Burning passion for Shek Kwu Chau incinerator - till camera begins to roll
The previous government's plans to build a super incinerator in the vicinity of the scenic island of Shek Kwu Chau, off Lantau, were put on hold by the Legislative Council some months ago. However, various forces still appear to be working away in the background to advance the cause.
We wrote some months ago about a heavily subsidised trip to Singapore for island residents and environmental groups. The point of the visit was to learn about Singapore's approach to waste management, which, unsurprisingly, is heavily reliant on incineration. This was organised by a little-known group called the Hong Kong Islands District Association. Participants paid HK$1,000 for the trip, which would normally cost about HK$6,000. It was paid for out of two government funds set up for environmental projects.
Now we hear that a resident of south Lantau has accidentally discovered the association had held a meeting to discuss the incinerator. The meeting was poorly advertised - just an announcement on an A4 piece of paper on the notice board of the district council office. As a result of the lack of publicity, the meeting was thinly attended, by 30-odd insiders of rural committee members and families plus one environmentalist gatecrasher.
Interestingly, the session was chaired by Randy Yu, son-in-law of Heung Yee Kuk chairman Lau Wong-fat. Yu is apparently destined to be a district councillor. He started by saying the government's plan for an incinerator was excellent and that it was a pity the plan had been frozen. This was attributed to biased research conducted by expatriates that was then blindly accepted by locals. It should be noted that Yu's father-in-law, Lau, opposed the other site suggested in one of the government's studies - Tsang Tsui in Tuen Mun.
The government is believed to have caved in to pressure from Lau not to put the facility in his fiefdom. The tone of the meeting was very much in support of building the incinerator at Shek Kwu Chau, until, that is, the environmentalist gatecrasher started videoing the proceedings. The tone then became remarkably neutral, we are told, with Yu repeatedly emphasising he had no preconceived ideas as to where the incinerator should be built. Lai See wonders what this all means.
The Hong Kong Observatory's announcement early yesterday afternoon that it might hoist the No8 signal between 5pm and 8pm did not go down well with investors, so we are told.
Since the announcement took place during trading hours, investors were left wondering if the stock exchange would open today. Given how choppy global markets are, they didn't want something to happen overnight in Europe or the United States and be exposed to it for a day with the market closed. So, many elected to sell yesterday, accounting for the 3 per cent decline, we are told. This was somewhat larger than other declines in Asia.
Traders also wondered why the No8 signal was to be delayed until after 5pm, conveniently after the stock market closed, along with many other organisations. Let's hope typhoon warnings are not going the same way as the government's outbound travel alerts, which are conditioned by politics rather than reality. This is why we have the absurd situation in which travelling to the Philippines is considered as risky as a trip to Syria, which is in the throes of what is now recognised by the Red Cross to be a state of civil war. This, readers will recall, is in retaliation for the tragic incident that occurred two years ago when a number of Hong Kong tourists were killed after their bus was hijacked in Manila.
Brand police on the march
The London Olympics are only days away, and while they may not be able to field enough security guards, the brand police are on the streets to protect against unauthorised use of the Olympics name, according to an Associated Press report. And some of the measures are extraordinary.
Enforcement can be stringent to the point of farce, AP reports. A London eatery known as the Olympic Cafe was forced to change its name - it's now 'Lympic' - while a lingerie store in central England was told to remove a window display that used five hula hoops and some sports bras as a tribute to the Olympic rings. Even knitters came under its purview, after a group of wool enthusiasts decided to celebrate the games with their own 'Ravelympics', in which participants were to complete a personal knitting project over the 17 days of the Games. The organisers got a nasty letter from the US Olympic Committee, ordering them to change the name. Which they did - it's now the Ravellenic Games - and the committee apologised for its heavy-handed approach.