Ill-fated cable car system was compromised from the start
The cable car from Tung Chung to the Ngong Ping Buddhist-themed village resumes its somewhat checkered service tomorrow, having been out of action since a January 25 mechanical failure that left 800 people suspended for two hours in freezing weather. The resumption will take place under the beady eyes of the 'Tourism Commission, the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department and other relevant government departments', if a government press release is to be believed. They will all 'closely monitor the operation and services of the ropeway system', among other aspects of the system. It is worth recalling that one of the world's leading providers of cable-car systems had withdrawn from the initial tender because it did not think the (cheaper) two-cable system used in the Ngong Ping Skyrail was suitable. Austrian company Doppelmayr said 90 per cent of the experts it consulted both internally and independently had told them a three-cable system was more suitable given the length of the journey and Lantau's environment. Doppelmayr and its partner felt so strongly about this that they withdraw from the tender, not wishing to risk their reputation. The rest, as they say, is history.
Taking the (very) long view
Australian-Chinese Legal firm King & Wood Mallesons has been celebrating its merger with a print campaign that has already run in Australia and arrived in Hong Kong on Monday, and is to be found in our own august organ. The Hong Kong version had a futuristic theme with a photograph of two men in suits shaking hands while standing behind a hover-vehicle. A note at the bottom says: 'King & Wood Mallesons is proud to have advised on the successful IPO of long-term client, Li Tan Hover Cycle Company.' Intrigued, we Googled the company, which took us to a site which said: 'Li Tan Hover Cycles is under construction opening in December 2032.' So no company, no IPO, no long-term partner. Andrew Town, creative partner at Mr Mumbles, the company behind the campaign, told the website Mumbrella.com: 'The campaign is a very non-traditional approach for a legal firm and it's bold to think of a legal firm as a brand. King & Wood Mallesons is more than a traditional legal firm- it's about being there for its clients in the long term, enabling them to achieve their goals, no matter how audacious.' Hmmm.
Schoolboy solves euro-zone woes
The world has been in thrall for the last year to the fumblings of the euro-zone politicians as they grappled with the debt problems of member states, particularly Greece. Need it have been as difficult as they made it? Even an 11-year-old schoolboy was able to come up with a solution which was good enough to earn him a special mention from the judging panel of the Wolfson Economics Prize. Jurre Hermans, a schoolboy from Holland, who was the youngest entrant for the prize that sought the best answer to the question: 'If a member state leaves the economic and monetary union, what is the best way for the economic process to be managed to provide the soundest foundation for the future growth and prosperity of the current membership.' Hermans suggested in a two-page paper that Greece should leave the euro zone, and Greek citizens would then exchange their euros for drachmas. Anyone caught moving their euros abroad would be penalised financially. For his efforts, he receives a Euro100 (HK$1,032) gift token. The entrants have been reduced to a short list of five, one of which is former HSBC chief economist Roger Bootle, with an entry that runs to 154 pages. Tim Harford of Undercover Economist fame, writing in his column for the Financial Times, says the competition is unwinnable since it involves 'turning an omelette back into its constituent parts'.
Red faces all round at 'Goldman Sex'
Goldman Sachs has found itself in an embarrassing situation with the revelation that it had a 16 per cent stake in a company that owns what The New York Times called 'America's leading website for prostitution'. The site is called Backpage.com, which became part of Village Voice Media in 2006. GS Capital Partners III invested US$30 million in Village Voice Media, which owns a number of alternative media, in 2000. After the Times inquiries, Goldman 'began working frantically to unload its shares', according to the newspaper, and last week had sold them back to the management. While there is no suggestion that Goldman's top management was aware of its ties to sex trafficking, the newspaper adds that Goldman was on the board for four years, and 'there's no indication that Goldman or anyone else ever used its ownership to urge Village Voice Media to stop escort ads'.