Lai See

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 May, 2015, 3:07pm

Why secretary's announcement seems to be full of hot air

More reasons why Secretary for the Environment Edward Yau's announcement on air quality objectives should be treated with considerable scepticism.

The government's press statement on the revised AQOs says: 'The government will start preparatory work on the amendment of the Air Pollution Control Ordinance with an aim to table the Amendment Bill in the 2012-13 session of the Legislative Council. Taking account for the lead time for completing the legislative process and other necessary preparatory work, including formulation of modelling guidelines and compilation of emissions inventories, it is expected that the proposed new AQOs would take effect in 2014.'

So the government says new revised AQOs require new legislation which has to be put to the Legislative Council. However, a look at the Air Pollution Control Ordinance which deals with AQOs clearly shows that it is completely unnecessary to go to Legco to revise AQOs.

Chapter 311 of the Air Pollution Control Ordinance, Section 7 - Secretary to establish quality objectives - says: 'Any air quality objective may be amended from time to time by the Secretary, after consultation with the Advisory Council on the Environment.'

This is clearly another attempt by the administration to pull the wool over the eyes of the community and to delay the process for yet another two years. The saga of the AQOs started in 2007 when consultants were hired to determine appropriate levels for Hong Kong (Arup was paid US$6 million for an entirely unnecessary exercise which had already been done by the World Health Organisation).

This, together with various internal discussions dragged the process out until 2009 when Public Consultation started. In June 2010 the government declared the public views were too divergent to see a clear way forward and there was silence on the matter until last week.

For this bureaucratic achievement, Edward Yau was last year awarded the Golden Bauhinia, which is supposed to be for eminent persons who have given very distinguished services to the community or who have rendered public or voluntary services of a very high degree of merit.

Plucky name for a website

Never let it be said that Joanne Ooi, the mercurial former head of the Hong Kong NGO, Clean Air Network, doesn't have a sense of humour. Together with Jai Waney she has set up an online jewellery website called Plukka. The name, the website explains, is derived from combining two words used in English: 'pukka' ( genuine, reliable or good; proper) and 'pluck' (courage, or resolution).

However, she also has a blog called MotherPlukka (which she doesn't explain - not that it needs to be explained). It's the diary of her experience as a start-up CEO and is very amusing. 'Monday in HK is like 10 Mondays in NYC - This post may offend some readers. But the honest to God's truth is: NYC seems to move at a snail's pace compared to HK! And it drives me crazy. Why do I have to have three 'get to know you' meetings before doing business in N. America when, in Greater China, businesspeople never get together in the first place unless they already intend to move forward on something. I hate to say this but no wonder America's going down the damn tubes! (I'm a major fan of Tom Friedman when it comes to the question of America's lassitude, backwardness, protectionism and congressional boondoggling.)'

And intriguingly: 'Dinner is a startling juxtaposition to my present life, and includes, without naming names, the chief executive's principal bag carrier and an ex-secretary of health plus other major public health bigwigs and advocates. It sounds like a recipe for hideous boredom, but, far from it, the dinner is congenial and totally fascinating, with the chief bag carrier disavowing his tenure in the government.

He makes it obvious that he is embarrassed, even, to be associated with such a hopeless and irresponsible administration. One of the group is Burmese-Chinese and points out that Burma was ruined within the short span of 15 years, due to the incompetence of the country's first military junta. It makes one wonder about Hong Kong's prospects with its present form of government.' For more, see

Fiery New Year greeting

We had a cheery card from the public relations company Brunswick wishing us a Happy Lunar New Year. It was one of those animated e-cards, showing a sweet little rabbit innocently hopping into the mouth of a dragon, which happily snaps its jaws shut.

It all seems rather menacing.

Is Brunswick trying to tell us something?


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