Lai See

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 June, 2012, 12:00am


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What if bad air kills you? Don't worry, you're insured

A reader writes to say he has twice espied a large red van equipped with an internal meeting room parked outside Wan Chai train station on Hennessy Road. The effect of this was to keep out all other vehicles that needed to stop in the area, such as CTS tour coaches, delivery vans and minibuses. The van had the AIA logo emblazoned on its side and was selling life insurance. Naturally its engine was running, contravening the new idling laws.

Fortunately for AIA, this law is not enforced so it could carry on polluting the immediate environment with impunity. Readers will notice the irony in selling life insurance while at the same time adding to air pollution, which, as the Hedley Environmental Index shows, has resulted in an annual average of 3,200 unnecessary deaths over the past five years.

We drew the van's activity to the attention of AIA's Jacqueline Chan, who thanked us for the information and said: 'As a responsible organisation, we have guidelines in place to ensure that our vehicles do not cause pollution by idling and/or create inconvenience for the public. We will conduct an investigation and take appropriate action.'

Risky business

To cocktails with Steve Vickers Associates, the eponymous firm founded by Steve Vickers, who was former senior superintendent with the police force. This is his second start-up company in this field, having sold his previous firm, International Risk, some six years ago. Having completed his earn-out period, he is re-entering the fray with a new venture, which is another specialist risk mitigation, corporate intelligence and security consulting company.

He offered a pithy assessment of various risks around the region for his guests. Politics, property prices, posturing politicians and economic problems, together with the wealth gap between the haves and have-nots, are 'creating greater social tensions than ever before'. He added: 'Threats to our 'one country, two systems' principle are perhaps greater than ever before.'

Vickers said he was a supporter of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, but said people were concerned at 'the ballistic gap' between when arrests were made and when formal charges and legal process commenced. In a reference to the arrests of Sun Hung Kai Properties executives, he said: 'The Hong Kong equivalent of the 'perp walk' has occurred and been delivered but no resolution has followed.' This long waiting period, he said, 'leads one to ... question the motivations to such early arrests if charges do not follow within a reasonably short period of time'.

He was also critical of the two sets of law that were apparent in Hong Kong: one for the Heung Yee Kuk, which allowed indigenous villagers to make unlawful alterations to their houses with impunity, and another for urban dwellers. Meanwhile, opportunities for the risk business were buoyant. 'There is no outbreak of honesty anywhere in Asia this year - we see it as a great opportunity.'

Citi's a survivor

Today is Citi's big day. The bank has survived a number of scrapes over the years and celebrates its 200th anniversary today with its seventh annual Global Community Day. In Asia, this means about 50,000 Citi volunteers in 17 countries will take part in 325 community projects.

In Hong Kong, proceeds from a soccer competition will go towards supporting homeless people. Asia-Pacific chief executive Stephen Bird, who's a soccer devotee, will be captaining one of the teams. In the Philippines, more than 2,000 volunteers are building 200 Habitat for Humanity homes for families displaced by typhoons.

In mainland China, about 2,000 volunteers took part in a walkathon to raise funds to improve the nutrition of more than 3,400 children from some of the country's poorest communities. Let's hope Citi is around for the next 200 years to continue its good works, er, its charity work we mean.

Ugandan affairs

We're a bit late with this but it's worth the wait. As we know, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy played the Germans very well and extracted superior bailout terms to the Irish. The Business Insider website carries from Spanish newspaper El Mundo an extraordinary text message that Rajoy sent to his economy minister Luis de Guindos prior to the bailout talks. 'Resist, we are the 4th power of the EZ. Spain is not Uganda.' The follow-up message (according to a Google translation) is: 'If you want to force the redemption of Spain ... prepare Euro500,000 billion and another 700,000 for Italy, which will have to be rescued after us.' Needless to say, this hasn't endeared Spain to Ugandans and has led to much muttering on Twitter.