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Idling Engines An Infringement

Updated on Mar 14, 2008 – SCMP

Saturday was warm and I saw a familiar scene that will be repeated many times over the next few months. A scout master who was drilling Scouts in an open space next to a school, got involved in an argument with the driver of a car, which had its engine idling. The scout master objected to his Scouts having to suffer, just so the driver could feel comfortable.

This cuts to the heart of the issue. Especially in a small place like Hong Kong, with an excellent public transport system, the problem should be seen for what it is – an infringement issue.

Do private car owners, a minority, have the right to pollute the air that we all need to breathe? For anyone near a road the threat is vehicle emissions, not cross-border pollution.

The simple reason you will not see any legislation banning idling engines, is because most legislators have at least one luxury car. The lesson our elite learned exceedingly well from colonial society was the primacy of preserving their own interests.

As dynamic cities like London, Paris and New York experiment with ways to reduce the number of private cars and debate personal carbon allowances, static societies cook up outmoded projects like the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for a ban on idling engines.

Kara Young, Kowloon Tong

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