After National Education, CY’s next disappearing trick: pollution

The Global Mayhem Index reading hits a suffocating high of 98 today, with hundreds dead in Pakistan factories, extremists killing the US ambassador to Libya and Hong Kong Police warning of men taking photographs up women’s skirts on MTR trains using intriguing-sounding ‘camera watches’. And the hunt for Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping continues.

The Daily Telegraph quotes a named and apparently sort-of authoritative source as saying the next President has had a heart attack. This does sound more probable than the more exotic theories flying around about his disappearance for over 10 days. However, the conspiratorial among us can console ourselves with the time-honoured riposte: Ah, but that’s what they want us to think. I like the idea that Xi is publicly refusing to endorse President Hu Jintao’s ‘scientific development’ theory as the greatest contribution to Sino-Marxism of the last 10 years, as he is planning to change course and usher in wonderful political reforms. (This blog at the finally revamped South China Morning Post website discusses it.) For the serially excitable, there are always comparisons with Lin Biao, the Vice-Premier whose plane mysteriously crashed over Mongolia in 1971.

The greatest intrigue we can conjure up in the Big Lychee is about newly appointed Environment Undersecretary Christine Loh. The insinuation is that the think-tank she founded accepted funds from China Light and Power, therefore, in return, she will let the electricity company off the hook over emissions in due course. This assumes the funding was underhand, when Civic Exchange has a policy of transparency and the Kadoorie family who own CLP are openly keen on green and similar issues, in their own tycoon-like way. It also assumes that Loh, after years of hard research and thankless lobbying, doesn’t really want to make any impact on air pollution and other problems, but just wants a semi-fancy job title so she can feel important.

In truth, she has been fobbed off with an insultingly junior position, probably to appease the many people who have reservations about her. There were mutterings that previous Chief Executive Donald Tsang would have liked to have her in government, but Beijing and/or its allies vetoed the idea. This was probably disingenuous; Donald and other bureaucrat-psychos obsessed with covering Hong Kong with concrete fear and loathe the likes of Loh, not least because she runs rings around them in terms of policy ideas and just plain intellect.

That’s not to say that Beijing and its loyalists like her. Her book on the Communist Party in Hong Kong (reviewed here) wouldn’t be a problem; she thinks it would help everyone if the CCP came out of the closet here. But she was appointed to the Legislative Council by Governor Chris Patten, the ‘sinner’ who defied China before 1997 and allowed us to vote in city-wide democratic functional constituencies, long before anyone had heard of Super-Seats. To reward someone tainted with such symbolically charged pro-democracy connections is insulting to the many patriots who, since the handover, have been left on the sidelines while tycoons and ex-colonial civil servants have been allowed to have control of the city. To them it’s tribal. Fortunately, they seem almost to enjoy being slapped in the face repeatedly, decade after decade, by their beloved party.

Loh became pretty much the only legislator before or since to get her own bill (on harbour protection) into the council and passed into law. Then she quit Legco because she couldn’t get much done. She doesn’t need this joke of a public position, let alone the money, and she knows from experience that vested interests and pestilential bureaucrats will oppose much of what needs to be done to clean the city up. So CY Leung knows full well that she will walk if she can’t change things, and he knows that would be a major humiliation for his administration – and yet he chased and hired her anyway. An approving article in China Daily last June set the tone. We can conclude this is good, if long-overdue, news.

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16 Responses to After National Education, CY’s next disappearing trick: pollution

  1. Bela Lugosi says:

    Tribal…well, nothing more tribal than the Telegraph! It’s the Southern British Tribe. Index-linked, many of them still living in castles and owning estates. Oh yes! And don’t they get upset when other tribes move into the parish.

    And we should all be having a laugh when we consider that the United States has once more done one of those miscalculations it is famous for.

    Thinking that they can impose ‘democracy’ and ‘liberalism’ on er…societies just as tribal and violent and corrupt and non-democratic as their own.

    And what of the CLP tribe, the Kadoories, swanning feudally around Hong Kong island in vintage cars, buying up whole streets because they like the look of them.

    Give me the CCP tribe any day.

  2. Spud says:

    Can I be the only non-local in HK who has not been won over my Ms. Lo? I attended a talk she gave many years ago. This quote from above was the general impression I walked away with that evening, even then.

    “It also assumes that Loh, after years of hard research and thankless lobbying, doesn’t really want to make any impact on air pollution and other problems, but just wants a semi-fancy job title so she can feel important.”

    Anyway the environment here is my number one gripe, so I wish her all the best.

  3. Sir Crispin says:

    I was quite pleased to see Christine get the job, even if it is assumed to be lowly. I am not convinced it is that low. I have met Christine on a number of occasions and I know she is passionate and dedicated to cleaning up the environment. I am hopeful there will be someone at the table now who will really drive real change.

  4. Mary Hinge says:

    Christine. Great gal. But, really, she’s on a fool’s errand here.

    Let’s see, 25 years ago we had:
    – the airport in the central harbour area;
    – CMB buses belching black smoke;
    – HKF ferries belching black smoke;
    – Power stations much more in the central harbour area (such as the now-demolished 5-chimney monster on the south aspect of Tsing Yi, Hok Un station in Hung Hom, and the power stations in North Point);
    – Daya Bay nuclear plant yet to come online, so all power raised by coal;
    – No engine in any older car, taxi or bus meeting or having to meet any international environmental or emission standard whatsoever.

    And yet, despite these things (which have all since improved), we then had very clear air all year round. From mid-levels and Kennedy Town, we could see the sunset over Lantau, every night. The horizon actually existed. Novembers were a dream month to visit, etc.

    Why was it so much better back then? Because Guangdong province was essentially farmland. No factories in numbers anything like there are now. This is the point. Our pollution virtually *all* arises from over the border.

    Why are our summers so much clearer than our winters? Prevailing air currents. So, it’s Guangdong, then. Yes, cleaning our car exhaust fumes would be nice, but we have the same number of HK cars on the road here throughout the year, and yet our summers are so nice and clear.

    It’s just disgustingly filthy over the border. But politics, being as they are in this town, dictate that we are just never allowed to say that it is.

    Good luck Christine.

  5. Vile says:

    Sustainable development means nobody’s ever going to clean up the environment and global warming is probably far worse than predicted, so I’ll be happy if the planet just lasts until my clogs are popped.

  6. Maugrim says:

    Nat Ed isn’t done as an issue any time just yet. I had a chat with a person involved at that level. Apparently, there was a fax set up between the protestors and the Government. The word is the Government agreed that they would drop MNE only to come out with a different statement the day before the election, the suspicion is they crunched the numbers with the DAB and had an idea about how many of HK’s codgery would vote for them the following day, gaining a better idea of what LegCo might look like, realising that they didn’t have to go so dar in backing down. Word was that the students wanted to continue their action but was advised by more exoerienced heads to back off at that point. Apparently, the way the young people behaved is a sign of the times/demographics and isnt going to go away soon. Even better, and this is where Hemmer’s theories come in, what is partly fueling such activism is a sense of hoplessness at low wages and the inability to get ahead in HK, ie, why save for an over priced hutch? It would seem that the MNE protest will continue, possibly re-igniting and that a new, more radicalised, savvy young political group has been created. The Democrats are old hat it would seem by a number of indicators. Interesting all round.

  7. Foxtrotosca says:

    @ Mary Hinge….spot on Sir/Madam

  8. Stephen says:

    @Mary Hinge

    Perhaps the plan is to ensure St Christine is seen to be able to do nothing and thereby rubbishing her high opinion poll ratings and thus reducing her chances of successfully running and winning the CE election in 2017. However I’m sure the Election Committee are going to have some cunning ways to exclude people of her type. This I believe is when it’s really going to kick off in this town.

    Shame she would be rather good.

  9. Real Tax Payer says:

    Some of you, if brought up in the UK, will be familiar with “1066 And All That” ( A Memorable History of England, comprising all the parts you can remember, including 103 Good Things, 5 Bad Kings and 2 Genuine Dates – a tongue-in-cheek reworking of the history of England. Written by W. C. Sellar and R. J. Yeatman )

    Thus King Richard II was a GOOD THING but Richard III was a BAD THING ( definitely )

    ( I can’t remember how Henry VIII’s wives were rated but I guess 5 out of the 6 must have been BAD THINGS – because certainly a lot of bad things happened to them )

    On this basis I think we can safely say that , when 2066 And All That is written:

    1. Patten was a BAD THING as far as BJ was concerned, but maybe not such a BAD THING as far as HK was concerned (after all , he did go out to meet people in his shirt sleeves, ate custard tarts , and taught us to vote , albeit in a silly and short-lived way )

    2. Old King Tung was a merry old soul , but a BAD THING ( as was Art. 23 and his haircut )

    3. Donald Duck was certainly and a VERY BAD THING , unless you like concrete , filthy air and tycoons

    4. Christine Loh is a very GOOD THING

    Full marks to CY for getting her on board, no matter how lowly her title, because as Hemmers and others have already pointed out , if she can’t get things done fast she will walk away.

    Although there’s a lot wrong in the Big Lychee we still have a lot of good things going for us .

    This morning the sun was shining and the air was clear. I could even see Kowloon Peak from Central.

    And when I tried to call Christine Loh at 08.45 to congratulate her she was already deep in a meeting – hopefully emasculating some pathetic EPD trolls who need more than their balls cut off to force them to do something to clean up HK

    And who knows, when the dust settles , all the buses meet EURO 6 standard of emissions ( or are electric) and the the air is clean we may actually see it written in 2066 And All That :

    ” CY was also a GOOD THING”

    I do hope so, because he can’t do any worse than Tang would have done

  10. Old Timer says:

    I’d be “in a meeting”, too, if you called me at 8.45am.

  11. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ Old Timer

    I called at 08.45 cos I knew she would be a meeting by 09.00

    Her PA picked up the call, even though I called her private mobile

    PS: If you can find the meeting place and you like exotic food like troll balls I think there will be a few lying around ready to be eaten. I heard they taste real good when cooked with garlic

  12. Longtimenosee says:

    With regards to buses, I overheard an individual with the power to decide on what double deckers plough the streets of HK make two remarks.

    1. The electric buses are a PR excercise and there is not one percentage chance that they will be used on any serious route according to the plans for the next few decades.

    2. Only Alexander buses are considered up the task of the number 15 peak route, and this gives an advantage when they consider bulk purchase contracts.

    Believe it or not, but they still by buses largely on the recomendations of the engineers here in HK…which is why we have no mainland companies making buses for the big three.

  13. Joe the taxi says:

    I once had Christine LOH in the back for my taxi.

  14. Headache says:

    @ Mary Hinge

    http://www.hk-lawyer.com/InnerPages_features/0/1466/2009/11

    “Hong Kong is within the Pearl River Delta airshed, where 80% to 95% of the total tonnage of emissions originates in the Mainland. Analysis of the chemical signatures in air samples taken from various parts of Hong Kong shows that 60% to 70% of the pollution in Hong Kong has come from Mainland sources.

    However, an estimated 90,000 factories over the border are owned by Hong Kong interests. Any cross-boundary strategy for air pollution reduction should directly engage these interests. Moreover, a time-based analysis shows that Hong Kong is affected by local pollution 53% of the time, whilst regional sources are the primary influence only 36% of the time. Mainland pollution affects Hong Kong in winter when the wind blows from the north; when winds blow from the south in summer, Hong Kong is mainly affected by local pollution from power plants, marine emissions and road traffic.”

    Citing Civic Exchange studies.

  15. delboy says:

    What to all those screaming mobs in the Middle East really want?

    Access to some decent porn stations I would say.

    Christine too, no doubt !

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