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August 7th, 2013:

Government leads the way in illegal parking

Published on South China Morning Post (

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Above the law?

Government leads the way in illegal parking

Thursday, 08 August, 2013, 12:00am



Howard Winn

It will come as no surprise to be told that illegal parking continues unabated. But it is slightly disappointing to see it being encouraged by senior government officials.

Our picture shows a government car illegally parked on Gloucester Road during rush hour, forcing a bus to wait in the road, thereby causing traffic congestion. This sort of thing just encourages a culture of low-level law breaking.

Meanwhile, the police have taken to the air waves, notably in two episodes of RTHK’s Police Report several months ago in which it points out the inconvenience that illegal parking causes. Maybe the government official should be encouraged to watch the two episodes of Police Report, even though one episode stretches reality by showing a car being towed away for illegal parking.

On a related matter, we remarked recently on the derisory efforts to enforce the engine idling law and noted that in the 14 months to July 31 a total of only 47 tickets were issued for idling engines. We learned recently that 45 of these tickets were issued by environmental protection officers, and two by traffic wardens.

Have you got any stories that Lai See should know about? E-mail them to [2]

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Indoor Air Pollution Kills More Than AIDS, Malaria Combined

Indoor Air Pollution Kills More Than AIDS, Malaria Combined

Jeffrey Kopman Published: Aug 6, 2013, 3:09 PM EDT


Outdoor air pollution might get more attention because of global warming, agricultural problems and the deadly diseases it causes, but indoor air pollution is actually more dangerous — killing approximately four million people worldwide each year, according to research from the World Health Organization.

Outdoor ozone and particulate air pollution contributes to about two million deaths a year, according a study recently published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. As climate change warms the planet, some researchers believe this figure will increase.

Indoor air pollution is largely caused by burning biomass fuels from sources such as wood, agricultural waste or coal. More developed countries have shifted away from these fuels in favor of petroleum products and electricity, but 13 percent of global energy was still derived from biomass fuels as recently as 2000. There is evidence that use is increasing among families in poverty, according to a study from the University of Michigan — potentially raising health risks.

Smoke from cook stoves is believed to be the largest contributor of indoor air pollution, which can cause childhood respiratory infections, COPD, asthma, cancer and infant mortality. People in developing countries, where alternative fuel sources are not readily available, spend between 3 and 7 hours a day exposed to high levels of indoor pollution, meaning indoor air pollution affects about 50 percent of the world’s population.

“The most important [health problems] appear to be childhood acute lower respiratory infections, which remain the single most important cause of death for children aged under 5 years in developing countries,” the study authors said.

(MORE: Air Pollution Linked to Millions of Deaths)

WHO officials compared the effects of indoor air pollution to the global burden caused by tobacco and unsafe sex. The four million deaths per year is more than AIDS-related deaths, malaria and tuberculosis combined, according to WHO data.

Future research should look at the benefits of reducing indoor air pollution exposure, and evaluate how poor households can cut their exposure, the study authors said. Installing clean cook stoves that use chimneys could be one way to solve many of the problems linked to indoor air pollution.

Because poverty creates a need to rely on cheaper, more dangerous fuels, researchers also called for socioeconomic development to combat the worldwide problem of unhealthy household environments

Chief Executive’s Office releases new conflict of interest guidelines

Too little, too late …………….

South China Morning Post

Published on South China Morning Post (

Home > Chief Executive’s Office releases new conflict of interest guidelines

Chief Executive’s Office releases new conflict of interest guidelines

Wednesday, 07 August, 2013, 5:51pm

NewsHong Kong

Tony Cheung

The Chief Executive’s Office unveiled on Wednesday new guidelines for the handling of potential conflict of interest cases involving principal government officials.

The guidelines [1], which were posted on the website of the Chief Executive’s Office, come in the aftermath of a series of controversies surrounding Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po and his former political assistant Henry Ho Kin-chung.

The most important change to the new guidelines states that family or friends’ business and social affiliations are now specified as an official’s private interests, if it could be seen as influencing policy-making.

[Private interests are] “the financial and other interests of the officer himself, his family and other relations, his personal friends, the clubs and associations to which he belongs …

new conflict of interest guidelines

Private interests are listed as “the financial and other interests of the officer himself, his family and other relations, his personal friends, the clubs and associations to which he belongs, any other groups of people with whom he has personal or social ties, or any person to whom he owes a favour or is obligated in any way.”

Previously, the code for principal officials, updated only last year, specified that an official must report to the chief executive if his or her private interests might appear to influence their judgment in performing duties, but it did not define the extent of such interests.

Since last month, Chan has been facing calls for him to step down after it was revealed that his wife and her family owned land in the Kwu Tung area, site of one of the government’s and Chan’s department’s major housing development projects.

Chan declared these interests to the chief executive two months after his appointment as secretary in July last year, too late, according to most of the government’s critics.

Ho, Chan’s political assistant, resigned last Friday after failing to declare his family’s ownship of four lots of land in the same Kwu Tung development area. Chan once held a stake in these plots along with family members through a private company founded by his father and uncle.


Paul Chan Mo-po

Henry Ho Kin-chung


Why the secrecy surrounding Hong Kong’s societies?

Wednesday, 07 August, 2013, 12:00am



Howard Winn

Why is it that Hong Kong has such absurdly byzantine regulations surrounding information about societies?

Anyone can pay a fee and search a firm, limited company, car ownership, marriage records, land ownership, and so on. The online searchable data shows ID cards and addresses. No consent is needed from a partner, director, vehicle owner or land owner to search government records containing their names.

So why does the Societies Office have to be different. If you want to find out information regarding the members or office bearers of a registered society, you have to get their written permission. This is silly, since if you don’t know who they are, you can’t obtain their permission. All we can do is obtain a copy of the society’s constitution, and to do that we have to go to the police headquarters in Wan Chai, even though the information is held digitally and could be easily distributed by e-mail.

The peculiarities of this arrangement came to our attention last year when a group called the Hong Kong Islands District Association suddenly showed up in the middle of the Shek Kwu Chau incinerator saga and was able to access environmental funds controlled by the Environment Bureau and take islanders off on subsidised trips to Singapore and Taiwan to look at incinerators.

The name is similar to the Islands District Council, which, confusingly, is a government body. Why should the details of societies be so guarded when information on companies and the like is freely available? The system is outdated and the rules that apply to companies should be applied to societies in this respect.

Source URL (retrieved on Aug 7th 2013, 7:07am):