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    Executive Producer:Diana Wan


    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.

    Contact: wanyt@rthk.hk


    • Crisis at public hospitals: is one-way permit scheme to be blamed? Discussion with Joseph Wong & Sze Lai-shan & nurses' workload

      Crisis at public hospitals: is one-way permit scheme to be blamed? Discussion with Joseph Wong & Sze Lai-shan & nurses' workload

      Hello and welcome to The Pulse. As Tim Wong, a doctor who works in the Accident and Emergency services, told us last week, staff in the public hospital sector have been working at breaking point for a long time. He argued that the public healthcare system is facing a systematic crisis. Front-line medical staff often point to the speed at which Hong Kong’s population is growing without a corresponding increase in public health manpower. They want to see a review of population policy, particularly the one-way permit scheme that allows 150 people from the mainland to settle in Hong Kong every day. With us are Sze Lai-shan, Community Organiser for the Society for Community Organization and former Secretary for the Civil Service Joseph Wong.

      The current ratio of doctors to patients in Hong Kong’s public health service is 1.9 to 1,000. The ratio of nurses to patients is 7.1 to 1,000. The average length of time a doctor can spend with each patient is down to just a few minutes. Public hospitals are overcrowded, and medical staff are overworked. Last year and this year, the government allocated additional “one-off” HK$500 million funds to tackle the winter flu surge. But front-line staff say it’s not necessarily helping on the ground, and the problems they face extend well beyond the flu season.

    • Crisis at public hospitals: discussion with doctor Tim Wong at QEH A&E & recycling red packets

      Crisis at public hospitals: discussion with doctor Tim Wong at QEH A&E & recycling red packets

      Kung Hey Fat Choi! Hello and welcome to The Pulse.

      Lunar New Year celebrations are filled with traditions and customs, some of which, it must be admitted, do take a toll on the environment. Later in the show: the red packet, and how we could share some of our good fortune in a more environmentally-friendly way.

      Before that though, Hong Kong’s flu season always places heavy demands on our health system. This year, it’s made it all too clear that our public hospitals are facing a staffing crisis. In recent weeks doctors, nurses and support staff have staged a series of protests to urge the government and the Hospital Authority to address on-going overcrowding, manpower and systemic problems in our public hospitals.

    • Interview with Grenville Cross on UGL case and public prosecutions & government open data plan

      Interview with Grenville Cross on UGL case and public prosecutions & government open data plan

      Chief Executive Carrie Lam wants Hong Kong to become a Smart City. In last year’s Policy Address, she allocated HK$50 billion for technology initiatives. But is the government’s mindset and policies ready for all this smartness? More on that later. While Carrie Lam was running for the top job she made a promise. She repeated that promise in her first Policy Address: it was to strengthen and to extend Hong Kong’s anti-corruption laws to cover the currently exempted chief executive. Beijing has reportedly rejected her idea, maybe in order to avoid a repeat of the CY Leung/UGL saga. With us to discussion this issue is Ian Grenville Cross, senior counsel, law professor and former director of public prosecutions.

      The goal of a smart city is to enhance the quality of life through technology, particularly in the areas of the economy, the ecosystem, and education. But what makes a city a Smart City? Well one basic requirement is that there’s open access to public data so that everyone can use it to improve efficiency of services such as energy, transport, and utilities. In theory, that should reduce both waste and costs. Does Hong Kong sound like it’s becoming a Smart City? Well, the Chief Executive says she wants it to be so. Official are opening up government data for public use, but there’s a lot more to be done.

    • Interview with Law Chi-kwong, Sec. for Labour & Welfare on elderly social security allowances & employment

      Interview with Law Chi-kwong, Sec. for Labour & Welfare on elderly social security allowances & employment

      We’re less than a month into 2019 and Hong Kong is already being hit with health and social care crises. The health care system is under siege, with staff in public hospitals working at breaking point as the wards overflow with patients affected by the current flu season. Meanwhile, the population is ageing. Elderly poverty has increased. And the wealth gap between rich and poor is the widest it’s been in 45 years.

      When the government decided to give a special $4,000 cash payment the arrangement was chaotic, bureaucratic, even by government standards and seemingly oblivious of the fact that these days online systems are widely available for this sort of thing. And before that there was the announcement of raising the age of eligibility for elderly social security assistance from 60 to 65. This sparked wall to wall opposition in Legco and a partial government back down, but the row continues.

    • Brexit discussion: Martin Chung, HKBU & John Bruce, Scottish Business Group of Britcham & African Swine Fever

      Brexit discussion: Martin Chung, HKBU & John Bruce, Scottish Business Group of Britcham & African Swine Fever

      On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Teresa May faced an unprecedentedly crushing defeat in the House of Commons. Her Brexit deal which sets out the terms under which Britain might leave the European Union was rejected by 230 votes. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tried to capitalise on this with a motion of no confidence in the government. However this manoeuvre was defeated with the help of Mrs May’s Northern Ireland allies, the DUP who dislike Mr Corbyn even more than the government – so she survived but only with a margin of 19 votes. Parliament however has forced her to come back with another exit plan by the 21st. So what does all this mean for Britain? With us to talk about that are Martin Chung, Assistant Professor of the Dept. of Govt. & International Studies at the Baptist University and John Bruce, Chairman of the Scottish Business Group of the British Chamber of Commerce Hong Kong.

      According to a report from the European Commission released last year, an average Hong Kong person consumes almost 103 kg of pork, beef, poultry and other meat every year. It’s one of the highest per capita intakes in the world, higher than Europe and the United States. And it’s fed by a sizeable daily movement of live pigs across the border that’s now threatened by an outbreak of African swine fever across the mainland. Worried for the health of their own livestock, Hong Kong’s 43 pig farmers have urged the government to stop the highly contagious virus coming here.

    • Land supply for housing discussion with Stanley Wong & Paul Zimmerman

      Land supply for housing discussion with Stanley Wong & Paul Zimmerman

      One thing that’s not going to go disappear from Hong Kong any time soon is poverty. According to a government report released in November one in five people are now living below the poverty line. The number of elderly poor people has increased by almost 4%, to 478,000. So it came as little surprise that there was wall to wall criticism when Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that she is raising the age limit for elderly welfare payments from 60 to 65 from next month. Saying that she herself was over 60 and still working at least ten hours a day, Ms Lam insisted there was nothing inhumane about the adjustment, it just reflected social circumstances. On Thursday, she told legislators that she was “shocked” by their criticism as the adjustment was approved in last year’s budget vote, a vote supported by pro-government legislators.

      And that wasn’t the only awkward moment she had that day, when asked whether she would implement the recently released report from the Task Force on Land Supply, Ms Lam said it would be “irresponsible” for her to fully accept its suggestions. With me to talk about the issue are Stanley Wong, Chairman of the Task Force on Land Supply and Paul Zimmerman, CEO of Designing Hong Kong.

    • Year in Finance & 2019 Economic Outlook

      Year in Finance & 2019 Economic Outlook

      Happy new year! Hello and welcome to the first edition of The Pulse for 2019.

      Well the year opened with a sharp downturn in global stock markets which followed a pretty dismal year for investors in 2018, the S&P 500 registered its worst downturn since the financial crisis of 2008. On the first trading of the year U.S. stocks plunged. They dropped even further on Thursday, largely due to Apple’s warnings of reduced revenue caused by lower-than-expected iPhone sales, particularly in China. Hong Kong and Chinese stock markets were also hit hard. Indeed the Hang Seng Index reflected the worst first trading day of a new year in over two decades.

      The U.S. Federal Reserve ended 2018 with a fourth interest rate hike in mid-December. Faced by a trade war between the United States and China, a U.S government shut down, Brexit, and a myriad of other business concerns, many market analysts are predicting a global economic slowdown in 2019. With us to talk about that are Tara Joseph, President of American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and Felix Chung, leader of the Liberal Party.

    • Year 2018 in politics, freedom of expression & press

      Year 2018 in politics, freedom of expression & press

      In this week’s show we’re taking stock of 2018. It’s fair to say that not all has been smooth sailing. Although Hong Kong survived super typhoon Mangkhut in September, the devastation aftermath lingers. And the year also saw the passing of several prominent figures, including scholar Jao Tsung-I, novelist Louis Cha, Physics Nobel laureate Charles Kao, and the singer Ellen Loo. Well how’s “One country, Two systems” doing? Throughout the year there’ve been signs of an increasing blurring of boundaries between the mainland and Hong Kong. Logistically, the pace of that transition increased with the opening of two mega structures, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge and the Express Rail Link but that dissolution of boundaries is also taking place in the political and social spheres, as there has been some more vigorous drawing of red lines that restrict Hong Kong’s freedoms. With us to talk about these issues are Patrick Poon of Amnesty International and Albert Ho.

      From all of us at The Pulse, all the very best for 2019 – hopefully that wish does not cross any new red line. See you next year.

    • UGL: interview with James Tien, start-ups in Silicon Valley & HK

      UGL: interview with James Tien, start-ups in Silicon Valley & HK

      Last week, after a four year investigation, the Independent Commission Against Corruption or ICAC handed in a report on the undeclared HK$50 million payment made to former Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, shortly before assuming office. The payment was made by the Australian engineering firm UGL. When the ICAC investigation was given to the Department of Justice – it acted with extreme speed to declare that there was no case to answer-and refused to give any reasons why this was so. With us to talk about it is James Tien, Honorary Chair of the Liberal Party.

      The arrest of Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Canada pending extradition to the United States is seen by many as being part of the ongoing battle for technological dominance between the US and China. At the moment however the most visible embodiment of this battle is the escalating trade war.
      Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government is placing its hopes on the development of the Greater Bay Area as a technological hub. This year the government allocated HK$10 billion to establish two IT clusters at the Hong Kong Science Park as well as providing another HK$7 billion and HK$200 million to the Science Park and Cyberport respectively to help local start-ups. Yet while some see the competition between the US and China for technological dominance as a zero-sum game companies straddling the two nations hope for a future that benefits from co-operation more than competition.

    • US-China technology war: discussion with David Zweig & William Nee & gene-edited babies

      US-China technology war: discussion with David Zweig & William Nee & gene-edited babies

      The United States is not only engaged in a trade war with the People’s Republic of China, the two nations are also vying for supremacy in technology and telecommunications. “Made in China 2025” is a state sponsored strategy to make the nation a major competitor in advanced manufacturing, a sector currently dominated by high-income, developed countries such as United States. The U.S. which currently tops the world in artificial intelligence, supercomputers, patent applications, aerospace and other technological innovations, sees this as a threat. One of the fallouts of this competition seems to be the recent arrest of a high ranking Chinese telecommunications executive in Canada at the request of the United States. With me are David Zweig, Director of the Centre on China’s Transnational Relations at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and William Nee, China researcher at Amnesty International

      Last month, Chinese scientist He Jiankui announced the birth of the world’s first “designer babies”, Lulu and Nana. He had, he said, modified their genetic make-up before birth to reduce their chances of contracting HIV from their parents. Despite a global outcry, Dr He said, before disappearing from sight, that he is proud of his work. The technology he used is called Crispr, a genetic engineering technique that has raised fears, ethical issues and many unanswered questions.