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Hong Kong – HKMA alerts public to phishing scams via hyperlinks embedded in SMS or emails

 

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has recently received reports from banks about their customers having received phishing SMS or emails with embedded hyperlinks purportedly sent by the banks. After clicking the embedded hyperlinks, the customers were lured into entering their internet banking login IDs, passwords and SMS One-Time Password (OTP) provided by the banks.  Unauthorised transactions were subsequently conducted over the accounts of the customers and they suffered financial losses.
      
     The HKMA wishes to remind the public that banks will not send SMS or e-mails with embedded hyperlinks which direct them to the banks’ websites to carry out transactions. They will not ask customers for sensitive personal information, such as login passwords or OTP, by phone, email or SMS (including via embedded hyperlinks).
      
     Members of the public should stay alert to any SMS or emails purported to be sent by banks. They are advised not to click on the hyperlinks embedded in these SMS or emails. Under no circumstances should they disclose their internet banking login information to websites of unknown sources.
      
     If members of the public have disclosed their internet banking login details to untrusted websites or have found unauthorised transactions being conducted over their accounts, they should contact their bank as soon as possible and report to the Police or contact the Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau of the Police at 2860 5012.
      
     The HKMA wishes to remind the public to carefully protect their sensitive personal information, check their e-banking accounts from time to time and review alert messages and statements issued by banks carefully.

 

Hong Kong – Public attendance arrangements for a review of admission to bail at High Court

 

 The Judiciary will put in place special public attendance arrangements to facilitate the orderly conduct of the bail reviews involving 11 defendants at the High Court tomorrow (March 6).  

     The information of the hearings has already been uploaded onto the Judiciary website at https://e-services.judiciary.hk/dcl/view.jsp?lang=en&date=06032021&court=CACFI. The hearings are listed in three separate sessions, to commence at 10am, not earlier than 11.30am and 2.30pm respectively.

     In anticipation of excessive demand for seats, the Judiciary will make available as many seats as possible to ensure open justice. Taking into account the capacity of available courtrooms and broadcasting facilities of the whole court building, the Judiciary will arrange three court extensions to broadcast the court proceedings. A total of 100 press seats/standing places and 156 public seats/standing places will be provided for different groups of court users to observe the proceedings. There will be 12 family seats, eight press seats and eight public seats in the courtroom. The court extensions are located at 3/F, 4/F and 5/F lobbies. 

     All broadcasting facilities will include both audio and visual presentation of court proceedings inside court extension areas.

     Courts users who wish to observe the hearings will be required to line up at designated areas at the LG4/F podium outside the High Court Building. All tickets for all three hearing sessions during the day will be distributed at 8am. Court users should follow the instructions of the Judiciary staff and security personnel. 

     To ensure fair and optimal use of the limited number of seats during the hearings, any seat which has been left vacant for 15 minutes or more during the court hearings will be re-allocated to another court user. This requirement is generally in line with the existing condition prescribed in the admission tickets of the High Court that the ticket will be no longer valid if the ticket holder has left his/her seat/place for 15 minutes or more.

     Court users are reminded that all persons who enter the Judiciary premises are required to use the “LeaveHomeSafe” mobile app, or to have their names, contact numbers and the dates and times of their visits recorded on a registration form.

 

Hong Kong – Government plans ahead for this year’s pest control work

     The inter-departmental Pest Control Steering Committee (PCSC) held a meeting today (March 5) to formulate the work plans and indicators for rodent and mosquito control this year. Various departments will conduct more targeted pest control work at venues under their respective management.

 
     At the meeting today, the PCSC formulated indicators and work plan for this year to drive departments in stepping up their effort in rodent control. The plan includes the use of poison treatments of rodent infestation and rodent trappings by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD); designation of about 80 priority estates by the Housing Authority for conducting additional preventive, promotion and education efforts; improvement works in back alleys by the Highways Department on a need basis; further deployment of thermal cameras to detect rodent activities by the FEHD in all designated target areas across the territory and survey areas where rodent infestation is more severe, with a view to making anti-rodent operations more targeted and effective; and enhancements to the Rodent Infestation Survey (RIS), including disseminating surveillance data to various departments through the Government’s Geospatial Information Hub (GIH) platform by mid-2021 to facilitate early intervention, as well as releasing the Rodent Infestation Rate (RIR) of 50 survey areas to the public in the second quarter of 2021.
 
     The FEHD has been enhancing the surveillance of rodent infestation in multiple areas. It is working with the Lands Department to prepare for the immediate dissemination of detailed information at individual surveillance locations of the RIS through the Government’s GIH platform. This arrangement will help departments conduct timely and targeted anti-rodent operations. On the other hand, further to the increase of the number of survey areas from 41 (about 2 300 baiting points) to 50 (about 2 700 baiting points) by the FEHD last year, the RIR at all 50 survey areas will be made public starting from the second quarter of this year. In respect of survey areas where rodent infestation is more severe, the FEHD will conduct re-assessments at these locations after a one-month period of mitigation measures. This mode of strengthened monitoring was proved to be effective in containing the rodent problem during the earlier pilot scheme. The FEHD will also deploy the thermal camera monitoring system for taking targeted rodent control operations at locations where the RIR remains relatively high.
 
     In addition to the aforementioned control measures targeting at rodent infestation hotspots and enhanced surveillance, various departments agreed at the meeting to step up public engagement and education to encourage citizens to keep the environment clean and eliminate food sources for rodents, thereby addressing the problem of rodent infestation at source.
 
     As regards anti-mosquito work, the Government will consolidate the progress achieved last year. Indicators for this year include eliminating mosquito breeding places; strengthening prevention and control work at survey areas recorded with Area Gravidtrap Index (AGI) exceeding 20 per cent; keeping the AGI of all survey areas below 40 per cent; and establishing a reference level for corresponding prevention and control measures for the new Density Index (DI) for Aedes albopictus, which was introduced last year, by the end of 2021.
 
     On enhancing surveillance, since April 2020, the FEHD has introduced newly designed gravidtraps to replace ovitraps previously used to directly count the number of adult mosquitoes, so as to enumerate the Gravidtrap Index and the new DI, which reflect the extensiveness of distribution and the density of Aedes albopictus respectively. To further enhance dengue vector surveillance, the FEHD has increased the number of survey areas from 62 (about 3 360 gravidtraps) to 64 (about 3 440 gravidtraps) from January 2021. The FEHD will consolidate and review the Area Density Index data collected since April 2020 and analyse the statistics in different seasons, with a view to establishing a reference level for the DI by the end of this year, thereby facilitating the timely conduct of necessary mosquito control work by relevant departments.
 
     In light of the effectiveness of the All-out Anti-mosquito Operations in suppressing mosquito proliferation over the past two years, the Government will continue to adopt the relevant modus operandi before the rainy season this year. During the cool and dry season, various departments will inspect their venues and eliminate potential breeding places early, and deploy a total of over 5 500 mosquito trapping devices for eradicating adult mosquitoes. The FEHD will closely monitor the changes in local weather and notify various departments to start the operations simultaneously prior to the rainy season, which includes fogging operations. Departments will keep eliminating breeding places throughout the operations, promptly carry out targeted mosquito prevention and control work based on the surveillance indices, and constantly update the list of mosquito infestation hotspots.
 
     Representatives from three bureaux and 20 departments/organisation attended today’s meeting. 

 

Canada – Minister Mendicino marks Fraud Prevention Month

“Canada is one of the top destinations in the world for immigration and travel, with millions of people from across the globe hoping to come here every year. When submitting their applications, some turn to consultants or other services for assistance – and while most consultants operate honestly, unscrupulous actors sometimes exploit the system and take advantage of people. “

Ottawa, March 5, 2021 — The Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, today issued the following statement:

“Canada is one of the top destinations in the world for immigration and travel, with millions of people from across the globe hoping to come here every year. When submitting their applications, some turn to consultants or other services for assistance – and while most consultants operate honestly, unscrupulous actors sometimes exploit the system and take advantage of people.

“The Government of Canada continues to take meaningful action to root out immigration fraud and protect those who wish to come here. We’ve implemented several new measures to strengthen our system, from increased oversight of applications to public awareness campaigns around the world. Most importantly, we have committed nearly $50 million to fight fraud over the next few years and have created a new College to improve oversight of immigration consultants and crack down on criminals.

“Immigration fraud targets people who want to come to Canada in good faith. Sadly, the pandemic has exacerbated these troubling activities, with new ways for dishonest individuals to defraud clients. That’s why we’re redoubling our efforts to combat fraud. It’s important that anyone applying to visit or immigrate to Canada knows the facts:

Canada assess all applications on the same merit – whether they are submitted by applicants themselves, or by representatives.
Canada does not require applicants to hire immigration representatives.
Applicants should hire only authorized immigration and citizenship consultants, lawyers or Quebec notaries.
IRCC clearly states all requirements to come to Canada on our website.

Fighting fraud requires all of us to be vigilant, informed and prepared. We will continue our work to protect Canadians and those wishing to come here, and will always uphold the security and integrity of Canada’s immigration system.”

March is Fraud Prevention Month. To find out about immigration fraud and where to report it, visit https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/protect-fraud.html.

 

Canada and Ontario Invest to Create a Community Youth Hub at South Fletcher’s Sportsplex in Brampton

Today, Sonia Sidhu, Member of Parliament for Brampton South, on behalf of the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities; the Honorable Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction and Member of Provincial Parliament for Brampton South, on behalf of the Honourable Laurie Scott, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure; Amarjot Sandhu, Member of Provincial Parliament for Brampton West; and His Worship Patrick Brown, Mayor of the City of Brampton, announced funding for the rehabilitation of the South Fletcher’s Sportsplex to create a new Youth Hub in Brampton.

The Government of Canada is investing $565,000 in this project through the Community, Culture and Recreation Infrastructure Stream (CCRIS) of the Investing in Canada plan. The Government of Ontario is providing $470,786 in funding, while the City of Brampton is providing $376,714 toward this project.

The project will create a new Youth Hub by removing multiple small rooms in the South Fletcher’s Sportsplex to provide an open concept space conducive to group activities, while maintaining one to three smaller rooms for individual consultation.

Once complete, the project will provide Brampton youth with a safe and accessible space to complete school work, participate in programming and benefit from various resources and services. The creation of the Youth Hub is part of the City of Brampton’s Parks and Recreation Master Plan, a renewal plan for Brampton’s recreation centres.

All orders of government continue to work together for the people of Ontario to make strategic infrastructure investments in communities across the province when they are needed most. 

“Investing in recreation centres promotes people’s health and well-being and builds inclusive and sustainable communities where people want to live, work and raise families. The South Fletcher’s Youth Hub will provide Brampton youth of all backgrounds, a safe space to participate in, and benefit from. The diverse range of programs and services offered will also contribute to future community development. Canada’s infrastructure plan invests in thousands of projects, creates jobs across the country, and builds cleaner, more inclusive communities.”

Sonia Sidhu, Member of Parliament for Brampton South, on behalf of the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

“By investing in Brampton’s recreational spaces today, we’re investing in the long-term growth and development of our community for years to come. The new Youth Hub coming to South Fletcher’s Sportsplex will provide our young people with a place to gather, and our community with new spaces to connect.”

The Honorable Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction and Member of Provincial Parliament for Brampton South, on behalf of the Honourable Laurie Scott, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure

“Supporting our municipal partners by providing funding for local recreational facility projects like the South Fletcher’s Youth Hub builds stronger, happier, safer, and healthier communities. This investment in our local public infrastructure will improve the quality of life for Brampton’s youth as our community continues to grow and expand.”

Amarjot Sandhu, Member of Provincial Parliament for Brampton West 

“We welcome the Government of Canada’s and the Government of Ontario’s investments in Brampton’s Community Youth Hub at South Fletcher’s Sportsplex. Brampton is one of the youngest cities in Canada, with more than 130,000 youth ages 14 to 29. Community Youth Hubs will encourage diversity and equity, promote innovative engagement, and provide safe spaces for youth, and enhance our Term of Council Priority that Brampton is a Healthy and Safe City.”

His Worship Patrick Brown, Mayor, City of Brampton

Through the Investing in Canada plan, the federal government is investing more than $180 billion over 12 years in public transit projects, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation routes, and Canada’s rural and northern communities. 

Across Ontario, the Government of Canada has invested more than $8.2 billion in over 2,780 infrastructure projects.

Over the next ten years, the Government of Ontario is investing approximately $320 million across the province and the Government of Canada is investing approximately $407 million under the Community, Culture and Recreation Infrastructure Stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. This stream supports the construction of new facilities and upgrades to existing facilities that improve community infrastructure (community centres,  libraries), and support upgrades to recreational venues (arenas, and both indoor and outdoor recreational spaces) and cultural spaces (theatres, museums). 

Ontario is investing over $10.2 billion under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program to improve public transit; community, culture and recreation; green, and rural and northern community and other priority infrastructure.

 

Hong Kong – Government disappointed by Hong Kong’s exclusion from 2021 Index of Economic Freedom

 

 A Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government spokesman today (March 4) expressed deep disappointment and serious dismay at the Heritage Foundation’s decision to exclude Hong Kong from its 2021 Index of Economic Freedom.

     “The decision is neither warranted nor justified. It does not do justice to the HKSAR, which topped the chart as the world’s freest economy for 25 years out of the Index’s 27-year history.
       
     “We take strong exception to the Foundation’s claim that Hong Kong’s economic policies are ‘ultimately controlled from Beijing’. This is ill-conceived and simply not true.

     “The HKSAR enjoys a high degree of autonomy over its economic and trade policies as enshrined in our Basic Law.

     “Hong Kong is and will always remain an open, safe, vibrant and pluralistic international financial and business hub, underpinned by economic freedom, the rule of law and judicial independence.”

     The spokesman said that the Foundation’s decision to suddenly exclude Hong Kong from this year’s assessment was politically biased and a departure from its long-established practice for the Index.  

     “Hong Kong always ranked high in the areas of fiscal health, business freedom, trade freedom and financial freedom, which are the parameters used by the Foundation in compiling its index. Our strength in these areas has not changed and the best example of this is the thousands of international business corporations operating in Hong Kong,” the spokesman said.

     “The Foundation’s decision ignores the fact that under the Basic Law, the HKSAR retains its status as a separate customs territory, and is a member in its own right of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation). The HKSAR also enters into free trade agreements, investment agreements and taxation agreements with other trading partners as an individual economy.

     “We have developed and will continue to develop mutually beneficial economic and trade relations with economies around the world. Our special status has been widely recognised and respected by the international community, and Hong Kong’s economic and trade status is on par with that of other WTO members.”

     The spokesman said that since the establishment of the HKSAR in 1997 under “one country, two systems”, Hong Kong has retained its capitalist system, free economy and trusted legal system.

     “The free flow of capital is guaranteed. As a matter of fact, the Linked Exchange Rate System has been operating smoothly, and the Hong Kong dollar exchange rate has been on the strong side with net capital inflows of US$50 billion in 2020. Financial market activities have been buoyant. In 2020, Hong Kong was the second largest initial public offering centre in the world. Hong Kong’s monetary autonomy, fiscal autonomy and control over foreign exchange reserves, as well as its freely convertible currency, will continue to be maintained. 

      “Despite the global economic recession, the number of regional headquarters, regional offices and local offices in Hong Kong remained stable at a total of 9 025 in June 2020.”

     The spokesman said that the HKSAR Government would continue to uphold Hong Kong’s institutional strengths, including the rule of law and independence of the judiciary, a simple and low tax system, an efficient government, a free trade and investment regime and a level-playing field for all so as to create a favourable environment for business to thrive and enable the economy to prosper.

     “As a sophisticated international metropolis highly connected to the world, Hong Kong has been playing a unique role as a gateway, a springboard and an intermediary between China and the rest of the world. We will continue to leverage on the advantages of ‘one country, two systems’ to consolidate our position as an international centre for finance, commerce and trade as well as a home for corporate headquarters. We have every confidence in Hong Kong’s long-term economic development.”
      
     The 2021 Index of Economic Freedom report was released by the Foundation on March 4, 2021, analysing the level of economic freedom of 178 economies. Hong Kong was not included in this report.