Kenji Fujimoto was accepted into Kim Jong-il's inner circle during a 13-year stint serving North Korea's first family. The Japanese sushi chef gives Julian Ryall his take on the communist dynasty'...
There's no accounting for staff disgruntlement
There appears to be some unhappiness at the Hong Kong office of Deloitte, if our picture is anything to go by. The first notice says 'Our office hours start at 8.30am, NOT 9am, 9.30am, 10am, nor 10.30 am - Your longest serving partner', which elicited the response in the second notice below.
We asked Deloitte if there was any confusion over working hours. The firm responded with a statement: 'It is widely recognised that our profession is unavoidably demanding on its professionals, especially during annual peak seasons when we have to help our clients to comply with statutory reporting requirements. Deloitte is committed to supporting, remunerating and recognising our employees for their contributions, both in compliance of all local labour laws and regulations, as well as in regard to Deloitte's core values as an employer. We will not have additional comments.'
This seems to raise more questions than it answers.
Are people having nervous breakdowns over there? Should we really have our books audited by these people? In the interests of transparency, surely we should be told more.
Room for improvement
The Asia Society is scratching round for a further HK$80 million to reach the HK$390 million it needs to complete its conversion of the former explosives magazine at 9 Justice Drive on part of the old Victoria barracks site into a permanent home for the society.
It has already benefited from contributions from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, which is presumably why the centre has a Hong Kong Jockey Club Hall. This, we are told, 'is a large multi-purpose function hall that can accommodate up to 240 people, banquet style, as well as provide space for lectures, seminars and receptions'.
This will come in handy for all those HK$1,000 a head functions that the society is so fond of throwing.
Other local and international individuals and organisations have also contributed, hence the Credit Suisse room, the Lee Quo Wei room and 'the stunning Joseph Lau Roof Garden'. Joseph Lau's contributions to the understanding of Asian culture are well known.
The Asia Society in Hong Kong has become another exclusionary networking opportunity purporting to deepen understanding of Asia. Other societies such as the Geographical Society manage to put on interesting events with good speakers for HK$100 a meeting without any of the trappings the Asia Society seems to think it needs.
We're also surprised that Hang Lung Group chairman Ronnie Chan Chi-chung, who is a co-chairman of the Asia Society, hasn't leapt at the opportunity to get his name on the building. Which room, we wonder, would be appropriate?
Don't be so hard on yourself
We read with some sadness the self-criticism of Li Hua, a former general manager of the Sichuan provincial subsidiary of China Mobile. He was given a suspended death sentence last year for taking 16.5 million yuan (HK$20.24 million) in bribes.
Here are some excerpts from Xinhua, as translated by a colleague:
'When I was general manager of the Sichuan branch of China Mobile, I was under unhealthy social influences, including the worship of money and pursuit of pleasure. In my interactions with some people, I accepted their monetary gifts. I was unable to behave as a worker for my country should by leading an incorruptible life ... Since my arrest, there was not a day when I could sleep peacefully, not a day when my heart was not shedding tears and blood. Previously, I thought bribery meant nothing more than just an exchange between friends. My 'friends' in the business world, to feed my greed, would send me monetary gifts. When my daughter went overseas to study, they would help resolve the problem of paying the costs of her study abroad. When I wanted to buy property, they would advance funds to me. When I was sick in the hospital, using the pretext of visiting the sick, they would send me red packets of money. Whatever was my desire or need, they would satisfy. Now, I realised these people only valued me for my power as a Communist Party member. Ultimately, the root of my crime was because I lost my reverence for the Chinese Communist Party and my country's laws that resulted in my most painful and tragic situation today in my 51 years of life.'
A lesson for us all.