Donald Tsang

Lai See

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 February, 2012, 12:00am


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Tsang recalls his favourite 'David versus Goliath' moments - again

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was at it again yesterday - talking about Hong Kong's stock market crisis in 1998 and his role in overcoming it.

It was just three weeks ago that Tsang was prattling on about it at Davos. He didn't say anything too boastful, just that he had to deal with the crisis.

But the implication was there - he was the man who did it - like David did for Goliath.

In an interview with RTHK yesterday, Tsang said he was 'scared' because he was expecting economic problems to arise from the European debt crisis.

'I pray it [the problems] won't just [emerge] as the new government is taking over,' Tsang said, adding that he would rather it happened during his term so that he could handle it himself.

Why does he keep harping on about this? Is it a legacy thing? Are we supposed to remember Donald as the man who saved the Hong Kong stock market?

Or maybe he's hoping that when he flees the city after stepping down as chief executive in June, someone will give him a nice prestigious job.

But before he puffs himself up too far, it is worth recalling that the government in 1998 was, for some time, like a deer caught in the proverbial headlights, until somebody alerted it on how to deal with the rampant illegal short selling.

One of the unsung heroes of that saga was Richard Witts, who was then the managing director of local brokerage United Mok Ying Kie.

After venting his annoyance at the inability of the regulators to stop the daily attacks on the market, his firm's chairman, Mickey Mok Ying-kie, asked him to write his thoughts on the situation on a piece of A4 paper.

The paper was later given to then chief executive Tung Chee-hwa by former police commissioner Li Kwan-ha.

Some days later, the trading rules were changed and the haemorrhaging was stemmed.

Oddly, you never hear from Tsang, then the financial secretary, about other people's role in overcoming that crisis.

If there's another crisis coming, our advice to Tsang is, 'be careful what you wish for'.

Tough luck for Lo on No 13?

We're all familiar with Bernard Lo, who, on a daily basis, grapples with the intricacies of financial markets as an anchor with business news channel CNBC.

But as Lo is based in Hong Kong, he faces the daily nightmare of a bus ride home. So he took it upon himself to grapple with New World First Bus Services.

In an e-mail to the company, he explained that he took the No 13 bus: 'I notice you often use a small single-decker bus. These buses are usually filled with people by the time it reaches Lyndhurst Terrace and, today, I saw mothers with babies standing, elderly people using canes standing and passengers falling over each other.

'Please consider redeploying single deckers on other routes and using only double deckers so that people like me can go upstairs and free up space for others who need to sit.'

Back came a reply saying his e-mail had been directed to the relevant department.

The reply also stated: 'Due to limited bus resources, single deck buses are regularly deployed to route 13 for service as stipulated in its schedule of service.

'To address passengers needs, double deck buses are deployed as long as resources being available.

'We will continue to closely monitor the operation of this route and take appropriate actions to maintain service reliability.'

But Lo wasn't to be fobbed off so easily, and shot off another e-mail: 'I strongly suggest you ask the captains about ridership. Every No13 I have been on is full by the time it reaches Caine Road. 'Perhaps because of the low frequency of No13, you might consider redeploying No23 double deckers? I often see No23 carrying only a few passengers.'

This elicited a further response: 'Thank you for your e-mail again. We conduct regular trainings for bus captains and remind them to try their best to inform passengers to move inside the bus area.

'We will continue closely monitoring the operation of route 13 and take appropriate actions to maintain service reliability. Thank you. Regards, Customer Service Department.'

So, problem solved?

Legal eaglet behaving badly

International law firm Shearman & Sterling is probing an indiscreet e-mail sent by a trainee solicitor about a trip to the Dubai Rugby Sevens tournament, which went viral after spreading to a number of other rival law firms before ending up in national newspapers.

The Singapore-based trainee e-mailed what was supposed to be a joke memo about the trip he was making with three friends, The Daily Telegraph reported.

It included a list of rules such as, 'cheating is allowed', and that 'chants about how rich we are' were compulsory. The memo also referred to graphic sexual practices.

Unsurprisingly, Shearman & Sterling has taken a dim view of the incident.

In a statement, the firm said: 'We're very disappointed to learn of this individual's behaviour, which is totally at odds with the values of Shearman & Sterling.

'We're taking this matter very seriously and investigating it with our established procedures.'