If a government car is fined for illegal parking, who pays?
We were troubled to receive the photograph that appears in today's column. The car is a Volkswagen Phaeton with the registration AM13, which means it is a government car. It is clearly parked illegally next to a sign which indicates no stopping at any time.
The photograph was taken yesterday at 7.42am outside the Hong Kong Club in Central by David Webb, editor of Webb-site.com. He says the chauffeur turned his back when he saw he was being photographed. We presume his boss was inside the club having breakfast.
Government vehicles are in theory not immune from being penalised for illegal parking, as detailed in the Application to the Crown section of the Fixed Penalty (Traffic Contraventions) Ordinance, Cap 237 section 3, which states that the driver of the government vehicle is liable for the fixed penalty.
However, as Webb observes: 'Of course, it has no deterrent effect on Government cars, since (a) the police probably don't touch them and (b) if fined, the Government would be paying a fine to itself. (It will presumably reimburse its drivers or compensate them to cover the cost of any such fines). But how can the Government expect others to comply with a law that they breach themselves?' How indeed?
Clearly, he's insincere
Why is it that whenever Environment Secretary Edward Yau Tang-wah speaks about the quality of Hong Kong's air you get the impression he means the opposite to what he says. At yesterday's press conference announcing that the government would implement new air quality objectives (AQOs), he said it was, 'A clear demonstration that the government and the community is very eager and keen to update the air quality objectives'.
This is presumably why, under his leadership, the government did nothing for two years after public consultation on the AQOs, and why his department dragged its feet so much it had to be told by the ombudsman to get a move on. Now it's going to take another two years to implement them.
Yau reeks of insincerity. Indeed, so sincere is the government that it will allow environmental impact assessments for infrastructure projects to use the current outdated air quality standards. This is not a government 'eager and keen' to clean Hong Kong's air.
It follows publication of a report on the government's record on cleaning the air by the Civic Exchange think tank last week. It also coincides with the release of an updated Hedley Environmental Index, which reveals the average annual number of avoidable deaths attributable to air pollution over the last five years was 3,200, more than three times the previous annual estimates of 1,000 avoidable deaths.
'Even though the these new figures are substantially higher, the truly frightening thing about them is that they are still conservative figures that account for only short-term health impacts of Hong Kong's air pollution,' said the index's author, Anthony Hedley.
A verbal crisis
The rich and famous have been rubbing shoulders these past few days at the government's financial talkfest, which it hosts with the HKTDC. Ronnie Chan Chichung, chairman of the Hang Lung Group, had to be there, of course, but seemed to be lacking his usual verbal fluidity while chairing a panel on Monday.
Somehow he mangled the title of the event - Asian Financial Forum - calling it instead 'Asian Financial Crisis'. Time for a new hard drive perhaps?
Bitter Mellon blasts private equity
Tamara Mellon, the founder of Jimmy Choo shoes, has been getting things off her chest on Twitter.
First she recommends 'Snakes in Suits Interesting read about people who work in Private Equity'. Evidently this stirs something within her and she later tweets: 'In the New Year - I will give interviews and talk about the MONSTER Private Equity has become and the VULTURES that operate in it.' Then this escalates to: 'Looking forward to revealing, my experience of Private Equity's abhorrent greed.'
This came to the attention of The Sunday Times which remarks: 'While we're all dying to hear what Mellon has to say, it's worth remembering that she hasn't done too badly out of wretched private equity. In the past 10 years, Jimmy Choo was bought and sold in four deals - three of them being to private equity houses. In the last deal to Labelux, the German luxury conglomerate, Mellon, 44, bagged ?5million.'
Then Mellon tweets: 'It's the PE boys that made 100's millions out of me - not other way around.' So a win-win situation or maybe a just a case of tweet tweet ...