Lai See

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 May, 2009, 12:00am

Good old pavement pounding can still produce scoops

Veterans of Hong Kong's financial press pack remember the good old days when it was possible to casually bump into the city's tycoons while trolling for scoops in Central.

That's often how the best business stories were reported in the 1980s and even into the 1990s. But as office buildings stretch higher and higher, so too have their security levels.

Today, Spider-Man's odds of scaling Cheung Kong Center are better than a reporter's odds of button-holing his or her target tycoon in the lift and landing the big story.

Still, that did not deter one reporter from a Shenzhen newspaper, who yesterday waited outside the International Finance Centre Two lobby in the bright morning sun for Henderson Land Development chairman Lee Shau-kee to turn up.

Unfortunately for the young lady, her persistence bested her stamina and she fainted at about 9.30am. An ambulance was called and she was taken to a nearby medical centre. After a good rest, she asked the doctor if she was well enough to get back to work because she needed to return to Shenzhen on the same day.

Despite proving fruitless in the end, we reckon the attempt to doorstep one of the wealthiest tycoons in town was admirable.

More so given Mr Lee's quarters in an office building famous for its high security standards (visitors must produce identification and are issued with temporary bar-coded passes before they can even ride the lift). Too many modern hacks are content to rely on the daily drip feed from corporate public relations people.

Further, it points to emerging signs of 'two systems' when it comes to financial news gathering in Hong Kong. A quick poll of Lai See's corporate acquaintances reveals that mainland reporters are turning more aggressive in getting their stories when compared with locals, who tend to favour surfing the internet for the news.

For example, two months ago, a reporter at a local newspaper scored a scoop by waiting outside Li Ka-shing's home for him to depart for a morning round of golf.

She managed to get him talking and landed an exclusive story on Mr Li's opposition to the blackout on directors dealing in their firms' shares - a proposal which was nixed shortly thereafter.

Dining with Barbie

Lai See received an amusing press release yesterday singing the praises of the 'World's first Barbie dining experience'. Fortunately, that wasn't a description of the menu.

Instead, it seems that the pink princess now has a themed restaurant dedicated to her in - where else, but Shanghai.

To enjoy a 'total Barbie brand experience', readers can head to the six-storey dollhouse on bustling Huahai Middle Road.

There they can drink and dine at three new food and beverage outlets from celebrity chef David Laris, including the Barbie Cafe, the Pink Room tea house or the B Bar. The outlets promise to add to a 'fantasy-like Barbie-themed destination for girls of all ages'.

Translation: Ken, break out your wallet.

Krugman's take on world

Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman (below) has been doing a lot of talking on his mainland travels over the past few days, so it is no surprise that he provides not one, but two quotes of the week.

Hailed as an economic prophet, this is how he sees the future: 'I am very optimistic about the world in, let's say, 2030; it's the next 10 years or so that have me worried.'

He won the 2008 Nobel Prize for his work on trade theory. This is his latest: 'If the world as a whole is going to run a large trade surplus, we have to find another planet to trade with.'