Donald Tsang

Lai See

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 May, 2015, 3:07pm

HK chamber urges Tsang to think big on air pollution

The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce has sent a letter to Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen urging him to take action on roadside pollution. 'What Hong Kong people have been yearning for ... is to see the return of the blue sky, so that we might wrestle back the place we used to know from the smog's stranglehold,' the HKGC says in the letter, which is signed by its chairman Anthony Wu Ting-yuk.

The letter calls for action on a number of fronts and urges Tsang 'to think big,' in his final year as chief executive.

It takes on board, without mentioning them, the arguments that have been pushed by the Civic Exchange and Clean Air Network. The letter says a regional solution is required to deal with the overall air pollution. 'But for residents going about their daily lives and people working in much of the urban areas, it is roadside pollution that brings tears to our eyes.' It urges the swift replacement of old buses and trucks still on the road. The chamber says that when it consults its members about what they would want if they had one wish, 'The resounding response is clean air.'

The chamber says there is an overwhelming desire within the community for faster progress, noting that the two-year trial scheme involving six hybrid buses, 'falls far short of the sort of progress that the vast majority of our community has been hoping to see'. In a plea that is verging on the passionate, the chamber says, 'Chief executive, you must lean on the clean air issue and display your leadership in hastening the delivery of a solution,' since it is driving away business, 'and harms the health of those who stay'.

Turning to other matters, the chamber urges the chief executive to take steps to ease social tensions by giving people the wherewithal to compete in Hong Kong's knowledge society through training and education. It asks for greater sensitivity from the government in its handling of the minimum wage, lower taxes for small and medium-sized businesses, and a general reduction in profits tax. The chamber wants closer discussions over the crafting of the competition law to ward of unintended consequences of its implementation. It also criticises the government's action on the provision of international education places, which it says smacks of 'short-termism'. Providing more places, the chamber says, is not just an issue for expatriates; it is also desired by local middle-class families for their children.

So come on Donald. You've got one more year to think big. Don't waste it. You can be the man that finally does something meaningful to clean Hong Kong's awful roadside pollution, which is increasingly being recognised as a serious threat to public health.

HK Airlines on-off Airbus affair

Yet another glitch has cropped up to prevent Hong Kong Airlines from signing a letter of intent to buy 10 A380-800s from Airbus. The airline, which is owned by the mainland's HNA Group, was expected to sign a firm order for the giant aircraft at the Paris Air Show last week. But press reports say Beijing has blocked the deal because of its displeasure over the European Union's determination to make aircraft flying into the EU pay for every tonne of carbon dioxide they emit over a certain level. The move is supposed to come into effect this January.

However, the source of the information that the central government is blocking the deal is unclear, since there has been no statement by a mainland official.

This has been an on-off deal for some months. Hong Kong Airlines or its parent was supposed to have signed a preliminary agreement at the Asian Aerospace International Expo Congress held in Hong Kong in March. Some people in the industry are beginning to view HNA's discussions with Airbus somewhat cynically, seeing them as a negotiating ploy.

China's elite prefer Eton

It may come as a surprise, but Britain's elite boarding schools, such as Eton and Harrow, are becoming increasingly popular among China's millionaires.

'What I'm constantly hearing from Chinese millionaires is that they like England as a place to get their children educated,' Rupert Hoogewerf, the publisher of the Hurun Report magazine, told The Daily Telegraph. 'You go to France for fine wine and luxury living, to Italy to see the ancient sights, but to a British boarding school to get a proper education.'

Last year nearly a third of the 10,030 non-British students at these private schools came from China, including Hong Kong, according to the Independent Schools Council.

So how do we translate, 'I say, old chap' into Putonghua?