Sarah Liao Sau-tung

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Sarah Liao was tobacco industry lobbyist, who was Managing Director of EHS Consultants Limited, Hong Kong -- her own consulting company. She was married to the Postmaster General of Hong Kong. There are variations on the spelling of her first and married surname name, including Sarah Mary Liao Sau-Tung. She is to be found throughout the Asian tobacco industry documents, usually under the shorter name of Sarah Liao (also Sara Liao).

She worked with John Dollisson at Philip Morris Asia's Hong Kong office in recruiting scientific consultant for the tobacco industry, and her company (EHS Consultants) provided organisation services for Philip Morris. She also recruited and provided a money-laundry service for her friend,'Professor Linda Koo (aka Linda Koo Chih-ling). Koo insisted on this additional barrier to 'discovery' to keep her name from being associated (in any Asian industry lists) with her (Koo's) secret support for the tobacco industry's Asian WhiteCoats operations. She worked closely with Yoon Shin Kim and others among the Asian ETS Consultants/WhiteCoats.

EHS Consultants Lrd has now merged with CH2M HILL Ltd., a US-based 12,000 staff, 'environmental consultancy' firm with (supposedly) US$1.7 billion in revenues. Liao then became the managing director for Greater China and it has since conducted air quality studies in the Pearl River Delta, and pollution studies in Hong Kong waters.

More recently Sarah Liao has been involved in Hong Kong politics and in August 2002 she became the Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works (until Jun 2007) in the Government of Hong Kong. She has also received a couple of major awards; some for her assistance with the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

With a husband who was Postmaster General, she obviously has considerable political support. See the puff-piece camouflaged as a Wikipedia biography at It does make one minor mention of her work for the tobacco industry.


She was educated at a Diocesan Girl's Schol;, then at the University of Birmingham, graduating with a bachelor's degree (chemistry and botany), followed by a master's degree in analytic chemistry. She then did the University of Hong Kong's master's degree in inorganic chemistry and doctorate in environmental/occupational health.

Dr Sarah Liao's employment history includes positions at British American Tobacco {unconfirmed}, the (Asian ?) Consumer Council and the University of Hong Kong. Dr Liao has denied charges that she was paid to be a supporter of tobacco industry consultants - see [1] but hundreds of documents in the tobacco archives show otherwise.

She was run as a secret tobacco industry consultant via the legal firm of Covington & Burling and by Philip Morris, Asia through their Hong Kong office. She worked as:

  1. an Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) consultant herself,
  2. as an administrator and organiser of the Asian WhiteCoats,
  3. as a recruiter of scientists willing to give false testimony,
  4. as a research scientist in indoor air quality.

With two other Asian WhiteCoats she published a major air-quality report which largely exonerated second hand smoke as a primary source of Hong Kong office air pollution -- which must have made Hong Kong offices unique in the world.

She is mainly notorious for having worked on the Asian ETS Consultants program. (aka Asian WhiteCoats).

Documents and Timelines

1987-96: Member, Consumer Council, Hong Kong
1990-96: Chairman, Research and Testing Committee, Consumer Council, Hong Kong

1990 Sarah Liao (aka Sarah Liao Sau-tung) and Dr John Bacon-Shone have been commissioned by the CIAR to undertake a $1 million project. [2]

1991 Jan The IAI began published a monthly Indoor air quality journal. Sarah Liao, along with John Bacon-Shone, Fengsheng He, Yoon Shim Kim, Wen-Chen Victor Liu and Ben Reverente were serving on the editorial board. [3]

1993-94: Deputy chairman, Urban Growth & the Environment, World Congress 1994

1993-98: Board of Governors, Friends of the Earth, Hong Kong

1994-96: Member, The Pacific Business Forum (PBF) of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

1994: Appointed Non-official Justice of the Peace of the Hong Kong Government
1995 – 2000: Member, Building Committee, Hong Kong Housing Authority

1997: Member in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE)

1999 – 2011: Member, Central Policy Unit (HK Government)

1999 Jan 18 The Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department commissioned a study into the early release of tobacco documents in 1995, but they appear to have done nothing with the information.Then in 1999, the Hong Kong newspapers got hold of the story from Stanton Glanz's book, '"The Cigarette Papers".

This resulted in an inquiry in Hong Kong, with Sarah Liao and Dr John Bacon-Shone denying that they knew the tobacco industry was funding their project. See the articles which expose the project. [4] [5]

1999 Jan 18A China Morning Post story.

Hong Kong's Environmental Protection Department which commissioned the recently released $10 million stuidy is seeking legal advice and conducting checks on the report. The Inquiry was ordered after managing director of EHS Consultants, Sara Liao Sau-tung and Central Policy Unit member John Bacon-Shone were named in Philip Morris cigarette company documents as having been paid consultants to the industry.

The study had been commissioned in 1995 and it was 'intended to be the corner-stone of future policy and legislation on indoor air"

Also see page 53 article where he defends himself. p 57 John Rupp says that they were fully aware of the tobacco connections [6]

1999 Mar ASH "Conspiracy: Industry Plants Scientist... from The Cigarette Papers." has a detailed expose of C&B lawyer John Rupp, Linda Koo and Sarah Liao, and how the McGill University ETS Symposium was used by the industry to train and accredit Asian scientific and academic recruits for disinformation support. [7]

2002 Aug she became the Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works (until Jun 2007) in the Government of Hong Kong.

2007: received the Gold Bauhinia Star, Hong Kong SAR.

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  1. South China Morning Post, 18 January 1999, 'The cigarette papers : smoking guns'.