An academic denounced Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen Monday for using a survey on Hong Kong's high life expectancy to lure businessmen and talented people.
"The life expectancy in Hong Kong is among the highest in the world ... you can come to only one conclusion: we have the most environmentally friendly place for people, for executives, for Hong Kong people to live," Tsang said during the Business for Clear Air conference.
However, during a Legislative Council meeting reviewing air quality objectives, University of Hong Kong's department of community medicine chair professor Anthony Hedley called Tsang's statement both "naive" and "misleading."
"[Tsang] is badly advised on current public health issues," Hedley said, adding that air pollution levels in the SAR were extremely high and could affect the lungs, blood vessels and heart.
Since the World Health Organization announced updated air quality guidelines in October, academics have been calling for Hong Kong to immediately update its air quality objectives, which were set nearly two decades ago.
However, Secretary for Environment, Transport and Works Sarah Liao Sau-tung said the WHO targets were too stringent.
"We'd rather prefer more practical and reachable targets that can be implemented with a strict timetable," she said.
Liao said the Hong Kong government will set up its own practical interim targets. A study with new quality objectives will begin by early 2007, with the government expecting the study to take 18 months to finish.
A public consultation would begin by the third quarter of 2008 and a long- term strategy finalized by 2009.