Anson Chan

Lai See

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 October, 2011, 12:00am


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Oh Henry, please don't insult us so

It is an irony, if that is not an understatement, that despite Hong Kong's sophistication in so many areas, the way its rulers are selected is a humiliating and insulting process for its people.

Indeed, we wonder how Henry Tang felt some years ago when, as a guest of the South African consulate in Hong Kong on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of holding elections under universal suffrage, he gave a speech congratulating the country on this achievement.

Listeners to Thursday's RTHK Backchat programme on the forthcoming chief executive's 'election' were left in no doubt as to the contempt with which political heavyweights Anson Chan, Cyd Ho and Emily Lau view Hong Kong's election process.

Asked at the beginning of the programme what she thought of Henry Tang's chances of victory, Chan observed: 'Let's not pretend this is a genuine free election - it isn't. At the end of the day, the candidate most favoured by Beijing will be elected.' Lau was more forthright: 'Before a single vote is cast, Beijing will know the result of the election.'

RTHK presenters Andrew Work and Hugh Chiverton nevertheless persisted in their efforts to get their guests to weigh up the relative merits of the two candidates, as if it was a genuine contest.

Chan eventually found it hard to contain herself. A question about what it would take for Leung to knock Tang from his leading position was met with gales of laughter from Chan. 'Does it matter - mainland China is going to decide who is going to win the race.'

After talking at length about the qualities she thought Hong Kong people looked for in the chief executive - leadership, vision, courage, integrity - she was asked if she thought Tang had any of these. Chan was unforgiving: 'Ummm, some. I think many people have found his recent performance somewhat disappointing. Henry is an open book. I think people are aware of where his strengths and weaknesses are.'

So let's see. He's progressed to the top of the family firm; when he joined the government as a minister in 2002 he talked of bringing industry back to Hong Kong; there was that moment when he chose to rewrite history in the aftermath of Harbourfest; and then there is his well-known love of wine.

But of course Beijing knows best.

Love those lists

We are overjoyed to have been alerted by JPMorgan's publicity machine that Jing Ulrich, its managing director and chairman of global markets, China, has been named one of the 50 Most Powerful Global Businesswomen by Fortune Magazine for the third consecutive year.

We were disappointed last month when she dropped out of Forbes list of the world's 100 most powerful women and were concerned that her work as the 'unofficial voice of China' was not being given the attention it deserved. But Fortune's wise choice has doubtless restored her amour-propre.

Ulrich said she was honoured to be named again. 'It's a privilege to cover one of the most dynamic markets and act as a link between China and the rest of the world. I am also fortunate to work for a firm with strong global reach.'

Ulrich will speak at the Fortune Most Powerful Women conference in the United States next week. Despite the Forbes lapse, Ulrich is a much-listed person. Prestigious magazines China Entrepreneur and China Business Watch this year ranked Ulrich among the country's female business elite. She was also named one of FinanceAsia's Top 20 Women in Finance.

Going for broke

With the buzz surrounding 'rogue traders', a Swiss university has found that brokers 'behaved more egotistically and were more willing to take risks than a group of psychopaths who took the same test', according to Thomas Noll, a co-author of the study.

The website Daily Intel reports that what was particularly shocking to Noll was that the bankers weren't aiming for higher winnings than their comparison group.

They were more interested in achieving a competitive advantage than taking a sober and business-like approach to reaching the highest profit, the website reports.

It was more important to get more than their opponents, according to Noll, 'and they spent a lot of energy trying to damage their opponents'.

Martha rises again

It seems like another era, but Martha Stewart the home decorating and cookie-baking guru, is back on the board of her eponymous company. She was, it will be recalled, found guilty of insider dealing in 2004 by selling US$228,000 worth of ImClone biotech stock the day after her friend and company founder, Sam Waksal, sold his shares and told his family to sell them too. The advice came as the US Food and Drug Administration was about to reject one of the firm's drugs.

Stewart was jailed for five months and barred from the board for five years.

'I'm back. Isn't that nice? I feel wonderful,' she told reporters.