Lai See

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 July, 2008, 12:00am

Obstacle race for spectators as well at equestrian venue

A day out at Sha Tin to watch some horse flesh will take on a different complexion when the Olympics come to town in three weeks.

We were curious as to how the preparations were going for the equestrian events and discovered that spectators would have to get over a few obstacles themselves.

Because it's the Olympics, security at the Sha Tin equestrian stadium and the Beas River cross-country course has been beefed up to the point where spectators will need to arrive two hours before the 'hoof-off', or whatever it's called, to pass through the checkpoints. And seeing how a few of the events start at 6.30am, it will mean a very early morning for the faithful. We're told the MTR will put trains on from 3.30am on those days.

But the vast majority of the dressage and jumping events will begin at 7.15pm (and finish past midnight), making it fairly manageable. There will also be shuttle buses from University MTR station to the stadium. In the end, having handled up to 70,000 horse racing punters every week during the season, we doubt the 18,000 expected equestrian spectators will put too much strain on our renowned transport system.

Wrong crowd saddled up

In a dry run for handling the crowds at the equestrian events, the Olympic organisers put on a 'summer youth programme' at the stadium last Saturday.

The Sha Tin District Council was enlisted to drum up a crowd and they managed to put about 8,000 bums on seats. The trouble was the vast majority of them belonged to grannies and granddads ever eager for a free afternoon out, which meant there was more nodding off going on than rocking to the music laid on for the youngsters.

Meet the boss with real clout

Many know Next Media chairman Jimmy Lai Chee-ying as a fearless newspaper owner. Fewer know that he can also be a fearful boss.

The Apple Daily newsroom in Hong Kong was buzzing this week about how Mr Lai, carrying a baseball bat, confronted one of his photographers at the paper's sister publication in Taiwan.

Accompanied by his Taiwan editor, Mr Lai slammed the bat down on the photographer's desk and exchanged a few choice, but unrepeatable, words with him before sacking him on the spot. The story has it that the photographer had been blackmailing a former girlfriend.

Reuters has the numbers

Once you're lucky; twice you're good, and three times you're God. Well, we wouldn't go that far with Reuters, but the news agency has certainly left everyone else standing when it comes to making a call on China's economic statistics this year.

In April, May and earlier this month, Reuters correctly reported the mainland's consumer price index figure several days before it was officially announced by the National Bureau of Statistics. And for good measure, the wire service was spot on this week with its story about China's gross domestic product for the first half, two days before the official version.

There have been murmurings among the government-controlled mainland media about how Reuters is getting the information ahead of them. Of course, it's all down to contacts. Each time, Reuters has said it was quoting 'official sources familiar with the data'.

Reuters staff were coy about the 'scoops', which is not surprising considering Beijing treats any such data as national secrets.

Bingo at Ningbo

A year is a long time for China investors. But Bank of Ningbo staff still stand to make millions on Monday when the lender's share lock-up expires. Despite the shares falling 50 per cent from their debut a year ago to yesterday's closing price of 10.22 yuan, many of the bank's staff are sitting on nine times profit as they were allowed to subscribe at 1 yuan per share, significantly below its initial offer price of 9.20 yuan.

It has been reported that 70 per cent of the bank's 988 staff could start cashing out next week and many of them could become yuan millionaires.