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May 6th, 2012:

Environmental studies on third runway will be hard to push aside

There has been a muted response to the Legislative Council’s environmental affairs panel requiring the Hong Kong Airport Authority (HKAA) to conduct a Social Return on Investment (SROI) study, a carbon audit, and a strategic impact assessment. Given the number of organisations that regard the third runway as a done deal, this is surprising. An SROI study on the proposed third runway for London’s Heathrow Airport in 2010 concluded that it would leave the UK £5 billion (HK$62.6 billion) worse off and played a part in scuppering the plan. The HKAA claims we can expect HK$900 billion in economic benefit. It’s estimated to cost HK$136 billion. But whether these estimates bear close scrutiny remains to be seen.

The other surprising element in the Legco decision is the broad party support for the study, including the Democrat Party, the DAB and even the Liberal Party’s powerful Miriam Lau Kin-yee. SROI studies are considered best practice and promoted by the United Nations and the World Bank, though, unsurprisingly, are not legal requirements in developer-friendly Hong Kong. The HKAA, for all its smooth talk about openness, has confined its studies to the legal minimum. However, legislators with an approaching election are more finely attuned to the change that appears to be under way in the voting public’s collective consciousness. What caught Legco’s attention was a survey commissioned by WWF and Greenpeace and carried out by the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Programme that found that more than 73 per cent of people believe it is important to consider the social and environmental cost of building the runway. An earlier survey commissioned by the HKAA and conducted by the University of Hong Kong’s Social Science Research Centre said that 73 per cent of people favoured building the third runway. This was leapt on by the government and other interested parties keen to railroad the project through its various stages in the usual Hong Kong style.

However, as the legislators may have sensed, the mood is changing and people are a lot more wary of big infrastructure projects and Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen’s modus operandus of setting air quality objectives, for example, to facilitate building infrastructure projects. The Hong Kong-Zuhai-Macau bridge was a big learning curve for a lot of environmental groups, and as the experience of the Shek Kwu Chau incinerator has shown, green issues for these big projects are not going to be pushed aside quite so easily in future.


Clear the Air says :  ah yes, that name rings a bell –  University of Hong Kong’s Social Science Research Centre’, which is led by:

“Consultancy services Led by the Director Professor John Bacon-Shone, the SSRC has an independent and skilled research workforce to meet the above mission objectives and sees as its responsibility co-ordination and assistance in such research so that both academics and the community at large can benefit. Many of these SSRC projects are collaborative ones with the leading team members drawn from faculties within the University or from other institutions and organisations. Interested parties should contact Ms. Linda Cho about initiating or participating in such consultancy services.”

So if we Google search  ‘Bacon Shone tobacco’ we find:

SCMP ‘Smoking Guns’

“In Hong Kong, the two scientists named in the memos as part of the Asia ETS Consultants

Programme are well-known figures. Dr John Bacon-Shone inhabits the top echelons of

government policy-making as a full-time member of the Central Policy Unit. He was seconded there last

year from his job as director of the Social Sciences Research Centre at the University of Hong Kong.

He is brilliant, articulate, a kind of academic renaissance man, with his finger in a mind-boggling

array of research pies.

Dr Sarah Liao Sau-tung, a chemist, is the managing director of EHS Consultants. She has worked for

many private and public organisations, including British American Tobacco (BAT), the Consumer

Council, and the University of Hong Kong. She recently completed a $10 million indoor air study

for the Environmental Protection Department.” (enter John Bacon Shone to discover 150 documents)

(also use this search facility for ‘Linda Koo’ and ‘Sarah Liao’)

1.    John BaconShone – SourceWatch – Cached

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11 Sep 2008 – This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from  BaconShonedenied being paid to be tobacco industry consultants 

2.    Whitecoat, Tobacco Industry Documents in the Minnesota

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“My position is clear,” BaconShone is quoted as saying, “the evidence that tobacco is a health hazard is overwhelming, but the work by Professor Hirayama and 

3.     [PDF]

Secondhand Smoke – The Science and the Tobacco Industry’s…/hong_kong_secondhand_smoke_talk.pdf

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File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat –
Smoke-free work place reduces SHS exposure  Environmental tobacco smoke …. Dr JohnBaconShone, Department of Statistics, University of Hong Kong, 

4.    Emphatic rejections: Dr John BaconShone –

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From South China Morning Post (1999-01-18):Dr BaconShone said he had never knowingly worked for the tobacco industry. . .

5.    SCMP Series Part II (fwd)

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The documents claim Drs Liao and BaconShone were part of a global multimillion-dollar project run by the tobacco industry in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

6.    BaconShone, JH| The University of Hong Kong – Professor Bacon

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Results 1 – 20 of 21 – Papers & Presentations (BaconShone, JH)  13, The relationship betweensmoking & adolescent substance abuse in Hong Kong · Day, JR; 


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Emphatic rejections: Dr John Bacon-Shone

Jump to full article: South China Morning Post, 1999-01-18


Dr Bacon-Shone said he had never knowingly worked for the tobacco industry. . . He said he did not know at the time that the tobacco industry was paying for him to attend symposiums on indoor air and passive smoking in Portugal, Canada and Thailand in 1990. He also emphatically rejected recent assertions by Philip Morris and one of its long-standing lawyers, John Rupp, that he (Dr Bacon-Shone) was always aware he was a paid consultant to the tobacco industry.

Some months earlier, the government appointed Sarah Liao Sau-tung as secretary for environment, transport and works. She had been a Philip Morris consultant on passive smoking, receiving an estimated HK$1 million (US$128 000) in 1990 from the largely tobacco funded Centre for Indoor Air Research to study air quality in Hong Kong. Her co-researcher, John Bacon-Shone, has also been named as a tobacco consultant. Both deny knowing that the tobacco industry was the source of the funding, but an industry lawyer said he told Ms Liao. Perhaps she forgot. Then there is the case of Mr Lee Jark-Pui. He served as executive director of the Hong Kong Tobacco Institute for seven years until 1994, but is currently a member of the Hospital Authority Board, on which also sits Professor Lam Shiu-kum.

Asian WhiteCoats program (aka Asian ETS Consultants Program)

— A group of scientific ‘moles’ who worked in secret for the tobacco industry in Asia while pretending to retain their scientific objectivity. — This was a recruitment project for identifying scientists in Asia willing to pretend independence, while being paid to assist the tobacco industry fight-back against smoking bans and limitations on their marketing of cancer.

WhiteCoats were deliberately recruited from a variety of different medical, scientific and academic disciplines, and they were expected to be largely self-directing and self-motivating. To make money, they had to find opportunities to help the industry by:

  • carefully watching the literature relevant to their discipline, and reporting on it.
  • attending conferences as speakers, panelists, or sometimes just as participants who prepared a report for the industry/
  • providing ‘independent expert witness’ testimony at inquiries,
  • writing letters-to-the-editor and articles to promote industry views or attacked anti-smoking propaganda.

Over time, many of these WhiteCoats also accepted retainers and grants, and began to do consulting and witness work for Philip Morris and the other tobacco companies — so there is no hard boundary between the categories. In general, during the 1990s, WhiteCoats were paid between US $500 and $750 a day for their work, depending on the value of the work and academic prestige of the WhiteCoat.

Money Laundering and Cut-outs.

Example: Hong Kong tobacco industry payments which were to be made to Dr Linda Koo(Linda Koo Chih-ling) (a Professor in Hong Kong University) passed through the American lawfirm Covington & Burling to the wife of the Hong Kong Post-Master General, Sarah Liao (Sarah Liao Sau-tung) who ran a small health-consultancy business called EHS Consultants Ltd, which had government contracts. This firm officially employed and paid Koo for consulting services.

As one memo reported, Sarah Liao herself declined to work directly for the tobacco industry, “more for pragmatic than philosophical reasons (she works for both private industry and government and wants to retain that balance).” However she was willing to provide recruiting services and to launder payments, and her company undertook a $1 million research project with funds which had been laundered through the Center for Indoor Air Research (CIAR)[Only later was this identified as a tobacco-front operation.]


In total, Philip Morris recruited and trained ten WhiteCoats (they already knew Sarah Liao) during their first round in 1989. They then held a two-day workshop in Bangkok to give these new recruits the basic knowledge of tobacco science they needed

Our goal is to leave the meeting on June 22 and 23 with a core group of scientists who are fully trained on the relevant issues and have developed sufficient enthusiasm to be prepared to make a real contribution — by way of writing articles, participating on our behalf at scientific meetings, joining industry people at briefings of government officials and so forth.

This far we have recruited ten scientists — Drs [Clive] Ogle, [John] Bacon-Shone, [Malinee] Wongphanich, [Ben] Reverente, [Marylin] Go, [Jung Koo] Roh, [Alun] McIntyre, [Sarah] Liao, [Yoon Shin] Kim and [Lina] Somera.

1999 Jan 18: Epilogue:
The Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department commissioned a study into the tobacco documents in 1995, but then appear to have done nothing with the information they gathered. Then, in 1999, the Hong Kong newspapers picked up the story of the Asian WhiteCoats from Stanton Glanz book, “The Cigarette Papers”.  This results in a formal inquiry in Hong Kong, with Sarah Liao and Dr Bacon-Shone denying that they knew the tobacco industry was funding their project. Which means they were either dishonest or extremely stupid.

Survey Findings

The questionnaire comprised a total of 10 opinion questions and ended by registering some basic demographics of the respondents. The key findings are highlighted in this section, please refer to the respective frequency tables for details (Appendix II). It should be noted that, figures reported hereafter have been rounded up to the nearest integer after considering the second decimal place. For the questions repeated from the 2006 Survey, t-tests were used to detect significant changes over the past five years.

The survey began by asking all respondents to assess the healthiness of Hong Kong’s living environment in general. Results showed that more than half of the sample considered it unhealthy (52%), while only around one-fifth found it healthy (22%), a quarter opted for 「half-half」 (25%). As compared to the public views obtained in 2006, the proportion of local residents who considered Hong Kong’s living environment unhealthy has surged by 23 percentage points (52% vs 29%) while only less than a quarter considered it healthy, representing a considerable drop of 13 percentage points (22% vs 35%). Both changes are tested to be statistically significant at 99% confidence level (i.e. p<0.01 ; Table 3).

Meanwhile, majority (69%) of the respondents believed that Hong Kong did not have sufficient open space and green parks in the urban area for its citizens to pursue a healthy living whereas less than one-fifth found it sufficient (18%), around one-tenth opted for 「half-half」 (11%). As compared to five years ago, significantly more citizens thought there was insufficient open space and green parks in urban area (69% vs 62%). The difference is tested to be statistically significant at 99% confidence level (i.e. p<0.01 ; Table 4).

As for the idea of developing Hong Kong into an environmentally friendly green city, highly similar to the results in 2006, an overwhelming majority liked the idea (88%), of which 50% had chosen 「like it very much」, as contrast to only 4% who disliked this idea while less than one-tenth opted for the middle-ground answer 「half-half」 (7%; Table 5).

When asked whether they were aware that the WKCD site was originally zoned for a green park with cultural facilities as part of the Chek Lap Kok Airport development project, more than half (54%) admitted they were not aware of it, while the remaining 46% said yes. Though the awareness level remained to be less than half, it has managed to climb up 5 percentage points over the past five years and this increase is tested to be statistically significant at 95% confidence level (p<0.05; Table 6).

With regards the land use of the WKCD site, majority of the respondents considered allocating almost 60% of its land for residential and commercial development to be 「too much」 (58%), around one-third considered it 「just right」 (34%), only a small proportion considered it 「too little」 (2%). Meanwhile, 6% of the respondents did not comment by opting for「don’t know/hard to say」 (Table 7).

As to the view that WKCD should be a project totally devoted to cultural and green park with no private residential development at all, more than half of the respondents agreed with it (55%). Around one-third (32%) disagreed while one-tenth opted for 「half-half」 (10%, Table 8).

Results of this survey also revealed that a landslide majority (84%) disagreed to auctioning off the residential land in the WKCD for developers to build luxury properties, only 7% agreed to this proposition. Meanwhile, a respective of 5% and 4% opted for 「half-half」 and 「don’t know/hard to say」 (Table 9).

The survey continued to ask all respondents if they agreed or disagreed with the view that 「allowing the residential land in WKCD to be auctioned would make WKCD become another real estate development project」. Results showed that over 60% (62%) agreed, outnumbering those who disagreed (29%) by 33 percentage points. Another 5% and 4% opted for 「half-half」 and 「don’t know/hard to say」 correspondingly (Table 10).

On the other hand, nearly 60% (57%) of the respondents agreed that funding of WKCD should not rely on on-site land sales as trade off, about one-quarter disagreed (23%). About one-tenth held a neutral view by opting for 「half-half」 (9%), another one-tenth or so just did not know (11%; Table 11).

As on what measures should be used to fund the development of WKCD apart from on-site land sales, among the five options provided, 「using part of Hong Kong’s fiscal reserve」 topped the list, as chosen by over half of the respondents (53%), followed closely by 「forming a Board of Director for fund raising, like Po Leung Kok, Tuk Wah Group」 (49%). Meanwhile, a respective of 43% and 38% believed 「selling land from other areas, e.g. Kai Tak Old Airport site」 and「covering the West Kowloon Tunnel Exit top to create land for property development like MTR topside properties」should be considered as possible funding sources. Last of all, one-fifth of the respondents thought 「levying of cultural and environment tax」 should be used to fund the project, while only 6% opted for 「don’t know/hard to say」 (Table 12).


Compared to five years ago, this survey clearly showed that more and more people considered the living environment of Hong Kong to be unhealthy, and open space and green parks in the urban area to be insufficient. This shift in opinion is alarming, be it due to actual deterioration or rising expectation. As in 2006, an overwhelming majority of people would like to see Hong Kong develop into an environmentally friendly green city.

Against this opinion backdrop, even though slightly over half of the population was not aware that the WKCD site was originally zoned for a green park with cultural facilities as part of the Chek Lap Kok Airport development project, over half agreed that WKCD should be totally devoted to cultural and green park with no private residential development at all. When prompted with the fact that almost 60% of the WKCD site will be used for residential and commercial development, almost 60% considered the allocation 「too much」, and 85% disagreed to auctioning off the residential land in the WKCD for developers to build luxury properties, mainly because they feared that such land auction would make WKCD become another real estate development project.

This echoed squarely with the finding that the majority of people agreed that funding of WKCD should not rely on on-site land sales alone, other means like using part of Hong Kong’s fiscal reserve, forming a Board of Director for fund raising purpose, and selling land from other areas in Hong Kong, should also be considered.

All in all, the message is clear that the public wants more open space and green parks for healthy living. They are skeptical of any auction of WKCD land, because they do not want to see WKCD become another real estate development project.

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Pollution detector trial for London

Description: Scientists will be able to monitor pollution levels across whole cities with the technology

A new invention by British scientists designed to scan pollution levels across whole cities will be trialled in London during the Olympics.

Experts say CityScan is capable of pinpointing nitrogen dioxide levels across a whole range of space rather than in just one or two specified areas.

The technology works by light measurement, and studies the way chemicals in the atmosphere scatter sunlight as opposed to scanning each air particle individually.

Scientists will be able to monitor pollution levels in the city and then transfer the findings onto a map. It is likely the findings could have an impact on the type of car people may choose next, but going for a greener model can also help you secure a cheaper car insurance deal as well as helping the environment.

Dr Roland Leigh, from the University of Leicester’s Earth Observation Science Group, and project leader, said: “We will be able to map the pollution in 3D to show emissions of nitrogen dioxide and how far they spread.

“Traditional sensors take in a single-point measurement, giving a very accurate measurement that might be by a roadside.

“Between two or three CityScan instruments … can map out a complete urban area and tell you where the nitrogen dioxide is in that space,” he explained.

Copyright © Press Association 2012

CY’s re-organisation plans

Description: Leung Chun-ying, seen here greeting protesters, says his reorganisation will help his team better reach out to the public.

CY Leung has so far met more members of the public and kissed more babies

than his two predecessors combined – keep up the good work and keep listening !



Leung must fix poor government


Philip Bowring says Leung should see that what Hong Kong needs isn’t more, but better, government intervention. For this, he needs to whip the civil service into shape, not coddle it

May 06, 2012

It is encouraging that Leung Chun-ying has an agenda for action after years of stasis under Donald Tsang Yam-kuen. Land, environment and welfare issues appear high on his list of things to be done. Momentum does matter, as does the commitment to clear policies driven by the public interest and not negotiated by reference to the assorted interest groups that populate the bureaucracy and Legislative Council.

Nonetheless, there must be concerns about Leung’s view of a fundamental issue: does he believe Hong Kong has too little government or government which, at the top at least, is insufficiently competent?

It is a crucial question which goes to the heart of the proper role of ministers and senior civil servants.

Much is sometimes heard about the importance of “civil service morale”. Why? The fundamental problem of many civil servants is that they have come to believe in their own superiority as decision-makers. Cocooned in secure jobs and given high pay and status by a colonial regime in return for loyalty, they acquired two tendencies. First, a belief that the status quo worked so did not need change, regardless of changes in the economy and society. Second, an unwillingness to admit to wrong decisions and reverse them. Avoiding loss of face was more important than correcting policies.

The need for stronger political leadership is evident after years of the well-meaning but inexperienced Tung Chee-hwa followed by Tsang, the very incarnation of the bureaucratic characteristics mentioned.

But there is a nagging worry that Leung believes Hong Kong needs more government. That would be the inclination of any party loyalist, and particularly one who chooses the classically arrogant ex-civil servant Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun to head his transition team.

It has been bad enough that Tsang’s government initiatives in so many areas have been characterised by lots of small schemes that sound good in a speech but involve relatively small amounts of money but large amounts of time (and power) for civil servants. The “My Home Purchase Plan” is one such sop; it pretends to be addressing housing issues when these can only be tackled with consistent policies on land sales for the private sector and the role of public rental housing for low-income groups.

The government does have a major role to play in income distribution, now recognised as a major social problem in itself and one that exacerbates other problems, such as the plight of many elderly and the very low fertility rate. But these are best addressed by direct income transfers, such as old age and child allowances and voucher schemes for school books, than by ones in which the bureaucracy – including social workers – act as intermediaries. Environmental issues are best addressed with a few well-devised and strongly enforced laws.

Leung will also need to have a much clearer idea of the divide between public and private sectors, if money is to be used efficiently and with a minimum of wrangling between the two. The MTR Corporation (SEHK: 0066) is a case in point, lacking as it does any clear dividing line between commercial and social roles. The Airport Authority, which wants to spend more than HK$100billion on a supposedly commercial project, is another. So is the Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing, the listed but government-controlled monopoly to whose board government-approved yes-men are regularly appointed. Is Leung prepared to be bold and reduce the government’s ownership role or will that deprive him of the powers of patronage clearly abused in recent times?

Leung talks about helping small business and developing new industries but Hong Kong doesn’t need more loan guarantee schemes or subsidies for bureaucrats’ favourite projects. Give businesses clean air and more stable rents and they will thrive. Assure them that the judiciary will not be undermined by bureaucrats and Communist Party faithful and they will come.

If he believes in change, Leung will get to grips with such bloated parts of the government as the Monetary Authority, selling off its commercial operations to commercial banks. Is it not extraordinary that the highly paid executives at the HKMA plan to get into microfinance? It is a sick joke.

Looking for a base for a more viable future pension scheme than currently provided by the Mandatory Provident Fund, Leung should transfer at least half of its surplus to the fiscal reserves, where they belong, rather than being treated as a semi-private fiefdom run by the elite bureaucrats. That these are needed to defend the currency peg is a lie.

Whether he needs to create more separate bureaus is not clear. But he does need the chief secretary or another authority to stop the inter-bureau buck-passing game.

In short, Leung must understand that he needs to make himself very unpopular with sections of the bureaucracy who have had their way for far too long. He needs a secretary for the civil service who will bring accountability to the system.

To take a minor example: should we not be told which overpaid, ignorant official made Hong Kong an international laughing stock by banning the Afghan national cricket team? Or, take a bigger one: why should those, be they ministers or civil servants, who decline to enforce the law out of fear of the Heung Yee Kuk or other powerful interests keep their jobs?

Civil service morale does not need pampering. It needs the opposite.

Philip Bowring is a Hong Kong-based journalist and commentator

Big developers ‘on easy street’


Government and property big guns accused of being too cosy, with official policy on land prices and project sizes giving large players too much power in market

Yvonne Liu
Updated on May 06, 2012
The arrest of another property tycoon last week has turned the spotlight on the often cosy relationship between property magnates and the Hong Kong government.

In the wake of Thursday’s arrest by the Independent Commission Against Corruption of property tycoon Walter Kwok Ping-sheung (pictured) in connection with a bribery investigation that earlier snared his younger brothers – the co-chairman of property giant Sun Hung Kai Properties – analysts said the government’s strategy of encouraging high land prices and big developments had entrenched property empires at the expense of smaller developers.

Research by Centaline Property Agency shows about 75 per cent of all completed flats in 2010 were built by Sun Hung Kai Properties and Cheung Kong. Last year, the two companies accounted for about 78 per cent of the total.

While that figure will drop to 32.3 per cent this year, Sun Hung Kai Properties and Cheung Kong are still the biggest players in the market.

Surveyor Albert So Chun-hin said the government had favoured large-scale development over the last 20 years. In 1976, it introduced a zoning policy that discouraged small developments, which it saw as ruining the urban landscape. In the process, the government shut small and medium-sized developers out, So said, as only big developers could afford the huge costs and risks.

Big developers had another ace up their sleeves in the form of their land banks, he said.

“Major developers like Sun Hung Kai Properties, Henderson Land, Cheung Kong and New World Development have a good supply of agricultural land in the New Territories. Even if the government didn’t release sites for land sales as it did in 2003, those firms could still develop their agricultural sites,” he said.

“But other developers such as Sino Land have to rely on government land auctions to replenish their land banks. That’s why they’re smaller than Sun Hung Kai Properties, despite being aggressive bidders.” ”

He said only big developers could get old sites in the New Territories, because the process was so complex.

“You have to get help from local experts. You need strong financial capability.”

Kwan Cheuk-chiu, a former professor of economics at Chinese University, said property big guns established their businesses in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

“They gained a first-mover advantage and secured higher market share. It’s helped them win sites at auction under the government’s high-land-price policy. As the economy grew and housing demand rose sharply, theirempires developed. It’s hard for newcomers to compete.”

Land sales are a major source of income for the government. In the financial year to March 31, about 19 per cent of its income of HK$433.1 billion came from land sales.

In Hong Kong, the government sells sites by land auction or through tenders conducted by the MTR Corporation. Most of the sites got snapped up by Cheung Kong and Sun Hung Kai, said Lau Chun-kong, international director at Jones Lang LaSalle. “The bigger the company, the more advantage they enjoy in winning the sites in auction.”

Another advantage for big developers is that only a few sites have become available over the last few years.”Big developers have to bid aggressively for sites to maintain their operations,” Lau said. This made it difficult for others to compete.

According to Simon Pritchard of GK Research, a provider of global investment research, the environment changed briefly when the first chief executive Tung Chee-hwa and his housing czar, Leung Chun-ying, sought to clip the big developers’ wings. But he said their strategy of boosting home ownership ended in late 2002, leaving the big developers with more market control than ever.