with Howard Winn
No revenge for Rowse
Up at the crack of dawn yesterday morning - well 8.30am - to listen to Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah 'live' on RTHK and the prospect of a grilling from former civil servant Mike Rowse. He, it will be recalled, had to take the government to court to clear his name after it unsuccessfully tried to make him responsible for spending irregularities over the Harbour Fest some years ago. We were anticipating fireworks, particularly as there appeared to be considerable ammunition to have a go at Tsang.
But this was not to be and the programme was rather dull, assisted by Rowse's gentle questioning. 'Well, he seemed very tired and rather down,' Rowse said. 'He's a decent man under a lot of pressure. Our job was to look at the issues - which I think we did in a civilised way.'
But wasn't this an opportunity for Rowse's revenge? we asked. 'Well John wasn't part of that unpleasantness. Some things can be forgiven without being forgotten,' Rowse chortled.
What price Med cruise?
There was good news for the organisers of the Fund Managers and Asian Brokers and Bankers Awards dinner this week when a local tycoon donated a week's holiday on his yacht (pictured). The holiday is one of a number prizes that will be auctioned for charity at next Thursday's dinner. The dinner is one of Hong Kong's biggest single fund raising events for charity of the year having raised just over US$1 million at each of the past two events.
The yacht is a spectacular 187-foot three-masted schooner and one of the largest sailing yachts available for charter in the world. It will accommodate 12 people in six luxury suites and there's a crew of 10 to look after the boat and its guests. It'll be available for a week in the Mediterranean during the summer. The yacht has been built with luxury cruising in mind and includes an enormous 110 square metre aft deck complete with water-mist-cooling-system if things get a little warm.
French aviator honoured
Hats off to the Aerospace Forum Asia which raised a toast earlier this week to Frenchman Ren? Vallon who made the first powered flight in China 100 years ago on February 21, 1911. Martin Craigs, the president of the forum, presented a plaque commemorating the event for display at the Rosamonde Aviation Lounge at the Peninsula hotel in Shanghai. Sad though that nobody from the French diplomatic corps was in attendance to mark the event due, we are told, to a bureaucratic consular mix-up. Instead Vallon's feat, which drew a huge and astonished crowd at the Shanghai Kiangwan racecourse in 1911 as he flew his Sommer biplane from mainland soil, was celebrated by representatives from Boeing, Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China and other aviation enthusiasts.
Sadly Vallon also holds another distinction in becoming the first pilot to die on Chinese soil. After several more flights during March and April 1911, Vallon's aircraft stalled during a display on May 6 and plunged to the ground, killing the aviator instantly.
Tourists on tap
Let's hope that Beijing never decides to turn off the tap and stop tourists from the mainland visiting Hong Kong. According to The Nielsen Company, tourists from the mainland account for 60 per cent of the total number of tourists visiting Hong Kong and grew by 23 per cent last year. On average, they spend HK$12,000 with half of this on shopping and a quarter on both eating and on accommodation.