• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 12:17pm
Lai See
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 January, 2014, 5:01am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 January, 2014, 5:01am

SFC and Department of Justice like a divorced couple


Howard Winn has been with the South China Morning Post for two and half years after previous stints as business editor and deputy editor of The Standard, and business editor of Asia Times. His writing has also been published in the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune. He writes the Lai See column which focuses on the lighter side of business.

We all know that relations between the prosecutions division of the Department of Justice and the Securities and Futures Commission were, shall we say, somewhat strained during the latter stages of Kevin Zervos' sojourn as director of public prosecutions.

The SFC, it will be recalled, late last year accused the justice department of failing to prosecute "serious and complex" cases in the higher courts, where tougher sentences can be imposed. Zervos, who has since become a high court judge, then hit back, saying none of the cases concerned had justified a trial in the higher courts.

The matter was raised again recently at the SFC's regulatory forum. David Webb, a shareholder activist and editor of webb-site.com was on a panel that included the current DPP, Keith Yeung Kar-hung, and was moderated by the SFC's head of enforcement, Mark Steward. Webb asked how things stood now between the prosecutions division and the SFC. The consensus was that relations had improved significantly.

Quizzed by the press afterwards, the silver-tongued Webb said they could hardly be worse than before. "They're like a divorced couple. They're now back on speaking terms."


The great recycling scam

So the great recycling scam has finally been exposed. For years senior figures at the Environmental Bureau and the Environmental Protection Bureau have been bragging that Hong Kong recycles 50 per cent of its domestically produced waste. Now we discover that this figure includes tons of waste, mainly plastic bottles, that were transshipped for recycling on the mainland.

How ironic then that this scam should only be exposed when the mainland instituted "Operation Green Fence" and early last year stopped accepting dirty waste. Until then, it had imported huge amounts of scrap metal, electronics and plastics from around the world.

Hong Kong's "recycling" rate fell to 39 per cent in 2012 from 48 per cent in 2011. It would be interesting to see last year's figure using the same formula, which we suspect would be another of those "inconvenient truths".

The purpose of all this was to fool Hong Kong people into believing that recycling rates for locally produced waste were 50 per cent. Somebody at EPD must have known that the 50 per cent figure was misleading, or indeed a lie. This is hardly the way we expect people in public office to behave. Or is it?


Shanghai goes for plasma arc

We were interested to see that Alter NRG Corp has successfully commissioned a plant in Shanghai that employs Westinghouse Plasma torch systems to vitrify incinerator ash, a hazardous waste which is expensive to neutralise.

The new facility in Shanghai turns the ash into a benign glass-like slag that can be used in the construction industry.

The Hong Kong government plans to transport the ash from its proposed incinerator at Shek Kwu Chau by barges to ash lagoons in Tsang Tsui near Tuen Mun.

It is unclear what the government plans to do with the waste once the lagoon is filled up. This is one of the reasons why there is so much interest in using plasma gasification rather than an incinerator to deal with Hong Kong's waste problem.


Singapore scoot

Singapore budget airline Scoot has been quick off the mark to exploit the case of Anton Casey to promote its flights to Perth.

Casey, it will be recalled, caused a furore after lamenting about mixing with "poor people" on the MRT and needing "to wash the stench of public transport off me". He was subsequently fired and fled with his Singaporean beauty queen wife and five-year-old son to Perth.

"Escape Plan: Fly to Perth Cheap Cheap. Poor or not!" screeched Scoot's lurid yellow and white advertisement offering a 50 per cent discount. It also appeared on its Facebook site along with an accompanying note: "Hmm … we heard that Perth has the destination of choice for an escape. So we decided to work overtime to bring you The Great A.C. Perth Escape Sale. (A.C. for amazingly cheap, of course.)

While some people were amused, others were less so, saying it was insensitive. It had the desired effect in that it attracted 878 "likes" and was shared 755 times, which, these days, is a measure of all things.


Have you got any stories that Lai See should know about? E-mail them to howard.winn@scmp.com


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Gasification - 90% diversion from landfill - under commissioning
1st plasma 1000 tpd plant commissioning this March 2nd Tees side plasma plant agreed - UK Cabinet Office sole client - 3rd plasma plant planning permission sought in Nottingham
600 tpd plant in Guizhou under construction
Europlasma plant in Morcenx France under commissioning
Massburn incinerators defeat recycling efforts & demand a constant supply of feedstock which is why ENB refused to supply same to Green Island kiln for tests
In Europe w/ incinerator overcapacity MSW is a commodity in demand so numerous countries have to import trash to keep their plants operational due to mal-thought ideas of heat + power generation relying on same
Dioxin emissions are highest on shutdown & startup & maintenance cycles
The only people supporting Neolithic incineration w/associated toxic emissions & landfill of toxic ash ad infinitum are those self-interest hangers-on who seek to profit from the outdated tech at the expense of people's health -consider a career change
HKG's abysmal recycling rate/Govt intransigence will kill incinerator/landfill package
Plasma Arc: What's the capacity of the Shanghai plasma "torch"? And by the way, Alter NRG's "co-locating" partner, the Shanghai Environment Group / Chengtou is engaged in a massive building program of 'old fashioned' moving grate incinerators in China - because they know that it is more responsible to build something that works, than chasing a technology that has not been proven to handle MSW at a large scale. Hong Kong does not have the luxury to experiment. HK missed that boat 10 years ago.


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