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  • Jul 30, 2014
  • Updated: 12:20am
Lai See
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 August, 2012, 4:26am

Macau gaming executive threatens French heritage

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.
 

Louis Ng Chi-sing, the chief operating officer of SJM, Stanley Ho Hung-sun's flagship company, has caused a stir in Burgundy's Cote de Nuits. He has had the temerity to buy the Chateau de Gevrey-Chambertin from the Miteran family for a reported US$10 million, the Wine Spectator reports. In so doing, he outbid a group of local vintners whose best offer was US$6.2 million. However, the Wine Spectator says the sale has provoked a backlash from Burgundy residents who worry that "France's cultural heritage" is being snapped up by foreigners.

The acquisition includes a 12th-century chateau and 2 hectares of vines.

"I have nothing against this guy personally. But you love your country, I love mine. We love our cultural heritage. We are asking Unesco to classify our climats as a World Heritage site - and yet, those terroirs might not remain in our hands," said Jean-Michel Guillon, the owner of Domaine Guillon et Fils and head of the unsuccessful local syndicate that bid for the estate.

Guillon added that he also feared the whims of the super-rich. "The vignerons that I represent are worried about foreign investors who come in here and buy an estate like you buy a pair of shoes. Apparently, €8 million (HK$77.8 million) for [Ng] is like €50 for me."

Sounds like a case of old-fashioned xenophobia. It's not as if Ng is going to transport the estate back to Macau.

Cow pats v progress in Lantau

We hear of a meeting in Mui Wo yesterday between the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and a collection of non-governmental organisations that want to stop the removal of feral cows from southern Lantau. Rainbow Wong, a big landowner, together with the department announced that the meeting was closed to reporters. Wong has long claimed that there have been lots of complaints about the cow pies on the roads, and so the cows must go. But there are about 6,000 people in Mui Wo, and neither he nor the department people have ever provided any evidence as to who these angry people are.

There have been no petitions with names and ID numbers calling for the removal of the cows. The cattle has been there for years, and the bulls have been castrated, so the herd is likely to die out in the fullness of time. So why the hurry to get rid of them? The answer appears to be that "progress" is coming to Lantau.

There is talk of lifting the current traffic restrictions, which will allow more cars into the area, and groups such as the Lantau Economic Development Alliance have big ideas about turning Lantau into an "economic, tourism and quality living centre".

Unsurprisingly, none of this has been discussed in any great detail with the residents, many of whom are appalled by what they have heard. However, the whiff of these developments has whetted the appetite of Heung Yee Kuk entrepreneurs and alerted them to the prospect of making money. The kuk wants to get the land where the cows mostly hang out, much of which is zoned as "wetlands" but is rezoned for development. Elevating the significance of cow pats on the road therefore makes good business sense to them.

Marine affairs

Its official opening might be six months away, but the Maritime Museum is keen to save the city's shipping and trade heritage from being tossed away. The museum, which will open at Pier 8 on the Central ferry piers in February, is making a plea for nautical-related books, charts, ship plans, photos, newspapers and maritime-themed documents, both historical and contemporary, for its resource centre.

Museum director Richard Wesley said the aim was to build up a reference library that could be used by students, researchers, the media and professionals. He is particularly keen to hear from firms that might be replacing material such as law books with new editions, or people who have built up a collection of shipping memorabilia and want to find a new home for it.

While the focus is on Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta, Wesley said there were wider issues including greener shipping and market trends the museum should also cover.

Librarian Kitty But said steps had been taken to see if there were ways for the museum to co-operate with the IMC-Frank Tsao maritime library and research and development centre at Polytechnic University.

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