ICAC takes stand against crime, but can we have a seat, please?
We were delighted to be invited along to the Independent Commission Against Corruption's 5th Symposium. It's a three-day conference and its theme is 'Old Challenge, New Approach: Fighting Corruption in a Changing World'. So we bowled up to the Convention and Exhibition Centre excited at the prospect of hearing about anti-corruption initiatives and strategies from eminent experts. As we entered the venue and looked for a seat, a lady approached and directed us to an area reserved for the press at the back of the room. This turned out to be a section of floor separated from the rest of the room by a velvet cordon. When we inquired about the possibility of a chair, we were told that they were reserved for the delegates. 'So we we're supposed to stand for the whole day?' we asked with some incredulity. 'There's a break at 12.30,' she told us helpfully. However, whether it was because of the look on our face or out of pity at our advancing years, she eventually relented and allowed us to sit with the delegates. But no such luck for the rest of the representatives from the press, who were made to stand behind their cordon sanitaire.
There's a bad atmosphere
We were unfortunately unable to make the press conference yesterday called by Sai Kung district councillor Raymond Ho Man-kit to whip up support for his campaign for the ousting of Secretary for the Environment Edward Yau Tang-wah. He sent out an e-mail to various groups concerned with environmental protection urging them to join a move to persuade incoming chief executive CY Leung not to reappoint Yau on account of his 'very poor performance.' Ho is a man of many parts. In addition to his duties in Sai kung he is a convenor of an organisation called Momentum 107, whose slogan according to its website appears to be 'Keep Tax Simple and Low, Make Government Accountable'. He was, and possibly still is, a policy researcher for the Lion Rock Institute. He also played a key part last year in providing evidence against two former district councillors and three accomplices who were convicted of electoral corruption. As the South China Morning Post reported at the time: 'A key witness for the prosecution was Sai Kung district councillor Raymond Ho Man-kit, who gave evidence under immunity granted by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.' Yau may have his faults when it comes to environmental protection, but he has never had to be granted immunity from prosecution by the ICAC.
AWA in charity partnership
The American Women's Association (AWA) and the American Chamber of Commerce are together launching a partnership in an effort to get more funding for Hong Kong-based charities. Every year the AWA raises funds for small local charities that are often 'under the radar', and its 30-member charitable donations committee undertakes a serious vetting of those that apply for donations. The committee also follows up once the donation has been made to ensure the funds are used for what they were intended. This year the AWA has vetted some 42 applications but only has funds of HK$2.4 million, sufficient for under one third of these. It is looking for outside partners to support the rest. It has therefore expanded its partnership with Amcham to mesh with its Opportunity for Giving Program aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises looking for opportunities to practise corporate social responsibility (CSR). There's an open house wine and cheese reception tonight at Amcham's headquarters in Bank of America Tower, Central, to launch the initiative. Representatives from some of the charities and the AWA charitable donations committee will be on hand to talk about the process and the charities. 'It's CSR in a box,' AWA president Susan Maddon told Lai See. 'All the vetting has been done, and we'll do the follow-up work. All the companies have to do is make a donation. And if they want to develop a relationship with the charity we can also help, ' she says. Details of the charities can be found at www.awa.org.hk/sys/ gallery/forms156.pdf.
Financiers break for lunch
More people in finance are quitting their jobs now than at any time since 2008 according to New York Magazine, which interviewed bankers on the website Escape the City. Some 41 per cent of those quitting are aged 26 to 30. Most are leaving because their lives are 'spiritually hollow' (47 per cent), while others feel they work non-stop (35 per cent). Some 6 per cent were leaving because they wanted to wake up late and take long lunches like their friends in the media. (Shurely shome mishtake.)