Clear The Air News Blog Rotating Header Image

EPD failures reflect government inertia


May 04, 2012

I wholeheartedly agree with R. E. J. Bunker (“Job No 1 for Leung: replace Yau”, April 27) that the name of the Environmental Protection Department is inappropriate.

In Hong Kong the department’s primary task should be to improve the environment, as its current state is lamentable. Therefore it should be renamed the Environmental Improvement Department and that should be its main role.

One example of what needs to be done is in the area of recycling which is in a poor state in this city.

I read an article about Taipei in Taiwan. The authorities there have created an infrastructure to facilitate recycling by citizens who have to pay a waste disposal charge.

Consequently, the volume of waste generated has decreased by 60 per cent and recycling has increased 21 times. They have been able to abandon plans to construct two new incinerators.

Former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa made a pledge in his 1999 policy address.

He talked of the establishment of a waste reduction committee and said its target was “to double the overall rate of municipal waste reduction and recycling” by 2007. He said the SAR had to step up its recycling efforts.

This has not happened. Coming back to the present, I believe Secretary for the Environment Edward Yau Tang-wah should have resigned once he realised that his department had failed to make the environmental improvements that are needed in Hong Kong.

Mr Yau has to be criticised for strongly supporting the building of an incinerator, given that it would have exacerbated our pollution problems.

Instead, he should have been vehemently and vociferously opposed to its construction and encouraged all government departments to support waste reduction and recycling activities so that such a facility was not necessary.

However, the department cannot single-handedly solve our environmental problems. The final responsibility must lie with the chief executive, who has failed to pull all interested parties together to take the necessary action.

In 2001, in a veiled criticism of the Hong Kong administration, former premier Zhu Rongji talked of “discussion without decision, decision without action”. It looks as though chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying will reorganise government departments, and this move is necessary if Hong Kong is to adapt to the 21st century.

Thomas Gebauer, Discovery Bay

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *