Asian Insider, Nov 11: HK legislators disqualified after China ruling; Sg-HK air travel bubble

Asian Insider brings you insights into a fast-changing region from our network of correspondents and commentators.

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In today's bulletin: Four Hong Kong pro-democracy legislators disqualified after China ruling; Beijing escalates crackdown on fintech giants; Germany says Thai King did not violate country's laws; Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble to start from Nov 22; Prime Minister Suga's bid to end use of ink stamp Hanko, and more.

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Four legislators disqualified by Hong Kong as China moves to quash dissent

Hong Kong disqualified four opposition legislators shortly after China's Parliament passed a resolution allowing the island's executive to do so, without going through the courts.

China's move, the latest to curb dissent following months of anti-government protests last year, will likely raise concerns about Hong Kong's autonomy as promised under the 'one country, two systems' formula when the city was handed over to China by Britain in 1997.

A statement issued by the Hong Kong city government said the legislators - Alvin Yeung, Dennis Kwok, Kwok Ka-ki and Kenneth Leung - were expelled from the assembly for endangering national security. It did not elaborate.

The four were among the dozen legislators who were disqualified from standing in a legislative election a few months ago for various reasons, including colluding with foreign forces. The election has been postponed.

Delve deeper

Hong Kong opposition to quit as China moves to quash dissent

China moves to tame Hong Kong opposition with 'patriotism' test

China escalates crackdown on fintech giants, after Ant

China's top banking watchdog tightened controls on fintech giants such as the Ant Group to curtail monopolistic practices, in a move that has shaken up the industry.

China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission's Vice-Chairman Liang Tao said at a press conference today that fintech firms will be subject to the same supervision and risk management requirements as banks. The regulator will step in to probe unfair competition, he said.

The briefing came a day after China laid out detailed guidelines for Internet companies. The new rules set a framework to curb anti-competitive behaviour such as colluding on sharing sensitive consumer data, alliances that squeeze out smaller rivals and subsidising services at below cost to eliminate competitors. The moves have led to a tech selloff wiping out more than US$200 billion (S$269 billion) of value.

Read more:

Chinese state lenders soar after Ant gets 'bitten' by regulators

Germany finds no evidence against Thai King

The German government has found no evidence of wrongdoing by Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn, media reports said today, citing a Foreign Ministry statement.

Thousands of Thai protesters had submitted a letter to the German Embassy in Bangkok asking authorities to investigate if the Thai King had exercised royal authority during his time in Germany, in violation of the country's law.

The report said nothing illegal had been found while the Thai King was in Germany. Meanwhile, the King visited the country's north-east and wrote messages of national unity and love, as he met with people.

Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble from Nov 22

Asia's two leading financial centres will start their two-way air travel bubble on November 22, allowing passengers to fly either ways after taking Covid-19 tests, in-lieu of serving quarantine or stay-home notices.

The scheme will start with one flight a day into each city with a quota of 200 travellers per flight, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung announced today. This will be increased to two flights a day from Dec 7.

There will be no restrictions on the purpose of travel, and no need for a controlled itinerary. The arrangement will be suspended for two weeks if the seven-day moving average of the daily number of unlinked Covid-19 cases is more than five in either Singapore or Hong Kong.

Also read:

Planning to fly to Hong Kong? Here's what you need to know before booking a flight from Singapore

HK tightens entry rules for all arrivals, other than from China

PM Suga tries to stamp out ink stamp 'Hanko'

Japanese Prime Minister Yushihide Suga, who has made it his priority to digitise the nation, faces a difficult challenge - how to end the use of the humble ink stamp known as Hanko. In a nation, seen as futuristic and tech-savvy, the use of paper documents is rampant and approval is often hand-stamped. In fact, during the pandemic, many officials had to return to work simply to physically stamp the documents.

In other news...

India's Modi passes first election test with Bihar win: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party cleared the first political test since the pandemic struck the country, with a win in Bihar elections, showing that the lockdown did not make too much of an impact on his rule. The final vote count saw the ruling alliance pull ahead with 125 seats in the 243-member state assembly. The opposition grouping won 110 seats.

Vietnam rebukes Netflix, others over tax payments: Vietnam's information minister has accused foreign streaming companies like Netflix and Apple of skirting their tax responsibilities, which is unfair for domestic firms. Foreign streaming firms, which have combined revenues of nearly one trillion dong (S$58.1 million) have never paid tax in Vietnam, the information and communications ministry said.

Myanmar's opposition questions election results: Myanmar's military-backed opposition party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party, has said it does not recognise the election results. The National League for Democracy has said it was leading in most of the seats.

Thanks for reading the Asian Insider & The Straits Times. We'll be back with you tomorrow.


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