The rights of the concubine have thrown Hong Kong's courts into confusion as lawyers try to resolve a battle between an ageing property tycoon and his partner of 46 years. \nLim Por-yen, 90, claims he lent around ?41 million (US$74 million)to his former concubine Koo Siu-ying, 66, in a series of 60 payments between 1994 and 2001. Now he wants it back, plus an extra ?32 million (US$57.5 million) in interest charged on the loans. \nKoo claims the money -- used for a Shanghai property project -- was a gift, and she was his "third wife." \nConcubinage -- where men were entitled to have more than one wife -- was not abolished until 1971 in Hong Kong. Concubines in an established relationship before that are still ac-knowledged, although the extent of their legal rights has not been tested until now. \nAt the center of the Lim and Koo case is whether a concubine should be treated as a wife, acceptable under Chinese tradition but alien to the former colony's British legal system, which is based on monogamous marriage. \nKoo says the couple were married in 1956 when Lim announced at a dinner that she was his "third wife." Lim already had one wife and one concubine at the time. \nThe couple had two children and lived together for 46 years until they separated in 2002. Koo claims Lim's family accepted her and that they were widely recognized as husband and wife. Therefore money given to her by Lim is a gift -- the same presumption existing in law for marriage. \nKoo says that in the 1990s she wanted to emigrate to the US or Europe but Lim persuaded her to stay by giving her the money to invest in the Shanghai property project. Lim disagrees that the couple were ever married and took further legal action to try and prevent Koo's lawyers from describing her as his "third wife." \nIn December he scored a victory when the court ruled the couple's status was irrelevant to the case. The real issue was whether the money was a loan or a gift under contract law, said Justice Muttrie, adding: "There are men who, having vowed in a Church of England marriage ceremony `With all my worldly goods I thee endow,' or its modern equivalent, will not give their wives a cent. There are men who will give their mistresses a fortune and never expect it back. No doubt the same applies in all cultures and religions." \nBut last week an appeal court overruled that judgment, putting the legal status of concubines back on the agenda and allowing Koo her "third wife" status. \nAppeal court judge Anthony Rogers said: "The question of whether a husband should look after a concubine ... is obviously a matter which needs to be finally determined." \nKoo's Shanghai company was taken to court by a Hong Kong bank to order the repayment of the firm's overdraft, while in 1999 Lim was sentenced to three years in jail after being found guilty of bribing Taiwanese officials over a multi-million dollar land deal. He is appealing against the verdict and has yet to serve time behind bars.
A senior UN official has said he is “alarmed” that a peaceful Australian climate protester has been jailed for 15 months — and refused bail before her appeal — amid global outrage at her “disproportionate” punishment. On Friday, Deanna “Violet” Coco was sentenced to 15 months in prison for blocking a single lane of traffic on the Sydney Harbour Bridge in April in a protest staged to draw attention to the global climate emergency. “I am alarmed at a NSW court’s prison term against climate protestor Deanna Coco and refusal to grant bail until a March 2023 appeal hearing, ” UN Special
SECOND ATTEMPT: An overhaul of the criminal code is expected this month, after a similar move was in 2019 stymied by large-scale protests in the Muslim-majority country The Indonesian parliament is this month expected to pass a new criminal code that would penalize sex outside marriage with a punishment of up to one year in jail, officials have said. The legislative overhaul would also ban insulting the Indonesian president or state institutions, and expressing any views counter to the country’s state ideology. Cohabitation before marriage is also banned. Decades in the making, the new criminal code is expected to be passed on Dec. 15, Indonesian Deputy Minister of Justice Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej said. “We’re proud to have a criminal code that’s in line with Indonesian values,” he told Reuters
CARROT-AND-STICK: Authorities tightened control over virtual private networks, which protesters used to access banned non-Chinese news and social media apps Chinese authorities have initiated the highest “emergency response” level of censorship, according to leaked directives, including a crackdown on virtual private networks (VPNs) and other methods of bypassing online censorship after unprecedented protests demonstrated widespread public frustration with the “zero COVID” policy. The crackdown, including the tracking and questioning of protesters, comes alongside the easing of pandemic restrictions in an apparent carrot-and-stick approach to an outpouring of public grievances. During an extraordinary week in China, protests against “zero COVID” restrictions included criticism of the authoritarian rule of Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) — which was further highlighted by the death of
EASING RESTRICTIONS: China has not approved any foreign COVID-19 vaccines and is opting for those produced domestically, the US Director of National Intelligence said Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is unwilling to accept Western vaccines despite the challenges China is facing with COVID-19, and recent protests could affect his personal standing in the Chinese Communist Party, US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said on Saturday. Although China’s daily COVID-19 cases are near all-time highs, some cities are taking steps to loosen testing and quarantine rules after Xi’s “zero COVID” policy triggered a sharp economic slowdown and public unrest. Despite the social and economic impact of the virus, Xi “is unwilling to take a better vaccine from the West, and is instead relying on a vaccine