Hong Kong's air has been ranked the third most polluted in Asia, renewing fears that talented people will stay away because of the poor environment. A locally based private think-tank, the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, published a report on pollution problems in 12 Asian regions yesterday. The SAR was ranked third worst in terms of air quality after India and the mainland. Singapore had the cleanest air of all areas surveyed, the report said. On overall quality of the environment, the SAR scored 7.35 on a scale from 0 to 10, ranking it eighth among the 12 regions. The worst offenders were Indonesia, South Korea, the mainland and India. Singapore also topped the quality of environment league, with the upper end of the table also featuring Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and Thailand. The think-tank warned that if pollution was not tackled swiftly it would hinder economic development because the polluted environment would deter skilled people from moving here. It said poor air and water quality on the mainland might further hamper efforts to attract foreign investment to Hong Kong. 'The very poor state of air and water quality . . . is making it difficult for foreign companies to sell a China posting to their Western expatriate staff, particularly families with young children,' the survey said. The think-tank further warned that cross-border pollution problems might lead to political conflict and that governments should negotiate with each other to solve the problem. Eden Woon Yi-teng, director of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, said time was running out for Hong Kong to deal with air pollution. The anti-pollution measures proposed by the Government should be implemented as quickly as possible, he said. 'We have said before, as has the Asian Development Bank, that a clean environment is very important to attract investment and talent to the SAR,' Dr Woon said. He said the chamber fully supported the Government's anti-pollution measures proposed two weeks ago. Christine Loh Kung-wai, who chairs the Citizens Party, said it was 'awesome' that the SAR was the third-worst air polluter in Asia. She urged the private sector, including the transport industry, to do more to help relieve air pollution. A report by the Asian Development Bank released in April said Hong Kong needed to improve its environment if it wanted to become a leading hi-tech hub. It was also disclosed in April that a business conference due to be held in the SAR by a European organisation had been cancelled because of the SAR's poor air quality. The Government has proposed a number of measures to reduce pollution, including pushing through a programme to increase use of liquefied petroleum gas vehicles and an increase in fines for smoky vehicles.