'Green' activist needs to start walking the walk

By Ni Tao
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Shanghai Daily, March 13, 2014
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If a person cannot match his or her words with actions, he or she is usually described as a double-dealer, or worse, hypocrite.

There is a lot of double dealing on the issue of environmental protection, especially on how to tackle the smog, now a daily irritant.

Given their wealth and media exposure, China's elites naturally are scrutinized the most on the disparity between their environmental pledges and their personal conduct. And no environmental hypocrisy is more reprehensible than the fact that some self-styled environmental activists, in pledging efforts to tackle the smog, are doing the very opposite, exacerbating it.

Pan Shiyi recently was spotted illegally parking his gas-guzzling sports utility vehicle on the highway leading to Beijing Capital International Airport.

Pan Shiyi, a property tycoon and CEO of SOHO China, a real estate developer, is one example. Pan is an avid blogger who writes passionately about his anger over PM2.5 — the tiny airborne particles responsible for haze and lung damage — and calls on authorities to tackle it.

Since he has a large following on weibo, Pan has made a name of himself as an environmentalist. Yet his environmental activism revealed its true colors recently when he illegally parked his gas-guzzling sports utility vehicle on the highway leading to Beijing Capital International Airport. Toll station staff ordered him to leave.

Gas guzzler

According to his weibo posting, the property mogul was trying to take pictures of the haze blanketing the toll booths when a security guard ordered him to leave, saying parking on the highway was prohibited and dangerous.

In what appeared to be arrogance and a possible abuse of his prerogatives, Pan, a deputy to Beijing's municipal legislature, showed his lawmaker's certificate. He was asked to leave nonetheless.

What's notable about the incident is not that the flamboyant developer expected the guard to bend the rules a bit, or that the guard showed backbone and insisted on compliance.

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