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  • Jul 12, 2014
  • Updated: 2:04pm
Column
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 August, 2012, 2:58am

Hong Kong should outsource control of illegal car parking

BIO

Howard Winn has been with the South China Morning Post for two and half years after previous stints as business editor and deputy editor of The Standard, and business editor of Asia Times. His writing has also been published in the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune. He writes the Lai See column which focuses on the lighter side of business.
 

There is a growing sense of exasperation in some quarters at the nonchalant approach towards illegal car parking in Hong Kong. It goes on everywhere and the Hong Kong police force, which is responsible for ensuring that it doesn't happen, exercise an extremely light touch in this regard - to put it mildly.

In Central, drop-off points are blocked by illegally vehicles so people are dropped off in the main thoroughfare which blocks traffic and thus slows the flow of traffic. If the police aren't able or unwilling to ticket offenders, the answer surely, as one reader has suggested, is to outsource this task to a private company. This happens in Britain, for example, and traffic wardens are disliked for their zealousness.

The Guardian newspaper once ran an interview with a traffic warden who worked for a private company. He showed a refreshing enthusiasm for rigorously enforcing the laws, impervious to personal sentiment. The writer observes "his implacability is both chilling and admirable". From the motorist's perspective, he was "penalising incautious manoeuvres without mercy or humanity", while from his own perspective, "he is paid to be an impartial upholder of rules". He adds: "It's my responsibility to make sure the traffic is flowing and that drivers are doing the right thing … You want to make sure everything is perfect - not be distracted by sympathy." We could do with some of that spirit here in Hong Kong.

Lawrence turns 100

A special Happy Birthday to retired BBC correspondent Anthony Lawrence. His birthday yesterday was no ordinary one. Lawrence, who came to Hong Kong in 1958 and retired in 1973, celebrated his 100th birthday appropriately in the Foreign Correspondents' Club. Since retiring, Lawrence has worked as a volunteer for the International Social Service Hong Kong Branch for almost 40 years. So the ISSHK laid on a party for him and it attracted quite a crowd, which included Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, who made a speech, ISSHK chief executive Stephen Ho, British Consul-General Andrew Seaton, BBC world news editor John Williams and former legislative councillor and founder of the Democratic Party Martin Lee Chu-ming.

Cheung was fulsome in his praise for Lawrence. He congratulated him on his recently announced Bronze Bauhinia Star and went on to say: "His work as a journalist and involvement with the FCC [of which he was a founding member] has contributed to Hong Kong's development as a media hub in Asia and as a bastion of the free flow of news and information." Long may that continue, say we.

Modern Education goes old-fashioned

Modern Education, a tutorial centre listed in Hong Kong, has attracted some attention after spending HK$37 million on the acquisition of two properties last month. The Economic Journal notes that purchasing property was not one of the uses of the proceeds mentioned in its IPO prospectus when it listed last year and the company raised about HK$130 million. In its listing documents, 38 per cent of the funds raised were to be used to repay debt, while the rest were to be used to set up tutorial centres and for strategic acquisitions. The company said in a notice to the stock exchange recently that the property acquisitions were "made to diversify its investment portfolio and increase its income stream". The acquisitions amounted to 28 per cent of the funds raised by the IPO. A case of Modern Education but a somewhat old-fashioned approach to shareholders.

Macau's French connection

Macau is to become even more unreal than it already is when the latest plans of Sands China come to fruition. It is planning to start on its latest development on parcel three of the Cotai Strip in November, according to the Macau Business Daily. This will feature a replica of the Eiffel Tower. The Sands China Eiffel Tower will be 225 metres high compared with the original in Paris, which is 324 metres high. To put this in perspective, the IFC building in Hong Kong is 414 metres.

60-metre drop to safety

Those of you who visit offshore oil installations from time to time might be interested to know there is a new lifeboat on the market especially designed for a rapid exit. Designed by the world's leading lifeboat and davit manufacturer Schat-Harding, its new-generation FF1200 boat has set a new freefall lifeboat record. The boat can be dropped from a height of 60 metres with 70 people on board. The company already has 47 orders for the boat and say passengers are secured in a special seat with 5 point harnesses.

 

Contact Us Have you got any stories that Lai See should know about? E-mail them to howard.winn@scmp.com

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