Clear The Air News Blog Rotating Header Image

January 26th, 2012:

Government fears the underclass

South China Morning Post Letter

My 10-year-old son and I read the report on the new air pollution guidelines and he asked me why the government did not take action to reduce at least the locally produced pollution like nitrogen dioxide (“Challenge leaves us all out of breath”, January 19).

The government tells us it is because of the cost.

Why then, he argued, could not a rich government like Hong Kong’s bear the cost of this?

The answer is simple, I told him – the administration does not value human life as highly as other governments do. Sadly, no matter what the rationale is, it comes down to this.

How is it that an unelected government seriously worries about the effect of a 20 per cent increase in bus fares (Secretary for the Environment, Edward Yau Tang-wah, was quoted in the article as saying fares could go up by 20 per cent)? This sort of statement is scaremongering.

The government would be afraid to allow fare increases even if the costs to the transport companies (remember they are the polluters using outdated vehicles) increased and they demanded it.

Instead, it uses fear of large fare increases to bully the growing underclass to accept officials’ arguments that their hands are tied.

In actual fact, such fares could not be imposed without a huge fallout from the middle and lower-income classes. I suspect that the inability of the administration to act in enforceable areas under its purview, like roadside pollution, is directly attributable to its fear of the underclass it has failed.

The issue of pollution in Hong Kong is tied to income disparity so glaring that the government would have a problem approving (even modest) fare hikes and uses the threat of this occurring to justify its inaction on our substandard and deadly air quality.

Catherine LaJeunesse, Sai Kung

Description: No effective action over roadside pollution.

HK air cargo traffic hit by downturn

SCMP – ah yes but we need a new HKD 136 billion 3rd runway to handle the non existent exports from the PRD which just again increased its mandatory minimum wage and from Zhuhai along the nowhere bridge

26 Jan 2012

Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA), the world’s busiest air cargo hub, said air cargo traffic last year fell 4.6 per cent as deepening global economic uncertainty in Europe and the United States hurt demand for exports from Asia, particularly China.

The outlook for air cargo, an important indicator of trade and economic momentum, is uncertain as consumer sentiment in Hong Kong’s two major export markets, North America and Europe, remains fragile.

Cargo tonnage may decline further due to the slowdown in global trade but the pace of decline will likely be less than what we have seen last year,” said Airport Authority Hong Kong Chief Executive Stanley Hui Hon-chun in a statement on Wednesday.

Air cargo volume in December fell 4.3 per cent, slightly better than the 6.6 per cent drop seen in November, pushing full-year traffic down to 3.94 million tonnes.

Hong Kong’s exports rose a modest 2 per cent year on year in November, slowing from 11.5 per cent growth in October and reflecting the impact of cooling global economic conditions.

The euro zone economy grew just 0.2 per cent in the third quarter of last year and is widely expected to have contracted in the final three months of the year.

In the United States, improving labour market conditions lifted consumer confidence to an eight-month high in December, but persistently weak house prices remain an obstacle to faster economic growth.

Analysts and Hong Kong government officials have said the outlook for the city’s economy and exports does not look promising.

On a brighter note, Hong Kong passenger traffic for last year rose 5.9 per cent to a record 53.9 million, propelled by an increase in visits to and from mainland China and Southeast Asia.

Cathay Pacific Airways (SEHK: 0293) Ltd, the world’s largest air cargo carrier, said this month that its December freight volume fell about 12 per cent, ending last year on a disappointing note, and it saw no sign of improvement in the near term