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April 3rd, 2012:

Call for recycling as second nature

HK Standard – 3 April 2012

A “surprising” majority of residents recycle their trash, but many who wish to do the same are deterred by the lack of suitable facilities nearby.

That is the indication of a survey by the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, which found as many as three-quarters of the 1,101 respondents often separate household garbage into recyclable portions.

And of the rest, a third said they are put off by the absence of recycling points in their neighborhood, while another 30 percent are discouraged by the lack of separate bins on their estates.

“It is surprising but heartening to know the culture of recycling is strong here, but it remains inconvenient due to a lack of facilities along streets and in buildings,” DAB lawmaker Gary Chan Hak-kan said.

“People are keen to recycle, but are not given the chance to.”

Many respondents felt the three- colored waste separation bins fail to provide for other recyclables such as glass, food waste, batteries and compact discs.

In use since 1998, the bins are now placed at more than 9,000 locations, separating waste paper, aluminum cans and plastics from other rubbish.

But Tai Po district councillor William Cheung Kok-wai said many old estates lack corridor space to hold these bins, hobbling any serious recycling effort.

The survey also revealed that people are divided on charging a fee for the disposal of municipal solid waste, with 44 percent for and about 38 percent against.

However, more than 80 percent of those polled said that such a fee, if introduced, should be no more than HK$20.

Cheung said this shows that the primary concern is about financial impact.

The DAB has urged officials to install more recycling facilities to encourage the practice, with Chan saying innovations like vertical bins may help solve the space problem in old estates.

And Cheung called on the authorities to enact a comprehensive recycling policy to legitimize small-time garbage collectors and implement a producer- responsibility scheme.

He said: “There needs to be a proper policy in place to make recycling a collective community effort.”

Officers take zero option

SCMP – Laisee – 3 April 2012

Good to see that the Environmental Protection Department is tackling the task of cracking down on idling engines with the same zeal it applies to improving the quality of the city’s air. The idling engine law came into effect on December 15 last year. James Middleton, the chairman of Clear the Air, recently asked the department how many fixed-penalty tickets it had issued to motorists. In a written reply, the department revealed it had issued a staggering total of zero fines. “In general, the drivers are co-operative,” it said. One can only surmise that one of the requirements for an enforcement officer is seriously impaired vision

Attempt to extend graft law ‘hindered’

SCMP – 3 April 2012

Former ICAC chief under Donald Tsang and Rafael Hui was ‘very upset’ when bid to ensure bribery rules covered senior officials failed

Former chief graft-buster Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun said yesterday she was “hindered” in her attempt to extend the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance to include senior officials.

The ex-commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption made the claim in a Commercial Radio interview.

She was recalling her tenure from October 2006 to June 2007 under the administration of Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and the then chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan, who are both now facing corruption probes.

“When I wanted to extend the coverage of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance I faced hindrance. It upset me a lot,” Law said in the interview, without giving further details or revealing the source of the hindrance.

Hui was arrested last week over alleged collusion with brothers Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong and Raymond Kwok Ping-luen, joint chairmen of the Sun Hung Kai Properties (SEHK: 0016) empire. Tsang is also being investigated by the ICAC for potential conflicts of interest by accepting favours from tycoon friends.

The ICAC commissioner, who is appointed by the chief executive, is directly accountable to the city’s leader. But a former ICAC investigator, who declined to be named, said generally it was the Corruption Prevention Department of the commission that was responsible for legal amendments. He said the department would prepare an amendment proposal for the director of administration, who would seek advice from the Department of Justice.

If both parties agreed, the administrative wing would draft a bill to the Legislative Council for readings.

The ex-ICAC investigator recalled that about six years ago, the commission had discussed codifying misconduct in public office from the common law into the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance. But he said it was rejected by the administrative wing.

Pan-democratic lawmakers questioned why Law had revealed her difficulties only after the administration had been plagued by scandals.

Civic Party lawmaker Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee said the anti-bribery laws did not cover the chief executive despite years of advocacy. The issue had even been discussed in an amendment bill of the ordinance.

She was referring to sections 3 and 8 of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance, which govern soliciting or accepting an advantage and the bribery of public servants, but which did not cover the chief executive even after an amendment in 2008.

“The government refused to amend section 3, saying the chief executive could not have approved his own acceptance of advantages,” said Ng, a barrister. As for section 8, the government said stepping up the restriction could deter some ‘passionate citizens from sending gifts as gratitude to the chief executive’.”

Democratic Party vice-chairman Sin Chung-kai, who in 2006 was a member of Advisory Committee on Corruption that oversees the ICAC’s direction and policy matters, said he could not recall Law pushing for an extension of the ordinance.

He said Law was either trying to “distance herself from Tsang”, or the hindrance she faced was internal within the ICAC.

Chief Secretary Stephen Lam Sui-lung said the government’s resolve to apply anti-graft laws to the highest levels of the administration was clear.