Hungary, Poland see anti-immigration stance spreading in EU

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban hold a joint news conference in Budapest on Wednesday. (Reuters)
Updated 03 January 2018
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Hungary, Poland see anti-immigration stance spreading in EU

BUDAPEST: The prime ministers of Hungary and Poland said Wednesday their countries’ anti-immigration policies are gaining strength within the 28-nation European Union.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, making his first bilateral visit since assuming office in December, and his Hungarian counterpart, Viktor Orban, pointed to Austria, where conservative and nationalist parties formed a coalition government last month.
“Democracy has been restored in Austria because the Austrians who reject immigration elected a government which also does not want immigration,” Orban said. “This will be the case everywhere in Europe and I believe it is only a matter of time.”
Morawiecki said the immigration issue, which he called a matter of national sovereignty, was “getting even hotter” in the EU “and it seems that it is going in our direction.”
The two leaders again rejected EU efforts to resettle refugees among members of the bloc, while emphasizing their contributions to rebuilding efforts in the Middle East aimed at keeping more people at home.
“The EU’s immigration policy is not working. What is more, it is not only not working but it has failed spectacularly,” Orban said. “It is clear that the European people don’t want immigration, while several European leaders are still forcing the failed immigration policy.”
Poland is facing possible sanctions from the EU because of its perceived erosion of democratic principles, including recent steps increasing government control of the judiciary. While Orban has vowed to block any punitive measures against Poland by the EU, neither leader mentioned the issue during their news conference in the Hungarian Parliament.


Former Hong Kong leader hospitalized after losing appeal for misconduct jailing

Updated 20 July 2018
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Former Hong Kong leader hospitalized after losing appeal for misconduct jailing

HONG KONG: Former Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang was hospitalized Friday after losing an appeal bid against a misconduct conviction in one of the city’s most high-profile corruption cases.
Tsang was jailed last year after being found guilty of failing to disclose his plans to lease a luxury flat from a major investor in a broadcaster, which was later granted a license from the government while he was leader.
The 73-year-old, who held the leadership post of chief executive for seven years from 2005, is the most senior city official ever to be convicted in a criminal trial and the highest-ranking one to be put behind bars.
His trial came at a time when residents were losing faith in Hong Kong’s leaders after a string of corruption cases fueled suspicions over links between public officials and business figures.
Tsang was released on bail last year after two months in prison, pending the appeal.
The Court of Appeal sent him back to prison Friday, but shortly after he was led out of the courtroom by security guards, Tsang was taken away in an ambulance.
Local media reported that he had “felt unwell” and was wearing an oxygen mask.
The Court of Appeal judgment said Friday that: “It defies belief that someone with the applicant’s long experience and background in government service could have overlooked the need to make a declaration of interest in these circumstances.”
It added that Tsang’s misconduct was “particularly serious, given his pre-eminent position in the community and the harm his actions will have engendered among the people of Hong Kong in their confidence in the way the Government does its business.”
However, the court reduced Tsang’s sentence from 20 months to 12 months, saying the previous judge’s starting point for sentencing was too high.
Speaking outside court after the judgment was delivered and before Tsang was taken to hospital, his wife Selina said she was “disappointed and heartbroken.”
“After discussing with the lawyers later, we will decide the next move as soon as possible,” she told reporters.
Prosecutors during Tsang’s trial characterized his conduct as an abuse of power to further his own personal interests.
In 2012, he apologized over separate allegations that he had accepted inappropriate gifts from business friends in the form of trips on luxury yachts and private jets.
His former deputy Rafael Hui was jailed for seven-and-a-half years in 2014 after being found guilty of taking bribes from Hong Kong property tycoon Thomas Kwok.