Uncomfortable questions about that runway plan
A group calling itself the Airport Development Concern Network has written to incoming chief executive Leung Chun-ying expressing its disappointment at the reluctance of the Airport Authority to carry out a social return on investment (SROI) study on the proposed third runway, as requested by the Legislative Council environmental panel. The group also called on Leung not to renew the contract of authority chief executive Stanley Hui Hon-chung when it ends next February. The group says in its letter that during the chief executive candidates' environmental policy forum before the recent election, Leung was in favour of such a study. The group also suggested that the authority's chief executive should have some experience in 'planning large-scale infrastructure and sustainable development'. There has been some attempt by advocates of the third runway to speed up the approval process by Legco. The proposed runway will be one of Hong Kong's largest infrastructure projects, at an estimated cost of HK$136 billion, and the authority claims it will bring some HK$900 billion in economic benefit in the 50 years after it is built.
Interestingly, Eva Cheng, the secretary for transport and housing, has said the environmental impact study would be based on new air quality standards that came into force in Hong Kong in 2014. The authority's own consultants, Ove Arup, have already admitted that the third runway would struggle to meet these new standards, which are a legal requirement. The consultants' report says 'emissions from aircraft can only meet the standard by reducing the capacity of the new runway by some 60 per cent'. The prospect of carrying out an SROI study must be even more daunting.
The present administration's approach would be to try to fudge this issue, so it will be interesting to see how the new government handles it.
StanChart plays in defence over Liverpool queries
Standard Chartered had to deal with some awkward questions at its annual general meeting recently.
They centred on the bank's sponsorship of Liverpool Football Club, when the lender didn't have a presence in, or any other links with, the city, the Evening Standard reports. Chairman John Peace tried to deflect the question with a joke about appointing midfielder Steven Gerrard to the bank's board. But shareholders persisted. So what did the bank think of the club's handling of the Luis Suarez affair, where the Uruguayan player received an eight-match ban for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra? How much was the bank paying Liverpool? Peace said the bank didn't tolerate racism.
As for payments to Liverpool, it was complicated, since it was performance-related. This is why Peace said he was glad Liverpool hadn't qualified for Champions League football next season, as it would have had to pay the club more. It must be a first - a sponsor wanting its team to be less than wholly successful.
New social media app will annoy your friends for you
Tired of posting those constant updates to your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts? There's an app for that. Reuters reports that Nestle has launched an app it says addresses a growing problem among young social media users, giving them a break from the stress of posting updates by doing it for them. The app, Social Break, automatically sends random updates to users' social media accounts. It is free to download from kitkat.com.sg/socialbreak.
Users of the app can enter account details for Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook and then choose how often they want the software to send updates. It will respond to items where the user has been tagged with one of eight random messages.
LinkedIn will occasionally forward links posted by other users, while Twitter will respond randomly to messages from other users.
JPMorgan not masters of the universe after all
What to make of JPMorgan's US$2 billion loss? Chief executive Jamie Dimon characterised it as a result of sloppiness and said it was a pure trading screw-up due to the company's own errors and stupidity, and not something fundamental.
The loss is particularly shocking coming from JPMorgan, which sailed through the financial crisis without loss, earning itself a reputation for strong risk management. It reminds us of the Korean expression 'even monkeys fall out of the tree sometimes'.