the same chance to participate in public tenders as Chinese companies. These are essential points and that’s exactly what we want to achieve in the negotiations.”Germany released its Indo-Pacific guidelines in September, making it the second European country after France to issue an Indo-Pacific strategy, seeking a stronger presence and diversified engagement in the region.German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said this month that China was a “system challenge” and Germany would send a frigate to patrol in the Indo-Pacific next year and German officers would be deployed on Australian avny units. Why is Germany wading into the Indo-Pacific’s strategic waters?The ambassador said Germany took a holistic approach to the region, including engaging in military cooperation with Indo-Pacific countries and continuing to hold regular excursions in the region.“We have not yet worked out the exact route for the frigate and there will be navy ships coming on a regular basis and they will take different routes and operate on their own,” he said.Von Goetze said he also saw “strong interest” in working jointly with China and the US to fight climate change.“If the US would rejoin international efforts to fight climate change, that’s most welcome. But I don’t see that this contradicts the ongoing cooperation between Europe and China. We have to gain as much support worldwide as possible to fight climate change,” he said.More from South China Morning Post: * EU will not be snubbed by Beijing, Chinese ambassador assures Germany * In his own words: German ambassador to China on Hong Kong, the economy and the Indo-Pacific * China reminds EU to chart its own course as European leaders reach out to BidenThis article China-EU decoupling not an option but Beijing must step up on markets, human rights, virus: German envoy first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.
Three executives were acquitted of charges of defrauding Convoy Global Holdings in Hong Kong, dealing a blow to the financial regulator’s attempt to instil financial discipline and crack down on white-collar malfeasance in the world’s fourth-largest capital market.District Court Judge Ernest Lin Kam-hung cleared former Convoy director Roy Cho Kwai-chee of one charge of publishing false statements in the company’s 2016 annual report on March 29, 2017.Two of Cho’s associates, former chief financial officer Christie Chan Lai-yee, 48, and former executive director Byron Tan Ye-kai, 52, were also found not guilty of charges. The three were charged with attempting to defraud HK$89 million from Convoy to buy a company linked to Cho.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.Convoy, one of the largest advisers of Hong Kong’s Mandatory Pension Fund (MPF) is a crucial piece in the so-called Enigma Network of companies, a cluster of interrelated companies with layers of overlapping shareholdings that have resisted regulatory crackdowns. Hong Kong’s financial regulator has mounted a multi-year campaign to bring the network down on suspicions of fraud, market manipulation and corporate malfeasance.SCMP Explainer: Who’s who in Hong Kong’s Enigma Network of companiesConvoy is one of the largest independent financial advisers in Hong Kong, with more than 100,000 customers. Trading in Convoy‘s shares has been halted since December 2017, and its management has changed after the investigation by the city’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) went public.The company had filed a number of civil lawsuits against Cho and his associates in 2017 and 2018 over HK$4 billion (US$516 million) that was allegedly pilfered from Convoy, including a suit seeking HK$715 million in compensation. Those cases are pending.Cho, 56, was born in India and moved to Hong Kong with his family while in his teens. He undertook medical studies at the University of Hong Kong and eventually qualified as a doctor. Known as “Dr. Cho” by acquaintances and others in the financial industry, he is an active trader of the city’s penny stocks, and was also involved in philanthropic work, including a US$3.2 million donation in 2016 to the Hong Kong University of Education.During the hearing, an ICAC representative told the court that Cho and his associates colluded to have Convoy spend HK$89 million to acquire True Surplus International, an investment company, in September 2016. With the help of his associates, Cho was able to hide the fact that he was a substantial shareholder in Convoy at the time. He was also able to hide the fact that he had a 55 per cent shareholding in True Surplus. The stock exchange was also not aware of the fact that Cho received HK$57 million from the deal, according to the ICAC.The prosecutor failed to bring any evidence – such as mobile phone records – to show collusion by the accused to commit a crime, the judge said today in his verdict at District Court in Wan Chai.“Any problem in Cho not disclosing information of the deal should be the responsibility of the whole board of directors, not just the three [defendants] in this case,” Mr Justice Lin said in his verdict, in Cantonese. “Overall, the prosecutor cannot provide evidence beyond reasonable doubt on the two charges on the three defendants. I rule to acquit all charges.”The three defendants were on bail before the verdict. They left the court separately after the acquittal. Cho allowed scores of reporters and photographers to take picture but did not answer any question.“Thank you for all your hard work,” Cho said as he walked out of the court free from three years of investigations and a year of criminal proceedings.The court adjourned its proceedings for the day, releasing all three defendants from custody, for court fees to be determined on December 7.“The ICAC will continue to collaborate with relevant regulatory bodies to combat corruption and related crimes in the financial sector so as to uphold the integrity of the market, maintain a level playing field for businesses, and Hong Kong’s status as an international financial centre,” the anti-graft agency’s spokeswoman said in a statement, adding that the ICAC will study the verdict in consultation with Hong Kong’s justice department before deciding whether to appeal.Today’s acquittal followed a boardroom tussle last week, when Convoy’s second-biggest shareholder Kwok Hui-kwan failed in his second attempt since 2017 to remake the board and management of the company.Convoy is managed by directors and executives backed by the family of Richard Tsai, who paid HK$1.5 billion for a 29.98 per cent stake in a placement of new shares in October 2015 and became its largest shareholder.Kwok, 29, is the son of Kwok Ying-shing, founder of Shenzhen-based developer Kaisa Group Holdings. He spent HK$800 million for his 29.91 per cent stake in Convoy in mid-2017, making him the second-largest shareholder, according to sources.The tussle is the second attempt by Kwok to wrest control of Convoy from the Tsai family when his votes were excluded from a tally. He wants to replace the entire 12-member board with six new candidates including former secretary for financial services and the treasury Frederick Ma Si-hang and legislator Abraham Shek Lai-him.A shareholders’ meeting at Convoy’s Wan Chai office was stopped 10 minutes on November 26 after proceedings began and before votes could be counted. The company said it would postpone the shareholders meeting until January, according to a stock exchange filing.The war of words among the two major shareholders continue. Convoy issued an announcement late last Thursday claiming it had suspended the meeting due to the disruption by Kwok’s representative. Kwok hit back in a paid-advertisement in half a dozen of newspaper on Monday, claiming his representative has done nothing wrong.Convoy has not released its financial statements since the middle of 2017, and has not held any annual meetings among shareholders since then. The stock exchange earlier this year has decided to delist its shares, but the company is appealing against the decision.More from South China Morning Post: * Convoy stymies second-largest shareholder’s bid for board seat, repelling boardroom coup as court verdict looms on fraud case * Mystery buyer attempts to acquire major Convoy shareholder’s stake ahead of crucial vote, court ruling * Roy Cho, alleged mastermind of Hong Kong’s biggest fraud case, denies fresh charge of deceiving staff at Convoy as trial gets under wayThis article Hong Kong court acquits Roy Cho and associates in Convoy’s fraud case, dealing blow to regulator’s crackdown on white collar crime first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.