Cathay Pacific

Lai See

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 October, 2011, 12:00am

Cathay's over the hump and ready to do some marketing

Cathay Pacific Airways has gone ahead with its 'People and Services' marketing campaign. This was the multimillion-dollar promotion that was delayed after the infamous cockpit incident in mid-August went viral. Readers may recall this featured an expatriate pilot and a female Chinese flight attendant engaged in highly intimate activities in an aircraft cockpit which were photographed and ended up on the internet. This didn't occur during 'normal operations' but it was sufficiently embarrassing for Cathay to delay the campaign, particularly in light of its slogan: 'Meet the team who go the extra mile to make you feel special.' Cathay evidently feels the dust has settled and is over the hump on that one.

Money, happiness? It's a tie

From time immemorial, refined minds have pondered whether money can buy happiness. Given the enthusiasm with which those in Hong Kong pursue wealth, you would have thought the answer, at least for this city, would have been a resounding yes. Otherwise, why do they behave the way they do? For many, the accumulation of wealth has become an end in itself.

Anyhow, there was some surprise at the outcome of the debate on Friday on the motion 'Money can't buy happiness', since it resulted in a tie. Of the 300 or so who attended the debate organised by Intelligence Squared Asia, 2 per cent were undecided, while the remaining 98 per cent was evenly split. Dr Stefan Klein, best-selling German author of The Science of Happiness, arguing in favour of the motion, noted that while there had been a significant increase in wealth, particularly in the West, this was accompanied by higher levels of depression. 'The pursuit of wealth is toxic,' and makes you forget what life is really about - that is, relationships. Author Ping Lu took a different tack, noting the pleasure that is derived from ice cream can only be had if you have money, though went on to say that money bought you choice.

Professor A.C. Grayling, British author, philosopher and founder of the New College of the Humanities in London, argued while it was true money could buy the conditions for happiness, it wasn't a necessary requirement. He said people confused the experience of pleasure and having pleasurable experience with 'true happiness', which was to be found in relationships.

You cannot buy friends or buy love, we were told. There were some chuckles when Lewis Iwu, a former president of the Oxford Union, got the audience to raise their hands if they were in a relationship. Iwu then told them to keep their hands up if they were happy. There was some visible uncertainty. It's a moot point whether these debates are raising the level of public consciousness, but they are becoming the kind of event it's good to be seen at.

Finance sector happy for now

For those who may have been concerned about the well-being of Hong Kong's financial community, we are assured by a recent survey that financial professionals are overwhelmingly satisfied. The survey, by online headhunters eFinancialCareers, reports that 64 per cent are somewhat or extremely satisfied with their jobs. Nevertheless, 55 per cent are pessimistic on the economic outlook and 30 per cent are worried about redundancy.

When finance professionals talk about being 'satisfied' we are not talking about the quality of the job - it is mainly about money and benefits, closely followed by promotion prospects. Some 48 per cent describe themselves as 'somewhat satisfied' with their package, while 38 per cent are dissatisfied. Meanwhile, 53 per cent are not at all happy with their promotion prospects.

Although there is a high degree of satisfaction among the city's finance professionals, they are the least optimistic when compared to the rest of the region. The advice from George McFeran, the headhunter's boss, is: 'Employers should pay particular attention to their staff's needs and concerns in order to foster employee loyalty, boost morale and retain top performers.' Surely nothing that another zero on the salary can't cure.

The UK taxman is lurking

More craziness from Britain. As the British government seeks to extract more in the way of tax from its citizenry, as of April next year some people who work abroad but spend as little time as 10 days a year in the country could find themselves subject to UK income tax, eFinancialCareers reports. There is a 'connection' test, which considers matters such as whether you own a house in Britain, where your family is based, financial ties to Britain and so on. Then there is a 'look back' to the previous three years. It sounds complicated but, if nothing else, will be a bonanza for tax lawyers.