Lai See

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 November, 2011, 12:00am


Firm back in top form after pesky strikers return

Nice to see that workers at Top Form International are back at work after a five-day strike. Bloomberg quoted Kenny Suen, the company's vice-president of production as saying the workers went on strike on Wednesday last week and returned to work on Tuesday. 'The strike is now resolved,' Suen said. The impact was 'insignificant' and the company can catch up on lost output 'fairly quickly', he said. Just a storm in a B cup then.

Parking up the wrong tree

We are still getting e-mails from people pointing out parking blackspots. One irate reader living in Macdonnell Road complains that the road is filled with illegally parked cars all day, and goes on to say: 'If you can think of some way in which we law-abiding innocent sufferers can get together and make the Hong Kong government start penalising illegal parkers, I would be the first to join that cause - be it a petition or a march to the police HQ.'

Yesterday we watched as two policemen strolled along Sunning Road in Causeway Bay. It's a narrow one-way street. A truck trying to deliver goods to Mingan Plaza was unable to pull into the parking bay on account of the waiting limos, and was forced to block the road while it made its delivery, thus blocking traffic. When we pointed this out to the policemen, we were told we had to make a complaint. So we complained to them and they waved a few cars but didn't give anyone a ticket despite notices warning that waiting vehicles would be prosecuted. Meanwhile, in other parts of town, people are getting fined for jay-walking. How's that for consistency?

We have asked the police what it considers its role to be vis-a-vis illegal parking, and are waiting for a response.

UK workers pay the price

'Responsible capitalism' is the new watchword for those anxious to avoid another finance-industry-induced crisis. Needless to say the push for this, with some notable exceptions such as Mike Mayo, is coming from outside the industry. Britain's High Pay Commission notes that former Barclays chief executive John Varley was awarded ?4.4 million (HK$53.6 million) for 2010, 169 times that of the average worker in Britain and 4,899 per cent more than his predecessor earned in 1980, when the Barclays boss earned 13 times more than the average worker. The High Pay Commission said the soaring earnings of top bankers including the chief executive officer of Barclays were having a 'corrosive' effect on Britain's economy.

Prime Minister David Cameron, wary of facing a winter of discontent, urged executives to show restraint at a time when real household incomes are falling and public spending is being squeezed the most since the second world war. But as we know, it's like urging rabbits to cut down on lettuce.

Thinking inside the box

We feel that when word of this gets to the backstreets of China, it will spawn a new cottage industry. A small metal box looted from a Chinese imperial palace has sold for an astonishing ?490,000 (HK$5.97 million) at auction in England, because it had a soldier's 'confessional note' engraved on it, the Daily Mail reports.

Captain James Gunter took the gold-plated item from the emperor's Summer Palace in Beijing in 1860 as a trophy of the Opium Wars. When he returned to England, he had inscribed on the inside of the lid 'Loot from the Summer Palace ... Capt. James Gunter'. Without the engraving, the newspaper says, the box, which was probably used to keep snuff, would have been worth about ?10,000. Stand by for a wave of objets d'art inscribed with 'Loot from the Summer Palace'.

Muddying the waters

Somebody clearly has it in for Carson Block and his firm Muddy Waters. He is the short seller who has written research alleging accounting irregularities in a number of North American-listed mainland stocks. Earlier this year he wrote about Sino Forest, which plunged on the news. On Tueday he took a pop at Focus Media, the Nasdaq-listed digital media firm, accusing it of inflating the number of its LCD screens. The company denied the allegations but still lost two-thirds of its market value. Then yesterday the Muddy Waters website was brought down by hackers. A case of if you can't beat them, hack them.

You can say that again, Aristotle

Looking for how the Greek economy got into its mess? Ponder this from the late Aristotle Onassis: 'To be successful, keep looking tanned, live in an elegant building (even if you're in the cellar), be seen in smart restaurants (even if you nurse one drink) and if you borrow, borrow big.'