Hong Kong pollution ok w Donald Tsang?

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    First, seemed Disney pollution was okay from Donald; but later (see below), pollution across HK seems trivial to him. email circular from Christine Loh:

    Chief Executive Donald Tsang (DT) spoke at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club today and took questions. He said the government found only 5% of international stories this year about Hong Kong were considered ‘negative’. These must have included several high profile stories on our deteriorating air quality. A. Q/A on air quality … 1. Question: "Are you aware that Disney will not be using the best technology for lowest noise and air pollution for their nightly fireworks? Hong Kong, the Government as a key investor in the project, should you not exercise your leadership to make sure that we operate Disney at the highest environmental standards?" [Q by yours truly] 2. DT’s Answer: "We have already done what we can in the sense that the technology being used, as I understand it, would comply with the Hong Kong legislation or the environmental rules that we have established for protecting the environment of Hong Kong. They have complied with it and they have passed the test and I am satisfied with those tests." B. Logic of complaint … 1. Relevant facts: Hong Kong government (HKG) is the major shareholder in the Disney theme park. HKG used taxpayers’ money to lend to Disney for their equity injection. Promises were made that operations would be at international standards and Hong Kong people would be proud. 2. Local complaints: Discovery Bay residents are complaining about noise level and air pollution from the fireworks. Green groups say the nightly fireworks will contribute to ambient air pollution which is already very bad. 3. Save a few dollars?: Disney is not using the technology it uses in California because its spokesperson said what it will use here already meets local requirements. Hong Kong’s air quality objectives are much less stringent than California’s standards. 4. DT’s satisfaction: DT is satisfied. C. Leading means being in front … 1. Aim high: HKG negotiated with Disney on many aspects of the arrangement. It could have made sure as equity partner the park would adopt best environmental practices, even better than local standards require because it could be a best practice showcase. HKG likely didn’t think about aiming high. 2. Win win: It is surprising Disney did not opt for the best technology so that public complaints could have been avoided altogether. 3. Nightly reminder?: The price may be that every night, we will be reminded that Hong Kong could have done better but Disney wanted to save some money and HKG forgot to safeguard the people’s best interest when the people lent Disney the money in the first place. CHRISTINE LOH Civic Exchange – HK’s independent think tank http://www.civic-exchange.org

      No surprises there!
      I recently came across this description of HK while surfing the web .

      Pollution is probably the worst facet of life in Hong Kong. Kowloon and the north side of Hong Kong island have very polluted air, so much that the west side of Kowloon is sometimes referred to as the “corridor of death”.

      Perhaps Donald Duck could use this to encourage visitors to HK.
      “Hong Kong-The Best of both worlds”………The Harbour of Life and The Corridor of Death all in one place.



      At meeting re pollution on Monday, Donald Tsang gave a speech indicating he doesn't see Hong Kong air pollution is an issue.

      Tsang pointed out that investment was continuing to pour into the city and said it had one of the world’s highest life expectancies. The Hong Kong chief executive told an audience at an environmental forum that Hong Kong’s air quality was “not pristine pure as in some Scandinavian cities or in the North and South Poles.”

      But he added: “We have to keep the problem in perspective. Interms of the quantity of air pollutants, Hong Kong ranks as neitherthe top nor the bottom of the world table. “Rather, we are at a level comparable with such cities as Tokyo,Seoul, Barcelona and Los Angeles.”

      “In the final analysis, the health of the people is measured by how long they live, and this is where it counts,” Tsang insisted. “The life expectancy in Hong Kong is among the highest in the world.”

      hmm… his comments didn't stem from science

      His remarks were fiercely criticized in yesterday’s newspapers by environmentalists and health experts, including the University of Hong Kong’s Anthony Hedley, who described the speech as “naive, misleading and fallacious”. Hedley, who led a survey that estimated four people a day die in Hong Kong because of pollution-related issues, was quoted in the Hong Kong Standard as saying Tsang was “badly advised on current public health issues”. … Hedley said pollution affects the lungs, blood vessels and heart while high life expectancy was determined by factors such as employment, income and a high gross domestic product. Wong Tze-wai of the Chinese University in Hong Kong said Tsang’s speech showed he “doesn’t even know how average life expectancy is calculated.”

      HK leader’s clean air claims blasted


      Another email circular from Christine Loh:

      Medical students protested yesterday about Hong Kong’s bad air. They demanded tightening of Hong Kong’s lax air quality objectives in order to protect public health.

      Since May 2006, Chief Executive Donald Tsang (DT) has made a series of comments about Hong Kong’s air quality that have raised doubts about his competence as a political leader. He got facts wrong, he was incoherent when not scripted, he taunted experts, he astonished people, he single-handedly generated considerable negative media attention, and he has made the HKSAR Government appear stupid.

      Who dares tell Donald Tsang he is wrong? Is his hearing ability affected by the Emperor syndrome?

      A. Background of arguments
      The key issues are:
      (a) Hong Kong’s air quality in absolute and comparative terms.
      (b) Hong Kong’s air quality objectives and their sufficiency to protect public health.

      B. String of major gaffes
      1. HK Journal (May 2006):
      (a) “In fact the air is not all that bad … The air quality today is not inferior to Washington DC … By Asian standards, we are not bad at all. We are better than Seoul, better than any of the mainland [China] cities. I am better than Taipei, I’m slightly behind Singapore. I’m behind Tokyo”.
      (b) Re the WHO guidelines, “I am sure we are going to meet whatever standard they put up”.
      2. RTHK Interview (13 October 2006)
      “It is a question of visibility. Is the air right, not so so the road side air quality but what we see into the air that is a small particle, that is small particulates which is coming from the mainland that may not effect us or the thing we breath but it effects our feeling that the air is not as good as before”.
      3. Business for Clean Air Joint Conference (27 November 2006)
      (a) “We are at a level comparable with such cities as Tokyo, Seoul, Barcelona and Los Angeles … We know that air quality in Hong Kong is not pristine pure as in some Scandinavian cities or in the North and South Poles”.
      (b) ”In the final analysis, the health of the people is measured by how long they live, and this is where it counts. The life expectancy in Hong Kong is among the highest in the world … At the end of the day, looking at what we have achieved for the health of our people, you can come to only one conclusion – we have the most environmentally friendly place for people, for executives, for Hong Kong people, to live”.

      C. Expert and public riposte
      (a) Comparisons 2005
      Hong Kong – NO2: 0.061 SO2: 0.022 PM10: 0.059
      Tokyo – NO2: 0.047 SO2: 0.005 PM10: 0.029
      Seoul – NO2: 0.064 SO2: 0.013 PM10: 0.058
      Los Angeles – NO2: 0.047 SO2: 0.005 PM10: 0.032
      (b) Hong Kong’s AQOs
      (a) The AQOs are outdated and very lax when compared to standards in developed economies, and are a long way from the WHO’s global air quality guidelines.
      (b) The AQOs have become a licence to pollute rather than serving to protect public health. Moreover, Hong Kong is not meeting all of the AQOs in any event.
      (c) Air quality is better in Hong Kong than many mainland cities but that is not saying much considering public health implications.
      (c) Basic public health misunderstanding [Professor Anthony Hedley]
      “As a public health physician I am totally dismayed to hear such a naïve, misleading and fallacious statement from our Chief Executive. It is clear that [he] has been very badly advised on our current population health issues. It appears to show a serious misunderstanding of the complex determinants of health and survival …Overall population high life expectancy is driven by employment, and income and reflected in high GDP per capita, whereas poverty would have a negative effect. Whereas air pollution would be unlikely to reverse our overall life expectancy it would certainly slow the progression of gains in longevity. For a reversal of life expectancy trends there would have to be a complete breakdown of social structures, or war, famine and widespread fatal infectious disease; examples would include the turmoil and massive increase in alcohol consumption which followed the breakup of the Soviet Union, or the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa. Our high life expectancy in Hong Kong is also attributable to very low infant mortality rate; high quality maternal and child health services; and the healthy migrant …The Chief Executive should not confuse contemporary effects with cohort effects”.

      D. Problem of being ‘Emperor’
      1. Emperor syndrome: Few within the system dare to tell the boss he is wrong. The system also protects the Emperor from hearing unpleasant things from those outside the system.
      2. Emperor complex: The Emperor seldom hears direct criticisms, favours those who support his thinking, thinks he is right, and concludes those outside the system who raise criticism are his enemies.
      3. Emperor defense mechanism: The Emperor does not want to accept and therefore rejects by insisting something is not true despite overwhelming evidence. The Emperor may deny the reality of the unhappy fact altogether, admit the fact but minimize its seriousness, or admit both the fact and seriousness but deny responsibility.
      4. State of Hong Kong air quality: DT denial-defensive mechanism is in full throttle. He does not deny air quality is bad but he minimises its seriousness by claiming it is not too bad. He also shifts responsibility onto (a) the public for wasting energy; and (b) businesses across the border for not doing more to reduce pollution. While both are true, he is not yet applying himself to resolving the problem i.e. to fully accept responsibility that the government can do much more.

      Civic Exchange – HK’s Independent Think Tank


      A review of Hong Kong in 2006 by Deutsche Presse-Agentur (appearing on Monsters and Critics) focuses on Donald Tsang and problems with air pollution in Hong Kong.

      with seven months to go before he claims the prize of leading the former British colony until 2012, the image of the bow-tied former civil servant who took over as Hong Kong leader in 2005 has been threatened by a row over pollution.

      Tsang’s ‘crisis, what crisis?’ speech came just days after Merrill Lynch downgraded two Hong Kong property companies because of the city’s air quality and after the head of the stock exchange warned pollution is driving investment overseas.

      Suddenly, the 61-year-old Hong Kong leader, chosen by China to succeed the deeply unpopular Tung Chee-hwa largely because of his easygoing charm and public appeal, found himself facing an unprecedented backlash.

      Business leader and government ally Allan Zeman reacted by asking which city Tsang had been living in. Anthony Hedley, an academic behind extensive research on the effects of pollution, called Tsang’s speech ‘naïve, misleading and fallacious.’

      Liberal Party leader James Tien, a key supporter of most of the chief executive’s policies, said he was ‘gravely concerned’ over air quality but felt Tsang was not taking the problem seriously enough.

      ‘It is all very well for Mr Tsang to quote statistics on life expectancy in our prosperous, well-fed city but as we all know, it is only in the past 10 years that pollution levels have climbed to such alarming levels,’ Mr Tien said.

      ‘Can he really be confident that, if pollution continues to worsen, he will be able to promise the same life expectancy for our children and for our grandchildren?’

      Ominously for Tsang, leadership challenger Alan Leong has called for new World Health Authority standards on air quality monitoring to be adopted while the chief executive has so far stayed silent on the matter.

      2006 Review: Hong Kong leader’s re-election overshadowed by pollution

      Post edited by: Martin, at: 2007/02/01 10:01

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