July 28 - August 3, 2020
Legislative election postponed for a year 
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government announced (Jul 31) that, amid the severe COVID-19 epidemic situation, the 2020 Legislative Council General Election, originally scheduled for Sep 6, will be postponed for a year to Sep 5, 2021, in order to protect public safety and public health as well as ensure elections are conducted openly and fairly. The HKSAR Government explained (Aug 3) that it was the only viable option to postpone the election, stressing that the health and well-being of all Hong Kong people is its overriding concern. “We are at a critical juncture in our current battle against COVID-19. If not handled resolutely, the current wave of infections could spiral out of control to overwhelm our public hospital system,” said a government spokesman. With the stringent social distancing measures in place, no meaningful electioneering activities could be conducted. Moreover, the strict boundary control measures make it virtually impossible for voters from the Mainland and overseas to return to cast their vote. “The decision to postpone the election is therefore to protect public health and to protect the voting rights of all registered voters,” the spokesman added.
Government backs returning officers
The HKSAR Government said (Jul 30) it agrees with and supports the decisions of Returning Officers to invalidate 12 nominees for this year’s Legislative Council General Election. The Government noted that Returning Officers clearly state that, in determining the validity of nominations, the core question is whether the nominee has complied with the declaration requirement under section 40(1)(b)(i) of the Legislative Council Ordinance to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the HKSAR. The Returning Officers’ decisions aim to ensure that the election is held in strict accordance with the Basic Law and other applicable laws in an open, honest and fair manner. There is no question of any political censorship, restriction of the freedom of speech or deprivation of the right to stand for elections.
Hong Kong suspends legal pacts
The HKSAR Government issued (Jul 28 and Aug 3) notices to the Australian, British, Canadian, and New Zealand consulates to suspend the agreements on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters with these countries. In a statement, the HKSAR Government said it is an international practice to safeguard national security through the enactment of laws. However, these countries have unilaterally suspended the agreements on surrender of fugitive offenders with the HKSAR using the enactment of the National Security Law in Hong Kong as an excuse. The HKSAR Government will, as always, uphold the principle of mutual assistance and reciprocity, and carry out law enforcement co-operation with other members of the international community in accordance with the law.
Leadership transition at HKETONY
Director of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, New York (HKETONY) Joanne Chu will be returning to Hong Kong later this week on completion of her posting tenure. Ms Chu has served as Director of HKETONY since Aug 2017. “It has been an exciting and rewarding three years promoting bilateral ties in all areas from business and trade to arts and culture between Hong Kong and the 31 states in the eastern US,” said Ms Chu. “I have had the pleasure of meeting Americans from all walks of life during the last three years and promoting a greater understanding of Hong Kong and its unique position as a global business and arts and cultural hub.”

Candy Nip will succeed Ms Chu as Director of HKETONY on Aug 7. Prior to this appointment, Ms Nip has worked in various policy bureaux and departments, including the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, Transport and Housing Bureau and the Chief Executive’s Office. She has also worked in the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Brussels, promoting bilateral ties between Hong Kong and the European Commission as well as European Union Members States. As Director of HKETONY, Ms Nip will oversee promotional work between Hong Kong and the 31 eastern states of the US, working with local stakeholders in academics, arts and culture, business and political sectors through various activities. “I look forward to working with our partners in the US to continue the friendship between the two places,” said Ms Nip.
Social distancing measures extended
Hong Kong’s existing social distancing measures, including the ban on gatherings of more than two people and mandatory mask-wearing in public places, will be extended until Aug 11. The HKSAR Government said it is necessary to extend relevant social distancing measures in view of the severe epidemic situation. Restaurants, except those granted exemptions, must cease to provide dine-in services from 6pm to 4.59am of the subsequent day. They may offer takeaway services and deliveries during the period. The number of customers at any catering premises at any one time must not exceed 50% of the normal seating capacity. Tables must be arranged with a distance of at least 1.5 meters or a partition. Bars and pubs, and 13 types of scheduled premises should also remain closed. Separately, seven members of the Mainland nucleic acid test support team arrived (Aug 2) in the city to support the HKSAR Government’s anti-epidemic work. They will assist with the preparation for a temporary laboratory with a view to raising the virus testing capability to meet the city’s need to extend its community testing coverage.
Government extends work arrangement
The HKSAR Government announced (Jul 30) that aside from those providing emergency services and essential public services, all other government employees should continue to work from home until Aug 9. As the local epidemic situation remains severe, it is necessary to continue to take measures to significantly reduce people flow and social contact to stop COVID-19 from further spreading in the community. Government departments will continue to provide emergency and essential public services. The Government also strongly appealed to employers of private organizations to allow their staff to work from home as far as possible.
Applications for Youde scholarships open
Applications for overseas fellowships and scholarships by the Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fund Council for the 2021-22 academic year are open until Sep 18. The fellowships and scholarships encourage outstanding students to pursue further education in reputable institutions overseas. Candidates should have a strong sense of commitment to Hong Kong and be ready to contribute significantly to the community upon graduation. The fellowships are for studies leading to postgraduate degrees either by research or by coursework. The maximum value of a fellowship is US$38,461 per year, tenable for up to three years for a doctoral degree or two years for a master’s degree. The scholarships are for studies leading to undergraduate degrees with a maximum value of US$35,897 per year, tenable for up to three years.
  • According to estimates, Hong Kong’s GDP decreased by 9% in real terms in the second quarter of 2020 from a year earlier, mainly due to the continued weak performance in both domestic and external demand. The finalized GDP figures for the second quarter of 2020, along with the revised GDP forecast for 2020 will be released on Aug 14.
  • Hong Kong’s expenditure for the period April to June 2020 amounted to US$22.6 billion and revenue US$8.6 billion, resulting in a cumulative year-to-date deficit of US$13.9 billion. Fiscal reserves stood at US$134.7 billion as at Jun 30. 
  • Total assets of Hong Kong’s Exchange Fund amounted to US$537.8 billion as at Jun 30. Hong Kong dollar assets increased by US$11.1 billion and foreign currency assets increased by US$3.3 billion.
Hong Kong and its Basic Law
The Basic Law (BL) is the constitutional document of the HKSAR. Put into effect on July 1, 1997, it enshrines within a legal document the important concept of “One Country, Two Systems”. 

Q: What does the Basic Law say about democratic development in Hong Kong?
A: The Basic Law sets out the blueprint for the democratic development of the HKSAR. The method for selecting the Chief Executive and forming the Legislative Council shall be specified in the light of the actual situation in the HKSAR and in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress. The ultimate aim is the election of the Chief Executive and all the members of the Legislative Council by universal suffrage. (BL Articles 45; 68; Annexes I and II)
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