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April 14th, 2012:

Germany 357,114 km2 area versus Hong Kong’s area 1,104 km2

Clear the Air says:
One size does not fit all.
Germany has a legally binding ‘reduce recycle and reuse’ system for years whilst Hong Kong has prevaricated. So successful in fact that Germany’s incinerators have massive over capacity and insufficient MSW supply so they now import waste from the rest of the world to feed the incinerators.(note: 62% of dioxin and furans annual emissions come from incinerators at start up and shut down phases based on 3 maintenance shutdowns per year)
In addition Germany has a land area of 357,114 low rise square kms with abundant wind and solar power generation  versus Hong Kong’s 1,104 square kms which encompasses numerous outer islands and the densest populated square mile on earth in Mongkok,  coal power generation and thanks to the success of Shenzhen and Hong Kong ports, the most polluting ship bunker fuel emissions in the world blowing across our shores with no Emissions Control Area.
EIA Report Omissions ?
Sadly we could not find any reference to the 3 new Shenzhen incinerators (which will be operational by 2015)  in the Government’s EIA report on the Shek Kwu Chau / Tsang Tsui proposed incinerator – why is that we wonder – perhaps Edward Yau was not aware of these facts like the rest of his seemingly unaccountable portfolio ? – the Government tells us that the prevailing winds are from the north in excess of 80% per year which means that the PM10, PM2.5 and ultrafines, dioxins, furans and other toxic emissions from Shenzhen’s new 6,300 mt per day incinerators  will further pollute our air – so the HK Government’s incinerator EIA is fundamentally flawed from the outset by these inexplicable omissions.
No current incinerator bag house , scrubber or other technology exists to prevent PM2.5 emissions that come from combustion processes. Hong Kong’s PM10 and PM2.5 levels are already some of the worst in the world.
UK sees the nexus.
The UK Government has commissioned a report by Imperial College to study alarming deaths and birth defects in areas adjoining and downwind of  incinerators.

“Affluent Chingford Green ward in Waltham Forest has the second highest average number of child deaths in London. It happens to be close to Britain’s largest incinerator. “If it’s all about poverty, then how come the levels of infant mortality in countryside areas, where wages have always been below average, aren’t high?” asks Mr Ryan.

Now, to cries of “at last” from Mr Ryan, HPA head Justin McCracken has said that following discussions with Professor Paul Elliott, head of the Small Area Health Statistics Unit at Imperial College, it has been “concluded that an epidemiological study of birth outcomes around municipal waste incinerators would produce reliable results. Work is now progressing in developing a detailed proposal for what will be a complex study.”

In 2004, a study in Japan found a “peak decline in risk with distance from the municipal solid waste incinerators for infant deaths and infant deaths with all congenital malformations combined”.
Meanwhile we agree with the HK Government’s appointed waste consultants AECOM: perhaps Edward Yau should listen to them ?

“The site AFE has chosen for this project is well suited for this facility”, said Mike Zebell P.E. of AECOM (NYSE:ACM), a Fortune 500 company serving clients in more than 100 countries and a global provider of professional technical, environmental and management support services. “We believe that this technology is not only environmentally friendly but ready for large-scale commercialization. We are excited to partner with an entrepreneurial firm like AFE, one of the industries’ leading developers focused on building environmentally responsible energy projects using plasma gasification technology.”


Germany’s Booming Incineration Industry

Burning the World’s Waste

By Udo Ludwig and Barbara Schmid,1518,467239,00.html

A booming new industry has quietly emerged in Germany. Waste incineration firms are importing massive amounts of toxic waste. Now public opposition is mounting against the burning of highly contaminated waste from Australia.

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Greenpeace protesting against a shipment of toxic waste.

The trip was planned as meticulously as if a government leader were arriving. The most reliable container ships have been selected for the journey, the crews receive special training and the captains have been ordered to avoid busy sea routes — for safety reasons.

The mission is to ship a dangerous cargo half way around the globe: Four freighters will bring 22,000 tons of hazardous waste from Australia to Germany’s northern Schleswig-Holstein region. The toxic containers can only be stored below deck to prevent any of them falling overboard in a storm.

Once the contaminated cargo has arrived in Germany, it will be taken to special incineration plants by train and in trucks — to Brunsbüttel, Herten, Dormagen and Leverkusen. There, the carcinogenic hexachlorobenzenes from Australian chemical company Orica’s solvent production will be “rendered harmless” by 2008, according to the incinerator operators.

The trip from one end of the world to the other reveals an economic sector that has expanded in Germany largely unnoticed until now: Germany has become one of the major importers of hazardous waste from all over the planet, a giant waste disposal facility for the rest of the world. Munitions waste from Sweden, pesticides from Columbia, asbestos-contaminated rubble from the United States, solvents from China and lead-acid batteries from Montenegro.

Nothing that harms human beings, animals and the environment seems to be missing on the list, which is meticulously kept by the German Environmental Ministry. And the amounts have tripled since 2000 to reach more than 2,000 tons. Import volumes of asbestos-contaminated waste has risen by 400 percent in this period — that of industrial sludge by as much as 500 percent.

Sell us your waste

The reason behind this economic growth consists in Germany’s unusually strict environmental regulations. They’ve ensured that the world’s best hazardous waste incineration plants were built in Germany, which also has the greatest know-how. But the high-tech incinerators only make economic sense if they are used at or near full capacity. Germany’s plant operators would face overcapacities of as much as 20 percent if they didn’t process hazardous waste from abroad.


Hazardous waste disposal in Germany has been on the rise lately.

And since Germans are so eager to clean up other people’s mess, other countries have been able to secretly shirk their own responsibility. The Basel Convention signed 18 years ago saw 170 countries make a commitment to disposing of their waste in their own countries to the extent possible. The convention was originally intended as a bulwark against waste exports to Third World countries.

But the Dutch don’t have to send their waste as far as that. They’ve closed down two hazardous waste incinerator facilities in Rotterdam, since grateful takers are waiting just across the border, in Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia region. They get €900 ($1,182) per tonne. “You’ve got such good facilities,” says Paul Braams from Rotterdam’s waste combustion service. “Why should we spend good money to bring our own incinerators up to date?”

Organizations such as the Association for the Protection of the Environment and Nature (BUND), the German branch of Friends of the Earth, warn against the incalculable risks of hazardous waste incineration and accuse the country’s waste managers of profiteering at the expense of the environment. But Joachim Beyer doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about. The graduate engineer is head of the hazardous waste incineration department at Bayer Industry Services. He’s responsible for several special incinerators in Leverkusen and Dormagen. “We have nothing to hide,” the plant director says during a tour of his Leverkusen kingdom, where waste is incinerated at temperatures between 1,000 and 1,200 degress Centigrade (1,832 – 2,192 degrees Fahrenheit).

‘Harmless’ leftovers

In the language of chemistry, what that means is that extraordinarily toxic organic combinations are broken apart. Only scoria remain, solidified in water baths. “You could use them for road construction,” Beyer says, demonstrating their harmlessness by reaching into a pile of dark lumps that look like shredded glass. “The worst danger you face is cutting your hand,” he says. The Bayer corporation deposits the scoriae on the plant’s own dumpsite.


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But something else remains after the incineration process: gaseous components of the hazardous waste that have the tricky characteristic of recombining in the form of toxic furan polymers and dioxins when cooled down to about 300 degrees Centigrade (572 degrees Fahrenheit). “Cracking them for good” is the job of various combustion chambers, rotation washers, condensation filters and a catalytic converter more than 30 meters (98 feet) large, Beyer explains.

The toxicity of what leaves the chimney at an altitude of about 100 meters (328 feet) lies far below the limit values, Beyer says. That toxicity is only measurable in picograms at best — and one picogram is just a millionth of a millionth of a gram.

But scientists insist there is no such thing as hazardous waste combustion without harmful emissions. Harry Rosin, a professor of medical microbiology, even thinks the statements issued by the industry are “stultifying nonsense.”

Even the best facilities release carcinogenic particles into the air, he says, adding that sooner or later, the dirt comes back to the ground, where the molecules are then eaten by grazing cows, thereby returning into the food chain. When that has happened, even tiny amounts of toxins are enough to harm human health, Rosin says.

Experts like Rosin are also convinced that those living close to the incinerators will pay the price for the controversial business development trend of the past years. Residents have been convinced “that the facilities are indispensable for the region,” says Günter Dehoust from the Ecological Institute in Darmstadt. But now they’re finding out “that waste from all over the world is being purchased because of overcapacity.”

Citizens against waste

In Brunsbüttel, citizens are resisting the transformation of the region into a “global trans-shipment center for hazardous waste,” as the spokeswoman of the local environmental association says. The four ships carrying their 22,000 ton cargo from Australia are to be unloaded in Brunsbüttel. The plan is for about half the waste to end up in the local incinerator. The other half will be loaded onto cargo trains and trucks and transported across the country along a 400 kilometer (248 mile) route.

It remains controversial whether the local facility in the Westphalian town of Herten is even suited for disposing of the chemical cocktail from Australia. “The chlorine combinations might not be completely eliminated in Herten, due to the low incineration temperature of only 900 degrees Centigrade (1,652 degrees Fahrenheit),” says Claudia Baitinger, the waste expert at BUND. Johannes Remmel, the secretary of the Green Party faction in the Düsseldorf parliament, thinks another question needs to be raised as well: that of “whether it’s the job of local waste disposers to acquire hazardous waste from all over the world.”

“Only weakly contaminated waste, such as barrels and other packages” is burnt in Herten, according to Orica spokesperson John Fetter. He adds that “Herten has developed a special method in which 900 degrees Centigrade (1,652 degrees Fahrenheit) are sufficient.”

And so the German Environmental Minister and the local government in Düsseldorf have no objections to the waste deals — on the contrary. “With its very good facilities for incinerating hazardous waste, Germany is assuming a part of the general environmental responsibility,” says Environmental Minister Sigmar Gabriel from the Social Democrat Party (SPD). Gabriel argues that disposing of the waste in Germany is still safer than letting it be improperly deposited elsewhere or dumped into the sea. But in future, the Social Democrat would like to see the waste exporters build their own incinerators — ideally with technology made in Germany.

China — not noted for its environmental concerns until now — seems to want to realize Gabriel’s vision. Two up-to-date hazardous waste incinerating facilities will now be built in Beijing and in an industrial park in the northwest of the country — using German know-how.

A small town in Germany where recycling pays

The less waste households put out for incineration, the less they pay. It’s why Neustadt an der Weinstrasse’s recycling rates are the toast of Germany

Leo Hickman in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse (Newtown on the Winestreet)

The Guardian, Friday 18 March 2011

Article history

German householders are used to separating their rubbish for recycling, so recovery rates are higher than in the UK.Photograph: Sascha Schuermann/AFP/Getty Images

The citizens of Neustadt an der Weinstrasse take their recycling very seriously. So much so that there is even a collection point at the recycling depot for dead animals.

“People bring their dead dogs here,” says Stefan Weiss, one of the town’s waste managers, as he steps into a refrigerated shed and opens the lid on a wheelie bin containing a deer’s head recently deposited by a local hunter.

“All these animals get rendered down at a nearby facility for their fat. It then gets used to produce things like this.” Weiss pulls a tube of lip balm from his pocket.

Located in the south-western state of Rheinland-Pfalz and set in the heart of Palatinate wine-growing region, the predominantly middle-class, medieval town of Neustadt boasts the best recycling rates in Germany. Over the past 30 years, the town has nurtured and refined a system that means it now recycles about 70% of its waste – 16% higher than the state target. By comparison, UK recycling rates average about 40% – up from just 5% in the mid-1990s.

The reason for Neustadt’s success is simple, says Weiss. “It’s all about providing financial incentives and education. We don’t charge citizens anything for the recycled waste they leave out. And the less waste you put out for incineration– we’ve had no landfill in Germany since 2005 – the less you pay.

“Having no incentive to reduce waste is poisonous to your aims. We have a separate, visible fee that is intentionally not embedded within a local tax.”

For example, the majority of Neustadt’s 28,000 households opt for a 60-litre bin for their non-recycled waste. This is collected once a fortnight and costs the household €6.60 in collection fees. If a household opts for a 40l bin, the fee falls to €5.30. Conversely, if they opt for a 240l bin (the standard wheelie bin volume in the UK), the fee rises to €24, or €48 if they want it collected weekly. If they produce higher than expected waste due to, say, having a party, they can buy special 60l plastic sacks for €3 and leave them out by their bins for collection.

When it comes to recycling, householders are asked to sort their items and bag them into three groupings: paper/cardboard; glass; and plastics/foils/cans. The latter grouping goes into a yellow bag and can include anything from Styrofoam and yoghurt pots through to aluminium foil and Tetrapaks. Compost bins are provided for those with gardens to dispose of organic waste. Everything else — batteries, toys, timber, old TVs, tins of paint, dead pets — must be taken to the recycling depot a mile or so from the town centre.

Larger loads of waste – debris from a house renovation, say – can be dumped at the depot for a fee of €5 for loads up to 100kg, although households are limited to one load a week.

Bigger loads command much higher commercial fees. For those without a car, a calendar is provided each year to households marking pick-up days for different types of waste, or private firms are available to take away waste on demand for a fee.

“We started this simple fee system in 2006 and we find it works,” says Weiss.

“We have been sorting our waste since the early 1980s, but in 1989 we joined up with other towns in the region and formed our own waste company to process the waste more efficiently. Our waste costs are actually lower now than when we started and we even turn a slight profit some years when the commodity prices are high. As a non-profit, this money just gets reinvested.”

Further proof that the system works is provided by neighbouring regions which use different systems. For example, one charges according to the number of people who live in the home, whereas another offers one option: a weekly collection of a 100l bin. “These regions both produce 100kg more waste per person per year than we do here,” says Weiss. But he also believes that Neustadt has probably gone as far as it can with maximising recycling. “Getting to 80% would be impossible. There are behavioural issues such as those few people who still mix up their waste. Plus, there is a fixed percentage of people who live in high-density housing without access to gardens or outside storage.”

Gabrielle Stahl lives on a hill overlooking the town in the leafy suburb of Hambach. She didn’t even know Neustadt boasted Germany’s best recycling rates, but isn’t surprised: “We are all very normalised to the system here. There is no controversy or debate whatsoever about our rubbish.”

Stahl, who lives with her husband and shares bins with her mother who lives next door, opens the cupboard beneath her sink to reveal two waste caddies containing vegetable peelings and non-recyclable domestic waste. In the cellar below, the family stores its bottles and “yellow bag” material.

They have paid extra to have a dedicated wheelie bin for their paper and card outside. “The bags kept splitting,” she explains.

One day every fortnight, four lorries pull up outside Stahl’s home to separately collect each waste stream. “If they miss a bag, you just ring them up and a car comes back to collect it. Once or twice a year, I will drive down to the depot and get rid of things like old furniture or a broken appliance, but that’s it. And in the summer, I buy a chemical patch from the supermarket to stick on the inside of the bin to kill the flies and maggots.

“The only thing that could be improved is that I would like a separate collection for organic waste as sometimes I produce too much for my compost heap.”

Back at the recycling depot, Stefan Weiss moves on to the subject of enforcement. Or rather, the lack of it. “In theory, we have the power to fine people if they don’t sort their waste. But we never do this because it costs too much to investigate. And we just don’t have an issue with flytipping because we make the system so cheap and easy to use. We still get the odd complaint about the move to fortnightly collections, or that our bins are ugly, but that really is about it.”

A car towing a trailer full of construction waste pulls up at the weigh-station by the entrance gate. Weiss wanders over to inspect the contents. “This weighs about half of tonne. It will cost €270 to dump it as it is. Or if the car owner sorts it into separate types of waste — timber, paper, plasterboard etc — it will cost him just €17. That, in summary, is our system. We provide a major incentive to recycle.”

© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Choi Chi-yuk and Cheung Chi-fai

Sep 15, 2011

Shenzhen plans to build the “world’s largest” rubbish incinerator, capable of processing 5,000 tonnes a day, in an effort to cope with  the almost five million tonnes of domestic waste produced by the city each year.

Lu Ruifeng, the city’s executive vice-mayor, told a group of Guangdong provincial People’s Congress delegates on Tuesday that because its landfills could no longer cope with the growing trash pile produced by its 13 million residents, the city was planning to build the world’s largest incinerator, the Guangzhou-based Nanfang Daily reported yesterday.

Lu said public consultations had been held on site selection. He admitted that where to put the incinerator was one of the most

challenging problems for the project.

The Nanfang Daily said Shenzhen planned to build three waste incinerators by 2015 to burn 80 per cent of the city’s rubbish. It said two of the plants would be in Laohukeng and Nanshan district, both in the west of the city, with the third to be built at an unspecified site in the city’s east.

A report in the Guangzhou Daily said Shenzhen had three waste incineration plants in the pipeline, capable of processing a total of 6,300 tonnes of rubbish a day.

Lu said that in order to meet environmental protection standards for the incinerator’s emissions – smell, liquid, ash residue and airborne ash particles – it would make use of mechanical grate technology to improve combustion. It would also adopt advanced management and stick to the highest global air quality standards, the Nanfang Daily reported.

It said Shenzhen was dealing with 4.8 million tonnes of trash a year.

Michelle Au Wing-tze, senior environmental affairs officer at Friends of the Earth (Hong Kong), said Shenzhen was taking a wrong path in waste management.

“Guangzhou has just started to ask people to separate and recycle waste, but Shenzhen is heading in the opposite direction,” she said.

“It is definitely not an image boost to tell others the incinerator will be the world’s largest.”

Au said that if the incinerator had any adverse environmental impacts, like dioxin pollution, it would not just hit Shenzhen and Hong Kong but could spread far beyond the region.

Last year, the daily per capita waste disposal rate in Shenzhen was 1.26kg, compared to 1.28kg in Hong Kong and 0.77kg in Guangzhou.

Hong Kong is also planning to build a large incinerator, with a capacity of 3,000 tonnes a day, on a reclaimed site at Shek Kwu Chau, south of Lantau Island.

Environment officials have not ruled out the need to build an extra incinerator to cope with mounting waste.

Waste incineration projects are a sensitive issue in Guangdong, with proposals for new plants often met by fierce local demonstrations, forcing plans to be put on hold. In January, more than 1,000 residents from two districts of Guangzhou staged separate protests against incinerator projects near their neighbourhoods.

Growing environmental awareness among mainlanders as living standards have improved in recent years have fuelled more protests over environmental concerns.

Copyright (c) 2011. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Rocket science of solution to waste problem entails melding of minds

SCMP -14 April 2012

Edwin Lau Che-feng of Friends of the Earth (“Costly incinerator will be a waste of money”, April 2), suggests that dealing with our waste problem is not rocket science. If it were that easy, a solution would be in place by now.

The numbers are well known and mostly undisputed: 18,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste per day; half separated at source equals 9,000 tonnes per day. The methods to deal with waste are not rocket science – reduce, reuse, recycle and dispose.

The prevailing method of disposal in Hong Kong is landfilling. One crucial element to consider is the fact that landfilling cannot continue indefinitely. Hong Kong is running out of space. Then what? Throw the waste into the harbour, or ship it to the mainland? These would obviously not be workable solutions.

Hong Kong has an appalling record of more than 2.5kg of waste production per capita per day. Germany produces, in comparison, less than 1kg.

There is clearly room for improvement, and a waste charging system would help to achieve this. With a waste separation rate of more than 50 per cent, Hong Kong is not doing badly, but again, there is room for improvement. Germany recovers 70 per cent of its waste. Such a rate cannot be achieved without legislation, incentives and education, which are lacking in Hong Kong.

Residual waste in Germany and elsewhere is incinerated. This is a proven, tested and safe technology, which reduces carbon dioxide emissions by recovering energy from waste.

If Hong Kong were to reduce its per capita waste to 1kg per day and recovered 70 per cent of that waste, a total of 2,100 tonnes of municipal solid waste per day would be left. This number is not utopian but realistically could not be achieved before our landfills reached saturation.

The debate among multitudes of interest groups and stakeholders offers some solutions, although most simply say “no” or “yes, but”. This is where the rocket science begins: getting dozens of parties to agree on a workable solution seems a formidable task.

Such agreement can obviously only be reached if, first, representatives are willing to compromise; second, there is an understanding, that all options for waste treatment have to be considered; and, third, if all acknowledge that there cannot be any achievement without sacrifice.

The way forward, therefore, has to be one of convergence among all parties involved. There is a long way to go, and if you want to go far, go together.

Wolfgang Ehmann, Admiralty

Høst turns wastes into profits

In Hong Kong most biogas production emanates from the current ENB and Chief Executive Offices where there seems to be an ample supply of feedstock


Accountability for industrial and organic waste was not a high priority for companies in the past as it is today. Understanding the critical need for conservation and preservation measures, waste treatment specialist Høst works hand-in-hand with the private and public sectors to help the environment back on its feet.

Instead of letting wastes decompose in landfills or burn in incinerators, Host uses technology to transform waste into valuable resources such as fertilisers, biogas and electricity.

“Organic waste is a problem for the environment. But if treated the right way, it can improve the environment and it is also possible to profit from it,” says Torleiv Næss Ugland, Høst managing director.

Aiming to spread the advantages of waste treatment outside Norway, Høst works with companies with strong international networks such as consulting and trading company Shincon.

“The world is getting smaller and smaller. Everything that is happening in one country can have a global impact so we need to address mounting environmental problems,” Ugland says.

Seeing as how the mainland is an important manufacturing hub for companies globally, Høst has established Norminor, a joint-venture company with Shincon, to help the mainland in waste treatment and management.

Høst also partnered with the Yunnan Circular Economy Investment (YCEI) to establish Yunnan Sino-Norway Bioengineering, a joint-venture company focused on the production of biogas and branded mineral organic fertilisers based on solid waste from the waste treatment plants owned by YCEI and animal manure from industrial farms.

With plans to establish four treatment plants by next year, and 30 by 2015 on the mainland, Høst also aims to apply the same strategy to the rest of Asia. “We are open to partnerships with companies from all kinds of industries with by-products. We offer our expertise to turn trash into cash,” Ugland says.

Bring in outside talent to revive tired inner circle


Stephen Vines says C.Y. Leung should find new faces to help lead the city

Updated on Apr 14, 2012
We’ve heard the rhetoric, seen the grinning pictures, but now the time has come for Leung Chun-ying, Hong Kong’s new chief executive, to provide the first concrete example of how he intends to govern. This involves announcing who will serve in his administration and who will advise it in the Executive Council.

Leung has a historic opportunity to demonstrate that his government will be different. To do so requires the kind of courage that he may well lack, because it means ditching the government’s traditional reliance on leadership from the same old band of slightly shop-soiled civil servants combined with a smattering of trustees who have done the rounds of government appointments.

Aside from the chief executive, there are 15 other principal officials, appointed under the sarcastically named “accountability system“.

Of these, two-thirds are drawn from the civil service, leaving five so-called outsiders. Three of the five non-civil servants have a genuine claim to expertise in their areas of responsibility: Wong Yan-lung, the lawyer who is secretary for justice, York Chow Yat-Ngok, the doctor who is responsible for food and health and, at a push, expertise can be ascribed to Chan Ka-keung, the academic with successful business school experience who is secretary for financial services.

The other two non-civil servants are essentially political appointees; they are the former communist newspaper editor Tsang Tak-sing, who presides over home affairs, and Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong member Gregory So Kam-leung, who occasionally surfaces as the commerce and economic development secretary.

The Executive Council, vaguely comparable to a cabinet in a normal political system, consists of 16 government members and 13 so-called non-official members. Most of these have been government trustees for so long it is hard to remember a time when, for example, Ronald Arculli and Charles Lee Yeh-kwong were not on more or less every major finance-related committee.

Then there’s Leong Che-hung, a recycled liberal who is now ubiquitous on government-appointed committees, as is the accountant Marvin Cheung Kin-tung. Lurking in the background is Lau Wong-fat, the boss of the all-powerful Heung Yee Kuk, which is advising its members to defy the law.

Arguably the only member of Exco who seems to have a distinctively different political view from her colleagues is Anna Wu Hung-yuk, but she has regrettably been silent in public since joining this committee.

The hubris that prevails in the higher levels of the civil service has convinced them that they alone are capable of governing Hong Kong. This is an insular group of people who have spent either all or most of their lives working together. They kind of understand that outsiders need to be given the odd department to run but hardly search for the brightest and best to take on these jobs. Henry Tang Ying-yen is a good example of the calibre of these placeholders.

It is up to Leung to decide if he wants to carry on with business as usual by keeping the old gang in place. Or will he merely shuffle the pack to bring in other members of the elite whose turn has come?

Does anyone seriously believe that, among a population of seven million people, there really are no more than a handful who can provide leadership in government? This is not to say that Leung should appoint his opponents in the democrat camp, because they have nothing to gain and everything to lose by joining an administration of this kind.

There is plenty of talent in Hong Kong. Indeed, is it being seriously argued that the civil servants who have run the government have done such a marvellous job that no one else could do better?

In normal political systems, elections draw in talent and nurture government leaders – this option is denied to Hong Kong. But if Leung really wants to demonstrate that his administration is aiming for a new start, he can still find talent residing outside the tiny elite. This, of course, assumes that Beijing will allow Leung to pick his own people, an assumption that cannot be safely made.

Stephen Vines is a Hong Kong-based journalist and entrepreneur

David Li vows to remove structure if it’s ruled illegal

The contemptuous story of certain Hong Kong Legco members, top officials and arrogance exemplified – this is at the root of why Hong Kong has no political will to fight pollution.

Lawmaker says he did not notice rooftop addition as he has not lived in the penthouse on The Peak

SCMP – 14 April 2012

Finance-sector lawmaker David Li Kwok-po has vowed to remove a rooftop structure on premises on The Peak should it prove to be illegal.

Li, who is also chairman and chief executive of the Bank of East Asia (SEHK: 0023), said he had not noticed the structure previously as he had not lived in the penthouse – in Altadena House, 27 Barker Road – since it was bought a few years ago.

He was responding to news reports yesterday that alleged the structure could be as large as 1,000 square feet. “If there is any illegal structure, I will remove it,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the Buildings Department said officers would examine the approved building plan of Li’s flat and inspect the site.

Li is the latest in a string of serving and former government officials and lawmakers, including former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, to have been suspected of having, or found to have, unauthorised structures on their properties. Li was chairman of Tang’s office for the chief executive election race.

Asked if the rooftop structure was illegal, Li told i-Cable (SEHK: 1097): “How would I know? It was not me who asked someone to design [and build] it.” He did not say who commissioned the work. “I bought it several years ago and renovation is in progress. I haven’t moved in,” he said.

The rooftop was surrounded by scaffolding yesterday.

Reports said Li bought the duplex for HK$106 million in December 2008. He applied in 2009 to install a lift connecting the main floor, mezzanine level and roof, and received approval from the department, a report said. It is unclear whether Li sought approval for building on the roof.

Last year, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was found to have an unauthorised glass-enclosed balcony at a flat on MacDonnell Road in Mid-Levels. He has since rectified the problem. Other public figures similarly caught out include Secretary for Education Michael Suen Ming-yeung and Dr Kitty Poon Kit, undersecretary for the environment.

The row reached a peak in February with the revelation that Tang had unauthorised structures at a Kowloon Tong family home. They included a 2,090 sq ft basement, glass windows at the bottom of a swimming pool and a footbridge that linked the home, at 7 York Road, to the adjacent house, 5A, which he also owned.

The department is investigating the case.

Euro 1 buses still run on Hong Kong’s congested urban canyon roads with no political will to act.

Waste incinerator is inevitable, says Edward Yau


Apr 14, 2012

A plan to build a HK$15 billion waste incinerator may be unpopular, but the next chief executive will see it is necessary, the environment chief said yesterday.

Speaking on a Commercial Radio show, Edward Yau Tang-wah said that while the incinerator was not the option preferred by Leung Chun-ying, the alternatives – reducing waste at the source and landfill dumps – were not viable solutions.

“In any part of the world, waste reduction measures do not drag the amount of waste down to zero,” the environment secretary said.

Lawmakers on the environmental affairs panel last month refused to support the HK$14.96 billion project on Shek Kwu Chau, south of Lantau, saying the next government under Leung might not want it.

The Legislative Council panel will vote again on the project next Friday, and several lawmakers said yesterday they remained unconvinced by Yau’s latest sales pitchLeung has said the government should emphasise reducing waste at source, regarding incineration as a last resort.

Yau said the current administration was responsible for getting the project under way before its term ends in June.

Building an incinerator “is reasonable and inevitable”, he said. Hong Kong produces 18,000 tonnes of rubbish every day. An incinerator could burn 3,000 tonnes a day, reducing the landfill burden by 1 million tonnes per year, Yau said.

If the panel approves the plan, the proposal will go to the Finance Committee’s establishment subcommittee, then to the full committee for funding.

However, legislator Gary Chan Hak-kan of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong said the party had yet to decide its position. But its members’ stance is closest to Leung’s – that an incinerator should be a last resort. “Leung and Yau have different views on incineration, it’s quite apparent. Why not let the new government deal with the matter?” he said.

Democrat Kam Nai-wai said he would wait for Leung to make his stance clearer.

“If there was indeed less waste [from reducing waste at source], the incinerator … could become a white elephant,” he warned. Unless these issues were addressed, his party would not support it.