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China Visa Restrictions; "Protectors" of the Olympic Torch; Pay Raise for Foreign Domestic Helpers?; Obesity in Schoolchildren (25 Apr 2008)


This week Andrew Seaton, Britain's new Consul-General in Hong Kong, expressed worries about how hard it's getting for foreigners to get visas for mainland China. A number of other foreign business chambers, including those from Australia and the United States, have also voiced criticism, saying businessmen aren't able to obtain multiple-entry visas and are being held up by additional bureaucracy. Despite a Foreign Ministry statement that single, double and multiple-entry visas to China can still be issued, foreign businessmen who want to do trade on the mainland are discovering that new rules are in operation. Hong Kong's chambers of commerce say they've received a flood of complaints. Not only are multiple-entry visas apparently not being issued, visitors have to provide a return flight ticket and proof of hotel accommodation on application. The final list of Hong Kong torch- bearers will be released next Tuesday. Despite the refrain that sport and politics shouldn't be mixed, Timothy Fok revealed this week that the Liaison Office had been involved in the selection. There will be protests during the relay. There will also be protectors, including a group calling itself "The Hong Kong Guardians of the Olympics torch".So far, it has recruited more than 550 members via Facebook. Foreign domestic helpers will hold a rally on Labour Day, on May 1st to appeal for a 10% rise in wages to combat inflation. While costs have been rising, their present salary at HK$3,480 a month, is HK$270 less than it was in 2003. The government imposed a HK$400 levy on employers in 2003 which resulted in an equivalent reduction in the wages of foreign domestic workers. A DAB public opinion survey published yesterday shared that more than half of those questioned want the levy scrapped, and next week in Legco, Tommy Cheung is introducing a motion asking the government to do just that. With us in the studio to discuss their request is Rex Varona, the Executive Director of the Asian Migrant Centre. Data from the Department of Health reveals that the obesity problem among primary school students is worsening, with the obesity rate increasing from 19.4% in 2005-2006 to 20.2% in 2006-2007. This week, Frederick Fung asked the government whether, apart from keeping up its efforts to promote EatSmart in schools, it will, following the practice in the United Kingdom, restrict the broadcast of junk food TV advertisements during children's programmes or family viewing time

The Pulse
Publish Date: 
Friday, April 25, 2008
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