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Deals with China

Recycling the unrecyclable


Ming Yeung

As Hong Kong is lagging behind its neighbors in ridding its mounting waste, a Recycling Fund established to thwart an imminent waste crisis, stakeholders say, wouldn’t serve its purpose unless it’s put to good use. Ming Yeung writes.

The Hong Kong government has long realized that the city’s waste will soon have no final resting place, forcing it to kick start a Recycling Fund with a planned HK$1 billion injection to make it tick.

The government’s prolonged bid to expand the three existing landfills — at Tseung Kwan O, Ta Kwu Ling and Tuen Mun — and to build an incinerator at Shek Kwu Chau, north of Lantau Island at whatever costs has become snarled though, running into acrimonious public protests and debate.

The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) said the SAR recycled only 2.16 million tonnes of waste in 2012 — 860,000 tonnes less than the year before.

Of the total recycled figure, about 60 percent of the decline was said to be the result of a drastic drop in the trading of plastic waste, of which 320,000 tonnes were recycled in 2012, compared to 840,000 tonnes in 2011 and 1.58 million tonnes in 2010.


Difficult to get airspace concession

SCMP Letters to Editor

During the presentation the Airport Authority was giving to the Town Planning Board on April 10, Wilson Fung Wing-yip, the authority’s executive director of corporate development, broached a future master plan being drafted wherein a study would be carried out into the need for a fourth runway or even a replacement airport.

Better late than never, this planning work.

But it is hoped the logistics of the planning work will not be “cart before the horse” this time, so that the need for a fourth runway or otherwise will be identified before resources are committed to add the third runway to Chek Lap Kok. For it is patently obvious that there is no possibility of adding a fourth runway at Chek Lap Kok.

The crux of the “third runway at Chek Lap Kok” airspace cloud we’re under is simply whether the mainland authorities had given the specific blessing for traffic from the third runway to turn north so that at least two of the three runways can be operated independent of each other, to enable a total capacity of 102 movements to be achieved.

The rest is empty talk. This is by no means an easy concession to grant, considering the criss-crossing between each other’s traffic, as can be seen on the diagram attached to the report “Airspace conflict could hold back third runway” (January 23).

If it was easy, it would have been granted for traffic from the present north runway to turn north, to enable the present two runways to operate independent of each other, achieving far more than the 68 movements an hour projected for later this year.

The quest for this concession is what started the umpteen tripartite meetings, starting before 1997.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan

Third Runway Maths: The Most Expensive in the World?

Peter Woo of FrontlineTechWorkers

Hong Kong’s third runway is now reported to be a HK$140B (billion) project. How absurd is this? Let’s compare:

Beijing Capital International Airport – Market Capital HK$32.5B

Unlike Hong Kong International Airport, Beijing Capital International Airport is publicly listed, actually on Hong Kong Stock Exchange ( With HK$140B, we can buy out Beijing’s airport 4 times.
London Heathrow Airport – Valued at HK$60B

There was a 8.65% stake sale of the Heathrow Airport Holdings for GBP392M (million)

in 2013. That would imply a full stake valuation of the airport to be around GBP4.5B (392M / .0865). Even by taking the peak of GDP/HK$ rate in 2013 at around HK$13 (currently HK$11.37), it would only be HK$60B, i.e. we can buy out the Heathrow Airport twice.
Berlin Airport New Runway – HK$32B

Just a few months ago, the scandal-dogged Berlin Airport asked for EUR 3.2B to build a new runway. That would translate to HK$32B, using EUR/HK$ exchange at that time (around HK$10, currently HK$8.23). Despite of potential construction complications due to our unique terrain and environmental consideration, HK$140B allow us building 4 new runways for Berlin. The Germans must envy us for such luxury.
Hong Kong International Airport (The Rose Garden Project) – HK$160B

The Hong Kong International Airport was a US$20B project at that time but note that it was a project comprised 10 core projects including the airport itself (with 2 runways), Tsing Ma Bridge, Western Harbour Crossing, North Lantau Expressway, Route 3 – Kwai Chung and Tsing Yi Sections, West Kowloon Highway, Land Reclamation in West Kowloon, Central Reclamation Phase I, and Phase I of North Lantau New Town. It was practically rebuilding part of HK. Can you imagine an additional runway costs almost the same? Even with inflation adjusted dollar, it doesn’t make sense.

For reference, our current airport has a fixed asset size of around HK$52B. With the miscellaneous supplemental projects built after the initial cutover of the airport, and depreciation/appreciation applied over the years, HK$52B may not exactly represent the proportion of the airport within the Rose Garden total. However, it gives you a sense of how much an airport (including 2 runways) should cost.

It’s going to be privately funded – does it concern me?

Yes, for one thing, whatever debt raised by the Airport Authority will be guaranteed by the Hong Kong government. If the project doesn’t pay back, Hong Kong taxpayers will have to subsidize it later.

Immediately, the Airport Authority is considering the suspension of the around HK$5B/year dividend payment to the Hong Kong government. Local residents ought prepare to shoulder up more taxes to fill in the HK$5B hole, and more directly, to pay more airport tax upcoming.

With the congestion of the two runways now, we have little objection to building a third runway, if the environment is taken into account. However, we should not be robbed. HK$140B is not only unreasonable, but downright robbery by vested interests. Just wonder, is this what the HK$50M paid to CY Leung is for? Or is this another “gift” to Chinese construction companies that will be ultimately given a piece of the pie, and come back later to claim their “love” for Hong Kong without mentioning how much they’ve earned during the process? HongKongers have already been overpaying for water. Now, they want more.

One of our group members foresees that we will end up being made to buy airspace from China in order to fully utilise the third runway. Water and construction are just the beginning. Prepare to be asked for showing more gratitude to the motherland.

FrontlineTechWorkers is formed by a group of IT practitioners with the aim to consolidate voices from IT workers on policy discussion in Hong Kong.