Lai See

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 June, 2011, 12:00am


Environment minister to talk up HK's dearth of climate change initiatives

We are having difficulty in understanding why the government has sent the secretary for the environment, Edward Yau Tang-wah, to Sao Paulo to attend the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit.

The aim of the trip, according to a government press release, is to 'share with member cities strategies and experiences in tackling climate change'. As we know, Hong Kong's efforts could be written on the back of a postage stamp. It does not even take 30 seconds to say: 'We have done nothing.'

Incredibly, we are told Yau will be 'hosting a session discussing large-scale energy efficiency retro-fitting programmes in buildings, with representatives from Houston, Melbourne and Tokyo. They looked at a range of energy-saving options with an emphasis on funding mechanisms and policy drivers.'

Yau will no doubt share how Hong Kong saves energy in its use of air conditioning in buildings, how its building standards insist on insulation to save on heating in winter and cooling in summer, along with all those other energy saving measures we are all so familiar with.

Complexities of number crunching

You have to admire the sangfroid of the Airport Authority. It released its 20-year development blueprint yesterday, with two options 'to capture the opportunities presented by the increase in regional growth as reflected in the growth of air traffic'.

Firstly, a medium-term option based on the present two-runway arrangement. Secondly, and clearly the one it favours, build a third runway. There are not too many groups which would cooly announce that this would cost HK$86.2 billion in 2010 money and a mere HK$136.2 billion in what they call 'the money of the day'. That's only an increase of 58 per cent, but there is no explanation of why they think costs should blow out so much.

With that kind of money the authority could gold-plate their new runway. Maybe it should invest some of this largesse in someone who can come up with a reliable project finance forecast.

Bending over backwards to be 'cheap'

A reader has complained about 'cheapskate' practices from NOW TV, owned by Richard Li Tzar-kai's PCCW.

The reader signed up with NOW and part of the deal was that he would receive a HK$50 supermarket coupon. But a few days later he receives a notice asking him to go to a redemption centre to collect the voucher. He asks why didn't NOW just send him the coupons and darkly assumes this practice was adopted to discourage customers from cashing in and thus saving PCCW money.

We put this to NOW, who responded, 'PCCW offers a variety of premiums and gifts (including goods and coupons) so the most common way is to issue a redemption letter to our customers. We do directly send out cash coupons if the value does not exceed HK$20.'

If they can do it for HK$20, why not for HK$50? But our man from PCCW said, 'If customers have difficulties collecting the coupon from the redemption centres, we may consider special postage arrangements.' Well it is clearly not worried about paying the postage. Maybe our reader has a point.

The high price of banking

Here is The City has released part two of its poll on bankers and their personal relationships. This one reveals that 68 per cent of men have been divorced at least once, with 23 per cent divorced twice and 3 per cent three times or more. For women, the figures were 37, 12 and 0.4 per cent, respectively.

You will not be surprised that for 93 per cent of men, the second wife was younger than the first, while 79 per cent of women bankers' second husbands were older than their first.

The average age of men when they first divorced is 29, and the average length of their marriage was six years and seven months. Women on average were 35 years and nine months when they first divorced after a marriage of 13 years and three months.

The average divorce settlement cost men US$540,726, while women paid US$304,392. Some 35 per cent of men divorced because they drifted apart, and 27 per cent said they were sick of the rows.

About 32 per cent of women stayed in the marriage until the children were old enough to leave home, while 19 per cent said they were fed up with being married to a person who behaved more like a child than their children did.

About 40 per cent of men regretted getting married compared with 72 per cent of women.

Intriguingly, 23 per cent of men said they wanted custody of the children, while 67 per cent said they wanted to keep the family dog.