Lai See

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 May, 2012, 12:00am


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So just who is Deng's closest political bedfellow?

Which political leader would Deng Xiaoping be in terms of his political philosophy: Lee Kuan Yew, Chiang Kai-shek, Benito Mussolini, Augusto Pinochet or the Kangxi Emperor?

The answer, according to Professor Ezra Vogel, is Lee Kuan Yew. Vogel, who is the Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences Emeritus at Harvard University, was speaking at the Foreign Correspondents Club yesterday about Deng and what he would think of China today.

He said Lee and Deng had many meetings and had enormous respect for each other and were considerate of their respective sensibilities. Vogel tells the story of how the health-conscious Lee prepared for a visit from Deng, who liked to smoke and spit. Lee had an extractor built into his office wall to deal with the smoke and had a spittoon placed near Deng's chair. The two had their meeting, but Deng neither smoked nor used the spittoon. Vogel says the two people closest to Deng from outside mainland China were Lee and Hong Kong shipping magnate Y.K. Pao.

Vogel, who became a celebrity in Japan with the publication of his book Japan as Number One: Lessons for America, says he feels the same kind of 'tectonic vibrations' with his latest book, Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China. The Hong Kong University Press published the Chinese version of the book on Tuesday, and he's in discussions with a mainland publisher, though he said it would have 'to be adapted to the needs of mainland publication'.

But Vogel said if 80 to 90 per cent of it survived, he would be inclined to proceed.

Slim pay pickings in private equity

Private equity pay isn't what it used to be, as the website observes. Carlyle's first set of quarterly results since going public revealed that revenues were down by a fifth. At the same time, the distribution of carried interest and equity that Carlyle sets aside for its limited partners fell by 68 per cent to US$2.5 billion from US$7.7 billion from a year earlier. Still, banks say private equity has not lost its appeal for junior corporate finance staff.

A hollow victory

JPMorgan says 91.5 per cent of shareholders approve of the bank's executive pay proposals. The result of the vote, which is non-binding, was announced at the bank's annual shareholder meeting in Florida, Bloomberg reports. The result comes as a surprise, given the bank's recent US$2 billion loss.

But most of the votes on compensation were probably cast before the loss was announced, according to Neil Minow, co-owner and board member of GMI Ratings, which specialises in corporate governance.

He told Bloomberg: 'I don't think that the vote will be indicative of shareholder concerns on this issue. It's unusual to have such shocking and bad news come in after most of the votes have been cast.'

Can you be serious, Siri?

Apple's much hyped personal assistant app Siri has been disloyal to the world's biggest technology company, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. Asked what was the best smartphone ever, Siri replied that it was the Nokia Lumia 900. It said Apple appeared to have fixed the bug, with Siri replying 'You're kidding, right?' or 'Wait ... there are other phones?' We asked Siri the same question and got the response: 'The one you're holding.'

The newspaper said Siri uses search engine WolframAlpha to not only return search results but to calculate the best response to any given question. Based on customer reviews from across the web, WolframAlpha ranks the Nokia Lumia 900 as the 'best' smartphone currently on offer. Apple's iPhone 4S, which features Siri, only comes in at No 14.

Bilbao fans are losers all the way

Amid the soccer craziness in Europe last weekend, we read of the plight of the 400 Athletic Bilbao fans who decided the best way to see their team take on Atletico Madrid in the Europa League final was to fly. The fans clubbed together to charter the plane, Eurosport reports, so they would get to the match in time.

However they made one small mistake. Instead of chartering a flight to the Romanian capital of Bucharest, where the final was actually played, they booked it for Budapest in neighbouring Hungary.

Unfortunately, this mistake was only discovered once they landed in Budapest, where they were reduced to watching the game on television. Their misery was compounded with the team getting thrashed 3-1.

Interestingly, the official UEFA stadium announcer opened the proceedings at the match with a cheery, 'Good evening Budapest.'