Insurance doesn't guarantee all the places are covered
Being big doesn't mean you always win.
Hong Kong's No1 insurance man, Edmund Tse Sze-wing (below), barely scraped home in polling to elect the committee that will choose Hong Kong's next leader, ranking last of 12 in the insurance sub-sector.
The American International Group senior vice-chairman polled 50 votes, edging out only Alan Tsang, the banker-turned-insurer who works in tycoon Li Ka-shing's insurance arm. Mr Tsang got 48 votes.
You may wonder why Mr Tse, once a favourite to succeed Hank Greenberg as chairman of AIG and a man with more than 45 years experience in insurance, would almost drop out of the race. The answer lies perhaps in his busy travel schedule and the fact that he didn't have enough time to meet his constituents, according to informed sources.
Another busy traveller was his friend Richard Li Tzar-kai, who received the sixth highest vote from the information technology sub-sector after a high-profile campaign for 'true democracy'.
Welcome to the election team, Edmund and Richard.
Not everyone a winner
Still on the election team, Lai See noted some high-profile dropouts from the Li clan.
They included Cheung Kong (Holdings) director Ezra Pau Yee-wan (Financial Services), Davy Chung Sun-keung (Architectural, Surveying and Planning) and Hutchison Telecom (Hong Kong) chief Peter Wong King-fai (information technology).
Altogether the Li companies sent eight representatives and got four elected - Li Ka-shing, Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, Edmund Ip Tak-chuen and Hutchison Whampoa Property managing director Raymond Chow Wai-kam - for a 50 per cent strike rate.
Another big bloc, Sun Hung Kai Properties, had 10 representatives - and succeeded in having all except one elected for a 90 per cent score. A clear enough indication of who is going to have a voice in the next government?
Oops, what's in a comma?
As the year-end approaches, IPO mania has also reached a peak. At the Bank of China Tower in Central yesterday, subscribers could pick up five different company prospectuses.
We doubt many takers would actually bother to read the thick telephone book-like documents, especially after the record 85 per cent jump in share price of China Communication Services on its debut last Friday.
Some diligent reporters, however, were on the case. Apple Daily and Hong Kong Daily News noted that the minimum subscription amount of Ming An Insurance was stated as HK$3.798 on page 214 in the Chinese prospectus instead of HK$3,798.
People at Ming An's sole sponsor Credit Suisse and the Securities and Futures Commission were obviously very busy.
Fillies index good for a flutter
If you don't know anything about the horses, try falling back on the running-rail advice to bet on the horse whose owner brings his wife to the track. The more make-up she wears, the better the horse's chance. The rationale? When the flashbulbs are popping, the fillies want to look their best.
Lai See bumped into tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun and wife Angela at the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races on Sunday. Certain that Mr Ho knew a little about gambling, Lai See chipped in HK$10 on his runner Viva Pataca for a place.
Standing next to the couple, we were touched by how emotionally they got involved in urging home their favourite horse.
'I'm having a heart attack,' Mrs Ho fluttered to her companion, Legco president Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, as Viva Pataca finished in fourth place in the Hong Kong Cup.
Viva Pataca's owners still picked up HK$1 million in prize money for his efforts.
Cathay boss on the money
Also making a small fortune at the track was Cathay Pacific chief executive Philip Chen Nan-lok, who happily showed off a winning tierce ticket.
Asked his secret, Mr Chen confided, 'I have studied horses for 50 years.'
Cathay Pacific's latest annual report gives Mr Chen's age at an even 50.