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News this month

Slowing down

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has forecast a slowing of Hong Kong's economic growth in 2008. While Hong Kong does not appear overly exposed to America’s subprime crisis, it faces risks associated with a slump in global demand for its exports. According to the IMF, its annual growth rate will be less than 5%, after running at about 7.5% between 2004 and 2006, and an expected 6% in 2007. The fund repeated its warning that Hong Kong must broaden its tax base. This raises anew the possibility of a goods-and-services tax, which Donald Tsang, Hong Kong's chief executive, proposed last year. His plan had been rebuffed for being too onerous on the poor.



EPA
EPA

A touchy subject

Harbour squabble

A court is considering whether Hong Kong’s government acted illegally when it approved—without public consultation—the Highway Department’s plans to reclaim part of Victoria Harbour. According to a local law, reclamations are allowed only when there is an “overriding public need”. Implicit in that condition has been a requirement to consult the public. The government claims that in this case a consultation was unnecessary, as the reclamation is supposed to be temporary. The new land is said to be needed to build a bypass between Central and Wanchai districts; it can be removed when the project is finished—in about seven years’ time.


Park problems

Mai Po, a bird sanctuary in northern Hong Kong, closed for three weeks in February owing to worries over bird flu. A great egret was suspected to have died of the disease, which is endemic to south-east China. In 1997, an outbreak of bird flu in Hong Kong killed six people. Since then many forms of bird rearing, including commercial pigeon- and quail-farming, have been banned, and detection and reporting systems have been upgraded. Concern over the disease also forced the closure of aviaries at Ocean Park in early February.


X-rated

Several female celebrities were embarrassed when photos depicting them partially nude and in compromising positions were posted on the internet. The photos came from the computer of Edison Chen, a Hong Kong singer and actor, who stars in the latest “Batman” film. The pictures, which were apparently downloaded while his computer was being repaired, rapidly became the talk of the town and prompted a public apology from Mr Chen.


Travel spotlight

Visitors to Hong Kong should keep a careful eye on their valuables when travelling by taxi. To retrieve a belonging accidentally left behind is not always simple. A report in the Sunday Morning Post reveals that drivers have been forcing customers to pay for the return of lost items, such as phones and computers. Though it is illegal to demand recompense, the newspaper quoted an official from the taxi drivers' union, who said that HK$1,000 ($128) was considered a fair price for the return of a laptop. Passengers may also be charged for calls made over the taxi companies' radio systems to find lost items. At the end of any ride, be sure to get a receipt, so that your taxi can be identified.


It is 2:17 p.m. Friday in Hong Kong, 66°F/19°C
(Forecast)

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From The Economist

A good lesson for Hong Kong
Feb 7th 2008

Emerging Asia
Jan 24th 2008

Rupert Murdoch
Jan 24th 2008

From the web:

UPDATE 1-Nokia '07 greater China exports $9.2 bln, up 30 pct
(Reuters) Fri 05:21 GMT

Russia Supersedes US & China as Largest Malware Producer
(Yahoo! Canada) Fri 05:21 GMT

Rising costs squeeze Chinese factories; some companies look to cheaper markets
(AOL.com) Fri 05:21 GMT


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