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February 16th, 2012:

Pollution Accelerates Cognitive Decline And Raises Stroke Risk

16 Feb 2012

In the February 13 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals, two studies examine the association between air quality and the risk of ischemic stroke and cognitive decline in older women.

In the first study, Gregory A. Wellenius, Sc.D., of Brown University, Providence, R.I., and his team assessed the link between the risk of ischemic stroke among individuals admitted between 1999 and 2008 to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center who were living in the greater Boston area, and the alterations in fine particulate matter (PM) air pollution (PM<2.5 μm in diameter [PM2.5]) levels. In the Boston area during the study period, PM<2.5 levels did not exceed current EPA standards. The team examined 1,705 medical records of individuals hospitalized with ischemic stroke.

According to the researchers, increased risk of acute cardiovascular events have been linked to daily alterations in levels of ambient fine particular matter air pollution [PM<2.5].

The researchers explain:

“We found that ischemic stroke risk was 34 percent higher on days with moderate PM<2.5 levels compared with days with good levels, according to the EPA’s Air Quality Index. Stroke risk was more strongly associated with concentrations of black carbon and NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) markers of traffic pollution than with components linked to non-traffic sources.”

Robert D. Brook, M.D., of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and Sanjay Rajagopalan, M.D., of the Ohio State University Medical Center, Columbus, write in an invited commentary:

“Why are these findings important? Current U.S. and World Health Organization air quality standards focus on daily and annual PM<2.5 mean concentrations. There is no biological basis that these specific durations of exposure are required to instigate strokes or other CV (cardiovascular) events.”

In the second study, Jennifer Weuve, M.P.H., Sc.D, of Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, and her team used data from the Nurses’ Health Study Cognitive Cohort, which included 19,409 women aged between 70 to 81 years in the U.S., in order to assess both coarse and fine air pollution in relation to cognitive decline in older women.

The researchers highlight that extremely little is known regarding the role of particulate matter exposure and cognitive decline.

They explain:

“In this large, prospective study of older women, higher levels of long-term exposure to both PM2.5-10 and PM2.5 were associated with significantly faster cognitive decline.”

According to the researchers, these associations were present at levels of PM exposure common in several regions of the U.S.:

“Therefore, if our findings are confirmed in other research, air pollution reduction is a potential means for reducing the future population burden of age-related cognitive decline, and eventually, dementia.”

Rajiv Bhatia, M.D., M.P.H., of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, explained:

“The strong and growing evidence of the harms of PM2.5 demands scrutiny of societal efforts to reduce exposure.”

Written by Grace Rattue
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without permission of Medical News Today

Archives of Internal Medicine


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LCQ15: Treatment of sewage and rainwater

LCQ15: Treatment of sewage and rainwater

Hong Kong (HKSAR) – Following is a question by the Hon Frederick Fung and
a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the
Legislative Council today (February 15):


At present, the Drainage Services Department is responsible for the
sewage and stormwater treatment and drainage systems in Hong Kong. The
stormwater drainage system is mainly used for flood prevention and for
coping with floods caused by heavy rainstorms, and stormwater is
basically untreated before it is discharged into the sea directly. In
this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number and contents of the complaints received by the
authorities in the past three years about the hygiene problems brought by
the outfalls and gullies of the stormwater collection system, as well as
the solutions provided by the authorities; whether the authorities have
conducted any study or used any new technology to improve the relevant
hygienic conditions;

(b) given that it is possible that the sewage produced in our daily lives
may be discharged into the stormwater collection system directly (e.g.

the sewage produced from street cleaning, especially during the dry
seasons when there is not enough rainwater to dilute the sewage before it
is discharged into the sea directly), thereby polluting the coastal water
in the vicinity of outfalls and giving out foul odour, whether the
authorities have, in the past, conducted water quality tests on the
sewage discharged through the stormwater collection system or the coastal
water in the vicinity of the outfalls at different times in each year; if
they have, of the test results in the past three years (including the
impacts of seasonal factors, etc.); if not, the reasons for that;

(c) whether the authorities have examined or considered applying the
technologies (including connecting all or some of the stormwater drains
to the sewage drainage system and putting in place a switching system
that allows the connection of stormwater drains to the sewage drainage
system) used in the stormwater collection systems in other places, so as
to reduce water pollution caused by the direct discharge of stormwater;
if not, of the reasons for that; and

(d) whether the authorities have, in the past, conducted any study on
stormwater collection systems with a view to utilising stormwater
resources in a more effective way to reduce the consumption of potable
water, e.g. building large-scale or regional stormwater harvesting
systems and secondary water supply systems (i.e. systems other than the
existing plumbing systems for fresh water supply at the taps) for the
purpose of utilising stormwater for various non-potable uses (e.g.

toilet flushing, landscape irrigation and cooling air-conditioning
systems, etc.); if they have, of the findings?



In Hong Kong, the sewerage system and the stormwater collection system
operate independently to enable the separate treatment of sewage and
rainwater. In general, stormwater is directly discharged into the sea. To
prevent polluted water from entering the stormwater collection system due
to various reasons thus polluting the environment, we have implemented a
handful of measures to reduce the discharge of polluted water into the
stormwater collection system, such as tackling the problem at source by
rectifying misconnections to stormwater drains; installing dry weather
flow interceptors at suitable locations; and regulating improper
discharge of polluted water at roadside.

Moreover, we would carry out regular cleansing work to remove sludge at
the stormwater collection system so as to reduce nuisance to the public
arising from the odour generated by the accumulated sludge.

My reply to the four parts of the question is as follows:

(a) From 2009 to 2011, the Highways Department and the Drainage Services
Department received a total of 563 complaints about foul odour from
drains and gullies of the stormwater collection system.However, we have
no further breakdown of the complaints into different problems, such as
hygiene problem. On receipt of a complaint about foul odour, the
departments concerned would immediately arrange contractor to carry out
cleansing work. Generally, the main causes of foul odour are
misconnection of sewers to the stormwater collection system and improper
discharge of polluted water into stormwater drains.

Apart from rectifying the misconnections to resolve the problem at
source, enforcement departments concerned would also conduct regular
inspections to deal with any illegal discharge of polluted water into
roadside drains on the spot.Appropriate enforcement actions would also be
considered when breaches of relevant legislations (such as the Water
Pollution Control Ordinance) are found. On the technical front, the
Highways Department would install gully traps at roadside gullies at
black spots of foul odour to reduce odour releasing from the drains. In
addition, a local university is conducting a study on reducing foul odour
arising from sludge in box culverts.

The study is expected to complete in 2013.

(b) The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has set up a total of
94 monitoring stations in Hong Kong waters, inner bays, typhoon shelters
and anchorages to monitor marine water quality on a regular basis. The
selection of sites for these stations and the monitoring methodologies
are set in accordance with internationally recognised scientific
practices of the relevant disciplines, including oceanography and
statistics. As the collected water quality data are mainly used for
studying the long-term trend of variations in marine water quality, the
monitoring stations are generally located offshore instead of near-shore
areas to avoid recording widely divergent data arising from abrupt
pollutant sources near the shore.

Otherwise, the data may lead to over- or under-estimation of the water
quality of the receiving waters concerned. As such, the Marine Water
Quality Monitoring Programme of the EPD would not conduct water quality
tests at near-shore areas, particularly at stormwater outfalls or their
nearby waters where there may be pollutant discharges.

Apart from EPD’s regular water quality monitoring as mentioned above, the
Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) has also conducted
baseline water quality monitoring at the waterways adjacent to Kai Tak
Development (including To Kwa Wan Typhoon Shelter) since December 2009,
in connection with the planning and design of the Kai Tak Development.
The CEDD collects water samples every three months to analyse a number of
physical, chemical and microbiological parameters, including dissolved
oxygen and coliform count.

The monitoring results are available for public viewing on the website of
Kai Tak Development (

Regarding the monitoring of inflow of polluted water into the stormwater
collection system, we consider that regular inspections and immediate
tackling of pollution at source are more effective in preventing the
polluted water from entering stormwater drains.

(c) As far as practicable, we would incorporate sewage collection
installations, such as dry weather flow interceptors, into stormwater
collection systems. These installations can intercept and divert polluted
water flow to sewerage system for treatment during dry seasons.

Hong Kong is located in the subtropical region with high annual rainfall.
Connecting all or some of the stormwater drains directly or via a
switching system to the sewerage system would lead to huge volume of
stormwater entering the sewerage system.Coping with the large amount of
additional stormwater flow would require many-fold enlargement in the
size of the existing sewer pipes and substantial expansion in the
capacity of the sewage treatment works.

As a matter of fact, most of our urban underground spaces are already
congested with various kinds of pipes and ducts. It is not practical to
lay larger sewers in these areas. Besides, it is not cost-effective to
enlarge the sewers and expand the capacity of sewage treatment works to
deal with the additional rainwater inflow.

(d) We have been undertaking studies on the more effective use of
rainwater resources and reduction of potable water for non-potable uses.

At present, we have selected some parks and public housing development
projects for trial schemes on harvesting rainwater via rainwater
harvesting systems for toilet flushing and irrigation purposes. Findings
from these schemes will serve as references for setting the future
standards of rainwater harvesting system. Besides, the Water Supplies
Department has commissioned a consultancy study on the development of
design guidelines and water quality standards for rainwater harvesting

The study is scheduled to be completed in 2012.

Source: HKSAR Government

Yau can’t fool people all the time

SCMP – Laisee

Yau can’t fool people all the time

Our Secretary for the Environment, Edward Yau, has embarked on a two-day visit to Beijing, where, according to the government’s website, he is to “exchange views with officials on environmental protection, climate change, transport emissions reduction and conservation.” Oh to be a fly on the wall when he gets round to discussing transport emissions.

Yau: “Your new air quality targets came as a bit of a shock to us – they forced us to take action or at least look like as if we were.”

Mainland official: “Well, we felt we had to do something – the people were getting angry.”

Yau: “Really, we think we can get away with our old out-of-date air quality standards for a few more years without the people getting too awkward.”

And so on. One intriguing question surrounding Yau is what will he do when there is a new chief executive in July. Whether he remains in his post will be an interesting indicator as to the incoming CE’s approach to environmental protection. If he stays on, it’s business as usual. Knowing the way things work in government, he’ll probably be promoted. Yikes.

Air pollution costing China dearly

SCMP – 16 Feb 2012

China’s worsening air pollution, after decades of unbridled economic growth, cost the country US$112 billion in 2005 in lost economic productivity, a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has found.

The figure, which also took into account people’s lost leisure time because of illness or death, was US$22 billion in 1975, according to researchers at the MIT Joint Programme on the Science and Policy of Global Change.

The study, published in the journal Global Environmental Change, measured the harmful effects of two air pollutants: ozone and particulates, which can lead to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

“The results clearly indicate that ozone and particulate matter have substantially impacted the Chinese economy over the past 30 years,” one of the researchers, Noelle Selin, an assistant professor of engineering systems and atmospheric chemistry at MIT, said.

Ground-level ozone is produced by chemical plants, gasoline pumps, paint, power plants, motor vehicles and industrial boilers. Inhaling it can result in inflammation of the airways, coughing, throat irritation, discomfort, chest tightness, wheezing and shortness of breath.

Past studies have shown that high daily ozone concentrations are accompanied by increased asthma attacks, hospital admissions, mortality and other markers of disease.

Particulates – spewed out by power plants, industries and automobiles – are microscopic solids and droplets so tiny they penetrate deep into the lungs and can even get into the bloodstream.

Lengthy exposure can result in coughing, breathing difficulties, impaired lung function, irregular heartbeat and premature death in people with heart or lung disease.

The researchers made their calculations using atmospheric modelling tools and global economic modelling, which were useful in assessing the impact of ozone, which China started monitoring only recently. This methodology allowed them to simulate historical ozone levels.

The findings show the problem was even worse than thought, said Kelly Sims Gallagher, an associate professor of energy and environmental policy at Massachusetts-based Tufts University’s Fletcher School, who was not involved in the study.

“This important study confirms earlier estimates of major damages to the Chinese economy from air pollution, and in fact, finds that the damages are even greater than previously thought,” Gallagher said.

China is a large emitter of mercury, carbon dioxide and other pollutants. In the 1980s, China’s particulate concentrations were 10 to 16 times higher than the World Health Organisation’s annual guidelines, the researchers said.

Even after significant improvements by 2005, the concentrations were five times higher than what is considered safe.

Chinese authorities are aware of the devastating effects of the degradation to the environment and are taking steps to tackle it.

This month, authorities announced plans to reduce air pollution by 15 per cent in the capital, Beijing, by 2015, and 30 per cent by 2020 through phasing out old cars, relocating factories and planting new forests.

Clear the Air says

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Clear the Air says:

Well, we had Lexusgate, now it’s Basementgate.  The common denominator being Principal HK Government officials, supposedly of the highest integrity, were apparently caught cheating and hence unfit to hold such,  or future public positions.

We wonder how the York Road premises owners managed to avoid paying the additional land premium for the luxury basement (2400 x 5000 = HK$12  million+ ?) and whether they notified the Rating and Valuation department of the additional basement area or just kept paying the old rates?

The house was built with deep piles so the intention to expand the basement seems apparent to the man in the street.

Who signed the cheque for the basement design, which architect designed it in the full knowledge it was an illegal structure and who signed their cheque, who signed the cheque for the contractors to build it and the furniture and fittings?

Tang is an acknowledged wine buff and the newspaper allegations are that there is a wine cellar and wine tasting room among other structures there. We presume that these substantial sums used to buy the houses were duly recorded with the Inland Revenue Department ?

Tang’s reply to date is disingenuous and lacks full disclosure – and he wants to be the Chief Executive?  It appears he has dug his dungeon or his political grave.

Is it any wonder that in Hong Kong the Government and its principal officials deem themselves  above the Law which applies to the plebs and not to them? This is why in Hong Kong, NGO’s must seek to embarrass Government into environmental policy action or changes  since they are non-negotiable, or we must sue them by Judicial Review. There is no middle ground.

The health of the public suffers in the meantime as a result of their blinkered arrogant apathy.

Storeroom or basement palace?

Tang admits illegal work done on house he owned with his wife, but says he’s not sure he saw floor plan showing lavish 2,400 sq ft underground complex

SCMP Staff Reporters 
Feb 16, 2012
Henry Tang Ying-yen, whose campaign for chief executive is embroiled in a furore over illegal structures at his Kowloon Tong properties, last night said he was not sure if he had even seen the floor plan for what is being dubbed his “underground palace”.

Tang’s answers at a press conference yesterday appeared to be evasive – a political ally called them “hardly convincing” – and some of his backers were reconsidering their support for him.

One election committee member – a Tang supporter in the business sector who was considering withdrawing his backing last night – confirmed the existence of the underground compound and said reports that it contained a wine cellar and a Japanese bath were true.

However, Tang said: “I have no impression that I have seen the floor plan before. [The basement] is now mainly used for storage.”

He said work on illegal structures at 7 York Road, now owned solely by his wife (Tang owns the house next door), began after the house was completed and issued with an occupation permit in 2007. Tang admitted on Monday that they had undertaken excavation work in the car park and said the underground space was used to store groceries.

The disclosures are having an impact on Tang’s ambition to take the top post in the city. The Liberal Party, of which Tang was once a member, said it was reconsidering its support for his candidacy. It called on him to explain the matter fully.

Party chairwoman Miriam Lau Kin-yee said last night: “If nothing had happened, chances are high that we will vote for Tang. But given what has happened, we will have a review of [our support], after taking into account his explanation. His explanation so far seems hardly convincing.”

She urged him to open up his property to the media for inspection. “Our concern now is the extent of the illegal structures and what he will do to remedy it,” she said.

Another supporter on the committee, Thomas Woo Chu, vowed to rethink his backing despite having already handed in his nomination.

“We are so-called friends as both of us have the heart to serve Hong Kong,” said Woo, who led a 17-member team that won all the seats in the catering subsector in the Election Committee poll in December.

“We need to observe him further. Nomination and support in the vote are two separate matters.”

Lau and Woo spoke hours after a Chinese-language tabloid, Sharp Daily, published a floor plan that, it claimed, showed the illegal basement had a total floor size of 2,400 sq ft – larger than the 2,217 sq ft footprint of the house itself.

The plan, said to have been drawn up in 2003, shows a 430 sq ft wine cellar, wine-tasting room, home theatre, Japanese bath, gym, changing room, toilet and storeroom. The newspaper said Tang’s wife, Lisa Kuo Yu-chin, was responsible for overseeing the construction work.

Tang said the house had taken about 10 years to build, and relatives had helped him oversee the construction. He called the description of the basement facilities inaccurate.

The Buildings Department said last night that it would be inspecting Tang and Kuo’s properties today.

It said its officers inspected 7 York Road on January 24, 2007, and found no unauthorised structures. It issued an occupation permit nine days later.

Tang has said he and his wife once shared ownership of the 7 York Road house, but it is now solely owned by his wife through a private company.

His election rival, pan-democrat Albert Ho Chun-yan, said Tang had lost all credibility. He also urged him to open the house to the media. “It is a lot more than a storeroom – it is a palace indeed,” he said.

But legislator Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, another Tang supporter, said the row was no more serious than the one about Leung Chun-ying’s alleged conflict of interest in an architectural design contest. “Leung’s involves public interest, while Tang’s is only a personal one,” he said.

Tang responds to publication of floor plan
SCMP Danny Mok
9:00pm, Feb 15, 2012
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A local newspaper on Wednesday published a floor plan of what it said was a 2,400 square foot illegal basement in a property in Kowloon Tong owned by Henry Tang Ying-yen and his wife.

The chief executive contender has been dogged all week by a controversy dealing with an illegal underground structure on his property.

The site in question is at 7 York Road in Kowloon Tong next to 5A York Road where the Tang family lives.

The floor plan published in the late edition of Sharp Daily is said to show a floor area larger than that of the house and include a store room, wine cellar, a wine tasting room, theatre, gym and Japanese bath.

The source of the floor plan was not disclosed in the report,

Tang had earlier said the block was just a storage area for miscellaneous items.

On Wednesday evening in response to the publication of the floor plan, Tang reiterated that the underground structure was a storage area and said that he had no recollection of ever seeing this floor plan.

Tang’s wife liable for illegal works
Cheung Chi-fai
SCMP Feb 15, 2012

Although Henry Tang Ying-yen has taken the flak for illegal structures at a Kowloon Tong property, his wife is accountable under the law.

The Buildings Department says in a mandatory removal order or prosecution for such breaches, it is the property owner listed in the land registry who will be held responsible.

On Monday, Tang admitted a storage area had been built under the swimming pool at 7 York Road. Illegal additions, including a car park canopy, had also been made at another Tang property at 5A.

“Upon … confirming the illegal structures, we will issue notices to the concerned owner listed in the land registry,” a department spokeswoman said.

According to the land registry, Tang’s wife, Lisa Kuo Yu-chin, owns  7 York Road via On-Power, a company registered in the British Virgin Islands. Past declarations of interest show Tang transferred his shareholding in the company to Kuo around 2010, making her sole owner of the house. Tang owns 5A via another firm, Bluehouse Investments.

If Kuo fails to fix the breaches, she faces a maximum fine of HK$200,000 and one year in jail.

However, Kuo, who was in the spotlight last year after Tang admitted having an affair, is not likely to face charges other than illegal building works.

Greg Wong Chak-yan, former vice-chairman of the Town Planning Board, said media concerns about a possible violation of the town planning ordinance or the land lease for excessive floor space generated from the illegal works did not seem valid.

Wong said the property’s outline zoning plan for maximum floor space could not be enforced because the property existed before the plan was enacted, while the old land lease, dating to 1930, did not specify how much floor space was allowed.

“There remains only one law capable [of] holding the property owner responsible. That’s through enforcement on unauthorised building works under the Buildings Ordinance,” he said.

Legislator Cyd Ho Sau-lan said the Buildings Department should not let Kuo walk away after fixing the building irregularities. “Given the seriousness of the illegal works, a direct prosecution should be seriously considered,” she said.


May 2002

On-Power Limited – a company registered in the British Virgin Islands with Henry Tang and his wife Lisa Kuo listed as directors – buys 7 York Road, Kowloon Tong.

Nov 2002

Henry Ho Chung-yi, architect for Tang, submits building plan for redevelopment.


Redevelopment completed and occupation permit issued by Buildings Department.

June 2010

Tang transfers stake in On-Power to his wife, making her sole owner of the company, land lot and house.

May 2011

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen asks senior officials to check properties for illegal structures.

May to end 2011

Tang says he hired consultant to inspect No 5A and 7 York Road for unapproved work. But he was not required to report back to Tsang.

October 2011

Ming Pao files questions to Tang about illegal structures; Tang denies existence of wine cellar in No 5A.

February 13, 2012

Tang admits illegal structures in his properties, saying basement garage was extended to store groceries.

February 14

Buildings officers try in vain to enter properties for inspection.

Tang fails to clear doubts on illegal home structures

Chief executive hopeful refuses to give full account of controversy until demolition work is completed

Cheung Chi-fai 
Feb 15, 2012

Embattled chief executive candidate Henry Tang Ying-yen said yesterday he had appointed an “authorised person” to act on his and his wife’s behalf in dealing with illegal structures at their home. But he refused to respond to many of the unanswered questions fuelling the row.

“Once the demolition is completed, I will give a full account to the public,” Tang said at a briefing on his election platform.

He ignored questions about an illegal storage space in his basement as he read out a statement highlighting his “undeniable responsibility” and “negligence”.

He also declared that there was absolutely no question of “submitting false building plans” – as had been suggested by some reports in the Chinese-language media – to cover up the illegal works.

Since the illegal works were exposed on Monday, Tang has been unable to offer a clear timeline on their construction, including whether it was his wife, Lisa Kuo Yu-chin, who had commissioned them.

He was also unclear on when he had hired a consultant to inspect his properties for unapproved works after senior officials were told in May last year to check their properties amid a crackdown to enforce building regulations.

Tang ignored a request to open up his properties for inspection by the media, saying only that his representatives would deal with the Buildings Department directly on his behalf.

Building inspectors who wanted to inspect the neighbouring properties in Kowloon Tong owned by Tang and his wife – 5A and 7 York Road – were refused entry as the couple were not at home. The inspectors gave domestic staff at the properties a note with their contact details.

Tang’s architect for the property at 7 York Road, which includes a basement structure not included in the building plan, has also come forward to clarify his role in the row.

Henry Ho Chung-yi said there was no illegal structure of any type when he transferred the property to Tang after completion.

“There was nothing illegal and we handed over our job after we obtained the occupation permit … if there had been anything dubious, how could we get the permit?”

Ho said building and fire inspectors were satisfied with the construction after a visit. His remarks suggest the illegal structures were added around 2006 or after construction work had been completed.

Tang’s main rival for the chief executive’s job, Leung Chun-ying, said yesterday he did not know that a reporter from Ming Pao, which first reported on the illegal structures at Tang’s home, was a distant relative of his. The newspaper said its reporting team knew of the relationship but did not think it affected the investigation.

Tang admits having illegal structures

Chief executive candidate denies cover-up in row over two properties in upmarket Kowloon Tong

Cheung Chi-fai, Peter So and Tanna Chong 
SCMP Feb 14, 2012

Chief executive candidate Henry Tang Ying-yen says he will remove illegal structures from two properties owned by members of his family in upmarket Kowloon Tong, amid claims the issue has raised questions about his integrity.

Tang denied there was a cover-up involving the illegal structures linked to his home, and blamed any confusion on a “misunderstanding” in handling media inquiries on the matter in October.

Admitting they were illegal structures, Tang pledged to take responsibility for having them removed. They include an excavated area on an unoccupied property adjoining his home, a construction which one newspaper said was a wine cellar.

Tang said they also included a canopy covering a car park at his home at 5A York Road that was allegedly left by the previous owner more than a decade ago and a skylight window on the roof of No 7, an adjoining property that is unoccupied at the moment. Tang confirmed that his family owned both properties. Tang gave no deadline for having the structures removed.

“As a man, one needs to have shoulders and as a public officer, one needs to have backbone,” Tang said at a briefing yesterday morning.

Last night Tang apologised during a radio broadcast and in a statement for causing public concern after the Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao reported that a wine cellar was allegedly being built at 7 York Road.

Tang denied that the excavated area at the site, which was connected to the base of a swimming pool, was used as a wine cellar, as reported by Ming Pao.

Despite his denial, a lawmaker whose party is backing a rival candidate in the race for the city’s next chief executive, called on Tang to come clean on the issue.

“There is clearly a question of integrity. It indicates Tang, who was then chief secretary for administration [until resigning late last year to contest the race to be the next chief executive], might have wanted to lie to his bosses and public,” said Lee Wing-tat, a member of the Democratic Party, which is backing the candidacy of Albert Ho Chun-yan.

Ming Pao quoted contractors who once worked inside 7 York Road as saying the wine cellar was secretly built with a hidden entrance somewhere in the house. A plan of the property kept by the Buildings Department since 2002 does not show a structure under the house.

A spokesman for the department said they would arrange a site inspection as soon as possible.

Asked by the newspaper last October if such a structure existed, Tang denied it. That denial, Tang said yesterday, was based on a misunderstanding. “The misunderstanding arose from a question asked. The two properties belong to my family and I was using only No 5. The question asked was whether there was a wine cellar at No 5,” he said, adding that there was no wine cellar at his home. The latest revelation comes just days after Tang’s arch rival, Leung Chun-ying, was embroiled in a controversy relating to his alleged conflict of interest as an adjudicator over a tender for the West Kowloon arts hub project. Leung said last night he believed Tang would handle the matter well.

Last May, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen asked his senior officials to check whether their properties contained any illegal structures after a string of public figures and officials were named as contravening building regulations.

Yesterday’s exposure raised questions in the media about whether Tsang knew about the illegal work at Tang’s home.

A spokesman for the Chief Executive’s Office said Tsang had asked senior officials only to inspect their properties and had not asked them to report back to him on the results.

The two properties are registered under overseas-based companies based in the British Virgin Islands. Bluehouse Investments bought No 5A for HK$46.5 million in 1996 and On-Power bought No 7 for HK$36 million in 2002.

It is worth noting that someone provided information to the press  regarding CY Leung’s company involvement with a tenderer for the West Kowloon project ten years ago – Henry Tang used to be the Chairman of the West Kowloon project. Both Tang and CY Leung were members of Exco but nothing was raised about this matter until recently. We wonder who was the source of the attempted muck throwing ?

Is this the first time Tang’s integrity was questioned ?, well, not really ………………………………………….

Harbourfest case

Tang was involved in the Harbour Fest controversy as Chairman of the Economic Relaunch Strategy Group responsible for pushing ahead with the plan to spend $100 million to revive the economy after SARS, and said that he should be held responsible. Tang had said that although Mike Rowse, a senior civil servant, had actually signed the contract, Rowse as such was not required to be held politically responsible.[7](Wikipedia)  However, during a Working Group meeting on 31 October, 2003 and during an independent inquiry in May 2004, Tang allegedly said Rowse had not acted improperly and that there had been no irregularity in the implementation of the event.[8] Tang had also said that all parties had under-estimated the complexity of the event and may have been too ambitious in organising it in such a short timespan. He later withdrew the remark: just before a government inquiry opened on November 2004, Tang requested the ERWG minutes be deleted.[8] Internal governmental disciplinary process fined Rowse for misconduct, but a High Court judge quashed the government ruling on 4 July 2008. Political commentator Frank Ching pointed to the huge credibility gap of the government. He noted that the attempt of Tang to shift political responsibility from himself, as the minister responsible, to a senior civil servant, was a travesty of justice for Rowse, and went against the Accountability System.[9] (Wikipedia)

Extra-marital affair

On 4 October 2011, in the midst of rumours about his extra-marital affair, Henry Tang issued a statement, in which he admitted that he had made a mistake in his romantic life in the past and he deeply regretted it.  He specifically did not elaborate on the sex of the person he had an admitted affair with.  He said that his wife had forgiven him. His wife said in the statement that there had been difficult times in their relationship and that he has faults, but that she also appreciated his strengths. She acknowledged him as her ‘best partner’.[17] National People’s Congress Standing Committee member Rita Fan said on 7 October 2011 that she didn’t know about Mr Tang’s now widely publicised infidelity when she offered her support and she refused to rule herself out of standing in the following year’s Chief Executive election, though she did not in fact stand.[18] Wikipedia

Burning issue on the march

SCMP – Laisee, 16 Feb 2012

Opponents of the government’s plans to build what will be one of the largest incinerators in the world at a local beauty spot – the island of Shek Kwu Chau off Lantau – have given up trying to reason with the Environmental Protection Department and have decided to take to the streets.

They are organising a protest march on Sunday March 18 from Pier 6 in Central to the government headquarters. A poster advertising the march says: “Outdated technology causes air pollution and health risks to all Hong Kong residents and visitors. Permanent environmental damage in area of natural beauty. Careless use of public money and inadequate public consultation. Asia’s world city deserves a more intelligent solution for dealing with its rubbish.”

The government, however, appears intent on railroading the project through, despite evidence of better available technology and increasing concerns over emissions from the method the environment department proposes to use.