Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Misconstruing Good Intentions

Leung Chun-ying with wife Regina Tong who started an NGO
Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's wife Regina Tong has established a non-profit group called Food for Good to address food waste in the city.

The organization takes leftovers from hotels, restaurants and bakeries and redistributes them to those in need. It is not the first group in the city to do this, but more the better.

We are pleased to see her in particular taking the initiative on this, but lawmakers are crying foul, worried that she was using her husband's influence and wonder what her motives are for setting up the group.

"[Tong] is a distinctive political figure in the administration," said Civic Party lawmaker Dr Kenneth Chan Ka-lok. "She should distance herself from pushing any public policy. It will give the public a clouded perception, as her company needs to apply for funding from both the government and the private sector. The public will be suspicious of her potential motives as she has close ties to well-heeled enterprises... It will also undermine the government's credibility when it pushes food waste policies."

Chan even sent a letter of enquiry to the Chief Executive's Office demanding an explanation of Tong's position and asking whether there was a conflict of interest.

The office confirmed she was one of the founders of Food for Good, but that she would switch to having an honorary role.

"She will absolutely not participate in any administrative work in the plan" and won't gain financially from it, the office said in a statement.

What is wrong with someone in a position of influence setting up an NGO that tries to tackle both the problem of food waste in Hong Kong and give it to people who are starving?

And why is there a problem when she could sway funding raising efforts? We need someone like Tong to raise the awareness of food wastage in Hong Kong and that there are groups, not only hers, doing something about it.

Food for Good is a non-profit organization -- how could she profit from it? If anything she can raise more money for everyone, not just Food for Good. This group is just her small effort in trying to reduce waste in the city.

This pettiness by lawmakers just proves how divisive local politics is and the challenges Leung faces in trying to move forward.

Kind of like US President Obama dealing with Republicans in the senate refusing to budge...

What Tong is doing is akin to Michelle Obama getting kids to eat more healthy and exercise. What's so wrong about that?

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