Lai See

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 May, 2012, 12:00am

Immigration's rationale on denying Afghan team is just not cricket

It was reported earlier this week that the Hong Kong Cricket Association has had to bend to the perversities of the Immigration Department and abandon its efforts to bring the Afghan cricket team to Hong Kong for the Cricket Sixes. This is a shame since they would have been an attractive addition to the tournament. But it would be good if our insufferably arrogant bureaucrats could deign to give an explanation for this. The team has played all over the world and also on the mainland but is barred from Hong Kong. How absurd is that? The Immigration Department says visiting teams needs employment visas. But the department says, 'Under the prevailing policy, the entry arrangement for employment does not apply to nationals of Afghanistan, Cambodia, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, Nepal, and Vietnam.'

Hong Kong Cricket Association general manager Danny Lai was reported as saying that the Immigration Department had 'indicated to us that unless our event was an Olympic qualifying event, or something similar to that on an Asian level, Afghanistan would not get visas'. So in the eyes of the Immigration Department, the team can come if it is playing as part of a qualifying competition but cannot come if it comes under the auspices of commercial project. Surely we should be told what the decisive issue is?

Vietnam is also on the same Immigration Department blacklist, yet Vietnam's football team is coming to Hong Kong in June to play a friendly match and has had no problem in getting visas. We have got no further in understanding the rationale for decision-making other than this bland statement: 'In formulating or reviewing its visa policy, the government will take into account factors which include immigration and security considerations, economic, social and cultural ties between Hong Kong and the country/territory as well as individual circumstances of the country/territory.' As we say in cricket, 'played with a dead bat'.

Banking's female imperative

The problem with women bankers is that there are not enough of them, at least at a senior level. This is upsetting the plans of Asian banks looking to promote gender diversity, according to the latest edition of FinanceAsia. Banks, the magazine says, are being mandated to boost the numbers of women, 'a trend driven by a fresh understanding that having women in top jobs can have a direct impact on profits'.

It's apparently a global problem, with women changing their priorities as they get older and tending to 'park' their careers to achieve a better life-work balance. Headhunters say the problem is compounded by 'an unconscious bias around how hiring decisions are made - particularly in a male-dominated world like banking', Mina Ames of Egon Zehnder told the magazine.

The situation is not helped by pay discrepancies, with Australian women in the finance industry, for example, earning 28 per cent less than men. This in part is because they aren't so aggressive in haggling over their bonuses. A recent Australian report recommends the boards of publicly listed companies should comprise at least 40 per cent women. Australian companies already have to disclose in their annual reports how they are meeting their gender objectives.

Drinking coffee may extend life

A study by the New England Journal of Medicine says drinking coffee may help to extend life. Men who drank two to three cups a day had a 10 per cent chance of outliving those who drank none, while women had a 13 per cent chance, Bloomberg reports. Some 402,000 men and women, aged 50 to 71, were surveyed. The study found that two to three cups a day reduced the risks of dying from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke and diabetes. However, the report notes that men who drank coffee had a slightly higher chance of dying from cancer.

Pilots living the high life

Air India's high-living pilots and crew have pushed the national airline perilously close to bankruptcy, the country's aviation minister has revealed, with staff stealing whisky and caviar and being chauffeured in limousines to five-star hotels. Air India is investigating 161 cases of theft, fraud and abuse of perks, aviation minister Ajit Singh told MPs. One catering officer was caught stealing caviar worth about HK$3,700, while a purser was discovered walking away with more than 370 spirit miniatures. Investigations by Air India's internal vigilance department found that one pilot had been paid more than HK$3 million in allowances for simulator training while he was on sick leave. The disclosures were made as more than 350 Air India pilots escalated an unofficial strike by calling in sick.