Lai See

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 June, 2010, 12:00am

Sometimes there is a sure thing at the races

The philanthropic Hong Kong Jockey Club, which is already the city's largest private charity donor, seems to have an unwavering commitment to its cause and will take it to another level.

The club announced yesterday it would allow place and quinella betting on the Juvenile Sprint Trophy - which will probably result in a loss of millions of dollars for the club because the race has attracted just four runners, with only two holding a decisive class edge over the others.

This could produce a potential 'minus pool' owing to the anticipated enthusiastic support for the two likely winners.

Lai See doesn't know much about the intricate way of calculating win odds, but plainly speaking, no matter how much money is wagered on Entrapment and Tai Sing Yeh through the quinella pool, there will be a 5 per cent return on investment over a 70-second period, should the pair win as expected.

We hate to say this: Gambling does pay off, once in a long while, or at least this weekend.

Supermarket revolution looms

We all know well what a supermarket duopoly does to prices. Here in Hong Kong we have two dominant chains.

For those who are fed up with being ripped off by top supermarkets, check out the revolutionary People's Supermarket from Britain. It offers a new way of shopping whereby the store is owned by the people for the people. The innovative venture is being set up by chef Arthur Potts Dawson, who aims to change the way people buy food.

'This is a supermarket that is run by the people for the people, selling the best food at the lowest possible prices,' Dawson says.

The social enterprise concept originated in the United States in the 1970s. This is how it works. Members will help out in the shop for a certain number of hours every month, and in return they can benefit from price reductions on their shopping, compared to non-members.

Members will decide how the place is run and what it sells, and all profits go back into making the food even cheaper. There are no big bonuses for bosses; benefits are for members only. Voila!

What a big contrast to our impersonal superstore chains - one boasts having parking facilities but offers none, and the other misspells its name with two Ls.

Flights of fancy

It's been a while since we last heard any positive news from British Airways, which has had its business seriously disrupted by striking cabin crew and waves of stoppages over the past year.

This week, the beleaguered airline announced awarding the British Airways Business Opportunity Grants to 30 small-to-medium-sized enterprises in Hong Kong in an initiative that is part of its commitment to keep entrepreneurship alive and to help stimulate local business.

The winners will each receive nearly a year's worth of travel to help stimulate business growth and seek out new opportunities overseas. The grant includes 10 return BA Club World (business class) tickets to be used between now and February next year, the total value of which is HK$11 million.

Good luck, guys! With all the anticipated strikes by cabin crew this summer, when many flights are most likely to be affected, there isn't much time left to redeem those tickets.

Splashing out after rainbow

We are firm believers in the saying that 'there is always a rainbow after the rain'. Foxconn's doubling of its mainland workers' wages following a rash of employee suicides may have unexpectedly solved one of the country's structural economic problems - weak domestic consumption.

A market study by the Royal Bank of Scotland (Hong Kong) shows that young migrant workers in Shenzhen have become more willing to spend on goods and services than before.

With a bigger pay cheque, many said they would splash out more on food, drinks, clothes, enhancing their personal appearance, such as by getting a nice haircut, and upgrading mobile phones.

The changing consumption patterns of low-to-middle-income earners may soon fit in with the larger strategy of transforming the mainland's economic structure from being export- and investment-led to being domestic consumption-led.

Love and money

We have been reminded that love and money are inseparable, especially in the world of casino boss, Sheldon Adelson.

Adelson, chief executive of Las Vegas Sands Corp, said his new Marina Bay Sands in Singapore had sued an Asian law association for owing S$300,000 (HK$1.69 million) for a conference held at the casino resort last month.

The lawyer group claims Sands breached its agreement as the conference, the resort's first, was beset with problems, including a leaky roof, power failures and unfinished hotel rooms.

'Our policy is to make love, not war,' Adelson said. 'We want to resolve the matter amicably if we can.'