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FS paves way to green, digital future

A number of initiatives and measures aimed at accelerating high-quality development were announced in today’s 2024-25 Budget, with the Government emphasising a move towards a green future and digitalisation.   Explaining that high-quality development spurs ongoing economic innovation and growth whilst conserving the natural environment, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said Hong Kong must pursue opportunities through leveraging its advantages under “one country, two systems”, namely those of enjoying strong support at a national level and being closely connected to other parts of the world.   He stressed that green development involves huge business opportunities and financing needs, as governments and businesses around the world pursue carbon neutrality and green transformation. In addition, he said digitalisation has become a new driving force for economic development, empowering enterprises to enhance efficiency, boost their competitiveness and achieve new growth.   Introdu

Govt rejects UK report on HK

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government today vehemently refuted, strongly disapproved of and firmly rejected the slandering remarks and ill-intentioned political attacks on the city under the successful application of “one country, two systems” in the so-called United Kingdom Six-monthly Report on Hong Kong: July to December 2022.   In a press statement, the Government again urged the UK to respect international law and the basic norms governing international relations and stop interfering in Hong Kong matters, which are purely China’s internal affairs.   Improved electoral system for patriots to administer HK The new electoral system has established the Legislative Council Election Committee Constituency which goes beyond the vested interests of various groups and districts, and broadened the representation in Hong Kong’s political structure in a balanced and orderly manner, thereby enhancing the city’s governance efficiency, the statement pointed out.   The seventh-term LegCo has, by way of its rational and constructive interaction with the executive authorities, fully manifested “patriots administering Hong Kong” through checks and balances as well as co-operation, while different voices in the legislature have steadfastly upheld Hong Kong’s overall interests, exemplifying quality democracy, it added.   Safeguarding National Security The Government strongly disapproves of the UK’s ignorance of the fact that the implementation of the National Security Law (NSL) has enabled the livelihood and economic activities of the Hong Kong community at large to resume as normal and the business environment to be restored.   It also said that trial by a panel of three judges instead of by a jury under specified circumstances in accordance with Article 46 of the NSL seeks to safeguard rather than undermine the defendants’ right to a fair trial, and judges will deliver the reasons for the verdicts to ensure open justice.   In fact, in order to safeguard national security, legislation is in place in Northern Ireland of the UK which authorises the prosecutorial authority to issue certificates so that certain types of cases must be tried by a judge without a jury, the Government noted.   Additionally, the sentencing regime for offences under the NSL seeks to effectively prevent, suppress and impose punishment for acts and activities endangering national security.   There are precedents in common law jurisdictions to prescribe mandatory sentencing regimes under statutes in respect of specific types of offences, the Government said, adding that there is legislation in the UK that prescribes mandatory sentencing regimes for certain offences that pose more serious harm to society or are prevalent.   Safeguarding due administration of justice and rule of law Through the interpretation of Articles 14 and 47 of the NSL, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress provided clear guidance for the Hong Kong SAR to resolve by itself the controversial question of whether overseas lawyers who are not qualified to practise generally in Hong Kong may be admitted on an ad hoc basis to participate in cases concerning national security.   “The interpretation did not confer additional power on the Chief Executive, and only clarified that Article 47 is applicable in handling the controversy concerning overseas lawyers.”   The certificate issued by the Chief Executive only provides binding certification to the court on the questions stipulated in Article 47 of the NSL, the Government stressed.   “It does not usurp the function of the court in deciding on other issues of the legal proceedings or the adjudication of the case.”   Meanwhile in the UK, there is simply no regime for ad hoc admission of overseas lawyers similar to that in Hong Kong, not to mention any regime which allows overseas lawyers who are not qualified to practise generally there to handle national security cases, the Government pointed out.   “Any comment on the case of the overseas lawyer's application for ad hoc admission is a paradigm case of double standards and hypocrisy.”   Rights, freedoms Since the NSL’s implementation, the media landscape in Hong Kong has been as vibrant as ever. The media can exercise their right to monitor the Government’s work, and their freedom of commenting on and criticising government policies remains uninhibited as long as they are not in violation of the law, the Government reiterated.
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