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'Raise Room Temperature And Save More Power'
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Casual wear and a suitable indoor temperature were among the topics during the chief executive's question and answer session at the Legislative Council (LegCo) yesterday.

Apart from responding to the July 1 march and the remarks of former senior officials for the first time, Donald Tsang also took on the question of environmental protection and traditional Chinese medicine.

On the air pollution, Tsang was buoyant about the blue sky and white clouds that summer was bringing because emission volumes had greatly decreased in recent years.

He said power generation plants were the biggest source of pollution in Hong Kong and the government would include emission reduction clauses in the new Scheme of Control agreements with the two power companies.

"The government will ask them to reduce emissions by and large. We will also introduce penalties to stringently punish any excessive emissions," he told the chamber.

The CE also noted air conditioning accounted for one-third of the power consumption in Hong Kong.

Keep 25.5 C indoors

"I guess the temperature here in this chamber is 22 C. If this is raised to 25.5 C as proposed by the government, we can save 1 billion units of electricity a year.

"In fact, we can put on casual wears in the summer, as the government has fixed 25.5 C as the right temperature. We are promoting a casual wear campaign among the civil servants."

Legislative Council President Rita Fan, however, corrected the CE and said the chamber temperature was 24 C. "We can easily switch it to 25.5 C, but we will be sweating if we stay here for a long time," she amused. "Our air conditioning system is a very old one but we will have it thoroughly cleaned in the summer."

The CE admitted that the government officials would not put on casual wears in the Legislative Council unless a motion to this effect was passed.

Civic Party's Alan Leong questioned why the government had allowed certain cigarette manufacturers to continue to use such words as "mild" or "light" on the packs.

If the government feels it has strong grounds to ban such words that will mislead people, it shall resort to legal action and let the court make a decision, Alan said.

Tsang replied that the government could face legal action from the cigarette manufacturers if it banned such words. The government has weighed the case very carefully to adopt the "grandfathering" method, which only seeks to ban such words six months after the smoking ban comes into effect, the CE said.

"We should not pass the buck to the court if we do not stand a high chance of winning the case."

Kevin Li, from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, asked why listed Chinese medicine practitioners were not allowed to issue sick leave certificates.

Tsang said over 500 listed practitioners had become registered practitioners through examinations in recent years.

The government will take more positive steps to help the 3,000-plus listed practitioners reach the required level through examinations, he added.

On the long-awaited Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, he said the preparation work had reached the final stage.

"The bridge involves jurisdiction and the waters of three governments. But, we have not spent much time on this. Look how much time we have spent on the Tamar development project," he said in a lighter vein.

Admitting that planning deficiencies in the Tin Shui Wai and Tung Chung new towns resulted in shortage of recreational amenities, he said the causes of suicide tragedies, however, were complicated, and vowed to adjust the planning policy.

(China Daily HK Edition July 11, 2006)

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