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August, 2012:

Incinerator’s location is a burning issue


Aug 18, 2012

We’ve been looking at a presentation by the Permanent Secretary for Development (Works) Wai Chi-sing, which was made in November 2010 at an infrastructure conference. This was of interest to us despite being some years old because it showed the government’s initial thinking as to where it wanted to locate its integrated waste management centre (IWMC), in other words its controversial incinerator.

In Wai’s presentation it is clearly marked on a slide and described as “Tuen Mun IWMC”. However, three months later, the government evidently had a rethink and announced the incinerator would be located in Shek Kwu Chau – a scenic island south of Lantau. Leaving aside the question of whether an incinerator of this kind is the way to go, the location appears to have been decided on political grounds rather than on what makes sense.

For example, ash from the incinerator – and there is a lot of it – will need to be transported on a fleet of barges back to the ash pits at Tuen Mun. It is well known that Tuen Mun and its environs are the fiefdom of Heung Yee Kuk leader Lau Wong-fat, who in Donald Tsang Yam-kuen’s days as chief executive, sat on the Executive Council. It is well known that Lau opposes the location of the incinerator in his backyard, and his thinking appears to have swayed the government.

Officials from the Environmental Protection Department now talk of the need to spread facilities such as incinerators more widely among the community rather have it concentrated in one particular area. The project was frozen by Legco to enable the incoming C. Y. Leung administration to review its environmental policies. It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out.

Champagne moment for Christine Loh and Hong Kong


Howard Winn
Aug 17, 2012

Christine Loh was espied sipping champagne in the Hong Kong Club recently and this has set some tongues wagging that she has accepted C.Y. Leung’s invitation to join his government as undersecretary for environment. However, she assures us that she has long been known to sip the occasional glass of champagne in the club, and to draw any conclusions about her joining the government would be premature.

But others say she has agreed to accept the position and that it could be announced before the end of the month. If this does indeed occur, it would be the best news for C.Y. since getting elected. His government has taken on a somewhat beleaguered look in recent weeks. The slow-motion submergence of Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po’s position over his subleased flats has not helped.

Loh would add considerable lustre to C.Y.’s government. It would send a signal that he is able to attract high-calibre people while at the same time sending out a very clear statement that the government is serious about cleaning up the environment. Given Loh’s work on the environment at the Civic Exchange – the think tank she founded – it is inconceivable that she would accept this position without assurances that she is actually going to be able to make significant changes.

There is no way that Loh, unlike her predecessor Edward Yau Tang-wah, would sit on her hands for five years. It is said that Yau had no support since Donald Tsang Yam-kuen didn’t think the environment was a problem. But Yau appeared out of his depth, stuck his head in the sand and seemed to make little effort to deal, for example, with the overwhelming evidence that the dirty air was impacting public health, or with the problem of waste management. We can assume that one of the first things Loh will look at is how to curb roadside pollution, waste disposal and a host of other issues that have not been tackled.

Her appointment, once confirmed, will be a real shot in the arm for the government and for environmentalists, who have felt they have been banging their heads against a brick wall for the past decade, and hopefully for the public, who can look forward to an improvement in the air they breathe. Air quality has for years been one of the priority issues with the local chambers of commerce in their annual input to the chief executive’s policy address.

Signs that Hong Kong is to get serious about tackling air quality will improve its international image, which has been tarnished for some years by news stories of people with young families leaving the city because of air-related health concerns. Should Loh’s appointment be confirmed, we might even break out the champagne ourselves.

Conflict of interest disclosures need to be more specific for Hong Kong politicians

what about political party donations and funding ?- we need a law to force such parties to reveal their sources of funding in the interests of clarity so we can see who is pulling their strings and thereby, their policies.

SCMP – Aug. 17, 2012

Adherence to the highest standards in preventing conflicts of interest should be first and foremost in the minds of politicians nowadays. Not only are they required to abide by the strictest rules, they are also expected to put themselves to public scrutiny. But Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and his appointees to the city’s highest decision-making body apparently think otherwise.

Having been in office for 41 days, the Executive Council members finally disclosed their interests last Friday. While there appears to be no explicit rules stipulating when a new cabinet should register their interests, members’ changes in interests should be declared within 14 days. It is, therefore, reasonable to expect the new team to declare their interests on the day they assume office. There is a need for our policy makers to take their accountability seriously. The belated disclosure does not conform to the spirit of the rules seeking to prevent members from running into conflicts of interest when deciding public policies.

It is also troubling to see that the chief executive is not setting a good example for his team. The records show that Leung has not transferred his stakes to a trust as promised. Subsequent investigations by the media also revealed that one of his companies incorporated in the British Virgin Islands and its subsidiaries hold a foreign branch of the surveying giant DTZ. Leung has only said the branch’s operation does not touch on Hong Kong or the mainland, but refused to disclose more details. He was later found to have undeclared share options in DTZ. This clearly falls short of the requirement on transparency and accountability. As the head of the government, Leung is expected to sever all business ties. Withholding information does not ease concerns over conflicts of interest.

The records also show that some Exco members have invested heavily in properties. Altogether, the 30 members hold 142 properties here and overseas. This is hardly surprising in a society where property is one of the favourite investments for the well-to-do. But, inevitably, members’ strong interest in the property market will arouse concerns about whether they can steer clear of conflicts, especially when the supply of affordable housing was a key focus in Leung’s campaign platforms.

The scant information on their properties, many of which are held via shell companies, also makes public monitoring difficult. The register provides nothing other than the district where the property is situated. Only the appointee is in the position to judge if he or she will run into conflict with what is being discussed. As Exco meetings are held behind closed doors and the agenda is confidential, the public and the media will probably be kept in the dark and cannot determine if conflicts arise. It will be meaningless if the mechanism to prevent conflicts of interest stops with a simple declaration of interest on paper

Why the gasp of alarm over dirty pools but not polluted air?


Why the gasp of alarm over dirty pools but not polluted air?
Howard Winn
Aug 16, 2012

A local newspaper has drawn attention to the level of bacteria in seven public swimming pools because they exceed what are considered as safe limits. According to the Oriental Daily, two swimming pools – Lai Chi Kok Park and Chai Wan – have bacteria levels five times higher than is considered safe. The bacteria includes E coli. A doctor has called for the pools to be closed immediately for cleaning.

This is all very laudable and as it should be. But while people recoil in horror at the prospect of swimming in a pool containing E coli, it doesn’t pose the same threats to health that Hong Kong’s roadside pollution does. E coli may cause food poisoning-type effects which, although unpleasant, are not generally fatal. Most kinds of E coli are harmless. The worst kind of E coli can sometimes cause kidney failure and death. Hong Kong’s roadside pollution has led to an average of 3,200 avoidable deaths annually over the past five years according to the Hedley Environmental Index. These figures have not been disputed. If there were 3,200 avoidable deaths a year from using Hong Kong’s swimming pools we can safely assume there would be some action. But roadside pollution, alas, does not appear to attract the same kind of concern from the government.

Invitation-only association

We hear of a curious story relating to the Hong Kong Islands District Association(HKIDA). This is the mystery group that has been trying to promote the Shek Kwu Chau incinerator at the grass-roots level. It was able to access cash from two funds that come under the auspices of the Environmental Protection Department – the Environment and Conservation Fund (ECF) and Environmental Campaign Committee – to organise heavily subsidised trips to Singapore and Taiwan to study their respective approaches to waste management. Unsurprisingly, both places rely heavily on incineration.

One of the environmental groups recently came into contact with an HKIDA member and expressed interest in the association. How does one become a member? Apparently only by invitation. Where does its funding come from? While some appears to come from the ECF, the HKIDA member was vague about the rest of it. She was non-committal when it was suggested she should organise a subsidised trip to study other forms of dealing with municipal waste, for example, plasma gasification. This process vaporises the waste and the gases can be used to generate electricity or biofuel.

People who know about these matters say the HKIDA is a United Front organisation. It recently held a meeting which was presided over by Randy Yu, son-in-law of Heung Yee Kuk chairman Lau Wong-fat. Lau has been a staunch government supporter and has made no secret of the fact that he does want the incinerator in his backyard, that is at Tsang Tsui in Tuen Mun, which is one of the locations initially considered for the project. Strange how the Heung Yee Kuk can apparently hijack a United Front organisation. The kuk was widely credited with holding the line against the Communist Party in the New Territories in 1967-68 disturbances. How times have changed

Warning of drain on water supplies


Greenpeace report claims 16 new coal-fired power projects on mainland will leave arid northwest facing grim future, with threat of severe shortages
Stephen Chen
Aug 15, 2012

Nearly 10 billion cubic metres of water – a quarter of the water that can be allocated for use from the Yellow River in a normal year – will be consumed by 16 new coal-fired power plants on the mainland by 2015, exacerbating water shortages in the arid northwest, a Greenpeace report said yesterday.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources, commissioned by Greenpeace, calculated this was the least possible amount of water likely to be used by the power plants due to be built under China’s 12th five-year plan.

The power projects, mostly in northern and western China, will be able to provide more than a third of the mainland’s coal-fired power generation capacity in 2015, while at the same time sucking in at least 9.975 billion cubic metres of water.

As a result, the report says, northwestern regions such as Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi, Shanxi and Ningxia, where 11 of the power plants will be located, will experience severe water supply challenges in the next three years.

“China is trading millions of people’s water rights for energy,” said Li Yan, Greenpeace’s East Asia climate and energy campaign manager.

If all the water-intensive generating plants are built, they will restrict the water available for other uses, such as agriculture, and even tap into residents’ drinking water.

The researchers said that desperate farmers and thirsty urban residents would increase the risk of social upheaval in unstable border areas. In Inner Mongolia, the demand for water by coal mines, power plants and chemical factories during the five-year plan is projected to more than double by 2015.

The autonomous region has already seen protests and riots by Mongolian herdsmen whose pastures vanished after mines and factories sucked rivers and lakes dry.

Pollution is also forecast to rise, adding to the shortage of usable water, the report says. With most coal mines in remote areas, where environmental checks are lax, they will dump waste water containing harmful chemicals into rivers or lakes.

“Two years into the five-year plan, it’s time to rethink the pros and cons of this westward coal expansion and acknowledge the painful heritage it will leave: huge carbon emissions, horrible air pollution and a grim future for vast arid areas,” Li said.

But Professor Song Xianfang, deputy director of the institute’s Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surface Processes, said the spectre of water shortages would not stop the building of more coal-fired power plants.

Song, a key author of the Greenpeace study, said the central government’s top concern was to produce enough coal to solve the mainland’s electricity shortage.

When local governments drafted their plans, their priorities were to speed up growth, generate jobs and collect more tax. “They don’t worry about whether there will be enough water in the region to support their plans because they think they can always find ways to squeeze water from other sectors, such as natural reserves and agriculture,” he said.


Confirmation of now TV channel subscription (KMM58869326I23896L0KM)

—–Original Message—–
From: now TV Customer Service []
Sent: 13 August, 2012 12:46
To: James Middleton
Subject: Re: FW: FW: FW: Confirmation of now TV channel subscription (KMM58869326I23896L0KM)

Our Reference:6801129/KMM58869326I23896L0KM

Dear Mr Middleton,

With regards to previous message, please be confirmed that an appointment has been arranged on 15th August, 2012 within 2pm – 4pm for upgrading the now TV to HD service. Please be informed that our technician will contact you, Marianne or Jintana at  2693 0136,  2693 0177 or  9140 5144 before visit.

Should you have any further enquiries, please feel free to email us again or call our now TV Customer Service Hotline 1833 888.

Yours sincerely,

Kevin Lam

now TV Customer Service

Hong Kong Telecommunications (HKT) Limited (for and on behalf of PCCW Media Limited)

Hotline – 1833 888

Fax No. – 28880700

Email :

Web Site :


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This message (and any attachments) may contain information that is confidential, proprietary, privileged or otherwise protected by law. The message is intended solely for the named addressee (or a person responsible for delivering it to the addressee). If you are not the intended recipient of this message, you are not authorized to read, print, retain, copy or disseminate this message or any part of it. If you have received this message in error, please destroy the message or delete it from your system immediately and notify the sender.


Original Message Follows:


From     : now TV Customer Service <>

To          : James Middleton <>

Date      : 2012/8/11 15:58:35

Subject : Re: FW: FW: FW: Confirmation of now TV channel subscription


Our Reference:6801129/KMM58719900I23896L0KM

Dear Mr Middleton,

Thank you for confirmation and please kindly be informed that we are now arranging with relating department and further processing, we get back

to you as soon as possible. Thank you for your kind patience.

If you have any further enquiries, please feel free to email us again or call our now TV Customer Service Hotline 1833 888.

Yours sincerely,

Phoebe Lui

now TV Customer Service

Hong Kong Telecommunications (HKT) Limited (for and on behalf of PCCW Media Limited)

Hotline – 1833 888

Fax No. – 28880700

Email :

Web Site :


This message (and any attachments) may contain information that is confidential, proprietary, privileged or otherwise protected by law. The message is intended solely for the named addressee (or a person responsible for delivering it to the addressee). If you are not the intended recipient of this message, you are not authorized to read, print, retain, copy or disseminate this message or any part of it. If you have received this message in error, please destroy the message or delete it from your system immediately and notify the sender.


Original Message Follows:


From     : James Middleton <>

To          : now TV Customer Service <>

Date      : 2012/8/9 21:00:44

Subject : FW: FW: FW: Confirmation of now TV channel subscription


—–Original Message—–

From: James Middleton []

Sent: 09 August, 2012 19:14

To: ‘now TV Customer Service’

Subject: RE: FW: FW: Confirmation of now TV channel subscription


OK pls proceed


– Date (at least 7  days notice )     soonest possible    –there is

always someone here

– Time period (10am – 1pm; 2pm – 4pm; 4pm – 6pm; 6pm- 8pm)     Any

– Contact person  James / Marianne / Jintana

– Contact number 26930136    26930177 91405144

—–Original Message—–

From: now TV Customer Service  []

Sent: 09 August, 2012 17:50

To: James Middleton

Subject: Re: FW: FW: Confirmation of now TV channel subscription


Our Reference:6801129/KMM58668169I23896L0KM

Dear Mr Middleton,

Thank you for your precious time in waiting for our response.

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110 HBO HD

208 Discovery HD

218 NatGeo HD

660 now Sports HD


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111 – HBO Hits

112 – HBO Family

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114 – HBO Signature

115 – HBO

116 – Max

5 Star FOX Pack $68

117 – FOX Movies Premium

515 – Fox – Channel

523 – FoxCrime

524 – FX Channel

528 – Star World

122 – MGM $14

Ultimate Discovery Pack $24

209 – Discovery Channel

210 – Animal Planet

211 – Discovery Science

212 – Discovery Turbo

213 – TLC

214 – Discovery Home & Health

National Geographic VOD Mega Pack $38

215 – National Geographic

216 – National Geographic Wild

217 – National Geographic Adventure

AXN Mega 3 $50

512 – AXN

513 – beTv

514 – Sony Entertainment Television

New Premium Mega Sports Pack $158

670 – ESPN

671 – StarSports

663 – ESPN+

664 – StarSports+

630 – now Sports Prime

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632 – now Sports 2

633 – now Sports 3

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638 – Goal TV 1

639 – Goal TV 2

676 – EuroSport

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BBC pack $36

220 – BBC Knowledge

221 – BBC Lifestyle

320 – BBC World

529 – BBC Entertainment

674 – STAR Cricket    $168

675 – STAR Cricket+

If you agree with the above arrangement, please kindly reply us with your confirmation and provide us below information, so that we may arrange an appointment for installation accordingly.

– Date (at least 7 days notice)

– Time period (10am – 1pm; 2pm – 4pm; 4pm – 6pm; 6pm- 8pm)

– Contact person

– Contact number

If you have any further enquiries, please feel free to email us again or call our now TV Customer Service Hotline 1833 888.

Yours sincerely,

Phoebe Lui

now TV Customer Service

Hong Kong Telecommunications (HKT) Limited (for and on behalf of PCCW Media Limited)

Hotline – 1833 888

Fax No. – 28880700

Email :

Web Site :


This message (and any attachments) may contain information that is confidential, proprietary, privileged or otherwise protected by law. The message is intended solely for the named addressee (or a person responsible for delivering it to the addressee). If you are not the intended recipient of this message, you are not authorized to read, print, retain, copy or disseminate this message or any part of it. If you have received this message in error, please destroy the message or delete it from your system immediately and notify the sender.


Original Message Follows:


From       : James Middleton < >

To            : now TV Customer Service < >

Date          : 2012/8/9 07:36:23

Subject : FW: FW: Confirmation of now TV channel subscription






HK must fast-track switch to electric buses


Thomas London says Hong Kong is overlooking a ready-made opportunity to improve air quality – it should catch up with the latest technology in electric buses being developed and produced over the border

Aug 13, 2012

Hong Kong has recently experienced record-breaking smog levels. The Environmental Protection Department said that roadside pollution in 2011 was the worst on record. Clear the Air, a local non-governmental organisation working for improved air quality, reports that the city’s greenhouse-gas emissions have jumped 14 per cent from 1990 to 2005 and that vehicles are the second greatest contributor to air pollution. The Hedley Environmental Index estimates that this past month’s pollution will mean 154 premature deaths in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is unusual among developed-world cities both in the poor quality of its air and the many easy opportunities to cut pollution. Replacing the city’s ageing diesel-powered bus fleet with electric buses would effectively cut vehicular emissions, improve air quality and alleviate subsequent health complications. Hong Kong’s solution for where to source such a vehicle lies just across the border.

Mainland China has prioritised the development of electric and hybrid vehicles in response to its growing dependence on foreign oil. The government announced annual subsidies of up to 2 billion yuan (HK$2.5 billion) for fuel-saving vehicles, including electrics and hybrids, in an attempt to foster growth in the industry and eventually put five million alternative energy vehicles on Chinese streets by 2020. Hong Kong can benefit from this initiative, utilising the funds used to develop the mainland’s electric vehicle industry.

Shenzhen’s BYD, the company famed for being one of the world’s largest rechargeable battery manufacturers and winning financial backing from Warren Buffett, released an all-electric bus this past year. The K9 is fuelled by both solar power and a rechargeable lithium iron phosphate battery – one three-hour charge gives the bus a 250-kilometre range in urban settings.

This vehicle is fully capable of handling the routes and distances covered by the current bus fleet and would immediatelyminimise carbon emissions and noise pollution.

The Hong Kong government has acknowledged the potential of integrating electric vehicles, establishing a benchmark to make 30 per cent of private vehicles either hybrids or fully electric by 2020. The Transport Department is considering deploying electric buses from Kowloon Motor Bus. However, the vehicle’s range is a minuscule 10 kilometres, meaning these buses cannot be used on regular routes.

Money is not an issue. Last financial year, the government amassed a budget surplus of more than HK$73 billion. In fact, initial funding to implement the switch to public electric buses had been previously allocated. Leung Chun-ying’spredecessor, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, prioritised an electric bus fleet, setting aside HK$180 million for the transition during his final policy address as chief executive. Furthermore, the Pilot Green Transport Fund has set aside HK$300 million to promote more sustainable transport solutions.

Many regions already recognise the benefits of operating all-electric public buses. Governments in Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Helsinki, Amsterdam and Ontario are all slated to integrate the K9 into their transport systems. Chinese cities, including Changsha, Shaoguan, Xian and most notably Shenzhen, have effectively put the bus through its paces. The fleets have collectively travelled over five million kilometres without major incident. The K9 is ready for Hong Kong.

Partnering with BYD would strengthen Hong Kong’s ties with mainland Chinese businesses and neighbouring Shenzhen. If successful, the partnership would encourage other mainland companies to invest and develop for the Hong Kong market. It may even boost public sentiment towards the ability of the Chinese private sector to benefit Hong Kong.

The new bus fleet would serve as an example of Chinese innovation and cutting-edge technology, a notion that too many dismiss as non-existent.

The Leung administration could use a political victory. Leung has the opportunity to illustrate his commitment to the city’s health and long-term sustainability while facing what one would assume to be little political opposition. Introducing the new fleet would promote Hong Kong as a modern, forward-thinking city. In short, pursuing this initiative would provide a much-needed easy win for the administration.

Hong Kong has a unique chance to illustrate its commitment to green technology and sustainability. Few cities are as fortunate to have a massive budget surplus, close economic ties with the world’s largest exporter, and new political leadership eager to improve its reputation. Even fewer are presented with a simple way to address one of its most significant problems.

Hong Kong must introduce electric buses to abate roadside pollution and overall emissions. Get smoggy diesel buses off the road now so that Hong Kong’s people can once again smell the scent of Asia’s most fragrant harbour.

Thomas London is a Princeton-in-Asia fellow at the Asia Business Council

Could Loh be Leung’s green redeemer?


Having been opposed by Beijing in the past, likely new environment undersecretary is a curious choice – but could make a difference to C.Y.’s team

Tony Cheung
Aug 13, 2012

In a report commissioned by the international investment group CLSA on Hong Kong’s new chief executive, Christine LohKung-wai outlined Leung Chun-ying’s most pressing environmental challenges: he should look at how to manage waste, tackle the notorious air pollution and conserve nature, she wrote.

Loh said Leung should combine economic investment and improving air quality “in a way that allows Hong Kong to continue to develop and at the same reduce air pollution, as California has successfully done”.

What she then saw as Leung’s responsibilities, however, will soon be her own: tipped to take up the post of undersecretary for the environment, the 56-year-old former legislator may finally have the opportunity to help Leung – and Hong Kong – catch up in adopting green policies widely practised in the US and beyond.

If she does accept the post, it is a move that will see Loh becoming a doer again, more than a decade after she retired from the Legislative Council. Having been seen as a champion of civil rights and a pan-democrat, her likely acceptance of a post within Leung’s administration has been greeted with as much surprise as her move in 2000 to quit a seemingly fledgling career in frontline politics to conduct environmental and social policy research as chief executive of Civic Exchange, a think tank she co-founded with her then-leading aide Lisa Hopkinson.

Loh has as yet refused to confirm her appointment, and declined to be interviewed last week about the situation because she is “busy with work” – echoing her denials in June that she had applied for the position. Yet a person familiar with the situation confirmed to the South China Morning Post (SEHK: 0583announcementsnews) that she has been offered the job, although it was still uncertain if she will actually take it.

Such hesitation might stem partly from the opposition she once faced and probably would face again from Beijing-loyalist groups. It is understood that when Donald Tsang Yam-kuen won another term as chief executive in 2007, he offered the post of environment minister to Loh. But despite her track record as a green advocate, her candidacy was opposed – and possibly torpedoed – by conservative groups with a direct line to the central government.

Loh was again tipped as a candidate for the post earlier this year, but Leung appointed architect and Green Building Council member Wong Kam-sing instead.

With Leung’s many political appointees landing in hot water, however, Loh’s presence might help reinvigorate public faith in the new government. According to political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung of Chinese University, her track record as an advocate of universal suffrage may help boost the image of Leung’s administration.

Loh’s reputation for being a progressive politician began in 1992, when she left her career as a commodities trader to become one of Governor Chris Patten’s appointees to the Legislative Council. Within a year, she steered through a controversial amendment giving women in the New Territories the same rights as men to inherit rural land – a proposal which triggered violent protests outside the council building in Central. Some residents even threatened to rape Loh if she were to venture into the New Territories.

One of the legislators who fought with her was the Democratic Party’s Zachary Wong Wai-yin, who sat next to Loh in the Legco chamber from 1992 to 1997. “Loh was very determined on sexual equality, maybe it was because she received Western education and went to international schools since she was a kid … she was resolute about environmental protection, too,” Wong said.

A victory for Loh’s environmental agenda was the Protection of the Harbour Ordinance, which she presented to Legco and had enacted in 1997. It prevented Victoria Harbour from conducting large-scale reclamation works, which she said might effectively turn the harbour into a river.

Loh beat the veteran lawmaker and urban councillor Peggy Lam Pei Yu-dja when she ran in her first legislative election in 1995, with her political co-ordinates made more evident when she founded the Citizens’ Party shortly before the handover. Forced out of her post when Beijing replaced the body with the appointed Provisional Legislative Council in 1997, she returned to the chamber the following year after a second successful election campaign.

Two years later, Loh announced her surprise decision not to run in the 2000 polls. In her autobiography Being Here: Shaping a Preferred Future, published in 2006, Loh said she bade farewell to Legco because her “assessment of the future Legco for the coming term was bleak. The then-chief executive Tung Chee-hwa was not interested in developing a partnership with legislators even though he said he was … It struck me that it was perhaps time to find a new path to continue my interest in promoting good governance, as well as environmental protection and sustainable development.”

Loh subsequently founded Civic Exchange, which conducted and released Hong Kong’s first in-depth survey of residents’ environmental behaviour in 2001, produced an air management policy in 2006, and also published books on the government’s ministerial system and the functional constituencies in Legco.

Well-regarded among local green groups, Loh’s appointment would certainly be unlike that of the now much-maligned Paul Chan Mo-po, whose suitability as development minister was roundly questioned given his background as an accountant.

Hahn Chu Hon-keung, senior environmental manager of Friends of the Earth, welcomed Loh’s possible appointment. He believes that given her experience, she is a suitable, even overqualified candidate.

However, Chu said that if Loh became undersecretary, the government must be transparent about possible conflicts of interest. The Environment Bureau’s responsibilities include monitoring and negotiating with electricity firms, and Civic Exchange’s financial sponsors include CLP Power (SEHK: 0002). “It is reasonable for Civic Exchange to accept sponsors as a think tank,” Chu said. “[But if appointed,] I think Loh can no longer keep her think tank role.”

Chu also believes pollution, road-side air quality in particular, has worsened in recent years. He said he hoped that if Lohtook the job, she would tackle the problem. “I hope stricter air quality objectives … can be set. We have the capability and resources to do so,” he said.


AGE 56

NOW Chief executive of Civic Exchange; board member of the Clean Air Network

PREVIOUSLY Legislator 1992-97, 1998-2000; founding chairwoman of Citizens’ Party, 1997-2000; chairwoman of Friends of the Earth, 1990s

EDUCATION A bachelor’s degree in law and a doctor of law degree from the University of Hull, England, and a master’s degree in Chinese and comparative law from City University, Hong Kong

PERSONAL Has a daughter with her partner

Environmental assessment for third runway inadequate

SCMP letter Aug 13, 2012

Without assessing the social costs of the [proposed] third runway project, Hong Kong Airport Authority swiftly submitted a project profile to the Environmental Protection Department in late June so it could embark on an environmental impact assessment.

However, the authority appears, on purpose, to have omitted a health impact assessment and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions assessment from the profile for the department on which it will base the project’s study brief. As a member of the Advisory Council on the Environment, I told the department that the study brief must include the key assessments of carbon dioxide emissions and health impacts. For such a huge project, the environmental and health impacts will not be small, so the authority should diligently examine and disclose any potential impacts. The study brief issued on Saturday includes a health impact assessment but not one for CO2 emissions.

Carbon dioxide is a major greenhouse gas. Additional flights and related land and sea transport will generate additional CO2.

The government issued Hong Kong’s Climate Change Strategy and Action Agenda for consultation in late 2010; it includes the goal of reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 60 per cent by 2020. Without a CO2 assessment, it is impossible to tell if the project is compatible with the government’s policies and goals.

In June, the World Health Organisation announced that the carcinogenic risks of exhaust fumes from diesel engines had been updated from “probable” to “definite”. Although aircraft do not burn diesel, the vehicles and ships that carry goods and passengers to the airport do, and therefore we welcome the requirement of a health impact assessment that covers emissions from flights and associated transport in order to safeguard public health. After all, as well as protecting public health it is equally important that the director of environmental protection ensures the project is in line with the government’s low-carbon and climate-change goals.

It is not acceptable to exclude a CO2 emissions assessment from the study brief. Although the study brief does not require the Airport Authority to use the government’s revised air quality objectives to assess the project’s impact on air quality, it should use the revised objectives, as promised.

The Airport Authority did not include assessments of health impacts or CO2 emissions in its project profile, making me feel it is not committed wholeheartedly to sustainable development.

Edwin Lau Che-feng, director, general affairs, Friends of the Earth (HK)

Tour buses add to gridlock in TST East

District councillor wants to redirect buses carrying mainland tourists to unused depot in Mody Road
Tiffany Ap
Aug 12, 2012

It has become an all too common sight in Tsim Sha Tsui East. Traffic comes to a standstill as buses stop to let a stream of tourists alight.

Outside the Mody Road DFS Galleria, which is popular with mainland shopping tours, bus drivers sit in their vehicles waiting for their passengers to finish their hours of shopping.

Vehicles trying to get around double-parked buses veer into lanes meant for oncoming traffic, raising safety concerns.

The situation could get worse in January, when a huge new duty-free store opens on the site of the recently closed ClubBboss, beside the DFS Galleria in Chinachem Plaza.

Yau Tsim Mong district councillor Kwan Sau-ling says she has received numerous complaints from residents and business owners about the gridlock created by illegally parked tour buses.

Last year, Kwan saw an opportunity to redirect the influx of tour buses to a government bus depot at the other end of ModyRoad.

It was built in 2007 to relieve the ageing Star Ferry bus terminus, but plans to raze that terminus and build a piazza dragged on, meaning the new depot sat empty for five years.

The controversial piazza plan was declared dead on Thursday, but instead of using the Mody Road depot for tour buses, the government plans to make it a rest area for buses serving 14 local routes.

Kwan’s proposal to turn the depot into a coach park for private tour companies did not garner enough support from her fellow councillors.

She said it would be next month before she could introduce the proposal for the district council to consider again.

“It’s a waste,” Kwan said. “Giving public buses that structure is redundant since the Star Ferry terminus and a terminus in Science Museum Road can accommodate buses used on the public routes comfortably.”

Kwan said allocating the Mody Road depot for tour buses would solve congestion in the area’s main shopping hubs in Chatham Road and Mody Road.

“If the tour-bus companies are violating parking regulations, this is something the police should look into,” she said.

“They are after convenience. They want to drop tourists off at the doorstep because they’re afraid they will wander off somewhere else to shop, [in stores where the tour guides do not receive a commission].

“In Mody Road there’s a Wing On, there’s the Empire Centre, there’s a few places to go shopping.”

In addition to violating parking regulations, buses often idle their engines, which environmental groups say highlights weaknesses in the anti-idling law passed last December, which exempts any bus with at least one passenger on board.

Record-high pollution levels last week, which prompted the government to warn vulnerable people to stay indoors, have put a renewed focus on sources of pollution.

Roadside emissions are the second largest contributor to air pollution and pose a particularly dangerous threat since the exhaust comes out at street level, according to the Clean Air Network.

Amy Ng, a volunteer with local green group Clear the Air, said that although people complained about the air quality, they were hesitant to act. The problem did not seem urgent enough, or people did not believe it affected them.

“It doesn’t seem that bad. People aren’t dropping like flies. Maybe your sinuses get irritated or you develop a cough. But unless you have asthma or you have elderly people or children with you, it’s not really a concern for most people,” she said.

“But when the tour bus is idling, the bad air goes back into the bus. They think they’re breathing in clean air but they’re not.”

Tourists are more interested in getting back to the air-conditioned comfort of the buses than keeping the city’s air clean.

Outside the DFS Galleria, tired shoppers often return to sit on their bus and the coaches’ engines idle for fifteen minutes or more.

One shopper on a day-tour from Shenzhen complained: “There’s nowhere to sit in the mall and outside is too hot.”

The shopper, who had her eight-year-old daughter in tow, said: “She’s tired, so we’ll wait on the bus.”

Ng said the issue of air quality needed to be addressed from the point of view of vehicle design and urban planning, not just the legal aspect.

“Back in the ’70s, when Hong Kong was experiencing weather just as hot as we have now, they installed fans. The windows of the buses opened. Nowadays, you can’t even open the windows,” she said.