Lai See

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 November, 2011, 12:00am


The best obtainable version of the truth? But what if there are two?

The Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng story is some 15 years old but it still excites interest. Gary Davey, the former chief executive of StarTV, was ambushed by Peter Jackson, who was chairing a session at Casbaa's annual conference and, much to the amusement of delegates, demanded he recount how they met.

Davey gamely responded: 'Well I suppose I should take the opportunity to tell the whole story.' He went on to explain that Murdoch rang him from Japan and said he wanted to go to Shanghai. Davey said that might be difficult as he was stuck in Delhi.

Murdoch then asked: 'Surely you must have somebody you can put me together with to go to Shanghai?'

Davey eventually thought of Deng, who at that time was working as an intern with Star TV. He rang her and told her she was to meet a guy and travel with him to Shanghai. 'When I told her it was Rupert Murdoch I thought she would be shocked but she responded: 'No problem',' Davey said. They met at Hong Kong airport, and the rest, as they say, is history.

It's unclear if this version of the story conflicts with the account Bruce Dover gives in his book Rupert Murdoch's Adventures in China where he says he introduced them at a party at the Harbour Plaza Hong Kong Hotel.

Light to be shed on air quality

The US embassy in Beijing has infuriated the Chinese authorities by giving out its own air quality measurements, which differ markedly from the official Chinese ones. Unfortunately for the government most people believe the US figures. While air pollution isn't so bad here as in Beijing the problem in Hong Kong is that while the Environment Bureau puts out daily figures they can't be trusted.

When the University of Science and Technology did its own measurement of the air quality with its mobile real-time air monitoring van, its readings showed much higher levels of pollution than the government monitoring stations.

We also understand that the Environment Bureau is using outdated equipment which is no longer accepted in the US and many parts of the EU. The readings this old equipment gives can be out by as much as 30-40 per cent.

So, since the Hong Kong government is so reluctant to tell us the true air quality figures despite having plenty of money to buy modern equipment, perhaps the US consulate could do us all a favour and monitor the air quality for us.

Raising a glass, or three

We spent a gruelling afternoon yesterday sampling the 100 wines on offer at the Gambero Rosso tasting session. Fortunately these were no vins ordinaires but Italy's finest wines - those awarded 'Tre Bicchieri' by Gambero Rosso, the bible for the best of Italian wine.

It covers 2,350 producers and 20,000 wines, and rates the wine, giving 'Tre Bicchieri' (three glasses) to those it considers the best. The guide appears in Italian, German, English and this year celebrates its 25th anniversary by producing its first Chinese version.

The Italians are determined to put a dent in French dominance of the Chinese wine market. Italian Consul General in Hong Kong Alessandra Schiavo, speaking at the event, noted that Italian wine exports to China had risen 126 per cent over the previous year while imports to Hong Kong have increased 76 per cent since 2008.

The Chinese version of the guide is a good deal shorter than the original as the tasting notes have been omitted. This is because it was felt much of it would have been meaningless to mainland Chinese readers, in that references such as '... broodingly dark aromatics of forest floor' don't travel well.

It's a pity, as the tasting notes are a good read. The description of Moschioni's '07 Pignolo is a case in point: 'Majestically impenetrable in the glass, it rolls out a fragrant medley of cocoa powder and pipe tobacco that gives way to liquorice-veined ripe red and black fruits and a broad, powerful palate with marvellous depth.'

Full marks for effort

It's hard to find anyone willing to plunge into the markets these days, with more than a few pulling initial public offerings. So it's nice to see MF Global having a go, even if it didn't have much choice. In its first day of over-the-counter trading, MF Global Holdings fell 80 per cent to 24 cents in pre-market trading last night in New York.

The shares fell 67 per cent last week. Bloomberg says MF Global stock hasn't changed hands during a regular trading session since Friday. NYSE Euronext suspended it before the New York Stock Exchange opened on Monday, hours before MF Global filed the eighth-largest US bankruptcy after failing to find a buyer over the weekend.