Lai See

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 May, 2015, 12:02pm


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Time for Wharf to walk the talk at quality piazza

'To some, art imitates life; to others, life imitates art ... as the debate goes on, we take pride in having created a quality space where art and life meet.'

You think 'inspiration' like this probably comes from a high-brow hong such as Swire Pacific. Wrong. The above was from the latest annual report of property development group Wharf (Holdings), a much more down-to-earth company.

Wharf was commenting on Times Square, over which storm clouds gathered recently because of its management of the public piazza fronting the retail-cum-office compound.

The conglomerate told shareholders in the document that Wharf had hosted a few exhibitions in the piazza last year, including world-renowned sculptor Ju Ming's (above) works, as opposed to the more pedestrian view that it held only money-making trade shows there on weekends.

Since Wharf discovered that it was not supposed to lease the public area to Starbucks, all it has been hearing is strong condemnation against its mismanagement of public space and calls for more common areas in Causeway Bay.

Some activists then tested the developer's tolerance by hosting unannounced art fairs, demonstrations or even picnics right outside the shopping centre, prompting Wharf to run an advertising campaign this week to stop the nonsense.

The ad spells out Wharf's right as owner of Times Square to approve any exhibitions or displays on its doorstep, as granted in the deed of dedication it signed with the government.

This same point is made in Wharf's annual report, which quotes a few clauses in the Times Square deeds that essentially say the proprietor does not have to put up with noisy and disorderly conduct.

Whether Wharf's action can stop the public's defiance is anybody's guess. Perhaps it is time for Wharf to walk the talk and put more art into life at an internationally renowned landmark that seems to have lost some of its shine.

Missed opportunity

You might laugh at PCCW managing director Alex Arena's fat tummy, or Cheung Kong (Holdings) managing director Victor Li Tzar-kuoi's (above) running posture, but unless you have been a torch-bearer, you will never know the elation of carrying the Olympic flame across town.

Well, not quite. Timothy Sy Ethan, chairman of Hong Kong-listed Global Tech (Holdings) and a designated torch-bearer, certainly did not get the feeling. He missed a flight and could not get back in time for his leg of the relay.

As his luck slipped, so did his company's share price. Shares of Global Tech, a Samsung handset distributor, fell 3.33 per cent to close at 5.8 HK cents yesterday.

Olympic investment

The Olympics have set the city on fire and the stock market too, it seems.

So, our ad of the week goes to JF Investment, which hit an Olympic theme by promoting its 'Investment Relay' fund in a traditionally flat month at the start of a low season. As brokers say, 'Sell in May and go away'. So there you have it.

It's a long and winding road to becoming an Olympian, but with JF, becoming an 'investment athlete' has become a little easier. Getting financially fit starts at HK$10,000 and drops to HK$5,000 thereafter.

Numbers game

Talking about missing a flight, it seems it's not easy holding on to tickets of now defunct Oasis Airlines in hopes of getting a refund.

A reader told us that he was given an officious 11-digit reference number by the provisional liquidator to begin his claim, only to find that the same reference number had been issued for another claim. The matter is being looked into.

It does make one wonder about the wisdom of handing out such big numbers, given that one reason the airline was grounded was because it had too few, rather than too many, customers.

Or could it be that all those who bought Oasis tickets in advance had the same reference number because they shared a common destiny?