These tree-nappers need to be pruned

Central Station | Nury Vittachi 20 Jan 2020

Not all heroes wear capes! Two brave women are on the trail of secret gangs of tree-nappers abducting "gold" trees from Hong Kong forests.

In separate incidents, Nicola Newbury and Sally Andersen even confiscated the timber-thieves' equipment without being seen.

"My heart was pounding as I did it," said Lamma resident Sally.

Sai Kung resident Nicola, who works with a group called Friends of Hoi Ha, said: "Over the last few days, we have found six tree-scaling harnesses and two ropes."

Mainland gangs are stealing Hong Kong incense trees, which produce agarwood, a resin that can be worth more than gold.

Nicola has amassed data showing how tree-poachers build secret camps in the woods, which she has passed on to the authorities.

Oprah would say: "You go, girls!"

* * *

The Hong Kong government sent out details of a new trade agreement to business people on Friday: "Australia has agreed to eliminate all customs duties on Hong Kong-origin goods, subject to the relevant ROOs being met."

"Who are these roos that we have to meet?" asked one exporter. "Is Australia now using local wildlife as trade negotiators?"

I hope so. That would liven up business meetings.

* * *

Black-clad vandals smashed traffic lights in Central yesterday - but in Mong Kok, I watched another group of youngsters, one of whom was dressed as the God of Wealth, cleaning graffiti and stickers off traffic lights. A South Asian resident said: "Hong Kong should exile the black shirts to Bhutan. It has no traffic lights. They'd feel like they were in heaven."

* * *

Further to our suggestion that last week's purchase of land in Tuen Mun by a Chinese firm could be defined as a "communist plot," reader Terry Green pointed out that whatever was erected on it could be called "the communist bloc."

* * *

Police blitzed Sai Wan, Aberdeen and several other areas with parking fines over the weekend. Reader David Macleod said: "You just know things are back to normal when the police are handing out parking tickets again." Petra Lui said: "So I have to be careful when parking my bike now."

Never in the history of the world have traffic cops handing out parking tickets been greeted with such broad smiles before.

* * *

Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch must have been laughing on his business-class flight back from Hong Kong to the United States. "His NGO was already on the black list so he knew he would be rejected: it was a publicity stunt," said reader Tom Guendert. Real issue: why is the media so easy to trick?

* * *

The announcement that Hong Kong's travel discount age limit would be dropped to 60 got readers talking. "Welcome to the Two Dollars Club," said Lincoln Tso.

"It's a birthday pressie as I officially reach level 60 today," said Tan Mee-wah on Friday.

Jim Browne asked: "Does that include us pensioner tourists?" [It does.]

Colleen Thane said she elbowed her way to the front of the queue at the MTR customer services office to ask for one, but the staff member shook his head. "Only proposed," he said. "Wait for next government instruction." Colleen said: "He looked like he'd said that 11,354 times this morning."

But not everyone was satisfied. "Still not as good as Shenzhen," said Keith McNab. "For old fogies like me, the MTR there is free."

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