Swire Group

Lai See

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 January, 2012, 12:00am

Cathay's coddling of star chef weighs heavy on lost-luggage case

Cathay Pacific's recent moment of madness in agreeing to outrageous compensation claims from celebrity chef Wong Wing-chee has unsurprisingly triggered considerable responses from the public, much of it on the internet.

Readers will recall that Cathay offered Wong and five companions HK$10,000 after their flight was delayed for nine hours. But the airline raised this figure to HK$40,000, along with an upgrade, after Wong threatened to contact the Apple Daily newspaper.

A reader, Yin, writes that after a recent flight from Hong Kong to London, his baggage didn't make it onto the baggage carousel despite being tagged a priority. Like the chef, Yin is a Marco Polo Club Gold member - but unlike Wong, he didn't threaten to notify Apple Daily.

Yin said he was sent away with only the phone number of Cathay's London baggage services. The next day, he left two messages at the number but received no reply. After he made two international calls to Hong Kong, the bag was eventually sent to his London flat, but was left in the care of a flatmate without a signature or confirmation of identity. Yin fired off an e-mail complaining to Cathay early this month, but did not get a response. 'It really saddens me that Cathay has sunk so low,' he said.

The moral of the story, given the chef's case, is if you want a favourable outcome when complaining to Cathay, threaten to call Apple Daily.

Fuming over illegal gas

A reader in the New Territories (NT) has drawn our attention to another source of pollution that the government is ignoring. Unlike air pollution, this source has been declared illegal. Our reader is referring to the sale of cheap fuel.

'In my area of NT, there are a number of illegal filling stations selling substandard fuel. They have no outward markings but can be quite easily identified by the queue of lorries at their locations,' he writes.

He also raises the interesting question of why a car-driving gweilo knows the whereabouts of these illegal filling stations, while the police, customs officials and the authorities at agencies that are supposed to take an interest in these matters appear blissfully unaware. The result is scores of trucks belching out black smoke. Maybe this is another case of the government taking the view that all business - particularly in the New Territories - is good business.

We're breathing 'dangerous' air

Just in case you didn't notice the air yesterday - it was bad. According to the government's air pollution index, the pollution level was 'high' - that is, it was at the midpoint of the index. It tells us: 'Very few people, if any, may notice immediate health effects. Long-term effects may, however, be observed if exposed at such [a] level persistently for months or years.'

However, according to the Hedley Environmental Index, which follows World Health Organisation guidelines, the air quality can be classified as 'very dangerous'.

Jim Middleton, chairman of green group Clear the Air, observed that yesterday's bad pollution occurred even though factories and construction sites in the Pearl River Delta were closed and despite a decline in Hong Kong traffic while many people were on holiday. 'But the ocean-going vessels and ferries, along with the local power stations and buses, were running.'

Middleton remarked: 'Our secretary for the environment has done nothing for our air quality other than massive prevarication, yet he earned a Golden Bauhinia from a chief executive intent on building white-elephant infrastructure [ahead of] his duty [to] care for the health of the public.'

A wife's tale of Davos debauchery

'Davos wife' Anya Schiffrin, spouse of Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, has found a novel way to wile away the hours while her husband attends power meetings where leaders try to solve the world's problems: she's writing a blog for Reuters.

In one post, she reflects on men behaving badly. 'Davos encourages bad behaviour. It comes from the hothouse atmosphere of high-powered egos, the high altitudes combined with too much drink. All sorts of people who would never stay up late can be found - cocktail in hand - at the Google party, the Time Warner reception and the gala dinner on Saturday night.

'There are always a lot of men who become 'geographically single' when they arrive, and even the nerdiest expert ... fancies himself a player the moment he steps foot in the Zurich airport. Late at night, these men can be found eyeing the local talent, and there are rumours of at least one baby being born nine months after a night of passion at Davos.'