LAI SEE
Lai See
by

SFC and Department of Justice like a divorced couple

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 January, 2014, 5:01am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 January, 2014, 5:01am

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