Pointless and unenforceable law not to be enforced owing to being pointless

If the air seems significantly cleaner and healthier today, it’s because the new law against idling engines has come into effect, and the amount of pollution clogging up our streets and lungs has plummeted. Except, of course, it doesn’t.

The law was a cop-out from the start. The way to clean the air is to pretty much ban all cars and trucks from the urban areas from 8am to 8pm so Central, Causeway Bay, TST etc are 90% pedestrianized during daytime. But this is Hong Kong, a constitutional dictatorship where nothing can happen without a near-total consensus. The government came up with an elaborate bit of legislation carefully crafted to make virtually no noticeable difference – and then allowed it to be watered down until it ended up like a homeopathic medicine, with no measureable number of molecules of the original active ingredient remaining.

Originally, the plan was to require all parked vehicles to switch their engines off. It wouldn’t have had any effect because no-one would either obey or enforce the law. Drivers would keep their air-conditioning switched on, and our educationally subnormal traffic wardens would drift unseen in their own little parallel universe, with their eyes closed and mouths agape, as ever.

Still, vested interests had to object on principle. School busses with precious little kiddies in them were exempted. People parking for less than three minutes were exempted. Over-65s were exempted. Taxi drivers with a note from their doctor were exempted. People with family names starting from A to G and M to T were exempted on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. And so on, up to the point where only eight drivers are actually subject to the law.

On a brighter note, the Hang Seng Index will hit 25,000 next year, according to a headline in the South China Morning Post. This could solve the quandary faced by many small investors at the moment. Do you get out of the market on the grounds that the next couple of years could be a re-run of the early 1930s, even though valuations look low? Or do you stay fully invested and ride out the next couple of years because valuations are so low? Most people are half-in, half-out. The Euro might implode and China’s debt-driven, investment-in-tofu-projects orgy might end in collapse. Or, on the other hand, they might not. The SCMP forecast comes from China Construction Bank. For all I know, they might be very wonderful and perceptive people. But then again, on the other hand, they might not.

At least we can be sure of one thing: legislator and former Security Secretary Regina Ip will not be taking part in the coming make-believe election for Chief Executive. Approximately 6,999,999 people knew this already, of course, but yesterday she drew the same conclusion and finally added herself to their number. On the radio this morning she lamented that she wouldn’t have had anything like enough support from the tycoons and sycophants in a position to nominate her. But in 2017, she said, they might think otherwise because, knowing that we would all be voting in the subsequent election, they would want to nominate someone we would all like. Something like that. It cheered me up, anyway.

I declare the two-day rehearsal for the 24-28 December holiday open.

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16 Responses to Pointless and unenforceable law not to be enforced owing to being pointless

  1. Rules are transitory they only apply at the discretion of the arresting officer or in this case the one writing the ticket.

  2. Walter De Havilland says:

    History will pass a harsh judgement on this regime and all Hong Kong governments for failing to tackle the air pollution issue in a meaningful way. This is a bizarre state of affairs because one dead bird with suspected H1N1, and the entire government emergency apparatus spasms in reaction with massive clean ups, alerts and hospitals at the ready.

    Yet each day our health is being eroded and compromised by some of the worst air on the planet. Future generations can expect more cancers, reduced lung function, asthma, emphysema, bronchitis … the list goes on.

    I suppose with senior government officials conveyed everywhere in limousines and blind to reality we can’t except a genuine clean up. Also, the unspoken truth is that much of it comes from ‘up north’ and, of course, you can’t say that!

  3. Stephen says:


    Whilst it is true that alot of it comes from ‘up north’ the same also comes from polluting factories in the PRD owned by Hong Kong Mini Tycoons. So collectively Hong Kong is largely to blame and our Government’s inaction has been, at the very least, shameful.

  4. Probably says:

    How did people survive vehicular journeys before the invention of air conditioning? And still today how do the passengers survive the ordeal of a HK tram ride in our sub-tropical conditions? I’m surprised that without the benefit of air conditioing they are not shovelling off the corpses at the tram terminus in Happy Valley!

    My car however is fitted with a very special invention to help me survive the oppressive ambient temperatures I would otherwise suffer when parked at the roadside with the engine turned off – it is called a window and opens at the flick of a switch.

  5. Probably says:

    Whilst agreeing that we should prosecute owners of heavily polluting vehicles it is worth pointing out that whilst vehicle traffic (and buses in particular) are blamed for HK pollution they haven’t all suddenly dissappeared from the roads on a “low” pollution level day!

  6. FB3 says:

    There could be a very simple solution to this .
    Withdraw the overseas education allowance for Civil servants so they have to bring up their kids in Hong Kongs filthy air.
    I think we’d see some said action to clear the pollution and maybe get the schools sorted out too.

  7. Real Tax Payer says:

    FB3 : you have hit the nail on the head !

    Great point

    BTW: if CCB is predicting the HSI will hit 25,000 by … whenever … you can bet your bottom dollar that’s the last thing that will ever happen. Sincw when as ANY HSI prediction been correct?

  8. maugrim says:

    As I said previously, HK shits me to tears when its the wealthy and those who ‘waah’ loud enough who escape any kind of regulations

  9. @maugrim: But isn’t that just a systemic issue the world over and not just in little Hong Kong?

  10. maugrim says:

    Jonathan. I’m hardly a socialist, but its far more blatant here. Who could possibly condone the practice whereby an 8 seater Alphard waits, whilst parked illegally, so it can pick up a solitary tai-tai or ‘master’ with a shopping bag/brief case? Sod anyone else. The Heung Yee Kuk burn an effigy of a Government official, nada, Leung Kwok-hung asks a question in Legco or erects a banner held aloft by balloons, bang.

  11. Revolution says:

    A couple of weeks ago I came down the escalator at IFC at about 7pm to be greeted by a strange sight – free flowing traffic and an empty drop off area. Why had the triple parked Alphards fled?

    The answer became apparent when I reached the bottom. There was a policeman quietly standing next to the drop off zone.

    This genius idea should be extended – put a cop outside Prince’s Building and on Pedder Street. Traffic flow will magically improve instantly.

  12. Probably says:

    It’s not about the laws (suffient exist) it’s about the policing of the laws. So who is directing the Police actions (rhetorical)?

    I know we are not a democracy but (one of) the definitions of such is a clear distinction between the powers of the legislature and the judiciary. The more that this is obviously not the case then the deeper Hong Kong will fall in the eyes of the world.

  13. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ Revolution

    Yes ! Also a policeman outside the Fook Lam Moon in Johnston Road ( or should that be spelt ” Fuk the Law” ? )

    I swear that I’m going to park my crummy Honda outside the Fuk the Law all one mid morning day and then just watch and see ( and take photos) to see what happens when the tycoons move in for their lunchtime pig trough ……. and I will park it sort of half a space out from the kerb just to make it even more inconvenient

  14. Reductio says:

    While we’re on the topic of pollution, you might be interested in this at the observatory site:


    I go there on a daily basis to watch the pretty red colours floating down from the North.

  15. stefano4459 says:

    This law has always been a smokescreen for Edward (Bow-yow) Yau (that’s Professor Yau to all you devotees) who has also been pretending to chastise the power companies for their (correctly agreed upon by law) rise in cost, while us poor suckers have gotten so used to the subsidies given by the government in lieu of our $6,000 – (rant, rave! but can’t be bothered as so many people have already done so), we forget that the government actually authorized the profit margins decreed in law to CLP and HK Electric.

    This ultimately brings us back to this smokescreen law, for Eddy can’t and will not go after HK’s biggest two polluters, the aforementioned CLP and HKE, nor the second and third as they also belong to big tycoons, ie KMB and the shipping lines.

    P.S. I do drive and I broke the law yesterday by leaving my engine on for more than 5 minutes while waiting for my missus.

  16. Andrea says:

    oh I cannot believe that I can still visit big lychee here in beijing!

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