Hong Kong leader asks to maintain election day peace to resume dialogue

Robie de Guzman   •   November 26, 2019   •   354

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks to reporters during a press conference in Hong Kong, China, 26 November 2019. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy candidates rose to a landslide victory in the district council elections on 25 November 2019 in a record voter turnout, sending a strong message to the government and its allies. EPA-EFE/FAZRY ISMAIL

Hong Kong’s chief executive asked Tuesday to maintain the “peaceful and safe environment” witnessed in last weekend’s local elections day to resume dialogue and find a solution for protests that have rocked the city since June.

Carrie Lam made the statements during her weekly press conference – the first after her crushing defeat in the elections, in which the pro-democracy opposition won 388 of the 452 available seats.

Asked whether she would yield to the protesters’ demands and investigate alleged police brutality in protests, Lam said she would “set up an independent review committee” to look at the protests’ causes and “identify the underlying problems, social, economic or even political and to recommend measures that the Government should take.”

The Hong Kong leader said she would take as an example the response of British authorities to the riots in Tottenham, London, in 2011.

Regarding the election result, Lam said “this particular election has clearly reflected that many voters wanted to express their opinions and views to the Government, to myself.”

“The views and opinions expressed are quite diverse. There are people who wanted to express a view that they could no longer tolerate the violence on the streets, there are of course people who felt that the Government has not competently handled the legislative exercise and its aftermath,” the leader said.

She called for an end to the violence and demanded to maintain the “relative calm and peace that we have seen in the last week,” which allowed elections to be held in a “peaceful and fair environment” despite doubts on whether it would be wise to hold them.

Lam congratulated elected candidates and praised those who stood for elections, “especially those who were threatened” during the process.

Lam had dismissed the idea that elections were a test toward her government’s support.

“The voices of Hong Kong residents were heard. Hong Kong residents don’t want the society to be in a chaotic situation and […] so we could restore order to our normal life,” she added.

With a record of more than 71-percent voter turnout, the elections showed society’s support toward the protest movement and their dissatisfaction with authorities’ actions, since the after pro-democracy candidates took more than 85 percent of the seats.

Being a simple majority electoral system in which the candidate who gets the most votes is elected, the difference in the vote percentage was much smaller: the pro-democracy bloc gained 57 percent of the votes while the pro-Beijing camp received 41 percent. EFE-EPA

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First Hong Kong policeman infected by virus, concern of contagion among force

UNTV News   •   February 21, 2020

HONG KONG – A Hong Kong police officer has been confirmed infected with the coronavirus, authorities said on Friday (February 21), the first officer to test positive in the Asian financial hub as 59 other officers were quarantined over concerns of contagion.

The 48-year-old officer had attended a banquet with 59 other policemen in the city’s western district on Feb 18. Everyone who attended is now quarantined with four policemen showing mild symptoms, according to health department authority.

Hong Kong has 69 confirmed cases of the virus and two deaths so far. Recent virus cases have included a fast-food restaurant worker and a taxi driver, both of whom were exposed to many other people, authorities said.

The former British colony’s economy has been hit hard as tourist arrivals slump and residents keep away from shops, miring the city in its first recession in a decade.

(Production: Joyce Zhou)

Filipino maid tested positive for COVID-19 in Hong Kong “in good condition”

Marje Pelayo   •   February 20, 2020

HONG KONG – The Philippine Consulate General’s office confirmed on Thursday (February 20) that the Filipino maid who contracted the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is now in stable condition.

Maganda ang kaniyang disposisyon at hindi siya kinakikitaan ng sintomas ng sakit gaya ng sipon, ubo, at lagnat (Her disposition is good and she is not showing signs of illness like cold, cough or fever),” the Consulate General’s office said in a statement.

Siya ay nasa mabuting kalagayan (She is in good condition),” the office confirmed.

The Pinay worker, however, is still not allowed to accept visitors as the results of the series of tests on her samples are still pending.

The Consulate preferred not to disclose the identity of the Filipino helper as requested by the patient herself but the office assured to provide her the necessary assistance on the course of her recovery.

Meanwhile, the Consulate General’s Office reiterates its appeal to the public not to spread fake news on social media so as not to cause panic.

Muli rin pong nanawagan ang Konsulado na iwasan ang pagpapakalat ng mga ‘fake news’ o anumang impormasyon na hindi beripikado (The Consulate Office reiterates our call (on Filipinos) to avoid spreading fake news or any unverified information),” the Consulate General’s office stressed.

Ito po ay upang maiwasan ang alarma at pagaalala lalo na ng ating mga mahal sa buhay (So as not to cause alarm and panic among our relatives),” it added.

Official information and updates regarding the situation of Filipinos in Hong Kong in relation to COVID-19 outbreak may be accessed on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PHLinHK/.  

Health waivers mandatory for Filipinos leaving for Hong Kong, Macau

Marje Pelayo   •   February 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Filipino household helpers may now return to their employers in Hong Kong after the Philippine government ordered a partial lifting of the travel ban amid the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Brigido Dulay confirmed the order on Tuesday (February 18) as Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo noted that the partial lifting was in response to the mounting requests from returning workers to Hong Kong.

“There had been persistent requests from the OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) themselves,” he said.

“In fact, I received one call that he was fired from that position because he has not gone back, maybe that’s the reason why,” he added.

However, confusions emerged over the terms and conditions for their return, specifically the government’s requirement that they sign a written declaration acknowledging the risk of coronavirus infection if they head to the administrative territory.

But the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) stressed that such declaration is mandatory.

“With the exemption, OFWs returning to Hong Kong and Macau shall be required to execute a declaration which states that they are aware of the risks involved,” the DFA said in an advisory.

“Newly-hired Filipino employees are likewise exempted from the ban as long as they also sign the form that can be obtained from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA),” it added.

Nonetheless, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin assured that despite the risk, the government will always be ready to provide them assistance even as one Filipino maid has been confirmed positive for the virus.

“Don’t worry, they’ll sign health waivers but we won’t waive our obligation to take care of them wherever they are,” Locsin said.

Aside from the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), Filipinos with permanent residency status in Macau and China are also allowed to depart as well as Filipino students enrolled there.

Meanwhile, Filipino travelers from China with foreign spouses and their children will also be allowed entry to the Philippines as well as all holders of diplomatic visas subject to a 14-day quarantine period upon arrival.

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