2008年2月28日 星期四

Responses to the 2008-09 Budget By The Professional Commons

Enduring Institutional Defects;

 Lack of Commitment in the Pursuit of “Sustainability”

Responses to the 2008-09 Budget By The Professional Commons

In response to the 2008-09 Budget as announced by the Financial Secretary on 27 February 2008, The Professional Commons hereby suggests the following:

1.      Pragmatic Enough, But Lack of Vision

Generally speaking, the coverage of the Budget is quite comprehensive, as it has responded to the public’s anticipation “pragmatically”. The HK$ 30 billion plus of windfall hand out to the general public has to a certain extent accomplished the principle of “returning the wealth to the people”. However, the share for the underprivileged population only amounted to around HK$10 billion. It also failed to put in place a support system that can effectively address the needs of the underprivileged under the principles of a “fair” and “caring” society. It is important that the concept of “sustainability” should not be restricted to public finance only. However, the Hong Kong SAR Government has been unenthusiastic in addressing structural matters, such as poverty, the ageing of the population, and tackling global climate change in a systematic manner. Missing the opportunities to resolve such fundamental matters in a timely manner is regretful.

2.      Lack of a Mechanism in Identifying and Providing Support to the Low-income Earners

The “Pilot Transport Support Scheme” is still restricted to the low income residents in four districts, and the relatively high income thresholds results in a small number of beneficiaries. Although the proposed “Electricity Charge Subsidies” is claimed to be a measure targeting the poor, in reality it is a subsidy for every household across the territories. The proposed injection of funds to the low income earners’ Mandatory Provident Fund accounts (hereafter the MPF) have ignored the retirement needs of those who did not have a MPF account, such as local domestic workers, hawkers as well as homemakers. It is obvious that there is no existing mechanism which would enable the Government to effectively identify the low income earners, and no existing mechanism in the Government that could direct its assistance to low-income earners as well. It is embarrassing for the Government to have to rely on the MPF accounts and the accounts in domestic electricity charges as the only channels for the provision of these special allowances. Without an effective mechanism placed in advance for assisting the poor, particularly the “working poor”, the Government would not be able to provide a helping hand even if extra financial resources are available.

3.      Lack of a Mechanism in Providing Comprehensive Support in Public Transportation

The provision of the “Pilot Transport Support Scheme” would still be confined to the residents in four districts in the New Territories — Yuen Long, Tuen Mun, North and the Islands. Such a move neglects the needs of the residents in other low income areas. Similar to the four districts covered in the Scheme, six other districts, including Kwun Tong, Wong Tai Sin, Sham Shui Po, Yau Tsim Mong, Kwai Ching and Tai Po which also have an unemployment rate higher than the overall average in Hong Kong of 4.8% (based on 2006 figures). The unemployed living in these districts are looking for additional support in the future. As the “Transport Support Scheme” is supposed to cover the unemployed as a whole, it is widely expected to extend the scheme to this vulnerable group. For these reasons, it is most clear the proposed arrangements would incur in a higher degree of unfairness.

4.      Lack of a Fully-functional “Citizen’s Account”

The measures proposed by the Financial Secretary concerning the injection of funds to low income earners’ MPF accounts has echoed the reality that every citizen would need to prepare for retirement, and they would require a retirement account to deal with the amount concerned. Should the healthcare finance scheme be officially implemented, HKD50 billion that had been be designated as start-up capital, will be allocated to every single citizen. It would result in an extra medical account to be carried by every citizen. Moreover, the recipients of the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance and the Old Age Allowance also have a specialized account to receive their allowances. As a result, every Hong Kong resident would have several separate accounts in relation with public finance and public services. It would be cumbersome and repetitive, when compared to the single “Citizen’s Account” approach we have proposed earlier.

5.      Lack of an All-rounded Mechanism on Tackling Global Climate Change

The provision of tax concessions on Euro V diesel and on environment-friendly commercial vehicles is unlikely to bring significant reduction in air pollution. Such a move is outright trivial, when compared to the increasingly severe effects caused by global climate change, which requires an immediate implementation of relief measures. Not only has the respective budgetary measures failed to formulate a more macro paradigm in the arena of environmental protection and sustainable development, it indirectly exacerbates the worsening of the climate, due to the provision of subsidies on electricity charges, as it would encourage the excessive use of electricity, and the creation of further carbon dioxide emissions.

The Hong Kong SAR Government should be more forward-looking in formulating measures on tackling global climate change. It should promote environmental protection and energy saving measures in a multi-angle and a multi-dimensional manner, through the application of the internationally recognized “low carbon development mode”, and the establishment of a “Climate Challenge Fund”.

6.      Concluding Remarks

Having adopted a stopgap approach, the Financial Secretary did not provide concrete measures to tackle long-term issues that have been haunting the general public. It is then inevitable that the Government is putting itself in a state of straitened circumstances.

In order to formulate a thorough and forward-looking set of proposals in tackling those issues, and to add light to the creation of a harmonious environment for Hong Kong, the Government should accord great importance to these issues, and to tackle them through institutional building, after going through a thorough consideration and analysis.

Note: Please go to the following websites to download the Fairness, Forward looking and Development Research Report on the Better Use of Fiscal Surplus of the Professional Commons published in January 2008.

www.procommons.org.hk/documents/Budget%20Report%20Chi.pdf (Chinese Version)

www.procommons.org.hk/documents/Budget%20Ex%20Sum%20Chi.pdf (Executive Summary of the Chinese Version)

www.procommons.org.hk/documents/20080204_report_eng_final.pdf (English Version)

2008年2月27日 星期三

延續制度缺憾 虛應「持續」要求: 對二00八至0九財政年度政府財政預算案的回應


延續制度缺憾 虛應「持續」要求






1.   務實有餘 前瞻不足




2.   缺乏識別低收入人士及援助機制




3.   缺乏全面的交通費支援機制




4.   缺乏整全的「市民戶口」




5.   缺乏全盤的應對氣候變化機制




6.   結語







www.procommons.org.hk/documents/Budget%20Report%20Chi.pdf (中文版)

www.procommons.org.hk/documents/Budget%20Ex%20Sum%20Chi.pdf (中文摘要)

www.procommons.org.hk/documents/20080204_report_eng_final.pdf (英文版)

2008年2月26日 星期二





香港可持續發展公民議會在上週六召開了第五次週年大會 。我從公民議會在2003年成立至今己經擔任了四屆主席,與眾多致力推動可持續發展的朋友一 起開拓耕耘了四個寒暑。到今天,「可持續發展」對香港人來說己經不 是一個陌生的名詞。我決定不再提名競選主席一職,但仍然會以公民議 會委員的身份參加工作。當然,我在「公共專業聯盟 」主持公共政策研究,以及在公民黨、長春社和社聯等機構擔任的公職 ,也離不開可持續發展的議題。 

交棒便意味著新人接棒。我很高興在會上選出了葉廣濤為主席 ,莊陳有和周錦超為副主席。相信公民議會經過四年起步 ,馬上便進入茁壯成長的階段。以下是我在週年大會上發表的主席報告 :

I. Report from the Chairman

Ever since the foundation of PCSD four years ago, the concept of sustainable development has now become a household term. Despite the not uncommon misuse of the term, it is a testimony of how far society has moved.


Over the past year perhaps the most important programme for PCSD is the organistion of the Hong Kong NGO Delegation to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali in December 2007. As the only accredited NGO going to Bali from Hong Kong, we made an extra effort to nurture young leaders for this global challenge by collaborating with Hong Kong University and taking on 13 student members in the delegation.


Yet the mission to deal with the climate change challenge only just began upon the return of the delegates to Hong Kong . The government, having sent only two delegates there to join the China delegation in the last few days of the conference, seemed to have little urge to fast-track Hong Kong ’s response to this global challenge. This reminded me of the situation in 2002 when there was a big contrast between the 37-member HK NGO delegation and the 12-member government delegation. The contrast was not so much in size as in the enthusiasm and eagerness to act. The disappointment on Government’s inaction at that time was one of the main factors leading to the birth of PCSD.


Despite our very limited resource, we are pleased to have witnessed the success of the school radio drama competition focussing on the theme of air quality. The positive response from over 40 schools was very encouraging. This highlighted both the concern on air quality by our younger generation as well as the power of innovative programming.


In the past year PCSD continued its effort in advocacy and awareness building over a wide spectrum of issues, ranging from local agenda 21, sustainability reporting, harbourfront planning, cultural district development, population policy, to public education. Our network with many professional bodies, universities and community groups ensured a high level of dynamism which helped generate new ideas and new initiatives. The introduction of the concept of responsible competitiveness to local business leaders is a good example.


As the founding chairman of PCSD in its first four years, I am truly thankful to the unwavering support of all our councillors and members. Hong Kong is an unforgiving place for professionals and academics in terms of constraints on time and resources. Yet the generous contribution by many members is the key to make PCSD an uniquely successful, albeit small, organisation.



Albert Lai


II. Activities Report

Some of the highlights of activities during the year are listed below:


      1.   Luncheon Talk on Responsible Competitivenss


PCSD, with the support of the Trade Development Council, organised a luncheon talk in Januray 2007 featuring Dr Simon Zadek, an international guru on responsible competitivenss. Over 100 business and civil society leaders attended the luncheon and the lecture by Dr Zadek was very well-received.


2.                 Clean Air Radio Drama Competition


Over 40 schools participated in the first Clean Air Radio Drama Competition organised between September to December 2007. The winners were selected by a distinguished panel and awards were given to the school teams at the Air Summit organised by the Council for Sustainable Development. The award scripts were aired at Metro Radio in a show hosted by our Vice-Chairman, Plato Yip.


3.                 Better Air Quality


PCSD served as a public engagement partner with the Council for Sustainable Development on the subject of Better Air Quality. A Public Forum was held in October 2007 featuring a presentation by Professor Anthony Hedley of the Hong Kong University . The feedback from the forum was passed on to CSD which then formed part of the public views included in the final report. Two councillors, Dr WK Chan and Mr Chua Hoi Wai, were members of the Support Group responsible for the strategy formulation.


4.                 Population Policy


PCSD was an engagement partner with CSD in the formulation of sustainable development strategy for population policy. Following the two forums held by PCSD in 2006 as part of the public engagement exercise, our councillors, Mr Chua Hoi Wai, Dr WK Chan and Ir Albert Lai were involved in the final vetting of the Strategy report on population policy through their membership  in the Strategy Sub-committee of CSD.


5.                 Wanchai Local Agenda 21


On behalf of PCSD, Dr WK Chan, provided guidance to the Wanchai District Council in their preparation of the first Local Agenda 21 – a Sustainable Development Strategy for Wanchai.  The report was completed and endorsed by the Wanchai District Council.



6.                 West Kowloon Cultural District and People’s Panel on West Kowloon


PCSD representatives, Mr Mau Chi Wang, Dr WK Chan and Ir Albert Lai , continued to serve at the Core Group of PPWK together with other members primarily from the arts and culture sector. Whilst the government has tabled its proposal for the way forward, PPWK made representations at Legco regarding the still-deficient aspects of the current development proposal.


     7.     Training course with Hong Kong Securities Institute


Under the guidance of Councillor Dr Jeanne Ng, the third training course on corporate sustainability was held for security analysts in collaboration with Hong Kong Securities Institute. Ir Albert Lai delivered the lecture on behalf of PCSD.


8.            Harbourfront Planning


As a member of Citizen Envisioning @ Harbour, PCSD continued its interest in the planning process for the harbourfront, and in relation to issues discussed at the Harbourfront Enhancement Committee. The height restrictions imposed by the Government at North Point and the reduced scale of development at the former North Point Estate reflected a certain level of success by the many years of lobbying efforts by the civil society.


9.            Sustainablity Report


PCSD continued to serve as an endorser to ACCA, the Hong Kong Arm of the UK Accounting body, in its Sustainability Reporting Award. Chairman Ir Albert Lai also continued to serve as a member of the judging panel for the fourth year and delivered a speech on behalf of the panel at the award-giving ceremony in December 2007.


10.         Sustainability course offered with HKU Master Programme


Councillor Dr Jeanne Ng and Dr Hung Wing Tat led the effort in offering a course on sustainable development in a Master degree programme with HKU, CUPEM. This serves as an important platform to enlist more young professionals in the SD movement.



11.        UN Climate Change Conference in Bali


PCSD was accredited the official observer status by the United Nations for COP13 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In conjunction with the Hong Kong University , PCSD organised a Hong Kong NGO Delegation to the Bali Conference in December 2007. The delegation comprised 18 members, including 13 student leaders. A post-Bali Workshop and Forum was held on 20 Feburary 2008 for sharing by all Bali delegates, including those from Government and the business sector. The forum was well-attended with around 80 participants.


12.       Radio Programme hosting


Vice-Chairman Plato Yip co-hosted a weekly programme at Metro Radio throughout the year. Sustainability issues were key topics in the programme which has served as an important venue for public education.


13.        Public Talks and Lectures


Various public talks and lectures were conducted by PCSD councillors and members throughout the year for the benefit of schools, universities and the public, including those a series of talks for the students of AISEC at the Chinese University of Hong Kong .


*                      *                  *

23 February 2008

2008年2月24日 星期日



當我從斜路走入校舍的時候,Father Brady白禮達神父正在講授第三堂課。他從課室往下望見我,便走到窗前當著所有同學面笑向我揮手,我只得一臉尷尬地跑上課室。坐下之後,卻是一切如常,Fr Brady和所有同學似乎對我十分諒解,一切盡在不言中。


2008年2月18日 星期一







 所有社會保障計劃受助人,包括綜合社會保障援助計劃 (下稱“綜援”)、高齡津貼、以及傷殘津貼的受助人;及






建議三:設立 “市民戶口”




      “低碳發展專業支援計劃” (5億元)

      “綠色社區資助計劃” (20億元)

      “綠色家居資助計劃” (5億元)

      “珠三角應對氣候變化基金” (50億元)



http://www.procommons.org.hk/documents/Budget%20Report%20Chi.pdf (中文版)

http://www.procommons.org.hk/documents/Budget%20Ex%20Sum%20Chi.pdf (中文版摘要)

http://www.procommons.org.hk/documents/20080204_report_eng_final.pdf (英文版)

2008年2月12日 星期二


(原載於 信報 2008-02-12 13)






NIMBY 成為政府大忌

直接原因只有一個:政府一直害怕處理「別放在我家後園」症候群 (NIMBY Not In My BackYard Syndrome),擔心焚化爐落戶的地區有極大反響。背後根源有三:政府一直沒有在政策認受性、公平性、和爭取市民信任三方面着力,以致把一個符合公眾利益的工程項目,一拖再拖。


香港中文大學環境政策及資源管理中心去年進行了一個詳盡的研究,分析了焚化爐、堆填區及污水廠等不受當地社區歡迎的設施所面對的選址困難。這些設施的特點是它們均被認定符合公眾利益,為社會發展所必需,但在它們選址落戶之處卻為當地社區帶來負面的環境、經濟或社會影響。這種矛盾在全球越來越普遍,令這些「露露」設施 (LULU Locally Unwanted Land Use) 選址成為各國政府的大難題。






政府必須克服的第二道難關是建立一套讓市民信任的機制,坦誠接受居民作為共同決策的伙伴。一個設施所導致的風險對於專家來說是客觀、可計算的,但對於居民來說是主觀的判斷 ─ 對主事當局是否信任就變成關鍵因素。政府不能再沿用過往聘請「顧問公司」閉門研究的模式,最終必須賦予居民獨立的專業支援,使居民從選址、設計、興建到運作的整全過程均參與監管,從互動中建立信任。







2008年2月5日 星期二


(原載於 信報 2008-02-05 9)









  按照上述原則,特區政府可撥出四百七十二億元,以一籃子的方式推動以下四項措施:  一、全港「市民戶口」:為了公平地藏富於民,政府可以為每位年滿十八歲的永久居民開設一個「市民戶口」,並存入四千元作為種子基金,其中二千元留作退休用途,其餘二千元可以讓市民即時提取作個人發展用途。此舉共需款二百二十六億元。「市民戶口」是長遠基礎建設的一環,因應人口高齡化及社會競爭對個人發展的需要,它可以按照未來社會抉擇演變為一個多用途戶口。日後政府亦應將每年度財政盈餘的固定份額撥入「市民戶口」。








  註:公共專業聯盟《就善用政府財政盈餘的研究報告》全文,可從http://www.procommons.org.hk/documents/Budget%20Report%20Chi.pdf 下載