Lai See

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 October, 2010, 12:00am


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Legco president states the obvious about council's work

We were interested to see that the Legislative Council has seen fit to launch a five-day exhibition to boost public understanding of its work.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the exhibition, council president Tsang Yok-sing said Legco likes seeking public views on certain policies, oblivious of the irony that the work of Legco was closely related to members of the public and involved public engagement.

There is one way that Legco could become better known, and more relevant, to the public and that's by allowing people to vote for the members.

But as we all know there are complications surrounding that route. Once you open the door of one person one vote, who knows where it might end?

Goldman a political liability

Public perception of Goldman Sachs does not seem to be improving and the US media is reporting that the once dominant force on Wall Street is losing its clout.

In the past, the firm has been one of the top contributors to congressional candidates running for election but this year they appear less keen on taking Goldman's money. Rather, association with Goldman is now seen as a political liability and some two dozen candidates have declined Goldman's campaign contributions or donated them to charity.

'If I had to guess,' says Michael Greenberger, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Law and the former director of the trading and markets division at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission '... they are going to lose clout. I think they've lost their brand. Their brand was phenomenal. I think their brand is now a liability rather than an asset'.

Such a shame.

Buffett's China steak

Warren Buffett may be an exciting and broad-minded investor, but when it comes to food he is les adventurous, indeed highly risk-averse.

Buffett (pictured below) is known for his limited palate - steak, burgers and, when he is feeling adventurous, lamb. These culinary limitations caused a few problems on his recent trip to China, according to The Sunday Times, because, as we know, the Chinese do not like to hold back for visiting VIPs and always insist on a banquet.

The upshot was a banquet with Berkshire characteristics. Everyone at the table was served a steak - and then the 12-course Chinese meal started. Not being overly keen on fried eel or smoked eggs, Buffett stuck to cherry cola.

Child's play for HSBC

HSBC has launched what it calls a community banking initiative for primary schoolchildren - 'Save for your dreams'. The programme, HSBC tells us in a press statement, aims to promote financial literacy and encourage saving at an early age. HSBC has organised a competition for children to produce the best-designed piggy bank.

The bank will be writing to schools to invite them to participate in the scheme. Parents will be given a money-management guide to teach their children.

All of this sounds very worthy. But without wishing to sound overly churlish, the programme is not wholly unaligned with HSBC's commercial interests.

The bank presumably hopes the children will retain warm thoughts for HSBC when they get older and start earning and requiring financial services.

Like the Jesuits, the bank sees the value in attracting souls when they are young.

Singapore fling

More news from Southeast Asia's burgeoning gambling mecca - Singapore. A local businessman is reported by Singapore's Today newspaper to have lost S$100 million - almost HK$594 million - at the island's two casinos. Meanwhile, a timber tycoon from Sabah also lost S$50 million.

And Henry Quek, the businessman who lost S$26 million during a three-day gambling spree, has decided against suing Resorts World Sentosa for granting him credit too easily. The casino gave him a S$6 million discount on his debt and then another S$3 million after his case attracted publicity in the press.

Spring Air in hiring surprise

Good to see that the mainland's Spring Airlines is going against the grain of traditional Asian airline practices of hiring young alluring cabin attendants.

The Shanghai-based budget carrier is looking to hire attendants aged between 30 and 40 and preferably married with children. There is too much ageism in the industry. But the airline appears to have gone to the other extreme referring to them as 'Air Nanny' or 'Kong Sao'.