SINGAPORE retained its ranking as the Asian city with the best quality of life, while Hong Kong lags behind rival financial hubs as it struggles with air pollution, according to a survey by Mercer Consulting.
Singapore ranks 28th among 221 cities, Tokyo is 40th and Hong Kong is placed 71st, the list shows. Hong Kong also trails behind New York City (No. 49), and smaller Japanese cities such as Kobe and Yokohama (tied for No. 41), Osaka (No. 51) and Nagoya (No. 57), according to the list.
The cities are rated on 10 factors including infrastructure, political and social environment, and access to medical care. Hong Kong scored poorly on health concerns, said Ms Cathy Loose, a Tokyo- based Mercer officer who helped compile the list.
'The government hasn't done very much to introduce green measures or reduce pollution,' Ms Loose said in an interview. The list serves as a compensation guide for expatriate relocation.
Hong Kong's score of about 94 points is little changed, which leaves it 5 points above the level at which Mercer says hardship allowances should be paid to workers who relocate. For cities including Beijing and Mumbai, a 10 per cent allowance is suggested, while an allowance of up to 28 per cent is suggested for Phnom Penh.
Hong Kong's air pollution was its worst on record during the past two quarters, sparking regular government health warnings. To address the problem, the government introduced a Bill last month proposing a ban on idling vehicle engines, among other measures.
Said HK Environmental Protection Department spokesman Eva Wong, in an e-mailed response to questions from Bloomberg: 'To tackle local emissions, we have been implementing very stringent control measures which are equivalent to those required by other advanced countries.'
The government is working with local bus companies and neighbouring cities in southern China to curb air pollution, and is investing HK$300 million (S$54.5 million) to develop low-carbon transport technology to cut roadside emissions, she said.
Singapore lags behind Hong Kong only on measurements of personal freedom and media censorship, said Ms Loose. Mercer is a unit of Marsh and McLennan.
In a Mercer statement, Ms Loose said: 'In addition to quality of living, this year's ranking also identifies the cities with the best eco-ranking based on water availability and drinkability, waste removal, quality of sewerage systems, air pollution and traffic congestion.'
For Asia, Kobe (No. 9) came out on top in eco city ranking, followed by Singapore (No. 22), while Dhaka (No. 220) ranked the lowest, she added.
Hong Kong's effort to cut pollution and protect the environment trails behind that of Havana and ranks just above Damascus, the list shows. Overall, Vienna retains the top spot as the world's best city to live in.
Source: Straits Times, 27 May 2010