Minister criticised for 'recycling' green policies

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 July, 2012, 12:00am

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The new environment chief has been accused of 'recycling' old policies and failing to offer a vision of hope in his first meeting with lawmakers.

Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing briefed the Legislative Council's environment panel on eight policy areas, including air pollution, waste disposal and nature conservation.

But his introductory remarks, read from a set of prepared notes, were given a lukewarm reception by lawmakers, who had expected to hear some firm policies for tackling the city's environmental headaches.

'What you said was just a copy of what your predecessor left behind,' Democratic Party lawmaker Kam Nai-wai said.

The Civic Party's Tanya Chan said Wong's speech had been 'recycled' from past remarks by environment ministers, while Chan's party colleague Audrey Eu Yuet-mee said she wanted to hear concrete measures, not vague principles. 'The newspaper is going to report what you say today. What kind of shining ideas can you offer to them?' she asked.

Wong told lawmakers he was working on an environmental blueprint and road map with his team, which he hoped to make public in a few months.

'Our general direction is correct. What we need now is a bit more strength and depth,' he said.

Wong, an architect specialising in environmentally friendly buildings before he took office, said he did have his own ideas and now faced the challenge of implementing them as an 'outsider-turned insider'. He said he needed to work with colleagues to work out whether his plans were workable.

'The ideals have to be balanced and we have to be pragmatic. I need to understand the tricks of getting things done, and therefore I don't want to issue a blank cheque now,' he said.

Wong said he was prepared to meet residents of Tseung Kwan O, who have complained that he was not sent to the district to take questions about a massive landfill site when Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and his ministers made a round of visits on Monday.

One issue Wong insists he is not trying to sidestep is dog faeces on the streets.

He accused the media of selectively reporting his answer to a question about the problem.

Wong insisted that he had said the government worked as a team before he made his widely reported remark that dog mess was not part of his portfolio.