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Bow Tie Tsang’s legacy

Hong Kong’s outgoing chief executive Donald Tsang has been labeled a failure when it comes to addressing the city’s smog problems.

Tsang’s slogan of six years ago of “Clean Air for a Cool Hong Kong!” has disappeared under a thick haze of smog.

Hong Kong still doesn’t meet the World Health Organization standard for clean air or marine pollutants.

According to experts and foreign business chambers, pollution is costing around $6 billion in tangible and intangible losses every year.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong says that 25% of businesses polled, complained of problems in recruitment due to the environmental issues, and 74% could not see any improvement in air quality in the last year.

[Evan Auyang, American Chamber of Commerce, Hong Kong]:
“When people exit Hong Kong they decide: ‘I can’t stand it anymore,’ or ‘I don’t want to be here anymore’, the environment is typically one of the primary factors. And that’s the important part we really have to focus on.”

This week, the Guangdong, Macau and Hong Kong governments unveiled a plan to address pollution and clean the Pearl River Delta waters.

[Chung Tang, Roadside Vendor]:
“The government really doesn’t do anything. The Environmental Protection Department never does their job fully either. They’re useless. They don’t do what they should do or regulate what they should regulate. They always say you should turn off the engine when you stop a car. It’s all advertisement. But do they enforce it? Do they punish people? No, not at all.”

A new gas pipeline to be finished next year will allow 50% of local power-generating plants to run on natural gas.

And there are plans to replace 3,000 city bus engines with cleaner models.

But critics are skeptical. Health experts are adding to the debate with figures of 1200 people dying each year between 2007 and 2010 of heart and lung diseases partly linked to unhealthy air.

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