Lai See

Something is 'rotten' in the Prosecutions Department

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 December, 2012, 3:10am

We gather there has been some amusement in prosecution circles over the claim by outgoing Director of Public Prosecutions Kevin Zervos, in his recent annual review, that the prosecutors who have departed over the past year "were at or near retirement age".

The response from some observers has been: "Who's he trying to kid?"

Robert Lee Shiu-keung SC, who resigned as Zervos's Deputy DPP last year, shortly after his appointment, was at least five years short of the civil service retirement age of 60, and Louisa Lai Nga-man, who resigned as Zervos's Deputy DPP in August, again only months after her appointment, is not yet 50.

As the first lady Deputy DPP, her departure was apparently felt to be a particular loss to the Prosecutions Department. Last week, Lai's successor, Alex Lee Wan-tang - the acting Deputy DPP and head of the Commercial Crime Unit - also quit.

One cannot escape the conclusion that "something is rotten in the state of Denmark". But there is more. The Senior Public Prosecutors are the non-directorate counsel who would normally step up to fill the directorate vacancies, as and when they arise.

However, talented people at this rank are likewise bailing out, which spells real trouble for the PD in succession terms. In the past three months, four SPPs have resigned: Kathie Cheung Kit-yee, Lily Wong Sze-lai, June Cheung Tin-ngan, and, only last week Olivia Tsang Oi-kei.

These prosecutors are all in their late thirties and early forties, and their departures greatly reduce the pool of rising prosecutors available to fill the higher ranks, which is alarming. Some of the departing prosecutors are going to the Bar, while others are taking up judicial appointments, apparently concluding that things will be better for them in the judiciary than in the PD.

Other prosecutors are also known to have tried to leave PD by securing berths in the judiciary, but their applications have yet to succeed. Perhaps something needs to be done to stop the rot?


By no means dead

The Shek Kwu Chau incinerator may have been shelved, but the Environmental Protection Department is still promoting it. A meeting last week at the Business Environment Council featured Albert Lam Kai-chung from the EPD and Mark Venhoek, CEO of Swire Sita Waste Services, Hong Kong's foremost waste services company and operator of the two government landfills. The pair of them defended the current status quo and dismissed concerns about the incinerator as NIMBYism.

Sita's presentation showed a picture of the Shek Kwu Chau incinerator with the word NIMBY written above it, with no attempt to explain the real reasons for opposition.

People are concerned by the string of reports from around the world of health concerns from people that live downwind of incinerators. In addition, there are numerous cases of incinerators being closed down because of their persistent inability to meet environmental standards.

Interestingly, New York recently put out a tender for a scheme to deal with its municipal waste, which specifically excluded traditional incineration methods. However, the EPD appears oblivious to these concerns.


Tsang's catwalk debut

Something called The World's Greatest Catwalk 2012 is to be presented by the Hong Kong Fashion Designers Association and the Danish Fashion Institute on December 9.

If that doesn't have you tingling with excitement then note that these organisations have arranged 300 models in an effort to stage the World's Longest Catwalk. The plan is for a runway of approximately three kilometres long in striking pink to be laid across the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade in Hong Kong. The runway, running from the Hong Kong Museum of Art through to the Avenue of Stars and on to Hong Chong Road of East Tsim Sha Tsui, will span more than 1.6km, resulting in quite a walk back and forth.

The event is deemed to be of such huge importance - the organisers refer to it as a "prestigious event" - that a number of government officials will be in attendance, led by our illustrious Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah.

One wonders how much time he actually spends working on Hong Kong's finances.


Have you got any stories that Lai See should know about? E-mail them to