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July 16th, 2012:



Rewarded for a woeful track record

SCMP Letters – 16 July 2012

I agree with Gerard Crawford who said Edward Yau Tang-wah was an “abject failure” when he was environment minister (“Dismissal of political opposition doesn’t look like government ‘for the people'”, July 6).

It is therefore outrageous that given his failings he has become director of the Chief Executive’s Office. His appointment represents one of the worst features of civil service culture – highly paid public servants going from one senior position to another regardless of their performance.

Under Yau’s watch from 2007 to 2012, Hong Kong’s environment has deteriorated.

His signal “achievement” on air quality was a ban on idling engines that was hedged to the point of being unenforceable. Despite the millions spent publicising the ban, idling engines are still everywhere and I am not aware of anyone being prosecuted.

Yau also failed to deal with the long-standing problem of municipal waste disposal. Recycling remains the rudimentary collection of paper, plastic and metal in coloured bins, with no monitoring of waste contractors or public education on sorting of waste. No credible evidence has substantiated Yau’s claim of a 52 per cent recycling rate.

Instead, he expended a huge effort and public money on pushing for construction of the world’s largest and costliest incinerator that would have used outdated technology and despoiled a pristine island.

He took the path of least resistance via the usual mega-infrastructure approach rather than the harder route of a programme covering all of Hong Kong to reduce waste at source and nurture a viable recycling industry.

To add insult to injury, he took the most foreign trips among all senior officials, many of those trips ostensibly to learn about how other countries treat municipal waste.

His performance would not have been tolerated had he been employed in the private sector. In government, however, it gets him another highly paid job as gatekeeper to the chief executive.

Tom Yam, Lantau