PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 April, 2011, 12:00am


The amazing tale of Richard Cranium and the VIP

There have been some surprising developments in the story we wrote in the middle of last month relating to the Conrad Hotel and its lift service.

This was about an incident that occurred one busy lunch time when people were prevented from using a lift by an employee who had leapt in front of the doors with arms outstretched and announced that the lift was reserved for VIPs. This irritated the waiting crowd and in particular an Australian businessman who was overheard saying: 'So who do you think we are - d**kheads.'

A week or so later the Australian businessman got in touch and apologised. ' I am usually more mild mannered but at the time was all power presentationed out on a new small listing on the ASX for raising of funds to drill out our rare earth elements and gold resources,' he explained.

So we know who the d**khead is. But we can also reveal the VIP at the centre of the incident was Selina Tsang Pou Siu-mei (pictured), the wife of our chief executive.

Keith Allardice, Conrad's general manager, conceded the matter hadn't been handled as well as it could have been. 'Normally we handle these situations rather better, but we had very little notice on that occasion.' he said. He also extended his apologies to the Australian businessman, adding: 'I will personally escort him into the lift and stand him a drink at one of our bars to make it up to him.'

Trouble still at RMJM mill

We seem to have been somewhat behind the curve yesterday in saying there appeared to be light at the end of the tunnel for the architectural firm RMJM and its flagship Hong Kong office.

The firm, or at least the Hong Kong office, has been plagued by a cash-flow shortage which has resulted in late payment or non-payment to staff and creditors. We said yesterday that this situation appeared to have been resolved by an injection of GBP8 million (HK$101.43 million) by the controlling Morrison family.

But according to the bdonline website, salaries at RMJM's Hong Kong office have again been delayed despite the capital injection last month. In an e-mail to staff, the recently appointed Asia managing principal, Gordon Hood, said that March salaries had been delayed but that the company was 'doing all it could to meet the Asian payroll as soon as possible'.

The company has been reported to the Hong Kong Labour Department for its late payment of salaries by Catherine Siu, principal architect with the firm, who has been suspended.

Will we see a market bottom?

The current property boom has led to soaring prices and high rentals. And some pretty rough stuff has come onto the market at exorbitant prices.

But we were slightly taken aback by a flier from Midland Realty drawing attention to 'Skycrapper 2007 + Roof Seaview'. Could this mean we're about to see a market bottom?

Tunisia in, Philippines still out

Lucky Tunisia. The Hong Kong government adjusted its outbound travel alert for the country from red to amber yesterday, meaning that travellers need no longer avoid non-essential travel to the country but can now 'monitor the situation and exercise caution'.

There are now 12 countries which get an amber alert, with a red alert for Egypt, Japan Lebanon, and Syria. Four prefectures in Japan that are affected by the stricken nuclear power plant warrant a black alert meaning that travel poses a severe threat and all travel should be avoided. Bahrain is also on the black alert list.

Also, the government still persists in its politically motivated black alert for the Philippines arising from of the hijacking of the tourist bus in Manila last year. Tragic as this event was, giving it a black alert makes a mockery of the government's claim that the travel alert system 'aims to help people better understand the risk or threat to personal safety'.

By politicising the system as it has clearly done in the case of the Philippines, it undermines it. If we are to take the system at face value, it is more dangerous to travel to the Philippines than it is to travel to Pakistan, Iran, Lebanon and other Middle Eastern places, which is clearly not true and is misleading the Hong Kong public as to the real travel risks. It is time the government abandoned this vindictiveness in relation to the Philippines.