Sunday 15th September 2019

Dear Reader,

This week we have a couple of bubble warnings for you and several other articles, but first:

If Chief Executive Carrie Lam had fully withdrawn the Extradition Bill after the first mass protest on 9-Jun, rather than pushing on until the tear smoke started flying outside the Legislative Council on 12-Jun, then perhaps we would never have gotten into this "huge havoc", as she put it in her now-famous "Reuters speech". The long-standing democratic deficit that leaves the HK Government accountable to the tycoons and Beijing and not to the people of HK might have lasted a few more years, as it did after the 3 previous government-initiated protests movements in 2003 (National Security Bill), 2012 (National Curriculum) and 2014 (restrictions on Universal Suffrage).

But it is now too late for minor steps like the full withdrawal of the Bill announced on 4-Sep. Even having done that, as her speech makes clear, she believes that the proposed Bill, which would have breached the legal firewall between the Two Systems, was right, and was just poorly communicated by her PR team. She says that concerns were "exaggerated and misrepresented through very effective propagada".

Millions of HK citizens are now calling for meaningful reform and democratic accountability. As we said on 3-Sep, the easiest way to achieve this in local legislation would be to abolish the corporate voting that keeps the tycoons in power via the CE Election Committee and LegCo Functional Constituencies, and replace that with One Worker, One Vote, getting HK as near as we can to universal suffrage without needing Beijing's explicit approval. The tycoons should support that, if they realise that it would do less harm to their economic interests than a hard crackdown. I expanded on that proposal in a Bloomberg TV interview this week. Without something that substantial, we can expect protests to continue until a crackdown.

Lose your marbles
Webb-site issues a bubble warning on marble miner ArtGo (3313), which is up 812% since the end of May and now trades at 24x estimated net tangible assets, making a HK$29bn bubble. (15-Sep-2019)

Avoid: S. Culture (1255)
Webb-site issues a bubble warning on this stock. The Chairman has pledged a majority shareholding to a lender. The loss-making firm is trading at 13 times its net tangible asset value and ownership may be highly concentrated. (15-Sep-2019)

Where can one protest if not near MTR stations?
Police have banned a protest march on HK Island on Sunday, partly because it goes near several MTR stations. Of course, the whole point of Mass Transit is to take people near urban areas. This image shows what a 500 metre no-protest zone around stations on the MTR Island line would look like. (13-Sep-2019)

MTR videos are not Personal Data under PDPO
The MTRC and Police are hiding behind a "personal data" excuse for not releasing videos of the incident in Prince Edward Station on 31-Aug-2019. The law on this is clear: if the video doesn't name the subjects, then it isn't personal data. So said the Court of Appeal in 2000. HK badly needs a Freedom of Information law. (10-Sep-2019)

A curious addition to the Transport Constituency
After yesterday's ICAC allegations of vote-rigging in the I.T. sector, should the Taxi Drivers & Operators Association still be added to the list of Transport sector voters? (6-Sep-2019)

The most likely outcome for HK
A systemically unstable equilibrium of civil liberties without democracy may have irrevocably tipped towards an authoritarian outcome. We suggest a way to salvage the situation, but we consider the most likely outcome is now a crackdown. We look at what form that might take, the possible aftermath and the looming 2047 expiry of Basic Law promises. (3-Sep-2019)

Activist investor Webb proposes changes for HK's voting system (TV)
Bloomberg, 9-Sep-2019

Beijing berates Li Ka-shing over protest commentsCorporate voting
RTHK, 13-Sep-2019
Perhaps now he would give up his numerous corporate votes in the small-circle constituencies of the Election Committee and LegCo and support One Worker, One Vote for those seats instead? That would be an olive branch indeed. And it can all be done in local legislation, as we explained last week.

Chinese-medicine hospital plan moves forwardGovt PR
RTHK, 13-Sep-2019
If there were 30 seats on the HK Chief Executive Election Committee for astrologers or feng shui masters then they too would get their own Government building. It is downright dangerous to deflect calls for better public hospitals by promoting pseudo-science. Govt says qualified NGOs must have at least 10 years' experience providing and managing Chinese-medicine services - but no requirement to prove that it actually works.

Webb on "Backchat" re HK protests
RTHK, 13-Sep-2019

Govt weighing up using emergency law: Teresa ChengThe ERO
RTHK, 11-Sep-2019
In constitutional terms, it's like weighing up whether to launch thermonuclear war. At least the Govt was going to ram the Extradition Bill through LegCo rather than just make laws on its own, destroying the separation of powers between the Executive and Legislative branches of Government. That's what the Emergency Regulations Ordinance can do, and more.

Huge vote-rigging alleged in I.T. Legislative Council seat
ICAC, 5-Sep-2019
Several of the 17 accused are associated with the Taxi Drivers & Operators Association Ltd, not a profession that one normally associates with the adoption of technology or anything other than cash. 4 of the accused are alleged to have arranged 240 voters with false credentials to join the HK branch of IEEE to get the vote.

And much more besides...
Remember that, apart from our occasional artisanal articles, you can follow Webb-site Reports via RSS, Twitter or Facebook.

Pass it on!
This free newsletter goes to over 27,000 subscribers. If you enjoy the site, then please invite a friend to find out what they are missing and subscribe!

Copyright notice
This e-mail and small extracts of any article on the site may be freely quoted in any other publication but ONLY if attribution is given to

David M. Webb