Swire Group

Pilot's pager goes down a bomb at Cathay

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 September, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 September, 1995, 12:00am

PERHAPS it is Cathay's currently less than friendly relations with Australian competitors during the negotiations over routes or maybe the management still gets the impression that staff-relations are at a very, very low ebb, but there is more than a little paranoia in the air around the Cathay building at Kai Tak.

The bad vibes apparently reached a crescendo on August 27 when staff heard a mysterious 'beep' from inside a pilot's mailbox.

Security was called. Security, in its wisdom, called the bomb squad.

The bomb squad conducted a controlled explosion on the mail box.

Astute readers will probably have guessed by now that a controlled explosion proved to have been a little piece of overkill.

A mole at Kai Tak assures us that the Cathay aircrew who had been around before security were called had already guessed what was inside the mail box because they all have one too - a pager, this one with its batteries running down.

The beeping was the occasional warning emitted by a pager on its last legs.

As luck would have it, the Cathay building wasn't the only place in need of a little security on the day.

While the anti-personnel pager was being safely disposed of, an outward bound flight had to make two take-off attempts, our source said.

After attempt two, the passengers became just slightly restless and, in a good-humoured way, started to beg and plead with the pilot to turn back.

It all became just a little heated and eventually the pilot decided that the calming presence of a few large lads might be in order.

Alas, when he called up to ask for reinforcements, everyone was out watching the pager being blasted.

Closed book WE didn't expect lots of sympathy for our remarks about annual general meetings and companies shutting the press out of them.

There are non-journalists who think it is an issue.

Our informant wrote to the exchange after he couldn't attend the AGM of one company in person.

He had hoped to see a full report in Business Post but had to make do with a brief interview with one company director on the steps of his headquarters.

The company took the view that the business of general meetings is confidential and is purely the concern of shareholders.

Fair enough, but as anyone not cold-shouldered by the exchange can buy shares, shouldn't the meetings still be public? What happens if stock exchange officials or other regulators decide to pop along. Will they be locked out with the rat-pack if they can't produce a proxy form? The answer is conceivably, yes. There was at one stage some talk about all companies being forced to hand over one share to the exchange company as a listing requirement but nothing has come of it, so far as we can determine.

Good old days ELEC & Eltek has been having a quick go at rewriting Hong Kong accounting standards.

The locally-listed manufacturer sent out a release on its results telling everyone the 'operating profit after tax and minority interests but before exceptional items', a line we have never seen in an annual report.

Obviously, the firm is longing for the days when exceptionals could be classed as extraordinary and put below the line.

Picture this WE all stand together - so runs the slogan of the Better Hong Kong Foundation. The foundation is not a charity, by the way. At least it isn't going to be helping the needy directly.

The foundation is the top business-types organisation which is going to be in charge of telling the world that all this noise and trouble about the transition to Chinese rule is merely the bluster of a few disenchanted types backed up by a world press with woeful lack of Chinese historical knowledge.

The one thing that is completely clear from studying the full page picture that appeared is that the foundation does not all stand together. Certainly not for long enough to have their photograph taken.

A careful study of the picture, which appeared in almost every paper in Hong Kong yesterday and will probably keep on popping up, reveals that only a few of the tycoons turned up. The rest are cardboard cut-out patriots who have been stuck in afterwards.

Luckily, Lai See happened to be on hand when another top-persons group got together and we took a picture to prove it.

Here is the Butter Hong Kong Foundation, a closely guarded secret from the world until now.

Fax of strife VERNON Moore of CITIC Pacific is a confident man.

He told our reporter (Monday's Business Post) that as finance director, he didn't worry about the company's financial position.

Well a series of faxes and phone calls to Lai See and colleagues reassures us that even if Mr Moore isn't too bothered, plenty of other people are. Most of the responses were on the lines of: 'Who the hell does then, Vern?' 'I work for one of CITIC's bankers and I didn't worry about the company's financial position before,' said one chap. 'But I do now.'