Lai See

New Territories group to visit waste management systems

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 September, 2013, 3:00am

Hong Kong's waste and what to do about it has become a contentious topic. The concern and confusion surrounding it has prompted the New Territories Concern Group to take up the issue. The group is chaired by Ronnie Tang who is also a village representative and the founding chairman of the Pat Heung North Environment Attention Group. The group also includes Junius Ho, who in addition to being a former president of the Hong Kong Law Society, also has the distinction of having deposed Heung Yee Kuk chairman, Lau Wong-fat, as chairman of the Tuen Mun Rural Committee.

The group is sending a delegation to Europe primarily to form a bridge between the overseas Chinese and Hong Kong people, but it will take the opportunity to better understand different waste management systems by visiting incinerators, gasification plants and plasma plants. On its return it will write a report. The group says in a statement that it hopes the report "will convince the government to seriously consider other waste management systems such as gas plasma technology instead of 'sweeping it under the carpet' and putting forward unsound arguments such as gas plasma is still in its infancy".


Storm in a Qing dynasty teacup

After leading Labor to a crushing defeat over the weekend many of his colleagues think that their leader, the Sinophile, Putonghua speaker and former diplomat, Kevin Rudd, should quit parliament. Rudd resigned as the party's leader after his party's ignominious defeat but his colleagues feel that he is such a disruptive, polarising figure that they believe the Labor Party would be better off with him out of parliament. There has been no shortage of advice as to what he might do.

However, one suggestion could have reverberations in the mainland. Former minister Laurie Ferguson said: "I think he should find a pressing need to do some research on Nauruan politics since the 1990s or Qing dynasty porcelain or something like that, quite frankly." This possibility may well please his critics. But we can't help feeling that the prospect of dealing with Rudd's overpowering intellect and insatiable appetite for power may be viewed with some trepidation by the curators of Qing dynasty porcelain in the musty halls of the Palace Museum in Beijing.


Deus ex machina

In the wake of the financial crisis, asset managers appear to have done rather better than investment bankers and stockbrokers, at least so far as job security is concerned.

However, a recent report by Standard Life may give them pause for thought. An article by Frances Hudson, global thematic strategist, for Standard Life in the firm's investment magazine Global Horizons, suggests that long-term strategy management could be replaced by machines. "Using artificial intelligence applications have enhanced our understanding and analysis of financial market behaviour, adding to the range of predictive tools," Hudson wrote. Humans and machines bring different strengths to the table, Hudson argues.

"Humans score more highly on innovation, interpretation, adaptation and judgment while machines are consistent, quick, tireless, agnostic and able to cope with complexity." However, at the same time, man's decisions are clouded by "fear and greed, intellectual constraint and fatigue". Machines, however, are "agnostic, tireless" and have "no bias" in decision making. She argues that, "long-term investors can benefit from computers' consistent application of collective intelligence to financial markets".

Standard Life's conclusion is that, "sound analysis of the complex relationships that characterise markets can complement traditional methods and judgment in stock selection, asset allocation and risk management".


Reading the tea leaves

The website Tea Leaf Nation has been acquired by the FP group which owns Foreign Policy, and is in turn owned by the Washington Post Company. Tea Leaf, which was started in 2011, has become an important source for China experts ranging from journalists, diplomats and academics. "The purchase of TLN is part of FP's commitment to bring enhanced Asia news content and coverage to its readers in the US and across the globe," the group said in a statement.