Lai See

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 March, 2012, 12:00am


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Saga of HSBC, the FT and the Sevens ticket that got kicked into touch

We hear that relations between HSBC and the Financial Times hit a patch of turbulence recently. A few weeks ago the 'Pink 'Un' interviewed Peter Wong and later followed up with some questions which in hindsight do not appear to have been answered with total clarity.

The upshot was that the newspaper published a story about HSBC's Asian operations with a sub-headline that caused some disquiet at the bank. Communications were exchanged and the FT clarified the matter in a subsequent edition. So far so good.

However, it appears that while pleasantries were being exchanged before the story appeared, HSBC - as a sponsor of the Hong Kong Sevens - had kindly offered the FT a ticket to the event.

But following the unhappiness with the story's headline it appears that the ticket didn't materialise.

However, we gather that subsequent to our inquiries, the offer of the ticket has rematerialised, though we're not suggesting we had anything to do with this. But the FT apparently was unable to take up the offer due to the emergence of other matters. So all's well that ends well - up to a point.

Sands fends off a cheap shot

Good to see that Peter Sands was able to justify flying out to Hong Kong to attend the Sevens by chatting to the press about StanChart's recent results.

Asked why it didn't take the European Central Bank's cheap loans, he loftily replied: 'Many things in life are cheap, but we do not do things just because they are cheap. We took no support funding from any government during all the stages of the financial crisis. I see no reason for us to start now.'

Quite so.

Burning issue is raging on

The Environmental Protection Department's Elvis Au keeps saying that plasma arc technology is suitable for incinerating only small amounts of highly toxic waste matter and therefore Hong Kong should proceed with its plans for a traditional mass-burn incinerator on Shek Kwu Chau.

Yet the more he says it, the more we keep falling over evidence to the contrary. The Manila Bulletin recently ran a story saying that Houston-based Quantum International and the City of Surigao in Mindanao had extended plans for a small plasma arc waste-energy plant to one that would gobble up 5,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste a day and produce 5,000 megawatts of electricity for the province.

The hope is that by 2014 there will be 10 plasma arc facilities producing 13,000 megawatts of electricity a day. Earlier this month, Quantum announced it had signed preliminary agreements in China to build the largest plasma waste-energy plant in the world, without giving details.

Hopefully, Legislative councillors will next week be able to persuade the EPD to explain why a plasma arc incinerator is unsuitable for Hong Kong, when they are mushrooming all over the world.

The suspicion is that the attraction of the toxin-producing incinerator is the billions of dollars that will go to construction firms to enlarge the island.

Shipping sector's floating vote

We've heard from property developers and political parties on who they want for chief executive, but what about Hong Kong's largely unsung shipping industry, whose owners and managers control about 8 per cent of the world merchant fleet? Some might feel the sector was badly let down by Tung Chee-hwa, former head of Orient Overseas (International), who avoided overtly supporting the sector for fear of being accused of favouring his former shipping mates.

Others might feel the present incumbent would have difficulty telling the difference between the bow and the stern of a boat such has been his indifference to the industry.

Asked who of the three candidates the Hong Kong Shipowners' Association would like as chief executive, managing director Arthur Bowring took a diplomatic course, saying: 'Of course, the association cannot have a view, since we will have to work closely with whoever gets in.' He added: 'But personally, it would be useful if the person elected would have an interest in the maritime sector. And there would appear to be only one of those.'

Privately, C. Y.'s the man then. But Peter Cremers, chief executive of Anglo-Eastern Group and a former association chairman, said the shipping industry had never been top of the government agenda, 'so why should it change?'

Marcel Liedts, Anglo-Eastern's chief operating officer, helpfully added: 'Peter will not withdraw his money out of Hong Kong' whoever wins.