Donald Tsang bloody big bridges and plastic bag levy

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    Yesterday, HK Chief Executive (not prime minister, not president) gave policy address.

    Not a surprise: pushing mega projects with concrete, and some waffle on the environment.

    From AFP:

    Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang insisted on Wednesday that economic development would remain the city’s top priority in an annual address that skirted the thorny issues of pollution and democracy.

    In his first policy address since winning re-election in March, the chief executive said improving the city’s environment or maintaining its heritage — another campaign popular among activists — had to take a back seat.

    “I will insist on promoting economic development as our primary goal,” he told legislators.

    He promised to reduce energy intensity — energy consumed per unit of gross domestic product — by 25 percent by 2030 and submit to a government carbon audit to “set an example” to the business community.

    A levy on plastic bags will also be introduced alongside measures to reduce sulphur emissions.

    A string of major infrastructure projects would form the backbone to future growth, including a road bridge between Hong Kong, Macau and the Chinese city of Zhuhai, Tsang said.

    The ten projects, which also include new underground and train lines, are expected to boost the economy by more than 100 billion Hong Kong dollars a year when finished and create 250,000 jobs.

    Hong Kong leader says growth comes first
    The planned new rail line to southern HK Island could be good if reduces road traffic.
    But some of the bridges? – esp HK-Macau-Zhuhai, which surely will be (if everyone involved can actually agree to build it) another source of pollution from container trucks etc, as well as spurring more pollution creating developments in Zhuhai, whilst maybe draining our coffers.

    Maybe Donald in his devotion to development – which to him, means concrete, concrete, concrete – has omitted to read guff like Jake van der Kamp’s column in SCM Post: where vdK has long suggested the idea of infrastructure in itself as means of boosting economy is wrong-headed, and suggested extreme form, building tunnel to Antarctica.

    Heard some discussion of env issues arising from Donald’s plans on radio this morn: a couple of guys from fancy sounding councils spoke little but hot air and jargon. Woeful woolly-headedness like this isn’t great; maybe helped lead to some of our existing Big Silly Projects, such as Cyberport, the HK-Shenzhen (Shekou) bridge, and the bridge being built from Stonecutters to Tsing Yi.


    There wasn't much fuss when the Stonecutters Bridge was announced, even though it was to be a major project. Not much re justification for the bridge; the only argument I can recall in its supposed favour was that it would cut travel time from Sha Tin to the airport by 15 mins (wow!).

    Looks to me a huge waste, built chiefly to please construction industry that's been clamouring for things to do (maybe the'd be up for the tunnel to Antarctica Jake van der Kamp sometimes moots in the SCM Post: no use save for the supposed economic boost thro simply building the thing). From Highways Dept website:

    Stonecutters Bridge is a 1.6 km long dual 3-lane high level cable stayed bridge, with a clear span of 1018 metres. … The Stonecutters Bridge when completed will be one of the longest span cable-stayed bridges in the world.

    Here's a recent shot of southern end of the partly built bridge, rather obscured by smog – which the bridge traffic will contribute to, esp as it's for road not rail. [img][/img]


    After a judicial review has set back the Hong Kong – Macau – Zhuhai Bridge project, Donald Tsang has responded in a manner showing disrespect for the rule of law, scorn for the environment, and lack of concern for public health.

    From HK Standard:

    "I am aware of some opinions from the community that some political party politicians are using legal action and other means to disrupt major infrastructure just before kickoff in the name of environmental protection and conservation," Tsang said.

    He said later it is difficult to quantify losses arising from the delay in construction of the bridge but the government could lose as much as HK$2 billion a year in revenue.

    He also said assessment reports for another 80 projects may have to be redone, causing further delays.

    Party lines drawn as Tsang hits out over bridge blow


    Even with barely any work on HK part of the bridge, costs ballooning. From HK Standard:

    The cost of the 12-kilometer link road to the massive Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge has swelled by 50 percent to HK$25 billion.

    Sources told Sing Tao Daily, sister newspaper of The Standard, that if the project is delayed further, the costs will increase even more.

    The government also confirmed it will re-tender a 3km stretch, which will include constructing ground sections and tunnels, after tenders it received were too high.

    The source said bidding prices will be lowered but did not say by how much or the date of the re- tendering exercise.

    The HK$83 billion bridge across the Pearl River Delta is being built jointly by Zhuhai, Macau and Hong Kong.

    The Hong Kong section will cost at least HK$48.5 billion and includes a 12km link road to the main bridge at the edge of Hong Kong's territorial waters. The original estimate was HK$16.2 billion.




    Not only has Donald Tsang shown disrespect for the law, he has shown near zero empathy for regular Hong Kong people – including by failing to make good on his promise to introduce new Air Quality Objectives before end of his term of office, and by hob-nobbing with tycoons and fondness for official trips with lavish hotel rooms. Apology yesterday seems too late, likely insincere; glad his crap time as Chief Executive is coming to an end.

    Article in Chicago Tribune includes:

    Hong Kong's outgoing leader Donald Tsang tearfully apologized on Friday for his part in one of a series of corruption scandals that have embarrassed China, a day after an independent report called for him to be held more accountable.

    Tsang, 67, has found himself in hot water at the twilight of his career over a series of cases that have undermined his credibility and led to a probe by the city's anti-corruption watchdog, the ICAC.

    "Because of my personal mishandling of matters, in shaking public confidence in Hong Kong's (civil service) to be incorrupt and honest in performing one's duties, and in causing disappointment towards civil servants, I once again wholeheartedly apologies to everyone," Tsang told reporters.

    He then bowed his head for a few seconds, pursed his quivering lips and fought back tears, before leaving.

    Public resentment toward Tsang has centered on reports of lavish spending on overseas duty visits, along with taking trips with tycoons by private jet and luxury yacht, accepting a sweetheart rental deal for a 6500-square-foot penthouse in southern China, and staying in a high-roller suite at the Venetian casino resort in Macau.

    Under current laws in Hong Kong, the chief executive is the only public official exempted from accepting advantages in office, meaning that in effect the leader is not subject to any checks and balances.

    An independent committee, however, led by a respected former chief justice in Hong Kong, released a report on Thursday calling for tighter laws to redress the "fundamental defect" in legislation.

    Hong Kong leader apologizes as pressure builds over scandals


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