Hong Kong Eases Visa Rules For Same-Sex Couples

September 18, 2018

NewsStandOnline.Net (18-September-2018): Hong Kong announced today that overseas same-sex partners would qualify for the right to live and work in the city after a landmark court victory by a British lesbian earlier this year.

It is a step forward for LGBTQ rights in Hong Kong, which has been criticised by campaigners for lagging behind on equality issues.  Under the revised immigration policy which will come into force tomorrow, anyone who has entered into a same-sex civil partnership, same-sex civil union or same-sex marriage abroad could be eligible to apply for a dependant visa.

But it added that a valid marriage under Hong Kong law would still require a couple to be heterosexual, saying there should not be “any expectation” that the government would fully legalise same-sex partnerships, which are currently unrecognised.

Opposite-sex couples who had entered into civil unions and civil partnerships abroad would also qualify for dependant visas under the new rules, the government said in a statement.  The Briton known as “QT” won her case in July, prompting a review of the visa policy.

She was denied a dependant visa when she moved to the city after her partner got a job there, and was forced to stay on as a visitor without the right to work.

Hong Kong Eases Visa Rules For Same-Sex Couples

QT had entered into a civil partnership in Britain in 2011. She was backed by major financial institutions in her fight for visa rights in the economic powerhouse.

The Court of Final Appeal ended the protracted legal battle by ruling that it was “counter-productive” only to extend dependant work rights to straight couples because it would discourage overseas talent from coming to Hong Kong.

Human rights lawyer Michael Vidler, who represented QT, said he welcomed Tuesday’s announcement but the government had been forced into it by the court ruling.

“What would be good is if the government changed the rest of its policy,” Vidler said.  ”It’s about time the government took a corrective step to bring about a way in which local Hong Kong gay men and women can join in a civil union or civil partnership or civil marriage to reflect their lifelong commitment to one another,” he added.

Hong Kong only decriminalised homosexuality in 1991. While LGBTQ groups have become more prominent in the semi-autonomous Chinese city, conservative activists — many of them evangelical Christians — have also launched anti-rights campaigns.

Public libraries have recently hidden away LGBTQ-themed children’s books in request-only closed-off areas after pressure from conservative campaigners.

Clean-Up Efforts Begins After Typhoon Mangkhut

September 17, 2018

NewsStandOnline.Net (17-September-2018): Hong Kong is counting the costs of Mangkhut after the super typhoon pounded the city yesterday, injuring hundreds of people and leaving a trail of damaged buildings, fallen trees, flooded areas and large-scale transport disruptions.

The Hurricane Signal No. 10 — the strongest alert under Hong Kong’s storm warning system — was in force for about ten hours on Sunday after it was raised shortly before 10 am, bringing the city to a complete shutdown.

At 7.40 am yesterday, the Observatory replaced the No. 8 signal with No. 9 alert, before raising it further to the peak level of 10 two hours later. It marked the second consecutive year that Hong Kong was forced to issue the No. 10 warning after Typhoon Hato battered the city in August 2017.

The highest typhoon signal was not lowered until 7:40 pm after Mangkhut made landfall over the coast to the west of the Pearl River Estuary.

By then, Mangkhut had already left a swathe of destruction across the city, with many Hongkongers saying that it was the worst typhoon they had ever witnessed, with some high-rise buildings swaying due to the gale-force winds.

At its strongest, Mangkhut packed sustained winds of up to 189 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 256 kilometers per hour, toppling a crane, scaffolding, trees, signposts and more, as it skirted about 100 kilometers south of the city.

The distance made it one of the two most distant typhoons that ever triggered Signal No. 10 in Hong Kong after Typhoon Vicente in 2012.

Low-lying areas, including Lei Yue Mun, Heng Fa Chuen in Chai Wan, and Tai O were seriously flooded, and some people who live in tall residential towers claimed they could feel their buildings shaking.

According to the government, as of 5:20 am Monday a total of 1,539 people had sought refuge at temporary shelters that were opened by the Home Affairs Department.

Meanwhile, 391 people, including 219 men and 172 women, have sought medical treatment at the accident and emergency services wards at public hospitals during the typhoon period.

Clean-Up Efforts Begins After Typhoon Mangkhut

As of 9 pm Sunday, the 1823 Government Call Centre received 262 reports of fallen trees, while the Drainage Services Department received 46 confirmed flooding cases as of early Monday.

The Civil Engineering and Development Department and Lands Department received one report of landslide.

In a statement issued soon after midnight, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor expressed her gratitude to personnel who, during the passage of the typhoon, provided rescue and other emergency services, handled emergencies and maintained necessary public services to citizens.

The government will mobilize resources and join hands with relevant organizations to clear roads and streets, remove fallen trees and objects, and repair damaged facilities, with a view to returning the city back to normal as soon as possible, Lam said.

At the same time, the chief executive said she hopes the public understands that the work may take some time and that people may have to put with some inconveniences for a while.

At 5.20 am Monday, the Observatory issued the No. 3 signal, replacing the No. 8 that had been in force since 7.40 pm the previous night.

But many bus operations remained suspended in the morning, and ferry operators were also running limited services.

Bus operators said they were playing safe as the roads need to be cleared of fallen trees and there were also some other road safety issues.

MTR Corp, the city’s sole rail operator, revealed that a number of ground sections of its service lines were affected by fallen trees and objects. With recovery and clean-up efforts underway, services are slowly limping back to normal.

As for air transport, Mangkhut caused 889 inbound and outbound flights to be suspended on Sunday, leaving about 300 passengers stranded at the Hong Kong International Airport, which was luckily not damaged with no flooding seen in the runways.

The Marine Department announced Monday morning that that the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal in Sheung Wan, the China Ferry Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui, and the Tuen Mun Ferry Terminal in Tuen Mun have been reopened.

The Education Bureau announced that classes were suspended in all schools on Monday as a precautionary measure.

The Observatory, which hoisted the strong wind signal No. 3 early Monday, said the signal will remain in force for a period of time, and advised the public to stay cautious.

Aviva Turns Digital Insurance Air Blue In Hong Kong

September 14, 2018

NewsStandOnline.Net (14-September-2018): Blue HK, the Hong Kong digital insurance joint venture owned by Aviva, Hillhouse Capital, and Tencent, has now been launched.

Hong Kong customers will be able to buy term life and critical illness products online – usually relegated to intermediaries in Hong Kong. Blue aims to bring zero commission digital insurance to the region’s insurance market.

Chris Wei, executive chairman of Aviva Asia and Aviva Digital, says: “We are redefining insurance in Hong Kong. Simple products. No paperwork. No commissions. Hongkongers are incredibly mobile and tech-savvy, yet the insurance market has been among the most traditional in Asia.”

Aviva Turns Digital Insurance Air Blue In Hong Kong

Blue says it “combines Aviva’s insurance and digital expertise with Hillhouse’s investment management capabilities and Tencent’s technology, distribution and customer base”.

The Hong Kong insurance market is one of Asia’s “largest and fastest growing”, with annual gross insurance premium growth of 20% in 2016.  Blue lets customers adjust their protection plans. This includes adjusting the protection amount, protection period, and payment period – with no penalties.

The agreement to set up a digital insurer in Hong Kong was announced in 2017 and the joint venture transaction received approval from the Insurance Authority of Hong Kong in 2018.