Lai See

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 March, 2012, 12:00am


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Would Beijing prefer the tycoons or the people marching in the streets?

More nonsense from the chief executive's election. Ming Pao yesterday ran a story saying that supporters of chief executive hopeful Henry Tang Ying-yen were said to be inviting developers who had nominated him to sign a petition telling Beijing that they would not accept Leung Chun-ying as chief executive. The newspaper reports that it was said that the move was initiated by Sing Tao News Corp chairman Charles Ho Tsu-kwok, and that Li Ka-shing, Peter Woo Kwong-ching and Robert Ng Chee Siong were among the developers who did not want Leung to become the city's leader.

If true, it's an interesting indication of who they think rules Hong Kong, and how desperate they are to have their own man in position. Leung's main disadvantage for them is that they don't own him. Will this lead to scenes of angry tycoons marching in the streets? Our central government may feel it can live with that more easily than half a million protesters demonstrating their displeasure at having an unpopular Tang foisted on them as chief executive.

Solution to overweight passengers

We've had a response to our piece recently suggesting airlines charge on the basis of a passenger's total weight, that is body weight and luggage. The idea was that passengers above a certain combined weight pay a premium while lighter passengers get a discount, because of the impact on the amount of fuel required.

Our reader complains that airlines appear to have unlimited computing power to track practically everything about frequent flyers, except when they travel with little or no luggage. But as soon as our luggage is overweight - we're zapped. Given that airlines are getting so picky about charging for all kinds of extras, they might like to bear this in mind.

The disgraceful mess under HSBC

A reader writes in connection with yesterday's piece on the 'Occupy Central' encampment under HSBC's headquarters. He says that while he has no problem with free speech, he is fed up with what he calls 'the disgraceful mess' under HSBC.

The bank feels it's between a rock and hard place, as if it calls in the police it will attract unwelcome headlines while if it does nothing, the 'occupiers' stay. Our reader suggests HSBC get up a petition asking if the 'occupiers' should stay or go. If the outcome is for them to leave, 'the people' have spoken, and the 'occupiers' should leave. But we can see there could be some technical difficulties.

The toll on Macau's casino workers

We read from Macau Business that the gaming industry has been blamed for the rising level of divorce in Macau, where divorces rose by 30 per cent last year compared with 17 per cent in the previous year. A committee member of the General Union of Neighbourhood Associations of Macau was quoted in the Macau Post as saying: 'Many of the divorce cases in the last two years were casino workers. Because both parents are working shifts, they don't have time to look after their children. They blame each other by pushing their parenting responsibilities on to each other.'

Data from Macau's Statistics and Census Service show that around 3,500 couples were married last year, while just under 1,000 filed for divorce.

Return to the South Sea Bubble

Despite the virulent feelings displayed towards bankers for their part in the global financial crisis, history suggests this is not a new phenomenon. The notorious South Sea Bubble in 1721 led to similar feelings towards bankers.

Writing in, Mark Cobley said that when the British government gave away a royal charter to the South Sea Company for exclusive trading rights in South America, triggering a share frenzy, investors were falling over themselves to buy stock any stocks, '... whether it was in the South Sea Company or in any other hare-brained new companies taken public - including ventures that promised to extract sunshine from vegetables, and 'to carry out an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody knows what it is'.

South Sea Company shares rose to ?1,000 before falling to virtually nothing as people came to realise the stock was hopelessly overvalued, and, as ever, people lost a lot of money. Feelings ran high and one motion in parliament inquired: 'Bankers ... should be tied up in sacks filled with snakes and tipped into the murky Thames. Agree or disagree?' We think this is going a bit far, but some people don't think it's such a bad idea.