Lai See

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 June, 2011, 12:00am


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Hot air over quick ban on tainted sports drinks

We read with interest that two Taiwanese sports drinks were banned from Hong Kong yesterday. The reason being that the level of one of the ingredients - DEHP, which can cause cancer - exceeds the World Health Organisation's safety level by one to 17 times.

Food safety controller Dr Constance Chan Hon-yee says the banned drinks are only harmful if consumed every day for 10 years.

We think the government should be more concerned about roadside pollution, the levels of which exceed WHO guidelines by a significant margin, meaning that the pollution is damaging to health.

The Lancet journal recently said air pollution, particularly roadside pollution, triggers more heart attacks than using cocaine and poses a similar risk as alcohol, coffee and physical exertion.

Roadside pollution also contains carcinogenic substances. Why is it that the government acts in the case of a sports drink but does nothing about roadside pollution, which is probably more harmful to health?

Obviously it's easier to ban the import of a sports drink. How is it that a government that claims to be interested in the welfare of the public does nothing about the pollution problem? Is it because it's too hard, it doesn't care, it's scared of the transport lobby, and the votes it can muster in Legco elections?

Shifting winds

The winds of change are blowing across the Pearl River Delta, according to Bruce Rockowitz.

The Li & Fung president and chief executive says rising costs, particularly higher wages, are forcing companies to upgrade and to automate in a bid to cut costs.

The other option, he says, is for companies to move their factories to western China or to developing countries such as Vietnam and Bangladesh. While this may mean higher prices, it could well be a price worth paying for Hong Kong.

While pretty much all of the pollution at street level is generated by Hong Kong's traffic, much of the pollution in the atmosphere is from the Pearl River Delta, causing that charming haze we have now become so accustomed to.

This could be Hong Kong's best chance for getting cleaner air.

Something to cheer about

Hong Kong once again saw buyers paying eye-watering prices for wine. A six-litre bottle of 1961 Chateau Latour was sold for HK$1.68 million by auction house Christie's at the weekend. This compares with pre-auction estimates of HK$600,000 to HK$800,000. Needless to say, the buyer was from the mainland.

Two lots of six magnums of Chateau Latour were sold for HK$1.68 million each. said: 'This was Christie's answer to the Sotheby's Chateau Lafite-Rothschild sale of last year, in which record prices were paid, again in Hong Kong.'

Hong Kong is already well placed to match last year's performance as the wine auction capital of the world, surpassing London and New York.

We think it's a funny old game. This stuff is an organic product which can go off. For all we know it's not drinkable. It's not like a bar of gold where you can test what you are buying. Nobody ever drinks this wine at these prices.

Pocket money

Cathay Pacific's chief executive John Slosar recently recalled a visit to Seattle to take delivery of a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. He entered the US through the land border at Vancouver. There, a US customs officer asked him the purpose of his visit. The conversation went something like this:

JS: I'm going to Seattle to pick up a new plane.

CO: Are you flying it?

JS: No, I'm paying for it.

CO: Are you carrying that much money in your bag? (The limit on bringing cash into the US is US$10,000.)

JS: No, I don't have that money in my bag. [With straight face] I can use my credit card.

The customs officer smiled and waved him through. The list price of the plane is US$284 million!

Strained friendship

We see that relations between LVMH, the world's biggest luxury group, and its smaller rival Hermes are becoming somewhat tetchy.

LVMH has secretly built up a stake in Hermes, prompting accusations that it is trying to destabilise the company. Hermes has asked LVMH to halve its stake to improve its free float on the stock market, Reuters reported.

A riled Hermes chairman Bernard Puech said: 'After six months, we are the target of incessant attacks of the kind we've never seen in 174 years, even though LVMH says its approach to us is friendly. With friends like these, who needs enemies?'