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RTHK's English-language current affairs programme that takes "The Pulse" of Hong Kong ... and the world around it.



    Executive Producer:Diana Wan

    RTHK's English-language current affairs programme that takes "The Pulse" of Hong Kong ... and the world around it.

    "The Pulse" is presented by locally and internationally known journalist and writer Steve Vines.

    Its focus? The latest events and trends that affect Hong Kong - from the corridors of power and business boardrooms, to the streets and dai pai dongs.

    "The Pulse" is politics. What's happening in the Legislative Council and on the streets right now.

    "The Pulse" is the media, informing us how well or badly our press and broadcast organisations diagnose and reflect the society around us.

    "The Pulse" is insightful, in-depth reports and interviews on current issues - examining those issues in depth, looking behind and beyond the news.

    Its focus is on the timely. The Now.

    Keep your eye ... and your finger ... on "The Pulse".

    If you want to discuss anything you've seen in "The Pulse", or anything in the public eye right now, or just to talk about the show, why not join in the debate on our Facebook page, RTHK's The Pulse. 

    The programme is aired every Saturday on RTHK 31 & 31A at 18:00, and a repeat on Sundays at 06:30.

    Archive available later after broadcast. ** Please note that the programme air-time on TV is different with webcast time.

    Find us on Facebook: RTHK's The Pulse




    12 - 02
    2017 - 2018
    RTHK 31
    • Vatican & China and Putonghua in HK Baptist U

      Vatican & China and Putonghua in HK Baptist U

      The People’s Republic of China is a self-declared atheist state. During the Cultural Revolution, religious figures and symbols were condemned, vandalised and destroyed. Organised religion has been viewed as a threat to state power. Recently, Christian churches have been destroyed and crosses taken down, and at the recent Party congress, religion was once again declared an enemy of Communism. Yet the Vatican and China seem to be coming to a rapprochement, but at what cost? On Friday, Cardinal Zen, the most senior and outspoken opponent of this rapprochement, spoke to a number of reporters.

      Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin who said: “Education is a weapon whose effect depends on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.” Is this relevant to the situation in Hong Kong? Well many people believe that since the Handover, the government has been on a mission to use the local education system to inculcate so-called patriotic and motherland-loving views. Language has become one of the battlegrounds. Last month, a group of around 30 Hong Kong students entered the Baptist University’s Language Centre and embarked on a standoff that lasted eight hours. They were protesting about the university’s requirement that students have to either pass a newly-introduced Putonghua exemption test or take a Putonghua course to graduate. 70% of those who sat the recent tests have failed. Students say the test went beyond “basic communication skills” and wasn’t what the school promised when discussion started two years ago. As a result of the protest, two students were suspended and charged with “behavioural misconduct”. The suspension was lifted after the students made “sincere personal apologies”, although disciplinary proceedings are going ahead.

      On Tuesday night, a 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck Hualien in Taiwan. The city is not only home to about 100,000 people but is also a popular tourist hub. As of our recording time, the official death toll stood at ten, with at least 67 people still missing. We’ll leave you with images of the rescue operation. See you next week.

    • Disqualification of candidates in by-election: discussion with Nathan Law, air pollution & tribute to Michael Wright

      Disqualification of candidates in by-election: discussion with Nathan Law, air pollution & tribute to Michael Wright

      Two weeks ago, 21-year-old Agnes Chow Ting, a member of Demosisto, deferred her final year at university, renounced her British citizenship, and submitted her application to run in the up-coming by-election. The by-election is designed to fill six seats previously filled by pro-democracy lawmakers who have been kicked out of Legco. However Ms Chow’s application to run has been disallowed, alongside three others would-be candidates. With us in the studio is the Chairman of Demosisto, Nathan Law, one of the six pro-democracy lawmakers disqualified six months ago and, I may add, also among the three Occupy movement leaders who have just been nominated as Nobel Peace Prize laureates by US lawmakers.

      Last Monday, according to the World Air Quality Index, Hong Kong’s air pollution was five times worse than in Beijing. The pollution level was at an “unhealthy” 192 on the Air Quality index, compared to 34 in Beijing where air quality was, for once, categorised as “good”. Thirteen general stations and three roadside stations were recording levels in the “Very High” to “Serious” risk ranges. Tung Chung and Tuen Mun saw the worst of it. It was the second time in five days that pollution had posed serious health risks.

      Michael Wright, the former Director of Public Works, died in London last Friday at the age of 105. He was known in Hong Kong as the “Father of Public Housing”, a man who had determined that even public housing tenants should have the dignity of a private kitchen and toilet. This became known as the “Wright Principle”. A prisoner of war during the Japanese Occupation, he was later tasked with rebuilding and developing Hong Kong and was in charge of many major infrastructural projects, including the Lion Rock Tunnel, the Mass Transit Railway, the Central Government Offices in Central, Queen’s Pier, and City Hall. Last June, The Pulse spoke to him in London.

    • SJ Teresa Cheng's home scandal: discussion with Dennis Kwok & Michael Tien, child abuses and prevention measures

      SJ Teresa Cheng's home scandal: discussion with Dennis Kwok & Michael Tien, child abuses and prevention measures

      The controversy over the property dealings of Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng has intensified. In a late-night statement released last Sunday, Cheng disclosed three more illegal structures in her flat in Repulse Bay. She also owns companies that bought three other properties in Tuen Mun and Shatin, Ms Cheng allegedly paid HK$62 million for the Southern District flat. She is then said to have saved HK6.6 million in stamp duties by claiming to be a first-time buyer. Ten illegal structures had already been found in adjoining villas belonging to her and her husband in Tuen Mun. With us to talk about this are legislators Dennis Kwok of the Civic Party and Michael Tien of Roundtable.

      According to a recent report from the Social Welfare Department, almost 60% of abused children are abused by from their parents. A total of 704 cases were reported from January to September last year. Many social workers believe this is the small tip of a much bigger iceberg. Official figures also indicate that of Hong Kong’s 20 residential districts, Yuen Long has the highest number of child abuse cases, followed by Kwun Tong and Tuen Mun. Meanwhile schools and social workers are working together to do their best to prevent repeats of recent tragedies.

      “They say I am a virgin on a stallion, Mounting a stallion my Dear Leader gave me. All my life I will live to uphold his name!” So go the catchy lyrics of a highly popular song by Hyong Song-wol, a singer with North Korea’s all-female Moranbong Band. Ms Hyong is also said to be particularly close to the country’s leader Kim Jong-un.
      And it is now clear that rumours of her execution have been exaggerated as, Ms Hyong is alive and well. So well in fact that last week she crossed into South Korea to arrange two performances by the 140-member Samjiyon art troupe for next month’s Winter Olympics. They’ll be playing folk songs and classic pieces popular on both sides of the border. And on that note it’s time for team Pulse to mount our stallions and go home. We’ll see you next week and the Dear Leader is most welcome to join us.

    • By-elections pan-dem primaries, interview with Joseph Cheng & eWallet

      By-elections pan-dem primaries, interview with Joseph Cheng & eWallet

      Last Sunday, the pan-democratic camp held its primaries to decide who should run in the upcoming March by-elections. Despite a lack of polling stations, facilities and money to spend on publicity, there was a high turnout that surprised even the organisers. This week, candidates from the pro-government camp have also been throwing their hats in the ring. With us in the studio to talk about that is political scientist and co-founder of Power of Democracy Joseph Cheng.

      Some observers were amused to see Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, recently paying a bar bill with a credit card, rather than with his smartphone. Yes there he was, the founder of the online cashless payment platform Alipay, reverting to an older payment technology. Digital payment is big in mainland China, which has some 668 million active internet users and 594 million mobile internet users. Instead of forking over notes and coins, many people are making even the smallest transactions via smartphones, QR codes and cards. The PRC is now the world’s largest e-commerce market. Its digital payment market is 50 times larger than that of the United States. But while digital payment gathers momentum in China and India, people in many other places, including Hong Kong, are adapting more slowly, often due to concerns about privacy and security.

    • SJ Teresa Cheng's house scandal, interview with SC Philip Dykes & recycling natural Christmas trees

      SJ Teresa Cheng's house scandal, interview with SC Philip Dykes & recycling natural Christmas trees

      Things haven’t got off to a particularly good start for the newly appointed Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng, whose very first day of work was also the day for apologies. Nine illegal structures have been found in her and her husband’s adjacent homes in Tuen Mun. It has since emerged that Ms Cheng signed a mortgage deed that makes no mention of her illegal basement. Chief Executive Carrie Lam has reiterated her support for Cheng and asked for “more tolerance”. She was then asked whether that plea for more tolerance extended to all civil servants and Hong Kong people or just to high-ranking officials. Given all of this, eyebrows were raised when the new Secretary for Justice used the opening of the Legal Year on Monday to speak about how “law exists in practice”.

      With us in the studio is senior counsel Philip Dykes who's running for the Chairman of the up-coming Hong Kong Bar Association's election. I should add that we did invite the current chairman of the Bar Association Paul Lam to join us but he declined.

      This week the UK government set out its plan to reduce levels of plastic waste. Previously much of the world’s waste, including British waste, was taken to China for recycling. By 2012, more than half of all international plastic waste was ending up there. However Beijing began the year by imposing restrictions on imports of 24 types of waste, including waste plastic, glass, slag, waste wool, ash, cotton, yarn and unsorted paper. But China and Hong Kong’s festive celebrations bring waste of their own, much of it organic, and – even though it’s biodegradable – it still places an extra burden on the environment.

      Well that’s it from us. Echoing the remarks of the new Secretary of Justice, we’re “far too busy” to linger longer. But before we go we’ll leave you with images of Ms Cheng’s “Villa de Mer” residence where the consequences of busyness are all too evident. See you next week. Goodbye.

    • New Year prices increase, cleaners on strike & interview with physicist Brian Cox

      New Year prices increase, cleaners on strike & interview with physicist Brian Cox

      Happy New Year! One that’s predictable about 2018 is that it's going to be more expensive than 2017. Among the prices already slated to go up are those of one popular fast food chain, electricity, public transport, postage, medical expenses, and even leisure activities. Add Hong Kong’s already high property prices and ongoing political uncertainty and it may not come as a surprise that a recent survey ranked Hong Kong as the world's seventh unhappiest city. With us in the studio to talk about labour rights and employment are Lee Cheuk-yan, General Secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions and Felix Chung leader of the Liberal Party.

      For some the beginning of the new year is a time to reflect or maybe set new goals and make resolutions. If you are of a philosophical frame of mind, it may even be a time to consider the really big things like where we’re all going. If hell and handbaskets aren’t the first thing to come to mind you could even consider the nature of the universe, human existence, or whether there really was a big bang. Who better to address some of those issues than British physicist, Professor Brian Cox, a man who’s done much to make physics accessible to TV audiences around the world? Producer Liz Yuen went to talk to him.

      Finally this week, on Friday morning Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced that Beijing had accepted the resignation of Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen. He’s to be replaced by Senior Counsel Teresa Cheng. We’ll leave you with a fondish farewell to Mr Yuen and wish you all the best for 2018, and we’ll see you next week.

    • XRL Co-location arrangement discussion with Tanya Chan & Lawrence Ma, retiree contribution to society

      XRL Co-location arrangement discussion with Tanya Chan & Lawrence Ma, retiree contribution to society

      On Wednesday, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee voted that part of the West Kowloon terminus should be regarded as mainland territory governed by mainland laws, a move that critics say further erodes the SAR’s autonomy and contradicts the Basic Law. With us in the studio are Tanya Chan, barrister, Civic Party legislator and member of the Panel on Transport, and Lawrence Ma, DAB member, barrister and chairman of the CA Legal Exchange Foundation to talk about the issue.

      The average lifespan for men in Hong Kong is 81 years and four months. Women get about six years longer. Those figures come from a study released in Japan last year, where those aged above 65 account for 12% of the workforce, and two-thirds of this age group say they want to stay gainfully employed. Hong Kong’s retirees rarely have the choice, with even the government enforcing retirement on its own employees at 60 or 65. Not only that, those who are retired can’t expect a lot of support.

      Architect Rocco Yim says that when he designed the government complex at Tamar he had in mind the idea of “an open door and not a barrier”. Well instead of an open door, fences have been put up around the complex and metal barricades are erected outside the Legislative Council building itself whenever the government expects rowdy protests. Since 2014, the so-called “Civic Square” the forecourt of the government headquarters, has been cordoned off after sit-ins that sparked the Occupy Movement. On Thursday, the government reopened that area as a passageway for visitors and staff, protests at this site will be permitted by appointment, and only on Sundays and public holidays. We’ll leave you with images of that interesting form of “re-opening”.

      See you next week in the new year for which best wishes from all of us here at The Pulse. Goodbye.

    • Long-term housing strategy, interview with Stanley Wong & Letters to Santa Claus

      Long-term housing strategy, interview with Stanley Wong & Letters to Santa Claus

      On Wednesday this week, Transport and Housing Bureau rolled out its Long Term Housing Strategy Annual Progress Report for this year. The government itself has previously estimated that up to 200,000 people may be living in coffin-like cubicles or subdivided flats. With more than 280,000 applicants currently in the queue for public housing the waiting time for a unit is, at 4.7 years. at a record high. The government has upwardly revised its ten-year plans for new public housing by 1,000 units to 280,000 so the shortfall has been reduced a little. But it’s still likely to be far from enough. With us in the studio to talk about that is Stanley Wong, Chairman of the Taskforce on Land Supply.

      For Christians, Christmas Day, December 25th, is primarily a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. In the West, it’s been, fairly arbitrarily, observed on that date on the Gregorian Calendar since around the fourth century. Some Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate it on the December 25th on the Julian Calendar, which falls on January 7th. For the less religious, and particularly children, the figure of Santa Claus or Father Christmas, may be even more synonymous with the season. He’s a bit of a merger of different figures from different traditions. But whether we know him by his older names of Captain Christmas or Sir Christmas, or as Father Christmas, or Santa Claus, children around the world write to him every year to tell him their wishes. And many of those letters do get answered.

      On Thursday, 12 members of Greenpeace scaled the Ferris wheel in Central to hang a large banner in protest against the government’s lack of control of plastic waste pollution. We’ll leave you with some images of that. A reminder to us all maybe to be a bit less wasteful over the holidays. Well, on that green note, the holiday season is upon us and it’s time for many to celebrate. From all of us at The Pulse, and at the risk of inciting the wrath of Donald Trump, Happy Holidays. Oh, and Merry Christmas.

    • Enigma Network with David Webb & public space at waterfront

      Enigma Network with David Webb & public space at waterfront

      In May activist investor David Webb published a report: “The Enigma Network: 50 stocks not to own”. The chart showed complex connections between 50 Hong Kong-listed small-cap companies. This involved a web of cross-shareholdings linking these companies. On 27th June, the value of many of those stocks plummeted, some by over 90%, wiping out more than 6 billion US dollars’ worth of investments. Last Thursday, in an unprecedented joint raid by the Securities and Futures Commission and the ICAC eight premises were searched and four senior company executives arrested. An earlier raid in October examined other connected companies. Trading in six companies has now been suspended.

      Whether its greenery in the heart of the city or in country parks, that are supposedly protected by law, there’s hardly a scrap of land that developers wouldn’t like to get their hands on. In some cases, they bring submission after submission to town planning boards in the hope that opponents of their developments will give up. Buildings that have a waterfront view today often find that view blocked by a new building tomorrow. We now have a Central waterfront promenade, but much of the north side of Hong Kong island is still off-limits to the public. Other areas where the public have tentative access may soon be lost.