Last laugh could be on Tang over Cultural District delay
An off-the-cuff remark made to Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen during a speech last week at the opening of the Asian Youth Orchestra Rehearsal Camp is making the rounds in the arts community, we understand. In his speech welcoming the 100 members of the Asian Youth Orchestra to Hong Kong for its three weeks of rehearsals, the chief secretary referred, as might be expected, to the West Kowloon Cultural District project, a subject close to his heart, and his hope that the Asian Youth Orchestra would enjoy the facility in the future. Tang's remarks were followed by a speech from Richard Pontzious, the orchestra's founder, artistic director and conductor. He said he was also looking forward to performing in the West Kowloon project - 'If I live that long.' That drew laughter, especially from Hong Kong Sinfonietta music director Yip Wing-sie and CEO Margaret Yang, who also have a vested interest in the long-delayed project's success. Tang, showing a flash of leadership that may serve him well in the future, promised: 'It will be ready.' Pontzious is not holding his breath. He's 67 and, given that it's taken some 20 years for the West Kowloon project to get this far, it could get down to the wire.
Bolton's calculated risk
Veteran stock picker Anthony Bolton has been having a less than stellar year with his Fidelity China Special Situations Fund. The 60-year-old fund manager, who relocated to Hong Kong some two years ago, has been telling the Independent that some of the situations he has invested in have not been as special as he would have liked. He told the newspaper recently that one of the biggest holdings in his fund is 'still risky'. That's because Wong Kwong-yu, the ex-chairman and founder of Gome Electrical Appliances and still one of its biggest shareholders, is currently in jail for insider dealing and bribery. That's a good thing, says Bolton, observing this has made the company 'attractively valued'.
It's Dah humbug
Our attention has been drawn to Dah Sing's special efforts to attract women to its financial products. The introductory blurb on the bank's website says: 'Women nowadays are well-versed in business and competent in many different roles in society, with a better position to achieve wealth accumulation. Dah Sing Bank understands the great emphasis modern women place on the quality of life. To accommodate you to pursue a quality and sparkling lifestyle, Dah Sing Bank is launching the Hello Kitty VIP Banking to provide you with professional and personalised financial services, allowing you to manage your wealth conveniently and flexibly.' We can only imagine how Dah Sing's newly competent professional women react to this guff. One reader was distinctly underwhelmed and his wife even more so. In internet parlance, she was RAOFLMAO. (Consult your children for what this means.)
Bank works the cycle
Investment bank Societe Generale is capitalising on France's obsession with cycling to organise charity bike rides. The bank already organises a Paris-London event and last year turned its attention to Asia with the SG Beijing-Great Wall Charity Bike Ride, which attracted 80 riders and raised over Euro100,000 (HK$1.1 million). This year the bank is organising a charity bike ride in Siem Reap, Cambodia. It is aiming to raise Euro140,000 to support the education programmes of its local charity partners and CARE International (Cambodia). CARE's projects in Cambodia include a programme for providing education to the children of remote indigenous ethnic minority communities, while another aims to increase livelihood opportunities for young women. It also has a programme to increase employment rates and income generation opportunities for young women and girls in Koh Kong province. You can find out more about the bike ride and how you can donate by going to the website http://sgbikeride.com/
Robots don't jump
Foxconn Technology Group, the low-profile company that became high-profile overnight after a spate of worker suicides, says it plans to use more robots, with Reuters quoting a report saying Foxconn will use robots as a way of coping with rising labour costs. The report in China Business News yesterday quoted Foxconn chairman Terry Gou as saying the company planned to use a million robots within three years, up from about 10,000 robots in use now and an expected 300,000 next year. Robots have their advantages over humans - they don't go on strike, they don't need dormitories and, more importantly, they don't get depressed by the repetitive nature of the work.