Deputies seek death penalty for polluters

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 March, 2011, 12:00am

Hong Kong deputies to the National People's Congress released a report yesterday on environmental protection in which they called for polluters to face the same penalties as those guilty of endangering public security. The latter charge can carry the death penalty.

Maria Tam Wai-chu, speaking on behalf of the Hong Kong deputies, said the report was based on visits in November to Heyuan in Guangdong, the source of the East River that supplies Hong Kong. She said the deputies were satisfied with the water's quality but discovered that tougher laws were needed.

The report suggested amending the criminal code to make the punishment for the crime of serious environmental pollution as severe as that for endangering public security.

Under mainland law, the maximum sentence for causing serious environmental pollution is seven years' jail.

The report also suggested raising the fines for water pollution.

Deputy Priscilla Lau Pui-king, an associate professor at Polytechnic University's school of accounting and finance, proposed that other mainland provinces learn from what Guangdong had done to protect the East River and praised the measures taken by the provincial government.

Lau suggested establishing a special fund to protect the river, which could be financed by water bills paid by Hong Kong residents.

'If we take just 1 to 2 per cent from the annual water bill, it could provide at least 100 million yuan (HK$118 million) for the fund,' she said.

Lau cited figures that Hong Kong draws 800 million cubic metres of water from the East River every year.

Another Hong Kong deputy, Wong Yuk-shan, call for greater transparency on water quality data from the river.

Additional reporting by Matt Ho