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  • Oct 31, 2014
  • Updated: 6:46pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 September, 2012, 3:10am

Loh's new post is a breath of fresh air

The row over national education has sounded a red alert for the chief executive. His administration is unlikely from now on to push though any major policy opposed by a substantial or at least an overly vocal segment of society.

This means forget about tackling contentious issues like the small house policy in the New Territories or forcing Catholic and Anglican schools to open up their governing boards to parents and community leaders. That is just as well. We have had a century and a half of Christian brainwashing; a few more years won't hurt, as long as we keep communist propaganda at bay.

The trick now, for the government, is to be alert as early as possible to any potential policy controversy, and make a U-turn quickly without making it look too obvious. As a reader puts it, Leung Chun-ying should stick to jobs, clean air, social welfare, housing and medical services - pressing issues one and all. That seems to be what Leung plans on doing; and no one will seriously object.

Stanley Wong Yuen-fai, the new chairman of the Housing Authority's subsidised housing committee, has announced he wants to increase the supply of public rental units and home-ownership scheme flats well beyond the targets originally proposed. He is no doubt right that those most in need of housing should be taken care of before focusing on the needs of middle-class households.

Meanwhile, Leung's appointment of Christine Loh Kung-wai as undersecretary for the environment - long rumoured but never confirmed until yesterday - is good news. Loh has long been an outspoken critic of the government's policies on the environment, harbour reclamation and urban planning. Another concern is waste management.

As the late US president Lyndon Johnson famously said, "It's probably better to have [a critic] inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in." But that may be too cynical an interpretation.

True, Loh will still be under the thumb of environment secretary Wong Kam-sing, a well-known architect who is untested as an environmentalist. But if the pair can develop a rapport and help improve the city's noxious and deadly air pollution, it would be a major achievement.


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KS Wong is NOT a radical environmentalist. I have no doubt on his knowledge on green issues. I have observed him for a few years, from his days at a prominent architectural firm to his time at chair of Professional Green Building Council (now, replaced by HKGBC). His position, and support, of the details of BEAM Plus, during its transition from BEAM, is most probably the best indicator of his environmentalist credential. Despite, all the propaganda on BEAM Plus, and its assessment on low carbon design, it is still a tool for “green washing”. One only merely look at the glass-cladded air-conditioned commercial buildings that has obtained BEAM / BEAM Plus awards over the years, and one can easily conclude BEAM is green washing. I have on numerous occasions advocated that only carbon neutral buildings be given awards; whilst, others can only be given recognition for making efforts to minimize their GHG emissions. KS Wong’s attitude was one of compromising as much as possible to accommodate developers’ interests, insofar as they are reluctant to invest in quality expensive truly low energy green buildings. I am afraid it is this quality n him that CY Leung sees. And, of course, the same developers who pressured KS Wong successfully before are also eager to have a person they can influence in Government. Notwithstanding all that I have said, I still hope KS Wong and Christine Loh can rise to the occasion and truly PROTECT our environment.
Finally a step in the right direction - an advocate instead of another career civil servant.
EB has the best talent for its JOB........one can only wish the same can be said with other Departments, especially them AOs who has no idea of its Department's objectives and internal staff's aspirations (some civil servants actually want to serve!!)
Christine Loh and Wong Kam-Sing should be the dream team for the environment and I wish them the best. I hope this is the start of CY bringing in capable people vs the same self-serving and overpaid bureaucrats Tsang and Tung appointed.


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