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Old November 21st, 2010, 04:40 AM   #1081
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Proposed sewerage works at Lau Fau Shan approved
Friday, November 19, 2010
Government Press Release

The Chief Executive in Council has authorised the scheme for the Lau Fau Shan trunk sewerage works.

The works mainly involve constructing a sewage pumping station, and about 420 metres of rising mains, 1,500 metres of gravity sewers and associated manholes. Other ancillary works include reinstatement of affected carriageways, footpaths and open space.

"The scheme will provide a public sewerage system to collect and convey sewage for proper treatment and disposal. It will help improve the area's hygienic condition and reduce the volume of pollutants flowing into Deep Bay," a spokesman for the Environmental Protection Department said today (November 19).

Construction works to be carried out by the Drainage Services Department are scheduled to commence in the second half of 2011, for completion by 2015.

Details of the sewerage scheme were published in the Government Gazette on September 26 and October 3, 2008, June 19 and 26, 2009, and March 12 and 19, 2010.

Approval of the sewerage scheme was gazetted today.
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Old November 21st, 2010, 05:20 AM   #1082
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New housing measures unlikely to stop prices rising, analysts say
20 November 2010
South China Morning Post

The government's new measures may keep speculators out of the property market, but at least one industry veteran thinks the steps are unlikely to keep prices from rising,

"The new cooling measures will be very effective in keeping speculators from the property market," said Shih Wing-ching, the founder of Centaline Property.

But Shih said the main driver of soaring property prices was recent American monetary policy. "The growth did not come from the local market, but the global economy. With the influx of hot money, I don't think our small government can do anything,"

One property agent, however, said the government's newest moves against property speculation showed some quick effects.

"It is the first time I saw the sales office of Cheung Kong's Festival City II so quiet on the first day of a launch. There are more property agents than potential buyers," the agent said.

"The sales were poorer than our previous expectations. About 40 per cent of our clients were holding their buying plans until after the government released the new measures. They need more time to consider and monitor the price trend," the agent said.

Demand from mainland buyers remained strong, said Louis Ng, a director at Ricacorp Properties.

"The measures will not affect their property investment in Hong Kong," Ng said. "Most of them could only get mortgages of 50 per cent from the banks previously. They are not looking for short-term investments."

Mr Chow, a mainland industrialist, yesterday bought a flat at Festival City for more than HK$8 million as a long-term investment. "I'm not worried the market will be affected by the measures. I may buy other flats due to the Hong Kong currency depreciation and appreciation in the yuan."

Cusson Leung, an analyst at Credit Suisse, said that he expected prices would drop by 1 to 2 per cent, while the transaction volume would exhibit a more significant drop in four to eight weeks.

He expects most banks might still encourage lending in other forms, such as "renovation loans" with long payment terms. People with insufficient down payments might opt for these loans. And developers might offer second mortgages to primary property buyers. But Trevor Cheung, an analyst at BNP Paribas, holds a different view.

"Property prices will drop 10 to 15 per cent in the coming two months," he said. "The government is brave enough to enact these strong measures, finally. I didn't expect the government to do it."

He believes investors and end users who planned to upgrade their flats would be affected.

"End users will hesitate to buy property, as they may need to pay an extra stamp duty of 10 per cent," he said.

Shih, of Centaline Properties, also said end users would suffer from the measures. They need to save more money for paying the down payment, as the Hong Kong Monetary Authority lowered the loan-to-value ratio.
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Old November 22nd, 2010, 06:09 AM   #1083
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Tsang warns of more property aces up sleeve
The Standard
Monday, November 22, 2010

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun- wah has warned that the government has a few more measures up its sleeve to fight against property speculation.

His warning came hot on the heels of his announcement on Friday that an additional stamp duty of between 5 to 15 percent is to be levied on residential properties purchased and resold within 24 months.

This is on top of the current stamp duty, capped at 4.25 per cent.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority also reduced the amount banks could lend to buyers of homes worth HK$12 million or more, from 60 percent to 50 percent of the price.

Writing in his blog yesterday, Tsang said society as a whole could suffer a big blow if the government does not deflate the property bubble in time.

"Doubtless to say, we will definitely not sit back and do nothing against the risk that might affect our economy and financial stability.

"We will closely monitor the market and roll out more measures again if needed."

The new levy, which requires Legislative Council approval, will be imposed at a rate of 15 percent for flats sold within six months or less of purchase, 10 percent for those sold more than six months but 12 months or less after purchase, and 5 percent for those sold more than 12 months but 24 months or less after a deal is struck.

The extra duty would be levied on flats acquired on or after last Saturday.

In response to worries that the proposed measures might affect owner- occupiers who have to sell their flats due to urgent financial necessity, Tsang said: "I have been skating on thin ice in dealing with the risk of a property bubble.

"On the one hand, I have to consider home owners' interests, but on the other hand, I have to manage the risk."

He said safeguarding the welfare of the public mattered most.

"If a nest overturns, no egg will be left intact," he wrote. "We have to actively reduce the risk of a bubble and put forward preventive measures in unusual times."

Executive Council convener Leung Chun-ying said he found the measures effective, but it would take some time to gauge their long-term effect.

While market watchers expect property prices to drop due to the government's measures, Leung believes prices may also be affected by external factors, including low interest rates overseas and the second round of quantitative easing policy in the United States.

Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun said he will urge the government, at today's Legco's joint meeting of the financial affairs and housing panels, to only require sellers, but not buyers, to pay the extra stamp duty as sellers are the ones who might gain from speculation.

The government can consider either adding a sunset clause for the levy or scrap it later when necessary, he said.
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Old November 22nd, 2010, 07:12 AM   #1084
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hi thanks for ur information to all




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Old November 23rd, 2010, 04:10 AM   #1085
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Developers lash stamp duty hikes
23 November 2010
The Standard

The Real Estate Developers' Association lashed out yesterday at the government's stamp duty hike and other measures taken to temper runaway property prices, saying they will harm end-users more than speculators.

``Speculators would undoubtedly be hard hit directly,'' said REDA vice- chairman Stewart Leung Chi-Kin.

``But some end-users, who try to cut losses due to market changes, will suffer at least a 15 percent loss.''

Raising the downpayment will also hurt potential homebuyers, added Leung, who is also executive director of New World Development (0017).

``This goes totally against what the government has been saying'' to help the common man, he said.

Economic Synergy legislator Sophie Leung Lau Yau-fun said raising the downpayments might make it harder for young people to buy their first homes. But Secretary for Transport and Housing Eva Cheng Yu-wah insisted that potential homebuyers would benefit if speculation is curbed.

Lawmaker Paul Chan Mo-po pointed out a possible loophole in the rules, as buyers and sellers could avoid paying the high stamp duty simply by putting the property in question under the name of a company registered overseas.

A sale would then involve selling the company _ not the property _ so there would be no stamp duty, he said.

Commissioner of Inland Revenue Chu Yam-yuen conceded speculators could take advantage of the situation as it's difficult to track share-holdings of offshore firms.

Meanwhile, several international fund houses said they expect home prices to slide by 5 to 10 percent in the coming months, and sales volume to tumble.

``Property transactions will fall by 20-30 percent,'' UBS researcher Eric Wong Chun-ya wrote in a report, released yesterday.

Credit Suisse analysts Cusson Leung and Joyce Kwock forecast home prices to drop 5 percent by the year-end, with transactions plunging 40 percent due to what they called ``harsh'' measures.

Lucia Kwong at JPMorgan described the step as ``strong dose to calm down the housing market.''

Agents reported many buyers are pulling out of deals at the last moment.

``Those who signed preliminary contracts between November 6 and 19 are leaving,'' said Patrick Chow Moon- kit, research head at Ricacorp Properties.

He added some sellers are now cutting prices by 10 percent.
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Old November 23rd, 2010, 05:22 PM   #1086
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First posted by Car L

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Old November 24th, 2010, 03:51 AM   #1087
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Developers review launch plans after latest cooling measures
24 November 2010
South China Morning Post

New projects slated for release at the end of the year have run into an obstacle - the latest government measures to curb speculation and price growth in the property market.

Transaction volumes in the primary market had been expected to accelerate in November and December as many developers planned to launch new projects around the end of the year. But the government's announcement on Friday that stamp duty would be levied on properties bought and sold for a quick profit has taken the wind out of sales demand and forced a review by developers of their original sales schedules.

Cheung Kong (Holdings)' 1,368-flat new project, Festival City II in Tai Wai, sold only nine units on Saturday and Sunday. This compares with more than 200 sales on the day of the project's launch on Friday.

The sharp decline in demand has prompted Cheung Kong to lift its offer of a second mortgage to 20 per cent of the purchase price from its previous level of 10 per cent.

Among the developers that were scheduled to launch new projects in the next few weeks were Sun Hung Kai Properties and KWah International; while Henderson Land Development and Hongkong Land planned to relaunch remaining flats in projects already released to the market.

SHKP is sticking with its plan to launch its Nara Park project in Yuen Long this week. The project offers 173 flats sized between 635 and 1,568 square feet. Charmaine Lau, project liaison manager at SHK Real Estate Agency, said the measures to curb property speculation would not affect the company's sales strategy. The company may also provide second mortgages, depending on buyers' needs, she said.

But the chill that has descended over the market has prompted other developers to review their launch plans.

KWah's Chantilly in Mid-Levels East kicked off a promotion earlier this month with a view to launching at the end of the month and targeting a selling price of HK$40,000 per square foot.

But the developer has yet to update the market on its launch plan since the measures were released.

Hongkong Land had planned to announce prices for the remaining flats at Serenade in Mid-Levels East this week.

But Cherrie Lai Hon-kwan, head of Hong Kong residential property, said the developer was now gauging the market response to last week's measures. "We have to observe the market in the next few days. We had planned to raise asking prices by five to 10 per cent previously. But now we have to review selling prices," she said.

Lai nevertheless remained optimistic about the project's likely sales performance.

"The prices of our project range between HK$20 million and HK$60 million. I don't think buyers with such a budget would be affected by the government's measures, though overall market sentiment would be affected," she said.

Henderson has delayed the sale of the remaining units at Centre Point in Sheung Wan from the year end to next year. "Our project is not ready to launch by the end of this year. We have had to redesign the flat sizes," said Thomas Lam, general manager of sales at Henderson, who refused to say the delay was due to the cooling measures.
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Old November 25th, 2010, 04:51 PM   #1088
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Codes for energy use in buildings mandatory
25 November 2010
South China Morning Post

The Legislative Council yesterday passed a law to make voluntary building energy codes mandatory.

The codes will apply to all new commercial buildings and to public areas of new residential and industrial buildings, as well as existing ones undergoing major renovation.

They cover the energy efficiency of air conditioning, lifts and escalators, lighting and electrical installations in communal areas, but they will not regulate external lighting.

The proposal to include outdoor lights mounted on a building, tabled by Civic Party leader Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, was voted down because of strong opposition from the trade-based seats. Eu, in debating her amendment, said it was ridiculous to require only indoor lights to be energy-saving but exempt outdoor ones.

"I'm not saying that no billboards and flashlights should be hung on the walls of buildings; I'm only asking that they come with energy-saving devices. Such strong lights waste electricity, not to speak of hurting our eyes {hellip} the government is requiring ordinary citizens to save energy but it will allow businesses to keep turning on all those lights outside. It is not doing its job right," Eu said.

Kam Nai-wai's and Cyd Ho Sau-lan's amendments to regulate lights used solely for decoration were also voted down. Kam said exempting decorative lights would create grey areas, as it was not always easy to determine which lights were simply for decoration and which were not.

Secretary for Environment Edward Yau Tang-wah said he would not accept the amendments, as there were no international standards on controlling the brightness and electricity consumption of external lights.

"Also, we have not yet consulted the trades on such a proposal and have not assessed the impact on businesses. It is not appropriate to introduce the regulation at this stage," Yau said, adding the Environment Bureau would discuss light pollution in Legco early next year.

With the law passed, the bureau will work on subsidiary legislation for technical arrangements including a registration system for engineers to assess energy.

Developers or building owners will be required to hire engineers to submit declarations to the government that they comply with the codes, after which they would be issued certificates of compliance.

Those who breach the energy codes or fail to carry out regular energy audits will face a penalty of HK$500,000 to HK$1 million. The codes will not apply to tenants.

The law was based on an unsatisfactory response to a voluntary building code introduced in 1998. Up to last year, the code covers just 1,061 buildings, of which 72 per cent are government premises.

Officials said extending the codes to all buildings was not practical, as many old buildings had space or design constraints preventing installations from being upgraded. Buildings account for about 89 per cent of the city's energy consumption.
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Old November 26th, 2010, 05:04 PM   #1089
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Ill-defined stamp duty rules cause confusion
26 November 2010
South China Morning Post

There are indications the government's latest measures to cool the property market have had an instant impact. This is partly due to the confusion the new rules have caused. The measures on stamp duty unveiled last Friday and put into immediate effect are ill-defined. An extra tax will apply to buyers and sellers, but the proportions have not been specified. Many people, including those wanting a new home, will now have doubts about whether to make a purchase.

The rules aim to curb speculation without defining who is a speculator. Stamp duty of up to 4.25 per cent is already payable on property purchases; the new rules impose an extra 15 per cent for flats bought and sold within six months, 10 per cent for those sold between six months and a year of purchase and 5 per cent for those sold one to two years later. The government says the levy is to be shared by buyer and seller, although it has left it to the two sides to negotiate their shares. If it is interested only in receiving the tax and not which party is speculating, critics could be excused for assuming that the levy's purpose is above all else to generate revenue.

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said in unveiling the tactics that in the first nine months of this year 114 per cent more properties were sold 12 months or less after purchase than in the same period in 2009. The government cannot be faulted for taking aim at speculators, but not being specific about the rules to stop their activities is quite another matter. It must be remembered that for many people their home is a place to live as well as an investment. Also, there are cases where flats are bought and financial difficulties arise, necessitating a quick sale, or buyers find a property is not to their liking proves after making the purchase.

Such people should not be unduly penalised. While levying additional stamp duty is worthwhile - even if it is unlikely to reduce property values much - the rules that govern it have to take into account buyers' and sellers' circumstances. There are times when one should pay more of the levy than the other and those occasions and the proportions involved have to be specified.
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Old November 28th, 2010, 08:37 AM   #1090
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AECOM awarded design services contract to upgrade one of Asia's largest water treatment facilities

LOS ANGELES, Nov 16, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- AECOM Technology Corporation (NYSE: ACM), a leading provider of professional technical and management support services for government and commercial clients around the world, announced today that it has been awarded a design and construction-services contract by the Water Supplies Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to reconstruct and upgrade the Sha Tin Water Treatment Works, one of Asia's largest water treatment facilities.

AECOM will provide detailed design and construction supervision to upgrade the existing South Works from 95 to 145 million gallons per day, while maintaining output from the full plant at 232 million gallons per day. In addition, a new visitor center will be added, and the final layout plan for subsequent redevelopment of the full plant will also be developed.

"AECOM is excited to support this upgrade to one of Asia's largest water treatment works, which will supply water to more than 2 million people in Hong Kong," said AECOM President and Chief Executive Officer John M. Dionisio.

Other AECOM services to be provided during the project include detailed process reviews, pilot testing and tender invitation.

The upgrade's total construction cost is estimated to be US$500 million. AECOM's fees for the contract were not disclosed. The project is scheduled to be completed during 2016.

About AECOM

AECOM (NYSE: ACM) is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including transportation, facilities, environmental, energy, water and government. With approximately 51,000 employees around the world, AECOM is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves. AECOM provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that enhance and sustain the world's built, natural and social environments. A Fortune 500 company, AECOM serves clients in more than 100 countries and had revenue of $6.5 billion during its fiscal year 2010. More information on AECOM and its services can be found at www.aecom.com.

Forward-Looking Statements: All statements in this press release other than statements of historical fact are "forward-looking statements" for purposes of federal and state securities laws, including any statements of plans for future operations or expected revenue.Actual results could differ materially from those projected or assumed in any of our forward-looking statements.Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from our forward-looking statements are set forth in our quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the fiscal quarter ended June 30, 2010, and our other reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.AECOM does not intend, and undertakes no obligation, to update any forward-looking statement.
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Old December 2nd, 2010, 05:39 PM   #1091
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Banks ease flats fear
The Standard
Thursday, December 02, 2010

The property market will recover over time after plunging in the wake of new curbs, the Hong Kong Association of Banks said.

Chairman Benjamin Hung Pi-cheng said in Beijing that with mortgages making up less than 10 percent of SAR banks' business, a drop in mortgage income will not have a serious impact on profits.

In the short run, Hung said, new mortgages will drop but he does not expect a substantial decline in home prices.

A large number of cash-rich investors will re-enter the market in the long run to support prices and transactions, according to Hung, who is also chief executive of Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong).

He said banks will face sustained pressure on their net interest margins amid the low interest rate environment. However, the margins are unlikely to narrow substantially.

On November 19, the government introduced three grades of stamp duty for homeowners who dispose of their units within two years of buying them, while the Hong Kong Monetary Authority tightened the loan-to-value ratios for homes worth at least HK$8 million.

Ricacorp Properties said market sentiment has cooled dramatically as deals at 50 key projects plunged 40 percent to 1,838 last month after the curbs took effect.

Centaline Property recorded a 42 percent drop in transactions at 10 major housing estates. But prices stayed the same on average.
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Old December 3rd, 2010, 09:23 AM   #1092
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Dirty money on rise in property deals
The Standard
Friday, December 03, 2010

Money laundering transactions related to real estate have increased rapidly over the past few years, the government said.

In a paper prepared for the Legislative Council, the Security Bureau said 79 real estate-related suspicious transactions were reported between 2008 and October this year.

The tip-offs came mainly from conveyancing lawyers and real estate agents.

To step up efforts to crack down on illegal dealings, the government has issued guidelines to estate agents, telling them to be alert and to report any suspicious transactions.

The Financial Action Task Force, an international watchdog, said in a report that Hong Kong is deficient in both its anti-money laundering and terrorism counter-financing mechanisms. The authority told Legco laws must be strengthened.

On the real estate front, inspections have been conducted at property agents to make sure they report suspicious deals.

Between 2008 and November 7 this year, nearly 700 inspections were conducted in which seven non-compliance cases were identified. The agents involved faced disciplinary action.

The Joint Financial Intelligence Unit website, which handles reports of suspicious transactions, shows the number of convictions for money laundering increased from 92 in 2006 to 307 last year. In the first five months of this year, 134 were convicted.

However, the amount of assets restrained appears to have fallen.

The overall amount of assets restrained rose to HK$1.6 billion last year from HK$724 million recorded in 2007, but by May this year the figure stood at HK$4 million.

The unit was set up in 1989 to handle reports of money laundering and suspicious financial activities.

Cases are analyzed by the body before they are sent to different investigative teams.
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Old December 3rd, 2010, 09:26 AM   #1093
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LCQ14: Buildings safety
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Government Press Release



Following is a question by the Hon Raymond Ho Chung-tai and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (December 1):

Question:

On November 7 this year, loose concrete of the external wall of a building of over 50 years old, located at Lok Shan Road in To Kwa Wan, fell off and injured a passer-by. The next day, the mosaic tiles on the external wall of another building of only 11 years old, located at Staunton Street in Central, also came off, and luckily no one was hurt. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) given that the Buildings Department (BD), after the collapse of a building at Ma Tau Wai Road in January this year, had immediately set up professional teams which inspected a total of 4,011 private buildings aged 50 or above in the territory, of the conditions of the aforesaid building at Lok Shan Road according to BD's report released in April and the follow-up actions taken by the authorities;

(b) focusing on younger buildings which had caused accidents because they have not been properly maintained for a prolonged period of time, whether the authorities will plan to deploy staff to inspect this type of buildings to ensure their structural safety; if they will, of the details; and

(c) given that the authorities commenced a 10-year programme in 2001 to clear unauthorised building works and illegal rooftop structures, and indicated that 800,000 unauthorised building works and structures had to be cleared, and since the programme will end next year and the authorities have indicated that so far about 400,000 cases have been handled, of the plan of the authorities for dealing with the remaining 400,000 cases in future?

Reply:

President,

My reply to the three-part question is as follows:

(a) Subsequent to the building collapse incident at Ma Tau Wai Road in January this year, the Buildings Department (BD) immediately launched a special operation deploying dedicated teams to inspect the 4,011 private buildings aged 50 or above in Hong Kong. The purpose was to ascertain whether these buildings were structurally safe. During the inspection operation, staff of the BD had inspected the building located at Lok Shan Road mentioned in the question and confirmed that the overall structure of the building was safe. Minor concrete spalling was however found at the soffit of the common corridor of the building. The overall building condition at that time was rated as Category III (i.e. minor defects were found in the building). The BD then issued an advisory letter to the building owners, urging them to arrange to carry out suitable repair works as soon as possible. Regarding the recent incident of fallen rendering at the external wall of the building, staff of the BD had inspected the building again and confirmed that the overall structure of the building showed no danger. The incident involved loose rendering on the surface of the external wall, but not problems in the building structure. On the day of the incident, the BD had immediately arranged personnel to remove the loose rendering from the external walls of the building and thereafter issued a letter to the owners again, urging them to carry out the repair works as soon as possible. The BD will arrange to inspect the building again. If there are building safety problems, the BD will take appropriate follow-up actions in accordance with the Buildings Ordinance, including issuing statutory repair orders to mandate the owners to carry out repair works for ensuring public safety.

(b) The BD has been closely monitoring the conditions of private buildings in Hong Kong and arranging regular inspections to buildings in different districts of the territory, in particular buildings in areas with heavy pedestrian flow. Regardless of building age, prompt follow-up actions will be taken if obvious defects are found on the building exteriors. The BD has arranged enhanced inspections in view of the building disrepair incidents that happened recently. If obvious dilapidation and defects are found on the exterior of a building, the BD will take appropriate follow-up actions under the Buildings Ordinance, including arranging emergency repair works under situations of imminent danger or, issuing statutory repair orders to mandate owners to carry out repair works for ensuring pubic safety.

In the long run, we will implement the Mandatory Building Inspection Scheme (MBIS) and the Mandatory Window Inspection Scheme (MWIS) to address the problems of ageing and dilapidation of buildings through preventive inspection and maintenance. The MBIS will require owners of buildings aged 30 years or above to carry out building inspection and repair once every ten years, while the MWIS will require owners of buildings aged ten years or above to carry out window inspection and repair once every five years. We introduced the Buildings (Amendment) Bill 2010 for the two schemes into the Legislative Council early this year. We will continue to work closely with the Bills Committee, with a view to implementing the two schemes as early as possible so as to further enhance building safety in Hong Kong.

(c) The BD's ten-year programme for demolition of unauthorised building works (UBWs) will complete by March 2011. Taking into account the latest conditions of buildings in Hong Kong and the community's view that a tougher stance should be taken to tackle UBWs, we have completed a review and will adopt a new policy to sustain our effort to tackle UBWs.

Under the new policy, we will extend the coverage of actionable UBWs to include unauthorised works in roof-tops, podiums, as well as yards and back-lanes of buildings. If the UBWs are confirmed to be under the actionable category, irrespective of their degree of risk, the BD will issue statutory orders to require the owners to carry out works to rectify the irregularities. The Department will continue to respond to complaints actively and instigate more and swifter prosecution actions, so as to sanction those owners who do not duly comply with statutory orders with a view to ensuring building safety. The BD will also launch special programmes to tackle the problems of sub-division of flat units in buildings (commonly known as "sub-divided units") and unauthorised signboards.
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Old December 15th, 2010, 05:19 AM   #1094
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Hundreds for wetlands protest
The Standard
Friday, December 10, 2010

Hundreds of nature lovers will lie down in a Nam Sang Wai field on Sunday to show they will protect the Yuen Long wetland, where a developer wants to build luxury homes and a golf course.

The action by 40 local concern groups was announced yesterday on the eve of a Town Planning Board meeting that will rule on whether Henderson Land can defer its plan three more years.

The company's development right will expire on December 18 if the application is rejected by the board today.

Kwong Chun-yu, Yuen Long district councillor and convener of Sunday's action, believes at least 500 protesters will take part and the turnout could exceed 1,000.

"By lying on the field, this will signify that we will try our very best to protect this wetland, one of the last remaining wetlands in the western New Territories," Kwong said.

"Young and old nature lovers will join in. We will also invite kids from nurseries. The wetland is for generations to come."

The Professional Commons, Tin Shui Wai Concern Group and Animal Earth will join the protest. Protesters will lie in the field for three to four minutes. Guests will include Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Wing-tat .

Kwong said he hopes the board will reject the developer's application today in the public interest.

A spokeswoman for Henderson Land said the company understands that there are various views in society on the project and it will try to improve its plan in the best way possible.

Should the application be rejected, it will study the reasons given by the Rural and New Town Planning Committee of the board and decide its next step, she said.

Nam Sang Wai is famous for bird watching, with photographers and filmmakers drawn to the site for its natural scenery. More than 5,000 great cormorants were found roosting on the site a year ago.
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Old December 18th, 2010, 06:14 AM   #1095
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Compromise can save wetland for the people
15 December 2010
South China Morning Post

With such city landmarks as the International Finance Centre in Central, home to the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Henderson Land is undoubtedly a company which shares a common history with that of Hong Kong. Now, at a time when tycoons and corporations are increasingly being called upon to show their care for the community, and love for the city, Henderson has a unique opportunity to show it not only cares, but is also an integral part of the evolving fabric of society, which has been developing greater awareness over the need for environmental protection and public space.

In 1996, Henderson Land was granted development rights over Nam Sang Wai, a picturesque Yuen Long wetland which is often visited for its scenic beauty and natural wildlife - a rare plot of open land in a city more often thought of as an urban jungle. The application procedures then were far more opaque than today, with no requirement of public inspection, and fewer environmental conditions.

And even if the there had been a public inspection, environmental protection and the lack of public space had yet to become a priority of the Hong Kong public in 1996, with the impending resumption of Chinese sovereignty dominating most people's concerns. But much has changed since then, especially with regards to people's concerns for the environment. Hong Kong people now value greatly the opportunity to find an open space for parents to take their children and create some semblance of a healthy lifestyle away from the choking pollution of the city centre. As can be seen by the hundreds of families who visited on Sunday to support the preservation of the area, Nam Sang Wai has become exactly that rare piece of nature that the public can use as their own for photographic pursuits, birdwatching or simple romantic strolls. It now represents to them a part of Hong Kong that is disconnected from the fast - some would say oppressive - pace of Hong Kong urban living. Furthermore, since 1996 it has been discovered that more than 5,000 great cormorants roost at the site, and that any development could threaten the roosting habitats of migratory birds.

On Saturday, Henderson's development rights will expire. The company has a number of legal options it can pursue in order to seek an extension and preserve its development rights for a longer period. It is certainly well within its right to do so, and few of us would voluntarily give up anything we had claim to. Yet it could also forgo those options. And by doing so it could align itself with the changing concerns of Hong Kong people. It could scale back its plans to build more than 2,500 flats and a nine-hole golf course over 54 hectares - a project that would turn the area into the very antithesis of the open and public space that it is now.

The government and developers have a long history of working together and coming up with compromises to suit the socio-political situation of the times. This time is, perhaps, no different. Tycoons donate generously to the community all the time - whether it is building schools or supporting the needy. This would be a different kind of charity, but in some ways an even more valuable one.

Now is the time for Henderson Land and the government to come up with a compromise whereby the developer's rights can be safeguarded while the people of Hong Kong can also retain access to a valuable piece of nature. This would one of the best ways for the company to show how much it is a part of the community.
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Old December 20th, 2010, 07:55 PM   #1096
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Bid to draw graduates into construction industry
14 December 2010
South China Morning Post

Construction companies have set up a special youth group to attract new university graduates in an effort to combat a continuing brain drain.

The Hong Kong Construction Association's young-member society has recruited about 1,000 students in civil engineering, real estate construction and surveying from five universities since September.

"It's difficult to get young people into the trade these days," the chairman of the new arm, Derrick Pang Yat-bond, said. "Many civil engineering graduates among us end up going to work in finance. Even students doing the subject often misunderstand our work and think it is about labouring on construction sites."

Pang, who is also deputy chairman of Chun Wo Development Holdings, said an engineer managing a construction project not only had to supervise the work, but communicate effectively with workers and technical specialists.

His group aimed to let young professionals get to know students on campus and share their work experience. Firm visits, site visits and overseas trips would be organised. Pang said the society would arrange for a third to half of the 1,000 recruits to serve internships with some of the association's 320 member companies.

He expected the industry would continue to provide job opportunities over the next 10 years because 10 major infrastructure projects, including MTR spur lines, were in full swing. Tunnel and marine work were two areas with great demand, he said.

The starting salary of an engineering graduate is HK$16,000 this year, up from HK$12,000 last year.

Kum Shing Group director Rex Wong Siu-han, the new group's vice-chairman, said community demand for higher transparency in public works in recent years had raised standards for building professionals.

"We have to be able to write method statements in clear language. It's not just about working out hard maths but also communication skills," Wong, a 30-year-old working for his father's business, said.

Meanwhile, the gross value of construction work by major contractors in the third quarter increased by 15.7 per cent over a year earlier to HK$28.7 billion, official figures show.
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Old December 21st, 2010, 06:27 PM   #1097
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Floods to move a million, study warns
1 December 2010
The Standard

More than one million people in the Pearl River Delta, including Hong Kong, will be forced to move to higher areas by 2050 as climate change increases the risk of flooding.

The prediction is made in a report, entitled Rich Delta, Costly Flooding, jointly published by local policy think-tank Civic Exchange and the University of Leeds in Britain.

The report shows that a 20-centimeter rise in sea levels in the region by 2050 will affect more than 2,000 square kilometers in the delta plain, which is vulnerable to tidal inundation.

``Climate change studies show that this region will face extreme weather conditions that include more intense typhoons and rainstorms,'' said Christine Loh Kung-wai, Civic Exchange chief executive officer. ``The authorities need to consider carefully whether to permit dense development in flood-prone zones or not.''

Engineering fixes alone by the Drainage Services Department will not be enough, said Loh, who is also a co-author of the report.

She called on the government to release the findings of its cross-district flood risks assessment to alert residents.

``This could have an impact on property prices, but what we should be concerned about is human life and potential damage arising from floods,'' Loh said.

Faith Chan Ka-shun, researcher of the study, said Hong Kong should follow strategies in the United Kingdom that require decision-makers to direct development away from high-flood-risk areas.

A recent study by the Hong Kong Observatory showed that the incidence of heavy rainstorms has increased in the past decade, raising the risk of flooding in low-lying areas such as Tai O and the northern New Territories.

According to the Drainage Services Department, 18 flooding blackspots in the territory are under monitoring or maintenance to alleviate flooding.
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 03:54 AM   #1098
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Bidding period opens for NT college site
The Standard
Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Education Bureau is calling for bids from schools in Hong Kong and overseas wishing to build a private college on a 100,000-square-meter site in Fan Ling.

The disposal of the land in the New Territories at a nominal premium for educational purposes is part of the government's effort to improve access to tertiary education.

It is the largest of six sites selected for private self-financing education, the others being at Ho Man Tin, Sha Tin, Wong Chuk Hang, Tseung Kwan O and Tai Wai.

The site at Queen's Hill, Fan Ling, can provide 8,000 tertiary education and 4,000 hostel places.

"The Queen's Hill site demonstrates our strong commitment to promoting the development of self-financing tertiary education in Hong Kong," an Education Bureau spokesman said yesterday.

The tender period will run until March and the government welcomes expressions of interest from post-secondary institutions in both Hong Kong and overseas, the spokesman said.

The institution must be non- profit-making and run on a self- financing basis. Loans will be provided to finance the construction of the college premises.

Some schools have said the site is too big and beyond the means of smaller institutions.

The Chinese University of Hong Kong said it will carefully assess the development potential of the site.

Hong Kong Baptist University, which has in the past expressed an interest in expansion, said its current plan already serves its needs and it has no interest in the Fan Ling site.

A spokesman for Hong Kong University's School of Professional and Continuing Education said the location is too far from the urban area, where most learning centers are located.

The government has said it plans to make Hong Kong a regional hub in education.

In his policy address, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam- kuen announced the setting up of a HK$2.5 billion fund to support self-financing tertiary education.
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 06:04 PM   #1099
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Two institutions interested in Fanling site for university
23 December 2010
South China Morning Post

Two tertiary institutions say they are interested in applying for a piece of land in Fanling big enough to create the city's fifth-biggest university.

Their responses came after the government announced yesterday that the site in Queen's Hill, with a potential gross floor area of more than 100,000 square metres, is open for application. It is the biggest of six sites the administration has tagged for private university development.

Professor Peter Yuen Pok-man, dean of the Polytechnic University-affiliated College of Professional and Continuing Education, said the college was attracted by the size of the site, which it is estimated will provide 8,000 self-financed degree places, only slightly fewer than the 8,500 full-time undergraduates studying at City University.

But Yuen said the University Grants Committee's recommendation in a recent report on higher education - that community colleges like his should be separated from their mother institutions - complicated the matter. "We don't have problems admitting students now. Our two campuses have a combined student body of 9,000. But we need to study if we can sustain such a large-scale operation if we are separated from PolyU," he said.

Director of the University of Hong Kong's School of Professional and Continuing Education Lee Chack-fan said the school would consider all sites offered by the government.

Leung Yam Shing, education adviser with the Vocational Training Council, said the council would study the land in Fanling before deciding whether it was interested. A Chinese University spokeswoman said it would assess the potential of the site to house an institution for self-financing degree students.

Reggie Kwan Ching-ping, principal of Caritas Bianchi College of Careers, said it was not interested in the site.
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Old December 29th, 2010, 02:15 PM   #1100
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Party voice backs an `island for the dead'
The Standard
Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Liberal Party has joined calls for an "island for the dead."

The Food and Health Bureau was urged to investigate whether a columbarium can be built on an outlying island, for example, on Tung Lung Chau near Sai Kung or Hei Ling Chau to the east of Lantau Island.

The move follows similar calls from Savantas Policy Institute community development director David Wong Chor-fung.

Wong is also a Wan Chai district councillor and a member of the Hong Kong Chinese Reform Association.

The party's Yuen Long district councillor, Chow Wing-kan, along with several community officers yesterday handed a petition to the bureau to back its demands.

"There is shortage of land for development in the urban area. Even if each district can provide 500 more niches, it still cannot meet the long-term demand," Chow said.

His remarks came after the government identified five sites in five different districts for public columbariums and it is carrying out feasibility studies.

The five sites are in addition to 12 already proposed in seven districts in July.

But Chow believes they are insufficient. "The government can consider building a large-scale columbarium on an island to meet the growing demand for urns."

He added: "Hong Kong needs an average of about 50,000 new urns every year.

"More sites will have to be identified in each district for building columbariums if we do not consider putting niches on an island."

Chow said building a columbarium on an island will probably draw less opposition than locating such sites in urban areas.

But he stressed that when considering which island is more suitable, the government should assess the impact of such facilities on the environment.

"It should choose an area where there are few residents and where there will be least harm to the environment."
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