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May 9th, 2012:

There’s a bad atmosphere

SCMP Laisee

We were unfortunately unable to make the press conference yesterday called by Sai Kung district councillor Raymond Ho Man-kit to whip up support for his campaign for the ousting of Secretary for the Environment Edward Yau Tang-wah. He sent out an e-mail to various groups concerned with environmental protection urging them to join a move to persuade incoming chief executive CY Leung not to reappoint Yau on account of his “very poor performance.” Ho is a man of many parts. In addition to his duties in Sai kung he is a convenor of an organisation called Momentum 107, whose slogan according to its website appears to be “Keep Tax Simple and Low, Make Government Accountable”. He was, and possibly still is, a policy researcher for the Lion Rock Institute. He also played a key part last year in providing evidence against two former district councillors and three accomplices who were convicted of electoral corruption. As the South China Morning Post (SEHK: 0583announcementsnews)reported at the time: “A key witness for the prosecution was Sai Kung district councillor Raymond Ho Man-kit, who gave evidence under immunity granted by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.” Yau may have his faults when it comes to environmental protection, but he has never had to be granted immunity from prosecution by the ICAC.

Description: Raymond Ho Man-kit

Raymond Ho Man-kit

Hong Kong turns factories into datacentres to fuel cloud growth

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Hong Kong turns factories into datacentres to fuel cloud growth

SAR aims to beat Singapore as leading Asian digital hub

By Phil Muncaster

Posted in Business, 8th May 2012 05:44 GMT

An innovative approach to datacentre development is helping to see off Hong Kong’s competitors and establish it as the number one cloud computing hub in Asia, according to the government CIO, Daniel Lai.

Speaking to The Reg at the 13th annual Info-Security Conference in Hong Kong, Lai dismissed suggestions that Special Administrative Region (SAR) could be usurped by close rival Singapore as a technology centre for the region.

“Hong Kong has always had a very laissez-faire open market approach and there are a lot of advantages in its location, as the front-end for mainland China and as a financial and trading hub,” he gushed.

“We have a very good legal and banking system, good IP protection, free flow of information and few natural disasters. This is the competitive advantage Hong Kong can offer.”

Key to cementing its position as the pre-eminent digital hub for Asia and attracting big money investment from foreign firms has been the SAR’s approach to maximising the small amount of land available for datacentres.

“A lot of manufacturing industry has moved to China, leaving around 1,300 factory buildings that can be converted and we’re trying to put in place measures to make that easier,” said Lai.

“I feel that with the datacentres, Hong Kong is an advanced provider of IT with strong experience in business processes which can position itself well as a cloud computing hub for the region.”

Hong Kong’s most famous datacentre tenant is probably Google, which relocated its search servers in to the region in March 2010 after its well-publicised dispute with the Chinese authorities over censorship, but the SAR has been busting a gut to persuade others to take the plunge, said Lai.

These measures include waiving the usual fees levied on firms wanting to convert factory buildings into tier one or tier two datacentres, and working with electricity companies to ensure power supplies are at the required service levels, he explained.

Building codes of practice are also being tightened to provide more clarity on things like how much datacentre space should be devoted to car parks and lavatories.

Sinagpore’s low-tax, business-friendly policies and high quality of life have made it a genuine rival to Hong Kong for crown of pre-eminent Asian tech centre.

However, a report by real estate firm Cushman and Wakefield [1] last November shows Lai and his team are doing something right.

Its survey into the risks of setting up datacentres in 20 countries and regions around the globe rated Hong Kong as the best location in Asia, with big firms including HSBC, Hong Kong Stock Exchange and NTT all building in the former industrial area of Tsueng Kwan O.

One area Lai has little control over, though, is air pollution. HR information provider ECA International recently rated [2] Singapore the best place in Asia for ex-pats to live, followed by Tokyo and Kobe in Japan.

Although Hong Kong ranked an impressive third, the report pointed out that its air quality is among the worst in Asia. ®




Related stories

Number-munching clouds are godsend for cybercrooks – experts (24 April 2012)

Singapore most ‘liveable’ Asian city for ex-pat IT pros (18 April 2012)

Over half of IT hires in Asia are duds (12 April 2012)

Asian recruiters on the prowl for IT managers (5 April 2012)

© Copyright 1998–2012

Businesses’ Biggest Hong Kong Complaints: Pollution, Schools

The Wall Street Journal



International Commerce Centre, center, stands surrounded by residential and commercial buildings on the Kowloon Peninsula in Hong Kong, China, on April 2, 2012.

Hong Kong’s government likes to boast of its “stable, business-friendly” environment. But a rising number of companies say there’s plenty of room for improvement.

A new survey conducted by the British Chamber of Commerce and marketing consultants TNS finds that while 96% of the Chamber’s 500 member companies call the business environment “somewhat” or “very” satisfactory, the performance of the city’s government comes in for a drubbing.

Only 48% of members polled believe that the government has the right strategy to maintain and enhance Hong Kong’s economic competitiveness, a drop of 11% from last year.

For example, though English remains an official language in this former British colony, which returned to Chinese control in 1997, just half of Chamber members were satisfied with the government’s efforts to provide multilingual graduates and managers to meet Hong Kong’s economic needs.

Likewise, businesses were roundly critical of the government’s efforts to combat air pollution. Of the respondents, 94% reported being disappointed by the government’s efforts to improve Hong Kong’s dismal air quality, a source of particular concern for employees with young children. That number has risen significantly since 2010, the Chamber reports.

Another perennial frustration for expatriates based in Hong Kong—fierce competition for the limited number of international school slots available–also ranked high on issues of concern. Though the number of companies with employees whose children are stuck on a waiting list to enter schools in Hong Kong dropped to 15%, the number of expatriates who plan to try and relocate their families to Hong Kong has also sharply declined. In the coming year, just one-fifth of companies polled intend to bring employees to Hong Kong along with their families—a drop of nearly 25% from last year.

For Chamber members, the top two grievances about doing business in Hong Kong are the city’s “declining environment,” especially when it comes to air quality, and the lack of primary school slots in international schools. “The Hong Kong government seems not to recognize [both issues] are harming the competitiveness of Hong Kong when compared to regional competitors such as Singapore,” says Christopher Hammerbeck, the Chamber’s executive director.

– Te-Ping Chen. Follow her on Twitter @tepingchen

Copyright 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Airport aims to be greenest in world

Hk Standard

Chek Lap Kok will become the greenest airport in the world.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Chek Lap Kok will become the greenest airport in the world.

That was the bold pledge of the Airport Authority and its 40 business partners yesterday.

It came as the authority said it has achieved a 10percent reduction in carbon intensity.

The authority rolled out a three-year environmental plan last year to make Hong Kong International Airport a leader in environmental performance by reducing carbon intensity by 25 percent in 2015 from the 2008 emission level.

The 10 percent reduction was achieved through more than 300 green initiatives, including installing LEDs, more environmentally friendly chiller systems, and the introduction of more energy-efficient vehicles.

“Today’s pledge to become the world’s greenest airport marks a big step forward, putting HKIA at the forefront worldwide, by providing a delightful airport experience and delivering exemplary environmental performance,” said authority chairman Marvin Cheung Kin-tung.

It will replace 100,000 lighting applications with LEDs by the end of 2014.

All new transfer saloon cars in the airport restricted area will be electric by the middle of next year, and the whole fleet by 2017.

The authority will invest HK$40 million to install more charging stations in several phases.

The use of auxiliary power units when aircraft are parked will be banned in 2014.


Airport board thumbs nose at international best practice


Howard Winn
May 09, 2012

We wrote yesterday about the motion that was passed by Legco’s environmental affairs panel recently asking the Hong Kong Airport Authority to undertake a Social Return on Investment (SROI) study, a carbon audit and a strategic impact assessment on the proposed third runway. Legco motions of this kind are not legally binding so we asked the authority what arrangements it was making for these studies, and how long it expected them to take. We received the following snotty reply: “The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is adopted by most developed countries as a statutory requirement, including [the] US, the UK, Canada, Germany and Australia. However, there is no widely recognised methodology for conducting social costs assessments. The Airport Authority (AA) will ensure full compliance with the prevailing statutory EIA requirements, which are of international standard. In developing … a three-runway system, the AA will study and handle environmental issues in a highly prudent manner as always, and will explore every possible way to avoid and mitigate any environmental impact that might arise, including marine ecology, noise and air quality.” From this it doesn’t look as if the authority has any intention of carrying out any of these studies. Not only does it have the temerity to wave two fingers at Lai See but it’s also giving the same salute to Legco.

On its website the authority describes itself as “a responsible corporate citizen”. The United Nations and the World Bank consider these studies best practice so you would have thought “a responsible corporate citizen”, could come up with a better response than this. Yesterday, the authority held a ceremony in which it bragged about its pledge to make the Hong Kong International Airport “the world’s greenest airport”.

The Legco motion was supported by all the main parties, including Liberal party member Miriam Lau Kin-yee, who is also a member of the authority’s board. When we told her that we didn’t think the authority was planning to act on the motion she said she would inquire what it planned to do, adding that although she supported the third runway, “I think they ought to do more than what is just legally required. I understand that infrastructure of this massive nature needs to have the support and understanding of the wider community.” If the airport authority is so convinced of its green credentials why won’t it carry out an SROI study? Over to you, Stanley Hui Hon-chung.

Hong Kong government must reduce air pollution levels


May 09, 2012

Air quality is still at dangerous levels most of the time in Hong Kong and may only improve during summer. Most pollution is locally generated.

I am worried about the PM2.5 level (fine particle concentrations) in Hong Kong.

These particles can reach the deepest part of our respiratory system and part of them can enter our circulatory system, disrupting the epithelial cells and increasing inflammation levels and oxidative stress in the body.

At 70 per cent, our PM2.5 to PM10 ratio (particles under 10 microns in diameter) is higher than that in many countries, indicating we are quite close to the emissions, including primary gaseous pollutants, that can form ultrafine particulate which can be subsequently aggregated to fine particulate.

The current average annual PM2.5 levels are about 250 per cent above World Health Organisation guidelines.

I have a number of suggestions for our new government.

It must implement stringent emission controls on vehicles and ships, such as by road-pricing charges (which operate in London and Singapore). An emission control area can reduce marine emissions near the special administrative region.

An annual eco-prize (say HK$10,000) can be awarded to registered households and the commercial sector that meet low levels of electricity consumption per capita.

There should be an award for working-age (18-65) adults who live close to their workplace, thus enabling them to lower their transport fuel consumption.

Automatic waste-collection checkpoint stations should be installed at buildings and estates (monitored by closed-circuit televisions) and the Octopus cards of registered households and organisations should be credited (HK$10-20 a day) if they dump their waste daily into the correct recycling boxes.

Eco-accountants should be employed to handle these prizes and financial awards given to households and organisations that reduce emissions and volumes of waste.

The government should consult environmental and public health experts, and inventors and providers of technology. When it introduces new programmes, it should promote them through extensive public education.

All Hong Kong citizens should write to their district councillors or representatives in the Legislative Council, telling them that improving air quality with the right solutions and tightening environmental standards should be their first priority.

Lai Hak-kan, School of Public Health, University of Hong Kong

Yuen Long Monitoring Station

Address: Yuen Long District Office, 269 Castle Peak Road
Height Above Ground: 25 metres
Land Use Zone/Area: New Town

Tai Po Monitoring Station

Address: Tai Po Government Offices Building, 1 Ting Kok Road
Height Above Ground: 25 metres
Land Use Zone/Area: New Town

Tung Chung Monitoring Station

Address: Tung Chung Health Centre, 6 Fu Tung Street
Height Above Ground: 21 metres
Land Use Zone/Area: New Town